Using Social Media to Promote Your Blog

Happy Saturday, friends! I’m so excited to share my new friend Ashley with you today! She’s a rockstar fashionista and a foodie, so naturally I identify with her quite a bit. She’s got some awesome insight on using social media with your blog, so stick around and learn! :)

Hi, I’m Ashley and I blog over at The Nashvillian where I write about my experiences with food, fashion, and fun in Nashville and occasionally other parts of the world. I’m happy to be here today to share a little about how I use social media to promote my blog.

how-to-use-social-media-to-promote-your-blog

Instagram. This is my favorite form of social media. Even though it’s hard to tell how much traffic you receive from posting to Instagram, it is one of the most important social media tools you can use as a blogger. I, personally, receive far more engagement on Instagram than I do any other platform. So, whenever a post goes live on my blog, I usually grab a photo from the post and share it to Instagram with a caption that prompts my followers to visit my blog. I’ll then use as many hashtags as I possibly can that relate to the subject of the photograph and post it in the comments section. I do this in the comments section so that a) it looks cleaner and b) the message to visit my blog is less likely to be overlooked. It’s important to post your hashtags immediately so your photo has a chance of being seen before getting lost in the shuffle. For this reason, I keep a list of hashtags in the notes section of my iPhone that are just waiting for me to copy and paste! I’ve noticed there are a couple times per day that my Instagram photos do really well – that’s in the morning (before people go to work) and in the evening (when people get home from work). Aside from promoting blog posts, I like to use Instagram to showcase my favorite things (food, mostly) in an aesthetically pleasing and creative way.

Twitter. Twitter is a tricky beast, but a very important one. You don’t want to tweet too much or you risk losing followers, and you don’t want to tweet too little or you risk no one seeing your content. Since Twitter users are all online at different times, it’s important to tweet the link to your post more than once per day. At first, I was tweeting my link about 5 times per day…but I was seeing a dip in followers. I’ve since scaled back to tweeting my link only 2-3 times per day – at the same times as Instagram, usually. It makes sense, right? If people are checking Instagram during those times, then they are probably checking Twitter too. I usually always include a photo when tweeting out a link to my blog because tweets with photos, on average, receive more clicks. And I never use the same wording more than once when I’m tweeting a link. Variety is important to draw people’s attention. When I’m not tweeting a link to my post, I use Twitter to tweet something that I think might be funny, ask questions (almost always blog related), or re-tweet things I find interesting.

Facebook. I’m not the greatest Facebooker around, but for some reason I receive more social referrals from Facebook (via Google Analytics) than any other social media channel. I think this is because not only do I post my links to my blog Facebook page, but I post them to my personal one too. And rather than writing “check out the new blog post,” I try to be as fun as possible with my captions. However, that’s pretty much the extent of my Facebook promotion. I sometimes share Instagram photos to Facebook, but only very occasionally.

Google+. I treat Google+ very similarly to Facebook in the sense that I really only use it to share the links to my posts. However, I think it is important to at least use it for that, if nothing else. This is because anything affiliated with Google is a powerful tool and increases SEO capabilities. Every time I receive a +1 I jump up and down for joy! That’s why I make an effort to at least sign into Google+ every once in a while to give +1’s to other bloggers.

Pinterest. Pinterest is a bloggers best friend. We spend countless hours repinning recipes, fashion, home decor, etc. It’s where creativity goes to thrive! So, embrace it! I’ve read numerous articles that say large vertical pictures do better than horizontal photos on Pinterest. So, whenever I take photos for my blog, I try to remember to take just as many vertical as I do horizontal. I’ve even stopped pinning my horizontal photos all together and have noticed a major difference in my repins. I also believe it’s important to join group boards and share your pins there. This puts your images in front of a crazy amount of people who would never have seen them before. Do it, and watch your repins skyrocket. ;)

StumbleUpon. If you’re unfamiliar, StumbleUpon is a site where endless content lives. Users choose their favorite categories and StumbleUpon feeds you websites they think you might like. You can either give the website a thumbs up or thumbs down based on whether or not you like it, which helps build the accuracy of what they suggest to you. A great solution for boredom! Well, StumbleUpon doesn’t just show you any ol’ website – the website actually has to live on it’s database. So what does that mean for bloggers? Well, if you upload your posts to their database, there is a chance that they might be stumbled by users and increase your page views! However, you can’t just upload your posts, or StumbleUpon will think you are spam. In order to get the most out of StumbleUpon, you have to actually use the service by stumbling websites and rating them. You also can’t only upload posts from your own website, or you could also be flagged as spam. That’s why whenever I add one of my posts to the database, I add around fifteen posts by other bloggers. Not only am I helping myself, but I’m helping other bloggers get noticed, and I love that!

