Haven 2012 and my trip to Atlanta

Top Row left to right: Kate, Diane, Erin, Rhoda, Sandra, Carrie, Jessica and Me
Second Row: Sherry & John from Young House Love, Ana White 

Remember when I told you how much I liked the SNAP Conference because it was more intimate and I felt like I belonged? Well, the same can be said for Haven! At just over 250 attendees it was easy to network and not feel frantic trying to find bloggers in your niche. I was overwhelmed by how many bloggers I knew once we did actually meet (Twitter and Instagram are great for pre-conference networking.) It truly is nice to finally put a real face with a blog.

Not only were the bloggers all in the same niche, but the sponsors were tailored to DIY blogs as well. No more walking around searching for a sponsor that I think I could work with. The sponsors at Haven were so generous for helping make the conference happen and for providing some really fabulous swag! A BIG thank you to:

3M Tekk, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, Fish Foam, Frog Tape, Home Depot, Homes.com, Kreg Tools, Mail Chimp, Minwax, Moen, Mirror Mate, Oreck, Purdy, Pure Bond, Royal Design Studio, Rustoleum, Ryobi, Shaw Floors

But, an even bigger thank you goes to these gals who I’m sure had some late nights planning, arranging and presenting this amazing conference:

(Kate, Sarah, Beth, Rhoda, Traci, Chris, Marian, Kristi)

They were the ones that had the vision and guts to create a conference centered around home bloggers. Without them there would be no Haven.

Young House Love’s Sherry & John opened up the conference with some words of wisdom from 5 years of blogging. These two are an amazing duo. They started their blog after buying a house to make their own and never looked back. They blog 2 times a day and answer EVERY comment they get from readers, even though sometimes it takes more than four hours to do so! This is one high bar that they have set. I will tell you right now that I am unable to reach that bar and will be content posting 3-4 times a week. Plus, If you leave me a comment I may or may not reply. But, I promise that I will always answer any questions that you have. Deal?!

(From top left to bottom right: Diane, Becky & Me. Roeshel, Me & Jessica. Me, Sarah, Ana & Ashley.
Monica, Me & Jess. Stacy, Wendy, Tauni, & Me.
Charlie’s Angels pose with Matt & Jacque. Whitney, Me & Ashley

Although there was lots of talking, posing, and networking, I did learn a few things at Haven:

Haven Lesson – How to Recognize__________:

Recognize your own limits
Sure Sherry & John manage to post 10 times a week and answer every comment and question. That doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Only you know what it’s like to walk in your own shoes. You need to be the judge and determine how much time you will give to everything in your life. And don’t be afraid to re-allocate that time if the current system isn’t working for you.

Recognize the brands that work best with your blog.

I remember going to Blissdom and meeting the sponsors during the sponsor exhibits. Most of them were food, family or baby related. I was disappointed that I couldn’t be genuine and work with any of them without muddying the waters that categorize my blog. Even with a wide focus on DIY (home repair, home improvement, crafting, sewing and décor) there were few companies present that I could write an honest post about if they came calling.

At Haven, the sponsors were a better fit for DIY bloggers. There were still a few that weren’t as good a fit for me. For that reason I devoted more time to talking to the brands that I have already blogged about (MirrorMate, Royal Design Studios, 3M TEKK, and Purdy Brushes.)

I encourage you to think about what brands you use and that you have great things to say about. Don’t fall into the trap of writing posts about brands that you aren’t enthusiastic about. It will be a struggle for you to write and you’ll feel icky afterwards. Foster a relationship with the PR agents that manage those brands. Together you can each support each other with a common goal.

Kerry and I being photo-bombed by Stacy and Tauni

Recognize your intent and focus.

It is important to have a goal when blogging. If you don’t have a mission (or goal) statement, stop reading right now and jot one down. You don’t have to make it perfect or publish it. But, this is the reason that you are blogging. This is the reason that your house isn’t perfectly clean and that sometimes your family doesn’t have a home-cooked meal. My goal for this blog is to “Empower Others to Complete Their Own DIY Project.” Sometimes I start to stray from this goal, but I will always come back. Any opportunity that presents itself to me has to be screened through this goal. I’ll ask myself if taking on a sponsored post or opportunity will help empower my readers. Sometimes an opportunity may meet this goal through a roundabout way (i.e. I might accept an advertiser or a sponsored post that pays so that I can continue to blog from home and work towards empowering others. But, be choosy about who you work with. Don’t sell your integrity.)

