Three months ago when I had the light bulb moment for this blog and started building all of it, I happened upon some info about the Haven Conference. It is the largest DIY/design blogging conference out there, and just so happened to be in my hometown of Atlanta. I had already set a target blog launch date of August 1st, and thought that going to a conference a teensy four days after my official launch was insane. But then I thought, “go big or go home.” I decided that if I was truly going to be dedicated to this blog and really make something of it, then the Haven Conference was where I needed to be! I wanted to learn and meet other bloggers. Also the idea of sleeping in a king size bed in a frosty cold hotel room all by myself didn’t really hurt my feelings either.
The Haven Conference was in Atlanta, Georgia from Thursday, August 4, 2016 through Sunday, August 7th, 2016. Lane and I already had plans for the Thursday night before the conference and I had to be home with Miss Priss on Friday due to a school closure, so I couldn’t leave until early Saturday morning to fly up to Atlanta. When I say early, I mean that I had to leave our house at the same time that I used to be sitting in the Taco Bell drive through line wrapping up a fun night out. (What is my deal with Taco Bell lately?!) On Saturday morning I left my house at 4:15 a.m., and my flight was wheels up at 6 a.m. Woof. I zombied through the Jacksonville and Atlanta airport without incident, and, I’m sure much to my husband’s shock and awe, made it to the first 8 a.m. session on time.
The Haven Conference publishes a fully detailed schedule on their website a few months before the actual conference, so I was able to pick and choose the classes that were most important to me. I really had to prioritize since I’d missed the first day entirely. The first class that I chose was called “Blog to Business” and was taught by the lovely Shaunna West at Perfectly Imperfect and Tonya Diehl at Love of Family and Home. It made me instantly want to go to Market, buy a bunch of stuff, and open a perfectly curated shop on main street USA… Goals are good!
The next class was by Abby Lawson at Just a Girl and Her Blog and it was entitled “How to Create and Launch Digital Products”. This one was great for me because I have so many ideas for e-Books pertaining to DIY and home renovation projects. Again… goals!
After lunch and checking into my room was the class that I found the most fascinating. SEO! That’s “Search Engine Optimization” for those not as computer savvy (HA) as myself. All I can say is Google. is. amazing. Thankfully I had already installed the Google Analytics code on my site, so I had a tiny glimpse at what it could do before this class, but wow. The way that you can break down the information, see your demographic, and even exactly how people click through your site, left me with my jaw on the floor. HOW DO IT KNOW?! Thanks to Brooke at All Things Thrifty I can now dissect the info, but I will leave the algorithms to the Google geniuses.
The next class I chose was how to maximize the power of social media. My eyes were starting to cross at this point since I’d already been up for 15 hours, but I downed another cup of coffee and learned that pretty, “pin-worthy” photos and Pinterest are my new BFF’s.
The next three hours we had a break before the big Saturday Soiree at the Intercontinental Hotel. I tried to rest but should probably have skipped the aforementioned cup of coffee if I really wanted to nap. My date for the event bailed at the last minute, and I debated about just ordering a bunch of room service and putting on my fluffy socks, but I ended up and got myself dressed up and walked over to the event with a group of bloggers in the lobby who welcomed me right in.
The second we got there the exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks. I ended up at a table chatting with some lovely ladies and decided that I’d grab a quick bite and try to snag a photo of my logo up on the big screens (they had all of the blogger’s logos on a loop) and then head back to my room. Well… I must have just missed my logo in the rotation, because I ended up standing by the shrimp and grits station staring at the screens with my phone in my hand for about 24 minutes. I’m certain that I looked like a complete psychopath standing like a statue in the middle of a great party. I finally gave up out of sheer exhaustion and got some grub. Unfortunately, with my phone in my hand and no pockets, the bowl and plate and phone were too much to manage, and I ended up bathing the front of my dress in all of the juice from the shrimp and grits. This was my signal to call it. I exited the premises and only got one weird look when the undeniable stench of shrimp was too much for the dude who got stuck on the elevator with me.
The next morning I went to a life changing Light Room editing class by the glorious and most precious Beth at Unskinny Boppy. I’m telling you this woman is a miracle worker and had the most fantastic and time-saving tricks for creating gorgeous photos in Light Room. I can’t wait to put them in to action.
The final class at the Haven Conference for me was “Finding Your Beautiful” by Brittany Hayes of Addison’s Wonderland and Shauna Beltramo at The House of Silver Lining and was all about defining and embracing your individual style. It was a perfect and inspiring way to end the conference and head back home.
Thankfully I was one day ahead of the Delta groundstop that shut down all of their flights all over the world. I do not cope well when my forward progress is halted. I’m afraid I would have come unglued, caused a scene, and been in trouble with airport law enforcement… again. I’m trying to avoid the no fly list, so I’m really glad that other than a ten minute weather delay, I made it home on time.
These were my key takeaways from HAVEN CONFERENCE 2016:
- Bloggers will welcome you with open arms and say “CONGRATULATIONS!” (not wtf are you doing here?!) when you tell them that you just launched your blog four days ago
- Pinterest is
kingqueen of social media for Design/DIY/Home décor bloggers. A pin that goes viral is my current aspiration, buuuuut to get one of those ya gotta have….
- Great photos. Light Room here I come! And now I get to become obsessed with camera gear and lenses and cases and tripods OH MY… Go big or go home!
- If you spill shrimp juice on your dress, you should really use the one plastic hotel laundry bag for that, as opposed to all the paint samples you got in your swag bag. PEEEYEW
- And last, and most importantly… Followers are everything. I already knew this one, but Haven reinforced it. That’s why I’m so thankful for all of you who have already subscribed and basically told me that the things that I post are important enough to be in your inbox. There can’t possibly be a better compliment, so thank you so sincerely. And if you’re not yet a subscriber to the good ol’ JSH blog, I hope today is the day!
And lookie here… a conveniently located subscribe button!
It was really an amazing trip and I can’t wait to go back next year for Haven Conference 2017!
p.s. One question that I was asked several times over the course of the weekend was “what is your focus?”. My answer was renovation, construction, design, and… well, life. I don’t know that I’ll ever only focus on this thing or that thing or whatever… I am making a promise to myself to stay true to our lives and our interests – both of which are ever changing! – and to live our lives and blog about it, not the other way around. My answer to that question should have just been “Life & Design”. Which coincidentally is the tagline of this site… oh snap I brought it full circle.