Snapchat. Snapchat is currently making waves in the blogosphere, and I think it’s because people like seeing unfiltered versions of people’s lives. As bloggers, we take so much time making our Instagram account so aesthetically pleasing that it often isn’t completely representative of our every day lives. While Snapchat does offer a couple filters, the camera is mostly, well…terrible. So, what you end up getting is very average, very normal-looking pictures. I use this throughout the day to snap behind the scenes moments of my every day life. And not only can you share photos, but you can share video as well! Basically, any behind-the-scenes moments of blog posts or just life in general live on my Snapchat account.

Periscope. This is the newest form of social media to enter the blogosphere. It works kinda like Snapchat where you can record video and viewers can only see it for 24 hours before it disappears. However, what sets it apart from Snapchat is that the second you begin your video, it’s broadcasting live. Your followers will receive a ping notification on your phone that you are live and they can watch you in real time and up to 24 hours after. I haven’t used this much yet for blog promotion, but an idea I have is to broadcast little snippets of behind the scenes moments, such as trying a new restaurant and telling my viewers they can read about the full experience on the blog in the next week or so. Another idea would be to host a Q&A. Users can send questions that appear on the screen and you can answer them in real time!

That’s a general overview of how I use social media to promote my blog. Just because these tactics work for me doesn’t necessarily mean they will work for you. Everyone is different, so play around with different tactics, find what you’re comfortable with, and most importantly…HAVE FUN! :)

Ashley and I would love to know what your social media promotion looks like for your blog! What has been successful for you? And while you’re here, go ahead and enter Ashley’s giveaway for $25 PayPal cash!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

——

IMG_5874

The Nashvillian is a lifestyle blog focusing on food, fashion, and fun taking place mostly in Nashville and occasionally other parts of the world. Other topics include travel and movies. Ashley moved to Nashville in 2007 and currently works in the music industry while maintaining her blog on the side.

Instagram | Twitter | Bloglovin | Facebook | Google + | Pinterest | StumbleUpon

Snapchat and Periscope username: ashnashvillian

We Love Bear Lake

Last week was one of the weeks I look forward to most out of the year–our annual vacation to Bear Lake with my family. My dad’s side of the family has a house up there that he and all of his siblings help pay for, and every summer we get to spend a week together at the lakehouse. We had so much fun on this trip and I am so proud of how well our kiddos did! Joshua and Felicity were both great travelers and we didn’t have any issues with adjusting to a new schedule or anything. It was definitely easier this year than last year since we didn’t have to worry about Joshua taking a nap during the day–and anyway, he would play so hard at the beach that he would fall asleep within 10 seconds of getting in the car to go home and would sleep for a solid two hours.

bear-lake02 bear-lake03 bear-lake04 bear-lake05 bear-lake06

Joshua got to go on the boat this year and actually enjoy it. He was old enough this year that we took him out on the Ski-Bob and he got to go for a little ride. He was very interested in the fact that he was sitting on a floaty thing in the middle of a “BIG water” as he called it.

bear-lake09

bear-lake10 bear-lake11

I actually only went on the boat once during this trip. Normally I would be waterskiing like crazy, but this soon after a c-section, I thought it was better if I didn’t. Besides, I probably would have had a heck of a time trying to get up since it takes a lot of core strength and I definitely don’t have much of that right now….:P

I did snap a bunch of pictures of Dustin waterskiing, though. That man is good at everything he tries and even though we only get to waterski once a year, he gets up on the first try every time.

bear-lake12

If you’ve never been to Bear Lake, one thing you should know is that it is COLD. Diving in is always a rather shocking experience, but you get used to the cold after a few minutes. I dove in once just for fun and Joshua wanted me to do it again and again.

