Page 1

BROUGHT

Savvy Socialites:

TO

YOU BY #SOAPBO XINFLUEN CE

THE BEST BLOGGERS + INFLUENCERS IN NORTHWEST ARKANSAS #3WSOCIALTAKEOVER

Aug | Sept | Oct 2016


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1


MEET THE TEAM

Leslie Zanoff co-founder

co-founder

managing editor

Kayla Huebner

1800 S. 52ND STREET SUITE 301 ROGERS, AR 72758

Maliah Pinkleton photographer

Carli Ellison

@3wmagazine

contact us

creative director

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social

Kasie Yokley

Day Davis

intern

let’s get

inspire@3wmagazine.com www.3wmagazine.com 3W Lifestyle is published quarterly by 3W Magazine. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited without prior written consent from 3W MagazineŠ 2016. All rights reserved. We at 3W Lifestyle make every effort to ensure the accuracy of event information. However, you should always call ahead and confirm the date and time.


SAVE DATE

Mercy Health Foundation Charity Ball

JOHN Q. HAMMONS CONVENTION CENTER ROGERS, ARKANSAS FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.MERCY.NET/NWA-CHARITY-BALL OR CALL 479.338.2990

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IN THIS

issue... 06 Founder’s Letter 10

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Soapbox Insights + Influence Beth Stephens Lyndi Fultz Shelby Briley

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Social Influencers Anna Cottrell Christina Shoemaker Jonathan Stiers Kelly Stamps Liz Krauft Meghan Duncan Mille Davis Alderman Paige Ray Meredith Sarah Fortune Gill Stephanie Buckley Tara Gibson Talya Tate Boerner

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Managing Managing Managing Managing Your Health Your Your Health Health Your Health Just Got Easier Just Got Easier Easier JustJust GotGot

MyMercy Updated, MyMercy Updated, MyMercy MyMercy IsIsIs Updated, Is Updated, Online and On Your Terms Online and On Your Terms Online and Online On and Your On Terms Your Terms Our new and improved online patient portal delivers simplifi Our new and improved online patient portal delivers simplifi ed Download the Free App Our new and improved Our new online and improved patient portal online delivers patient simplifi portal ed delivers simplified Download the Free App Download the Download Free App the Free App navigation and upgraded features that make managing your navigation and upgraded features that make managing your health and upgraded navigation features and upgraded that make features managing that your makehealth managing your health from your phone from your phone from your phone from yournavigation phone a breeze. a breeze. a breeze. a breeze. or tablet! tablet! or tablet! oror tablet! Update allergies, medications and medical issues directlyissues directly • •Update allergies, medications and medical issues directly • Update allergies, • Update medications allergies, and medications medical issues anddirectly medical on your health record your health record onon your health record on your health record • Complete your medical history forms athome homeforms at home Visit the Apple App • Complete your medical history forms Visit the Apple App • Complete your•medical Complete history your forms medical at at home history Visit the Apple Visit Appthe Apple App • Send confi dential messages to your doctor Store or Google Play for • for Send confi dential messages your doctor to your doctor • Send confi dential • Send messages confidential to to your messages doctor Store Google Play for Store oror Google Store Play orfor Google Play •Share Sharephotos photoswith withyour yourdoctor doctorto toshow showwhat’s what’s going going on on Android devices. • • Share photos with • Share your photos doctor with to show your what’s doctorgoing to show on what’s going on Android devices. Android devices. Android devices. • Access condition/permission letters from your doctor online • Access condition/permission letters from your doctor online • Access condition/permission • Access condition/permission letters from your letters doctor from online your doctor online

Other helpful MyMercy tools enable you to schedule an appointment, Other helpful MyMercy tools enable you schedule an appointment, Other helpful MyMercy Other helpful tools enable MyMercy you tools to to schedule enable an you appointment, to schedule an appointment, manage your medications, refills prescriptions, view your medical manage your medications, refi lls prescriptions, view your medical manage your medications, manage your refi medications, lls prescriptions, refi lls view prescriptions, your medical view your medical records, and see lab and test results. records, and see and test results. records, and see records, lablab and test and results. see lab and test results. Sign up for MyMercy today! Sign for MyMercy today! Sign upup for MyMercy Sign up today! for MyMercy today! Visit www.mercy.net/MyMercyApp Visit www.mercy.net/MyMercyApp Visit www.mercy.net/MyMercyApp Visit www.mercy.net/MyMercyApp Your life is our life’s work. Your is our life’s work. Your lifelife is our life’s Your work. life is our life’s work. MRC_30564 (10/26/15) MRC_30564 (10/26/15) MRC_30564 (10/26/15) MRC_30564 (10/26/15)


