What with all the inspirational Be the Change posts that continue to pour out of the BlogPaws conference I’m almost embarrassed to say this: I went to BlogPaws to learn  about selling books, blogging, and social media.

And guess what? I did.

As a conference that provided good, solid information — not to mention a lot of shmoozing and personal networking opportunities — BlogPaws kicked butt.

In fact the reason that I’m writing this post is that I’m reading through my notes from the “Developing a Sustainable Social Media Strategy That Works For You” by Lena West of Xynomedia. Under bullet point #11, Get Business, I jotted down the following:

Have something to say and then have the guts to say it. Be who you are and say what you feel – those who mind don’t matter. People who don’t resonate with who you are as a person won’t buy your product. Get people to trust you, show up as you are.

I like to believe I’m socially responsible and that I love animals in general and one animal in particular. But no one is going to know anything about my social responsibility unless they read my blog or my book. And I’m not going to have any money or time to donate to good causes unless I have a bit more of both commodities for myself by being a smart businesswoman.

And you know what else? If someone has a pet blog that gives people pleasure, maybe a nice break from a bad day, or provides a service, from responsible dog training to pet sitting, but isn’t trying to raise money or do other good works, that’s okay too. Some of us are better than mommy bloggers. Some of us aren’t.

So excuse me if I’m getting a little tired of  all the BlogPaws self-congratulation.

What did I get out of BlogPaws?

  • The confidence to polish a book proposal that’s been languishing on my e-desk because of self-flagellation (one of my favorite exercises) and send it to Penny Sansevieri as well as to a traditional publisher.
  • An editing assignment, because I was able to speak up and say, I’m happy to provide informal advice but this is also what I do for a living.
  • An analysis of my blog’s strengths and weaknesses  by Stephan Spencer and his daughter, Chloe Spencer, at the excellent Driving Traffic Through SEO panel– and great information about the tools to address the latter.
  • The inspiration to get on Squidoo. Now if there’s anything that made me get all mushy about BlogPaws it was the fact that Megan Casey, who is a media rock star as one of the co-founders of the multimillion dollar media site — but who’s heard of her, while everyone’s heard of Seth Godin, ok that’s a whole other blog post, or maybe a feminism lens on Squidoo — spoke to us. And gave one of the most low-key but effective talks of the conference.
  • The guts to publish this post.

Update: I was being wussy by not linking to the “mommy blogger” allusion in this original post. Now I have.

35 thoughts on “Putting the Blog Back in BlogPaws”

  1. Edie, though I didn’t attend the blogpaws I am only gathering bits and pieces by reading various comments from people ,as yourself ,when I am lucky enough to come by them on internet. I value your opinions and want to express my admiration for saying what you feel. I also want to thank you for passing on the knowledge of other bloggers and sites that you find of interest and value. I like to absorb all that I possibly can (at my age it’s kinda slow at times). Thanks for ‘paying it forward’ in other words, unselfishly! Bridget in Ky but presently in San Jose’,CA.

    1. One of the things that I didn’t mention because it wasn’t a public “asset” was the opportunity I had to get to know the wonderful Lisa Spector, with whom I roomed, and to hear her play. Wrigley would have been soooo excited 😉

  2. Great post, Edie! I agree with you; while the mushiness is great, my goals for attending any conference are to learn how to improve my business and to network. But connecting with like-minded pet lovers is the cherry on top of BlogPaws!

    1. Thank you. And I agree about the cherry; in fact, you were one of the like-minded pet lovers that I was very happy to connect with at the conference.

  3. I had to laugh when reading your post. While I’ve been blasting posts about ‘be the change’ into cyberspace, it’s all the stuff you mentioned that has been circulating in the space between my ears. I agree, the Squidoo presentation was outstanding! I’ve been working up the gumption to start ‘Squidooing.’

    1. Thanks, Deborah — your comment is especially appreciated in light of the fact that you’ve been blasting Be the Change posts! I may have had the guts to push that “publish” button but that doesn’t mean I’m not worried about offending… well, everyone!

    1. No way! I honestly wasn’t singling anyone out, just the general post-conference tenor that was making me feel like a bad person. But now I *will* make fun of you for taking it personally!

