by Yvonne DiVita, BlogPaws Co-Founder
-It’s that time of the year, again. Time to turn our full attention to the national educational conference we hold for our community of bloggers. This is held every year, generally in the month of May. The 2014 BlogPaws Conference was in Vegas, where a near sellout crowd learned better skills in a variety of topics, including but not limited to Twitter, Facebook, photography, FTC rulings, copyright and trademark uses. It’s where we saw a lot of sunshine, got to hug old friends and make some new friends, and everyone got nose-to-nose with a large group of pet brands, in our exhibit hall. And, many attendees even got their picture taken with the capybara in attendance. Oh yes, BlogPaws is pet-friendly to the max! Just what do bloggers seek in educational conference speakers?photo bybecka.com
The BlogPaws National Educational Conference for Bloggers Everywhere
As we prepare for the New Year, and all of the possibility it promises, we find ourselves taking time to review what was and what could have been. We never rest on our laurels, at BlogPaws. Each and every one of our community members is important to us and we do listen to their advice. Because of that focus, we review our feedback forms and the notes we took at the meeting of the Executive Team, the Sunday after the conference. We discuss the chatter we hear on social, in our channels and those channels we are connected to tangentially. It’s important for us to have a rounded view of our bloggers, something that shows them as individuals but also as a dedicated group of people who want many of the same things.
What are the things our bloggers want?
First and foremost, the BlogPaws community wants to learn. They want to learn how to improve their social media skills, their business skills, their understanding of brands and programs, and how to work together for a better result. In essence, I believe our bloggers are passionately committed to animals in ways that only they can share. And because of that, I work extra hard to try and bring the best content I can find to our events.
They want to engage with each other. This is why our conference is a sellout or near sellout every year.Photo courtesy BlogPaws photo contest October: www.gspotsylvania.wordpress.com – Ginny Tata Phillips
The bloggers also want to support non-profit causes that care for animals everywhere. It’s not just about the great shelter in their own backyard, or the purpose one of them has (Santa Paws is big this time of year), or the national attention a popular campaign is getting. It’s about the real welfare of animals the world over, because all animals are important to human existence. All animals matter.
They want to be recognized and respected for their work. Much of their work is on their blogs. Some of it is on microblogs like Twitter and Facebook. All of it is important.
And, they want to have fun. Let’s be serious a minute – the world can be a dark place at times. If you’re in this space, the pet welfare and support space, you know all about tragedy and fear and neglect. It colors your world on a regular basis. So much so, that we all need to step away now and then, to laugh, to joke, to hug, to poke fun… sharing the cute cat videos we find, or the funny sayings that tell the world, “yes, I sleep with my dog,” or, “yes, I dress my cat up!” or “yes, my ferret talks to me.” And sometimes, we just need to howl, like the puppies in the picture. AArrrooooo!
And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, there is everything right with it! Just ask any pet blogger.
Bringing Our Community Focus to the National Educational Conference
Where does all of that fit into the conference we’re deep in preparing for, now? Well, as I reviewed proposals, and looked at my notes about the sessions and on-site events from last year, I work hard to remember how passionate my bloggers are, to understand their need for educational content relevant to success in blogging, and their desire for some good, old-fashioned furry fun. Because of all that, I feel a commitment to provide the best of the best at the BlogPaws National Education Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, May 28 -30, 2015.
That is why I personally review each proposal, and look at each video, before sharing the most relevant ones with my team. This year, I was truly blown away by the quality and caliber of speaker proposals. It was as if the folks responding to our RFP raised the bar on themselves! The proposals I reviewed this year made me want to extend the conference for three more days! That’s how long it would have to be in order to fit all of the outstanding content I got to review. But, alas, our conference is two and a half days of highly engaged activity and learning, and not a moment more. That’s how it has to be.
As we move into our 7th conference, I stand on solid ground knowing the work I’m doing is so important, it requires 100 percent of my attention, over a period of weeks and months.
To that end, once I have chosen the primary session topics, with options for “creative” opportunities (I do know that I will encounter interesting and dynamic proposals that have topics not necessarily on my list, but which deserve consideration nonetheless), my team and I work closely to discuss the best proposals and the best speakers.
We do know that we cannot, ever, make everyone happy. And, sometimes, yes, sometimes, I make a judicial decision and choose a speaker outside of the chosen topics, based on the quality of the proposal, the knowledge demonstrated in the topic presented, and the video or recommendations shared. I do this because I feel strongly about the topic, or the person.
This year we also did something entirely new. We chose to only contact those speakers whose proposals were our top choices for the 2015 conference. It may seem that we left some folks hanging, but this decision was noted in the RFP, so all speakers who submitted a proposal should have been aware of it.
As of the writing of this post, the tentative agenda is almost complete. As everyone who has ever attended a BlogPaws conference knows, we reserve the right to make changes to the agenda, all the way up to the opening day of the conference. We also know that life happens. Some speakers may not be able to make it, after all. The agenda may change, at some point. We hope it doesn’t, but it may.
We have some of the very best speakers on the planet, coming to present at BlogPaws 2015. We have some talented and exciting experts for our Table Topics and something new, One on One sessions. Oh yes, we’ll talk about that soon! And, we have the absolute most amazing keynotes on planet Earth. You will learn more about all of this, over the coming weeks. On January 5th the official notice of all speakers will be announced. You can check out our keynotes in the meantime, as the lineup is stellar.
Working on the National Educational Conference for bloggers everywhere, each and every year, takes a concerted effort from a large team of people. Each of those people are assisted by a pet or two or three… in some way. Each of those people is just as passionate about animals as anyone in the community they serve. And each one wants the conference to be the best event ever, for the attendees, the brands that grace us with their presence and all of the animals who don’t know who vital they are, but without whom none of this would be possible.