5 Tips on Starting a Blog and Instagram | #THEMOMBLOGCOLLECTIVE Week 1

    Today on the blog I’m sharing my Top 5 Tips for Starting a Blog or Instagram account! This post is the first in a new series on my blog called #TheMomBlogCollective! I’ve teamed up with 10 of my fave mom blogger friends and together we will be sharing the answers to the questions we get asked the most often about blogging, motherhood, social media, growing your brand and even making money. Some of us have been blogging full time for years and some of us are just getting started, but we all offer a completely different perspective and have a mutual desire to share and help others who might want to follow a similar path!

    Each week we will be focusing on a different topic and answering similar questions pertaining to that particular topic. Our hope is to share what worked for us, what didn’t, things we learned along the way, and things we learned last week. We know there are many ways to do this whole blogging thing so we hope to offer some perspective and encouragement to anyone hoping to pursue this path!


    This week we are each sharing our Top 5 Tips on Starting a Blog and Instagram.

    But first, a little background about my blogging journey! In 2012, I started as a beauty blogger. I was working at Sephora and my husband was on tour a lot and I wanted a creative outlet and way to connect with others who were beauty obsessed like me. When I became pregnant in 2012, I started my second blog to document and share my pregnancy with my family and friends (who are mostly located 6 hours away).  Then came Instagram! I fell hard and fast for the visual aspect of Instagram and the way I could “microblog” on the fly, rather than compose an entire blog post. I started posting (really bad over-filtered photos – it was just so bad) and connecting with other moms and small shops. I posted to my blog every now and then but Instagram became my focus. Around 2014, my best friend and I started a motherhood/lifestyle blog called Three Little Crowns. We lived around the corner from each other, hung out every day and just wanted to share, inspire and connect with others. This was so fun – but SO much work! This is where I started learning how to work with small shops and got a taste of how this whole blogging thing could actually function as a job and potentially make some money! We agreed to end our blog in 2016 and I took a long break deciding what to do next. My Instagram was growing and I knew blogging was a LOT of work, but I missed writing and documenting and would get questions on Instagram that needed a longer response or that I thought others could benefit from. Which brings us to now. I launched this blog before Christmas last year as another outlet and way to share more thoroughly and document family life, pregnancies and anything else I feel like sharing. Through the last 5 years of blogging I have learned a LOT so let’s jump into the tips!


    Find Your WHY

    You want to start a blog, or get serious about Instagram – that’s awesome, good for you! BUT you first need to know why. What are your goals? What are you hoping to achieve through this? For some people, it’s a desire for a creative outlet, having a place to journal and document their lives. For others, it’s creating helpful content and eventually making an income. Others, eventually want to write a book, and use blogging to launch that. Of course, your “why” can change over time, but it helps to know what you are looking for when you get started. I put this first because I feel like it sets the tone and will help you to manage your expectations and workload moving forward. I feel like there is sometimes a lot of misconception about blogging. That it’s all cute outfits and free stuff and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s sometimes emails and writing and editing for hours after the kids to go bed. It’s deadlines and hard work and building relationships with brands. And it goes in waves depending on your why! Your why is kind of like your mission statement or vision statement for your brand/blog. Knowing it will help you discern what you should spend your time on and what you should say no to. It will also help you to be more successful if your why is that you genuinely love writing, sharing and providing interesting and helpful content to your readers. Ask any successful blogger, and most of them just started sharing because they loved it – and doors and opportunities unfolded from there. The why and motivation behind it needs to be genuine.

    Decide on a Name and Vision for Your Blog/Brand

    Have a little planning session for your blog/IG. You will first want a name. Try to come up with something meaningful and unique (this is easier said than done – naming Three Little Crowns took us like 3 months!) because people will ask what your name means. It’s also good if your blog name tells the reader right off the bat, what they can expect from your blog. Once you have some ideas, make sure they are available across all your social media. It will enhance your brand if your name is the same across the board. You will also want to make sure your domain is available. I recommend a .com but there are other options as well. Now is also a good time to start thinking of a “look” for your blog. What is your vibe? Bright and colourful? Clean and minimal? How will you edit your photos? What kind of logo? This part is fun for me and makes me so excited when it all starts to come together. You don’t have to be a pro and it doesn’t have to be perfect. I use Canva or Pixlr to design most of my banners and logos and VSCO to edit all my photos. I also recommend sitting down with a pen and paper and actually writing down a bunch of post ideas. Then step back and look at them, grouping them together and deciding what categories you are most passionate about. Your niche will kind of reveal itself this way. You won’t be able to blog about every category or thing that interests you right off the bat so just pick the ones you’re the most passionate about.

