So I already shared what it was like attending the conference for me – now I am going to share what I learned.

Haven 2012 2

And let me tell you, it was a whole bunch.

I was so thankful to Traci from Beneath My Heart. She stressed during the closing session that we should not go home and say oh my gosh, I have so much to do, I am not doing enough, my blog isn’t good enough – take things just one step at a time. Oh yeah and in her beautiful southern way she also told us to “go hug on our husband and kids”. Love that.

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I am hoping again this not about sharing stuff that you didn’t get to do – but hopefully being able to share something that is useful for you.

And there was a lot that I learned that was not just about the business of blogging.

That is the beauty of Haven – it is not just for bloggers and there was a great blend of sessions – business and blog minded paired with DIY, decorating and painting sessions. It was great to see how many non-bloggers were in attendance.

So here is what I came away with.

John and Sherry really are as funny, dynamic and entertaining as everyone says they were – truly inspiring.

If you are blogger, start Googling SEO, it really is important and really does make a difference. I am not knowledgeable enough yet on my own to tell you anymore than that. The one real easy take away I did get was to rename all of your photos that you use in your blog – don’t list is as img2345. Name it “Haven 2012” so that the images are searchable as well. Also, Pinterest has changed so that if there is no text put it in it automatically pulls the image name in the description. I used to sometimes even have my kid’s names in my description – kind of defeats the purpose of not using their real name.

Don’t feel like you have to be on all types of social media all the time. Figure out what really works for you and is comfortable, focus on that.

Wherever you are, brand yourself well. Whether that is face to face (business cards), twitter, facebook, your blog, etc.

Kevin and Josh of Shoot Fly Shoot are adorable, funny and make photography very understandable. I was already shooting in Manual some of the time – but their lesson took it to another level and made it very applicable to shooting rooms and projects. It is definitely worth looking into taking their classes. I am contemplating their Photoshop class as well. If you want to take better pictures for your blog or of your family, this is the place to start.

Haven 2012 shoot fly shoot

I love this picture – any ideas for a good caption of what Kevin, Kate and Layla are thinking?

Haven 2012 Shoot Fly Shoot

Speaking of Layla, she is an amazing photo stylist. She showed a lot examples of how little changes can make an impact in a picture. Some examples were having a person in the picture, putting something with color in it in the distance to draw your eye all the way through a photo, leave a door partially open to add interest and see to another room, and of course her sum it up tips: Skooch it (make small moves to make an impact in the picture), Scorch it (either have the candles lit or the wicks at least have been lit once), Swap it (so do not remember this one – sorry!) and Stamp it (put your watermark on the photo!).

Bokeh (pronounced boca) is that pretty blur behind an image – take their class and you will know how to to that!

When you have to turn your speed down real low to let in more light, use a tripod and timer so there is no movement in the camera.

Creative Kristi is a unique blend of someone who does design and coding. I have learned my lesson how important the combination of those two things are. This lady really knows her stuff. She also believes that we should educate ourselves enough to be empowered with our blogs – I need to work on this area. More than likely I will be writing a whole post on this topic soon!

Haven 2012 Creative Krisit

And yes, my bloggy friends should have told me my strap was showing!

The painting session was well done with Shauna and Marian. Really what it boils down to is that chalk paint (and milk, but I haven’t tried that yet) although more expensive really is their go to for painting furniture. The lack of a need for prep and priming cuts down time and effort and the paint has a beautiful finish.

Haven 2012 Advanced Painting

The last session I attended was advertising by Julie of Hooked on Houses, Sarah of Thrifty Chick Decor and Becky of Infarrantly Creative. You may have heard a lot of buzz about this session and that Becky shared a lot of information about how she makes a living blogging. Here is the biggest thing I walked away with from this session: These women are through and through business women. They are bloggers and they are moms – but they are also business women and they don’t shy away from that role. That is something we can all learn from and not shy away from as well. The strategies Becky has been using to work with advertising companies are amazing because she is taking the lead, she is in the driver’s seat and is controlling the direction of her business.


Becky’s situation is unique because she writes three large blogs and has a whole lot of readers so she is an position to ask for more – however, by her and others doing just that - it is helping all of us.

Haven 2012 Centsational Girl

Kate from Centsational girl – as fabulous as you would hope she would be.

Okay, here is the real big take away I got from Haven.

These ladies have all been doing this for a really long time and have had to learn as the go and boot strapped their whole way through it.

Haven 2012 Head Mavens

Kate, Sarah, Beth, Tracey, Rhoda, Chris and Marian (Kristi had to leave a few minutes early and is not picture here)

By sharing so much and being so transparent at Haven they have provided us newer bloggers with invaluable advice and direction.

We can all look at this panel and say “oh my I wish I was a successful blogger like them”. And I say that as well. But I also am now more aware of the time effort and work it took and takes them to achieve this. For most of them this is a full or near full time job. There is so much more than doing projects and writing posts. Although I already knew that, I now know it at a different level.

Understanding that is powerful.

Haven 2012 Rhoda and Beth

Beth and Rhoda – sweet and fabulous ladies.

It made me realize that I have to make calculated decisions about opening up my blog to advertisers and what might be the right strategy for me now with the circumstances of my day to day life and what might be a better strategy down the road. I feel like after thinking everything through I am in a much better position to make a decision for what is right for my blog.

Haven 2012 Thrifty Decor Chick

Sarah – I really like Sarah, she is super real and a tall girl too!

That alone was worth my time attending even though I gained so much more. At first, despite Tracey’s advice I was overwhelmed and frustrated when I returned home. But now I am feeling much better and feel like I know the steps I need to start taking.

Another thing I learned is that the bloggers who are in the audience and can be just as helpful and transparent and willing to share their experiences as well. I found that to be the case with Heather from At the Picket Fence and to her I say thank you!

Haven 2012 at the Picket Fence

Oh and I will end with one little funny.

I really kept it together in terms of not gushing over bloggers (too much). However, when I got on the elevator with Roeshel of the DIY Showoff (who is stunning and sweet by the way) I got so nervous introducing myself that we were already at the 8th floor before I realized I had never pushed the button for my room on the third floor. Fortunately, she wasn’t too freaked out and we took a picture together another night.

Haven 2012 DIY Showoff

So that completes my Haven wrap-up.

My parting advice, buy your tickets as soon as they open up because they are going to sell fast!

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing!

And one last parting note for all of my lovely new southern friends…

Bless your hearts!

June 29, 2012 — Laura Putnam