Monday, May 7, 2018

A Different Experience - BlogPaws 2018 #sponsored

This summer will mark the 10th anniversary of blogging with my cats. Little did I know, BlogPaws® was celebrating its 10th anniversary this year at the conference in Kansas City, MO. This was my fourth year attending the BlogPaws conference and I'd been excited since the announcement last Summer. However, this year, the BlogPaws conference was a different experience for me.


Flat Truffle & Brulee preparing for BlogPaws
Flat Brulee and Truffle preparing for the excitement of BlogPaws 2018


I'd already purchased my early bird ticket last summer and was in the middle of preparations for the conference with securing special swag for my blogging buddies, packing, and planning out my schedule. We were informed earlier that BlogPaws had been acquired by Chewy®, so I knew there would be some changes with the conference and organization I've come to love. To my pleasant surprise, Chewy.com sponsored my trip to BlogPaws this year as a BlogPaws Conference Sponsored Blogger. The goal of this sponsorship was for me to share my experiences with our readers about the conference this year. As I sat down to put my thoughts together for this post, I tried to think of a theme that would tie all of my emotions, experiences, and opportunities together. This year was distinctive for me for a lot of reasons, so I want to share the 10th Anniversary BlogPaws Conference through the lens of experiencing differences.


Sweet Purrfections logo paw print
Sweet Purrfections logo on the BlogPaws paw prints that were scattered throughout the conference


Networking

One of my favorite parts of attending a BlogPaws Conference is meeting the people behind the blogs. I've been lucky the past 10 years to have met a lot of people behind the blogs in my travels for work, but nothing could compare me for the talented people who attend BlogPaws. Some of these people are "legends" to me because they were people I looked to for assistance when I began blogging. I remember feeling a little nervous meeting some of these people for the first time four years ago because I'd admired their work from afar. I must say, these are the nicest, most helpful, engaging, supportive, and energetic people to meet in the blogging world. I was a mess this year when I arrived at the conference because I'd left Truffle with the vet because she had an infection from her surgery and Brulee was home alone for the first time ever. I experienced tears, stress, disappointment, and joy while at the conference and I can honestly say it was the people who helped me survive this year! They truly made a difference!

Cat Bloggers at BlogPaws Conference
Just a few of the cat bloggers who attended the 10th Anniversary BlogPaws Conference

The unique experience of meeting the cat bloggers includes socializing, sharing life experiences (especially about the cats), and learning. I've learned so much through these conversations that have helped me to grow and change over the years. I've expanded my social network to include some wonderful dog (and other types of pets) bloggers who've added joy to my life and who are more than willing to offer support with the blog. The conference offered opportunities to socialize and learn with other bloggers through social events, workshops, sessions, and special areas located in the conference area to chat.

Engagement with Brands

I remember being intimidated my first year attending the BlogPaws conference when I walked into the Exhibit Hall to meet the brand representatives. I thought they wouldn't be interested in my small blog, but to my surprise, they were delightful, accepting, engaging, and truly interested in my girls and what we had to offer to both the brands and our readers. Now that I'm a veteran attendee at the BlogPaws Conference, I looked forward to reconnecting with some of the brands while meeting new companies with exciting and interesting products.

Collage of Brands at BlogPaws Conference
Some of the Brands I was able to engage with (top left to bottom right): Wellness, Pioneer Pet, Stella & Chewy's, Meowijuana, Halo, Merrick, Frontline, Weruva, and Humarian

One memorable meeting was with Tomlyn this year. I'd talked with one of their representatives at Global Pet Expo a few weeks earlier and they had given me a sample of the Pill Masker to try with the girls. I had no idea that the next week Truffle would need surgery to remove bladder stones and need to take medication. She loved this product (I will share a review of their products later) and I couldn't wait to tell Tomlyn about it. I was honored when Tomlyn asked me to participate in a Facebook Live interview to talk about my blog and the BlogPaws conference. You can watch the interview here

Sessions and Workshops

As a former middle school mathematics teacher and college professor, I believe that we are lifelong learners and should take every opportunity to discover something new. The sessions and workshops at the BlogPaws conference provides this opportunity to me every year. I attended sessions and workshops sponsored by representatives from brands and the social media community. I am working on a rebranding of the Sweet Purrfections' blog this summer and the session Making a Brand Swipe Right: Getting a Relationship with the Brands You Deserve featuring Jenny Guy offered so many tips to help me in this process. 

