Haven Conference Recap

Haven Conference Recap | construction2style

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We’re sitting at the airport departing Charleston, SC starting to write this post together. We wanted to make sure we didn’t forget about all.the.things. that we want to share with you guys.

We’re flying home happy, re-inspired yet can’t get home fast enough to see our boys. We’ve officially decided four days is our max to be away from our babies.

We took a lot of chicken scratch notes live during the conference that we typed up in this post so we can share all that we learned with you guys as well as the details about our stay.

In a nutshell…

Our top 5 favorite things & takeaways:

1. Being in the Bower Power blog mentor group. We adore this husband and wife team and can’t wait to get to know them even better for years to come! P.S. even sweeter offline than on.

2. Love any getaway we get to take together… even if it is technically for work.

3. Building relationships with new, and actually meeting the people (in real life) behind the brands we’ve been working with for years.

4. Meeting and hanging with our community. Some of which were other fellow bloggers, others were our readers/our family/our tribe. We can’t explain how much fun it is to actually meet in real life and hug the crap out of them.

5. Feeling re-energized from all the information. Nothing is better than surrounding yourself with smart, creative, and really good people.

We went to the conference with a few goals in mind:

  • meet brands
  • love on and meet a few of our readers
  • learn at least two new things

And we’re leaving having accomplished all of those things plus so much more. We’re so happy. Haven 2018 was more than we could have imagined.

Haven Conference | construction2style

Our Stay

If you’re wondering what we’re even talking about, on an earlier post a couple of weeks back, we were chatting about flying out to Charleston, SC for Haven.

Haven is a conference for DIY home improvement bloggers. I’ve been before but it was a first for Jamie, so it was so good to be able to go and learn, grow, and connect with others together.

Being the last minute planner that I am, hotels were booked, but the odds were with us, and we got to rent out this super cute tiny house, and we chatted all about it, here. 

Haven Conference | construction2style

Haven Conference | construction2style

I asked Jamie at the end of the trip if his mind was blown and his answer was… “do you think I don’t listen to what you educate me on every single day?”  Haha! Smart answer, oh you hubby of mine.

But it’s actually true. Jamie may not talk too often, but he is one dang good listener. He calls things out about people months before they come to fruition and he’s always dead on.

Haven Conference | construction2style

But in all seriousness, the highlight of our trip was meeting the people behind the brands we’ve been working with throughout the years and meeting our readers. It’s literally brining tears to my eyes as I type this, we feel so stinking lucky to have this job. And it’s all thanks to you guys! Five years in this blogging industry and we don’t take one minute for granted.

We’ve been so fortunate to work with some spectacular brands and some of the most incredible human beings. So it was pretty cool to put names to faces that we’ve been working with for years. We now even love them and you guys more.

So let’s rewind back to day one!

We flew in a day early to be able to tour the town. Well, no-one told us it was hotter than hell in Charleston, SC. Holy bonkers you guys, we just hopped from restaurant to restaurant, which did not disappoint either.

We both laughed so hard when we got our rental car. I always ask for the least expensive car whenever we travel so the cars we get usually always make for good memories. And this one was a good one! Haha! Jamie had to take this picture for Greyson, and he now asks where “his little car” went that we got for him?! Oh dear…

Haven Conference | construction2style

We stayed at the Tiny House for a couple of days, but it was a little way out of town so the last night on the town we said, screw it! And got ourself a hotel at this little gem…however it may have been haunted…. yay to new adventures! And it happened to be Friday the 13th when we rented it. But it was super cute and comfortable; we’ll be back. They even gave us a free bottle of wine at check-in…what?!

Haven Conference | construction2style

Haven Conference | construction2style

Enough about our stay, let’s get into the details of what we learned!

We sat through a lot of the sessions and got a ton of good nuggets from them all.


The Conference Recap

Haven Mentors

Another highlight was being mentored by the Bower Power Blog. We’ve followed these guys for awhile and just adore them. They’re a husband and wife team, and like us, blog about all things home improvement and throw in a little lifestyle and fashion in there. And yes, they were just as sweet, if not more, in real life than online. <– we got a lot of that question.

Haven Conference | construction2style

Every person that goes to Haven gets paired up with a mentor and lucky for us, we got paired up with Katie and Jeremy from Bower Power Blog. We were secretly hoping we got paired up with them being they’re also a husband and wife team. We’ve had other mentors in the past and I’ll tell you, these two were the best we’ve had. They had snacks, goodies, and even made us a blogging workbook in a sea theme…it was pretty fun!

Few things we learned from Katie and Jeremy is to track all of your stats and make goals. But they also made it clear not to get tide down with numbers. We chatted about how to turn a sail boat into a cruise ship and how much content is king.

