October has been a very busy month! I don’t usually travel all that much, but in October I made two trips back east. You already heard about our trip to Knoxville visiting PetSafe. After visiting Knoxville I had a couple weeks off then flew back to Atlanta for the BarkWorld Expo where I had the opportunity to meet fellow pet bloggers, brands, and learned a little more about how to make the Puppy In Training blog more successful.
BarkWorld Expo 2012
So what the heck is BarkWorld and why was I there? From the BarkWorld Expo website:
Founded in 2009, BarkWorld Expo was created by Denise Quashie, Social Media Strategist for Socially Planned. After putting her dog, Frankie Beans, on Twitter she realized there was a large pet loving community using social media; however there was little education being provided at other pet expositions and conferences for this community. Being an award-winning event & social media producer, Denise thought it only made sense to create a conference for this community. With that, she created BarkWorld Expo and has continued to build strong online support for the cause of sharing and educating pet lovers within social media.
Why was I at BarkWorld? If you remember earlier in the year I put together my goal post for 2012. Unfortunately, several of these goals will go unaccomplished, but after attending BarkWorld I know I’ve at least accomplished one of my blogging goals.
Lets quickly revisit those goals for 2012:
- GOAL: 366 Days of Blogging – Unfortunately, this one is not going to happen. We started strong going about 60 days in a row, but technical difficulties really side tracked us.. I did recently read that Jodi Stone over at Heart Like A Dog is approaching her goal of blogging every day for 2 consecutive years! That’s amazing! Congratulations Jodi!
- GOAL: Write 52 Articles For My Autoresponder – I think I got about six articles into the autoresponder, but I’m not too pleased with them and I’m not too sure I want to build the autoresponder anymore…We’ll take another look at this in 2013.
- GOAL: Attend BlogPaws and Barkworld Expo – Mission Accomplished! I was fortunate enough to attend both BlogPaws and BarkWorld Expo this year. Hopefully I can do the same next year.
- GOAL: Write An eBook – This probably won’t happen this year, but I’ve gotten some great ideas after meeting and attending BlogPaws and BarkWorld.
- GOAL: Build A Membership Site – Something I’m still interested in doing, but it probably will not happen in 2012.
- GOAL: 2,000 Facebook “likes” – Achieved! and then some! We currently sit at 9,207 Facebook Likes! We’ve learned a lot about Facebook in the past 10 months and after receiving a credit from Facebook Ads we decided to give their ad program a shot and had brilliant results. We continue to run Facebook Ad Campaigns and also make sure to update our Facebook status on a regular basis. A lot of our current Facebook success can be attributed to our consultations with PetSmart during our Build A Business Blog case study.
- GOAL: 250K Page Views a Month - unless something miraculous happens like an extreme viral moment this is most likely not going to happen in 2012. However, we did have a record month in October with 82,223 visitors and 123,697 total page views according to Google Analytics. Maybe 2013 will be the year we break the 200K mark.
We’ll revisit these goals sometime around the end of this year or beginning of 2013.
Back To BarkWorld
So what did I do at BarkWorld this year? I made sure to arrive early so I could participate in the Social Petworking Offline Speed Dating for Bloggers. I felt very lucky because only a handful of pet bloggers were allowed to participate in this session.
The speed dating session was an excellent experience. Basically I was given a list with times and brand names. We were given the chance to meet with each brand on our list for 6 minutes. If you’re interested in participating in the speed dating session next year make sure you have your elevator pitch prepped and ready to go. The speed dating session was a great chance to meet one-on-one with several brands in a short period of time.
I did want to mention that Flexi far and away exceeded expectations during the speed dating session as they prepared several custom leashes (you can actually go to the Flexi website and design your own myflexi leash) for each pet blogger. Check out the 3 leashes they gave to us:
We really like using our Flexi leash during training to work on recalls with our puppies, but we don’t use our Flexi as an every day leash because it can be difficult to control a dog with a Flexi. If you’re interested in using a Flexi leash please make sure and read the precautions and warnings on the back of the package.
BarkWorld’s Education Sessions
Check out the 2012 BarkWorld Schedule. There’s a ton to learn at BarkWorld and while this event was very similar to BlogPaws at also had many differences. One thing I did notice about the educations sessions was that BarkWorld was more focused on blog monetization and the blogger/brand relationship. That was great for me because I was very interested in both subjects.
