9 Reasons I Need to Attend BarkWorld 2013

barkworld 2013

If you are a pet blogger than I am sure you have heard of BarkWorld, a blog and social media conference.  BarkWorld is now going strong in it’s fourth year and BarkWorld 2013 is just around the corner in August.  I would really like to attend BarkWorld 2013… but unfortunately I find myself a bit light on cash at the moment.

Thankfully Pruven, 3M’s pet division, is going to sponsor one lucky pet blogger’s trip to BarkWorld 2013.  This pet blogger doesn’t want to go but needs to go BarkWorld.

10 Reasons I Need to Attend BarkWorld 2013

  1. Improve Social Media Skills:  Honestly my social media skills are not that impressive.  I understand Twitter and I am a TweetDeck user.  However, I can’t seem to crack how to get a lot of followers and could use some.  Having recently attended BlogPaws 2013 I felt a came up a bit short talking with the so-called “Social Media Gurus.”  I found they offered no advice I hadn’t heard before and didn’t give me clear answers to many of my questions.  If I attend BarkWorld I know I will pick-up some better skills from speakers and other bloggers there.
  2. New People and New Connections:  For anyone that has attended a blog conference before you know all the great people you meet and connections you make.  Making friends in the real world translates to good friends online which can really help catapult a blog.  I’d love to meet make connections with pet companies, brand, rescue groups, and other bloggers so that the Singing Dogs are more well known.
  3. Take Blogging to the Next Level:  I already feel like my blogging and writing skills are pretty good.  You should never stop learning and gaining new skills especially if you are competing online.  Attending blog conferences, such as BarkWorld 2013, will really up my blogging game and take it to the next level.  I need to be successful online since I really don’t want to get a real job.  You know, since real jobs kinda suck.
  4. Help Rescue Groups:  Every since I discovered Sierra and Cody’s singing talents I have hoped that I could use it to raise money for animal groups and shelters.  In addition I have hoped that I could use it to raise awareness about animal abuse.  I haven’t quite figured out how to do this and I know attending BarkWorld 2013 I could talk with rescue groups and organizations about any ideas.  (Sierra and Cody are divas when performing live and we can’t use pop songs due to copyright issues.)  I’d love to help animals in need since that is why Singing Dogs was started.
  5. I can Teach: Having attended other blog conferences I know I can teach other bloggers a lot.  I truly believe the value you get out of these events is not only learning but giving back to others who need help.  It pleases me when I show people resources or tools they have never heard of before.  Having bloggers willing to teach others makes the a blog conference better in my opinion.
  6. My Session Summaries:  My BlogPaws 2013 Pro Session summary was as detailed and comprehensive as you can get.  (If anyone can find a more detailed summary of the talks shoot me an email.)  If I attended BarkWorld I would write a similar summary of my various thoughts about the talks and sessions.  This not only helps other bloggers and potential attendees asses how useful BarkWorld is but would also make future BarkWorld conferences even better.
  7. I am a Dude:  There seems to be a lot more female pet bloggers out there than guys.  Therefore a lot more women will be attending BarkWorld than guys, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  I need to go to BarkWorld to make sure that everyone is aware that guys also love animals too even if we don’t show it quite as much by starting a blog about it.  Of course I did.
  8. Visit Atlanta:  I think Atlanta is a great city and would love to visit again.  Quite honestly it is much cleaner than Baltimore and I don’t mind not having to worry about crime all the time.  It is also dog friendly.
  9. Cody and Sierra Assume I am Going: My dogs already think I am heading to BarkWorld.  Would you want to disappoint them?  🙂

Hopefully the generous, smart, and attractive (I can only assume) people from Pruven will agree with all my points here.   I know there are a lot of people vying for the BarkWorld free trip but I truly hope I am at least considered with this blog post.

BarkWorld 2013 is set for August 22-24th in Atlanta, Georgia.  Tickets are $129 if you purchase before July 31st and at-the-door tickets are $169.  (There are additional fees too.)  That is reasonable pricing for a blog conference since most are $500+ for a weekend not including hotel and airlines expenses.

Even though BarkWorld 2013 is a reasonably priced I could use help in getting my way paid.  Hopefully we will but I will be ok if we don’t win too.

BlogPaws 2013 Pro Sessions

The BlogPaws 2013 pet conference had a wide range of talks and sessions. There were 3 separate categories of talks that were given: Beginner, Intermediate, and Pro in which you could attend. These accommodated the different skill levels and needs of different BlogPaws attendees and you were allowed to jump around to different session as you saw fit.  In addition there were was a “Be the Change for Pets” set of talks, Special Topics, and Law sessions available as well.

