It was after reading Karianne Wood’s book, So Close to Amazing, that I decided to attend the Haven Conference. I was so inspired by her story of how she and her family took the “jump” of a lifetime…by moving to a Kentucky farmhouse to start a new life in the country. I realized it was my turn to “jump” and finally launch my blog, and signing up for Haven was just the motivation that I needed. When I saw that Karianne, one of my favorite bloggers (Thistlewood Farms) was going to be there, it just seemed like a sign.
I scrambled in the weeks before Haven to get ready. I had a friend design my logo, had my photo taken professionally, worked with an online web designer and ordered business cards. I reached my goal and my blog went live the night before I left for Haven, with just one post!
To say that I felt like an imposter arriving at Haven on Thursday afternoon is an understatement. There were so many established and well known bloggers in attendance. What was I thinking? I was later relieved to learn that some of my peers were also just starting out or hadn’t yet launched their blogs.
When I got to the hotel, I had just enough time to check in and freshen up before the first gathering, the Newbie Meet Up. It was here that I met Lynn from My Family Thyme and her friend Ann from This Place I Belong. I was so happy to learn that Lynn is also from Connecticut! Everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
The Newbie Meet Up was immediately followed by the Welcome Reception. For an introvert like me, nothing invokes dread like the expectation to mingle and network! But again, everyone was very nice and the conversations flowed easily. I caught sight of some celebrity bloggers, and it felt so surreal to be amongst them in real life.
The last scheduled event on Thursday was my first mentor meeting. I had the privilege of being assigned to Debbie Westbrooks of Refresh Restyle. While I wasn’t familiar with her blog prior to Haven, I’ve since become a fan. The mentor meetings were great because we’d process what we learned at sessions during the day, then ask each other questions and share information. It was very helpful!
The workshops were held all day Friday and Saturday. There was SO much information to digest! Every session I attended was excellent and useful. I stained a wooden sign in the Rust-Oleum class and learned to style photos with Jennifer Carroll. I also took classes about the strategies involved using Pinterest, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Instagram Stories. These are some of the best ways to drive traffic to our blogs. I have to admit, as a beginner, a lot of this was over my head! My goal for this year is to learn how to use social media (I’ve only been on FB since March). My final class, with Jenny Melrose, was about how to attract sponsorships from brands. Although I’m not ready to do this yet, it was great information that I hope to use in the future.
-Meeting Miriam and Abigail from Hometalk and signing up with their blogger programs. As a new blogger, this has the potential to bring significant exposure to my blog. They were so kind and encouraging!
-Making new blogger friends! It was so nice to meet and connect with these women. I don’t know anyone at home who blogs, so it truly felt like I’d found my tribe! Lynne and Ann, Sonya from Sonya Burgess, Rita from Harbour Breeze Home, Julie from My Wee Abode, Tracy from Tres Refurbished, Diana from Adirondack Girl at Heart, and Shelly from 100 Things 2 Do. Thank you ladies!
-Meeting Karianne Wood and Amy Howard. It was crazy exciting to meet these women I so admire. I have their books and feel so inspired by their success. And they were just as lovely in person as they are online. I could feel their support and genuine desire to help other women become successful entrepreneurs.
Do I have any regrets? I wish I’d taken more photos. I was “in the moment” most of the time and didn’t take too many pictures. I also wish I’d looked for my new friends on Saturday night. Instead, I ordered takeout from the hotel restaurant and retreated to my room. I was exhausted and it felt great to decompress and chill out, but it also would’ve been nice to stray from my comfort zone and enjoy the company of people I probably won’t see again until next year. I can honestly say that the best part of Haven is the people that you meet 🙂