    Purchase Your Domain and Hosting

    This is the boring but necessary part. There are so many options (Blogger, WordPress, Squarespace, etc) and you can decide which is best for you. My blog and domain is through WordPress and my hosting is Go Daddy. There are a bunch of youtube tutorials and Pinterest pins explaining this better than I can so go check those out for sure! It isn’t expensive and doesn’t take long and is a crucial step in actually having a blog. Once you’ve got all that set up you will be able to play with the look and back end of your blog. There are free themes available and you can also buy a theme off of Etsy (which is what I did).


    Create Content, Post Consistently and Connect!

    (I know that’s three but they’re all so important!)

    Time to create that content! Start writing! At any given time, I have a note in my phone titled ‘Blog Post Ideas’ and I keep track of anything I think I could offer a unique perspective on or have a lot of fun writing. Your posts don’t have to be long or even super packed with information. Just get something up there. It will be good practice and you will get to know the posts that are really doing well or getting a good response. Even if you haven’t launched your blog yet, publish them anyway. That way when people come to your blog they will get a good idea of what you are about.

    Try to decide on a consistent posting schedule. Even if its once a month, be consistent with that. I’m not going to lie, I am not the most consistent blogger. I try to post really consistently on Instagram but sometimes I have to let blogging go, in order to have time for my other priorities. So with Instagram, especially when you’re getting started, I would recommend posting once a day. It’s better to post something often than to wait for the the “perfect photo” and post once a week.

    Now to connect – share your posts everywhere and try to connect and engage with other likeminded bloggers or Instagram accounts that you love (we are going to go WAY more into this in a couple weeks). It’s important to not just throw your content up there and wait for people to come. They won’t. It’s a super saturated blog world out there and unless you’re putting yourself out there, no one will find you and that can be discouraging. So make friends, leave genuine comments and start building that tribe.

    Just START!

    This is hands down the biggest piece of advice I have for anyone who wants to start a blog or take their Instagram to the next level. Don’t think it to death. Don’t wait until it’s perfect. Don’t plan and plan and dream for months. Just start it. Get the ball rolling. Take a single tiny step in the right direction and you will be amazed at how that makes you even more motivated to take the step after that one. If I’m in a blogging rut or having some writers block, I’ll take 20 minutes and play with my logo, make a list of potential blog posts or post to Instagram and ask a question about what my readers want to read. Even if doesn’t seem like the MOST productive thing you could be doing, do it anyway. You won’t ever be prepared or perfectly ready to “launch” your blog. You will always be tweaking and making improvements and you will ALWAYSSS be your own worst critic. So just start. Publish. Post. Reach out. Share it on your Facebook and then give yourself a pat on the back for even taking a tiny step in the direction of your goals. Tomorrow when you wake up you will be a tiny step further ahead then you were yesterday and that is something to be proud of!


    Thanks so much for reading guys and I hope this post was helpful! If there are any other specific questions or topics you want us to cover, be sure to leave them as a comment here or search #themomblogcollective on Instagram and comment on one of our photos!


    And be sure to check out the other posts in the series (linked below):

    A Blessed Nest | @blessednestblog

    Ashley Noel | @_ashley_noel_

    Britt Havens | @britthavens

    Cultivate Motherhood | @cultivatemotherhood

    Darling Nightingale | @darlingnightingale

    Kole Impressions Blog | @steph__pollock

    Hello Baby Brown | @hellobabybrown

    Mrs Seacannon | @mrsseacannon

    Occasionally Perfect | @occasionally_perfect

    The Love Designed Life | @thelovedesignedlife


    Maternity Style, Pregnancy

    24 Week Update!


    We’re 24 weeks along with baby number three and I wanted to share a little update! I actually laugh looking back at my first pregnancy and blog and how I actually blogged almost every weekly update. This time around, other than getting bigger by the minute, I can hardly find differences between say 24 and 20 weeks. With my first, I was just so attentive to every single small change that apparenly, I could find things to blog about each week (I assume that’s almost entirely due to the fact that I didn’t have two other toddlers requesting my attention all day every day).

