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:
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!
Be back Friday with a quick tutorial for you!
P.s. You can see other Haven recaps at Southern Hospitality.