Why is authenticity hard for people? Why has it become a buzz word and the new marketing avenue? And why when people try to be authentic you can still spot the disingenuousness like it's a knock off designer bag. Why are the legit ones hard to spot?  These are questions that I have been mulling over lately. And what I have discovered is that the reason why it's hard for some and not for others comes down to  one thing. FEAR - being fearful of losing something or being rejected. For me, I would rather lose popularity, clicks, money, etc. than lose myself but this hasn't always been the case.

For most of my life I lived on the side of the coin as a person that was just there - unnoticed, flying under the radar, not bad, not good, not smart, not dumb, not drop-dead gorgeous, not ugly, not super talented, not popular, not a loner - just there. And then the coin flipped over night. I became popular, I became seen, I became prettier (got rid of acne, lost weight, did my hair and learned how to do makeup), I found my talents and I finally had things I never had before - I finally had things to lose that I didn't want to lose. And I felt that fear of rejection and loss start to direct my choices, my business, my relationships and I hated it like it was a plague taking over my body. And I dropped it like a bad habit because I felt so uncomfortable. And that's why I have positioned my blog to an authentic story-telling place about style, home and motherhood. And so the answer to why being authentic is hard and why people want it badly is clear...When the fear of losing acceptance, approval, relationships and money becomes greater than the fear of losing yourself you will find your actions, business and relationships disingenuous. And when you find someone that is ready to lose it all at any moment for the sake of being true to themselves you find authenticity.

It's rare to find online because there is an immediate reaction to every picture and word (like or dislike; follow or unfollow). We experience loss immediately and it's scary is f*** because that equates, for some, to mortgages and food for their family.

And I don't say I'm good now at being authentic to toot my own horn, but it was the craving for the freedom to be authentic online that became so strong over the past year that I was ready to lose it all. So I started doing it more, and thanks to YOU I have been able to be transparent, be accepted and maintain a voice. You have shown me that people will still show up and listen even if they disagree, are tired of hearing your kid is sick, and you don't have cool hair braid tutorials. Thank you!

Photos by Rennai Hoefer


I have written many posts sharing Pinterest tips in the past (H, but this post is going to share some new things that I have learned and really tried to do with my profile this year. I hope you find it all helpful. Please share if you do.

Yesterday, I spelled out 10 things that helped my Instagram grow, and today I'm going to share with you just five things that organically grew my account by 37,000 followers in a year.

1. Login to Pinterest every, single day and repin 20+ pins from the Pinterest community // Logging into the platform is really important. Every social media app out there would prefer you to natively pin through their platform rather than use third party scheduling tools. And I know this because I have tested it for myself. Repins that I scheduled using Tailwind didn't perform as well as they did when I logged in. 

  • Using third part apps as a tool to help you maintain activity, but you MUST login every day.
  • Repinning is just as important as adding new content. In fact, I would argue it's more effective. The algorithm is based on engagement, and so it favors content that is proving to be engaging. Thus, the content will surface higher in people's home feeds.

2. Add fresh content to each board you have regularly // Don't allow boards to sit idle on your profile. The only way boards are recommended to people to follow, as well as profiles, is if they are proven to be active. Pinterest wants people to have a great experience on the platform, so why would they recommend idle boards.

  • That said it's important to limit the amount of boards to 40 max so that you can easily add fresh content to them all of the time.
  • Keep your board topics fairly general so that you can add a lot of content regularly. Valentine's Day boards are only relevant two months out of the year on Pinterest. Maybe try having a "holiday" board instead where you can add to it year round.

3. Pinning Tribes // There's a new thing to help people increase traffic to their website, and that's called Pinning Tribes (an alpha tool in Tailwind). You can essentially have a group of people commit to repinning content from your site. Of course, they cannot be obligated and you should only pin content you love anyway, but, hopefully, you're in tribes with people whose content you love.  This is a MUCH better strategy than group boards since group boards that host the same domain names all of the time will get flagged as spam. Instead, pinning tribes allows people to repin content to their own relevant boards with their followers, and it's more organic.

4. Try promoted pins // I tried promoted pins this year to see what it was like, and I think paying for engagement is really helpful if you are wanting to grow. 

  • When you pay for engagement you are essentially paying for a longterm investment of traffic. When a pin gets engaged with it's like it gets a big push for Pinterest into the stratosphere of Pinterest, and long after your dollars are spent and your campaign has ended it will continue to perform and be recommended.
  • Use pins that have already proved successful on Pinterest.
  • I think experimenting with ads puts you in favor with the algorithm. I can't prove them, but I know that most social media platforms want people to have great experiences with new features are often rewarded in account growth when users try them.

