Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the Haven Blogging Conference. It was the 4th time I had gone to Haven, so I knew I was in for an amazing weekend! Each time I’ve attended the conference, I feel like I come back refreshed and renewed, with a new outlook and more energy to pour into blogging.

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Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

I woke up early on Thursday morning to make the trek to the Pittsburgh Airport to catch my flight to Atlanta. It can be a bit nerve wracking flying alone, so I was glad to be traveling to Haven with my fellow Pittsburgh blogger (and fellow Grove City College alumna!) Christene from Keys to Inspiration.

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

We successfully managed to navigate the Pittsburgh and Atlanta airports and caught an Uber to the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead with our friend Jackie from School of Decorating.

Once I had settled into my hotel room, it was time to head to the opening cocktail party to meet up with all of the other conference attendees. The incredible Haven team created a beautiful setting on the hotel’s veranda area, complete with an awesome balloon photo backdrop.

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

Jamie | Me | Chelsea | Rachel | Sarah | April | Nina | Laura | Lauren

Of everything that happens the entire weekend (and there are a lot of fun things going on!), what I most look forward to is catching up with my “tribe,” our close knit group of blogging friends who have been together through years of blogging! Though we talk online nearly every day, Haven is usually the only time all year that we get to catch up in person, so we try to take advantage of every minute!

Friday and Saturday were full of helpful classes. I always come away from conferences with pages and pages of notes and tons of new ideas and strategies to try on my site. Classes range from hands on, creative projects like hand lettering and building to classes that focus more on the business end of things, like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media. I was honored to teach a class this year about strategies for organizing your blogging process so you can work smarter, not harder, to grow your blog.

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

My dear friend Jamie was kind enough to snap these photos of me while I was teaching… apparently I talk with my hands A LOT. 😉

On Friday night I headed out to a beautiful dinner with Home Depot and Kwikset. They really went all out to make it a stunning event!

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

The tablescape was gorgeous, the food was delicious, and the company was truly unmatched. 🙂 Plus, we got to get dressed up a little bit, which is always fun!

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

Haneen | Charlotte | Me | Chelsea | April

Along with the classes and events, we also have the opportunity to chat with the different brand sponsors at Haven to learn about how they work with bloggers and make connections to team up for possible future collaborations. Sometimes the brands will even bring in amazing guests like… I don’t know… Clint Harp?!

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

Me | Laura | Clint | Sarah | Chelsea | Lauren

Admittedly, we sort of met Clint by accident. You see, the girls and I were just hanging out in front some of the brand booths chatting when we realized that a huge line had formed behind us. When we looked up, there was Clint waiting to meet bloggers and do a little photo op, so I guess you could say we were just in the right place at the right time!

The conference finished up with an inspiring closing keynote by KariAnne from Thistlewood Farms.

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

If you don’t yet follow her, run over to her blog right this second and follow her on every social media platform possible! KariAnne has the biggest heart, is an amazing storyteller, and is a huge cheerleader and encourager to everyone who comes across her path. (She also has an incredible book called So Close to Amazing that is coming out in September. I recently had the honor of reading an advance copy, and y’all… just go pre-order it right now. It is so good for the soul and will truly make you feel like KariAnne is your BFF!)

I also have to give a big shoutout to the awesome Haven team for putting together another fantastic event. They do such a great job of bringing bloggers together, encouraging them, and sending them out to inspire others, and their hard work is so greatly appreciated!

Haven Blogging Conference 2017 Recap

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Rhoda of Southern Hospitality, Chris of Just a Girl, Traci of Beneath My Heart, and Kristin of Stockdale Design!

Beyond the Classroom– The Biggest Lesson I Learned from Haven This Year

I almost ended my post right there. Almost. But I didn’t think I could wrap up without mentioning my very biggest takeaway from Haven this year. You see, although the classes at Haven were amazing and I learned so many things from the brilliant bloggers who taught them, I think so many of the things I get out of Haven each year, I learn outside of the classroom settings.

