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Haven Conference: The Ultimate Guide

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Attending a blogging conference is a major decision for anyone to make, for bloggers and brands alike. From conference and plane ticket costs, food, lodging, and more, the expense when it’s all said and done is considerable. Not to mention the time involved in planning and attending as well.

I have attended several types of blogging conferences, including Haven. Not only that, but later on, I’ve also been privileged to work behind-the-scenes as part of the Haven team. For me as a DIY blogger/influencer, Haven has easily been the best investment that continues to provide business opportunities.

After reading this Haven Conference ultimate guide, which is based upon my personal experience as both an attendee and a member of the Haven staff, you will be fully prepared to attend this dynamic conference.

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What is a Blogging Conference?

Haven Conference The Grand Ballroom Grand Hyatt Buckhead Atlanta

Before I start talking about Haven specifically, there might be some of you who are unfamiliar with how a blogging conference works.

A blogging conference is a gathering of people, usually made up of bloggers, influencers, and brand representatives. There are different types of conferences that cater to a specific theme or niche, such as moms, dads, designers, DIYers, and more. The brands that are present focus their message and highlight products in a way that matches the theme of the conference.

Most conferences feature a lineup of speakers who lead sessions about all aspects of being a blogger or influencer, such as content creation, social media, photography, business goals, and more.

These conferences offer the opportunity to connect (network) with other bloggers and influencers, and the distinct opportunity to partner with brands. Connecting with the right individual of a particular brand on your own can be quite a challenge. This is especially the case if a brand works with an agency who handles their public relations and blogging/influencer collaborations.

A blogging conference, however, puts you in direct contact with the person who makes, or works in the department that makes decisions about partnerships. This person or department represents the brand and is fully prepared to decide to work with you or not; it’s all up to you to showcase your “brand” and pitch. We’ll talk more about that in a little bit.

Haven Conference

Ryobi At Haven Conference

Haven Conference on social media:

Now that we’ve discussed what the purpose of a blogging conference is, let’s dive into Haven Conference. Haven is a blogging conference based in Atlanta, GA that caters to the DIY/designer niches.

Most years, the venue has been the stunning Grand Hyatt Buckhead in Atlanta. It provides a relaxing backdrop to the serious, yet fun business of networking and pitches. Like other conferences that I’ve been to, though, Haven is more than just a conference. It’s also a supportive community.

Many of the attendees have been going to Haven for years and have built up lasting friendships with other bloggers and brand reps alike. Most are very happy to help other attendees advance their own blogging and influencer goals. The saying “a rising tide lifts all boats” could be a Haven Conference mission statement.

That feeling of community was evident when I attended my first Haven back in 2017. I had just attended a BlogHer conference in Orlando, FL in June and planned to attend Haven the following month. BlogHer was a good experience, but Haven turned out to be life-changing in many ways.

My Haven Experience

Haven had an immediate impact and return on my investment. I have been able to connect and partner with several of the brands in attendance, including The Home Depot, Jeffrey Court, RYOBI, Gorilla Glue, Liberty Hardware, QUIKRETE, Rust-Oleum, Sinkology, Wagner SprayTech, and more. Even after five years, these partnerships are still ongoing.

I’ve also maintained great relationships with other DIY bloggers and designers. As I mentioned, the Haven community is made up of supportive individuals who are happy to answer questions and be generally helpful. Of course, I’ve been there to help others as well. I’ve served as a Haven Mentor and loved every minute of it.

After my second Haven in 2018, I reached out to the owner and offered to join the team. I was thrilled to help out with blogging, social media, and working behind-the-scenes during the 2019 Haven Conference. I also helped with the conference in 2020, which was held via videoconference because of COVID-19. I’ve been unable to attend during 2021 and 2022, but I hope to rejoin the team in the future!

Getting the Most out of the Haven Conference

Play-Doh DohVinci Booth

To get the most out of Haven, you need to be fully prepared in several areas. Here’s my comprehensive checklist.

1. Create a Plan

If you’re an established blogger, influencer, an/or designer, you likely have core objectives or even a business plan in place. Working with a plan and a purpose is essential to any business. The same is true for attending a blogging conference.

Because of the considerable investment in time and money, it is wise to make every moment count while you’re in attendance. Even though there is a schedule of events and ample opportunity to network, it’s up to you to make the expense work for you. Don’t go in without a plan! Develop your plan over several weeks, even months before a Haven Conference. Ask yourself and answer these questions:

  • Why do you want to attend Haven?
  • What benefits and opportunities can Haven provide to you and your business?
  • If shy, are you willing to step out of your comfort zone to turn these opportunities into successes?

Once you’ve answered these questions and determined that Haven is right for you, begin planning your trip with your core objectives in mind.

