This has been my third year attending the Haven Conference in Atlanta, GA and it sure did not disappoint. Every year that I have attended, I have been in a different season of my life. From deciding if I should take the leap, to have taken the leap only to focus on personal organizing, and to this year where I want to turn my focus to just the blog. (More on that at a later date.) Regardless of where I have been on my journey, I have walked away with new blogging friends, products from generous vendors, tons of information, and inspiration for days.
First things first, I have had the opportunity to make a lot of friends from Haven and nothing is sweeter than reconnecting with them face to face. Introducing my friend Katie from Fun Home Things!
She was my partner in crime my first year and dance floor enthusiast turned friend. She couldn’t go last year because she was too far into her pregnancy, but this year we reconnected and shared all of our blogging success and struggles. Each year I have been blessed to meet and stay connected with super talented and inspirational bloggers like Katie.
About a month ago I was lucky to have a coaching session with fab blogger, Gina Luker of The Shabby Creek Cottage, who recommended that I get in touch with Lesley Clavijo. Low and behold when I received the email from my mentor, it was none other than, Lesley!!! I literally squealed, which was awkward for where I was at the time, when I read that email because it was as if the blogging stars aligned. To top it all off, my mentor group was filled with some pretty amazing ladies as well.
To kick off our conference, Rachel Kate gave a very heartwarming tale of how she came to be. Chances are if you have watched HGTV or have been to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond, you have most likely seen Rachel’s work. Katie and I were blessed with the opportunity to connect with Rachel at the end of the first day. Her super down to earth laid back personality made me a fan for life and I hope, and pray, I can stay connected with her beyond this conference!
You can’t go to Haven and not rave about the swag bag you get from the moment you step foot into the conference. Or the brands who give you hands on opportunities with new products that often times aren’t even in stores. Of course I had to reconnect with my friends at Ryobi, Crownbolt, and Home Depot. Through connecting with the brands, you build relationships that will hopefully lead to collaborations on future products.
Let’s not forget the main reason to go to Haven, to learn how to grow your blog and business. From adding advertisements, to staying ahead of trends in social media, to ways to boost your posts and build your readers. Regardless if it’s your first or your 10th year of blogging, there’s something for everyone. And sometimes, there may be a surprise guest in your session. Like that one time I went to the Adthrive session and ran into Andrew Shue. Andrew, who cofounded Cafe Media merged now with Adthrive, was such a pleasure to speak with and very knowledgeable.
Or how about that one time I met Clint Harp who later provided a very inspirational story of how he came to work with Chip and Joanna Gaines with Fixer Upper. What you see on TV, the down to earth, hardworking, genuine person, is exactly who he is in real life. And I should know, because I was also lucky to ride with him by myself on the elevator and had a great conversation with him. Well, as great as a conversation can be for a few floors, but don’t ruin my vibe. (I’m just happy I didn’t fan girl to a puddle of awkwardness in front of him.)
To keep the inspirational stories going, Kari Anne Wood of Thistle Wood Farms, gave us 7 things she wish she could have told herself at her first Haven conference, during the closing speech of the conference. I’m not going to lie, each one resonated with me and left me with tears coming down my face. Looking around, I wasn’t the only one wiping my eyes. Thank goodness, because otherwise that may have been awkward.
My biggest takeaway from the whole conference was the feeling of hope. Even though I may not have grown my blog to where I had envisioned after three years of going to this conference, it’s not too late. I have the courage, the connections, and the knowledge to make all of that happen. I’m thankful for the grace given to me by the other bloggers that no question is too simple and that there is always someone willing to help point you in the right direction. I left, like I have the past two years, pumped and ready to do all the things. On the drive home, I wrote down my to do list along with some goals I have for this next year. Needless to say, I’m super excited!
On a personal note, my family and I have used this opportunity to go to Atlanta as a mini family vacation. My husband and girls love to scope out the conference when I’m in session, and have taken on activities around the city.
Next year we’ll have to figure out a different family vacation since the huge announcement at the end of the closing ceremony, was that Haven is coming to Charleston next year!!! I mean how can I not be excited about attending this amazing conference in my own back yard?? Until then, look for lots of changes and with that, hopefully a lot of growth! (Prayers I don’t lose my mind is much appreciated.)