Post by BlogPaws CoFounder, Yvonne DiVita
Is that the height of hubris? I’m saying, “How I Became Me and How YOU Can Become Like Me,” as if… well, as if I was someone. Someone you’d like to be like.
Here’s the truth. It’s not hubris if it’s true. My success is something people ask me about all the time. How did I start this great pet blogger community? How did I become a professional blogger? How do I keep doing it, day after day? What is my next gig? It might not mean that YOU want to be like me, but I have not forgotten what it was like to be someone who wanted to know how to succeed…like…that person over there, or the person on the stage at a conference I was attending, or the person running my CEO group. And because that memory is still clear in my brain, and because I never want to forget those early days, I thought I’d write a post about how I became me…and how you can be like me.
Let me list the questions I get asked most often, and the answers to those questions. Then I’ll share how I think you, too, can perform at a level of achievement your competitors can’t (or won’t) match!
Q: Why did you start BlogPaws?
A: Because I could. Well, I don’t always say that because it’s snarky. But, it’s also true. We have to go back a few years to understand the WHY and the HOW of BlogPaws. I took my passion for writing to the web in 2004 after writing my book, and gradually, as I gained attention, speaking engagements and met some amazing people who understood the power of a blog, I created a business out of my work. Tom and I taught other people how to blog, back then. I also wrote a book about helping businesses reach women who shop online. In that effort, I was speaking at a conference where I met a marketing director from Purina® and pitched him a pet blog. He bought it. Scratchings and Sniffings was born, with a lot of help from Tom, of course! Tom and I then met Caroline Golon who was the blogger at Romeo the Cat. Fast forward to 2009 and the three of us met with a small group of pet folks at a BlogHer conference and we decided pet bloggers should have the same opportunities as those women bloggers…and BlogPaws was born.
That is the really short version, but you get it. Caroline and Tom and I saw a need, and we filled it. We had no idea how to create a community, or a conference, but we did it. We wanted to help our pet blogger friends learn to work with brands and improve their skills, and through our other connections, we developed a conference, which led to a community. The “why” is this: to help other people succeed.
Q: What is your work day like?
A: I wake up without an alarm – I have never used an alarm, my body knows what time to wake up and it does so. As I age, I find myself wanting to sleep in but unless I’m truly exhausted or unwell, I rise within a half hour of 6:30. I already know what the day will bring because I make lists and as I complete tasks, I check them off of the lists, so I know where to start the next day. It gives me great pleasure to put that check mark next to an item on my list, as I complete the tasks each day. I work phone calls in-between other tasks, and I take rather copious notes when I am on a call. BlogPaws, which some folks don’t seem to realize, is a for-profit media company that operates 365 days a year. We don’t merely run a conference, we run a business. I learned how to run a business well before launching BlogPaws…and with each day, each week, each month, I learn a little more.
My day ends at 5:00, much like yours. Sometimes I step away from the computer at 4:00 so I can go over my list, make notes for the next day, review notes from phone calls, and even do a little social media via my phone. If there is a chat, I start promoting that and fix something to eat (or Tom and I get pizza) so I’ll be ready to engage at 6:00 MT. Other evenings I might attend a networking event, read a book (right now I’m reading Body of Work by Pamela Slim), and watch TV. I am a TV junkie. I admit it. But, I also admit that I tend to do “something” while watching TV. So, I multi-task.
Q: Talk about your pets.
A: First, let it be known that I LOVE pets. I love animals. I find animals far better companions than people – for the most part. People can be deceptive and secretive and self-centered and all sorts of negative things, and the sense of betrayal I have experienced at the hands of people I’ve known is beyond sad. With animals, not so. I did not get my first pet until I was 12-years-old and Missy became my whole world, at that time. She was a precious collie-lab mix and I taught her the proper, polite skills a dog should know, and I took her everywhere with me, and I made it known that she came first…before all my friends, and certainly before my pesky brother and sister. I miss her, still.
Over the years, since then, I’ve had more dogs than cats, but I’ve also had guinea pigs, a rat, and I’ve been friends with a variety of other animals, most notably the ferret Snotface, who comes to BlogPaws every year.
