The Haven conference has been on my radar for a few years now. I finally decided this spring it was time to commit and purchased my ticket. This is my recap of the go-to blogger conference for those in the DIY AND home niche.
This weekend was not about quality photos, so I apologize in advance. 😉
I bought my ticket to the Haven conference knowing no one who would be in attendance. At least in real life that is. I’d been following some of the speakers and a few attendees for years, but they had no clue who I was. Essentially I was flying solo. However, as I’ve been learning over the past two years, putting yourself out there is half of the battle. To grow yourself and your brand as a whole, you need to rub elbows and team up with people in your industry.
The Haven Conference website and facebook page are set up well. They gave a lot of info on what to expect, what to bring, how to pitch companies and make friends! Since the Haven Conference 2019 was my first, I appreciated all the info they provided for newbies.
What Haven Looks like for a first time attendee
Haven understands that a lot of bloggers attending are seasoned veterans. They also get that there are many who are new to the conference. Some of these newbies are new to the blogging world as a whole, or like me, have been blogging awhile but are new to the conference itself.
To help all the first timers, Haven has a meetup for those first year attendees a half hour before the welcome reception. It was nice to meet others new to Haven. You instantly felt a bond with these people because like me, most of them came alone.
There are also Haven conference mentors. You’ll be chosen to be in a group with 8-12 people and one veteran blogger, aka mentor, who meets with you daily to answer questions and make sure you’re getting the most from your time at Haven. Such a awesome touch to the conference.
Where is the Haven conference and how are the accommodations
The Haven Conference is located in Atlanta Georgia. The conference itself was hosted inside the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead. The hotel is about a 25 minute drive from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport.
I’ve attended other conferences in the past where I was trying to save money and decided on staying at a less expensive hotel fairly close to the area the conference was being held. This ended up not being a great idea because I couldn’t go back to my room to change quickly for different events, I’d have to Uber or walk to each session, which would mean scrambling to get to places on time since all the classes were very close in time to each other.
This ultimately added to my cost for the trip, and I did’t save anything! What a fail. And, it stressed me the heck out!
Haven had a discount at the hotel for those attending the conference, and that helped significantly. It was wonderful staying in the same hotel as the conference. I would completely recommend that option to those planning on attending. It was also nice to have brainstorming sessions in the lobby late into the evenings, and you didn’t have to worry about walking to your hotel in the dark.
Haven: there to make friends, pitch to sponsors, or both?
Of course you should do both! But, I’d consider making friends and connections as the top priority over working with brands and sponsors. This is why:
Connecting with those in your niche is SO DANG IMPORTANT. To see others succeeding and growing their blogs is beyond encouraging. If they can do it, you can do it! Almost everyone I met seemed to be rocking one thing really well. Maybe it was instagram, Pinterest, or the page views on their blog.
Of course all these bloggers where using all these mentioned platforms, but each person seemed to have that one platform they did really well at. Pick their brains and share insight into what you know. Having a helping hand who’s been there and done that is invaluable to the growth of your business.
Being isolated in your home office day in and day out is lonely! There are so many times I feel uninspired, lost, and just out of touch. I was able to meet several girls I clicked with and we formed a Facebook group for only us, to bounce ideas off and help in all the ways we can. It’s been a breath of fresh air to have these ladies at the tip of my fingers whenever needed. We are all so willing to share our tips and insight with each other. It truly is the gift that keeps giving. They will be lifelong friends now. What a gift from attending Haven!
How to pitch to the Haven Sponsors/brands
Okay, this is my take on talking and pitching to brands at Haven. There are lots of other bloggers that have recapped Haven and say different things here, so make sure to check them out as well.
Talking with sponsors is a must! Have you elevator pitch ready and enter each booth with your homework done on that brand.
My elevator pitch went something like this:
Hi! I’m Eryn from Eryn Whalen Online. I’m excited to visit you both and check out your products! We have a 1990’s home that was a rental before we purchased it a year ago and we’re doing ALL THE THINGS to it. It’s in need of love and updating and we’re excited to attempt each new project. I’ve been eyeing your product and think it would be wonderful to use in the ________ we’re planning on doing soon. I’d love to give you my card, take one of yours, and talk after the conference about a possible partnership if you’re interested. My followers love our DIY and renovation projects and this would fit right in.
