Haven Conference, Atlanta: Blogging Tips and Great Friends

Haven Conference…Wow, what a blast!  I’ve never been to a blog conference but with one only 15 minutes from my home, I couldn’t pass up Haven. I really didn’t know what to expect. From talking with others I learned some conferences are really HUGE.  This one seemed to be just the right size with around 250 attending.

One of the things I really liked about Haven was how much open/free time was built right into the schedule.  There was plenty of time to talk, meet other bloggers and just have fun.  I’m sharing quite a few pics toward the end of this post.

There were classes about the business side of blogging, as well as classes covering design, photography, carpentry and thrifting.   The only negative, which was really unavoidable, was that you couldn’t attend every class and unfortunately, several of the classes I wanted to attend were held at the exact same time.

I’d love to share everything I learned at Haven, but I know that’s impossible.  So I thought I’d share three great tips I learned from each class I attended:

Blogging PR:

1. When contacting a magazine or publication in hopes of being featured in their publication, focus on what makes you and your design/talents unique.

2. Hot topics editors like to publish about:  Cleaning Tips, Time Management, Health, Family.  I think she named one more but I missed jotting it down.  If I had to guess, it may have been “food/recipes”

3. Download their “editorial calendar” to see what’s planned for the future.  It’s a good way to determine if your ideas may fit into their upcoming publication plans.


Hobby to Business:

1. Probably need an EIN number…can get one at the IRS website

2. Good idea to trademark your blog name, tag line and any logos you use (can do that at legalzoomdotcom)

3. Consider getting liability insurance


DIY Blog Design:

1.  Can find inexpensive graphics at: mygrafico.com and us.fotolia.com to use in the design of your blog

2.  Great place to find free fonts: dafont.com

3.  Additional blog design tips available at: Creative Kristi


All About Advertising:

1. Be careful about accepting text links.  Several Bloggers/instructors said don’t do it!   Google could see your blog as spammy

2. Some ways to earn money:  Amazon Affiliate Account, Suresell, Commission Junction, e-books (keep price of book under $10)

3. Formula to use for pricing ads for sponsors when first starting out: Page views ÷ by 1000 = rate to charge


Advanced Painting:

1.  Milk paint and Chalk paint are easy to use/apply.

2.  Milk paint is great for raw wood applications because it actually penetrates the wood (like stain) so it’s super durable.

3.  Marian (Miss Mustard Seed) has designed her milk paint in rich colors so it can be used as is or diluted to create lighter shades, as well.


I Like Big Blogs:  Tips on Growing Your Blog

1. Before creating your post title, check Google Adwords Keyword Tool to determine most searched words for that topic.  Use those that are most searched and have the least competition if possible

2. Google Analytics is the best way to track how many visits/page views you’re getting and which posts are most popular

3.  Link your Facebook Page to your “About” page on your blog (not sure how that’s done)

Okay, I know that’s not the same as being there, but Google some of these topics/ideas and you’ll find loads of sites with additional information.

iPad:  The one “tool” I found to be invaluable during the 2 day conference was my iPad.  It fit easily inside the leather portfolio I was carrying around for note taking.   I was able to moderate comments quickly and frequently throughout the day and even returned a few emails as time allowed.  Plus, it was awesome for quickly accessing sites mentioned during the classes.

A few pictures:

You’ve probably already figured out by now, I’m a little camera shy.  That’s why you don’t see a lot of pics of me here on zay blog.  But I’m trying to get past that for this post so I can share some of the dear-hearts I met in person at Haven.  As you look at these pics, please keep in mind that I’m really much thinner 😉 and look just like (insert name of gorgeous actress) in person. (har, har)

Our keynote speakers were Sherry and John from the super popular blog, Young House Love.

They are funny, down-to-earth and just plain nice.

They were also incredibly patient answering lots of questions…and they got some doozies.  They really had the crowd laughing.

I was so excited to meet Traci from the blog, Beneath My Heart.  She is the sweetest, well-spoken dear heart you would ever want to meet.  (Lighting was sometimes a challenge for picture taking…lots of shadows.)

Blogging superstars, Kate (Centsational Girl) and Sarah (Thrifty Decor Chick) were there.  They were part of the amazing team that put this wonderful conference together.  They also helped teach some of the classes.  Beautiful, talented ladies!

Jane (Cottage at the Crossroads) was there with her delightful hubby, Leo.  Is Leo a brave man or what?  I bet his ears are still ringing with all the squealing and laughing he heard at Haven.

