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    Blogging, Family Life

    How I Balance Blogging and Motherhood | #THEMOMBLOGCOLLECTIVE Week 4

    Welcome back to another post in our Mom Blog Collective Series! If you’re new here, here’s the scoop. Once a month, our group of amazing and inspiring mamas will answer the same set of questions to do with blogging, Instagram, photography, collaborations, sponsored posts, balancing it all with motherhood, and more. We each have different perspectives and different opinions, so this is a fun way to learn from one another. We hope you’ll join along! Check out the hashtag #themomblogcollective to see everyone on Instagram, and I will also link you to all of the amazing blog posts here at the bottom of my post!

    If this is your first time checking out the series, and you’d like to get caught up from the beginning, you can check out weeks ONE, TWO and THREE here.

    Sooo. We might have missed a couple weeks of this series. Life happens, things come up and sometimes, the old blog needs to be put on the back burner for a minute. This is kind of ironic this week because we are talking about that mythical unicorn of a idea called…BALANCE! Whenever I hear or get asked about balance, I laugh. As a mom, it’s something I’ve just learned is a moving target and something you want and wonder how other people do, but can’t seem to manage any kind of balance in your own life. It didn’t surprise us when we were planning this series that some of the most asked questions among our little blogger group was “How do you find time to blog?” , “How do you balance it all?” and the most hilarious, “How do you DO IT ALL?” (hahahahaha – come see my house, I don’t do it all, I don’t do like even half.)

    That being said, wanting to take on another commitment such as blogging or Instagram, does take some level or organization and priority. It’s not always a consistent balance but we do put in some effort in order to be able to achieve our goals when it comes to our blogs or businesses. Today we are sharing some of the popular questions we get asked about this topic and hopefully it will a) remind you that even when it looks like someone has all this time, or does it ALL, they just don’t and b) inspire you to reach and maybe try something new or see how you might be able to “balance” taking on a blog or business!

    1. How often do you post on Instagram? Oh how I wish I had an inspiring or consistent answer to this question (or even took my own advice). I KNOW it’s like THE best and most direct way to grow your Instagram following, get your photos seen more etc etc BUT I just can not manage posting daily. How often I post directly coincides with how I’m feeling and whatever else is going on in my life. Currently, I’m 37 weeks pregnant and so tired that I’m lucky if I manage 2 times a week. When I was feeling like a million bucks in my second trimester, it was probably more like 4-5 times a week. The truth is, I’ve learned where Instagram is on my priority list, I love it and it absolutely matters to me, but it’s easy for me to tell when there are things going on that are more important and I do not feel guilty for not posting enough or anything like that. My blog is the same, it’s a diary for me and a way to document my family life and the photos we take. At this point in my life, I post when I feel inspired and have something to post. I’ve done the whole “I MUST blog 3x a week thing” before and in the end, I wasn’t always proud or inspired by the content I was putting out.
    2. When do you find time to blog/post? I save all of my blogging/posting until the kids are either napping/Dex is at school or after bedtime. That’s just the best thing for everyone in our family. Occasionally, I’ll take a couple hours at Starbucks on the weekend or one night a week to knock out emails and a post or two. I usually photograph when the kids are around. Either I include them and try to work them into whatever I want to post and make it fun (a picnic, jumping on my bed, something like that). If it’s a more involved IG post, I’ll write my caption in advance ( I make a note in my phone).  I usually have a minute or two to post a photo and don’t want to have to worry about writing, spell checking, and coming up with a caption. If it’s something simple or in the moment, I’ll throw up an emoji and call it a day.
    3. How do you manage your time and do it all? We’ve already established that I don’t even come close to doing it all so I’m not even going to go into that one haha. And in addition to that, I’m not the best at time management either sooo there’s that. What I’ve learned, in every area of life, not just IG/blogging/social media, is that something is always sacrificed. We can’t do it all. Especially as moms, it’s almost impossible to even have amazing time management skills because there is just more to be managed than there is time. I have a week where my home looks amazing, I meal planned, my emails are all caught up BUT I didn’t spend a lot of time with friends. Another week, I really played with my kids, got so much done with our homeschool, blogged and posted to IG 4 times but all of our library books are overdue, I have 50 emails in in inbox and I am desperate for a date with my husband. Something my husband and I have started doing to help with time management is a Sunday Meeting. We meet Sunday night, usually just at the kitchen table or our couch and go over the week. Our schedules, we plan some homeschool together, I tell him when I need him for help with photos/blog/IG stuff, we schedule in family time, meal plan, any big cleaning or projects that need to be done, stuff like that. We just implemented that in September and it has helped so much. So if there is something you want to get into or start, even if it seems silly (like me asking Zach to take some photos for me on Thursday at 2pm) the only way it’s going to happen is if you at least try to make it a priority. Writing it down and telling someone else about it helps! Don’t be afraid to add something, see how it goes, and play around until you find a balance and what works.
    4. How many collaborations do you take on a week/month? So for me, collaborations are a way for me to make some extra money, doing something I already love doing and stay home with my kids. For some mamas, this question might be “how many photoshoots do you take on”, “how many conference calls” etc. I don’t have a weekly or monthly limit because to be honest, I don’t do that many collaborations. I take the ones I really believe in, love the product or want to support and turn down anything I know isn’t a good fit. I will also turn down (for now) any collaboration inquiries that I know I won’t be able to deliver on. It’s not only stressful to you, to have this item sitting there staring at you and you can’t find time or the inspiration to post, it’s really not fair to the brand/shop/company that put effort into that item, sent it to you and is now waiting for a post/return on investment. So, even if I love an item and really am dying to work with a shop, I will circle back when I know I have the time to commit. I feel like this whole question is just personal preference and depends a lot on the time you have to dedicate to whatever way you choose to provide for your family. You will know VERY quickly when you’ve taken on too many collabs and it can be stressful so my advice is to start slow and be very selective.

