The Haven Conference in the DIY and home decor blogging niche, truly transforms the way you see yourself, your blog, and your brand! Here are my tips for the blogging conference if it is your first time attending!
Haven is truly an amazing event that leaves you feeling energized, inspired, and full of connections and ideas! This was my first time attending the Haven Conference in Atlanta, GA, and I could not be happier that I joined my fellow DIY and home decor bloggers for this three day event!
If you are not familiar with the Haven Conference, it is an annual conference dedicated to all things DIY and home decor. I had first heard about it right around the time that I started blogging. At the time I really wanted to attend, because I knew the information would be invaluable, but I just couldn’t justify spending the money since I had just started! I told myself that after a year, I could attend the conference. In that time I was so lucky to meet and become friends with Michele, from Sweet Threads Designs Co., who was my roommate for the conference!
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Since this was my first time going to the conference, I want to share my experience with you and let you in on what first-timers should know!
9 First Time Tips for Haven Conference
- Bring business cards with you-Hand out your cards to everyone…bloggers and brands!
- Create a media kit to hand out or have one online-Brands will want to know your stats even if you are new, but don’t worry, they will still want to talk to you if you are just starting out.
- Design style boards for brands whose products you’d like to use-Style boards give the brands a visual of how you can use their products, and if you are a good fit for them.
- Choose your sessions wisely-There are so many amazing sessions available at the conference that it’s hard to narrow it down to just six! If you are lucky, the other session leaders will post their slides on the private Facebook group for you to have!
- Take advantage of your mentor groups-Your mentors are there for a reason and so are the other people in your group! Talk to all of them and don’t be afraid to ask questions that you have been wondering about.
- Attend every event offered-Although it can seem exhausting, going to every event is important, especially for a newbie. Taking every opportunity to learn or network is key to walking away with the knowledge and confidence to build your brand!
- Introduce yourself to as many brands and bloggers as possible-It’s so important to network at this conference. Introduce yourself to bloggers big and small, and be straight forward with brands on who you are and what you are all about!
- Use social media to your advantage-During the conference, post away! Show brands and new blogger friends that you are invested in them and willing to make time to build a relationship.
- Follow-up with brands and bloggers after the conference-This follows-up with the idea above. Continue to foster the relationships you made at the conference and thank the brands and people you met!
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Haven Conference Schedule
The Haven Conference runs for three days. It begins on Thursday with a welcome reception and is followed by two full days of break out sessions. This year the conference ended on Saturday night with a big 80’s dance party!
I won’t get to far into my flight debacles, but it was delayed twice and then canceled! By the grace of God, I got on two stand by flights Thursday night and arrived in my hotel room at 2:00 a.m.! Luckily the excitement and buzz from the conference kept me going!
Friday and Saturday Breakout Sessions
Friday morning started bright and early with Egypt Sherrod from HGTV speaking to the Haven attendees. After the opening remarks, it was time to attend the breakout sessions. Wow! There were so many amazing sessions offered that it was super hard to choose which one to attend!
On Friday I decided to attend:
- Collaboration vs. Competition: The key to building your tribe, growing your brand, and gaining sponsorships with Jewel Marlowe and Carmel Phillips
- The Business of Blogging with Julie Blanner
- Holderness Tips: Collaborate with brands, create videos, and engage audiences with the Holderness Family
On Saturday I went to:
- How to Attract TV for Your Business by Mandy Landefeld
- Make it Rain-Alternative Incomes with Char Miller-King, Sara Karakaian, Aime Freling, and Yuni Min
- Tools of the Instagram Trade by Leslie Saeta and Holly Lauritzen
The speakers were amazing and I’d love to attend even more of the sessions that were offered, but we had to pick! After every session my brain was full of ideas and my wheels were turning! In fact, it can get a little overwhelming if you let it. You definitely need to have a notebook or a device with you. I used a notebook to write down all of my ideas, questions, and anything else that came to my mind!
Brands are set up all around the main conference floor. Some brands are in the main room and others are just outside of the “living room.” They had Wagner, Home Depot, Hoover, Behr paint, Grove Collaborative, Frog Tape, Quikrete, Sinkology, Hunter, Stainmater and many more! I knew the brands that were going to be there ahead of time, but I never realized just how many were there! Obviously that’s a good thing!
I had come prepared to talk to Hunter fans, Wagner, Quikrete, and Stainmaster. I had created style boards in order to show them how I would use their products for an upcoming project. Since this was my first time, I thought that I would just talk to them because that is what I prepared for. Ha! Thank goodness I didn’t listen to myself!
Although I wasn’t technically prepared with a style board, I introduced myself to almost every other brand there! You have to remember that the brands are THERE to talk to YOU! When I introduced myself I told them my name, my blog, and my tagline, which very basically explains what my blog is all about. If I had any ideas that might work with their products, I shared them at that moment. Every brand was super nice and seemed genuinely interested in talking to everyone!
Although speaking with brands at the conference is fantastic and important, speaking with other bloggers is invaluable! I made so many wonderful connections with other bloggers! Some of them were new and some of them started blogging when blogging began.
It can be a little intimidating since many of these bloggers have been coming to the conference for years, have known each other for years, and have been blogging for years! But put your big girl pants on because that’s why you attend the conference…to network! I’ll be honest, some interactions were more comfortable or smooth than others, but they were all worth it!
If you are anything like me, you want to know about the COST! It’s a major factor especially when you are just starting out and not making a lot through your blog.
The cost of the ticket for the conference, which included everything was $361.22. I’m pretty sure that I got it at an early bird discount, but I forget! I also had to pay the cost of the room, which I was able to split with my roommate, Michele. For three nights, it came to $300 per person. Finally, because I live in New Jersey and the conference was in Atlanta, I had to pay for flight. I spent around $350 for my roundtrip flight. Most of your meals are covered, but there are a couple of times that you are on your own.
Add that all up and it’s a little over $1,000. Obviously that’s why you need to put a lot of thought into it! I plan to do it again next year, so I’m on board for paying that price!
All in all, Haven was an amazing experience that I plan to participate in from here on out! I am so excited to put into action several of the things I learned and see some rewards! Feel free to ask me any questions about the conference if I didn’t cover them!
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