My dear friend Sara Chambers, a long time blogger and PR guru, started a podcast called Chicks Who Give a Hoot where she is highlighting women who are activists in their communities and workplaces. It's absolutely brilliant, and I'm so glad she is getting these stories out there with her blog and podcast. 

I had the pleasure of being a guest on her podcast recently, and it was really an "ah-ha" moment for me because she wanted to interview me about how I champion the cause of authenticity in the digital space. I had never thought about it as a cause before nor had I thought about myself as a champion for it, but after chewing on it a bit I realized that it is indeed the foundation on which I have built my business.  To have a cause there must be a problem, and honestly, I identified the fake world of social media and blogging a LOOOONG time ago, and I've always hated it. And even though I suppose always being honest and authentic has always been a big part of who I am by nature, I realize that many people in the digital space don't really know how to take steps away from playing "the game."

It was an amazing conversation that really birthed my recent social media challenge that I shared a couple weeks back (I hope you are taking it with me). Please give the podcast a listen to hear how we really break down activism for the cause, and I would love to know if you're going to help join the cause for authenticity online.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer


I had no idea that I would become a blogger and social media influencer when I started AVE Styles six years ago. The idea that people could make a living blogging and pinning on Pinterest wasn't conceivable. In fact, Pinterest just started six years ago. I'm so thankful that I get to share my ideas and thoughts with the world for a living, but with that power comes great responsibility, right? (Yeah, I totally borrowed that from Spider Man). 

Because this industry is so new, how to responsibly operate your business is a bit gray for us. We have Federal Trade Commission guidelines to adhere to and social media platform policies to obey, but how we choose sponsored projects with brands, whether or not we put ads on our sites, using affiliate links to make commission on sales all way down to doing Instagram giveaways to grow our following varies from blogger to blogger. So, I wanted to share with you my guidelines for AVE Styles, so you know what exactly to expect from me. 

1. AVE Styles first and foremost exists to positively encourage readers to find beauty in the messy world me live in. I do not want to cause harm, slander or portray anyone negatively in this space. If I find that any comments are hurtful I will delete them. If comments are simply different then they will remain. The fact that I get to make money as a blogger is amazing, but it comes second the purpose of my business. I only started making a living at blogging three years ago, and I would continue to blog and create even if I wasn't paid. 

2. In 2015, I decided that 95% of the image content that I share on my blog is styled and created with my hands along with my photographer. Any image that I share that is not mine I will cite and credit the owner of the image. I believe in the power of imagery and telling a story, and I plan to keep this value through my time as a blogger. This 95% rule also applies to Instagram.

3. I do not take brand sponsorships unless I personally enjoy the brand/product. All sponsored posts will state they are sponsored in the beginning of the blog post. Any sponsored social post will say it's sponsored in the hashtags of the post.

4. I have chosen not to place any ads on my site because I don't want them to detract from the conversation I'm hoping to have with my readers. 

5. I do use affiliate links when there's a product that is shop-able. 

6. I have chosen not to have any contributors on my blog, so that all words and ideas come from me. I do have an assistant that helps me draft my look for less posts and fashion trend features. However, they are all edited and reviewed by me personally. My assistant will also share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn articles and videos that I find interesting. Again, everything is reviewed and approved by me, personally.

7. I do not use any third party networks to boost my traffic. I do not even paid for boosted posts on social media at this time. The only time a post has been or will be boosted will be at the request of a sponsor using their marketing dollars. 

8. I believe in organic growth on social media, and I have chosen not to participate in Loop giveaways or any other scheme to rapidly grow my following. If there is a giveaway on the blog or on social media it is only in conjunction with a brand partnership. I do have a group of 25 bloggers that regularly update and share what I'm doing on AVE Styles. We often comment and share each other's posts with our communities only if we genuinely enjoy the content and find it helpful to others. 

9. I feel that it's important to be honest and personable with my community. Authenticity is king. I'm still trying to find a balance of making sure my loved ones are protected and letting readers into our lives, but I never, ever want my community to get a false view of our lives. 

10. Blogging is my business, and I strive to do it with integrity. I'd rather forfeit dollars to maintain your trust and relationship than to make money. If you see or read anything that you find annoying, frustrating or distasteful please tell me. I want to know.

There is more to say on this topic, but I wanted to make sure these values and personal rules of operation were written down transparently for you to to know. Please feel free to ask more questions in the comments if you have them.