    That’s it for this topic!

    Let me know any other questions you have in this area for me and I’ll be sure to answer them! Again, I’m not the most organized or balanced person in the world and my time management skills need some work, but I give myself grace and try my best to keep dreaming and setting goals (even super small silly ones) because forward motion and progress is my goal not “post to IG x amount of times a week” or “take on x number of collabs”. There will be a day and a season where my goals can get bigger and my time gets easier to manage but for now, I’ve got two adorable kids, a husband to love on and a baby to grow and that’s my number one. I don’t want to let go of the things and hobbies and passions I love, so I hold onto them in little ways, knowing that they are still there and that I’m doing my best.

    Annnnd some totally off topic apple picking family photos because we finally went but all we had was an iphone 5 (because my super awesome iphone 6 died at 50%) and it was raining but they still bring me so much joy!

     

     

    My sweater / My diaper bag

    Thanks for reading guys and be sure to check out the other amazing mamas involved in this series!

    occasionallyperfectstyle.com | @occasionally_perfect

    thelovedesignedlife.com | @thelovedesignedlife

    koleimpressions.com | @steph__pollock

    hellobabybrown.com | @hellobabybrown

    mrsseacannon.com | @mrsseacannon

    cultivatemotherhood.com | @cultivatemotherhood

    www.ashleynoel.life | @_ashley_noel_

    our guests this week:

    henaandcompany.com | @henaandco

    momwifefoodie.com | @momwifefoodie

    amandapahls.com | @amandapahls

     

    Blogging

    Tips for Better Instagram Photos + A Cohesive Feed | #THEMOMBLOGCOLLECTIVE Week 3

    Hey guys! Back again for our THIRD installment in #themomblogcollective series! Today is one of my faves! We are chatting about Instagram photography and achieving that cohesive look to your feed! This is something I am always playing with and working on and I love hearing how other people take, edit and plan their photos! So let’s get right into the questions.

    Share a little about your Instagram feed and style. What look do you go for and why?

    I don’t even know how to describe my feed! It’s something I’m always working on and tweaking sightly. I know what I WANT it to be, but it doesn’t always (or ever) come out that way for very long. This is a classic example of being our own worst critic. I’ve reached out to someone in the past to ask them for editing tips/how they got their feed so smooth – and they were like “WHO ME? I hate my feed! I love yours!” and we had a good laugh!

    I do like to go for bright, clean images. I like to keep the same colour scheme in my feed which right now is bright white, grey, soft pinks, greenery, and some brown/beige. I like to keep most of my photos white but honestly doing that for every photo is completely exhausting to me and I find it stifles my creativity. I never want to love a photo so much and want to share it, but hold it back because it doesn’t “match” so I try not to get too themey with it. I do the same editing on every photo so thats how I try to achieve a themed look. Some of my fave feeds include lots of colour and different styles of photos but the same editing throughout and I LOVE how that looks. (here are some examples – Ginger, Kaley, & Chrissy). I love how their feeds still have a look and a theme, but they aren’t afraid of lots of colour or grassy photos and I feel like you get a genuine look at their lives – not just plain white wall after plain white wall.

