This post is sponsored by the BlogPaws® Pet Influencer Network™. I am being compensated as a BlogPaws Conference Ambassador to help share information about the BlogPaws 2017 Conference but we only share information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.
FACT: BlogPaws is four fast-paced days of hobnobbing and socializing with the who’s who of pet blogging.
Between May 18 – 20th, 2017 a ton of amazing bloggers will descend on the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel in South Carolina and spend a few days having fun. There are so many amazing people to meet and spend time with. You could spend all four days doing nothing but chatting and still not get to meet everyone there. Networking and making connections is a huge part of BlogPaws. It’s a chance to speak face to face with great brands that you want to work with. It’s an opportunity to talk to bloggers you would like to collaborate with or to pick the brain of an expert about how you can do something better on your site. It’s the perfect time to talk pets and feel at ease knowing you aren’t boring anyone because you are surrounded by pet people every bit as crazy as you are.
It’s a lot of fun and in the midst of all that networking, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that BlogPaws is first and foremost a blogging and social media conference.
Y’all, we’re there to LEARN SOME THANGS. With dozens of sessions, workshops, lunch & learns and more, there is no doubt that is conference is all about education and helping us step up our game as influencers, social media marketers and storytellers. With so many opportunities to learn from industry experts and experienced bloggers, I always walk into BlogPaws knowing that I am not going to take in even 1/10th of all the information they’re sharing. It’s just not possible. (Literally. There are 4 sessions Saturday at 2:30. Ideally, I’d like to attend all 4. Better pack my Time Turner.)
Still, there are ways to make sure you maximize your time and learn as much as possible at BlogPaws (without skipping any cocktail parties or fun stuff).
Know Your Goals
What do you want to achieve on your blog this year? Do you want to really build up a strong community? Are you itching to increase your traffic? Is your goal to monetize or diversify how you’ve monetized? Pick a few things you really want to tackle over the next 12 months. Write them out and make note of any skills you might need to develop to make them happen, then look for sessions to support that.
1. I really want to tackle video content for Kol’s Notes this year. It’s such a perfect fit for our niche, but I am crazy afraid of it for some reason. I need more technical knowledge, so I know where to start.
2. I’m working to grow my Instagram account. I’m 97.8% certain I’m not really using it effectively and our photos kind of suck.
3. I’d like to strengthen my monetization and branding strategy to improve brand recognition and profit.
You want to know what questions you have when you arrive, otherwise how will you know where to even look for the answers?
Read up on the sessions
The entire schedule is up on the BlogPaws site. Take the time to sit down and read up on any session that supports the goals you identified. Review them to see if they seem within your skill level (ie. Advanced SEO might not be a great fit if you don’t know what the acronym stands for, mkay?) Keep your eyes on the BlogPaws Facebook page for LIVE videos from speakers and the BlogPaws team about what to expect. Check the BlogPaws blog a few times a week. Make sure you’re subscribed to the BlogPaws newsletter. There is so much great content leading up to the conference and it can help you decide where to focus.
If you aren’t sure a session is a good fit – ASK! All of the presenters are speaking at BlogPaws because they know their way around social media. You can absolutely reach out before the conference to ask questions about what their session will cover, who their target audience is and if something you’re really interested in will be covered. Which brings me to my next tip:
Stalk the Speakers on the interwebs.
Ok, so maybe you stop your stalking just short of any creepy stuff, please? There is SO much value in taking the time to research the speakers hosting sessions you think will help you achieve your goals. Check out their blogs. Watch any videos you can find of them. Connect with them on social media.
Does their communication style mesh with yours? Do you “get it” when they explain or share things? Does it feel like their content is speaking to you? Do they do something you want to improve at especially well? Not only does getting to know the speakers help you narrow down your session choices, but it gives you a great natural opening to talk to them at the conference. (“I read your post about getting people to leave comments last week. I thought what you had to say about it being a conversation was really interesting.”)
Sit at the front of the room
Ahhhhh, I know. Sitting up front is kind of scary. WHAT IF THE SPEAKER TALKS TO YOU OR ASKS YOU A QUESTION? You guys aren’t going to believe this when you meet me at the conference, but I’m actually kind of shy and socially awkward. I just put my game face on 4 days a year to really make the most of my time at BlogPaws (after that? I have to hide alone in my apartment for 3 days because I’m all peopled out.)
Sitting up front keeps you involved in what’s happening. Engage with the speaker! You know how disappointing it is when you write an amazeballs blog post and *no one comments on it*. That’s how the speakers feel when they share a ton of great info and all they get in 40 pairs of eyeballs quietly blinking back at them.
If you’re unclear on something they shared, ask them to clarify. If you’re wondering how to use their advice in a practical scenario, ask them to share. This could be your ONLY CHANCE to pick their brain and you’d hate to miss a game changer because you were too nervous ask. Just remember: when you ask a question, you’re representing all attendees. If your question is crazy super specific or if it applies only to you and your site, see if you can steal a minute or two with the speaker after the session.
Take Notes. Make ’em great and actionable.
I am a prolific note taker. I even draft up post notes before I sit down at the computer to write because studies show that writing out notes by hand increases information retention and helps you better understand the concepts. I’m also forgetful as Dory and I want to be able to go back and read my notes again later to put an action plan in place.
Tips for great note taking:
- Use Flags or tab dividers to create a separate note section for each session.
- Write subject headers in all caps with a heavy hand and notes for that topic in lower case normally under that heading(much like I would us <H3> tags to denote headings in a blog post, making my notes easier to read later.
- Use symbols to mark important notes. I use:
! Important or urgent items
✓ items to action
-> items to research
🙂 People to connect with
* Interesting facts
Make a Note Buddy
We already talked about how you can’t be in two places at once. With so many great sessions happening, chances are that you are going to miss something you really wanted to see. Divide and conquer. Find a blogger attending that session and agree to a note trade. As a bonus, you are more likely to absorb and understand the information shared, if you are trying to capture notes good enough to explain it to another person.
!! spoiler alert !! I’m working with the amazing BlogPaws team to create a way for all attendees to share notes. We’re ironing out the details and I’ll update y’all closer to the conference as how this will happen, how to share your notes and how to access the notes shared by other attendees.
RELAX. You can’t do it all, so give yourself permission to miss something.
If you spend all week trying to make sure you take advantage of every opportunity, to connect with all the bloggers, meet all the brands and do it all, you’re not only going to be running around like cat hopped up on the ‘nip, but you’re going to miss more than if you go in with a plan, focus on the things that support your goals and set yourself up for success.
Do you have a goal you’d like to achieve for your blog this year? A skill you’d like to develop?
Come to BlogPaws. Every single time I go, I learn something that helps make me a better blogger and Kol’s Notes a better site. I wouldn’t be doing what I am today if BlogPaws hadn’t helped me to set my goals and then smash ’em.
New to BlogPaws? You can save 10% on your registration using code
Register here: https://goo.gl/kBx2lr
Book your hotel here: https://goo.gl/xs4r9s
And don’t miss this opportunity to learn a heap about how to be the best blogger you can be.
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hang out with me to attend BlogPaws in Myrtle Beach?
What are your goals for this year? Is there already a session on your *must attend* list? Do you have questions? We got answers! Let us know your thoughts in the comment below.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BlogPaws. The opinions and text are all mine.