For the most part we decided that the Pro sessions were the best ones to go to.  These seemed to be the most useful for what I wanted to get out of BlogPaws and the theater room, where the talks were being held, was much more comfortable compared to where the rooms the other sessions were being held in.  You had a table and could set down your laptop or notebook to take notes and write down anything you found useful.  The seats were also a lot more comfortable and were spaced apart which was great since we had Cody and Sierra.

Anyway, here is what I thought of the different Pro BlogPaws sessions I attended.

Intro to Google Analytics

On the first day I decided to go attend “Intro to Google Analytics.”  Even though I familiar with Google Analytics, the capabilities  and customization options I thought I could learn something since the session was being taught be Blerina Sanocki, a Senior Account Manager from Google.  Who better to learn something Google Analytics from than Google?

I got into the session a little late and it was packed.  I had to stand in the back with Cody since the all the seats in the room were taken.  It was quite a popular session as they were others standing in the room as well.    As the session continued for about 15 minutes I was a little bit bored since Blerina Sanocki was just going over the basics of what Google Analytics offers and how you can use it.

I was getting a little bored until she mentioned Kaushik.net, run by Avinash Kaushik, which is a site all about utilizing data and web analytics.  Since I have never heard of the blog I decided to check it out.  Some of the articles and posts are quite useful and have started to make me think a little differently about how to analyze web data to my advantage.

So I got something out of “Intro to Google Analytics” but not quite as must as I would have hoped for.  If you were a beginner I assume the session was useful.

Anatomy of a Video

Kenn Bell lead this session on how to format and construct videos so they have a story arc, convey a message, and generally come out more professional.  He used examples from his own Dog Files episodes and showed a short documentary he did of 9/11 dogs (meaning dogs that went into the debris and rubble to search for people) which was quite moving.

He talked a little about equipment and how easy it is nowadays with inexpensive camcorders that can shoot in Full 1080 high definition (HD) available on the market now.  (Sony showcased some of their newest camera models at BlogPaws by the way.)

Bell showed people how to conduct on camera interviews with Tom Collins, one of the co-founders of BlogPaws, which I found interesting and useful.  He mentioned that the interview wasn’t supposed to be a 60 Minutes hard hitting journalist type of expose but should be casual interview.  The objective was to get info from Tom and not put him on the spot.  Kenn said it was fine to ask the interviewee to elaborate, ask for more details, and shape the direction of  the conversation.  This was useful for me to see and observe as I it’s good to know how to interview people properly in different situations.

My only complaint was that I wish Kenn Bell talked more about the technical aspects of making videos.  Such as what would be good free video editing software and resources for learning to use them.

I thought it was a useful session and would definitely like to see more video content creation sessions at next year’s BlogPaws.  Video is big nowadays and I think a lot of bloggers are interested in learning how to make videos.

Note: I got to this session late because of “Intro to Google Analytics” but was filled in by Mom and Sierra who were in attendance.  

So You Want to Write a Book Proposal

This session was Fantastic!  Darlene Arden was a lot of fun and offered insightful tips and advice for those who want to get a book published.  She didn’t pull any punches, was straightforward, and was quite honest about how the publishing industry works (or doesn’t).  Darlene gave us great advice and said quite frankly, “You want a lawyer that will eat their own kids!” since publishing house can screw you over.

It was good to hear from an established author the realities of the industry since it ain’t easy.  Her slides were not that well done and were a bit hard to see though.  I am sure that could be fixed easily if she had some help for next year.  Also I would have liked the session to be longer to her talk about getting an agent, which is an important factor.

BlogPaws should definitely have Darlene Arden back again next year and I will attend any of her sessions again, happily.

SEO: Getting Ahead in Search

Matt Beswick hosted this session to a packed crowd.  Clearly showing that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is something a lot of people want to learn about.  Despite the fact that a lot of focus nowadays is on social media marketing and tactics.

Matt gave a nice concise talk and his slides were well prepared.  I learned about two sweet SEO tools from this talk actually.  The first is a site called UberSuggest.org which shows you what keywords Google will automatically suggest when typing in certain keywords.  Technically the Google Keyword Tool will show you suggestions for other similar keywords but the nice thing about Ubersuggest is that you can select different verticals such as Video, News, Images, etc.  (It will not show monthly searches but you can import lists.)  The second one is the Schema Markup Plugin that can be used for adding additional information, such as reviews and ratings, to your content in Google searches.  Just like apps, there is a WordPress plugin for everything.  (I don’t remember if he actually mentioned the plugin but he posted the URL where I found the plugin.)