I admit, this year the biggest lesson I picked up surprised me a little bit. And it might be an odd thing to take away from blogging conference, because it’s really not limited to blogging at all. It’s more of a life lesson. And it’s one that I need to keep reminding myself of each and every day:

It’s not about me.

You see, I am a bit of an major introvert. This means that situations like blogging conferences tend to be way outside my comfort zone and make me really anxious.

What will people think of me? What if they don’t like me? What if I wear the wrong thing? Or say the wrong thing? What if I can’t think of anything to say at all? What if I try to talk to someone and they get mad? (I realize that last one is a bit ridiculous. But it is truly something that crosses my mind, lol.)

But this year when those thoughts began to creep in, I decided that they were not going to win. Instead of letting them take over, I decided that I was going to turn my eyes outward and focus on other people. Instead of worrying about whether people were going to like me, I made a conscious effort to try to make everyone else feel included. Instead of worrying about what I was going to say to people, I tried to focus on listening to what others had to say and learning from them. Instead of worrying about what I was wearing, I tried to pay closer attention to the awesome things that others were accomplishing and how they were making the blogging community better for all of us.

And a funny thing happened. When I started focusing less on me and more on welcoming and learning from and celebrating others, I ended up having the best year at Haven yet!

So much of my anxiety– particularly when I find myself in a situation that is outside of my comfort zone, like a blogging conference– is because I’m focusing way too much on me! Not only at Haven, but in every situation in my life, I want to work harder at serving and loving others and focusing less on myself. And that is a lesson I can take with me and work on day in and day out all year long. ?

For more information about the Haven Blogging Conference, see additional recaps here:

Haven 2016

Haven 2015

Haven 2014

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

34 Comments

  1. Love your recap of your time st the conference. The photos with names, very important. Great takeaway. Excited to see how your blog grows over the next year.
    Joanne

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, thanks so much, Joanne! Me too! Have a wonderful week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  2. April@LoveOurRealLife says:

    It looks like an amazing time! I’m sure it was packed full of fantastic information. I really hope to make it next year…in Charleston, South Carolina! What a beautiful location.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I already can’t wait! Hope to see you there! 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Katie Jones says:

    Such a great recap Abby! And I just love (and totally relate to) the message that you took away! Can’t WAIT for Charleston next year!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I’m already excited, too! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week, Katie!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Oh, I LOVED your final takeaway! I’m a huge introvert as well, and I’m always worried about me, myself, and what others are thinking of me. Which, when I put it down in writing, shows me how selfish this way of thinking actually is!! I loved your recommendation to stop thinking about ourselves and to look out for others instead. Beautiful!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It’s amazing what a change in mindset can do! 🙂 Have a great day, Julie!

      ~Abby =)

    2. Rev. Suzanne says:

      And life-changing. The Bible teaches us not to worry about anything, but to take care of others. This is Christ like behavior.

      Abbie, your children are young enough to learn this compelling truth from you yet. Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. And we’re all neighbors.

  5. Ashley Wilson says:

    Hi Abby, thanks for this post! Haven is on my list for next year. I loved your share with the biggest thing you learned. You’ve been so generous with your knowledge to me. I went to a blogger event recently and didn’t mentally prepare myself to be social with others. I talked to a few people, but felt so shy while they did photo ops and boomerangs and selfies. Ha! I will re-read this before my next event. Thanks and happy Monday!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh, fun! So glad you’re planning to go to Haven! It’s such a blast! And yes… a great way to get out of your comfort zone! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  6. Angela @ Simply Beautiful By Angela says:

    So glad to see that you had a good time! I’m a total introvert so I’ve been putting off going to this even though I deep down really want to! I think next year will be year to make that leap. Thanks for the pep talk about thinking less about myself (because I have those thoughts on a daily basis!) 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! You should totally go… it’s a blast! Even for us introverts! 😉

      ~Abby =)

  7. Great recap Abby! It was so fun to finally meet you in person, and I’m already looking forward to giving you a big hug when I see you next in Charleston.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! FINALLY! 🙂 Already looking forward to Charleston! <3

      ~Abby =)

  8. Christene Holder says:

    It was so fun getting to travel to Haven with you! I’m glad we didn’t have to navigate everything alone. Haven was so much fun! Also, thanks for connecting me with my awesome roomie Jackie! We clicked right away.