    How do you create a cohesive feed on Instagram?

    Step one in a cohesive feed is taking the RIGHT photos. I recommend taking photos in natural lighting only. A natural light photo will never look cohesive next to a photo you took at night with the light on.

    Next is choosing a filter. As I mentioned above, using the same filter(s) on every photo is the best thing you can do! Some people switch between two or three similar filters, I just use one (more on that later). I love using the Copy/Paste Edits function in VSCO. If you have a photo of yours that you love the edit on, you can copy those edits, apply them to another photo and then just make small tweaks from there to fix exposure, warmth, etc.

    As nice as it is to have a filter to slap on and call it a day, I recommend finding something that sets you apart a bit. A small, unique edit that is yours. There are only so many filters out there and a lot of the same ones come up a lot so find something to make your audience KNOW without reading the name that they are looking at one of your photos. Maybe you really cool things down, mix 2 filters, apply a slight pink tone, up the fade a lot for a lower contrast look, anything to make it your own.

    Last thing. Feed planning apps like Snug, UNUM or Planoly are so helpful for achieving a cohesive feed and being able to see how it all looks together before you post.

    What do you use to take your photos and how do you typically edit them?

    I take all of my photos with my iphone 6s. I have a DSLR but honestly hate carrying it around and like the convenience and organic (messy/grainy) look of iphone photos when it comes to Instagram.

    For editing I use a mix of apps. My faves being VSCO, Snapseed and Facetune.

    I always start in VSCO and throw a filter on it. I’d say 90% of the time I use A6, but have done S2 or HB2 on some photos if I was feeling it. Sometimes, the stars align and the photo looks great just like that. I save it and upload it and I’m done. Most of the time it needs a little more work. Still in VSCO, I usually play with the exposure a bit, I always sharpen, I up the warmth, drop the skintone, and add a bit of tint (which gives the image a slight pink tone). I also sometimes drop the saturation if the image has a ton of colour or up the contrast if it needs it. I know that seems like a lot but at this point it’s second nature to me and takes me about a minute. If it still needs some work, I’ll take it into Snapseed and use the select tool to brighten/expose a certain area of the image. I also love the dodge and burn brush if I’m still seeing any yellow or shaddowy spots. I use Facetune for the patch tool to remove anything I don’t want in the photo (gum stuck on the ground, food on my kids faces, a stain on their shirt, stuff like that).

    How do you get your kids to participate/smile for the camera?

    This question makes me laugh. My kids have gone through stages of loving having their photos taken and also running away as soon as my phone comes out. To be honest, about 2 years ago, I used to care so much about Dex being in photos and I just wanted him to enjoy it. I would feel so frustrated when all he wanted to do was run away from me.  After a particularly stressful shoot, I decided I was just done with it and wasn’t going to force it anymore. From then on, when we are planning on shooting something, we do one of two things. We either shoot something natural like a picnic, or the kids being as silly as they want. This way there’s no “smile” or pose required. Just have an actual picnic and we will document that! We also now ask Dex if he wants to be in it or not. Sometimes he says no, and we respect that and Elle (who still LOVES getting her picture getting taken and would yell “mommmmyyyy” the whole time if we didn’t have her in it) and I will snap a few shots. If the kids just aren’t feeling it that day, we just say “not today” and move on from it as fast as possible,or I’ll be in the picture alone (always awkward but better than arguing with two toddlers). It’s just too stressful and not fun trying to force a photo and then in the end none of them work out anyway so we’ve found what works and it usually only takes a couple minutes and then we are done.

    What photos of yours tend to do well? What do your followers really respond to?

    I don’t know if I’ve figured this one out yet. I know you guys love seeing photos of my belly these days haha and I can’t blame you, I LOVE belly pics! I think photos taken in my home tend to do well too – I think it’s just personal and real and people respond well to that. Also really bright, white, clear photos with context/lots going on, tend to do better for me than just me or just my kids and a really plain background. I’m still learning this and always trying new photos and trying to get creative in that way so it’s not just the same photos over and over again.