  4. Edie – I think you are on the mark with this post. It is so true. I think the idea that we went to blogpaws to gain skills that we can use to make a living is not bad thing. You should not feel embarrassed to say this. Ultimately we all have to make a living. The idea there is no place for commerce in the blogging community is either naive or dishonest. I really get tired of the moral superiority of the “unmarketing” crowd.

    I was joking at dinner but I think we are all selling all the time. Selling is not a bad thing. I am not sure why it gets a bad wrap. It may be because of all the SPAM and hucksters out there screaming BUY – BUY – BUY all the time. I generally welcome someone informing me of products or services that add value. So no apologies needed. It is not as if you delayed anyone’s meal while you stood on the stage and pitched your book to everyone in attendance.

    I for one am thankful to meet you and learn more about your book. I am enjoying the read.

    1. I’m sad that I didn’t have a chance to stand up on stage and pitch my book (during or before a meal) but appreciate your doing a pitch for it here instead, Anthony. You’re right, we’re all selling — it’s just a question of how subtly (um, the conference had many, many sponsors) and how good the product is.

  5. Hey Edie, Committing to blog what really feels right to you–in spite of outside opinion or belief–takes courage and self-trust–admirable, all the way! 🙂

    1. I’m never sure; it’s a fine line between thinking I’m trusting myself — or just venting. I do appreciate your giving me the benefit of the doubt.

  6. Edie, this is so perfect! I loved your analysis and what you got out of the sessions! I, too, enjoyed Megan Casey’s presentation on Squidoo–I had never heard of it before this! I also loved that Stephan and Chloe pulled up your site to critique! But they couldn’t find much because it’s so cool!

    Anyway, thanks for posting this summary. I was thrilled to finally meet you IRL, and I’m enjoying your book!

    1. Actually they found quite a bit to critique — including the fact that I don’t have categories and no one can find me under search terms except Will My Dog Hate Me (not all that popular) — but I was very happy to get that information because I can now work to solve those problems.

      It was terrific to meet you too, and I’m glad you’re liking the book. Maybe this is better than stage shouting…

  7. Edie –

    Be the Change was a nice result from the first BlogPaws conference in April. It was not the original reason why the BlogPaws group was formed nor why there was another conference in September. If it speaks to you – great. If not, not problem! BlogPaws is meant to be a resource for pet bloggers, and the conferences are there to help us all be better bloggers.


    1. Vicki, I think it was a wonderful thing and I don’t want to denigrate it in any way. It does speak to me; I just want it to speak to me in a different context, I guess.

      Sorry I didn’t meet you there.

  8. Amen, honey. BlogPaws is a good experience, and it’s important to address the concerns of the many bloggers who are working to better conditions for pets and animals in general, but the conference has to keep its balance — has to keep providing the how-to advice and the opportunities for networking that I found so helpful last weekend — or it will tip over into a big sob-fest.

    1. Thanks for the support! You mentioned being a wrath-magnet on Twitter. So far, I’ve received no I hate Dog Jaunt comments…

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more, Edie. Thank you for saying it. And, I’m sorry to say, that I missed what appear to have been the best 2 session at the conference – Squidoo and Developing a Sustainable Social Marketing Strategy. :-/

    1. And I appreciate your support — in public. Yes, those two sessions were excellent but others were really good too.

  10. I’m with you 100%, Edie. I went to learn and walked away with plenty of ways to improve my own blogs as well as the sites I create for others (pet related or not). The fact that these skills were not limited to pet blogging was much appreciated.

    I agree that Advanced SEO taught the use of some great tools, but the “Developing a Sustainable Social Media Strategy That Works For You” session was most prized in my mind. When Lena said, “Social media works for you. You don’t work for social media,” I was all, “Oh, right!” Desperate for a way to reclaim my life, Lena not only showed me how, but she gave me permission to do so. For whatever reason, I needed that the same way you needed a confidence boost to polish and send your book proposal. (Congratulations!! And, yes, I’m pretty good at your sport too.)