    Now I need to get going on my recap post. 🙂 That weekend was a whirlwind!

    >> Christene

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It really was a whirlwind! I’m so glad you and Jackie hit it off… she’s great and so are you so it totally makes sense! 🙂 Hope you’re having an awesome week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  9. This does sound fantastic! I can’t wait to have a blog established enough to justify going to a conference. I’d like to aim to go next year but I see that it’s for DIY and home decorating bloggers? My niche is mainly party planning and styling… is Haven very much geared towards the DIY/Decorating niche?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Tori! Haven is a home decor/DIY conference, but there are tons of other ones out there as well. I don’t know of any specifically for party planning since that’s not my niche, but I know SNAP Conference (http://snapconference.com/) is more on the crafty side, so there would probably be more party planners at that one. I hope this helps!

      ~Abby =)

  10. This was my Tuesday morning coffee-before-kids-are-up read… And I’m always inspired by you, Abby! Glad you had such a fun time! … and a bit jealous tat you met Clint! ?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      He was so nice! 🙂 So glad it was helpful for you, Holly! Hope you’re having a wonderful week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  11. Thanks for linking the girls and their blogs. It looks like you had a great time and learned a lot of interesting info!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It was wonderful! Thanks, Debbie! And yes… be sure to check out their blogs! They’re all so talented! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  12. Loved reading this Abby!! I want to go to Haven next year SO BAD!!! Excited that it’s in Charleston!

  13. Megan Harney says:

    I love this! I have yet to attend a blogging conference for the reason you shared at the end coupled with a few other anxieties around being a relatively new blogger. It seems like everyone already has their tribe. I know most of those women have been through the trenches together, but it’s hard to figure out where to start. Would you mind sharing how you were able to find your blogging tribe and how you keep in touch from long distances?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Megan! A couple of the girls in our tribe just reached out to some bloggers that they thought would be a good fit and invited them to be part of a group. It started out with just 6 or 8 of us, and then we added people here and there when we found someone that was a good addition. We now have 12 and have capped it there. We have a private Facebook group where we all chat and keep in touch! I hope this helps!

      ~Abby =)

  14. It sounds like a great conference. I wish I had known about it earlier as I live in Atlanta and would have loved to attend. I have marked my calendar for next year’s conference and hope to meet you there. Thanks so much for your enthusiastic recap!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh, great! So glad you’re planning to attend! It’s so much fun. Have a wonderful week, Diane!

      ~Abby =)

  15. OMG what a wonderful cure for being an Introvert. I am going to try it straight away. Love your wrap up. I am a Ling way off from attending one of these events but your encouragement is greatly appreciated. .

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Wendy! Let me know how it goes! 🙂 Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  16. Loved your recap, Abby, and I’m glad I bumped into Saturday morning! I am an introvert, too, but I think each year Haven gets a little easier because there are so many familiar faces (like yours!) smiling back at me. That first year though – whoa was I a nervous wreck! I really enjoyed your session; I got so much out of it and am looking forward to implementing some new tactics in my workflow! Hope to see you next year 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I still get those butterflies every year too, but yes… it has become much easier since the first year I ever went! 🙂 Hope to see you again, Emily! Happy almost Friday! <3

      ~Abby =)

  17. Amazing advice, especially for me as I start out on my blogging journey. I worry so much about what people think, but I love how you turn that around and focus on the other person instead. Thank you for sharing! God bless you. ?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Marie! Those early days of blogging can be intimidating! Enjoy your blogging journey! <3

      ~Abby =)

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