Roomies: SandraErin, & me

Recognize your friends.

I view all the people at conferences as friends, even the ones that I haven’t made yet. The biggest reason for attending blog conferences is to network and develop relationships with other bloggers. In real life encounters are crucial for information sharing and helping each other succeed. Sadly, time is always an issue at conferences. Inevitably, I will leave having met many people, but not having developed those lasting friendships yet.  But, those relationships can flower online after meeting in person. I encourage you to reach out to other bloggers that you have or haven’t met yet and network before and after in real life meetings.

Sandra, Erin, Diane & me celebrating our close together birthdays.

Recognize your distractions.

I don’t know about you, but I can be distracted by numbers. You know, the number of followers, the number page views, the number of dollars that is coming from my ad network, etc. These numbers bring out a side of me that I don’t like: my competitive side. When I start focusing on the numbers, I get distracted. And when I get distracted I lose sight of my goal. Sarah, Thrifty Decor Chick, says that she prefers to blog and not focus on the number of followers she has. She puts on the proverbial blinders and with them on she has grown her blog just fine!

Miss Mustard Seed challenged us to wear our best painting clothes to her painting talk, thus the obnoxious shirt.

Recognize your shortcomings.

This is a hard thing for me to recognize. I have that “I can do anything” attitude. Which sometimes can come across as an “I know it all” attitude. I decided to go to a few workshops eventhough I thought I knew all about that subject. And guess what?! I learned several new things. This taught me that you can always learn something new. (Yes, I’m an old dog and you can teach me new tricks!)

Speaking of learning something new, I sought out Kerry at HouseTalkin‘ to teach me how to dance the running man. She taught me that, some other moves and humility! (Enjoy this animation of her teaching me how to dance. If the photo below doesn’t animate, click on the image to open it in a new window.)

After the conference I gave one of my empowerment and frugal decorating talks at the Atlanta Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It was so wonderful meeting some locals. I was also interviewed for the local Channel 11 Ways to Save segment. I’m not sure if and when that will air, but I’ll let you know when I find out.

Some of my sweet blogging friends came to the ReStore talk to offer support (and pick me up if I passed out from exhaustion.)
Left to Right: Amy, Me, Becky, & Vivienne

I’m back home, but I miss all the wonderful people I met at Haven and regret that I didn’t get pictures with all of them. If I missed a photo op, let’s make a point to take one next time!

Back to Front and Left to Right: Gina, Beckie, Beth, Rhoda, Sarah, Kate, Chris, Myra, Marian, Stacy, Wendy, Traci, Sandra, Roeshel and me.

 Be back Friday with a quick tutorial for you!

P.s. You can see other Haven recaps at Southern Hospitality.


  1. A fabulous recap! It was a great conference! So many amazing people there… and I LOVED that section of photos with you and Kerry dancing. How did you do that?!
    (Also? What the heck with my hat in our ReStore picture…?)

  2. Dang! I took a great picture of you all at the end!! Your dance moves are crackin’ me up! Love it! It was soooooooo good to see you again! This is a great post Brit! Made me tear up a bit even… I miss these gals already. Love you my friend!

  3. Great post and super advice. I really want to go next year, hopefully. Seems like everyone had such a great time and learned so much. Hugs, Marty

  4. I really enjoyed meeting you at Haven, and I especially loved your t-shirt! (and boy was I relieved to know that wasn’t the name of your blog! LOL!) Your blog was one of the ones I couldn’t wait to check out when I got home – and I am glad I did :)

  5. Wow, you had a busy visit! I haven’t been to the Atlanta ReStore yet, need to get down there and check it out. Wish I had known to catch your talk there! :)

  6. I LOVED meeting you Brittany!! and that shirt was genius :)
    I am soo thankful for online connections to, bc there just wasn’t lots of personal time to really get to know everyone!! Can’t wait til next year!!!!! :)

  7. Brittany – You are such a sweet and special blog friend to me! I am so honored to know you and be your friend. If you ever get down to SOUTHERN CA , let me know and I will definitely have some fun stuff for us to do. And…I expect to you to answer this comment ASAP – just kidding 😉 I know how hard it is to answer everything – but remember John and Sherry are TWO people. You are one…and we both just can’t do it all. I learned a ton, too! Your blog is my referral to anyone looking for how to do stuff and all your great tutorials. I know you work really hard on all of those. I miss you already!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  8. What a fun recap… Great tips, hilarious photos and so many friendly faces I want to meet (you, included!). I hope I can go next year.