    Overall, this conference helped me to better prepare for BlogWorld next month, which requires significant implementation of what I’ve learned. I have a pre-conference plan, a method to the conference madness, and a post plan that, if I play my cards right (in Vegas no less), could launch me into an entirely new zip code. It will take a good bit of work to get there and I’m up for the challenge. That project starts now!

    Thank you for a fabulous post and for the terrific conversation we had that first night in Denver. I wish we had more time (and I had more energy) to continue in the days that followed, but I’m so glad to know you and hope we see each other again soon!

    1. Thanks very much for this thoughtful response kim, Kim. Yes that line of Lena’s about social media working for you was my favorite too (well, aside from what I quoted). I don’t think I’ll be able to relegate my tweeting and blogging to certain days and times — but it’s a great goal.

      Best of luck with BlogWorld. I can’t wait to hear about your new post-Vegas project, the one that won’t stay in Vegas ;-).

      And it was terrific to meet you too and put a face to the blog. There’s never enough time at conferences to continue conversations, but it was a start…

  11. Edie,
    Thank you for your post. As one who has been watching all of this go on for the comfort of my computer it has been interesting. Whatever I end up doing in life, there is one thing that runs true, I am passionate about it. This is true of my blog as well.

    After hearing and reading about the 1st conference I was undoubtedly going to attend the second one. I love new knowledge especially about something I’ve become passionate about. I didn’t go. Mainly due to the feeling after all the posts that it was more about promoting special interest “causes” and getting political about who trains what kind of animal and how (there is still room for pure breeds out there and we are all rescues really in our own way no matter where we came from).

    It seems the political correct arena draws very harsh lines about who is in, and who is out without regard to what really is best on and individual basis. There are definitely things that should not go on in the world happening, whether it be with people or pets, but once again the gist coming across from all the post about “Blogpaws” started to sound like a tight click without room for anyone to stand up and say their real opinion.

    I’ve followed your blog, the development and publishing of your book and your unique way for awhile now and have great appreciation for it. Thank you for posting your opinion… it certainly made me think that there was room for someone who may not want to jump on the “cause” wagon promoting products I believe to actually be bad for dogs, even though the cause sounds good. Opinions like this may not need fit the criteria for the politically correct path approval by the Blogpaws “in” crowd!

    And yeah, I’ve been known to stand up and say things that some have in the past said they wish they had the guts to say…. it’s not always easy. It’s just who I am. 🙂

    1. Wow. Just wow. When you write a blog and put yourself out there, you assume that people who are not commenting either disapprove or don’t connect with what you’re saying one way or another (or at least I do, being an eternal pessimist). So to read what you said about following my blog is a gift.

      A few things about BlogPaws: It’s less clique-y, far more welcoming than you might think, based on the posts coming out of it, though of course repeat attendees were happy to see people they’d met and connected with at the first conference. I think too that there are definite opinions about training, with the emphasis being on positive techniques, but I’ve never heard anyone diss reponsible breeders.

      More important: It’s a great professional development conference. Even if you hid in your room between sessions and didn’t go to any of the keynotes, you would have gotten a lot out of the conference. That’s what I tried to emphasize here: That BlogPaws had great speakers, and that should be the starting point.

      Finally, you articulated something that didn’t really gel in my head except as a vague notion: The reasonable prices we paid for the aforementioned professional development was because of big corporate sponsors promoting products a lot of us wouldn’t be caught dead using on our dogs. That’s fine: I’ve always said I would sell out if anyone was buying. No one was asked to endorse the products themselves, and the causes we’re promoting using their names are excellent ones. But let’s not kid ourselves: Those sponsors are using us to burnish their image with the public. So we’re no better than anyone else, and there’s no place for self-righteously suggesting that we are.

  12. Well, I didn’t attend BlogPaws this year, but if I had I would have been seeking out the very same outcomes as you mentioned above Edie. I want to learn, grow and succeed. I also would like to make a little money at blogging, write about issues that I am passionate about and make a difference (not to mention, meet all the wonderful people I talk to every day online!).

