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


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


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.


Did you know that 75% of the users of Pinterest are accessing the inspiring social tool using a mobile device (more stats found here).  That means they are seeing everything through their phone or tablet. If you haven't opened your Pinterest app lately you probably should because things look very different from your desktop.

Gone are the days of your cover images. Instead, the first thing that a user sees is your name, photo and your recent pins. Then you'll see the board that you most recently pinned to with the rest of your boards descending in order from what you most recently populated down to the last.

So, what does this mean for you? 

1. You MUST be a good curator now more than ever. If my first impression is a series of pins that have terrible styling, content and photography I'm going to pass on following you.

2. Concise titles matter. Tell me what your board is about in two to three words. Ex: Recipes to Try. People scroll fast, so you need to be able to tell them about your content in a second.

3. Be active. Pinterest tells the viewer when you last pinned down to the minute. If you haven't been active in a week I'm going to pass.

4. Make sure you are pinning to boards that are relevant to the season. If the first board that pops up is your Christmas board because you last pinned to that and signed off, well, that's unfortunate because I don't care about Christmas right now. Sign off on a relevant note. Bonus tip: That said, it's usually best to keep general, evergreen titles to your boards so you can always populate them. Example: HOLIDAY vs. CHRISTMAS. I can pin to a holiday board year round, but I can only pin to my Christmas board once a year. 

Like these tips? See more here and here. Also, be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you can get this information before anyone else!