A few sessions that really stuck out for me were
- Showcase your Influence: How To Make The Most Of The Blogger Brand Relationship – This was a great session that brought together 3 professional and gave the perspective from pet blogger, brand, and public relations. As a pet blogger hearing all 3 representatives speak really helped me understand how the relationship between blogger and brand works. I was especially excited and impressed to hear Jaime Derringer from Dog Milk talk about her experiences. Be prepared and be professional when you speak with brand representatives. While many of us like to speak through our pets voice it’s important to make sure you are professional and use your own voice when talking to a brand.
- Navigating The Pet Lifestyle Landscape: How To Attract Readers And Advertisers With The Hottest Trend In Pet Blogging - This session really focused on product reviews. This was of special interest to me not only because of the blogging aspect, but because I’ve been searching for modern home for about 4 years now in particular I’ve been looking for an Eichler home. While I don’t have a cat any of the furniture from Moderncat.net or Dog-Milk.com would look great in my new home. Paid or unpaid product reviews? That was a questions I had…while I haven’t been offering unpaid reviews mainly because I can’t handle the sheer volume of requests this got me thinking about some alternate ways to still offer product reviews at no charge. I think it was actually Amy Burkert that mentioned she receives products, but doesn’t promise reviews and once a year does a best of review for her favorite products…hmmm…
- Finding And Keeping Sponsors – I was very excited for this educational session because I’m currently looking for sponsors for PuppyInTraining.com. Not only that I was particularly interested in hearing Joanne McGonagle from The Tiniest Tiger and Amy Burkert from GoPetFriendly.com speak. I’m sure we are all trying to figure out how much we should be charging for that 300×250 banner ad in the sidebar above the fold. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a straightforward answer, but it was mentioned that you should think of your number then add 10% because as pet bloggers we are undervaluing ourselves.
- Making Of The Madonna Of The Mills – A Labor Of Love – I nearly missed this session, but I’m glad I didn’t. I’d already seen Madonna of the Mills, but after listening to Andy Nibley talk about the movie I was so impressed I wanted to buy several copies of his DVD and give them to my friends. He was very inspirational and it was great listening to him talk about the Madonna of the Mills project and how he got started. I wish he had a few for sale in the back because I definitely would have bought copies for friends and family.
I really enjoyed almost all of the educational sessions and keynotes, but these 4 really stood out in my opinion. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2013!
Meet Pet Brands
I already talked about our speed dating experiences where we got to meet with several pet brands for 6 minutes. However, there’s also the exhibitioners hall where you can meet and find out how major brands like to work with bloggers.
I made several great contacts and I’m hoping to build a solid relationship with several brands I met while at BarkWorld.
Meet Pet Bloggers
One of the best parts about BarkWorld was getting the chance to meet my fellow pet bloggers that I only get to chat with online. Meeting people face to face is very important and every pet blogger I’ve met has always been super nice, encouraging, and supportive.
Are you ever chatting with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife watching their eyes glaze over as you talk about your blog? Just think of the same situation, but instead of glazed over eyes the person you talk to is super excited, helpful, and experienced similar situations. That’s what it’s like to meet a fellow pet blogger!
I probably learned just as much or more talking to Jessica at You Did What With Your Weiner, Lorie over at Pet Healthcare Gazette, Nancy at LIPetPlace.com, and Stacy over at PetsWeekly as well as many others throughout the weekend. Everyone has very different experiences in the pet blogging world and are willing to share those experiences. It really exciting to hear about the different opportunities such as building Facebook reach, monetizing with banner ads, monetizing newsletter subscribers, and learning about which pet brands are working extensively within the blogging community.
It All Had To End, But What About the Swag?
If you are a pet blogger and you have the means I highly recommend you attend BarkWorld. It’s a great chance to meet your fellow pet bloggers and pet brands face to face. There’s also the education sessions that teach you how to be a better blogger. Finally, everyone is very friendly so it’s a great chance to make new friends…oh by the way did I mention the swag? I only had so much room in my bag, but here’s what I brought home from BarkWorld:
So what about you guys? Are you planning on going to BarkWorld 2013? Have you been to BarkWorld in the past? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.