Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Guide to #BlogPaws Conference Goals (good) vs. #Goals (bad), Using Some of Mine as Examples

or touchdown?




I have three teenagers who, occasionally (mostly before Snapchat was invented, because before that, they used Instagram and stuff didn't disappear 60 seconds after it was posted), expose me to trends on social media. One of those trends is the hashtag #goals. Perhaps you've seen it before? Maybe you've used it before, in which case, none of this will be news to you. But in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a quick lesson:

#Goals (according to Urban Dictionary, also, there is language; please consider the source): "What dumbass girls say to each other on Instagram when someone posts a pic that is very attractive or is of something they aspire to, like a relationship. It's basically a way of sucking up to someone and it's almost as annoying and shallow as when girls post shit like "omg stop being so perf!" and then of course the required response is "no that's you bb 😘" and it goes back and forth like that. Both examples are typically found thoroughly nauseating by non-sheeple types and those who don't seek validation via Instagram likes.

Popular Bitch: *posts totally staged and/or photoshopped "spontaneous" selfie*

Less Popular Wannabe: "OMG GOALS!! Can u like stop being so pretty?"

And then, according to this article at Elle.com:

"A 'goal' in this context is something aspirational and outlandish, a perceived quality of life that we categorize as unattainable."

In other words, let us not confuse goals (things we can actually achieve, if we try) with #goals, which aren't so much goals (OK, they're not at all goals) as outright fantasy.

What Do #Goals Have to Do With the BlogPaws Conference?

Well, I'll tell you. But first, let's consider what makes a GOOD goal (for BlogPaws or anything). Perhaps you're familiar with the SMART (acronym) criteria, in which a good goal is specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, and time-related. All good goals should have all of these things. That doesn't mean good goals have to be complicated, impressive in themselves, or fancy. Goals are relative to the person who's setting them. So don't mix up having good goals with having goals that try to measure up to a perceived status quo. (More on this in a bit.)

beachfront/resort scene with big sky and sand, BlogPaws logo/caption

Note: That's the actual beach in South Carolina! I took the photo the week before Easter while on spring break with my family. The weather was beautiful!

BlogPaws Goals Are Not the Same as Life and/or Career Goals

OK, you know what? We need to have a talk--just me and you, with no one else listening. Pal to pal, and that means, I'm going to tell you straight-up:

Do not make your BlogPaws goals any of the following:
  1. To have the next celebrity pet sensation and make over $100k in royalties the first year.

  2. To land ambassadorships in the triple-zero-dollar range with every sponsor in the BlogPaws Exhibit Hall.

  3. To instantly gain a million (literal) followers on Instagram after listening to Ryan Carter (of Camping With Dogs)'s Instagram marketing talk in the Social Media workshop* on Saturday morning.

  4. To get your own pet show on Animal Planet after brushing shoulders with Steve Dale or Amy Shojai or Andrea Arden or Karen (Doc) Halligan, for example, who've all attended BlogPaws and been on Animal Planet shows. 
I could go on, but I don't think I need to. Do you see what I'm saying? These are NOT smart BlogPaws goals. And let's get real, they're not even smart life or career goals. One might aspire to achieve any of these end results, but expecting to achieve something so lofty from attending a single BlogPaws conference, is a promised disappointment. BlogPaws can get one started on a path to greater life/career goals, but expect to put in the work, over a longer period of time, to get there.

BlogPaws Goals Are Best Defined Before the Conference

Have you already registered to attend? Or are you getting ready to (as soon as you finish reading this post, maybe)? Well, this is the best way I can tell you to start with your conference goals:

List the reason(s) you want(ed) to attend in the first place. BlogPaws is an educational and networking conference for those who have a stake in the pet industry--from professional bloggers to rescue stakeholders to small business owners and everywhere in between, there will be learning sessions and experts in attendance to address them all. Although, working in the pet industry is certainly not requisite for learning and/or networking. It just helps tremendously if one likes animals (as they will be everywhere).

You know this already.

