So if you didn’t know I attended a blogging conference last week here in Atlanta. (Sorry if I bombarded you on facebook and twitter, it was just so exciting for me. Hope some of you found it interesting as well.)
Honestly I have had a hard time putting into words my experience there – it was sooo AWESOME in every way! First of all, this wasn’t just any blogging conference – it was a conference specifically devoted to home bloggers and all of us that love crafts, DIY projects, decorating our home, spray paint, and more! And not only would I be surrounded by girls (and some guys) who loved spray paint as much as me, but they would be some of my favorite bloggers!! The ladies that organized this conference along with some other bloggers are some of the people that inspired me to start blogging, people who I read their blogs every day and never miss a post, and who completely inspire me to create and write! So it was a dream come true to meet them in person! (There might have even been some squealing involved such as when we pulled into the parking lot on Wednesday night and saw John from Young House Love unloading Burger out of his car!)
So let me try to put into words what happened over the course of those few days.
First of all, I was so glad that Renee from Living, Laughing, and Loving came down to go to the conference with me.
She and I knew each other in-real-life from a church I went to during my college days (which was pre-blog life.) In recent years we have enjoyed reconnecting through our blogs and enjoy sharing tips back and forth to help grow and make our blogs better. She stayed at my house and we commuted into Atlanta every day for the conference.
A welcome party on Wednesday night sponsored by Oreck and Frog Tape kicked things off. I was so glad to have this time to mingle and meet people. I had been nervous in the days leading up to it, but having Renee to chat with on the way and then seeing John in the parking lot and getting to start meet other bloggers just made me excited and helped calm my nerves! So then I was just able to have fun!
It helped too that in the first few minutes, this lovely lady came up and introduced herself. She was a reader stalker of my blog and wanted to meet ME! Here I was excited to meet all the bloggers I look up to and she was excited to meet me! So hey, Vicki!! So glad to meet you! Waiting for you comment on this post… (By the way, I love meeting my readers so if you ever see me out shopping at Goodwill or whatever, please stop and say hi!)
I also got to meet John and Sherry (and Clara!) of Young House Love that night too! I absolutely adore their blog and them! In fact, the day that it was announced that they would be the keynote speakers of the conference was the day I bought my ticket! They were just as adorable in person as they are on their blog.
They even had Burger with him! And yes, I got to pet him – so cute!
Then after sitting in glorious Atlanta traffic (aka sea of brake lights), we were back early the next morning just in time for the start of the conference.
Here’s the Haven team – love these girls and their blogs!
L-R Chris from Just a Girl, Kate from Centsational Girl who is sort of behind Rhoda from Southern Hospitality, Sarah from Thrifty Décor Chick, Kristi from Creative Kristi, Marian from Miss Mustard Seed, Beth from Home Stories A to Z, and Traci from Beneath from my Heart.
John and Sherry were the opening keynote speakers and they were amazing!! I already knew they were funny from their blog, but they were inspiring, funny, and filled with so much blogging wisdom! They both quit their jobs to blog full time (how is that for inspiring?) and spoke on “Young House Love’s 11 biggest decisions that steered our blog to where it is today.”
Sherry is so fun! You never know what she is going to say! :)
There were 3 different session times each day with 5-6 different topics during those times. The exact same sessions were repeated again the second day so that you could choose another topic to go to – LOVED that! I wish I could have gone to all of them but at least I got to go 2 out of each block of time.
First session I went to was on “I like big blogs” all about growing your blog. Who better to share that then a panel of some of the Haven girls? Learned some good stuff about SEO and social media that I am trying to implement into my blog now.
They showed how to incorporate textures into your home and how to create a good vignette. I will be sharing some tips from this class as I incorporate them into my home. I came home and checked some vignettes I created in my bathroom and they looked pretty good! So look for that soon!
The last class I went to that day was “Photography 101” with Kevin and Layla from The Lettered Cottage, and Josh from Kevin and Josh’s business, Shoot Fly Shoot. This class was amazing! I have just barely started using the manual settings on my camera and I so desperately want to learn how to use my camera better! Kevin and Josh were GREAT at explaining manual in easy to understand terms! I loved a statement they made – “You are smarter than your camera!” Ha! I don’t really feel like that right now, but I am starting to slowly conquer it!
Layla did the second half of the session and talked about styling your home for photos. Kevin is a professional photographer who has done work for HGTV and magazines such as Flea Market Style and Cottages & Bungalows. And Layla styles a lot of the rooms and shots that he takes. So they KNOW their stuff! Can’t wait to try some of it my home! Here’s me and sweet Layla!