2. Consider the Expense

As I mentioned in the outset, any blogging conference involves several expenses:

  • Haven Conference ticket.
  • Travel.
  • Hotel.
  • Food.
  • Business cards and other items related to networking.

Even though I firmly believe Haven is worth the expense, that’s still a lot of upfront cost that will likely go to credit cards. Make sure you have a plan for paying it off! The blogging/influencer arena is a marathon, not a sprint. Most will not see meaningful returns for some time.

And speaking of business cards, you’ll want to order those (250-500) well in advance with plenty of time to spare before the conference. In the event you receive your order and you don’t like the look, you have time to try again. Some also create stickers with their logo on them to pass out to fellow attendees.

3. Working with Brands

You might wonder how a brand partnership works and why you’d be interested in one. There are several ways to partner with a brand and it all depends upon their specific marketing needs and goals.

Most brands are interested in partnering with a blogger or influencer who can then spread the word about them and/or a particular product to their audience. The brand usually provides the product for free and/or provides payment for the collaboration.

There are many factors when it comes to choosing an individual to work with. Some of these are:

  • If your brand aligns with theirs.
  • The size of your blog and social media audience.
  • The quality and consistency of your blogging and social media content.
  • Being a likable and professional person and how you carry yourself matters as well!

Your Moment to Shine!

Please see the subheading Building A New Dad Blog: Collaborating With Brands in my article “How To Start and Maintain a Dad Blog” for tips on how to approach and interact with brands at a blogging conference. That subheading also provides a wealth of information on various ways to collaborate with brands.

Yes, the article focuses on dad blogs, but the information applies to any type of blogger or influencer.

4. Packing for the Conference

Spend some extra time on the packing process to ensure that you’ve remembered everything you need for a successful conference. There are stores around the Grand Hyatt Buckhead and a place inside the hotel that sells toiletries, medicine, and such, but it’s always nice to have everything you need from the beginning.

  • Day clothing for the conference that well represents your brand.
  • Comfortable clothing/PJs.
  • Comfortable shoes.
  • Toiletries.
  • Medicine/health care items.
  • Devices. (Phone, laptop, chargers, etc.)
  • Snacks and drinks.

Haven is known for the large amount of swag that’s given out during the conference. That’s awesome, but if you’re flying in/out, you’ve got to give consideration to how you’re going to get your freebies home. I’ve heard of some bringing an extra suitcase with them to use just for the swag!

5. What to Expect During the Conference

Attendees typically arrive on Wednesday or Thursday before the conference. Haven registration, which is located in the lower lobby level, usually opens in the mid-afternoon on Thursday. Registration is where you’ll get your ticket, printed schedule, and swag bag. Later in the afternoon, there’s a meet-and-great for new attendees and a welcome reception in the exterior garden terraces.

The main conference days are Friday and Saturday, and they feature sessions, DIY workshops, and much more. Here’s a few tips for navigating the conference days.

  • Atlanta is hot during July, but you might want to bring a sweater to wear inside because the air conditioning works REALLY well.
  • Breakfast and lunch are provided on Friday and Saturday and water is usually available during the day, but you might want to bring your own drinks and snacks to keep you fueled.
  • Plan your Friday and Saturday ahead of time. Several sessions are usually grouped within the same time period, so you’ll have to make a decision on what to attend and what to miss. Most of the sessions are repeated on both days, though, so you might have a chance to hear a session you missed on Friday.
  • Instead of hauling around a tablet and a pen for notetaking, I have found it much easier to use a word-processor app, like Google Docs, on my phone. I text much faster than I write, so typing on Google Docs allows me to catch more of the sessions in my notes.
  • Familiarize yourself with the conference center layout ahead of time so you’ll know where to go for a specific session or DIY workshop.
  • Speaking of cell phones, keeping a few charging banks on hand will prevent a dead battery during the day.
  • Get plenty of rest! Personally, I think and feel my best after getting adequate sleep. Going out and having a good time in the evenings at Haven is fun, but always keep in mind that you’re there to grow your business. You wouldn’t want a lack of rest ruin all the time and expense you gave to be there.
  • Attending the DIY workshops is a great way to not only learn new skills, but also spend more time with a brand that you’d like to partner with.

6. After the Conference

Well, you did it! You gave your Haven trip the necessary preparation, you counted the cost, you networked and showed off your brand, and you brought home a wealth of knowledge and actionable tips. Now is the time to get busy!

  • Follow up IMMEDIATELY, within the following week after the conference, with the brand representatives you conversed with while the conference is still fresh on everyone’s minds. Give the brand rep the impression that you are ready to get to work.
  • Go through your notes and IMMEDIATELY take action. Put your newfound knowledge about content creation, social media, etc. to work for you.

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