Matt demonstrated how he used oDesk to help gather information contact info for sites for sites that he might be interested in getting a link from. Never really occurred to me to do this and since a lot of people on oDesk are from low-wage countries you don’t need to spend a lot to do it.  It also give you valuable data quickly and easily while you can spend your time doing other things.

One topic in the session was the growing importance of Google Authorship and Author Rank.  I 100% agreed with this and felt validated that I got on the Google+ bandwagon early.  Since a lot of people at BlogPaws were professional bloggers I was a bit surprised that most were not aware of Google Authorship or assume Google+ is going away.  If you have a blog or doing writing online you NEED to start using authorship and therefore Google+.

There were also other topics covered during the talk such as the power of relationships, building cool content, and fixing orphaned (dead) links.

Since I am pretty familiar with SEO techniques and terms the talk made sense to me.  If you didn’t have basic SEO knowledge and skills I am pretty sure you were lost but I obviously don’t know what other people were thinking.  I still got a lot out of the talk and the information was presently in an easy to understand, concise, and clear way.

Matt Beswick did make the presentation available online on Slideshare for people to review by the way.

I’m Building a Blog: Do I Need to Form a Company?

Wondering if you should form a business entity around you blogging empire?  Then this was the session you should have attended at BlogPaws.  Lyvonne Brittingham conducted this session and I found it useful since I have thought about forming a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).

Lyvonne covered forming an LLC and covered a lot of concerns and questions I have had about it.  In addition she covered the advantages and disadvantages and what you should be aware of.  She also covered sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and different types of corporations.  As well as the different pros and cons with these as well.

I thought Lyvonne prepared the talk well and the presentation slides were clear to understand.  In addition she gave handouts with all the slides in the talk.  Next to each slide on the paper was lines which enabled you to talk notes easily.  I thought this was very smart and it is something I will probably utilize if I ever give a talk at a blog conference.

Forming a business probably isn’t something that a lot of bloggers want to think about since it isn’t cool and flashy, like the social media talks.  I will admit anything to do with law can be a little dry but I found it informative and hope BlogPaws will have a similar session next year.  Bloggers need to be ware of legal implication of what they do and how to protect their assets (if you have any!) if they want to take their blog to the next level.

The Professional Product Review

Rebecca Pollard, a Pet360 marketing specialist and blogger, moderated this panel discussion with:

  • Rose Hamilton – Chief Markeing Officer of Pet360
  • Carol Bryant – PR and Marketing Director for BlogPaws and Blogger
  • Jeff Davis – Senior Manager of Public Relations & Social Media for PetSmart

The panel discussion was on creating products reviews that resonated with customers and provides value to brands.  Other things that were discussed was how to conduct yourself and communicate with brands that you receive products from and how to standout from other bloggers.

It was great to hear how Carol, a seasoned pet blogger, handles getting products to review.  She mentioned it takes her less time to make video reviews.   Carol also mentioned to be careful not to “brand brash” as that can turn off potential companies and brands that want to work with you.

On the flipside it was nice hearing from Jeff Davis about what PetSmart does and does not like to see when searching for bloggers and communicating with them.  For instance they don’t mind getting phone calls and feedback.  Also that the little things matter such as “PetSmart” and not “Petsmart!”

The panel discussion format is something that BlogPaws should utilize more since you get different takes and opinions, which is really useful to hear.  Everyone who attended this season learned a lot (unless you were sleeping).

WordPress 201

Ryan Hughes led this session which was supposed to be for people who are experienced with WordPress but want to take it to a next level.  I thought some of the topics he covered are not what I would say are “WordPress 201” but I still learned a few things in the talk.  Ryan recommended Gravity Forms, a WordPress plugin, that creates custom post types which I didn’t know about.

Since WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) it is a good idea for BlogPaws to continue to do more sessions on WordPress.

The Key to Social Media Marketing

I assumed this talk was going to be on ways to truly expand and enhance social media marketing skills.  While hearing Kimanzi Constable’s story was motivational, that’s really all I got out of the session.  A motivational speech and more specifically one to get everyone to buy his books.

This would have been fine if I had paid to go to a motivational conference but that wasn’t the case.  Kimanzi really didn’t go over many social media marketing tactics which were applicable and judging from the questions afterwards from rescue groups felt the same way.  I am not really sure his advice was good either as he recommended giving away products for free.  Since rescue groups have limited resources that’s is shitty advice.

I overheard some other people complaining that they liked the talk, but didn’t feel he had enough substantive info about social media marketing as well.  Checking out Kimanzi Constable’s website I realized that he runs what I call “Selling the Dream” businesses.  While he might have made ok money selling ebooks and books Kimanzi really makes good money traveling and speaking at conferences about social media and blogging.  (He even said he travels a lot of conferences.)  He “Sells the Dream” instead of actually having accomplished what he is advising about and doesn’t know anything about getting a massive social media following or truly improving engagement.