letter from the

founders

ocial media isn’t just for sharing back to school photos and family vacations anymore, although those are some of our favorite posts. We asked who you wanted to know more about, and these are the ladies (and gentleman) that received repeated shout-outs and social media love on our Instagram feed. Welcome to the #3Wsocialtakeover issue! We’ve featured the best and brightest bloggers and influencers in our area. Flip through the pages to find the highlight reel of what goes on behind the scenes and how these fabulous people got their start in the world of social media. Each one of them is a savvy socialite in their own right. We partnered with the Kendal King Group’s dedicated Soapbox girls too. These three lovely ladies identify and handpick the influencers who are helping Kendal King’s clients succeed in the marketplace. And we can’t forget to mention our space in social media. Did you know 3W Magazine has two blogs? Our business blog (on 3wmagazine.com) features all the great things our clients and local nonprofits are doing. Our personal blog (thegoldbubble.com) is reserved for anything and everything we love to talk about, personally. To be honest, we have a love-hate relationship with social media. We love seeing all the pictures and our friend’s being vulnerable about not being able to get the kids to pose for the perfect picture … but we’d much rather talk to you in person. Over a cocktail, of course. Here’s to taking over the world, on social media!

Kasie and Leslie

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Here’s a few other

#INSTA-FABULOUS people we recommend following on Instagram... HEALTH & FITNESS @dinneringymclothes @emilyskyefit @wellandgoodnyc

PEP TALKS

@happify @holstee @thinkgrowprosper

BEAUTY @florescentperfume @goop @shopconsciousbeauty

FAITH & INSPIRATION @scarletandgoldshop @shereadstruth @sniequist

FOR FUN @chrissyteigen @themrsqueenbee @mommyneedsacoffee

CELEBRITIES

@kerrently @bethennyfrankel @reesewitherspoon

PAPER & PRODUCTS @thatch.jewelry @thesocialtype @milkandhoneytees

ENTREPRENEURS @leadersinheels @champagnediet @bossbabe.inc


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Standing - Shelby Briley, Liz Krauft, Beth Stephens, Meghan Duncan, Sarah Fortune Gill, Tara Gibson, Christina Shoemaker Sitting - Lyndi Fultz and Talya Tate Boerner 8 Not pictured - Anna Cottrell, Jonathan Stiers, Kelly Stamps, Mille Davis Alderman, Paige Ray Meredith


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Soapbox

Insights+Influence Soapbox founders Beth Stephens, Shelby Briley and Lyndi Fultz

AT SOAPBOX INSIGHTS + INFLUENCE, WE ARE PRETTY DARN PASSIONATE ABOUT BLOGGING AND SOCIAL MEDIA. In fact, it’s how our company came to exist - we all started as bloggers ourselves, and ultimately our social media connections brought us together and led to us channeling our passion and expertise on behalf of brands. Seriously: between us, we owe our jobs, our friendships and both personal and professional relationships to LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and blog-to-real-life connections! That’s a pretty vivid testament to the power of this space. 10


We believe very strongly that bloggers are powerful and effective marketers. They’ve spent time creating their personal brands, honing well-crafted online personas and navigating the new media landscape. The really good ones (like the individuals we source through our longstanding partnership with Stephanie Buckley and The Women Bloggers) are exceedingly careful in selecting brands to champion, because they know the demographics of their readers and have carefully cultivated their audience (not to mention the aesthetics of their little corner of the internet). Bloggers are also beacons: they are typically way out ahead of the trend curve, and they have an intrinsic understanding (see carefully cultivated audience above) of consumer sentiment… they are living and breathing it every single day as they interact with their tribe. They are hyperaware and highly opinionated shoppers, and their feedback is relevant and essential for brands. That’s why we love what we do - engaging bloggers and social media influencers to deliver our unique style of shopper insights, and working to channel these innovative marketers to wield their influence on behalf of brands. And at the end of the day, we’re still bloggers ourselves. We work hard in the wee hours to write the kind of content that will resonate, and we spend countless evenings editing photos and engaging with our followers - who we consider to be much more than that, because they are also our friends and family. Playing in the blogging and social media landscape personally means that we know exactly what we’re looking for when we engage influencers for our campaigns… and we have a pretty unique insider perspective on how to help programs perform for our clients. At Soapbox, we’re fairly passionate about working with “the power middle,” those everyday voices who tend to have real connections with their readers and more engaged, loyal followings. Research and anecdotal evidence make it more and more clear that this is the holy grail for effective marketing by brands - not megabloggers or celebrities with an astronomical fan base - just real, inspiring people with a unique voice or outlook on life. In fact, that’s what makes us so proud to be included here: it’s certainly a natural fit since Soapbox Insights + Influence is a company that works through bloggers to build brands through authentic conversations. But it’s more than that - when we go home at night and fire up our laptop to write about the latest topic that’s caught our attention or set up camp in a coffee shop to check in on social media, it’s definitely more than a day job. We’re fortunate to be bloggers in passion, purpose and profession - and we are thrilled to join our friends and colleagues here as part of the #3wsocialtakeover!