bear-lake14

While on the boat, Joshua thought it was pretty cool to be the flag holder (if you aren’t a boater, you hold the flag up when someone from your boat is in the water to let other boaters know to look out for people in the water).

bear-lake15

I spent most of my time playing on the beach with Joshua while Felicity slept happily in the Modern Wrap or on a blanket under the canopy.

bear-lake07 bear-lake08

On our way back home from the lake, we stopped and got Bear Lake’s best raspberry shakes and crossed that off of our summer bucket list. I’m going to clue you in on a little secret–it’s one of the best kept secrets of Bear Lake. The best raspberry shakes are not from any of the restaurants or diners who signs say “Best Raspberry Shakes!” Oh no. The best shakes are at the Chevron station on the hill driving into Garden City. So next time you find yourself over there, stop and get one.

bear-lake16

So that was our trip! We had a blast and I am really looking forward to the next couple of years at the lake. Joshua will be old enough to try waterskiing soon and I am SO excited to share that Castle family tradition with him.

Does your family have any sort of annual vacations/get togethers?

The Creative Closet | Summer Sandals

Earlier in the summer, my trusty pair of sandals broke down for good and I had to get a new pair. This pair of sandals was purchased in 2010 and I first debuted them at a Toby Keith concert with my friends. I rocked them all summer every summer since that day. They were a seriously well made pair of sandals (thank you, Aldo!) and they stayed in awesome condition even after 5 seasons of almost daily wear and tear.

summersandals02

I picked up this summer’s pair of sandals from JustFab for $15 and I have worn them every.single.day this summer. I am so impressed by how comfortable and durable they have been for that price. You might have noticed a lot of my shoes have been from JustFab lately–I’m kind of obsessed. That’s not a sponsored statement, by the way. I just really love the service and the shoes. :)

summersandals07

I love how versatile these sandals are. I’ve worn them with dresses, jeans, leggings, shorts…pretty much everything I own. I’ve definitely gotten a lot of bang for my buck with these.

summersandalscollage

I am seriously loving on Maegen’s dressed up look! Jaelan’s perfect casual outfit is getting some major heart eyes from me too–I’m also a tad bit obsessed with her eye makeup. 

This outfit is the type of thing you would find me wearing a lot–I have a great love for basic, slouchy tees like this one. J.Crew makes the best tees. SO soft and just the perfect amount of slouch. Thank goodness for little details like distressed jeans and jewelry, or the jeans and t-shirt look would get boring really quickly.

summersandals04 summersandals05 summersandals06

Tee: J.Crew
Jeans: Pink Blush
Necklace: LE TOTE
Bracelets: Early August
Ring: Rocksbox (use janaxoxo at checkout for a month of designer jewelry delivered to you for FREE!)
Sandals: JustFab* (Style Name: Casey)
*referral link

Last week’s metallic looks were all amazing for sure! Chelsie stole my heart with her killer accessories–the way she elevated her basic black and white outfit with some great metallic jewelry made my heart do a little happy dance. Also, her makeup is stunning!

Metalic-4

We’re kicking off the month of August next week with Backyard BBQ Style! This prompt is very open to interpretation–I’m excited to see what you like to rock when you’re hanging out with friends and family enjoying awesome food!

creativeclosetaugust

Please don’t forget to link back to my post or Maegen’s and let people know you’re joining us for The Creative Closet! Alternately, you can share the button in your post or on your sidebar.

The Creative Closet
 Loading InLinkz ...

French Beauty Giveaway

Happy Monday my loves! I’m so excited to share this fun giveaway with you! One thing I love about reading other blogs is getting a peek into someone else’s life and learning about things that they love–which is the theme of today’s giveaway! Patricia has been a long time favorite blogger of mine–I was immediately captivated by the fact that she’s an American living in France (how cool!!) and her genuine and fun writing style. She’s also a serious makeup and beauty guru, and I love her product reviews and tips and tricks.

Don't miss this awesome chance to win these hard to find French beauty products!

Because she has the benefit of living in France, we thought it would be so fun to share some of her very favorite French beauty products with one lucky winner! We teamed up with another of my favorite beauty mavens, Jaelan, to bring you some of the best of French beauty.

The best of French beauty!