Depending on who I’m talking to and how chatty they are our conversation could be longer and more back and fourth, but I always tried to hit on these core points:
- We’re working on a rental with great before and after photo potential
- I have an engaged audience (especially on Instagram) who loves to watch the projects unfold and see the products I use.
- There are many projects we plan on doing soon, and I’m sure we could come up with one your company would like to be a part of.
I also asked each company what they wanted to push or had coming out in the next few months. What are the goals of said company? What are they launching or wanting help in promoting?
Don’t ask how much they pay or go into contract details
This is more of a meet-cute. We don’t kiss or go to third base here people, we just chat it up and see if we like each other. 😉 Those manning the booths are seeing hundreds of people file through and they don’t have time to talk details. Save those for your email pitch later. Trust me on this.
What if you don’t feel like you connected to the brand ambassador at the booth
You can’t win everyone over, and honestly don’t read into it too much. They are trying to be polite and talk to everyone, so say your piece and move on so someone else gets a chance as well. For those booths I really loved and wanted the chance to work with, I’d stop by on day one to chat and do my elevator pitch, then I’d walk by the next day and just say Hi! How are you doing? I bet you’re so tired. Do you have to fly home or do you live close? Just a quick chat about THEM as a person and not the brand. Only if they had time and weren’t busy that moment.
Try to get to as many brand booths as possible the first day
This was a mistake of mine, I figured I had all of day two to chat, and didn’t hit as many as I could have day one. Honestly day one towards the end I was just so overflowing with advice and talking to people all day that I wanted to hid in my hotel room. But DON’T DO THAT! This is your time to connect and shine, so get out there!
On day two they keep you busy, and around three PM many of the booths started packing up, before I had the chance to visit. Plus, on day two these people are tired. Try to hit the booths that matter to you the most day one, and push through and see as many as you can. Day two doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to make it through the rest.
Choose the hard and needed classes over fun ones
Did I want to take a class about advanced SEO? No, not really. But it was needed. You chose blogging because you love to share your passions. That fun bathroom reno, or that quick tutorial on how to make a tablescape for fall.
But, you don’t make money from just writing, making a video, and sending it off into online space. You need eyes on your content to be taken seriously, to work with brands, get into the best ad networks, and accumulate those page views that equal opportunity. For that you need to make the backend of your website a priority. Simply taking fun classes doesn’t help you grow as a blogger.
It’s okay to take a few just-for-fun classes, but the majority of the time, make sure you’re challenging yourself and growing as a company. You are a CEO, and this is your chance to ask questions and learn from the experts. Don’t waste that.
When leaving the conference, you will experience the Haven Hangover
It’s a thing. The Haven hangover is real! It’s excited, being poured into by other bloggers. Filled with information. Then suddenly, you’re alone again, with a million and one things to implement. And you start freaking out.
Don’t panic friends! Take a deep breath, make a list of everything you want to do, and then number them from 1. being very important, all the way down the list. Now you have your order of operation, and you start working down them all.
This is another reason finding a few besties from Haven and making a group is really beneficial. You can use each other as accountability partners to make sure you’re getting things done.
Haven conference Conclusion
Is this conference worth it? If you’ve read everything above you know the answer is a resounding yes. My biggest takeaway is to go into the conference with an open mind and no preconceived expectations. Go in being ready to soak up what’s given to you, listen to the teachers and take lots of notes, make friends, and go with the flow. Be the amazing person you are and you’ll find your tribe, your groove, and the conference will go off without a hitch.
Being a blogger is scary sometimes. You are the only one that can push yourself and force you to do the hard things. There is so much beauty and growth in doing the hard though, so take courage and do the scary thing. Like flying across the country solo to meet people you’ve never met! I haven’t heard one person yet who has dished on Haven. It’s just that good.
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