On second thought, I don’t think Leo suffered too much.  😉  (Photo from Cottage at the Crossroads)

Barb (The Everyday Home) and Karianne (Thistlewood Farm) were so much fun!  Love this picture of the two of them!

Rhoda (Southern Hospitality) and Beth (Home Stories A 2 Z) helped teach the class, I Like Big Blogs which was all about growing your blog.  It was excellent!

This dapper dressed man needs no introduction.  Rashon, also known as Mr. Goodwill Hunting, taught a class on thrifting.  I missed that one but I heard it was excellent and super entertaining.

Marian (Miss Mustard Seed) taught the class called Hobby to Business.   Excellent class and meeting Marian was definitely one of the highlights of Haven.  Marian has her own line of milk paint coming out soon and we were able to see it and try it in person in the Advanced Painting class.

We dined out every night and this particular night was especially fun because we were seated at a round table which allowed everyone to see each other and really talk.  And talk we did!

From the left:  Heather/At the Picket Fence, Amanda/Serenity Now,  Julia/Hooked on Houses, Gina/Charming Zebra, Me, KariAnne/Thistlewood Farm, Shirely/Housepitality Designs, Kim/Savvy Southern Style, Kim/La Belle E’poque Home and Barb/ The Everyday Home

If you didn’t get to go this time, hopefully you can go next year.  It really was a lot of fun and my head is spinning with all the great information shared in the classes and elsewhere.  It will take me a while to sort through it all.

In the end, the very best part of Haven was getting to meet all these fabulous ladies and gents face-to-face for the first time!  It was a whirlwind two days…definitely hope to do it again next year!

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  1. Susan,
    It was so nice to finally meet you in person.

  2. Oh what a super post. Loved all the shared info and the pics are wonderful. Hugs, Marty

    • Thanks, Marty! Hope it helps a bit. I know when I’ve read posts about conferences, I always loved it when they shared a little of what they learned. It gave me ideas of topics to google and research.

  3. Susan,
    LUCKY YOU!!!! I would have LOVED to have been there.I am not much on flying.Only do it if I really have too.And it is a bit of a drive.Think they could ever to a Chicago haven???? What a super fun time you had.Thank you for sharing all of your lovely photos.You look great too!!And thank you for all those tidbits.They are all very helpful.Especially to someone like me just starting out.

  4. Susan,
    Thanks for the post and all the tips you shared. Must have been so much fun. Great pics and lots of smiles.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  5. GREAT re-cap post! It was lovely to meet you & I’m so glad you learned a bunch, had some fun & enjoyed the sessions & free time! 🙂
    See you next year!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing some of the things that you learned! I always wonder how helpful the classes really are and if it is worth all of the expense but most bloggers only share photos of people they met and no information about the actual conference.

  7. Susan, you have a natural way of making the reader feel like they are there. Thanks for sharing Haven with us as you did. Nice to put faces to names.
    Thanks, Helen

  8. Thank YOU For sharing your trip notes & pics with us! I will definitely be following much of this advice and have hopes to attend Haven next year. Take care! ♥

  9. Susan, thank you for that, it was nice to see the ladies of blogs I visit. It looked like a lot of fun as well as informative. You should not be camera shy, you looked great.
    Not being a blogger, I had no idea how much went into it, especially the business side. My hat is off to you lady as I think you have an exceptional blog.
    Thank you for taking us along on your journey.

  10. You got some great photos, Susan! So excited to see them. And you look beautiful in every one. 🙂

    I love that you shared things you learned from each session. I really wish I could have seen Kristi’s and the Hobby to Business one but couldn’t fit them in.

    So glad you were there. Our dinners out each night were one of the highlights of the week for me!

  11. After all these months of reading your blog, now my face is on it! (Well, the picture from my business card, anyway.) It was great to see you in person!

  12. This sounds like such fun and also like there was a lot of great information passed along. I think you look lovely in the pictures, but I do understand. My class reunion was last weekend and pictures have been popping up on Facebook the past few days and I’m cringing!

  13. Lorraine says

    Wow! How much fun was THAT!! I hope I can come next year…I have to plan ahead…WAY ahead because a child minder for five kids doesn’t just drop into my lap very often!! I am really excited about Marian’s paints because I will be one of her vendors and I can hardly wait to try them….I’m anxiously awaiting my sample kit now…Lucky you, trying the paint AND getting a tutorial!!
    Blessings, Lorraine

  14. Susan…it was so wonderful to have met you…the conference was such an unbelievable experience. I have taken many treasured memories and knowledge….Hope to see you again soon!