Jenny Guy presentation
My favorite learning session

Another informative session, The Sound of Silence: Don't Walk Alone on the Influencer Path, was presented by Felissa Elfenbein. Felissa stressed that each of us are our best advocates for our blogs. She also encouraged us to comment on blog posts of individuals who visit our posts. This was a great reminder for me to remember to engage with those who take the time to visit. 

BlogPaws also offers individual pet influencers the opportunity to meet with experts in the One-on-One sessions. These 10 minute sessions allow you to meet with someone to talk and strategize about a specific project, problem, or goal. These sessions were invaluable for me as I move forward with rebranding the blog.

Recognition

This past year has brought about a lot of changes in my life both personally and professionally. As a recent retiree, I've fought some depression because of the perception that my talents and expertise weren't appreciated or valued anymore. Having someone tell you at the BlogPaws conference that you helped them with their blog or that they've always admired your work was the reassuring stroke I needed. 

Recognitions at BlogPaws
Special Recognition at BlogPaws Conference

In addition to the personal displays of support from individuals in the pet influencer network, I also received recognition from BlogPaws and Chewy.com for my work with Sweet Purrfections. Our logo was one of 10 selected from registered attendees to be displayed on the paw tracks that were displayed throughout the hotel to provide direction for attendees. I received a Certificate of Achievement as a Nose-to-Nose Finalist in the Best Written Pet Blog Post - Sponsored category this year. I was honored to be selected by Chewy.com as one of the ten BlogPaws Conference Sponsored Bloggers. 

BlogPaws 2018 Nose-to-Nose Finalists
Photo courtesy BlogPaws and Chewy.com

Celebrating History; Embracing Change

BlogPaws was formed by four special individuals ten years ago. I'm sure they had no idea how much the organization would grow and change. I consider the BlogPaws organization and team not only a group of like-minded pet influencers who are sharing their knowledge and skills with everyone, but as friends. Several of the team members I've interacted with the past four years are moving in a different direction. Their guidance, support, and friendship will always be treasured and I wish them the best in their future endeavors. There will be new team members to work with through Chewy.com and I find this exciting and challenging as I, too, move forward in a new and different direction. I've been a pet influencer with Chewy.com since December 2011 when the girls were still kittens, so I look forward to working with them in a different capacity as they take the lead with BlogPaws. I like to say that the girls have "grown up" with Chewy.com and hope to continue our special relationship with this caring company. Change is always a little scary, but I embrace the future with excitement and interest. 


Members of the BlogPaws and Chewy.com Team at the 10th Anniversary Conference (L to R) - Aimee Beltran, Bernard Lima-Chavez, Felissa Elfenbein, Maggie Marton, Carol Bryant, Mara Castro, Sydney Villegas
Photo courtesy BlogPaws

I will share additional photos of the pets I was able to meet, the pet influencers (both old and new), the Cat Lounge, and the swag over the next several days. I think I could write a book about my experiences at the BlogPaws conference.

I would like to thank Chewy.com for the opportunity to serve as a Sponsored Blogger for the BlogPaws conference.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chewy. The opinions and text are all mine.

27 comments:

  1. My human and I SO enjoyed BlogPaws this year, and loved visiting with you! How fun, that when you first started coming to these events, you were looking up to everybody and now you are one of our VIHs (Very Important Humans). We love that.

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  2. I'm glad you had a good time and learned a lot at BlogPaws. I hope to be able to go one of these years - it just has not been possible yet.

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  3. WE sure enjoyed this post and we loved seeing the photos of everything we missed.

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  4. What a great post summarizing the conference. I was so happy to be able to get together with you and other cat bloggers. ~Island Cat Mom

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  5. Thank you for this great post about what we missed not attending!

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  6. Great post! BlogPaws is the most helpful, welcoming community I can imagine. I was so sorry I couldn't make the conference this year. Maybe next year!

