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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.
Seven years ago, when I started Kol’s Notes, I had no idea that pet blogging was like…a thing.
I started a quiet little blogspot – for free – with no design, no logo, and nothing special about it. You guys, they will let like ANYONE make the internet. You don’t need any particular skills or qualifications. There’s no application or license. You’re just allowed to be a part of the world wide web. This fact that continues to boggle and terrify my mind a little. I had been given the keys to a powerful vehicle and I had no idea how to drive it. I did have had a puggle who was too sassy for his own good, a rescue dog who was an adorable hot mess, a couple creative writing and journalism courses behind me and oodles of spare time. I imagined that my Mom and maybe 6 or 7 of my closest friends would read what I wrote, that the blog would be a silly creative outlet for me (I totally blogged in Kolchak voice) and that was it. In my head I was saying “I will write the things; people will read the things. There. That’s all there is to blogging.” HA! Oh man, that girl was a dreamer but she had no idea what she was getting into. NAIVE should have been the name of the blog. I frequently go back to read our early posts, as a reminder that sometimes things aren’t what you had planned, but they can be so much more and so much better, if you let them.
I can’t remember how I found BlogPaws, but I remember being totally in awe of what they were sharing.
Was it through the Wordless Wednesday blog hop? Maybe through a post on one of the pet blogs I followed, but was too scared to comment on? I’m not sure, but I remember reading about the BlogPaws conference and thinking HOLY WOOF, this blog could be so much more than I ever had planned for it. When I told my family I was spending a pretty penny to attend a pet blogging conference in Salt Lake City and travelling by myself for the first time ever, I’m pretty sure they all thought I had come unglued. Walking into the exhibit hall that first day, I was dizzied by just how many people were there, how many brands were represented and how out of place I felt. These were professionals who knew what they were doing. I promptly returned to my room for a 20 minute panic attack. Fast forward a few years and Kol’s Notes was different place. With the help of BlogPaws, we were working with some of our favourite brands to promote the things we loved. The site was self-supporting, meaning I was no longer spending a ton of money to maintain it because brands were happy to sponsor our projects and giveaways. We were giving back to shelters and rescues. The site looked like a real website with a site map and categories and social media channels. I was confidently referring to myself as a lifestyle blogger. People, actual people, WHO DIDN’T KNOW ME were regular visitors to this blog. Even today, sometimes I look at all Kol’s Notes has become, the sheer number of people who visit the site or interact with us on social media and I’m overcome by the feeling that this is so surreal. I’m incredibly lucky.
If you’ve ever thought that you have something to share with the pet loving world, be it advice or projects or stories or whatever speaks to your heart, the BlogPaws Conference is the place to help you figure out how to best create that message and amplify it.
Whether you’re just thinking about a blog or you’ve been doing this a while and want to reach more people or present yourself more professionally or just learn your way around the social media lingo, this pet blogging and social media conference can help. Check out this year’s conference schedule and speaker list. BlogPaws has really stepped up their game in recent years and I am so excited to attend some of the lectures on using video on your blog because that is one of my goals for Kol’s Notes this year. I’m even MORE excited to be a BlogPaws Ambassador, which means I get the chance to share some of my BlogPaws experiences with you guys and be a part of the magic behind the scenes at the conference.
I would love the chance to meet you, get to know your blog (or blog idea) better and talk about how you can take your ideas to the next level at BlogPaws in Myrtle Beach, May 18 – 20, 2017. Mark yo’ calendars folks.
(Yeah, did I mention the conference is always in some pretty fab places? Who doesn’t want to go on a work trip to the beach?!)
I know travel can be crazy expensive, especially if your blog isn’t earning it’s keep (yet) or if you’re coming from outside the US. (That US exchange is terrible right now. TERRIBLE.) I’ve been there! I’m Canadian, eh, (with glowing heart) and seeing the total cost of the trip, then converting it from US to CAD made my heart sink more than a little.