    On to the update. Here’s what’s new with me and our third little babe at 24 weeks.

    Due date: November 8th 2017.
    How far along: 24 weeks
    Gender: Girl!
    Size of the baby: an ear of corn. mmm
    Movement:  This girl is wild! Moving and kicking allll the time. My kicks are all crazy low – which seems different to me than other times.
    Total weight gain so far: GUYS – TWENTY POUNDS! I’ve never gained weight this fast in a pregnancy! I mean, I feel good and I think I look alright so I’m not worried about it – but I almost fell off my chair at my last weigh in. In my other two pregnancies I kind of plateaued as far as weight gain is concerned around 32 hopefully that will happen. I think it has something to do with it being my third baby and also before I was pregnant this time around, I was at the lowest weight that I have ever been at in my adult life. So, I started around 105 and am now closer to 127. No shame in my preggo weight game though. I’m eating mostly healthy (but I am alwaaays hungry) and walking a lot and feeling really good!
    Favourite maternity clothes right now: I don’t think I’ve ever worn this much actual “maternity” clothing in a pregnancy. I usually just stick to non-materntity dresses and such but this time I’ve really fallen for a couple nice maternity pieces. My number one, can’t live without it piece is this skirt from a company called Bae the Label.  This thing is like a spanx skirt and is so flattering and smoothing. I wear it a couple times a week at least. Some of their pieces are a little pricy but this skirt is worth every penny! I usually tie a cute tank or tee over top of the skirt, throw on some converse and I’m good to go. I’m also loving flowy comfy dresses (basically this one in every colour) and other than my fave maternity leggings I am sooo over pants of any kind.
    Stretch marks: So far none! Thanks to my all time fave stretch mark oil!
    Sleep: I’ve actually been sleeping so well but am starting to need a pregnancy pillow. That’s next on my shopping list.
    Mood:  I mean, it’s all over the place but what else is new. I will say, this is my happiest pregnancy yet. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not 100% sure if it will be my last or not, but I have never felt better pregnant and am already a little sad about it ending.
    Food cravings: Thankfully my big time cravings are over. I am still loving lemonade, any type of veggie wrap, fresh berries, candy, cereal. I am still not loving hamburgers or chicken. I was thinking about doing a “What I Eat in A Day” post – because secretly, I am obsessed with posts like that and getting meal ideas from them!
    Favourite moment this week: We had some old friends over that I hadn’t seen in almost 7 years, so reconnecting with them was amazing! On a more pregnancy related note, some of her things starting to come in the mail! Oh! And I scored the most amazing vintage wicker bassinet on Kijiji! Such a good find!
     Recent baby purchase: I ordered a bunch of stuff for our girl from the Zara sale and it came in! That was fun. I’ve never really shopped specifically for my baby’s gender before they were born so it was so fun buying a bunch of stuff for my girl!
     Nursery plans:  Okay this is starting to come together! We still need to get a mini crib and make a trip to IKEA but I am soooo excited to put it all together. I’m sharing a post next week with my nursery plans and inspiration – but you can follow me on Pinterest if you want a peek at what I’m thinking!
    Thanks so much for reading.

    Gender Reveal – It’s a GIRL!

    It’s a GIRL! We found out the gender of our third little babe and are so happy to say we’ve got a healthy, wiggly, GIRL in there! I wanted to share a little about our experience finding out and also share our reveal photos taken by the most talented Natalie Young of Mint Photography!

    I was so nervous for our ultrasound! I’m always nervous but I was especially nervous that we would soon be finding out the gender of our little babe. The tech is aways so quiet and I never want to bug them while they are doing their job so I didn’t say much until the end when I asked “do you feel like you were able to confirm the gender?”. The tech replied with a half laugh and an “oh yeah!”. Like, I SUUUURE could see the gender. To which I immediately think, it’s a BOY!! Everything seemed to go pretty smoothly, and we got some super cute photos and our envelope and left. We drove home just totally going nuts about the fact that we had the gender in our hands. I’m sure this is all NOT that big of deal, but it was like in that moment, I was feeling all of the emotions that I usually feel right before the final push when my babies are born. That “this is it!” feeling. Just sitting right there in my hands.