While I don’t have a problem with people making money talking at conferences, I don’t like “Selling the Dream” type of people.  The like to promise a lot but deliver little real value to what you are trying to accomplish with your blog or web business.  They just tell you good things you want to hear.  There wasn’t a lot of information about how to improve my blog’s social media presence or increase followers.  It was mostly what I already know.  Also it annoyed me that for a large duration of the presentation he kept up the cover to one of his books.  I guess that is sly but well placed advertising.

Considering my traffic on my personal blog is equal to (or most likely better) than Kimanzi’s I seriously wonder why he was invited to give a talk at BlogPaws.  Since the talk didn’t accomplish the intended goals and was essentially a sales pitch I would have to rate it a serious failure.

Get More Blog Readers with Email Marekting

Think Email is Dead? Think again!  Email returns better results than search and social media.  (Yeah, I learned that during the talk.)  If you are serious about building a successful business around your blog than you need to spend some time thinking about an email list and newsletter.

Crystal Gouldey hosted this talk and I learned a lot since she is a marketing manager with Awever, an email newsletter provider.  Good tidbits of information I learned during the talk included;

  • 65% of people open emails based upon the subject line.
  • Clear emails had 500% more responses.
  • Personal tones in emails have a 130% increase in response.

Crystal also had a lot of information in the session about how to build an email list, the best practices, and what you should do to make people actually sign-up for the list.  The best way is to offer someone something for free, like an eBook, or content they can’t get anywhere else besides signing up for that list.

While SEO and social media are important getting a successful email newsletter going is a great way to connect you with your most loyal fan base and help grow you blog too.

The Future of Blogging

Dino Dogan is an amazing speaker.  Something about his presence makes you want to part of whatever he is doing.  I guess that makes sense since Dino starter Triberr, a platform where bloggers can connect and help share content.

Dino started off his talk saying, “Blogging will save the world.” which was definitely preaching to his audience well.  Probably the three takeaways I got from the talk was that attention is good, people need to interact with content, and trust is worth a lot online.

The debate and discussion sparked during the Q&A was telling that everyone else was engaged in the room and listened to what Dino Dogan was saying.  I guess that’s the mark of a good blog conference speaker.

Conclusion

I want to make it clear that even though I didn’t enjoy all of the talks and sessions I still got a lot out of attending BlogPaws 2013. The BlogPaws and Pet360 staff did a great job organizing the 3 day event but I do wish the “Pro” sessions were a little more advanced.  I am planning on trying to make it out to Las Vegas for BlogPaws 2014.  Maybe I can make some money while in Las Vegas to cover the cost of attending! 🙂

 

We’re heading to BlogPaws 2013!

blogpaws 2013

Just to let all of our friends, fans, and followers know, Cody, Sierra, and I are heading to BlogPaws 2013.  (If you don’t know what BlogPaws it is a pet blogging and social media conference.)  We are very excited to be attending this year since this is the first time we are going to go to BlogPaws or have gotten a chance to go to any sort of pet conferences or events.

Since BlogPaws 2013 taking place in Tysons Corner, VA (just outside Washington DC) and we live in Baltimore attending means we will not have to travel far.  We are going to be driving back and forth to the  hotel where the conference is taking place which will be a bit of a pain but people drive into DC all the time for work.  I figure I can do it a couple days if people do it 5 days a week.

We hope to get a lot out of BlogPaws networking with other dog lovers, pet brands, bloggers, writers, social media gurus, SEO gurus, and generally anyone who loves pets as much as we do.  We also hope to meet some of the Singing Dogs fans at BlogPaws 2013 as I know there are a lot of our followers out there that want to meet us and are attending this year.  We are just as excited to meet you in person too by the way!

I will be in attendance all 3 days but we are still unsure about bringing Cody and Sierra for all of BlogPaws 2013.  We think it would better to bring them 1 day and then to get more out of the conference leave them home so we can takes notes from speakers and talk with people more.  Sierra can be a bit whiny in the car since she is a “Dog Diva’ and Cody is usually good but will probably get bored if we are just sitting around doing “boring” people stuff most of the day.  (He’d rather be playing Chuckit!)  If you have any thoughts or advice about bringing pets to BlogPaws I would appreciate it if you left a comment and let us know your experiences.

Anyway, we have new slick business cards to give out, gave the dogs a bath and are preparing ourselves for BlogPaws 2013.  I hope to see you there and please let us know if you are going and if we should keep an eye out for you at BlogPaws.