They also had us write down five of our most current pieces of content and what they say about your brand. That was an interesting thing to think about. Try it.

Coming up with goals and content related ideas ideas is a lot of how we spent our time together. Ideas for cross promotion such as giveaways, blog hops, linkups, etc. They had us list off dream brands of who we want to work with and the road map to get there. Another thing we’ve been awful at here at c2s. We just wait for good things to happen and haven’t made a map to actually get there. Have you?

And our favorite, all the ways to make money as a blogger:

  • Ads
  • PPC/ CPC
  • Sponsored content
  • Affiliate
  • Product Trade
  • Freelance Writing
  • Consulting
  • Sale of Products
  • Discounts

The options are endless for making money as a blogger when you have goals and an actual road map to get there.

Taking your Blog Full-Time

First session we sat through and wanted to share with you guys was Ariel Garneau from PMQ for Two who talked about taking your blog full-time.

By the way, this girl is something else! Not only is she so our colorful style, but she was hilarious full of life and motivation and a sweetheart. She’s our kind of people.

Ariel chatted all about taking your blog full-time. So here’s all.the.things. we learned from her…

The most important thing Ariel started chatting about was having a business plan. We’ll be honest…we put a pretty vague one together back in the day and have yet ever to go and look/revise it. We make yearly goal documents but never have we thought about putting that into our overall business plan.

Have a Business Plan

There are business plans services that provide templates online. Your business plan is a living document, don’t be afraid to go back and revise.

Think about commercial and editorial success within your business plan. Where are people picking up your audiences and using it? Commercial would be to do ads, affiliate links, and sponsored posts. Editorial would be to get published in magazines.

Stop living in your competitors and comparing and start living in your business plan.

You can’t compare businesses across sectors, why compare bloggers? Understanding your niche and the opportunities available will help shape your road to full- time employment opportunities.”

Check out your niche, the sector… look deep and study the market around you so you can make informed decisions to help sell yourself. Know your value add. But don’t get consumed.

Do you understand what your brand partners want/need from your content from you? 

Our mind is always flowing with content ideas, but when Ariel asked this question, it made me stop and think. What is my value to the brands that I’m working with? I should know it and understand it, and it should be something different for each brand. It should be invaluable content.

Understand why people/brands work with you will help better shape what you charge/earn, and how to go about it.

What are you doing, really, really well?

Identify your strong suit and pursue opportunities that align with it. These may lie outside the blog, but if you’re looking for an income first and foremost, this is where you start looking.

This also was a little bit of an eye-opening point of her presentation. There are SO many ways for bloggers to make money through their blogs besides just working with brands. We’re fortunate that we do a handful of these things already through our contracting services, design services, affiliate links and our shop, but it got my mind turning!

Think about what turns your light bulb on, what would you do every day if you didn’t get paid.

We thought up a ton of ideas. So why are we not doing them? We will be soon! 🙂

Refine Your Pitching Funnel 

How’s your brand pitch? Do A/B testing. What’s your pitch success ratio?

Taking the time to write it down and look at that will take out the uncertainty. If you have a financial goal for Q4 and depending on your ratio of locking in brands, you may have to start pitching X amount in Q2.

This was another eye-opening moment for us. We’re guilty of waiting for brands to come to us. And why? If we spent time actually putting pitches/content together where could we or would we have been by now?!

Ariel also chatted about emails and how to pitch brands:

  • 1st email – Ask if interested. Keep it short, a couple of sentences max.
  • 2nd email – Send mood boards – do NOT include pricing.
  • 3rd email – Pitch and sell.

Be very clear in emails – do NOT waste time. No one has time to read a seven-paragraph pitch, including you to write it.

When you send a mood board over, include a cover photo with your name, brand name, their brand name, and all contact information.

You could also spin up a landing page dedicated to that brand to pitch them; then you know exactly how many hits you get. #genius

Making Money with Your Existing Skills

What do you do really well?

Photographer? Run a photography course for other bloggers in your area. Make it a quick grab people will buy.

Are you an amazing furniture maker? Sell it on your blog.

What about making your own product? Think about all the ways that you could make money on your blog not solely within brand endorsements.

Have a Financial Planner and Accountant

We did this since day one of our business, and it was the best investment we ever made. I didn’t take much notes on this and we’re good but here’s a link to her presentation that covers all about why.

Make Sure Your Partner is on Board

Most relationships are partnerships, so making sure you’re SO on-board and comfortable with the risks involved is key. You won’t make money right away, your house will be torn apart, and they need to have your back. Taking the time to explain your business plan, expected financial goals and the timeline is key.