Look at how fun these drugstore finds are! They’re all honey themed, very French, and would be perfect for a sweet pamper evening.

First up, the winner will get this gorgeously smooth Soft Almond Milk and Honey shower crème from Le Petit Marseillais.

cremedouche

We’ve also included a Honey & Shea Butter leave-in hair treatment from Le Petit Marseillais to help detangle and combat split-ends. This yummy smelly French soin is sure to leave you with more luscious locks.

IMG_3450

Last but not least, we’re giving away a Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm. This is the only lip product Patricia buy over and over again. It’s super nourishing and completely matte, which means it’s an awesome base for lipstick. She reviewed it last year in this post.

IMG_3445

Make sure you double check your e-mails at the end of the giveaway. If we don’t hear from the winner within 72 hours, we’ll need to choose another winner.

All winning entries will be verified.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The best of French beauty!

Good luck loves!

After 4 Years

July 23, 2011. The day that changed my life forever. The day I promised my best friend before God and my family and closest friends that I would spend eternity loving and supporting him. Laughing with him, respecting him, making memories with him, and eventually raising a family with him.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 12.17.18 PM

It’s funny how when you get married you think you are so in love with your spouse. But the truth it, you still have no idea what love can really be.

Our 4 years of marriage have been wonderful. They absolutely have not been all sunshine and roses. We have had some difficult patches. That’s marriage. But I’ll tell you exactly what I told Dustin. Even though we have had some days, even weeks that have royally sucked, where I have been pissed off and put through the ringer, I wouldn’t trade my marriage for anything. Marriages are hard sometimes, because they are made of two imperfect people. The thing is though, I can’t hope to ever achieve perfection without Dustin. He makes me want to be my best self, and when I’m not, he loves me anyway. His patience and encouragement pushes me to overcome my weaknesses. I’m so glad I get to do life with him.

tolman-9009edit

Photo credit: Kali Poulsen Photography

Watching Dustin become a father twice now has been an incredible journey. I don’t think I really knew how much I loved him until I saw him hold our tiny babies (okay, they actually weren’t tiny at all!) in his arms for the first time. Seeing the deep and powerful love in his eyes for a life we had created together was beyond what I can express with words.

 A whole lot has changed about our lives between 2011 and 2015. I’m so excited to see what the next year or 4 has in store for us.

tolman-9096edited

Thoughts on Modesty and Hot Summers

Many of you know that I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints–if that phrase totally confused you, I’m a Mormon. There are a lot of misconceptions about what members of the LDS church believe, but one thing most people usually know us for is our standards of dress–we believe in dressing modestly.

modestsummer01

Dressing modestly is a pretty relative idea–it has a different meaning for different cultures. We have a pretty conservative standard of dress, especially those of us who have been endowed in the temple because we wear sacred religious garments after receiving that ordinance. This means any skirts, dresses or shorts I wear come to my knee, I don’t wear anything backless or low-cut, and I keep my shoulders covered.

I choose to uphold this standard of dress as an expression of my faith, to give me confidence, and to be a good example to my daughter. I want her to grow up knowing that her body is meant to be respected and I feel that instilling in her an appreciation for modest dress is a great way to do that.

modestsummer02

During the summer, dressing modestly is sometimes hard because it is SO DANG HOT and I’m wearing my garments and clothing on top of that. Sure, it would be less hot to wear tiny shorts and a tank top, but that wouldn’t be me. I would feel uncomfortable.

So in the summer, I find other ways to beat the heat while still dressing modestly.

modestsummer03

1. I wear dresses

Air flow, you know? Wearing lightweight cotton dresses or skirts (especially maxis, because then I never worry about flashing anyone while chasing my toddler) helps keep me cool and covered. Plus, dresses are adorable.

2. I stick to breathable fabrics

Most of the time, I don’t bother with denim in the summer. It’s usually just too hot. I stick with linen, cotton, and other fabrics that won’t cause me to feel sticky and sweaty. Which is one reason I’m super loving the jogger and flowy, bohemian pants trend right now!