    I called my midwife quickly when I got home because (it’s a long and semi-embarrassing story) I thought I saw something on the ultrasound tech’s report that she left sitting there. Something she didn’t check off that concerned me, and I just wanted to ask about before opening the envelope. She assured me that the report was in her hands and that all looked it was time!

    We had planned on doing something big and exiting to find out. Planning and recording it and all that stuff,  but in the moment, my husband suggested the four of us sit, just us, and open it together and that just felt so right. A pure, undocumented moment that would be kept safe in our hearts and memories. Zach and I prayed together, just thanking God for a healthy babe, grabbed the kids, got comfy on the bed and all made our final guesses (for the record Elle was the only one who guessed right).   I was so anxious I almost couldn’t let him open it. I think I kept stopping him and saying “hold on, I need a second” Then he would open the envelope a little more and I’d yell “STOP, wait..I can’ minute!” (I know, my husband’s patience is next level, I am a total crazy lady in moments like these and I know it).

    We all closed our eyes as he opened the envelope and all looked together just as he unfolded the paper. My eyes saw GIRL and my brain was like struggling to process. I put my face in my hands and screamed when I found out, completely traumatizing my kids I’m sure, but I couldn’t help it. I was SURE this baby was a boy! Like so sure. I’m still like 35% sure they got it wrong and half preparing for it to be a boy in November.  The build up of the moment was just so exciting and all at once, sisters flashed before my eyes (I have a sister and she is honestly my life and best friend and soul mate – hi Ains) and I just couldn’t believe it.

    We hugged and cried and it was just an awesome moment that I will never forget!

    One of my best friends, Natalie (Mint Photography) helped us with our reveal photos and oh man, that’s a whooole other story to tell but, we love how they turned out!  Let’s just say the smoke completely terrified Elle (like screamed and wanted to crawl on top of my head), and Dex liked it so much we couldn’t make him look away (toward the camera) at all. But that’s kids, and this is our life and these photos tell the true story of our little family right now. Happy and messy and imperfect but totally in love with the stage we are in.

    Thanks so much for reading!






    Oh also – a couple people have asked..The heart rate wives tale was WAY off (she was 135bpm in the ultrasound) BUT someone did message me about the Ramzi theory and that one was totally right (same with Chinese gender calendar – which is a first for me).




    Gender Predictions!

    I’m 20 weeks along which where I live means, we can officially (try to) find out the gender of our third little babe! It’s actually been a BIG decision for us, deciding whether we should find out or not. A little backstory, I LOVE surprises. Like, I am obsessed. I remember accidentally finding one of my Christmas presents as a child and being absolutely devastated. I threw it back in the bag and cried for so long. I apologized to my parents over and over again for stumbling across the gift (it was one of my “big” gifts that year). Even if Zach is planning a gift or surprise date or something, I will go out of my way to avoid getting any hints. I’m also not a planner. I am about some things. I like my home organized. I like lists and like party planning. But for a baby, I’ve just never felt like I needed to know the gender in order to be prepared. I completely know that some people do, and it really is such a personal choice but not only do I love the surprise, I really do feel as prepared as someone can be for a baby, even when I don’t know the gender.

    So, you can probably guess that both Dex and Elle’s genders were revealed to us in the delivery room. I bring a going home outfit for a boy and a girl and some other neutral (grey, white or cream NOT yellow or green like everyone always assumes when I tell them we don’t know the gender) pieces. Usually the same day they are born, my mom and sister have already run to Baby Gap and bought out half the newborn section, washed everything and filled the closet because they are so excited.

