But without much ado, here is my list of the 10 things I learned about pets and pet blogging at Barkworld Expo 2012.
|A caricature of Lulu and Cappy, done at Barkworld.|
- Making your site a go-to for the local community, and a way to bring your community together to get behind pets is not easy. There is no magic bullet, or at least pet bloggers have not found a magic bullet to get people interested in forming local pet communities. It is a function of my blog, but I've found it hard here as well. I need to go to Meetup.com and start doing more digging for local dog groups. We met the founder of Meetup.com, Matt Meeker, and he talked about how hard it is even in the Meetup.com community. But it is important to build those bonds. Orlando has great potential... we just need to all break out of our shells.
- The pet blogger community is huge! It's more than dogs and cats. And if you want to grow your blog, you need to network.
- LinkedIn is not as confusing as it seems. I did a seminar on LinkedIn, and I'm already putting into practice what I've learned to grow my connections. Hopefully that will lead to bigger things.
- You don't have to get involved on EVERY Social Media platform. At Central Florida Blogger Conference I learned that you have to Engage and Socialize. And while it is still essential to do both, it is not essential to do it on all platforms. In other words, I don't need to be bigger on Instagram, or get a Tumblr account. But I would still like to grow my Facebook page. 26 likes is pathetic. If you're reading this, please follow me on Facebook at Facebook.com/Luluthebeagle.
- Don't be afraid to introduce yourself. My mother is awesome at this. She was at Barkworld, and she was lighting up the Exhibitor Area. It was impressive. I called her my herald because she was always a table ahead of me, announcing my presence to the room. I am horrible at this. I never know what to say at the moment I need to say it. I've never been good at selling myself. If I want to be able to monetize my blog, I have to learn to do this better. There is money. Wow, is there money.
Time for a doggy intermission:
- The Amish have puppy mills. And they're mean about it.This broke my heart. We heard a presentation about the documentary "Madonna of the Mills." This woman, a dental hygienist from Staten Island, NY, goes to puppy mills in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County and rescues pets who can no longer breed and would be otherwise killed -- shooting, dropping bricks on their head, that sort of thing. I spent many summers and winters in Lancaster, and learning this really hurt. Did we support puppy mills as we looked for fresh produce, apple butter and shoo-fly pie? I hope not. Check out the documentary if you can, either by going to the Madonna of the Mills website or looking for it on HBO. It really is eye-opening.
- Helping rescues and pet charities is easier than you think.
Last week I posted about easy ways to help pet charities this holiday season. Some of them I first heard about at Barkworld, like Iams Home 4 the Holidays. Check them out. I also learned helping can be easy as a tweet with the right hashtag, or nominating a charity for a contest, or liking a company on Facebook, or buying a collar. I'll be talking about Project Blue Collar more next week. You can also go to Be the Change 4 Animals for more simple ways to help.
- My influence is critical.A majority of Americans consider a product based on the recommendation on a blog. That's power. It should be used to do the most good.
- You don't need lots of blog pageviews -- you just need to be engaged and influential. Pet blogging is already a niche. Dog blogging is a smaller community. Beagles even smaller. Beagles in Orlando even smaller still. I've been trying to climb into a higher niche, but the bottom line is -- I don't need 100,000 page views a month to be influential and to get companies and other groups to work with me. I just need to show that I have an important voice.
- Lulu is an awesome dog. Some didn't get to really experience that, because she barked at certain dogs -- a lot. But I think she showed people at the conference that she is a fun, funny and talented pup. She got to be part of a special Petco demonstration for their Train to Adopt program, where they go into shelters to teach volunteers to help dogs become more adoptable.
|Lulu and Cappy pose with Day 1's swag haul.|