My point is, only YOU know why you were compelled to buy that BlogPaws pass and book travel and hotel, and therefore, no one else can tell you what your goals should be. If you're going solely for the fun and cheesecake, then your goals should be centered around those things. If you're going because you're looking to start a pet-related non-profit, and you need to learn how to reach the locals on social media, or through website search engine optimization (SEO), then your goals should be centered around that. If you're a blogger who's ready to reach out to brands for sponsored opportunities, you'd likely benefit not only from getting in front of the sponsors whose offerings you feel good about promoting, but to attend sessions that teach mechanics of good sponsored posts and how to determine your worth.

No matter what your reasons for attending BlogPaws (there is no right or wrong reason), just make your goals SMART and pertaining to what will be available to you at the conference. (Hint: Have you seen the latest agenda and sponsor lineup? I assure you there is something there for you.) Smart BlogPaws goals (vs. those that are too broad and/or unrealistic) will ensure that you feel empowered and invigorated when you pack up to go home.

We're going home already? Yeah, she forgot to bring goals. 


My BlogPaws Goals Have Been Hit or Miss

So, I've never gone in with an unattainable #goal and missed, but I have gone in with uninformed goals and likely, missed growth opportunities.

My first BlogPaws was in 2011. It was a two-hour drive from my house that year, so the monetary cost of attending--without significant travel expenses, and reduced hotel stay--was relatively low. My blog was only a few months old and at that time, was just a fun hobby (zero income), I barely had social media presence, but I was very intrigued by the "influencer" possibilities. I also desperately wanted to meet all the blogger friends I'd made online, some of whom I'd never even seen a picture of. And, there were rescue and small business people going from my home town, so the prospect of getting to network with these people--when only a couple months previous, I was oblivious to the effects both could have on my life--made me feel excited for my future.

But I didn't look at the agenda beforehand and I had no plan.

OK, I take that back. I had a plan to text the only other person attending, for whom I had a cell phone number, so we could meet up in person. That was my blog idol, Laurie Eno of The Daily Corgi. I ended up texting her five minutes after I arrived, in a panic, because I was afraid to sit down at a table of strangers for lunch (I arrived at lunchtime on the first day; not the wisest move for a socially anxious introvert). She came and rescued me and my plan was done. The rest of the time--feeling much less anxious for having a buddy--I met lots of people, some of whom are my friends (and role models) to this day--but didn't accomplish much in the way of professional development.*

* I did (unplanned, but, I believe destined) connect with a brand (Petfinder) in the Exhibit Hall, which ended up taking me in a professional and life direction that has changed my life. That's one of the fringe benefits of attending BlogPaws: you never know what awesome, unexpected events/people might crash into your world and make it better.

My BlogPaws Goals That Hit Were SMART and Purposeful

In the grand scheme of BlogPaws attendees (and sheer number of repeat attendances), one could call me a late bloomer. It wasn't really until going into my third conference (2014 in Las Vegas, and I pulled lots of creative measures to afford that trip from Virginia) that I had my professional sights on something concrete and several smaller conference goals to propel me in the right direction.

By that time I'd figured out that the networking component of the conference was what I really thrived on. And not only that, but I really, really enjoyed using my experience navigating the conference to help others like myself (introverts mostly) navigate it, too.

By the end of the 2014 conference, after checking off a few networking goals, I knew--without a doubt--I wanted to have a job working for BlogPaws at, and leading up to, BlogPaws. In the fall of 2015--after checking off even more networking goals at BlogPaws 2015 in Nashville--I made my case and got the job as newbies Ambassador for BlogPaws 2016! (Considering I'm back with the same gig this year, I think all those years of  SMART goal setting paid off in spades. It can for you, too!)

Jon Farleigh and Dewi's goal to sleep on the BlogPaws hotel bed was both SMART and purposeful.

So, What, Specifically, Were a Few of My Previous Conference Networking Goals?

I get that my speaking in generalizations about goal setting isn't all that helpful, so here are a few of my previous specific goals:

  • Get in front of and have a quality interchange of words with each member of the BlogPaws Executive team. Even if I'd met them in person before. I didn't get to speak to Tom Collins in 2014, so speaking to him in person was carried over as one of my goals in 2015.