Beth Stephens, Shelby Briley & Lyndi Fultz

Find us on Instagram @bethanystephens1 @hopelesswanderer_sb @nwafoodie

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influencer

Beth Stephens

@bethanystephens1 The Little Magpie

littlemagpie.org | thefoodadventuress.com | magpiemarketing.org What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? Instagram, definitely! My blog is self-hosted on Wordpress, and I recently re-launched it for a cleaner look and feel. In terms of apps, I love Canva and PicMonkey for photo editing and Bitly for branded links. I am also riveted by Steller, a newer platform for creating mini magazine-style stories. Anyone who knows me is already painfully aware that I am in love with Evernote, and I use it for everything from hoarding blog ideas to writing draft posts.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? I’m not so sure about a “big break,” but in the early years of social media (around 2007), I convinced my boss that the chamber of commerce should lead the charge in adopting social media, establishing a blog and helping small businesses take advantage of the new wave of marketing opportunity. The other “big break” for me has been the random telephone call I placed to a group of women in 2010 cajoling them to consider working with me to launch a blogging conference, which came to fruition and has evolved into the Megaphone Conference.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I haven’t ever felt pressure to churn out posts, and I freed myself a long time ago from feeling obligated to post when inspiration was lacking. With that said, most of my inspiration comes from my desire to capture our lives and the little, big moments - the stories of my adventures growing up around the world and the stories of our family, right down to the minuscule, mundane, everyday details that my daughters will hopefully appreciate in the future.

Where do you see the future of your blog going? I hope that I’ll be able to continue improving my photography and sharing more in the form of photo essays. I also am looking at doing more with the marketing and technology side in an audio or podcast format. I’m also far more focused on travel posts having visited so many places growing up and starting my career in tourism, I’m ready to refocus on travel writing. 13


How has Northwest Arkansas helped grow your social media presence? This area is so different from true metropolitan areas because you’re less likely to be another face in the sea of social media. Around here, you’re far more likely to actually meet up with someone you’ve connected with online. This also means that there is a supportive community of people who know you, are connected with you on social and are genuinely interested in your life and the things you share - so they are happy to pass along your posts on their social channels and what goes around comes around.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? I tend to promote Evernote ad nauseum - it is truly my digital brain and the most amazing product I’ve encountered. I run my entire life in Evernote! I’m also pretty passionate about Grove Collaborative, Fitbit trackers, S’well water bottles and The Skimm - these are all products I use every single day, and I can’t help gushing about them. I also tend to promote a number of apps and software tools (such as Canva and HipChat) through my “Shiny Objects” tech series. I love to share my finds, and I know first hand the impact of enthusiastic, authentic word of mouth marketing… so it is a natural part of my blogging.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? Believe it or not, my answer is “not necessarily.” What they should always expect is a fair agreement between equal parties. It is not fair or acceptable for a brand to approach an influencer and ask that they wield their influence for the benefit of the brand for “exposure” or out of the goodness of their hearts. With that said, there are some brands that I am passionate enough about that I would be willing to negotiate an arrangement that is beneficial and truly helpful to their marketing efforts while also beneficial to me in return. This might be in the form of pure compensation, product or other considerations. However, those opinions are limited to me as an individual negotiating an arrangement with a brand. In terms of what we do at Soapbox Insights + Influence, I believe this: when we hire someone for a social media promotion or influence initiative on behalf of a brand, it is a compensated business arrangement and we will pay them for the value of their time and talent.

Where does your food inspiration come from? My food inspiration is a lot like my regular writing inspiration - I love the complexity of the everyday, and I rely on a lot of food memories and the diversity of food that is tied to a particular place or region. I’m also all about simplicity, and I love shopping my own fridge, pantry or meager garden to come up with something interesting and unique.