  15. Susan, it was such a pleasure to meet you! I had a blast at dinner, and I’m still in awe of your non-cracker-littered car. 😉 Here’s to Haven 2013!

  16. Hi Susan,
    Glad you enjoyed the conference….your photos are lovely .
    That milk paint sounds interesting.
    Have a good week
    Barb from Australia

  17. I couldn’t wait until today to read your recap of Haven. It was great seeing pictures of you and hearing your take on the conference. I would love to have been a bug on the wall there and learn from all of you. It would have been very intimidating for me to attend because those of you attending are way out of my league . However, just like reading magazine articles about T.v. personalities or high profile people we are all interested in what you think, enjoy, and learn etc. because we are interested in you. Thanks for teaching and encouraging us.

    • Thanks so much, Bonnie! Girl, you would have fit right in. There were all kinds of folks there, bloggers, non-bloggers, bloggers with large blogs, bloggers with small blogs. We just all had the best time and helped each other answering questions and learning together. 🙂

  18. Kathleen says

    Looks like fun! I wasn’t familiar with too many with them, LOL, I would say only 5! Even the ones you said were super stars! I better get around more!
    Great to see the pics!

  19. Oh, Susan, I’m sure this was so much fun! You look marvelous and how fun to meet so many bloggers! Maybe one day I can go!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  20. Susan, it was such a pleasure meeting and getting to know you better. And Leo is used to a bunch of women squealing. I used to host Bunco parties at my house!

  21. This was a great recap post and you shared so much info….I don’t even remember that much!
    It was good to meet you in person and you look great in the pictures!

    Hope to see you next year!

  22. Mary from Virginia says

    Wonderful and informative post! You always do a nice job with your writing and I appreciate it very much. You should not be camera shy!! You are beautiful, girl! LOVE your hair and what a great and friendly smile you have!

    Glad you had fun and got to meet a lot of the ladies whose blogs I enjoy. LUCKY YOU and THEM!

  23. -Brenda- (aka mrsben) says

    For all the heart and soul you put into your Blog, I am so happy that you were finally able to attend a conference and to quote Zsa Zsa; “you look fabulous dahling” so you really shouldn’t be so camera shy. 🙂 Hugs -Brenda-

  24. Thanks for the info, Susan. I missed the second day of the conference after having a reaction to something I ate. I”m so disappointed that I didn’t get to go to those classes!!!

  25. Wow! It sounds like a fabulous time! Although, it makes me tired just reading & imagining the pace to fit all of that into 2 days! Thanks for sharing your great pix & recap– you have such a lovely way of making your readers feel ‘in the loop’! *due to your inspiration, I’m making a big flag from fence pickets!

  26. Hi Susan, Just wanted to say that you are one of my most favorite bloggers. This was a great post and it was good to see you up close. You look terrific. You mentioned in one of your replies that there were non-bloggers there as well; I was surprised to hear that. It sounds like such great fun. I didn’t even know what blogging was until about a year and a half ago (I work way to much), and I must say it has opened up a whole new world for me. Thanks so much for sharing all of your knowledge and writing such a great blog.

    • Debby, I heard that almost half of the participants were not bloggers. It was so great meeting everyone! Thanks for those sweet words! I always cringe putting pics of myself on the blog. lol

  27. Thank you so much for sharing your “three’s”! Very helpful.

  28. Susan,
    It was so fantastic meeting you, and getting to know you a little bit! You are so sweet, and as I said at the conference, if you are ever in L.A. please let me know! I would love to meet for lunch or coffee!

    I love your recap of the conference. Reading through this post made me realize a few important things that I neglected to write down. I think I was on information overload!

    I am already looking forward to Haven next year, and hope to see you there again!

  29. What a wonderfully detailed recap! I’m so upset about not being able to go this year!

  30. Hi Susan,
    This was such a fun read! Do you know that I was Traci @ Beneath My Heart very first follower!
    She even did a post about it awhile back.
    You look lovely, and I appreciate the tips here!
    Could they move it to the Mid-West next year?

  31. It certainly looks and sounds like everyone had a terrific time. Thanks so much, Susan, for sharing all the great info!