  • Introduce self to (a whole list of specific people) and have meaningful interactions with cat bloggers. I missed a couple of the names on my list (Robin Mudge was one whom I recall, and I told her so on Facebook after I got back home). 2014 was the year I decided breaking away from the "dog blogger" label to "pet blogger" was high priority if I was going to reach my overall influencer goals, especially on Facebook. I saw a tremendous learning and personal growth opportunity crossing the "species divide" among bloggers at the conference. (By the way, I don't know why that is? A species divide at BlogPaws [or anywhere]. Dogs and cats are both amazing little [and sometimes big], furry, mounds of love and joy to be cherished by all types of people far and wide. Cat blogger, dog blogger, horse blogger, turtle blogger, bird blogger--we're all animal people in the grand scheme. I hope, one day, we'll all just be pet bloggers when it comes to social interaction.)

    I digress, but I feel better now that I've spoken my peace.

  • Sit with a first-time conference attendee at every planned meal (2015). Yep, I sat with newbies and it was AWESOME! I don't think I was sitting at an "official" newbies table, but if not, I was right beside one with the overflow. The experience totally confirmed what I already kind of knew (that I wanted to interact with and assist future attendees as a "job"). 
That's just a sampling of SMART goals I've set for myself, and there are a few nuances (like how I managed to find and speak to all those cat bloggers) that I've left out, but I hope it's apparent that the tighter one's goals are, the easier it will be to check them off.

SMART BlogPaws Goals Come in All Shapes and Sizes

I'll end with this reminder (as mentioned earlier in this post): [SMART] conference goals do not need to be complicated, impressive in themselves, or fancy. (Standing alone, my goals are certainly none of those things!) Goals are relative to the person who's setting them.

No matter how different each attendee's goals are from one another, though, one thing is certain: accomplishing them is a wonderful feeling!


BlogPaws 2017 Conference I'm Going badge


So, how are you feeling? Have you made goals already? Has the process been challenging? Do you have anything to add, if you've attended BlogPaws (or any other conference) before?

P.S. When setting your BlogPaws goals, don't forget to refer to the conference agenda, sponsor list, other attendees who have registered in sched.org, and if needed, the SLC 2017 Newbies course!

P.P.S. Do you still need to register to attend BlogPaws in Myrtle Beach, May 18-20? OMG, hurry, before it sells out! Here's a discount code so you can save 10% on the regular blogger rate full pass:

BP17-10off-Ambassador

Once you've registered, RSVP to the event on the BlogPaws Facebook page to get breaking news and meet others who are attending!

And, of course, follow BlogPaws on social media for the latest tips and updates!



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

9 Reasons I Might Be Crazy, Plus Enter to Win Over $375 in Pet-Friendly Prizes! #SpringFlingGiveaway

Spring Fling Pet Blogger Giveaway graphic with 10 participating blog logos and photos of three prizes


Hey, y'all! Ahem. I said, HEY, Y'ALL! (Look away from those prizes, dangit!)

So, you're here. That means at least one of two things:

You want to:
  1. Find out why I'm crazy, and/or
  2. Get yourself entered in the Spring Fling Pet Blogger Giveaway...because there are over $375 in prizes!
Note: Although #2 is not contingent upon #1, if you picked #2, you're still gonna have to scroll down through the nine reasons I might be crazy. And not only that, one of the bonus entries is a QUIZ question.

You might want to summon some patience, is all I'm saying.    

But first, I need to tell you more about the giveaway!

For starters, I'm not in this alone!

I've collaborated with these nine other superstar pet bloggers so that we could make the prizes HUGE!

And these are the prizes!
Y'all, I'd love an Amazon shopping spree and I know you would, too! You know what else I'd love? The cordless hand vac (for the corgi tumbleweeds) AND that leash/collar set! Yes, give it all TO ME! Alright fine; you can have it. I'll just be over here with fur all over my clothes, being happy for you when you win. 