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Beth with husband Fred and daughters Sophie and Ainsley

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influencer

Lyndi Fultz

@nwafoodie

Fascinated by the textures surrounding food and capturing it here. Blogging about it at nwafoodie.com nwafoodie.com What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? Twitter was my first social media channel and still is my favorite. I love how easy it is to connect with other food bloggers and food enthusiasts from all over the world. Pinterest is my Google and Instagram inspires me beyond words. I am one of the last few using Google’s blogger platform although any day now I plan to switch it all over to WordPress.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? This article in 3W, of course! For me, the “big break” wasn’t necessarily getting published in magazines like edibleOzarkansas or the TV segments on KFSM Channel 5 Morning News. For me it was that fateful day in 2009 when I sat in the Minds of Mom influencer conference and thought, “What world is this? I want to be a part of it.” I immediately created the @nwafoodie twitter account and started the blog. Nwafoodie has morphed over the years to be what it is today. It has increasingly taught me how to eat well over the years. That has been the biggest break of all!

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger and using social media outlets? Consistency is my biggest downfall. Publishing a blog and keeping it up through all the social media channels available is no different than maintaining a relationship. When I keep in touch with my siblings through quick texts, Facebook messenger chats, and phone calls – we draw closer. When I do the same for my blog (okay, minus the phone calls), I see a massive improvement in the depth of connections. Then life kicks in, and I go dark for a while. It honestly is a struggle for me.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? It fills me with joy when I hit the “publish” button. Nwafoodie has filled a creative void for me because of food styling, photography, recipe creation, storytelling, and honing in on my conversational writing style. I also get a kick if something I write in my post makes my husband laugh. Which is basically every post. Score!

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Where do you see the future of your blog going? A year ago I was offered a book deal by a publisher and reluctantly had to turn it down due to other priorities. Even though we live in a digital world, I can see that physical cookbooks with a story to them are here to stay… and I would like the chance to jump back on that wagon. In the meanwhile, I have a plan to dial up the usability of my blog and become an even more helpful resource.

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? That eating well doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

How has Northwest Arkansas helped grow your social media presence? Northwest Arkansas is in my blog name so many readers have found nwafoodie through that obvious connection. On a personal note, I cannot say enough good about the local blogging community, Arkansas Women Bloggers, and how we all support each other via our social media channels.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? Even though a large portion of my readership is not actually from Arkansas, I LOVE to support local Northwest Arkansas and Arkansas goods and services because I think it is awesome when my readers explore around town and try new things. Sometimes exploration turns into a larger backyard called the internet. I am proud to partner with Mountain Valley Spring Water in Hot Springs, Riceland Foods in Stuttgart, TasteArkansas in Little Rock, and DeNigris Italian vinegars of Modena, Italy.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? If a brand or company approaches a blogger they believe is a good fit for spreading their brand message - absolutely! Often I will promote ingredients, products or restaurants that I adore… all on my own because I desire to share great suggestions with my readers. That is a relationship between my readers and me. If I work with a brand to spread their message via a compensated post, I have to be true to myself, my readers, and compliment the brand. This takes time and careful consideration so that I can be as authentic as possible.

Favorite recipes?

Any recipe that has simple ingredients that when combined together become a symphony of flavors. One of my favorite recipes is a magical beet salad I experienced in NYC at ABCKitchen. After slowly savoring the dish, I figured it out and recreated it on my blog. Go check it out, it’s called ABCKitchens magical beet and yogurt salad.

Favorite restaurant? I can’t choose, please don’t make me. I love a cozy dark spot and mourned the day the original Mary Maestri’s closed. I am loving Senor Hogg’s food truck in Bentonville these days. The magic the Brownings can do with just the simplest of ingredients blows my mind.

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Lyndi’s niece Jessie

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influencer

Shelby Briley @hopelesswanderer_sb

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” | travel | blogging | AR | oakandearth.wordpress.com/blog | shelbybriley.wordpress.com What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? My favorite social media platform is Instagram, mostly because I have been interested in photography ever since I was in middle school. I dog-sat for a neighbor and used the money to buy my first point and shoot - it was an Olympus and I LOVED that little camera. I’ve since upgraded to a Nikon DSLR, but I mostly use my iPhone for Instagram. I love the community that can be found on this app. I know that word is thrown around a lot, but I’ve met a lot of people and been given a lot of opportunities because of the community I’ve built there. As far as apps go, in creating content for my blog and social media, I use VSCOcam, Snapseed, Priime, Afterlight, Wordpress, and Buffer.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as bloggers and/or using social media outlets? I think a challenge that many have struggled with, including us, has been actually getting people to see your posts. There is so much content out there today that even if your work is amazing, if you don’t know how to get eyeballs on it, it can sometimes seem like you’re just sending it out into the void and hoping someone sees it. Cross-sharing/promoting across all of your social platforms definitely helps though. As well as partnering with others to do giveaways, writing/have someone write a guest post, or simply giving a shout-out are also good tactics.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I started my first blog, Hopeless Wanderer while studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was meant to catalog my travels for all those back home who wanted to keep up with my adventures. However, I quickly realized I really enjoyed writing, and it gave me the opportunity to share my photography with people who wouldn’t see it on Facebook. I posted there throughout that semester, and again when I au-paired in Italy in 2014. In early 2015, my three best friends from high school and I decided we would finally take the plunge and start a blog together, and thus, Oak and Earth was born. We all really liked the idea of co-writing the blog together because we all brought unique perspectives to it. I think we constantly inspire each other and a lot of great ideas have been born out of our group brainstorming sessions. This approach has been really fun and conducive to creativity and big ideas. 21