    Thanks so much for reading!

    Be sure to check out the other mamas in this series my clicking their blog links below!

     

     

     

     

    House + Home, Pregnancy

    Top Nursery Items at Ikea

    Recently my family and I took a little trip to Ikea, we needed a couple of things and I also wanted to start looking for simple and affordable items for baby girls nursery. Ikea is amazing for that – when you don’t have a big budget but want a couple little things to instantly update a space! I love their simple, modern and on trend pieces and I always see things there that I didn’t see last time!

    One thing I always keep in mind when shopping at Ikea is that most items can be used many different ways. So, just because you’re in the kitchen section, doesn’t mean that item has to be used in a kitchen. I love the idea of a spice rack as a nursery shelf, or a utensil organizer as bow/headband storage in a dresser drawer.

    We grabbed a couple things for our home while we were there and need to make one more trip back but I thought it would be fun share my favourite nursery decor items at Ikea. These aren’t exclusively nursery but so many of them make the perfect nursery pieces in my opinion! Also I know my photo is geared toward a more girly nursery but if you change out the pillow and towel, it could be for anyone!

    1. EKBY ÖSTEN SHELF – This is my fave shelf at Ikea and I also think it’s the least expensive. I love the wood brackets and think it adds a warm, cozy vibe. They come in at under $10 so grabbed a couple of these for all over our house (office, playroom, nursery). If wood isn’t your thing, Ikea offers a mix & match type thing in their shelving section where you can choose your shelf piece and then the brackets that you like the best.
    2. SMYCKA ARTIFICIAL BRANCH –  I loved this as soon as I saw it. Eucalyptus has such a soft, soothing look and I think a couple of these inexpensive faux branches would look so cute in a vase on a dresser or shelf in a nursery.
    3. GULLKLOCKA CUSHION COVER – I love this colour and use it a lot in Elle’s room already. I love that this pillow is super soft and has like a nubby texture instead of just being plain. So sweet styled in a baby’s crib (obviously, not when they are sleeping in it) or as a decorative pillow on a rocking chair. MY blogger friend Erica, shared a room tour the other day and has the most amazing tip!! Ikea pillow inserts never fill out the whole case and after a month or two they always look kinda flat and droopy. She recommended filling each cover with two feather inserts for a big plush look! (YES! Why didn’t I think of that?)
    4. RISATORP BASKET – I love this sturdy metal basket for on top of a change table or dresser to hold essentials like cream, hand sanitizer, wipes and all that other stuff you need at arms reach. I love that it has a wood handle and could easily be moved room to room, to make diaper changing convenient and easy all over the house.
    5. FEJKA ARTIFICIAL FIDDLE LEAF FIG – Okay – I know it’s fake and maybe not even the most convincing one out there, but hear me out. Two, beautiful and expensive fiddle leaf fig plants have died under my watch. I treated these things like my children, I even gave them showers to water them (after a friend recommended it) and they still suffered the same fate as most other plants that enter my home. I want to be better at this but until then, I’m banned from buying expensive houseplants. This one is affordable compared to some of the other faux one’s I’ve seen and the stress of not having to keep it alive it worth it to me. I’m gonna have a baby to keep fed and watered and clean – I can’t be worrying about a tree.
    6. SNIGLAR CRIB – Elle already has this crib and we love it so much! We are planning on getting a mini crib for our new baby because Elle is still in hers, but I had to include it as our TOP Ikea nursery pick! It’s under $100 and so sturdy! We love the look of the natural wood and the fact that she couldn’t chip paint off of it when she was in the chewing stage.
    7. ÖSTERNÄS LEATHER DRAWER PULLS – LOVE THESE! Such a fun way to update an old dresser or even an Ikea dresser that needs some personalization.
    8. TILLGIVEN HOODED BABY TOWEL – Okay this one isn’t really decor but I love it so much I had to share. I also like hanging items like this from an accordion shelf or hooks on the wall and when they’re this cute, they kind of act like decor. I always had a hard time finding hooded towels I liked. I mean they are all cute but most have ears or a face and are usually a little too colourfil for my taste. I love this one with the muted pink detail and little loop for hanging.
    9. SJÄLSLIGT GLASS CACTI SET –  Another one for all you mamas with a black thumb like me (okay so far all my live cacti are still kicking but it’s really only a matter of time I’m sure). I love these little decor pieces and thought they would be so cute styled as a trio on a nursery shelf.
    10. TEJN RUG -I think we’ve bought one of these every time we’ve had a baby. We use it as a cozy rug, throw it over the back of a rocking chair, even as a cute photo back drop. I also like to line my moses basket with this for a super cozy place for baby to hang out while we play around her.
    11. FLÅDIS SEAGRASS BASKET – When I asked on my Instagram story what to get at Ikea THIS little basket was the item I got the most messages about. At only $13, it’s the least expensive belly basket I’ve seen and it’s super versatile. Use it to hold your rolled up swaddle blankets, stuffed animals and toys or as decor with a snake plant in it.
    12. MOSSLANDA PICTURE LEDGE – We have these all over our house too. They’re intended for photos, but we love to stack 3 of them and display our favourite books.
    13. GRÖNADAL ROCKING CHAIR – Admittedly, probably not the most comfortable rocking chair for those marathon nursing sessions, but this one stopped me in my tracks. I love the wide back and natural wicker vibe. I also totally love how something about it also reminds me of a rocking chair my family had in the late 80s/early 90s.