* The 10 participating bloggers each contributed their own money toward the Amazon gift card.
** 2nd and 3rd place prizes have been donated by their respective brands, Black+Decker and dogIDs.

YOU CAN ENTER TO WIN ON ALL 10 PARTICIPATING BLOGS!

Yep! To increase your odds, simply visit all the blogs (linked above) and enter (but hurry, the entry forms will all close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, April 25)!

One "finalist" will be randomly selected from each blog!


Then all of the finalists' names will go into a drawing, during which three winners will be randomly selected to receive the prizes listed above.

This is great news! That's because even if one of the 10 blogs has 467 times more entries than another, EACH BLOG will still get one finalist in the drawing! (FYI: Chronicles of Cardigan produced the 3rd prize winner in a previous pet blogger holiday giveaway!)


Ready to enter?

Well, you can, right after you see these nine reasons I might be crazy!
(Note: By might, I mean I am. Just a little. And in a harmless way.)

#1: Tigger (at 17 years, doesn't make the litter box every time.)




#2: Maddox (stepped on my right eyeball last Saturday night after Lele charged him for entering her personal space. He was trying to lie down on my stomach. The pain was like a knife stabbing through my pupil. Thankfully, it subsided after I took the maximum dose of ibuprofen and I haven't had any issues since.)



#3: Lele (barks ferociously at my husband every day when he comes in from work--like he's an intruder--even though she knows and loves him. Gets into trash [bacon packages] and recycling [yogurt containers] and cat box if I don't lock them up.)




#4: Lulabelle (steals hair elastics and drops them all over the house. Sits with her head shoved through banister posts.)



#5: Jon Farleigh (yanks and tugs his own leash every time I take him out to pee and poo. Barks like a raving wild dog whenever I clean the kitchen counters, dust the dining room table and/or open the spice cabinet.)



#6: Dewi (barks 95.23% of his waking hours, in 249 different dog languages, most of which I don't understand. Likes deer poo...as an appetizer.)



#7: Bertie (drops his stuffed pheasant, Chewbacca mouse, and goldfish in the water bowl and then pulls them out (soaking wet) and drops them into the food bowl for me to find...every day. Also, YES, I take the toys away from him, but he finds them! He can smell them inside drawers!)



#8: Frances (rubs all over my legs and feet when they're still wet from having taken a shower. Stands under my feet when I'm not looking and watches me nearly wipe out on the tile floor trying not to step on her head.)



#9: Bobby Flay O'Fish (turns on the kitchen faucet, steals the rubber drain collar for the garbage disposal, pesters Frances between 2-3 a.m., causing her to meow like an alarm, gets into things he shouldn't and eats them [which is why we have to lock up all of the things].)


Heed his advice; he knows what he's talking about. 

And there you go; nine REALLY good reasons, I'd say! 

How about you? Might you be "crazy," too? Give me one good reason why (in comments, please)!


* Crazy, as in crazy about your pets because if you weren't, they'd be in big trouble! 

Now, go forth and enter the giveaway, using the Gleam gadget below!

Spring Fling Pet Blogger Giveaway II

Well, did you enter? Yay! I hope you win! Don't forget you can enter at the other nine blogs (linked at the top of the post) to increase your chances! 

I'll post all three winners' names on the Facebook page and Twitter on April 26!

Good luck!


About the giveaway: 

No purchase necessary. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents age 18 and older, except where prohibited by law. Giveaway will run from April 19 to April 25, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Three (3) winners will be randomly selected and notified via email. Winners will have 48 hours to claim their prizes; failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize. Twitter and Pinterest do not sponsor, administer, or endorse this promotion. Participants must read and agree to Gleam’s Privacy Policy before entering and participating in this promotion. By entering this contest, participants grant permission for their email address to be added to the Chronicles of Cardigan mailing list. 