Where do you see the future of your blog going? As for Oak and Earth, I see so many exciting things in store. It is a dream of ours to host workshops around blogging, photography, and other creative pursuits, and eventually to build a women’s ministry that gives back to our community and encourages women everywhere. And of course, we will never stop writing blog posts that seek to entertain, encourage, and educate. As far as my personal blog, Hopeless Wanderer, goes, I am in the process of transitioning it into more of a lifestyle blog with particular emphasis in travel and sustainable holistic living. So keep an eye out for some fun changes.

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? Our main message and the reason behind everything we’re doing with Oak and Earth is to encourage women in school, business, creativity, relationships and life. Not that men don’t need encouragement, but we really have a passion for this. We live in a very broken world, and if through our blog we can encourage or inspire one woman to do more in her life, then we will have achieved our mission.

How has Northwest Arkansas help grow your social media presence? We are very passionate about Northwest Arkansas! We genuinely love being apart of this community, and all of us have the same desire to give back to it that I spoke about earlier. I have been given the opportunity to work with some local brands and companies, and of course, I am now in my role at Soapbox Insights + Influence, all because of social media! Additionally, the Arkansas Women Bloggers have been great to our blog, and really helped us grow our brand.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? I am a brand ambassador for Nativ, and have worked with Creative Tribe Conference, Spot, Fayettechill, and Crystal Bridges. I am also the co-curator of @Igersarkansas - an Instagram community that highlights Arkansas’ beauty and the wonderful people who live here (I was also recently featured on Instagram by the Book of the Month club, which I was really excited about. #nerdlife).

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? That is a tricky question. I think you should expect to get something in return, definitely. It is kind of a balancing act, but having been on both sides of the fence now, I believe they should be compensated. If it is just an exchange of products for promotion, the content the brand receives is, by default, going to be less brilliant than if that influencer had been paid. Of course there are caveats; some influencers will knock it out of the park regardless, and some will do so because they feel like if they just nail this post, surely someone, someday will pay them for all their hard work because it is hard work. Brands need to realize this.

How do you use social media to promote your page? Every blog post I write, or that my co-authors write, I promote on all my social channels. I pay attention to what times are best for posting on different channels and utilize hashtags. 22


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influencer

Anna Cottrell @annaecottrell

Creative Director @LolaBoutique +Style Blogger at Eldridgeedit.com eldridgeedit.com What’s your favorite social media platform? Instagram is my favorite platform, for sure.

What challenges have you faced / overcome as a blogger? Learning quickly that you can’t be all things to all people. Not everyone will grasp what you’re doing, but just keep your chin up. When you decide to publicize your life, you just have to roll with the punches; the good, as well as the not-so-good sometimes!

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? Travel and art museums energize me more than anything because it always gets the wheels turning.

How has Northwest Arkansas helped grow your social media presence? The Northwest Arkansas community has been unbelievably supportive of my blog over the years; whether collaborating with local hair and makeup artists, having clothing loaned on approval from small businesses for photo shoots, shops sharing blog articles on social media, and even just the casual “hey, saw your latest post — keep it up!” etc. Having such a heartfelt backing from the region has been incredible — definitely not taken for granted.

Who is your biggest style inspiration? Lately, Maja Wyh has been my style muse.

What is your favorite local store or brand? Lola [of course!], Cheap Thrills, Grey Dog and Mae’s probably fill up 90% of my wardrobe.

How would you describe your style? Eclectic. It’s always a blend of new and old.

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influencer

Christina Shoemaker @thewholecook

Jesus. Wife. Mom. Writer. Food Maker. Should be cleaning my car. thewholecook.com What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? Instagram is far and away my favorite social media platform. I feel like it’s personal because you share photos that reflect your life. You’re relying on those images to convey who you are and what you love. Instagram is where I’ve formed the most connections with other moms (some who are bloggers and some who aren’t). Those connections then spill over into other platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? My big break was easily the first time I was published in Huffington Post. I was so excited when Arianna Huffington emailed me back. At that time I already had a solid social media and blog following but being a Huff Post contributor gave me some credibility and confidence. I then felt comfortable reaching out to other publications and I’ve had success on Red Tricycle and A Plus too.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I primarily write about motherhood, faith and healthy eating. My children inspire me everyday. They make me laugh even when I feel too exhausted to function (which is fairly often). I feel strongly compelled to be a positive voice for moms, and I hope my writing reflects that.

