Thursday, November 12, 2015

BarkWorld Expo by I-5 Publishing - A Review for Pet Influencers

Trista with Lisa Illman
By Trista Polo

I had never heard of BarkWorld. As a new blogger and pet-based business I had been focusing on general internet marketing training and am pretty new to twitter and networking with other pet-based businesses.

Usually I hear about these things a few weeks AFTER the event or worse yet just hours after the replays expire. So when I saw a post about it on Twitter from one of the event speakers, I was intrigued. A bunch of dog people all in one place? You had me at "Bark".

What Is BarkWorld Expo?

Gus Kensworthy talks Sochi Pups
In case you are in the same boat I was, let's start there. is virtual home of a yealy conference that attracts bloggers, writers, authors and promoters of all things cat and dog. Oh, and also it attracts a lot of actual cats and dogs. 
Shorty Rossi talks Pittbulls and More

The sponsors are there to create potential connections that could turn into sponsorships, endorsements or affiliate relationships. There is training as well that would be of interest to bloggers, writers, influencers. This year they had topics including how to get into media publications, how to do quality pet review videos, how to SEO your blog and more. There were also some great Keynote speakers this year, including Shorty Rossi, Gus Kensworthy and the creators of DogsOfInstagram. The event is pretty jam packed with sessions, parties and networking and there are plenty of vendors to talk with in your down time.
BarkWorld was founded by Denise Quashie and happens yearly in Atlanta, GA. This year, Denise partnered with I-5 Publishing, the creators of, and The next BarkWorld is being held October 13-16.

Who Should Attend?

This is a place to learn how to be a blogger/influencer or to catch up with the many alumni that have been attending for years. It's also a great place to make connections that could turn into business opportunities. There is a lot of education and a great way to learn about new products and companies. You also have an opportunity to meet rescue organizations and companies that share their proceeds with rescues.

I established less than a year ago and my goal was to pass along what I am learning about active dogs, rescue and fostering as well as create a community. I have been working on expanding my content, my influence and my income. And I'll admit, I have been struggling to find our voice. 

So if you are on a new journey, BarkWorld is a great way to spend a weekend. But it's definitely not just for "Newbies". Many attendees have been attending since the event was establish and some have very large followings already. There were bloggers (both very established and new), product inventors (both very established and new), writers, authors, rescue organizations and they all got value from being there.

Should I Bring My Dog?

First thing I will say is I'm glad I didn't bring Bella for my first time. It was so fun seeing all the dogs there, and they did offer doggie yoga and day care..but as a first timer I felt much better without the added maintenance and attention to Bella. Not only that, Bella is pretty excited around other dogs and just can't control herself yet. So I'm adding "being calm around dogs" to Bella's Training To Do list for next BarkWorld.

What Can I expect Before the Event?

Talk about creating a community. The BarkWorld organizers are experts! The moment I was registered, I was added to the attendee-only Facebook group. This group is active, interactive and supportive. Seasoned attendees, "Newbies", Sponsors and Speakers all chatted, posted and shared photos. I felt like the event had already started! In addition, some of the sponsors began educating the group on their products so you already felt like you had a leg up when you arrived. It was also nice to feel like I was walking into a room full of future friends that I had interacted with...instead of a room full of strangers.
I also got important updates and opportunities on the Facebook group, including an inquiry for attendees interested in attending one of the Sponsor Dinners. A Sponsor Dinner is just what you may guess - dinner with one of the Event Sponsors. It could be an intimate group with presentations or a laid back social event. I was able to snag one of the spots with Diamond Sponsor, KuddlyPets, on the night before the event kicked off. It was so amazing to learn about their company and their mission over dinner with the creators, their amazing staff and a small group of the attendees.

I would recommend registering as early as possible. It may save you on the cost of the ticket, but more importantly it will afford you opportunities for invite-only/space-limited activities like speed networking.

What Can I Expect During the Event?