  9. Brittany,
    Thank you so much for posting this. I was super bummed to sell my ticket days before the conference because I was sick and could not make the trip. This is the first roundup post I have come by that has more than just pictures. I am so happy you shared some specific highlights from your experience…it helps me live vicariously through you. I look forward to attending Haven 2013 and hope to meet you!!

  10. Great re-cap post with some wonderful wisdom! I feel like the last few times I’ve been in the same place with you I haven’t had a chance to sit and talk. I miss you & Sandra and Erin like you wouldn’t believe. :( Thanks for photoshopping me in the group photo–I was so sad to have to leave early but needed to not fly lol
    xoxo friend!

  11. Looks like an awesome time! I hope that I can attend next year. It would be so nice to meet everyone in person :). Thanks for the post!

  12. Hey Brittany-

    We LOVED meeting you and look forward to meeting up with you sometime in the future. Maybe when we move in next to you. 😉

    Have a great night!
    Jess (& Monica)

  13. Oh, I knew your recap post would be good! Not just photos but info. And that animated thing was awesome. Looks like you guys had fun the last night!! I missed you but was glad that I took the time to spend time with hubby.

    I am always learning from you! And THANK YOU for driving AGAIN!! And arranging everything. And for the sweet gift bag! And the birthday suite for everyone….

  14. LOVE the recap Brittany but OMG that picture of us hahahaha! I totally forgot we had taken that, poor Matt (Monkey in the middle)! Thank you for all of your help and kind words of encouragement last week you totally ROCK!!!!

  15. Brittany! It was so great to meet you. I was so looking forward to it and am happy we got to talk and have lunch and pretend to be Charlie’s DIY angels :-)

    Awesome recap, and fabulous photo skills!

  16. Great recap! I am loving the animated picture…maybe a future blog post on “how to”? :) You are an inspiration, sister! Always great to see you!

  17. Looks like you had such a great time. Wish I could have been there!

  18. Brittany –
    What a FANTASTIC recap — really good points to remember! Plus, love all the pics. :) I’ve been blogging since 2007 and it’s been a wonderful learning process. It’s always such a great boost (both in knowledge and in meeting others) to attend a conference. BTW, thank you so much for mentioning Royal Design Studios! Great to learn more about your ReStore chat, I know that was important to you — and Happy, Happy Belated Birthday! :) Regina

  19. I wanted to go to Haven, but didn’t get the chance to, as I was hosting my own get together last weekend, so it’s nice to live vicariously through the bloggers who have posted recaps.

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time! I’ve never been to a blogging conference before – I so wanted to go to this one (or SNAP – which I think might be more suited to my niche – I’m more of a crafter than a DIYer…)

  20. Great recap! I love the animated pictures!! Haven was my first conference, I now officially have the conference bug.

  21. Love it! You got great moves! Awesome recap!

  22. Great Recap, Brit! Loved seeing you again! I think I have gotten to see you more than any other blogger this year. :)
    Can’t wait to see you again!

  23. I am so incredibly happy to hear everyone had such a great time! I will be making it to Haven 2013, by golly. :)

  24. Looks like so much fun! Can’t wait to go next year. Love the dancing gif too, haha.

  25. Looks do fun! I loved SNAP and have been to Blogher…I do want to try Haven too:) Its so great to hang with these passionate & talented bloggers!

  26. Hi Brittany!
    I am writing the Habitat story to air later this week. Please email me so I can get some follow up info from you. I wish I’d known about this conference, I could probably have found tons of money saving tips for our viewers :)

  27. Brittany! It was absolutely AMAZING meeting you and getting to hang out so much at Haven! You have such a fun personality and amazing sense of humor! If you ever get out to Northern California/San Francisco area, email me! I’d love to see you again lady! :)


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