How has Northwest Arkansas helped grow your social media presence? Northwest Arkansas is such an incredible place to live. We have amazing kind-hearted people, excellent food, and a thriving business community. All of these inspire me in my writing. I have had the pleasure of working at two really great agencies in NWA. It was during my time at Rockfish that I became familiar with the blogging industry as I was privileged to manage some blogger/brand relationships. It was that experience that first got me thinking about blogging as a profession.

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Where do you see the future of your blog going? I’d love for my blog to ultimately provide a solid income by the time my children are in school. That’s definitely the endgame.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? Writing, researching, proofing, creating images, and promoting posts requires hours of hard work. You can’t just write something and hope it reaches a broader audience. It likely won’t. You have to invest time to make it happen. Bloggers should definitely be compensated for their work in some fashion. When you’re a new blogger and working on growing your traffic, compensation can come in the form of product. As your blog traffic and social media following grow then your blogger compensation should increase to reflect that.

What is your best/favorite blogging moment? A few months ago I drove to visit my parents with my kids. It’s an eight-hour drive, so I was completely shut off from the rest of the world during that time. When we finally arrived I checked my Facebook and discovered that Ashton Kutcher had personally shared one of my blog posts that morning. I was blown away! I had gone hours without even knowing! That was definitely a thrill I’ll never forget.

on lifestyle & parenthood... What made you start blogging? I have always loved to write, but in adulthood I neglected that passion in pursuit of my career. There are only so many hours in a day! When I became a stay-at-home mom I started writing again. I really needed that outlet for myself and I’ve been able to leverage my past career experience to grow my following. It’s been really fulfilling and fun. I get so excited when someone shares my work! I hope that feeling never goes away.

What type of story do you like to write about most? I love to write about the little things in motherhood that we all experience and make it funny. One of my favorite posts is called Dear Teenage Me, I’m Sorry for Embarrassing You. I originally wrote it for Huffington Post and someone from Red Tricycle reached out to me asking to publish it as well. It’s a lighthearted look at all the things we do as moms that would mortify our teenage selves. I received so many fun responses from other mothers about it. I was amazed at the number of women who confessed to throwing a towel over the pee spot (when a child wets the bed) and sleeping on top of it. What a relief to know I’m not alone!

on food... Favorite recipe: My most popular recipe is my grandmother’s homemade macaroni & cheese. It has over 5,000 shares to date! I believe it’s such a big hit because it’s so simple. Plus I can personally vouch for how amazing it tastes. 28


Christina with husband David

Christina with daughter Madeline and son Wyatt

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influencer

Jonathan Stiers

@stiersaesthetic

Designer, photographer, blogger, curator. stiersaesthetic.com What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? Instagram is my favorite for sharing and looking at beautiful food photography. I use Squarespace to create and manage my blog.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? I remodeled my kitchen in 2012 and posted photos. As a result, both Pottery Barn and Apartment Therapy featured it, which was great exposure. I continue to work with Pottery Barn on collaborative posts.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger and using social media outlets? Costs. Be it ingredients for a recipe (needed to test, then again to photograph), photography equipment, props, web hosting, etc, you can easily spend more money than you’re comfortable with. Once I had the basics covered, such as photography equipment and some basic props, I was able to be more thoughtful and budget-minded when it came to my posts. Planning ahead and doing collaborative work help to offset a lot of costs. Getting noticed on social media is difficult with outlets such as Facebook and Instagram, which are continually changing their algorithms. You obviously want your followers to see all of your posts that you’re putting your blood, sweat and tears in to. I was able to gauge what times of day drove more traffic. In addition to tagging people and/or companies, properly using hashtags is also key, especially on Instagram.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? For me personally, I love food photography and sharing the recipes I love with others. Also, I enjoy having total creative control over the content I publish.

Where do you see the future of your blog going? I would love to continue to build upon existing brand partnerships in addition to building new ones. I’d eventually love to have my own product line of home decor. 31


What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? First and foremost when it comes to food, I want to show how beautiful and appetizing something is. As you build your own brand, focusing on consistency and finding your own style is key. Mostly importantly, be authentic.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma are two that I’ve collaborated with. I’ll also partner with smaller companies to use their product in one of my posts.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? Not necessarily, especially in the beginning if you’re still trying to build an audience and gain exposure. Often times “compensation” can be in the form of broader exposure, so I manage opportunities on a case-by-case basis.

on food... Favorite recipe:

My breakfast crepes and the chocolate donuts. I have a sweet tooth.