5. Try .gif files // I uploaded a couple .gif files for the first time, and they definitely got more engagement than my average pins. Again, I don't know if this is because it's a "newer" feature that Pinterest is trying to promote or if it's because it draws attention more than other pins, but they worked well for me.

*All opinions are my own and not of Pinterest.



As promised in yesterday's post I am sharing what I think contributed to my Instagram growth this year. One of my biggest hopes of 2016 was to grow my Instagram account to over 10K, so that I could be classified as an influencer on more than one social media channel. But I didn't want to just get a number, I wanted to organically grow an audience that relates and enjoys what I share.

Up until fall of 2015 I had been using Instagram regularly, but I had been sharing a mix of my own iphone snaps and work of I had done as a stylist. It was kind of a mix of everything with no consistent message for people to understand and relate to. Essentially, no one could really know me from a glance of nine photos, and that's, basically, what people look at before they decide to click "follow." 

After I accepted the big problem of my lack on consistency and voice I became to determined to change that, and ever since then my Instagram has continued to grow organically. There are also some tools that I believe have helped, as well as wisdom I have gleaned about the platform. Below is a list of what I believe has contributed to the growth. I hope these things help you too.

1. I stopped posting my iPhone photos, and I hired a photographer regularly // I know that Instagram used to be a place of instantaneous photography. However, it's important to also note that since it's an image based platform people with photography skills and professional photographers are always going to have the upper hand. I came to terms with the fact that I can style an amazing photo, but I cannot take one to save my life. So, this year I had Rennai Hoefer come over every Monday of the week to create content for my blog and social platforms. This is content I make with my own hands so that it's still authentic to me and what I want to say. It's just that it's taken with a DSLR camera by someone that knows how to keep my style consistent. It's an investment that has paid off ten fold. Take the leap!

2. I use Planoly // This app is genius and helps me plan my grid. Being a curator is very important on an image based platform. You can have all of the best photos in the world, but if they don't go together in a pattern then your IG account is still going to look ugly. Appearance matters my friends, but that doesn't mean you have to lose authenticity either. It just means you need to plan. 

  • Follow the pattern: person, thing, person, thing. This was told to me by a popular Instagrammer and it works. Creating separation between faces is helpful to the viewer.
  • If you're a lifestyle blogger like me I often will mix-up the person as sometimes myself in an outfit and other times my kids. For the "things," I trade off between far away shots of space, close ups of objects and food.
  • Pay attention to a color scheme. I try to stick to natural warm tones that are in my branding. I never post bright photos like pink, green, yellow, etc. That's just not my style. Define your style...Are you bright and bold or soft and natural.

3. Post daily // This has been very important in telling the algorithm that you're regularly updating your profile. However, I don't post just to post. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. If you don't have anything to say don't say it. It can hurt you to have a post that is not engaged with. So, make each post count.

4. Spend time commenting and liking other peoples photos // This tells the algorithm you are active. I especially try to do this immediately after I post. I also joined a couple Instagram communities with bloggers and creatives whose styles I really love. They notify me when they post, and then I make sure to go visit their profiles and comment. We are by no means obligated to do it, but I genuinely want to do it because I love their stuff. This is also helpful since the new algorithm hides a lot of the accounts I love most.

5. I don't do giveaways // I tried a couple of giveaways in the past, and I find that they may result in spike of followers in the short term, but they aren't people that necessarily enjoy who I am and what I am creating. This can also pose a problem later on when brands will see a high follower count, but notice your engagement is low. Brands would rather partner with a 10K account that is highly engaged with than a 200K account that has a smaller of a ratio of engagement.

6. I installed MiloTree App on my blog // When people visit my blog a pop up shows up asking them to follow my on Instagram. It's very tasteful and not bothersome at all. 

7. Play the Hashtag game // I found the best hashtags for each type of content I share (food, home, fashion, kids) and I add the hashtags in the comments. It has helped my content get noticed and engaged with a lot. To find hashtags, visit popular Instagrammers and see what they are using.

8. Get featured on big Instagram accounts // This year my home decor projects have been reshared by some huge IG accounts and some very small ones too. But each time that happens and people give proper attribution in their post I gain quality followers. They genuinely like my content and click over to my profile to follow me. 

9. Posted on IG stories // So far I have noticed the more I use IG stories the more I grow. I think this is a temporary thing, but it has been working. Of course, I only post when I have something I really want to say, so don't force it. Quality over quantity!

10. I shared some videos // The algorithm seems to favor .mov files that I share on my IG profile. They get ways more views and engagement than regular photos. That said, it's time to start learning how to do video and investing in video.

I hope this post was helpful. Be sure to tune in tomorrow to learn what has helped my Pinterest growth.