    Both times, the surprise was pretty magical. With Dex I swore from the beginning he was a boy. I blogged my whole pregnancy on my old blog, and it’s so funny for me to look back and see how sure I was. I literally didn’t even have a solid plan for a girl name because I was THAT sure. His birth was an emergency c-section, and after the most stressful labour and surgery, seeing his little boy parts held up over the curtain and hearing my husband say “It’s a boy. It’s Dexter” was literally the best second of my life. Elle’s birth was a little less eventful (thankfully!) and she was born via successful vbac after about 3 pushes. I had no idea what I thought she was going to be. They asked me right before I pushed and I said boy, but I was still 50/50. They had nicu on standby because of some heart rate issues when I was pushing, and she didn’t make any noise or cry for a while after she came out. When everyone was shuffling around and I could tell she wasn’t crying, it stressed me out so much that I didn’t even think of her gender. The nicu took her, and I heard a couple people mention girl and then my husband yell/ask “It’s a girl???” in the most excited voice ever. I still had so much adrenaline rushing through me and nurses sticking me and just waiting for my baby to cry that it was mostly just over my head. They brought her back to me and put her pink hat on and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a GIRL!!

    This time around, though, we have decided to find out after our ultrasound. Okay like 95% decided. A part of me still thinks I’ll chicken out and say “NO don’t tell me!” and just forget about the whole thing. The main reason we want to find out this time is just to try something different. I think it would be so cool to connect and bond in that way with the baby while pregnant. I’ve never been able to say “my daughter” or “my son” while expecting. It’s always just “the baby” or occasionally “it”. We also thought it would be cool to tell Dex, who is so interested in my belly and the baby, what is to come. Lastly, we might have some room rearranging to do depending on the gender, so we might get a head start on that. All that to say – I am so nervous/scared/excited to find out!

    My friend Marissa did a little gender prediction post on her blog and I loved reading it so thought I would do the same here. These are obviously all old wives tales and even Marissa’s post, the majority said girl and it was a boy but I love this stuff so I’m into it.

    Right off the bat. I have no solid guesses. At times I’ve felt girl for sure and other times boy. Zach has had two dreams since I’ve been pregnant and it’s been a girl both times and my dad had this really crazy dream of all his grandchildren grown up and this baby (being his 5th) was a girl. Lately (as I hit publish) I am feeling boy. Like a lot. I don’t know why, we’ve just been feeling so natural and peaceful that it would be a boy but seriously, who knows!

    Chinese gender calendar: it says GIRL but was opposite/wrong for both my other pregnancies.
    Carrying high (girl) or low (boy): I think low, but it might be too early to tell.  BOY?
    Baby’s heart rate (over 140bpm is a girl, under 140bpm is a boy): 140 right on! Sneaky little thing. TIE
    Skin changes (they say boys make your skin better and girls make your skin worse-think acne): My skin went CRAZY with breakouts at the beginning and being so dry but it’s evened out a bit now. Also this one was opposite for me the other two times. My skin was a nightmare with Dex and the best it has ever looked with Elle. TIE
    Nausea (nausea usually means its a girl, no nausea means it’s a boy): The most nauseous of all my pregnancies. GIRL
    Cravings- sweets (girl) or salty (boy): I crave everything these days but probably more sweet/cold things. GIRL
    Cravings- fruit (girl) or meats and cheese (boy): Fruit – gimme all the watermelon and frozen grapes! GIRL
    Headaches- yes (boy) or no (girl): Yes headaches. BOY
    Leg hair (less hair means girl, more hair means boy): I haven’t noticed any change so I’m not sure on this one BUT – I do see some new little fuzz on my belly – so that’s awesome. BOY
    Does your husband have more brothers or sister: More sisters. GIRL
    Feet warmer (girl) and colder (boy): What even is this one? If my AC is on they are cold, if I’m outside, hot.
    Has dad gained weight (boy) or none at all (girl): No he hasn’t. But he never has in the past either. He’s a runner with the metabolism of an 11 year old so I don’t trust this one at all.
    Chest has not grown (girl) or it has grown (boy): it has like tripled but after nursing 2 babies I was starting from absolute zero, like what is smaller than a AA? BOY
    Urine- bright (boy) or dull (girl): dull-ish?  GIRL
    Sleep-if you sleep mostly on your left side it’s a boy, on your right side it’s a girl: Both, I flip flop all night. TIE
    So from these we have 6 GIRL and 4 BOY and a bunch of BS in between haha.
    We will definitely see next week, and I can’t wait to share the gender with you guys! What do you guys think it is? Did you find out before the birth or wait until baby was born to find out the gender?
    Thanks for reading!