Favorite restaurant: Table Mesa

Where does your food inspiration come from? I spend a lot of time on Pinterest searching for recipes, but I also read the staples; Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, and Saveur.

How do you use social media to promote your page? I publish every recipe on Instagram and Foodgawker, followed by Facebook. I choose an image that works best for a particular platform (with Foodgawker all images must be square), then I include a link in my profile or post.

What is your best/favorite blogging moment? I’m not a trained chef or baker. I just enjoy food, making food and taking photos of it. So when I published my Cranberry Swirl bread, I got the biggest kick out of The Food Network calling to ask if I’d want to appear on their Holiday Baking Challenge show. While flattered, I respectively declined.

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influencer

Kelly Stamps @mrskellystamps

Jesus. Family. Friends. The Beach. Tacos. Sonic. The Hogs. TV. In that order kellyskornerblog.com What’s your favorite social media platform? My favorite is Instagram. I love to share pictures and the stories behind them. I just blog on my computer without apps - the old school way.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? I have blogged for over 10 years. My oldest daughter was born 7.5 years ago and had a difficult birth and first month. Many people read my blog to pray for her and then stuck around.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger using social media outlets? I haven’t had a lot of challenges. I think my biggest challenge has been developing a thick skin and understanding people will not always like me or agree with me and that’s okay.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I blog about my family and life. I love to read every day moms - not necessarily “big” bloggers. But someone who has obviously had a huge success who I admire is the Pioneer Woman.

Where do you see the future of your blog going? I have no idea. I wonder every year if this will be my last year blogging. I love to document our lives and having a platform to share my faith. It has changed over the years and as my kids grow - I know I will need to respect their privacy in what I share so it will continue to evolve.

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? I mainly want to be a source of encouragement. Whether to be just a real mom with real struggles that other moms can relate to or to entwine my faith to give others hope.

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How has NWA helped grow your social media presence? I have had the opportunity to write for Celebrate Magazine and blog for KNWA and be featured in the area. I love when small businesses and bloggers in Northwest Arkansas work together to promote one another rather than see each other as competition.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? I mostly promote people I personally know because I want to help them, or moms who have small businesses or companies that I actually buy from. I also have a lot of author friends and I love being able to promote their books.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? I think so. I don’t expect anything when I am helping friends, but larger companies should expect to pay. A blogger’s space is something they work hard to build and companies should be willing to compensate for use of the bloggers influence. I’m selective on what I will advertise because I want to preserve my social media and blog to mostly be about my family and life - not a constant advertisement.

What is your favorite memory with your kids? Every moment. I don’t know if I could pick just one. Every day is special - from the little things to the big.

What made you start blogging? I just wanted to document our life and help our family keep up with us. I started as a newlywed before we had children.

How do you use social media to promote your page? Social media is a great tool. I mainly use Instagram and Facebook to point people back to my blog.

What type of story do you like to write about most? Just every day life. I hope to be relatable to the other moms.

What do you wish to accomplish with your blog? My biggest desire is to share my faith with others because that’s my passion, but also to record memories. My hope is even when my kids are grown - they can read back on their lives and enjoy all the memories I have written about for them. I also hope it encourages them when they become mothers.

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Kelly with husband Scott, daughters Harper and Hollis, and son Will Holden 37


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Help her contribute to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation!

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uptowneyesnwa.com 479.966.4232


influencer

Liz Krauft

@krauftcookies

Mama. Wifey. Cookier. Baking with love in Fayetteville , Arkansas; USA since 2014 facebook.com/krauftcookies What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? Instagram is my favorite because it’s simple and quick to use and reaches so many people. It’s pretty cool to see ‘likes’ from people all over the world. I like to use ‘A Beautiful Mess’ app to add words to graphics if I need to post a Flash Sale. I tend to stay up late baking cookies, so I’m also a fan of ‘Perfect 365’ app to get rid of dark circles. Or maybe I could use icing as concealer?

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? About a year and a half ago, I was asked to set up shop at a craft fair called Vintage Market Days. I was so excited! I passed out tons of my business cards with my Instagram username and from there my followers really multiplied. But I’m still waiting on my big break! I just know that Ree Drummond is going to give me a shout out one of these days! #loveher

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger and using social media outlets? Trying to outsmart Facebook is my biggest challenge. They’ve really made it tough to get exposure for my Krauft Cookies page, which is how people reach me to place orders. I shake my fist at the screen every time I hit “boost post.” Turns out they are way smarter than me.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I needed a creative outlet. Life was getting too mundane. I kept seeing all these amazing cookies on Pinterest, and I wanted to give them a try. After a while, I started posting cookie photos to see what other people thought. I wanted to see if I could find success doing something out of my comfort zone. A few years ago I never would have guessed that I’d be obsessed with decorated sugar cookies. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next few years!

