I am finally becoming reacclimated to real life after spending two and a half amazing days last week being immersed in the awesomeness that was Haven. If you missed my first recap post, check it out here. Today I want to tell you all about the fabulous sessions I attended at the Haven Conference, and share some of what I learned. I apologize in advance for all of the poor quality iPhone photos. My biggest regret is not taking more pictures!
|The ladies of Haven|
I started with with the “I Like Big Blogs” session, all about growing your blog. If you’ve explored the blog over the past couple of days, you will notice that I’ve already put a few things in place that I picked up from this session. For instance, I now have a dedicated Project Gallery and Home Tour on my blog, which I had been planning on doing for a while but I guess Haven was the kick in the rear I needed to get it done. I also added a “Your Ad Here” button on my sidebar to let everyone know that there is ad space available. (Hint, hint!) The ladies at Haven made a good point when they mentioned that without the button, advertisers might think I don’t have space available. Oh, but I do!
As for the Advanced Painting session with Marian (aka Miss Mustard Seed), we focused on one of my very favorite things: furniture painting. I finally got my hands on some chalk paint and got to experiment with it. Now, fellow DIY bloggers know exactly what I’m talking about when I say chalk paint. If you are not familiar with it, you might think I am talking about chalkboard paint (that’s what I thought when I first heard people buzzing about it). Oh, but you would be so wrong! I am talking about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and this stuff is amazing. Believe it or not, I have never used it, so I was very excited to get my hands on some. This stuff can be slapped on virtually any surface with no preparation whatsoever. That’s right, no sanding or priming. You just paint it and then buff depending on what type of texture or finish you are going for, and then you can use Annie Sloan soft wax as a sealer. This stuff is great if you are going for that shabby chic, distressed look, but I also learned that you can achieve a modern look as well.
Aside from Chalk Paint, I was also excited to hear all about Miss Mustard Seed’s new line of milk paint that will be coming out soon. I love the color choices and I think it is going to be really fun to work with. You can get a really chippy, distressed look with it, or go in the other direction with it and achieve a modern look. I’m very excited to learn more about it when it comes out on the market.
The next session I attended (and also one of my favorites) was the Photography/Photo Styling session taught by Layla and Kevin Palmer of The Lettered Cottage, and Kevin’s business partner Josh Moates from Shoot Fly Shoot. I learned so much! I recently purchased a DSLR camera and I’ve been playing around with shooting it on manual mode (because if you are shooting on Auto, you are totally wasting your camera’s potential!) I didn’t realize the difference in photo quality until I did some research, played around and switched to shooting in Manual. It takes some trial and error and you’ll need to learn the basics (aperture, ISO, shutter speed), but it is well worth it. Kevin and Josh shared some awesome tips and really “dumbed it down” (I mean that in a good way) enough so that people like me can understand the basics. Layla and Kevin shared some great advice on photo styling, and focused on the fundamentals of what makes a beautifully-composed photo. Check out their site, their photos are gorgeous.
On Friday, I attended the Thrifting 101 session taught by Mr. Goodwill Hunting. If you do not know who he is, he is a thrifting enthusiast and design expert. He was the resident design guru on the Nate Berkus show, where he was given the task of transforming spaces for just a few bucks. What I didn’t realize, is he is also hilarious and thoroughly entertaining! He shared some great tips on thrift store shopping, including what to bring with you, where to find the best bargains, and how to “thrift” successfully. As a bargain-lover myself, I really enjoyed this session.
Next, I attended the carpentry session with Ana White. She showed us how to build the awesome cubby that I won from PureBond! (If you want to build one, check out the plans on her site.) We got the opportunity to get “hands on” and play around with power tools. If you don’t know who Ana White is, she is a homemaker from Alaska who builds all kinds of things (while wearing high heels), and she and her husband even built their own home from scratch!
Last but not least, I attended the Advertising session with Beckie, Sarah and Julia, where I learned about monetizing the blog through advertising. Many of you may be wondering why us bloggers would want or need to monetize our blogs. You may even be bothered by it (although I think it’s becoming pretty commonplace nowadays). Well, the fact is that many of us pour so much of ourselves into our blogs, including our time, energy, money spent on supplies and projects, etc., that in order to justify investing so much in it and providing free content to our readers, we must earn money doing so. We sacrifice a lot of time to build our blogs (a lot of us, not all of us), and monetizing it is just a natural step when you consider the fact that this really is a “small business.” Now, don’t get me wrong, we do it because we love it. I would do it even if I didn’t make a dime. Unfortunately, I just wouldn’t be able to do it nearly as often because I just wouldn’t be able to justify the amount of time and money spent on it if I was not seeing any type of return on that, and if it was not a business I was trying to nurture and grow. The business side of things adds a little bit of pressure, but the best kind. It’s the kind that motivates me to do better and challenges me to be more creative and provide the best content I can for my readers and advertisers. This is an ongoing growth process and I hope you will all stick around for it! I truly do love blogging and “DIY-ing” and I do not do it to make money. That is not the core reason that I blog. It is just a realistic goal if I am going to continue to do this on a regular basis. I hope that makes sense! I also want to point out that I am always a mom first and foremost, so there will be times the blog will have to be put on the back burner. But I’m so lucky to have readers who are understanding of that and can relate to the responsibilities motherhood entails. You are all awesome!
I could go on and on about Haven, but ultimately no blog post could ever do the whole experience justice. Unless you were there and could take it all in first-hand, it’s hard to truly convey to you how positive and inspiring it really was. I am so thankful to Rhoda, Kate, Sarah, Beth, Traci, Chris, Marian, Kristi, and Kristin for all of your hard work putting Haven together. It paid off big time and was a huge success!
Were you at Haven? If so, which sessions did you attend? If you weren’t there, which sessions do you think you’d be most interested in? Leave a comment and let me know!