Well, Haven 2016 is in the books. For those who don’t know what Haven is, it’s a home bloggers conference for DIY/Home Bloggers and readers. It is always a shot in the arm for me, being around other creatives and taking some time to network, teach, and learn.
I was wearing a lot of different hats at the event. I was a co-keynote speaker for the opening ceremony with my best blog friend, Shaunna, taught two milk paint classes with Kriste, and was a Haven Mentor, which meant I facilitated a small group of Haven attendees.
The thing that had my stomach in knots was the keynote presentation. I’m not a world-class speaker and, as talented and awesome as Shaunna is, she isn’t either. We’re just bloggers, creatives, entreprenuers, and this was a little out of our comfort zone. As we’re talking over things the day before, we were pretty sure that some temporary insanity was involved in agreeing to do this.
We decided to sit on stools, with our notes on a table (morning talk-show-style), so it would feel more casual for us and the audience.
Once I got up in my seat and looked out over the group of my peers, with my dear friend sitting next to me, I knew it was going to be fine. We were among friends, kindred spirits, and our people. And we were just going to share what was on our hearts…a message of encouragement for old bloggers and new about what makes the blog world so special – the readers.
We talked about what readers crave from a blog and how it’s easy to get away from those things in favor of soliciting page views to increase ad revenue. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes the heart gets buried under the weight of analytics.
And we talked about what makes a blog charming and unique in comparison to its counterparts in print and on TV. A blog is just someone sharing. Sharing how they do something, what they learned, about their day, their struggles, their accomplishments. Blogging has become so professional that some of that charm is disappearing and it’s harder to relate to the beautiful images and storybook lives that are doled out on social media and in perfectly knotted posts.
The progression has just happened, just like we all change and grow up, but I feel a pang of sadness about it, knowing that it makes some readers feel like they will never be enough. And that aspiring bloggers are frozen and they aren’t sharing, because they don’t feel like they are “professional” or enough of an expert.
Shaunna did get an audio recording of the entire presentation, so I’ll share that once it’s been formatted, but here is a snippet of us sharing…
We ended the presentation with a letter we wrote to new bloggers. It was based on the post I wrote to my young-blogging-self a couple of years ago, but Shaunna added to it and I took a lot away, since it was a long letter!
As I was finishing reading the letter, I looked out over the 300+ bloggers in the seats and choked on the final words, thinking about all of the stories they have to share and how the world is better for it. It was a special moment that I will remember for a long time.
Kriste and I taught a couple of milk paint classes together on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They were low key and both had smaller groups, which I really liked. We were able to be much more casual and I could answer questions as we worked.
(Thanks, Wendy, for the picture!)
The mentoring group was another highlight. I had a great group with a mix of veteran bloggers and creatives just starting out (or about to.) I loved hearing about the classes they liked, what they had learned, and what they were excited to get started on when they got home. The mentoring groups were a great addition to the conference and I hope they do them again next year.
The real moments of encouragement for me, though, were the conversations that happened in between all of the events. It’s easy to feel alone when it’s so often just you and your computer. Connecting face-to-face with others who do what I do and have similar struggles, fears, exciting moments, goals, etc. is just good for my soul.
Until next year, Haven…