Each participating blogger paid an entry fee which will be used to fund the grand prize. The 2nd and 3rd place prizes were generously donated by the participating brands. Please be sure to visit their websites to see all the incredible pet products they have to offer.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

How #BlogPaws Helps Me Embrace My Regularity (Not THAT Kind) and Do the Extraordinary

blue merle corgi big face
Mom says I'm extraordinarily regular. 

Note: By my regularity, I mean my true (un-fancy) self. If you're looking for the other kind of regularity, try adding some mashed pumpkin to your diet

I'm a regular person who does regular things.

In the spring of 2010--after a 13-year wait, months-long breeder search, and hours of research and Saturday morning viewings of Eukanuba dog show reruns on Animal Planet--my family and I got two Cardigan Welsh Corgi puppies. We named the red fluff Jon Farleigh and the merle, Dewi.

Lots of people get puppies, though. In fact, as I type this sentence, I bet there are at least 1,001 families, somewhere, getting a puppy (or a grown dog; it's all relative). And I bet, just like my family and I were, they'll be smitten, and crazy busy, and before too long, they'll claim their lives have been changed forever.

Regular people's lives get changed by dogs all the time.

two corgis in big crate with girl
Just two puppies in a crate with a kid, y'all. Nothing special to see here; move along!


Not all people, though, are compelled to document those life changes on public blogs, for the whole world to see.

(OK, but let's get real: just because one has a blog, does NOT mean the whole world is going to see it. In fact, NO ONE in the world--besides one's immediate family, and only if one forces those people--is likely to see it. That is unless one advertises it to one's friends on Facebook, for example, or to other pet bloggers [in the comments of their blogs], or joins a pet blogger community [like BlogPaws], or writes about things that people frequently search for in Google, and Google deems that content appropriate to return in search results*.)

* Gross generalization. Google might not return one's blog at all (or if it does, not before the 500th page of results), unless someone actually reads it. Or, if the blog owner has suffered** through learning, and put into practice, search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
** Just kidding! SEO is only painful when one hasn't found the right teacher. Just so happens that it took me three and a half years to find mine (at BlogPaws 2015). Hint: She'll be back at BlogPaws this May, holding two separate SEO workshops!

Writing a blog has pushed me way out of my comfort zone.

In the beginning, I wrote to a network of other (incredibly supportive and welcoming) Cardigan Welsh Corgi people, many of whom had their own blogs. I loved everything about the whole blog business: from reading them and growing my support network, to getting instant feedback on my own blog posts.

OK, I really loved getting instant feedback. People were laughing at my stuff. My own family had never done that. Turns out, two corgis and a blog were all I needed to unleash the buffoon that had been repressed in me for over 40 years. That's the truth, y'all. I'd written things before, but not ONCE did I think I'd write humor because it just came naturally.

The Internet is small when one writes about pets. 

Through interacting with other corgi blogs, I soon discovered there was a whole fascinating world of pet-focused bloggers, in which Cardigan Welsh Corgis were just a dot on the map. There were pet blogs about rescue, rehab, foster care, CATS, product reviews, veterinary medicine, service dog raising, healthy feeding, DIY projects, dog sports, training, general pet well-being, sightseeing with dogs, and yes, even a few, like mine, written purely for entertainment. (Bless the entertainers; I have been so inspired!)

And, there were the prolific writers. Those whose gift for prose made me question why I ever decided to make my blog public. I mean, who would ever take me seriously, writing about having to cut dingleberries off Jon Farleigh's backside, for example, because he ate some hair and dragged his butt across the carpet? (Surprisingly, more people than I thought, thank goodness.)

2 corgis with expressive eyes and pumpkin
Really? You're still talking about regularity? 

Those writers never ended up being the reason I quit writing, though, because I kept writing! DUH! Nope, they were (and still are) the reason I try to write better. Not different, but better (even nonsense should be well-written).

Thanks to community, I'm proud to write whatever the heck I feel inspired to write!
(Including a comedy about how to remove latched on ticks from one's pet. Ticks might steal blood, but who said they get to steal our joy too?! Stupid ticks! Side Note: Have you ever noticed how puffed up ticks look like corn kernels? Never mind.)

