My heart beats dog™ and writing. I’ve always loved (and needed) those two in my life as much as, well, oxygen. As a long-time dog lover, advocate and self-admitted magazine junkie, I approached a fledgling dog magazine years ago with their need for a blog and social media presence. The blog began, therefore, as my own love affair for dogs, dog travel, and a need to fulfill this niche market’s place in the social media-verse.
I am often asked in my discussions with fellow canine-centric friends if blogs are a temporary fad or a trend marking their territory in an ever-changing Internet landscape. Blogs have not only claimed their spot but serve as a forum for citizen journalists (good and bad), a means to disseminate real-time and near-instant information, and an e-presence to communicate with masses in a way never before seen.
In its most rudimentary definition, a blog is a type of website with information updated regularly: perhaps several times a day or maybe once a week. People start blogs for a variety of reasons, including giving their dog(s) a voice, reporting on animal welfare issues and even helping establish a rescue or dog-themed fundraising effort. I formed Wigglebutt Warriors, the fundraising arm of this blog, after being inspired by speakers at the BlogPaws pet blogger’s conference.
To Blog or Not to Blog: That is the Question
So how did this all get started for me personally beyond an idea and a passion? It began with research of a platform. A platform in blogging terms is where a website is hosted. Three of the most common platforms are WordPress, Blogger, or TypePad. There are pros and cons to each, and a basic primer can be found with a Google search.
Determine layout, look, and how often the blog will be updated. Research similar blogs, take an online course, or even better, and attend a pet bloggers conference like BlogPaws. Yes, that last part is correct: There are pet blogger conferences that serve to educate, inform, and allow for networking. Imagine the faces of those on Facebook, Twitter, and in different pet forums and blogging converging to one location for several days all in the name of pet blogging and social networking. BlogPaws in theory, never sleeps. One can log on to their various social media forums and connect 24/7.
As the founders describe it, “BlogPaws is an online community site for pet bloggers, pet enthusiasts, pet people on Twitter and Facebook and brands eager to tap into a growing, vibrant, vocal community of serious writers, bloggers, and tweeters.” It is also an in-person networking event I personally thank for so many personal and professional relationships, that a tweet or LIKE alone could not deliver. As someone who works from home, my mantra has always been “remember to leave the house from time to time.”
The first BlogPaws event was held in April of 2010 at the Westin Columbus in Ohio where over 230 bloggers, writers and companies passionate about pets came together in the name of animals for this inaugural and unique conference. So successful was the event that they did it again in September of the same year in Denver, Colorado, where yours truly drove cross country, Cocker Spaniel in tow, to attend the two-day event with 260 attendees. Third in the series boasted a crowd of Hurricane Irene warriors at the Sheraton Premiere in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Other locations have included Salt Lake City and Lake Las Vegas. All conferences are pet-welcoming and are capped at around 500 attendees, so the atmosphere is never overwhelming.
With each conference, the offerings grow, the attendees increase, and I have first-hand (and paw) knowledge that the relationships foster and continue to flourish. Educational sessions and seminars include topics like SEO optimization, branding your blog, getting published, and how to monetize a blog. Because each BlogPaws conference is targeted for both newcomers and veterans, they stand on their own and feel like a unique experience every time. In fact, I’ve been a guest speaker at several of the conferences on the topic of “How a Blogger Can Get Coverage in Traditional Media.” Time and again I’ve advised people to get up from the computer screen and meet peers, and paws, in person.
Founded in 2009 by three dedicated pet lovers and bloggers, BlogPaws helps pet bloggers and pet enthusiasts connect digitally, build their online presence, enhance their social networks, and support animals and shelters/rescues across the world. BlogPaws works year-round to connect bloggers and micro-bloggers to the brands they buy every day. The BlogPaws community site welcomes pet bloggers, traditional pet writers, pet enthusiasts, pet people on Twitter and Facebook and brands that are eager to tap into a vibrant, vocal community of serious writers, bloggers and micro-bloggers like on Facebook and Twitter.
Monetizing (Making Money) On a Pet Blog
BlogPaws is actively recruiting bloggers who have at least one pet to apply for paid opportunities within the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. The first step is to join the BlogPaws Community at http://community.blogpaws.com. Even if you don’t blog but want to learn, this is where you start. If you are on social media, then you already “micro-blog,” since that is what Twitter, Facebook, and the others are all about! BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network worked with over 35 brands in 2014 including LG, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Milk-Bone, Weruva, Tractor Supply, FURminator, and more! With over 1,100 sponsored blog posts, we paid out over $160,000 to participating bloggers. In 2015, we’re going even bigger with more payouts and more programs!!!
The Road Ahead
Personally, I try to take the road less traveled when writing for a blog. I consider what angle have others taken on this story when preparing to write about a dog-centric topic. Words are much like land mines to me in the dog writing domain: Watch where one walks for the fields are resplendent with those whose prose has gone before. In other words: Don’t be a copy cat, have an original voice, and treat blog posts with the same respect and importance as a “non-blog” piece. Find your own voice.
Depending on the source, it is estimated there are over one hundred million active blogs online with hundreds to thousands being added every day. My dog blog, Fidose of Reality, is a 2015 DWAA Maxwell award nominee, and I am entering my fifth year blogging.
Winning gives me a proud sense of self, a reiteration from peers that I’ve chosen the right path in life, and that I will keep writing for and about dogs. As I wrote on a mural at one of the BlogPaws conventions, “my heart beats dog™” and my words will eternally serve to prove that. I even trademarked it.
My dog, Dexter, and I would love to meet you at in Nashville this May for the BlogPaws Conference. All Fidose of Reality readers receive 10 percent off a blogger ticket with this code upon registration: BP15-Carol-10.
Register here: http://blogpaws.com/events/2015-conference/register/
Complete details on the program, speakers, awards, and more can be found by visiting: http://blogpaws.com/events/2015-conference/
Note: I am an employee of BlogPaws, but this is my own knowledge and experience, first hand, and I am not being compensated to write this.