3. I keep my hair off my neck

Not a clothing tip, but it’s amazing what keeping hair off your neck and out of your face will do for keeping you cool! There are so many cute styles of braids and buns that are trending right now–and thanks to Instagram, I never run out of hair inspiration.

modestsummer04

Miss Felicity was doing some majorly loud and unlady-like business in her diaper while we shot these photos. I had a hard time not laughing, and I had to keep checking to make sure she hadn’t blown out her diaper and pooped all over me. :P

Dress: Pink Blush Maternity (purchased because it’s perfect for nursing!)
Sandals: Just Fab (Referral link // sandal style name: Casey)
Bag: Little Unicorn (Utah County friends can find Little Unicorn stuff at Baby Cubby!)
Sunnies: Old, Prada
Necklaces: Both from Rocksbox (use janaxoxo at checkout to get a month of designer jewelry delivered to you for free!)
Felicity’s headband: Turbans for Tots

Also, because some people occasionally find a way to take things personally or put words in people’s mouths anytime someone talks about religious beliefs, I feel the need to say loud and clear: if you have a different standard of dress than I do, or modesty means something different to you, cool! That’s great. I don’t think the way I choose to dress makes me any better than you. You do you–we can still be buddies. :)

Anyway.

Being a stay at home mom, I definitely have more leeway in how I can dress to keep cool while staying modest. My girl Aubrey has some awesome tips for modest summer fashion while at the office–working girls, check her out. Well, check her out whoever you are. Aubrey is pretty great–this coming from someone who has had the privilege to hang out with her in person a few times. :)

DSC_0008

What are your thoughts on modesty? How do you dress to stay cool in the summer?

The Creative Closet | Metallics

As much as I have been really looking forward to Creative Closet posts each week, I’ll be honest–I haven’t been as thrilled with how most my photos have turned out since I started posting again after Felicity’s birth. metallics01

I think it’s natural for a woman to go through a period of lessened confidence after having a baby. After all, my body is just in a super weird transition phase. I really noticed this over the weekend while we were shopping for a new swimsuit for the lake. I tried on over 20 swimsuits and nothing fit right. Maybe 3 of them fit my extra large nursing boobs correctly, and of those three, none of them did anything for the rest of my figure–namely my still slightly fluffy midsection.

metallics02

Now lest I sound too whiny, rest assured I am not sitting over here feeling a bunch of self pity. I’m extremely grateful to have brought another human into the world. I’m not upset that my body is a little out of whack–I expected it. It will get back to normal soon enough. At this time I’m still feeling a teensy bit awkward in front of the camera and I’m not certain I’ve totally figured out how to best pose to flatter my postpartum body. So I apologize if my photos are sub par for a bit. I appreciate you guys sicking with me.  :)

But hey, enough about me. Check out how cute Maegan and Kari are. :)

metallicscollage

Maegen’s metallic heels are killer for sure, but I am LOVING The way she styled those bright pants with a crisp white top. Perfection. Kari nailed her look–that top is insanely flattering! Visit their blogs for outfit details.

metallics03
Top, necklace, and clutch: LE TOTE
Pants: Old, from Jane.com

Last week’s mint looks were amazing! I loved the way Liz paired her bright mint top with some equally bright and gorgeous floral shorts–perfect summertime outfit for sure!

blogger-image--2092541420

July’s last prompt already? This should be an easy one for all of us–we all have a go-to pair of sandals to rock all summer long. Join us next Tuesday to show them off!

creativeclosetjuly

Please don’t forget to link back to my post or Maegen’s and let people know you’re joining us for The Creative Closet! Alternately, you can share the button in your post or on your sidebar.

The Creative Closet

 Loading InLinkz ...

Take Care of Yourself, Mama!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and healthy mama® , but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #gethealthymama  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Mamas, raise your hand if this statement sounds like you: after taking care of your kids, your spouse, your house, you maybe have a little bit of time to squeeze in some of your needs. You are often tired, burnt out, and stretched to your limit.

Well, believe me when I say that sounds a lot like me. I spend all day taking care of my toddler’s needs, my newborn’s needs, my husband’s needs, making sure everyone has clean clothes to wear and tummies fed. Sometimes it gets to be 3 o’clock and I realize I haven’t eaten since breakfast. I’m often emotionally at the end of my rope because I don’t always take the time to care for myself. When that happens, I’m not the best mama. I get mean. I yell too much. I’m impatient. It’s ugly.

