I’m going to get honest here for a moment.
I remember years ago reading blog posts about people going to Haven Conference and while it looked like an amazing opportunity, I didn’t ever see myself being that lucky to go to a conference like that. I know they never intended to come across as bragging, but it felt like my favorite DIY bloggers that normally provided me with inspiration and tutorials, were showing me an elite world where they made partnerships with brands, received products for free, and met celebrity bloggers. It was hard for me to connect with.
So here I am, fresh from coming home from my second year at Haven, evaluating what to share, what might help someone. Because truly? I started this blog from the beginning, in hopes that someone would learn something that would encourage them to create. That is what I loved most from the bigger bloggers that inspired me to start mine.
But also, I have become friends with my readers and I want to talk to you like a friend. I want to share with you the nuggets of truth and inspiration and wisdom I learned. I want to share moments when I met bloggers I’ve been incredibly inspired by and have amazing success stories, who are actually nicer and more down-to-earth than I hoped for.
So hopefully I can share that perfect balance that leaves you feeling encouraged, whether you are a blogger or not, but also connected to me.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a people person. I love people. However, being a stay-at-home mother first, for years I often was less social and more isolated than I wanted to be. That isn’t how it is for all mothers but I was being lazy and that is the position I found myself in. Blogging has filled that void and brought into my life so many amazing people, many who have become my dear friends–a few who have become like sisters to me.
Meet some of these ‘sisters’.
Lucy with Craftberry Bush, Jen with City Farmhouse, and Bre with Rooms FOR Rent. Missing from this group of ‘sisters’ who was at Haven was Liz from Liz Marie Blog and Jamie from So Much Better With Age.
But this is what things looked like typically when we were together:
For those who don’t know, Haven Conference has all kinds of classes to teach you ways to better your ‘trade’ as a DIY/Home Decor blogger, taught by experienced, highly successful bloggers and professionals. Lucy, Jen, Bre, and Liz all taught classes that I attended and I was lucky to spend more quality time with them as we had conversations exchanging ideas, beliefs, encouragement and struggles. I feel so filled up with love and gratitude for them.
If I were to say there was a recurring theme from the entire weekend it would be this:
Be the blogger you would want to read by working hard, keeping your voice, valuing relationships, and dreaming big.
Jon Acuff was someone who I had previously not heard of, but will never forget. He is both hilarious (I was cry-laughing) and inspirational.
Pretty much he had me hooked when he compared kale chips to burnt book pages, and when he casually threw in a line from “It Takes Two” (Rob Base & DJ E-Z). Then he started to get inspirational with stuff like this and I became an official fan:
Relationships + Skills + Character x Hustle = Career Savings Account
You cannot leave out any of those and expect to be successful– and he gave examples of how that’s true.
Read less minds. Ask more questions.
Care about what your readers care about by asking them what they want. What do you want to know? See/read? Not see/read?
Hustle makes you step into the tension of yes and no.
Hustle has seasons.
Hustle is a scalpel.
I was particularly tuned in to his talk on hustle. Hustle is a relatively new term in the business industry but it’s basically your work ethic and ‘gettin shiz done’. This is something I’ve struggled a lot to balance because I was raised with incredible work ethic and always loved the satisfaction of doing a good job, efficiently, more than so many other mundane tasks I’m required to do day-to-day. Earlier this year I felt a strong impression that I needed to step back some… to reevaluate priorities and reign in my ‘get shiz done’ mentality, or the hustle. Not abandon it all-together, but control it. I think many of you might think my days are constantly filled with project after project, room makeovers, and painting. And building. And photography and blogging and blah blah blah. Well, friends, that’s not exactly true. I take breaks. I’m lazy sometimes. I watch TV too much sometimes. I’m on Facebook and social media too much. I get into the same time-sucks you do. And there are (many) days when I neglect laundry, making meals, dusting, organizing… etcetera! etcetera! etcetera! (imagine me saying that like Yul Brenner from the King and I) It IS true I have learned how to be very productive in short spurts, and I have a very supportive and helpful family. However, the room makeovers I’ve done recently? They were actually started on months ago, I just share plans, progress and updates closer together, because it is easier for me to schedule things that way. I’m sharing this bit of info, so that you can hopefully feel like it is normal and healthy to just do a little bit each day or maybe each week, to work toward a goal. And maybe it isn’t your season to hustle. If you hustle out of season the scalpel comes to cut out the most important and gratifying part of our lives: relationships.
I’ve been incredibly blessed recently by a new relationship with a brand that I love: Home Depot. Not only do I shop there all the time because they have all the things I love, but they are one of the few brands that really value bloggers and are helping us change stereotypes by empowering women to improve, build, fix, and create. They work closely with Ana White, Shanty2Chic, and Vintage Revivals just to name a few. I got to meet some of these sweet ladies at a dinner Home Depot invited me to on Friday night and was pleasantly surprised with how genuine and authentic they all were. Not that they come across online as fake, but it’s hard to gauge someone’s character until you see them interact with people they don’t know previously. If you know any of these bloggers and wondered if they were the ‘real deal’ then you will not be disappointed. They aren’t prideful or full of themselves– they have been given a platform and a message they are passionate about: that YOU can do it! And it can change your life.
