Six days from today I will be reuniting with my frenemy spanx as I prepare for the BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose awards. As a two-time finalist this year for the awards, I started to take a trip down memory lane and think about what brought me to this amazing place in my life. BlogPaws has changed me personally, professionally, artistically, and socially in ways I never could have considered at the onset. Please join me as I take a trip down memory lane.
Three years ago, I was slated to attend my first BlogPaws conference, which was hosted in Nashville, TN. I won the trip as a result of an entry for the “BlogPaws Or Bust,” contest, which included airfare, lodging, and conference registration. I brought my husband and parents with me on a mystical journey to Nashville, where they spent time learning about whiskey and the Grand Ole Opry, while I spent time learning what the pet blogging sphere really meant.
I didn’t even have a blog when I won the trip! Quite frankly, I had no idea what my voice or purpose would be and I didn’t understand the true potential from a business standpoint a blog could have for an individual. I attended informative sessions and felt exhilarated by the idea of using my brain and talents in a new way, while positively impacting the lives of pet parents and animals. I also did all the things you shouldn’t do at a conference. I didn’t have business cards. I had no clue what to tell brands about who I was and why I was there. I didn’t know what questions to ask in sessions. I was too afraid to engage with other participants, and I didn’t make as many connections on a personal level with attendees.
Even though I wasn’t the ideal participant, I still left Nashville with a spark. I realized that my life could include a new passion. I understood that I had the tools necessary to really grow in this industry. I felt the desire to learn, grow, and share.
After the conference concluded, I floundered thinking of an idea for a blog. I didn’t really know what I wanted to say and who I wanted to address. That lack of action lasted for months, until I stood in line at a brewery with Yoda and saw the degree of passion people had about dogs and beer. That night, A Dog Walks into a Bar was born (in my head at least).
I didn’t know anything from a tech standpoint, so it took awhile figuring out the whole “what the heck is a domain and host?” thing. Once I did, I started writing and taking photos, and learning along the way. Sometimes, you just have to start and keep going, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Chances are, you’ll make progress as you continue.
A year of blogging, learning, growing, and some swearing, transpired seemingly in the blink of an eye. I prepared for my second BlogPaws conference, which was in Phoenix, Arizona. This time, I was a finalist for a Nose-to-Nose Award for Best New Pet blog. In less than a year, I went from not having a blog to preparing for a red carpet event. More importantly, I also went to the conference armed with questions I wanted answering and people I hoped to meet in person.
I left the second conference with even more of a spark. I also left having made some lifelong friends. I can remember nights after the conference’s formal programming had ended, laughing hysterically and cherishing the moments. Yes, I was there to network and learn, but what I gained from the experience was so much more important. Some of the friends I’ve made have changed my life. The beauty in that is way more important than any blog, money, or dog treats a person can own.
This year, I’m preparing to present at the conference (on Friday, if I look green that day, it’s because I’ve vomited on the fake hotel plants. Sorry Sheraton.) and I’m a finalist again for the Nose-to-Nose awards. In order to be chosen as a speaker, I had to share the approximate number of times I’ve given a presentation to large groups. When I sat and did the math, I realized I’ve given presentations over 1,000 times. ALL of those presentations have been connected to higher education in some capacity. Being able to use my brain and speaking skills to discuss a different subject is like a breath of fresh air. I’m thrilled to be presenting with a fellow blogger who has become one of my best friends in the past year we’ve known each other. How lucky am I to have this experience, all because of BlogPaws?!
I’ll be keeping you posted throughout the week on all of our adventures. I’m sure we’ll be seeing LOTS of amazing dogs and their humans and learning all about amazing products and brands that will help to make our pet’s lives happier and healthier. Above all else, I’d like to thank BlogPaws for changing the trajectory of my life. I am forever thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been granted because of you.