    As far as sticking your neck out there and having the guts to say what you think, you do. I hope I do too. It’s scary sometimes, but I have to say that I try very hard to say what I feel and be who I am.
    However, given the fact that my main business is pet sitting, there will be those topics on which I choose avoid discussing or I may choose to edit myself simply because I have to keep my client’s feelings and privacy in mind. Other than that, all I can do is share what I think and ask for others to contribute.

    Re: Squidoo – Now I know why Mary Haight suggested I start doing it! Ha! She’s a smart one that Mary Haight! 🙂

    1. Not only do you say what you think — you often say it to the person involved (I recall, as just one example, your dog park encounter). That takes guts. Tact is part of being a professional; passion is part of being a good person.

  13. Hi Edie and everyone,

    As I read through your post and the comments for the umpteenth time, I realized I’ve been “lurking” – and there are lessons in that!

    So first, THANK YOU, Edie, for posting your thoughts and hosting this extremely valuable discussion. Rest assured that Yvonne, Caroline, and I take your feedback very seriously. And the comments, too. Along with the feedback forms collected in Denver and the suggestions we’re getting on the registration forms for BlogPaws, we get constant reminders of the diversity and inclusive spirit of the pet blogging community.

    We’ve tried hard to build programs that speak to all those diverse interests and needs. And with this kind of guidance, we know that BlogPaws can grow and evolve to meet the varied (and changing) needs of all of us.

    Like you, I hate to single out folks, but special thanks to:
    – Bridget for her observation about the added value of conference attendees “paying it forward;”
    – Maggie, Anthony, Kim, and Mel’s Pet Pals for acknowledging that many pet bloggers seek to make a living (or at least supplement it) through blogging and knowing that’s okay;
    – Deborah, Vicki, and Mary-Alice for pointing out that the pet welfare work that has flowed out of BlogPaws is important and valuable, too, and that balancing the conference content for all is, shall we say, an ongoing challenge;
    – and to you, Edie, for hosting this conversation, adding much of the balance that we’re all striving for, and most of all, having “the GUTS!”

    A note to K9Coach: I’m sorry if some postings may have misled you about BlogPaws and the amazing pet people who’ve gathered around it. Yes, we have been overwhelmed, pleased, and humbled by the pet welfare efforts that grew out of a single “Be the Change for Pets” session at the first conference. But as I hope the other comments here have clarified, that was not and is not the sole, or even the primary purpose for the BlogPaws conferences and online community. Please take care about using terms like “politically correct” or “in-crowd.” Those things will only come true if we start labeling and dividing each other into camps. Nobody connected with BlogPaws thinks that way or wants that to happen.

    Among our goals is to make room for everyone in the online pet-loving community. We hope all will recognize that opinions on everything from the best blogging platforms, to pet foods, to paid product reviews, to pet training, to blog advertising, to pure breeds (and lots more) will vary. And we want everyone’s help in providing an environment where we can all learn from each other.

    I hope you’ll give BlogPaws and all the folks like Edie has attracted here another chance.

    And secondly, let’s go back over to the BlogPaws Blog and share the lessons from my experience here: Five Blogging Lessons from Edie.

    How’s that for demonstrating (instead of just talking about) one of the lessons?!?


    Tom Collins,
    BlogPaws Co-founder

    1. Tom, I’m (almost) struck dumb! What a nice surprise. You definitely demonstrated Lesson #2 : Value Your Lurkers. What fun it is to revisit an old post, and view it through the eyes of someone else — indeed, one of the people I was most nervous about offending.

      I really appreciate your nice words and your thoughtful response to all the other participants in this discussion. So…. now I think I’ll head over to your blog so I can be doubly responsive.

      1. Lessons learned, mission accomplished, etc., etc.!!

        We will have to stop at some point, though. ;-D

        Oh, and about “offending” me, or any of the BlogPaws Team with honest, constructive criticism, we take to heart a piece of advice Chris Brogan gave at a social media conference Yvonne spoke at back in Rochester (NY) just before we moved from there:

        At the very least, use social media as a listening tool, so (his words) “your business can suck less faster!”

        So, who ya callin’ an “old post” anyway?

        1. That was old post, not old poster ;-). And I think I’ll incorporate Chris Brogan’s words into my Words to Live By list (they include Don’t buy anything you can’t pronounce).

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