    Motherhood, Pregnancy

    First Trimester Recap

    So, everyone said the first trimester would fly by faster and faster with each pregnancy but this totally did not! I think because we waited to tell the kids until almost week 12, that made it feel like forever. But here I am, out of the first trimester, feeling blessed, thankful and super nauseous!
     I thought I would do a little first trimester recap on the blog. I’ve blogged throughout my other pregnancies and have loved the process of recording and reading back all the little details. I often lack blogging inspiration, and I think it’s because I overthink the whole thing, worrying about what other people want to read or how helpful and informative so and sos blog post was and how my photography isn’t great, BUT when I’m pregnant, writing/blogging becomes so natural because none of those things matter. This is for me, and my family and our third little baby.

    This pregnancy has been super different than my other two. My symptoms other than nausea, have been all over the place from feeling fevered to having NO appetite at all (even today at 15 weeks) and sneezing ALL THE TIME!  I have felt more tired this pregnancy than I ever have in my whole life (including post-partum) but I think that has a LOT more to do with my two toddlers than the actual baby growing part. My uterus and non-existent ab muscles had NO issue remembering what to do once a baby was in there and some days, after a good meal, I easily look 6 months pregnant. We unintentionally waited until 14 weeks to announce this pregnancy and it has been HARD to hide this. I’m 15 weeks now but wrote this draft back at 12 weeks.
    Due date: November 8th 2017.

    How far along: 12 weeks (currently I’m 15).

    Gender: unknown! for now..more on that in another post 😉 I have no guesses. I was SURE it was a girl at the beginning, and then when I started to really break out (like I did with Dex) I was sure it was a boy and now I’m back to having no idea.
    Size of the baby: lime.
    Movement:  I swore I felt a little flutter or two on Easter Sunday and again a week later I thought I felt some rolling and bumping going on in there. Turns out it was totally wishful thinking, because I didn’t feel anything after that and am still waiting on those first little movements.
    Total weight gain so far: 8 lbs!  I have no appetite at all but eating is about the only thing that makes my nausea subside so I’ve been eating a lot! It’s so weird though, I just feel mediocre about all food. Like it will look okay but then eating it is like eating plain oatmeal. I feel no enjoyment really. Also have the shortest torso of life so between the 8 lbs and being 5’2″, it’s all just very obvious that I’m pregnant.
    Favourite maternity clothes right now: I don’t have any yet but I feel like I need (and want!) maternity pants already. My first two pregnancies, I felt all proud that I didn’t spend much money on maternity clothing. This time around, I know the freedom and comfort of just going straight to the big old stretchy elastic waistband and I am ready for that like now.
    Stretch marks: So far none. Found the most amazing stretch mark cream though that I can’t wait to share with you guys.
    Sleep: I had one night of horrible insomnia but thankfully that was it. I don’t wake up feeling well rested or anything but I think that’s just my permanent state at this point. I’ve been using lavender essential oil every night on my pillow and diffused in the air.

    Mood:  UGH guys. Soooo up and down. I cry at every song ever. Literally lost it listening to “Do You Want To Build a Snowman” the other day (seriously, when you think about poor Anna after the parents die, it’s the saddest thing ever). I just cry a lot. I’ve been irritable a lot lately, but I think that has to do with feeling nauseous and sick all the time. You know when you’re feeling car sick and someone keeps talking to you and then the driver breaks a little too abruptly and you literally feel like screaming, it’s kinda like that all day.  😉

    Food cravings: When I’m not feeling completely indifferent about food I reach for pretzels, lemonade, sour patch kids, veggies and dip, this Olive Garden salad that we recreate at home, ice, freezing cold water, apples, anything really cold. Still not really feeling chicken/beef or anything creamy or spicy or that has a weird texture (oatmeal).
    Favourite moment this week: Absolutely it was telling the kids. We were both so nervous (as evidenced by our obnoxious parent voices) to tell them but it was super sweet. (see video below).

    Recent baby purchase: Nothing yet but first on my list is a pregnancy sleeping pillow. I’ve loved this one in the past but would love your recommendations! I’ve also switched over to gummy prenatal vitamins and will never look back! They don’t bug my tummy as much as my old ones did and they go nicely with my candy craving.
    Nursery plans:  None yet. Heck, Elle is almost two and I don’t know if I would call her nursery finished. We are thinking of doing something a little different this time and I can’t wait to share some of our inspiration.
    Thanks so much for reading.