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  7. Terrific write up on your thoughts and feeling about the BlogPaws experience!

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  8. It was great to see you there. I love the chance to catch up with everyone, to learn and to meet with brands that BlogPaws offers

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  9. It sounds like BlogPaws was a wonderful experience for you and we love how you've described the difference between then and now. We still hope to attend someday, if they ever come all the way to the west coast. Thanks for sharing a great post!

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  10. mom loved seeing you again and was glad you were able to make it even with everything going on with the girls.

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  11. We're glad you had great time and learned so much at BlogPaws. Purrs

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  12. So glad you had a great experience despite your worries about leavng your furkids ! All's well that ends well !

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  13. Excellent post about BlogPaws and terrific photos. I know those that didn't attend wish they had after reading this. Hugs, Janet

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  14. What an excellent post about a great conference! Our mom had a great time this year, and always has fun with you. We're excited to see what the future brings for BlogPaws and Chewy. We consider both a part of our family.

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  15. The other cat bloggers are the best part. If that was taken out of the equation, I wouldn't even bother. This is a fantastic summary of all the great things we saw and experienced.

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  16. We loved BlogPaws and made some valuable brand contacts which is amazing for us in New Zealand. Affiliates and sponsorships abounded this year and as it was our second trip it made a big difference that we were, like you, prepared for a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.

    I am sad to see our BlogPaws team so. Carol Bryant in particular has been a guide and inspiration to so many. She now looks busier than ever (OK memo to self where DO they get the energy from!)

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  17. Such a fabulous post Paula! I've never had the opportunity to attend a conference, but as it's going to be in Florida next year who knows!! Your passion for your blog and for the community absolutely shines through, and I imagine it must be incredible to meet fellow bloggers in person we only know online. Having the opportunity to get to know brands and brand representatives must be such a boost to a blog, it's probably about time I started spreading my wings a bit more. Thanks and please remember you are always enough. Now that you're retired a whole new and exciting world has opened up. Go and enjoy!

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  18. I could not agree with you more on the benefits of attending a conference such as BlogPaws. The main being the connections made with people and brands. I've seen it by both attending and organizing conferences. My goal is to attend BlogPaws next year and connect with fellow pet bloggers and brands.

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  19. As much as I enjoy reading about everyones experience, the fun times they have, the people they meet at the BlogPaws conferences, I'm a little sad that I have yet to go to attend one :( I know that having the support of like minded people in this industry can be a big boost, as well as the connections and friendships that are made.

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  20. So glad you were able to attend -- and did Cat Bloggers proud! Also glad both your girls are doing well now. Retirement means OPPORTUNITY to embrace your future dreams. Go, YOU!

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  21. Great write-up on your experience this year. Happy that I was able to meet you at the Phoenix conference. And hope to meet you again!

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  22. I'm glad the conference was another great experience for you! I knew you were so worried about Truffle, so I'm glad (but not surprised) that you had a supportive group at BlogPaws.

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  23. Great post and loved reading about everything that happened for you there. I hope one day I will be able to make it but till then will have to carry on reading blogs

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  24. Great recap and indeed this conference was full of activities and great stuff but best of all having the chance to connect and meet so many people and make new friends. Congrats on your recognition very happy for you!

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  25. Congrats on being a Chewy Sponsored blogger this year! You really do an awesome job with your blog. The consistency that you've had through everything is amazing. I love getting to see all of Truffle and Brulee's adventures. Thanks for the recap on the conference too. I'm glad that I can see everything despite having been unable to make it this year. :)
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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  26. Congratulations on being a Chewy Sponsored blogger! What a journey you've been on since retiring. Thanks to the BP community and your girls you are on a brand new exciting path. I'm definitely a fan of your blog and your girls are gorgeous. Keep doing what you do Paula! Only bigger and better things await.

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  27. Just so you know Paula, when I get to BlogPaws (hopefully next year) you are one of those people that I look up to and want to meet. I love your blog, and your cute little Persians. I followed you before I started my little thing and joined up to BlogPaws and I hope someday my little project can be as successful as yours.

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