Well enough is enough. I’ve learned that I benefit my loved ones best by being the best, happiest version of myself. This means taking care of me and not letting myself get stretched to the limit. It isn’t always easy–I’ve had to learn to let go of some things I used to consider priorities in order to make sure I’m my healthiest, happiest, best, and brightest self for my family.

I’ve also had to remind myself of and reaffirm the importance a few basic self care principles–it seems silly sometimes, because these things should be common sense. But we mamas tend to lose ourselves in the service of those tiny humans we created and forget about ourselves until it’s too late. I’ve made a commitment to myself to be better about the following things–you, wonderful mama, should too. :)

You sacrifice a lot for your kiddos, and sometimes you forget to take care of yourself! Remember these 6 things to help you be your healthiest, happiest self. #gethealthymama #pmedia #ad

Make time for your passions

What did you absolutely love to do before you became a mom? Are you still doing it? It’s essential for our emotional well being to make the time for things we enjoy. It’s also good for our kids to see us pursuing our passions–that example teaches them to be well rounded and to live life to the fullest.

My biggest passions fit nicely into the work I do for this little blog of mine–writing, food, fashion, photography, and getting social with cool and influential people. Carving out time to blog every day keeps me feeling in peak emotional condition. Some days I have as little as 10 minutes to do blog stuff–maybe I only get to respond to a few comments or read a few of my favorite blogger’s new posts, but it still keeps my soul happy.

Keep yourself fed!

If you’re like me, an empty tummy makes you all kinds of HANGRY. I am not a nice person when I haven’t eaten. No ma’am. Not only do I get super grouchy, but as a breastfeeding mama, I can’t afford to let myself go unfed. I gotta consume those calories so my little girl gets the best nutrition possible.

I’ve been doing a lot of meal prep on the weekends when my husband is home from work. Things like grilling up chicken to keep in the freezer, steaming a bunch of edamame, cooking a big batch of quinoa, and making a big old salad to keep in the fridge so I have quick and healthy things to eat all week long.

chickenstrips05

Get away from your kids

As much as we love our little nuggets, they sure can take a lot out of us! I have to be sure to schedule time to be away from my kids. It’s good for me to have a break from them, whether I’m spending an hour at the gym, going on a date with my husband, or even making a solo trip to the grocery store (which is like heaven as a mom, am I right?!) My kids enjoy having the chance to spend time with other people as well. At least Joshua does. Felicity is too young to care. But for Joshua to have some solo time with Grandma or Grandpa and his rocking-est uncles and aunt? He loves it.

Ask for help!

I think as women we feel that we should be the helpers, not the ones asking for help. That’s how I am, at least. It is so difficult for me to ask people for help because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. Most people are truly happy to help us out when we ask and are glad to feel needed! Don’t let yourself get to your wit’s end before you call on a friend, a family member, or your spouse for some help. Let someone take something off your plate for you.

Give yourself a boost

If you’ve been up all night with a sick kiddo or a crying baby, you know that feeling where the next day feels like you are moving through molasses. It’s the worst. If you’re breastfeeding, caffeine from an energy drink is a sure-fire way to make your little one super wired. Which is not going to help you at all. Thankfully, healthy mama® has an awesome caffeine-free energy drink to come to your rescue! This lovely little bottle has saved my bacon a few times after not getting enough sleep. It also has 7 grams of protein to help make sure us breastfeeding moms get enough protein to support healthy milk production. I’ve been keeping a Boost It Up! drink in my bag when we go out in case I need a pick me up–which I generally do, especially when we go grocery shopping. Something about grocery shopping with my children makes me tired and cranky….

healthy-mama02

Taking care of yourself while pregnant or nursing can sometimes be difficult since it’s hard to know what is safe to take. healthy mama® makes it easy–they’ve taken the guesswork out of self-care by creating a line of products to address the woes of pregnancy (heartburn and nausea, anyone?) and motherhood (oh my aching back!) that are safe and effective.

