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

"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, 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:


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!


  1. Love the post, and NOT because you mentioned me in such incredible company *thanks!* I set goals each hear in my business, and conference goals are one part of that whole. You've broken this down very well. The Newbies at the event are so lucky to have you! See ya there.

    1. I'm so tickled that you popped in here, Amy! Thank you for reading and for inspiring. What a great idea to incorporate specific-to-conference goals into your overall annual goals. See you soon!

  2. Hopefully a conference will be held in the Rocky Mountain region (outside of Vegas) in the near future so I could attend. I'd really love that and if given the opportunity, I'll look you blogger to introvert. I'm so dreadful in those conference settings and stumble so horribly in the area of reaching out. Guess that in and of itself could be a worthy goal, eh? πŸ˜‡And not just at BlogPaws. Have a pawsome time at this year's conference!

    1. I would LOVE for the conference to return to Lake Las Vegas! That was a beautiful hotel! I hope to meet you soon and am sorry you'll miss the beach. And yes, even a goal to find and speak to ONE person is a goal. Speaking to the person sitting next to you in all your learning sessions, attending a social activity (like Yappy Hour) and speaking to one person you don't know...those are all great goals for those of us who need an extra push in the social direction. If I'd made a few goals like that my first year, I would've had something to strive to. :) Thank you for your comment!

  3. Great info, facts and suggestions
    Lily & Edward

  4. I guess I better get busy setting some goals. So far, my only goal is to get our boat to Myrtle Beach without sinking it. :)

    BTW, I love your thoughts on pet bloggers. My own theory for the divide between cat and dog bloggers is that cat bloggers get to dress all sexy and stylish (albeit with a bit of cat hair on their clothes) while dog bloggers have to dress to walk their dogs every day in all kinds of weather.

    Glad we have plenty of pet bloggers who live with all kinds of animals to help bring everyone together.

    Looking forward to seeing you and Jon Farleigh.

    1. OK, well,that's a pre-conference goal (and a good one). Maybe a conference goal could be to get your sea-legs? I'm so glad you're coming; can't wait to see you!

  5. I love this post. Swear to god I was just sitting down with my planner to start writing down my schedule and goals for the conference and now you've given me some much better and easier goals!!! Whew!

    1. Really? You're not just saying that? ☺ I'm impressed that you're writing things down in a planner with over 2 weeks left to go! I usually wait until 2 days before to write anything down. :/ See you soon!

  6. I can't wait to see you again, Elizabeth. I'm incredibly grateful for your emotional support and your practical help showing me how to edit pictures last year.

    1. So glad you'll be coming again this year, Kat! I hope to see you in a session or two and around, since you're a veteran and all! Always happy to be of help and support, too. ♥

  7. Excellent post Elizabeth! This is Evergreen conference advice that will help people year after year for BlogPaws and really any other conference.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them


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