  32. Like Debby, I have only recently become interested in blogging. It is a “new” community. Your blog about Haven added to my interest. I also have recently started using Pinterest and have seen how so much good iniformation pinned comes from Blogs. I have looked at different blogs in since I became interested and BNOTP is the one I like best. It’s not just that you, Susan provide a variety of topics, or the quality of your writing and your skill in photography. Susan, you take it seriously; most of your followers know what to expect and you rarely disappoint. I log on Monday to Thursday. I like having that as part of my routine. It provides a little beauty and information that I relate to. I respect a person who does a job and does it right. I think I saw a post when you stopped working and just did your Blog. I have not found much about you “your profile”. I’m interested in your story; how you got started blogging; how it has helped you and what stresses you about it? I would love to know if you follow other bloggers but have not found that – maybe I just haven’t looked in the right place. I wonder how you started and how you evolved to having become so respected in this community. I am thinking about blogging. I would like your input and guidance as to how someone gets started. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I think it’s probably pretty complicated. Ann S

    • Hi Ann, Thanks for the questions. I’ll try to create a post sometime soon addressing some of these. The short answer though is it truly isn’t complicated but “we” bloggers sometimes tend to make it that way. You described it best when you called it a “community.” It really is! I would probably encourage anyone interested in starting a blog to begin on Blogger. It’s easy and inexpensive to create a beautiful blog easily on the Blogger platform. It’s really hard to describe what blogging means to me because I think it has a different impact/meaning for each individual person. In so many ways, blogging has changed my life and truly for the better. Don’t mean to sound dramatic, but it is true. I’m not sure how other bloggers feel about that, can only speak for myself. I’ll give this more thought and try to create a post about it real soon. Thanks for all your kind words, Ann! Appreciate them so much!

      • Dear Susan,
        Thank you for responding in such a kind and informative way. I hope you will post information about your blogging experience. Reading BNOTP may have opened up a new world for me!

  33. Hi Susan,
    Three things: (keeping the theme!)
    1. Thanks for the recaps on the classes. It sounds like Haven was so well planned, and very beneficial to the attendees!
    2. You are lovely, and I’m glad you were brave to post pictures of yourself having a great time.
    3. So very happy to read that non-bloggers attended. I live in East Cobb, and really wanted to attend, but wasn’t sure that it would be open to a non-blogger. 🙂 (and never asked anyone either, so my fault!) Maybe next year!

    BNOTP is one of my favorite blogs, and I am always happy when you have a new post. Thank you for all the hard work you put into your site. It’s so informative and very inspirational.
    (go Dawgs)

  34. Thank you so much for sharing notes from Haven! I missed some of the sessions you attended so I’m thrilled to have the few points that you shared!!!

    Sorry we didn’t meet at the conference!! Even though it was a smaller blogging conference, it was still hard to make my way around the room to meet everyone!!


  35. thank you for sharing this! I wanted to go to haven sooo bad!!!! as I live in Atlanta.. but by the time I heard about it, the tickets were sold out? and being a new blogger, I needed all the info I could get.

    Hopefully next year.. sigh

  36. Susan~

    It was great to meet you! I hope to see you again, soon!

  37. Great tips Susan! And you look fabulous!! One question: Was the formula for ad charge based on total monthly page views? Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

    • Thanks, Kathryn. Yes, I think so. It’s supposed to be a good starting point/guide. Google that topic and you’ll find similar info online. I remember having read that before somewhere over the years. The formula doesn’t work once you’re getting a very large number of page views.

  38. Susan…..honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I think you look gorgeous and very thin!!!! Seriously…you should love having your photo taken, but I do understand being camera shy. I’m especially camera shy since I gained 25 pounds on steroids last year and I used to be so thin…..craziness….but I will lose it, especially now that I’m off those nasty drugs.

    OH: And I haven’t forgotten advertising….I’ve just been trying to keep my head above water with my mom’s illness and now Tom finally came home for two weeks but before that it was the show and then ALex’s graduation….insanity……..so I’m still going to get caught up on things and advertise again once I’ve updated the ETSY site. I suppose I’m just a complete slowpoke! 🙂 I just had to write Rhoda and apologize for not coming to HAVEN and for my general absence!!!

    Again, you look beautiful!!!


    • Lana, you are soooo sweet! Bless you! ♥ Glad you don’t have to take those steroids anymore…hard on the body for sure! Sounds like you’ve been busy living life! Congrats on the graduation! Love to have you back as a Sponsor anytime! Love to you, your hubby and family! Hope you are having a great summer!

  39. Awesome post! I will be at haven {my first blog conference} and am so excited! Hope to meet you there 🙂
    ~Katie @ Upcycled Treasures

  40. Susan, thank you for tips from Haven. How wonderful that it was right there in your home town.

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