It's a full schedule but you can pick and choose what you want to attend. There are Keynote speakers and smaller speakers. There is also a roundtable session where you can talk in small groups with industry experts on topics like branding, SEO and more. All of the meals are included so you can expect continental breakfast, buffet lunch and some sort of activity around dinner ... launch parties, sponsor dinners, etc. You have an opportunity to set up your schedule beforehand, which I would recommend. This way each morning your day's schedule is waiting for you in your email.

Even though the talks are great and quite informative, I felt like I had PLENTY of time to network with other attendees and with the sponsors. The expo piece is a great place to create potential future relationships that could turn into collaboration or business partnerships in the future. While there, I had an opportunity to meet with some amazing companies that I may end up working with in some capacity in the future. And in most cases you are meeting the founder, creator, owner of the company so you really get to know what they are about. Keep in mind, these companies are looking to meet influencers and click with possible future reviewers and endorsers of their product. So it's a different experience than going to a home show where everyone with a booth is hoping you will buy from them. In this case, you and the sponsors are looking to create symbiotic relationships and it creates a whole new opportunity to relate.

Did I mention the dogs? So many amazing and fabulous dogs! Some of the sponsors' dogs were there representing and plenty of the influencers and bloggers brought their dogs as well. Many of these dogs have quite large followings so you may have recognized the dog before their owner if you are a fan. The stars of,, and were in attendance. There were even a couple of cats in attendance and there was a special cat blogger breakfast where cat bloggers could meet with cat-focused sponsors.

How Can I Take Best Advantage of This Event When I Attend?

Inspired by one of the speakers, Lisa Illman, I decided to use this event as a platform to LAUNCH @bellascope, AccordingToBella's Periscope channel. I knew there would be a ton of opportunities for content and a perfect place to introduce #hopescopes - a Periscope themed segment on highlighting rescue organizations and their stories. In fact, BarkWorld ENCOURAGES social media interaction. People are filming, tweeting, Instagraming and scoping their way through the event. There were lots of corners where interviews and chats were going out into the social media waves during the event. In addition, you were able to collect lots of content opportunities for the weeks and months following the event. You may want to plan to review the event (um...that's what I'm doing right now!), the swag (so much swag!!) and begin to explore partnerships that were sparked while in attendance.

The opportunities to create new business relationships, friendships, partnerships and trusted friendships is limited only by your willingness to participate.

I would love to hear your take-aways from BarkWorld if you have attended - what nuggets can I take with me next year to get even more value out of my weekend?

Bonus tips:
  • If you are new to this, make sure you have a nice foundation of content and internet presence established before you go - this will work in your favor when companies check you out before offering you business partnership opportunities.
  • Bring comfortable shoes you'll be walking a lot.
  • If you plan to scope or record, bring a good phone camera or ipod, tripod and mic for best quality final product.
  • If scoping, make sure to use or save your scopes on your device because you can re-purpose all those great moments later.
  • Get photos with as many of the product owners, famous dogs and cats and attendees as you can, so you have lots to choose from when planning your BarkWorld-inspired content.
  • Keep the NOTIFICATIONS on for the Facebook group during the event for additional "wanna meet up, I'm headed to dinner" opportunities.
  • Say YES to whatever is offered (sponsor dinner, speed dating, media opportunities with Keynote speakers, demo volunteers) you never know what opportunities will open up from that YES.
  • Have a goal to talk to a new person you haven't met yet at every meal. Saunter up to someone eating a muffin and strike up a conversation...sit at a table with an entirely new group of people at lunch...join a group for a drink at a launch party.
  • Do your best not to end up in comfortable groups of your old friends - it could prevent you from a life-changing interaction.


  1. I wanted to add make sure to have a bottle of water with you as you'll be talking a lot and have lots of business cards and a sandwich baggy to store business cards in. :)

  2. You are so very right Christina! And an umbrella! Lol