What follows is Part 3 of our BlogPaws adventures. This whole week will be a post a day about the sessions we went to, the people we met, the wonderful and inspiring feelings we took back with us from this conference. If you didn’t know, BlogPaws was a conference held in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend that brought together pet bloggers and animal advocates from all over the world. It was truly a life-changing conference.
Friday night came and went and we were well into the early morning hours of Saturday before we finally shut our eyes (this had become a theme). Ash and I woke up a little later than we wanted to because of this, but we managed to get to breakfast and met up with the rest of the Pedigree-sponsored bloggers for coffee and fruit and muffins.
The morning ceremony started with Tom, Yvonne, and Caroline talking about the night before and all the amazing connections they saw in the making. “It’s all about the bloggers!” Michelle from the American Animal Hospital Association got up and spoke about both educating people and celebrating the pets in our lives. The “AAHA believes in setting ‘The Standard of Veterinary Excellence.’ Throughout the Association’s 75 years, its mission has remained the same: provide veterinary professionals with the resources they need to effectively manage their businesses and deliver the best in companion animal care.” After her talk, she introduced the morning keynote.
If you watch Animal Planet, then you’re already familiar with the talented Andrea Arden, host of Underdog to Wonderdog. Her keynote was my favorite of all the speakers and I found her words the most inspiring. She was very down to earth and easy to relate to. She struck on why blogs are important and how they are great resources for networking. She told us a story of a thirteen year old boy who loved her blog so much he wanted to intern with the show, and another story of a five year old girl who saved up her allowance, a whole $5, to give to her local shelter. “Storytelling develops us as people,” she remarked. She introduced a new thought: the intentional community. Blogging is storytelling made easy and people who read it help spread your message. It’s ongoing. It’s a support system. Online social media can affect people daily and it does.
“What do you get back from blogging?” she asked the audience and it got me thinking about what we offer to our readers here and what we expect in return. At the moment, all we want is interaction. We want to hear your voice. That is our reward. Shelters, Andrea pointed out, can become no-kill with the help of a well written blog. “Blogging amplifies your voice. Blogging can have a dramatic impact on saving animals lives.” She goes on to describe the rewards one gets from blogging; Saving animals’ lives, humane education for children, helping increase media opportunities.
Three of my favorite quotes from Andrea were: “Recognize the importance of your history as it relates to blogging.” “The best bloggers are storytellers.” “Think back to a time when things weren’t so obvious to you.” The first is easy enough – we write what we know. The second is also obvious – bloggers are storytellers, there is no doubt. We write. We know words. Simple as that. The third – well, this is one I am constantly telling myself to remember. Not everyone feels the same things as I do. Not every reader is going to think something is so clear and easy to understand. I have to remember that not everyone knows what I know. We’ve all got to start at the beginning.
Andrea gave a phenomenal speech.. She also gave some awesome advice. She talked about how TV shows have what we want: airtime; so whatever we write, whatever we believe, it’s got to be something they want. They want information and “telling your stories can help move people to action.”
This keynote was by far the most inspiring, and Andrea’s last few words to us hit home. “You are helping to create a better world for animals and for people that care for and about them.” Isn’t that what this is all about? I don’t know about you, but personally, I know that’s what I hope for every day of my life. To help animals. To help people help animals. It’s why we’re here; it’s why I am writing this blog post. Why are you here?