Important Things I Learned at the Haven Conference

Regularly-Scheduled-Programming-is-ReturningThe Haven Conference is a great value! Seriously, home décor and DIY bloggers, if you haven’t attended during this conference’s first two years, plan now to attend in 2014.

There are many advantages to attending:

  • It’s an action- and info-packed two days which is the perfect length for bloggers who also have full-time jobs, or blogging moms with young children who don’t want to be away for too long.
  • You can take hands-on painting and tool sessions if you want to focus on improving your DIY craft, or you can take the business sessions if you want to improve your blogging craft. There’s something for everyone.
  • You can meet hundreds of other people who, just like you, create, photograph, write and promote their home decorations, renovations and DIY crafts. We all run into challenges with these things and this conference is where you can learn from others.

I learned a lot. So much, that my mind was spinning and after arriving home, I crashed on a couch and slept there for 12 hours straight! No joke! That’s what I mean about Haven being a “great value.” For my full-time job, I attend many conferences and they cost from $200 to $800+. Haven was about $200. BlogHer costs multiples of this. Even though BlogHer was in my hometown of Chicago this year, I chose to attend Haven in Atlanta instead. Glad I did.

I researched both conferences before choosing Haven, and other bloggers who’ve attended both mentioned that Haven:

  • Is a manageable size (true)
  • Has attendees who may be friendlier than BlogHer (I can’t speak for other blog conferences but I found everyone at Haven was friendly – but you do need to proactively approach people during receptions and meals, say “hi” and introduce yourself to the people sitting around you in sessions, etc.)
  • Has a pace that doesn’t make you run around like a crazy chicken to attend sessions (I’ve attended American Public Health Association conference several times with 14,000 attendees and it’s huge across numerous hotels and a convention center – conferences like that are a different animal – you need to research and decide what’s best for you)

These are things I did not know before attending Haven:

  • You don’t necessarily need 100,000 page views a month to attract advertisers and sponsors. Of course big viewership helps. But they also look for “influence.” If you have a small blog that has involved, committed readers, that’s great. They also consider how people communicate with you across various social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, HomeTalk, Houzz, Google+, etc.). They want to know, if you recommend something, do you have the trust and respect of people.
  • Related point (I already knew this but critical to repeat): You must believe in what you share and what you do. Don’t do it for money only. It’s obvious when you do. That’s counterproductive for everyone. Think of it this way, who would you most likely trust: someone coming to your door selling Amway, or someone you know talking about how a product helped her while you’re chatting over lunch?
  • I need a lightbox. I learned how important natural light is for photography, and to make quality “pinnable” photos. Our house is surrounded by mature trees. Even now at 4:00 p.m. on a sunny cloudless day, the lights are turned on, despite having four windows here in our living room. It’s a struggle to get crisp non-grainy photos in our home (as you may have noticed here).
  • For SEO, don’t waste your time on meta tags. Focus on your post title, meta description and writing a quality blog post for your readers. WordPress plug-ins let you edit your meta description and Haven attendees said Blogger now lets you edit that field too.
  • Posting your projects in linky parties does not help your SEO. So if you’re doing linky parties only to build SEO, you might want to put your time into something else that doesn’t add links via JavaScript.
  • Google is building Google+ pretty heavily, for future SEO. Focus now on building up your Google+ circles. It will help your search engine rankings in the future if Google adds Google+ influence to its algorithms. Google is moving towards recognizing influence of “personal authorship” – your influence as a person across the internet. Google will be looking at who links to you, who follows you. So set up Google+ for you as an individual rather than your business or blog. (And yes all this social media fragmentation is overwhelming! I’ve focused on Pinterest because I’m image-heavy. But Google+, here I come …)
  • I love Annie Sloan Chalk Paint! So far I’ve played with a sample pot of Emperor’s Silk Red. A blog post about that DIY is coming; unfortunately I broke my project and need to re-do it. I took the hands-on chalk paint class at Haven and oh, all the advantages of chalk paint – it glides on like a dream and a nice finish happens so fast! I can’t wait to do a bigger project with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

If I didn’t meet you at Haven conference, please say “hi” here and please share your blog URL! I’d love to visit more blogs of people who attended. And in return, “here’s my card.” Ha, ha – business card sharing was very popular so we can find each other after the conference. Finally, visit here for more posts about this conference.

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6 Replies to “Important Things I Learned at the Haven Conference”

  1. It was great meeting you at Haven! You are so right – so much amazing information there! I didn’t know all that about the Blogher conference – so glad you shared that!

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