Even though I'm an introvert and a little shy meeting new people in a social setting, I thrive on community and face-to-face contact.

Note: Being an introvert does not automatically make a person shy. Harry Potter is an introvert; is he shy? Nope! Anyway, shyness stems from social anxiety. Introversion is what one has when energy is drawn from within. While those with extroversion derive energy from other people. This doesn't mean introverts don't like human interaction. It does mean, however, that if you put them in a crowded room, make sure there's a path out to a quiet corner, where they can listen to their own thoughts for a while. (Click here for lots of BlogPaws conference tips for introverts.)

The pet blogger community is my tribe.

According to the British dictionary at dictionary.com, a tribe is defined (informally) as: a family, esp a large one.

So, I have a large "family" of other pet bloggers. Not a twice-a-year-at-Thanksgiving-and-Christmas, reluctant, boundary-crossing, disapproving, drunken outburst-ing family, like in the movies, but a supportive, listening, teaching, fellow-animal-loving family of friends. The best bunch of pet-loving people a regular girl could ask for!

Too bad I've never seen any of them face-to-face. When one's tribe lives all over the globe, getting together for a girls' night is kind of a challenge.

That first part was a lie.

Oh gosh, I've seen LOTS of my blogger tribe face-to-face! At the annual BlogPaws social media and pet blogging conference! (Hint: Click that link and be whisked to all the details!)

So, you know that list of pet blogger types I listed earlier? Including the prolific prose writers who give me something to strive for?

I've met them all at BlogPaws! 


Not every single pet blogger I ever met online, to be clear. But representatives from every possible type of pet-related blog--including those I've already come to know and admire online--have been to a BlogPaws conference at the same time as I have!

Regular folks, like me, can do extraordinary things. With the help of a strong support group.

  • For me, getting over years of insecurity to embrace my true "voice" is extraordinary.

  • 2017 BlogPaws Ambassador badge Going from a scared-to-death newbie at BlogPaws 2011 to a two-time BlogPaws Ambassador is extraordinary.
    (Yes, I'm back at it again this year! Conference newbies, you are in good hands! Please join me--and your fellow 2017 newbies--in the BlogPaws Social Learning Community today!)



  • Being asked to speak. Let me repeat: SPEAK as a panel expert at BlogPaws this year is extraordinary.
    (I'm speaking about Facebook marketing--along with two other experts who will be speaking about Instagram and Pinterest, respectively--during the Social Media workshop on Saturday morning. Here's the official agenda; feel free to RSVP that you're coming!)

  • 2017 BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Award Finalist badgeBeing a finalist for a peer award, given for "best writing" in a sponsored blog post is extraordinary.
    Translated: Somebody might give me an award for that cockamamie--but fun to write, and veterinarian approved--tick-removal post I told you about earlier. Oh, and I got paid for writing it. Hmm. Wonder why the Academy Awards aren't worded, for example, "Best Paid Actress in a Motion Picture?" Because you know NO ONE would tune in to see the all-volunteer actors' Academy Awards. Does anyone know of an actor who volunteered to star in a motion picture, for free?
    Fun fact: For sheer enjoyment, I used to write commercial ad copy for make-believe products and brands when I was a kid. I never once got paid.


Let BlogPaws help you find your extraordinary! 

Do you love pets? And have an interest in blogging and/or social media to share your voice? Want to meet several hundred others who have similar goals and interests? Get tips and tools, do fun things, get a giant sack full of free stuff for your fur babies, and eat a bunch of really great food? At the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel? With me? (OK, I will be there, but I won't follow you around the whole time.)

2017 BlogPaws I'm Going badge


Meet me in Myrtle Beach, SC, May 18-20, 2017!

Register today and enter the following code for a 10% discount on the regular blogger rate:


BP17-10off-Ambassador


Once you've registered, RSVP to the event on the BlogPaws Facebook page to get breaking news and meet others who are attending!

And, of course, follow BlogPaws on social media for the latest tips and updates!


So, are you going to the conference? Is it your first time? Let me know in comments!

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