At the house right now, we have our so expressive Emily, a treeing walker coonhound dog – who tries to talk, oh yes, she does! and who pretty much runs things at our house. Emily is one of the most intelligent dogs I’ve ever known! And we have our so precious Olive, a Boston Terrier rescued from a puppy mill (she must have had litter after litter after litter, before being rescued, I cannot even describe her condition when she came to us!), who thinks the sun and moon are in Emily’s eyes.
Then we have Molly, our beautiful kitty. My kitty girl. I say “my” but she’s really Tom’s girl. Oh yes, she dotes on the Tom. When she can have him all to herself, she latches on for dear life! She and Emily occasionally have words…
Here is the important thing to know about my pets – they are as much a part of me as a leg or an arm. They are not “things.” I have learned via BlogPaws and time how to be a better pet parent and I love that I am able to share that knowledge with a growing community of people who feel the same way. I will shut up now because otherwise this whole post will be about my pets. Yes, I’m that way.
Q: What is your favorite pet charity?
A: I can’t answer that. My favorite pet charity doesn’t exist. I support our local humane society (it’s where Emily is from, though she lived her early life in a research facility and then went to a place called Kindness Ranch until we adopted her), and I give to small rescues that really need my help and I am in awe of the pet rescues we serve at the BlogPaws conference, but my thought on charities and rescues and shelters is that if the world would just recognize and accept the power of the human animal bond, we wouldn’t need pet charities or rescues. Because we would take care of our animals the way we take care of each other.
Granted, we humans could do better with each other, also, but if I had a dollar for every tweet or email or other mention of “why are you wasting time and money on animals when people all over the world are suffering”, I’d have enough to retire on…and we’d be no closer to a solution to the problems besetting humanity. I firmly believe that our lives depend on accepting the power of the human animal bond…that it’s only when we accept the positive existence of animals in our lives and we learn to give them the care and respect they deserve, that we, as human beings of higher intelligence, will achieve peace and tranquility in our lives. I believe working to keep pets with their families – especially seniors – is necessary. I believe introducing children to pets early on and bringing pets into a child’s life as a therapy animal where needed, would solve a multitude of problems with children.
I believe we owe our existence to animals and we are not yet serving them properly. We are not yet giving them the thanks they are meant to receive.
Q: What’s in store for the BlogPaws of the future?
A: BlogPaws has a wealth of opportunities in front of us. We just brought on some new talent (Welcome Aimee and Bernard!) and we’re working with even more brands this year than last year. We’re planning a super-fantastic conference for 2016, with some surprises, and we’re learning how we can better serve the pet community at large because that is, after all, our first and most important purpose: to help our pet bloggers achieve their goals and successes. By doing this, we know that we are serving the greater world of pets in general.
I am especially excited about the creative ideas each member of the BlogPaws team brings to our weekly calls. I’m proud of each one of them and how they have stepped up to do what it takes to make a difference in a world that can be dark, skeptical, sometimes angry, and often misunderstood.
BlogPaws is still just at the beginning. We have come so far and we have so far yet to go… but with each passing year we achieve new results and meet new people and make strides into showing a world that scrutinizes every move we make that we are true to our goals and true to our cause. We help pet bloggers be all that they can be. And in doing so, we support pets everywhere, all day, every day.
And that is how I got to be who I am.
I worked hard.
I stumbled here and there and I stood up to some bullies who wanted to kick mud in my face.
I embraced the passion I have for animals and I became what I am now.
At no time then, nor now, have I believed I “know it all…”
Instead, I remain in learning mode. I learn from Carol, and Chloe, and Robbi. I learn from Felissa and Bernard and Aimee. I learn from Tom. I learn from every blogger I’ve ever worked with and from the many Ambassadors who have helped out with BlogPaws’ conferences. I sometimes learn that I got it wrong – that what I believed or studied was outdated. I sometimes discover that I am judgmental, without meaning to be. I often discover that for each person I convince to understand and accept the power of the human animal bond, there are two more standing in the wings scoffing at my teachings. And still, I don’t give up. I never give up. I never say… stop.
That is How I Came to Be Me and How You can be like me if you want.
Just create whatever it is you wish to create – but first you must believe…then, you must work…then, you must collaborate…then, you must…study…then, you must listen…and then, you must do it all over again. Like I did.
It was simple. But it wasn’t easy.