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Lessons learned from the BlogPaws or Bust Video Contest

BlogPaws West

Carmel-Sleeping As most readers know, I co-founded a new venture with Tom, my hubby and partner, and Caroline Golon of Romeo the Cat, last fall. About ten months ago, to be exact. It feels more like two years - two exciting and active years. But, ten months it is. BlogPaws, the new online pet community for pet bloggers, was created out of a desire to help our pet blogger friends and to give back to the pet community as a whole.

We were cautioned, at the launch ofBlogPaws, to do it "this way" or "that way." Our goal was to organize and hold a conference where pet bloggers could learn how to use social media tools more effectively, and meet each other - and the brands they buy - IRL. We decided to hold that conference in April... in Columbus, OH... regardless of the fact that none of us had, at the time, any experience in putting on conferences.

We did it. We did it because we didn't let "I don't know how" get in our way. We did it because we are passionate about this cause and this community. We did it because we tapped into the very people we hoped to serve and asked for their help, and they jumped on board without hesitation. The conference in Columbus, fondly known as BlogPaws East, was a shining succeess!

It wasn't without its issues, mind you. It wasn't "easy" or "smooth"... we sort built the bridge as we crossed over it, and created a conference that could serve three purposes - one, to teach bloggers and brands more about the social media tools their friends and competitors are using today; two, to bring everyone together in one place for some fun and laughter; and three, to raise money for shelters and rescues.Denver-Mariahs-Promise-animal-shelter

The bridge we built was sturdier than you might think. We learned how to do things "right" by paying attention to what the bloggers and brands were asking for. We followed in some solid footsteps (using Blogher as our standard). Mistakes were made, but repaired mostly before anyone knew about them. Missteps were taken and became learning experiences. All in all, the conference got rave reviews and... shouts for "when is the next one?" could be heard across the blogoshpere and on twitter and facebook.

The "next one" is happening next Thurs through Saturday, in Denver. Yes, we are holding a second conference in the same calendar year. Yes, we realize that's crazy. But, the bloggers asked for it. We exist for them - it's not about us, it's not even about the brands, although they are highly important to our purpose. It's about the bloggers, and about giving back.

BlogPaws West is going to be as fantastic as BlogPaws East was. It's going to knock some socks off. It's going to bring even more bloggers, brands, and experts together - to teach each other how to use these new social media tools for -- branding, marketing, raising funds, supporting shelters, taking photographs, understanding SEO, learning how to run contests and sweepstakes, getting a handle on the FTC rulings for product reviews, and a little session on writing by yours truly. There will also be hands-on sessions on Wordpress, Typepad, Blogger, Lijit and Squidoo.

Yes, you can still register...here. No, you don't HAVE to be a pet blogger to attend, just be aware - there will be a good many dogs, cats and at least one ferret, in attendance. We are very pet friendly!

But, that's not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to remind you that being an entrepreneur means taking risks. It means stepping out of your comfort zone. It means taking your passion to the next level, even when you don't know what will happen. It means asking for help and accepting it. It means getting out there and actually accomplishing something - being what my friend Bruce Peters calls a bricoleur (getting it done with whatever is as hand).

We expect BlogPaws West to give the attendees the same positive experience that BlogPaws East gave them, and more. We expect to learn, again, what worked and what didn't and what the bloggers and brands would like to see next. And, when BlogPaws West is over - when Sunday, September 12th dawns, Caroline and Tom and I will be meeting to put our thoughts and ideas for BlogPaws 2011 into action.

Stay tuned.

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