Do you ever have that nightmare that you’ve overslept and missed something super important, like the first day of school, your wedding, or the premiere of Project Runway?
That’s what happened to me at Haven.
(And by “happened to me” I mean I set my alarm but hit snooze 426 times so I could sleep in.)
(And by “sleep in” I mean I was over-served the night before and unwilling to peel myself off the mattress.)
(And by “over-served” I mean…well, you get the picture.)
So yeah. I missed Ana White’s keynote speech.
Apparently it was the blogging event of the year as Ana kicked off the first day of Haven Conference classes by giving a kick-ass speech, and I was the loser girl navigating that social landmine of people bursting all around me, “Oh! What did you think of Ana White’s speech? Wasn’t it life changing?!” while I smiled, nodded, and wondered if confessing I missed it would get me get me auf wiedersehen’d.
I may have skipped Ana, but you better believe I got my recommended daily allowance of Google juice that morning! The first class I attended was “Google Juice & SEO Tips” put on by Brooke Ulrich from All Things Thrifty and Court Tuttle of The Blog Builders. Their workshop focused on how Google page rank works, and changes you can make to your blog posts (using keywords, photo titles, meta descriptions, etc.) to increase search result traffic to your blog. I left with some fantastic tips moving forward, and a mental to-do list of all my previous posts that could use a little juicing up! (For the record – I’m aware that I’m breaking all the SEO/page rank rules by linking up to so many of the people I’ve met at Haven, but I think friendships and shout-outs are more meaningful than a page rank. No offense, Google.)
Next came lunch, and I have to confess I still wasn’t very perky or chatty at this point. (Apologies to my tablemates.) I considered going back up to my hotel room for a quick nap before the afternoon sessions, but I’d spent forever curling my hair that morning and wasn’t about to see it squished. (True story.) Time to power through! Instead of napping I took my cute ‘do around for a little vendor walk, meeting some of the people behind the brands represented at Haven. My first stop was the Homes.com and ForRent.com booth to thank Amber, Gillian and Leslie for a wonderful dinner the night before!
My first workshop of the afternoon was a fun presentations by my friends Sherry Petersik of Young House Love & Katie Bower of Bower Power. They talked about the value of making personal connections through blogging. One of my favorite parts was this clip I recorded below of them describing the first time they met in person when Sherry drove down to Atlanta to take pictures of Katie’s house for YHL’s popular “house crashing” series. So cute!
My last class of the day was Advanced Advertising, presented by none other than Beckie Farrant, advertising guru from Infarrantly Creative – a woman I girl-crushed on and learned a ton from last year! Beckie was joined by the charming and equally informative Cassity from Remodelaholic and Rhoda from Southern Hospitality. There is sooooo much to take in regarding optimizing your blog for advertising that I’m pretty sure I could take this class at every Haven Conference for the next 5 years and still learn something new!
Now would be a good time to mention (in case you haven’t already noticed) that my iPhone was my camera du jour during this trip. It worked super awesomely during the day in well-lit areas (honest it did) but at night and in conference rooms…not so much. The perfectionist in me considered not posting these less than stellar quality photos, but just like how friendship trumps Google page rank, it also trumps perfectionism. Here are a few girls whose company I enjoy so much that I’d be posting these pictures even if someone’s thumb took up half of it, or I was in a bath towel (which was this Wisconsin girl’s original outfit choice considering the Atlanta heat):
And last, but not least, these gorgeous girls who I had the pleasure of dancing, laughing, and partying with at the Ryobi sponsored dinner and dance party following the cocktail reception:
There were two things that I discovered as a result of the oh-so-fun Ryobi dance party on this evening:
- I love a brand with a sense of humor and Ryobi certainly fits that bill! At one point during the (almost exclusively female-attended) event a group of male Ryobi staff members popped open umbrellas from their swag table, marched to the middle of the dance floor and got their groove on amongst a sea of women while the DJ played “It’s Raining Men.” Well played, Ryobi!
- See those girls in the picture above? They’re my people. I adore them.
Following the Ryobi dance party I should have just called it a night and went to bed (before midnight? Gasp!) but I didn’t. Instead I met up with my friend Beth at our super-secret location on the outdoor patio by the pool – away from the party and the hustle and bustle. It’s here that we relaxed with a small group of other blogger friends, chatted about our days and enjoyed each other’s company. (It’s also where I met two fantastic, amazing, gorgeous girls who I am now in love with – more details about this dynamic duo in my next post!)
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.