However, I truly believe the connections I made with brands and other bloggers at BlogPaws have been a huge part of my success in making this site not only professional and popular, but profitable. It’s worth the cost of the trip for the people alone, but the great sessions are like the delicious fruit topping on the delicious cheesecake. (Another BlogPaws strength: they get an A+ for desserts.)
To make travelling a little more affordable, I’ve got a few tips and tricks to keep more of your hard earned dollah billz in your pockets (or more accurately, in your pet’s pockets. Your dog called, they’d like bully sticks with whatever money you save, mkay?)
How to Save Money Attending the BlogPaws Conference
1. If you don’t already have a ticket, buy one PDQ, using my Ambassador discount code.
The closer we get to the conference, the higher the chance that tickets will sell out or increase in price. Your conference ticket includes not only all the sessions, but access to the exhibitor halls, a bunch of meals, a swag bag that puts the WAG in swag, and more. The food is always delicious and plentiful, there’s a kick ass coffee bar for the caffeine addicts like me and they usually sneak a drink ticket or two into your welcome package for the cocktail parties.
You can buy your BlogPaws Conference tickets here. Use discount code BP17-10off-Ambassador to magically whisk 10% off your ticket price.
2. Share a room (and a ride)
OK, so my secret introvert side is waving it’s hands, flashing red lights and going “YOU WANT PEOPLE TO SHARE A ROOM WITH A STRANGER?!” but honestly? Room sharing is one of the best things I’ve done at BlogPaws. I’m terrible roommate and somehow, I’ve managed to make some of my very best friends (real life and blogging) by sharing rooms at BlogPaws – even when we *barely* knew each other before the conference. Elizabth from Chronicles of Cardigan (Dewy, squeee!) is the Newbie Ambassador, but one of the coolest parts of her newbie group on the Blogpaws Social Learning Community is the room sharing and ride sharing discussion. Get in there and make a friend! It’s so awesome to be able to feel like you have a partner in crime.
3. Check your travel dates
I was able to save a TON by flying out on Monday, instead of Sunday. Maybe you can save if you arrive Wednesday instead of Thursday. I can’t make any promises, but it’s totally worth looking at. The Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel is offering it’s special BlogPaws Rate for three days before and after the conference, so you can totally take advantage of that.
Reserve your hotel room now to make sure you’ve got a place to stay.
4. Look for a sponsor (or sponsors).
I know! I know, I can see you roll your eyes like “Um, I’m coming to the conference to learn how to do this. What makes you think someone will want to pay for that?” OK, VALID POINT. But, it’s always worth asking. Is there a brand in your area that might love the idea of a local representative bringing their message to the conference? For International bloggers, maybe there’s a brand in your country trying to break into the US market? You can always ask. I’ve had a lot of success getting sponsorships for events by asking for small, itemized sponsorships (like asking them to sponsor your business card order in exchange for their logo on them and a blog post) vs. asking people to sponsor your whole trip. There are rules for sponsored bloggers, so make sure you reach out to BlogPaws to find out what you can and can’t do before making any crazy promises.
5. Order business cards online now
The closer you leave this to the conference, the more it’s going to cost you. I order my cards from Vistaprint because it’s crazy cheap, but I usually spring for a paper upgrade to feel fancy as woof.
6. Don’t get caught up in the swag game
I know, I always think people will like me better if I have some really cool swag to give away. It’s so easy to go overboard. You don’t have to do this. BlogPaws’ers are great folks. They’re going to be super nice, whether you hand them a business card or a cookie or anything else. Blogger swag is not a requirement.
RSVP “WOOF YES” to the conference event on Facebook, plus follow BlogPaws on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay hip to all the news and announcements leading up to the conference.
Bloggers who have been there, help a dog out! What are your money saving travel tips? What did you get out of your BlogPaws conference experience that you couldn’t get anywhere else??
Do you have BlogPaws questions? Ask me anything! I’m happy to help you figure out if a trip to BlogPaws is the right fit for you and how to get the most out of your pet blogging conference experience.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BlogPaws. The opinions and text are all mine.