    So that’s it! My top nursery picks from IKEA!  I would love to hear from you guys, what are your favourite or go-to items at Ikea?

    Thanks so much for reading!

    Maternity Style, Pregnancy, Style

    Second Trimester Update

    I kinda can’t believe it but we are already into the third trimester with our little lady! I know everyone always says this but this pregnancy is flyyying by so much faster than my other two. I truly feel like we just found out and took announcement photos, and here we are almost 10 weeks until she’s here. This has absolutely been my best  pregnancy yet, I don’t know if it’s actually any different or if it’s a change inside of me but I’ve just been feeling so grateful and happy and ready for this little one to be here.

    Movement:  So much! This sweet girl is my wiggliest baby yet! Always bouncing around and waking me up each morning with a good kick or two.
     
    Total weight gain so far: 23 lbs – for sure gaining faster and quicker than my other pregnancies. I can’t blame the baby though – wait until we get to the part about my cravings – it’s all me.
     
    Favourite maternity clothes right now: Hands down my fave item these days is this dress from Dwell and Slumber. I call it a dress – but as the company name suggests, it’s so much more. It’s a perfect casual and comfy dress to wear out, especially when it’s hot and you don’t want something that clings to the bump. I’m only 5’2″ so I love knotting the bottom to hem it up a little bit. It’s also the most perfect lounge and sleep dress..EVER. Seriously, I have to stop myself from throwing it on the second I walk in the door. I wish I had more because when it’s in the wash I have a tough time finding something other than my husbands baggiest t-shirt that can even come close to how comfy this is. It’s also nursing friendly and will be perfect for lounging after babe arrives.
     
    Stretch marks: So far none. Still using my fave stretch mark cream and oil.
     
    Sleep: Sleep has been SO much better. My friend Leah lent me a pregnancy pillow and it has changed my whole life!!! I don’t think I can sleep without it at this point.
    Mood:  My mood in the second trimester was so good! I swear those hormones evened right out and I’ve never felt better mood wise! I kept saying “I love being pregnant” and my jaw used to hit the floor when people said that because I could not comprehend loving pregnancy but my other two were just so different than this one.
     Favourite moment in the second trimester: Our 20 week ultrasound, finding out she is a GIRL and our 3D ultrasound to confirm her gender because I was SURE they got it wrong. I cried when they showed us her face. She’s the prettiest little thing, just like her big sis.

    Most Challenging Moment: Honestly, the second trimester was a dream. Like, the best I’ve felt in a long time (including when I’m not pregnant). Call it hormones or summertime but I felt like I was on top of the world in the second trimester. I’ve already started slowing down and feeling those third trimester pains and my mood has been a lot more sporadic but that second trimester was GOOD to me! Made me want to do this a couple more times!

    One Thing I’m Proud Of: I’m proud and happy about the way I’ve documented this pregnancy. I know things like that get harder with each child and I know she probably won’t care too much when she’s older but baby books and pictures and blogging this pregnancy are just things that are important to me and make me feel happy! I have loved filling out her baby book as each trimester passes and just taking notes in my phone about preparing for her arrival.