Tell Me About Your Plans

Know your goals and know how to get there. Once you establish clear goals, not just financial ones, you’ll know where you’re going, how to get there and it makes it a great way to measure success.

“Remember when you wanted everything you currently have.

Something to remember on your bad days.”

Start with your Content

Improvise, adapt, and overcome! At the end of the day, your content, ideas, and production have to be top notch to make money.

“Be nice to yourself, love yourself, congratulate yourself.”

Remember that success is relative, dollar for dollar. Stop comparing yourself to other bloggers within the industry that aren’t in your niche.

If you can’t follow my chicken scratch she put her full presentation HERE.  

We also got to listen to Peyton and Chris Lambton. They were both on The Bachelor, The Bachlorette and now have a few new series on HGTV. 

Haven Conference | construction2style

Charleston was also the most adorable town. I would say we DO NOT recommend ever going in the summer if you’re trying to go on a vacation to relax outside unless you just stay in the ocean. Ha! We made it 20 steps before we were literally dripping wet with sweat, which made us both pretty crabby. Haha!

Haven Conference | construction2style

But it sure was a cute town!

Haven Conference | construction2style


The next session we wanted to share with you guys was the Secret behind making an awesome video. And ohhhh my gosh, Trevor. The hubby and behind the scenes guy of Show me the Yummy was HILARIOUS. I may have almost peed my pants a few times.

So here it is… more of our scratch notes…

The Secret to Awesome Video

Trevor talked about how to setup, shoot, edit and output and the different formats.

Think about what kind of video are you making, is it demonstrative or instructional.

  • Demonstrative – short form, 60 seconds or less. Meant to supplement. Not to walk through steps. No dialogue.
  • Instructional – longer form, stop, and pause throughout the video and moved on. They are meant to be followed. Have VO and you on camera.

What equipment to use? 

If you use phone, shoot up facing directly down. (Never thought of that!)

You can find a list of all of their equipment here. 


  • Frame Rate- video feel 30FPS and film feel 24FPS
  • Shoot in manual mode – AE locks in not available. Unless you’re doing a vlog (different light changing)
  • Exposure triangle… shutter speed, aperture, ISO
  • Shutter speed- 24 FPS film feel try to film between 1/25th- 1/50th
  • If it’s 30FPS video feel then do 1/30th- 1/60th.
  • Aperture generally > or equal to f5.6
  • ISO- start at lowest and increase. Try to keep under 1000 to reduce noise.
  • Set exposure with the brightest subject in the frame first, because you can’t recover in the post. Otherwise, it’ll be blown out.
  • Use white balance presets, avoid auto-white balance. Always use manual white balance, because you can’t change in post.
  • Color Temperature- Daylight (cooler/more blue 5500degrees) vs. Tungsten (warmer/more yellow 3200 degrees)

Tips for shooting in natural light

  • Shoot in clear or completely cloudy… otherwise, lights will change
  • Find indirect light
  • Large light source… garage door, huge window
  • Shoot fast

Angle & Sound

Lighting- 45 degrees and raise it slightly up.

Table top- 45 degrees and angled down

Sound- is more important than the video. Different microphones..

  • Lav mic…great if you’re moving around.
  • shotgun mic
  • desktop mic- best for vo

General setup tips

  • table top
    • lights 45-degree angle down
    • lens parallel to the table
    • macro lens- invest
    • external microphone


The 3 F’s — Frame, focus (manual), follow through


Adobe Premiere vs. Apple Final Cut Pro vs. Free Apps (iMovie)

Workflow- rough assembly –> refine edits –> add tiles and effect–> do color correction.

Learn keyboard shortcuts (on handout)

Refine edits… and create a formula. General action (ex: putting the pan down 150%), repetitive action (ex: stirring 2 seconds), featured action (ex: pouring honey… super mesmerizing 100% or slow motion). Then when you go to the clips, you know exactly what to cut it down to.

Text and effect- use templates… don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Videohive.net – professional graphics for like $20

Text should be filling in the blanks…not describing what you’re doing.

And lastly…add color correction to make a big difference.

We’ll be honest, a lot of this was over our head as we typically hire our vide out. But…we’ve been wanting to dabble in shorter, quicker tutorial videos so it was good to get all the notes and start thinking about how we can actually do it. It’s on our to-do now that we’re home so we’ll see how it goes and will keep you guys posted on if it was a success or an epic fail!

Haven Conference | construction2style

Peace out Haven 2018! You were a good ride.

We were bummed to miss Shanty-2-Chic speak as the end speaker because we had to catch a flight, but we can’t wait for Haven 2019. Hope to see ya guys there!

Who’s coming?













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