The next day I started off my sessions with a fun session – “I love thrifting” with Mr. Goodwill Hunting. He had some great tips such as “Don’t look for anything at any time, but look for everything at all times.” Meaning if you are just dead set to find a desk and head to Goodwill that day to find it, you probably won’t find it. So your method in thrift shopping is to be always looking for things you want, need, or can use. Had to laugh at this other statement he said, “Don’t buy stuff to just buy stuff – that is how you get on Hoarders!” So true! (So no one come check my spare bedroom/craft room, ok? I don’t want to be on hoarders!)
Here’s a picture of me and Rashon (Mr. Goodwill Hunting). He is the one who came up with the idea for the “I love thrifting” day that I will be hosting in my area in a few weeks.
The last two sessions I went to were “Design Studio” (incorporating fabric into your home).
And a session all about advertising on your blog. That session was incredible! Beckie from Infarrantly Creative completely blew my mind with ideas! Still processing what I learned and trying to figure out how to incorporate it!
Haven was incredible because of these three main reasons:
- Incredible sessions who inspired and encouraged me to be a better decorator, photographer, and blogger
- Getting to meet the famous bloggers I look up to and admire!
- Making new friends! And even becoming friends with some of the famous bloggers that I love to read! (And getting spend time with Renee in person after blog brainstorming online for the past few years.)
Here’s some of the new friends I met:
Renee and I with Tonya from Love of Family & Home. I had been following her blog for a while already but I am so glad I got meet her in person! She is so sweet and we had fun hanging out!
Aghhhh!! Me and Sarah from Thrifty Décor Chick!!! Sarah’s blog was the very FIRST Home/DIY/Frugal Décor blog I started reading.
Renee actually introduced me to her blog back in December of 2009 and I was immediately hooked! I think I read through her entire blog in the weeks over Christmas that year and was absolutely amazed! From her blog I found other home blogs linked up at her linky parties and from different projects she would feature and honestly, my life (and home) completely changed! Love this girl and her blog!
She spent an entire lunch eating and chatting with me, Renee, and Tonya and let me tell you,she is a gem! I sooo enjoyed getting to know her better and take a peek into her life and the heart behind her blog and her family. I was so impressed with all of the “big bloggers” and how they took time to greet us by name like they knew US! And then took time to spend time with us and answer questions! I fell in love with them and their blogs even more after seeing how willing they were to give of themselves to us and didn’t treat us like we were the little bitty bloggers that we are!
And Rhoda! I had fun shopping with her last year at her I love Thrifting Day. I am so glad we are both Atlanta bloggers!
Also got meet Amanda from Serenity Now. Love linking to her Weekend Wrap-up party each week and she is very sweet.
And Kate from Centsational Girl! Have stalked her blog, adored her photography, and loved her projects for a while now.
We closed the day with a closing session/Q&A time and I was so sad to leave. The awesome Haven team did a tremendous job at pulling off this first conference – my only disappointment was I would love to stay at the hotel to have more time with everyone next year!! Cause, yes, Rhoda we want one next year!!
I came home so refreshed, excited, inspired…. and overwhelmed! Sooo many things I could work on and do to make my home better and to make my blog better. I stay focused much better if I make a list of things I want to work on so here is my list…
10 things I learned from Haven (that I want to incorporate into my blog and home)
- Work on adding more textures/fabrics into my home. I have already purchased some fabric to make pillows so need to get that done.
- Work on making my vignettes/mantel arrangements better with the tips Beth gave!
- Style my home better for pictures and for us to enjoy too!
- Take the Shoot Fly Shoot photo course and don’t be afraid of the “M” on my camera anymore!
- Work on content. Don’t get all caught up in all the business of blogging that I lose my creativity in doing projects and just enjoying blogging!
- Work on learning more about and improving the SEO on my blog
- Find some new advertising companies.
- Work on social media – facebook, twitter, and yes, maybe even Google +??
- Continue to develop relationship with my readers and other bloggers! Comment more…
- Always focus on working sure I have BALANCE… This is not something I can learn and check off the list. Everyone at the conference will tell you it is a constant battle. Balance between work/blog and home/family. The internet (and for that matter spray paint) is available 24/7 and it is easy to get sucked into spending too much time online and neglecting people around you. Starting with some tips from this post from Beth.
Oh and check out all these goodies I came home with! A Kreg Jig Jr., Ryobi Lithium flashlight (for when I am finishing spray painting in the dark – lol!), Fish Foam window cleaner, a Purdy paint brush – woohoo!, a sample of Annie Sloan chalk paint, a spray paint comfort grip from Rustoleum, Frog tape, and so much more! Thanks to the great sponsors of Haven!
So thankful for the opportunity to go to this conference and I can’t for next year! Maybe I will see some of you there next year!
P.S. I will announce the Mod Podge & Michael’s gift card winners tomorrow and have a new project to share with you!