    One Thing I Wish Were Different: I wish I had less anxiety about pregnancy/this baby/my other kids. This is something I wish was different all the time in my life and something I actively work to change and improve. That negative self talk and letting those fears go from 0 to 100 is the worst and only takes away from the joy of a moment or season. With this baby, I’ve had this nagging thought that she will be breech and I will need a c-section. Not the end of the world, and still WAY too early to worry about it but it’s just something I feel anxious about. After having a c-section and then a successful VBAC, to have another C-section would just be tough on me. Obviously something I’m willing to do for this babe and it’s something I have little control over anyway but I DO wish I could just let all that go more easily and chillll out.

    Favourite Food: Ugh – I don’t even want to answer. The weirdest thing happened this pregnancy – the first trimester all I wanted was healthy food. I loved salads and veggies and fruit. Now, all I ever want is chips and dip, candy, lemonade, pretzels, white pasta, anything other than healthy food. Things I normally love just seem “meh” to me and I don’t feel very adventurous with my food choices. I have become absolutely obsessed with those thin oreos! Seriously, best ever. If you have’t tried them, do not, because you will be mad at me for making you love them so much. I have been loving veggie pitas and veggie subs – so thats not too bad but it’s still from Subway or Pita Pit – because I hate cooking right now.

    Least Favourite Food: All meat still doesn’t really appeal to me. I can cook it and eat a little but I’ll still pick some out. I’ve literally thought that now would be the time to become a vegetarian because usually I think I could never give up meat but right now I feel like I could never eat it again and I wouldn’t miss it.

    Symptoms: The worst heart burn of all time. It sometimes keeps me up when I’m trying to fall asleep. Also braxton hicks have been pretty steady since somewhere around 20 weeks.

    Random Things Strangers Have Said and Done: I have heard a couple “Are you sure it’s not twins in there?” and “Looks like you’re going to have that baby today”. To which I just laugh because it honestly doesn’t bug me and if this is what my body needs to do and be for my baby then bring it on! Grow baby girl grow!

    Nursery & Baby Gear Preparation…

    • We purchased some plants and a shelf for her nursery nook from IKEA
    • We are waiting on a new car seat for her since we really hated the one we used with Dexter and Elle.
    • Ordered some new bottles
    • Purged (and are continuing to purge) all the clutter in our house.
    • Still deciding on a mini crib
    • Slowly collecting little girly clothes, blankets, toys and bows.

    Things I’m looking forward to in the Third Trimester…

    • Meeting our baby girl
    • Finishing her nursery nook
    • Getting back into our fall routine and checking some things off our nesting list.
    • Organizing all of her things. Right now it’s just a big basket of stuff and it’s stressing me out.

     

    Thanks so much for reading!

    Blogging

    Building Your Online Community | #THEMOMBLOGCOLLECTIVE Week 2

    You GUYS! Thank you so much for the amazing response to our first post in this #themomblogcollective series! We are so happy to hear from you and know what inspired or challenged you. Seriously – that’s the kind of thing that makes blogging so fun for me!

     

     

    Last time we chatted about getting started with an Instagram account or blog, so now that you’ve done that, you’re going to want some awesome people to be there on the other side of all your posts – so this week we are diving into How To Build Your Online Community.

    For me, the community part is hands down the most fun and rewarding side of social media. I like taking photos, I like editing and curating, I like being able to contribute financially BUT all of that is nothing if it wasn’t for the amazing friendships and community that I have built over the past 3+ years. Connecting and chatting, finding common ground and inspiration, sending and receiving random encouragement when it’s the most needed, all of that keeps me going.

    Let’s get into it!

    What are your top tips for building an online community and establishing your brand?

    My first tip when trying to build an engaged and solid community is remember that IT TAKES TIME! A long long long time and it should! I hate to bring up the tortoise and the hare here, but seriously. Quick to rise, quick to fall – and while I know that isn’t ALWAYS the case, generally things that are worthwhile and long lasting take time and attention and patience to grow. So approach it with the understanding that it takes time and try not to take it personally when you’re in a slower season of growth. It happens to all of us.

    The best thing to do in those slow seasons, is the EXACT same thing you do in the seasons of amazing growth. Stay true to yourself, genuinely engage with others, follow accounts you actually love and connect with. There are seriously endless ways to cut corners, and grow faster, and they appear to come without consequence, but, in my experience, that isn’t the case. It might not be right away, but taking a shortcut (on social media or otherwise) usually takes away from the reward of reaching the goal and the joy of the journey. Not to take it all too seriously here, but if you want to build an engaged and exciting community of likeminded clients/customers/friends – you need to ACTUALLY build it.