You can find Boost it Up! in the vitamin section of your local Walmart along with other awesome healthy mama® products. I snagged a bottle of Shake that Ache! as well–I seem to be a little more prone to plugged ducts while breastfeeding Felicity than I was with Joshua and it’s led to some sore boobies and shaky, achy fever symptoms too. Yikes-a-bee.

healthy-mama03

I wish I had known about healthy mama® products when I was actually pregnant with Felicity–the Tame the Flame heartburn relief would have really come in handy for me. Next time. If there is a next time, anyway. If you ask me right now, I’ll say I’m done having kids. But who knows? Maybe in a year I’ll feel differently. But that’s a post for another day. :)

How do you make sure you’re taking care of yourself as a busy mom? Which healthy mama® product/s would help you out most?

8 Tips for Styling Your Instagram Photos from Helene In Between

Hi Jana readers! My name is Helene and I blog over at the blog Helene in Between (Helene rhymes with between if you wanted to know how to pronounce my name). I’ve been blogging for the past 3 years and have focused on making my blog a place where people can come to learn something new, laugh, and create a community. But of course, it doesn’t stop there. Instagram has become a huge tool for bloggers to share their daily lives.

For the past 6 months I’ve worked hard to create a beautiful instagram aesthetic that people want to be involved in. At first, I thought instagram was instant. Take a picture and post it. But now, I realize it’s so much more. I’ve worked really hard to create a place to share my life, while gaining new followers. I’ve multiplied my followers ten-fold (I’m almost up to 10k upon writing this!)

Here are my tips for styling your instagram photos.

1. Lighting

Make sure you are getting a lot of natural light. THis really helps make great, pretty photos. The best time of the day tends to be about 10 am – 12pm.

2.  Create a theme

Do you notice when you go to some accounts all the images are pleasing, but they all come together to show a beautiful, cohesive theme? Some bloggers pick a color scheme or style their photos a certain way each time. It will keep your followers interested and create a story.

3. Play with colors

Using bright colors or pastels are eye-catching. Sometimes people scroll though instagram quickly, you want to make them stop and look!

4. Organize

Take the items you want to photograph and play around with how they are displayed. I take a picture, look at it, rearrange and then do it again. Some times I might take a dozen (or more) pictures until I find one that works.

5. Be authentic

Just like a blog post, people can tell when a photo is forced. So be yourself and share what’s going on!

6. It’s okay to crop

Your picture doesn’t have to showcase absolutely everything. Leave the viewer guessing.

7. Straighten

Instagram has a great “adjust” feature that allows you to straighten the image and make sure it’s not crooked.

8. Don’t over filter

I edit, I don’t filter. My favorite app for editing photos is Afterlight. If I really want to use a filter, I’ll use VscoCam. You can check out how I edit my instagram photos.

These are my top 8 tips for styling my instagram photos. Right now, I have an instagram challenge for the month of July: #31PhotosInBetween you can totally jump in now! I share more blogging tips over on my blog, Helene in Between. Thanks for having me!

Oh, and as if Helene wasn’t awesome enough for sharing her rockin’ Insta-tips with us, she’s also giving away a $25 Starbucks gift card. You know, so you have something share on Instagram. Because it’s illegal not to share a photo of your coffee–isn’t it? ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Edamame with Sriracha Salt

Breastfeeding has a way of really making a girl huuunngry! My days are a little chaotic with caring for a toddler and a newborn while trying to keep our home orderly. Sometimes, eating falls at the bottom of my to-do list–which is no good, since your body requires even more calories while breastfeeding. I’ve been trying to keep healthy, protein packed snacks on hand. One of my recent favorites has been keeping a big tupperware container of steamed edamame sprinkled with sriracha salt in the fridge.

A quick and easy snack, and the sriracha salt is great on everything!

This is such a simple snack to make–I usually steam the edamame in the microwave, which takes about 10 minutes. As for the sriracha salt, it’s literally just salt blended with sriracha in the food processor/blender.

sriracha-salt01 sriracha-salt02

The sriracha salt is great on way more than just edamame. It’s awesome on popcorn, fish, chicken–pretty much anywhere you would use regular salt. A little mason jar of sriracha salt would also make a great gift for your favorite foodie. :)

Sriracha Salt

makes 2 cups

2 cups coarse kosher salt
3 TBS Sriracha

Add salt and Sriracha to a blender or food processor and pulse to combine. Store in an airtight container.

sriracha-salt04

Do you like sriracha?