After the Do-It-Herself workshop Friday morning with Stephanie (my fav gal with Ryobi), myself, and Ana White.
On our way to dinner to the Home Depot Dinner, with my new beautiful friend, Corey with Sawdust2Stitches, and Whitney & Ashley with Shanty2Chic. We all bonded because we came from families of 6+ and started our own families pretty young. Plus we love to build furniture, so there’s that… 😉
I also ran into Lucy Farmer who is one of the contestants on HGTV’s Beach Flip (airing right now) and I was so excited to talk to her because 1) We have lots of mutual friends, 2) I’ve been loving watching the hilarity of her and her bff Daphne on the show, and 3) She has been totally robbed of the last two room makeovers (kitchen and living room) and I had to tell her that it it was up to viewers, they would be winning! She is so fun to be around.
For those of you who are new bloggers or didn’t get a chance to attend, here are a couple recaps of some the classes I learned from.
Photo Styling Tips & Tricks by Lucy from Craftberry Bush:
-Tell a story with your photos, embrace the mess to create a home that looks lived in, not perfect, yet beautiful.
-Have a general plan for how you want things to look, but be flexible.
-Don’t forget the importance of the panoramic or landscape shot (zoomed out, full view), the medium shot (vignette), and the zoom shot (texture and detail), and include all three in your shoots. Lucy typically takes 150 pictures every shoot that she does, and only posts 15, just to give you an idea.
-Aim to let your unique voice, passion and style come through in your photos– it takes time and practice, but you want someone to recognize your work even if there isn’t a watermark.
How to Translate Your Project to Video by Jen Stagg from With Heart:
-Visual projects that are hard to photograph that have a lot of action are the best ones to video.
-Get everything you need ahead of time and plan how what steps you take, and what you are going to say, so you do blab on and on and on.
-Be confident and encouraging– pretending like you are right there with them.
-Try not to go over 5 minutes in length, most people don’t have time or attention span to watch longer then that.
Creating a Meaningful & Styling Home by Bre from Rooms FOR Rent and Jen from City Farmhouse
-Keep pictures of what you love/inspires you and ‘check in’ regularly with your current decor to make sure it fits.
-Design your room around a few things you really love.
-Let your heart and you story come through when putting together your home. Don’t aim for an impractical, magazine home. You want to create a home that invites others in and makes them want to stay longer. That is more beautiful than anything else you can try to create.
Instagram: Tips & Tricks to Growing your Following by Liz from Liz Marie Blog and Jen from Style House Interiors
Check out Liz’s post on this for the full run-down on what she talked about but this is what I gleaned.
-Be consistent with your blog and brand. Don’t post something you wouldn’t post on your blog.
-Clean your camera on your phone before you take a pic.
-Interact with people that comment and like your photos. Create relationships.
-Pay attention to bigger companies that repost pictures if you tag or use their hashtag.
I roomed this year with Jen from Girl in the Garage (I know a lot of Jens I’m realizing!) whom I love. We both are furniture makeover gals and Jen has an awesome industrial theme furniture makeover I CANNOT wait to see, going live on Thursday!
Sadly, we only got one pic together but I’m glad it is one that makes me laugh. She hasn’t watched Minions, but doesn’t she look just like Bob when he was crowned king of England? hahaha Except pregnant… 😉
The closing keynote speaker was Mandi with Vintage Revivals. Gosh that girl is amazing. She had pretty much the whole room in tears talking about her story. She has been through so much really hard stuff and you would never guess it with the happiness and energy she exudes. Blogging has changed her life and she is one of the really good ones who have been able to seamlessly partner with brands without losing her authenticity. Most of her speech was framed around comments from her post, Back with a Vengeance, asking readers to tell her what makes a blog authentic. This is one that really stood out to me:
“People don’t want to read something that is just a bad version of someone else’s blog, and not done as well.”
I was a blog reader before I was a blogger and I wasn’t even a serious blogger before 2014, so I really try to think about things from your perspective before I post or partner with someone. Sometimes I don’t post as often because I get stuck in a rut. Or I’m busy. Or I’m lazy. But, before I end this post, I want to thank you all for being here. I LOVE when I meet someone and they have read my blog or seen my projects and felt inspired to change their home in a small way or tackle something new. This past year my blog has seen tremendous growth and exposure and it would be no where without you all– my readers and blog friends. I have fun working with brands and products I love and use, and it feels good that just recently I’ve started to get a little compensation after years of doing this for ‘free’. But my most favorite type of payment comes in the form of stories and comments (even if it is just one word), and friendships. I am humbled and grateful that you spend any time at all reading my blog and learning with me. It is not lost on me how lucky I am to enjoy some success and to have someone to share it with. I can’t say it enough– thank you.