    For growing your brand it’s a lot of the same thing. Stay true to yourself. Be honest. Connect with people you genuinely love following or feel like you have something in common. Know your audience, the questions/needs they have and how you can help them. Be consistent. All of this will slowly build a consistent and amazing brand that others will naturally gravitate to!

     

    How did you grow your Instagram in an organic way?

    I grew my following on Instagram in a couple of different ways.

    First (and this goes back to the above), I’ve been at it for a while. I feel like that alone is a big reason. Time and consistency and

    Second, I have always made an effort to follow accounts I love. I’ve never cared about how many people I’ve been following or anything like that – if I love your feed/captions/anything, regardless of how many followers you have or whether you plan on following me back, I am clicking that follow button.

    Third, I interact big time and I (important part) MEAN IT! Have you ever gotten a comment on say a photo with a sad or heartfelt caption that says “so cool!” or “that’s awesome!” – so awkward! Don’t be that girl!

    Comments are key on Instagram these days – and not just because it “bumps you up in the algorithm”, because who can crack that code anyway? It’s important because it connects you to people who will get to know, trust and like you and who you will then have as a longtime follower/friend, reading your posts, buying your product, messaging you just to say hi, etc. It also increases interactions for you because when you leave that genuine comment on a post, relating to a mom’s crazy day or sharing a funny story – other people who agree with you or think you’re on to something will click your profile and reach out or follow you too. I always am clicking through comments (for example on a homeschool post) and I almost always go follow a bunch of the mamas who commented that they were homeschooling because I’m into that and we have something in common!

    Fourth, posting consistently! I’m not always the best for this but it is really up there as far as organically attracting engaged followers who love what you’re sharing.

    And finally, giveaways. Giveaways are a great way to partner with brands and bring some value to your followers by offering them the chance to win something you love. It’s great because it benefits the brand, the influencer, the winner and the people who entered might just find some new feeds they love. While entrants are usually required to follow you, it’s still their choice and often it will connect them to brands or bloggers who they would enjoy following anyway (for example, a new mama giveaway connecting a expectant mama with mommy bloggers and some amazing small shops).I’ve recently done a few loop giveaways (something I wasn’t sure was a good way to grow or not) and to be honest, the jury is still out. They are fun to be a part of when you love the shops/bloggers involved and I love being able to offer a chance to win my fave things to my followers. They definitely get your feed seen by a bunch of new people who otherwise wouldn’t have found you, which is the goal, but whether they end up being engaged followers, or even sticking around at all, I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know. 🙂

    How do you engage with your followers? Why is this important to you?

    I love this part. Seriously, I wouldn’t even be on Instagram if it was just to have this one way conversation with a bunch of people. I love engaging with my followers by responding to DMs and comments as much as I possibly can.

    I think about it this way, if someone was to say something to you in person, would you just ignore it? No, that’s so awkward! So if someone asks a question via DM or comment I always try my best to get back to them. I’m not perfect at this and sometimes I get a lot of messages or I’m taking a social media break and some slip through the cracks but in my heart, I genuinely want to connect and message all of you back.

    While I’m sure this helps with your Instagram “success”, I think it’s more important on a human level than anything else. As a stay at home mama for the last four years, being able to log in and connect with other moms from all over the world has been incredible. I’ve built lasting friendships and been inspired and encouraged almost daily on this app and that just doesn’t happen by me just posting, letting the comments roll in, saying nothing back and then repeating the next day. I would have quit looong ago if that was the case.

     

    So there you have it! Much like last week, it’s not a matter of just throw it out there and they will come. You’ve gotta go out and “find” them. By engaging, following accounts you love, leaving a comment on something you relate to, liking photos that stand out to you, host a giveaway and see how it goes – and it can’t be just to get another number up at the top of your profile. In the end if you’re just collecting numbers, it just won’t pay off the way you had hoped. I don’t want this to sound like trying to gain followers is a bad thing, it’s not! Instagram to me, is still part business and a big part of that is growing your following. You just want the right followers, and for me, once I started to look at it that way, I could take some pressure off of growing super quick or even losing a ton of followers (something that used to totally stress me out).

    I hope you liked part two of our series and learned something new about growing your online community!

    Be sure to check out the other bloggers in the series..