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Where do you see the future of your blog going? I want to give back to my community. I think we each should serve where and how we can. This fall during the first weekend of October, I’m holding a bake-sale to benefit my favorite charity called Cookies For Kids’ Cancer. Going forward, I would like my Instagram and Facebook pages to be used as a way to gain community participation to benefit their worthy cause with what I hope will grow into a large, annual community event. I’m really excited about it! It feels good to help and I hope others will join me!

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? I would like other busy moms to see that there is still room for art in your life. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, and miss opportunities for creativity and fun.

How has Northwest Arkansas helped grow your social media presence? Being a Fayetteville native has helped grow my social media presence through oldfashioned networking. I’ve had a ton of support and encouragement from my family and friends, and that has been the biggest blessing. Plus, I think everyone just likes an excuse to eat a cookie!

Should bloggers always expect compensation for social media promotions? I think so, but it could be something other than monitory compensation. Trade, collaborations, and/or donations to charity all hold value to me.

What do you wish to accomplish with your blog? I hope my blog will leave a legacy for my boys to see that I did something worthwhile something that benefitted my heart, our family, and our community all at the same time. I want them to see that they can find success doing something fun!

Favorite recipe: My favorite recipe is for my Sour Cream Sugar Cookies. They are my husband’s favorite! They last about 10 minutes because they are so soft and enticing. I post the recipe every now and then on my Krauft Cookies Facebook page.

Where does your food inspiration come from? I get inspired by everyday objects, colors, textures, and of course Pinterest! I like contrast, so I try to find ways to make cookies more interesting by playing with texture and color. For example, a rough texture with a gentle color. Glitter never hurts, either.

What is your best/favorite blogging moment? It has to be when my Fourth of July cookie set got the most likes I’ve ever had! Independence Day is my favorite holiday, so it really made my day!

What are some tips for people who are just starting to get healthy? Don’t eat my cookies!

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influencer

Meghan Duncan

@_megafitness

AR. Wife. Mother. Flexible Dieter. ISSA Certified fitness nutritionist; 2013 IFPA pro Bikini Competitor; BEAST performance; next show Sept. 24th What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? Instagram and I’m currently working on getting my YouTube channel up and running.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? I’m still waiting for that, but I’m loving the process to work everyday and improve.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger and using social media outlets? It is very time consuming, and it is also difficult to reach an audience that will stick around and continue to follow and support.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? Being able to motivate and inspire myself and others. I also enjoy documenting my journey, so that I can look back on it and remember everything that I’ve been through.

Where do you see the future of your blog going? To collaborate with others and create a brand that people recognize as my own.

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? I want people to see that anything is possible and that transformations don’t happen over night. It’s a process that requires balance and a belief in you. My main goal is to encourage and inspire others.

How has Northwest Arkansas helped grow your social media presence? Local support.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? I’m a brand ambassador for WellnessMat-FitnessMats, and I promote my supplements. 43


on fitness: What are some tips for people who are just starting to get healthy? Start little by little, don’t try to do everything all at once. You’ll get overwhelmed and have a hard time sticking with it. Also, once you find a good balance with your workouts and nutrition, stay consistent!

What is your favorite workout? Side lateral raises for shoulders and walking lunges for legs.

Who is your fitness inspiration? Tawna Eubanks/McCoy- IFBB Professional Bikini Competitor

Why do you blog about fitness? To document my fitness journey in hopes to help and inspire others.

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Meghan with daughter Sloan

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influencer

Mille Davis Alderman

@milledavis

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” - Oscar Wilde milledavis.com How did you come up with the name of your blog, M.Davis? Growing up I hated my middle name Davis because it was a “boy” middle name, and I didn’t understand why my parents would do that to me. However, as I got older I learned to appreciate the family name and learned more about my family history from Southern Arkansas. Now I love the name Davis, and can’t wait to pass it on to my own children someday!

What do you wish to accomplish with your blog? M.Davis is a lifestyle blog focused on everyday inspiration. My goal is to inspire people with ways to live a better life, through recipes, party planning tips, travel ideas and more. Most importantly, I want to inspire my readers by being open and vulnerable about my personal challenges. I’ve been able to connect with so many people who have gone through similar struggles as me and provide them with inspiration. If I can help one person live a better life, then it’s all worth it.

What is your best/favorite blogging moment? Last summer, I made an Arkansas Summer Bucket List. I’ve lived in Arkansas almost my entire life, but there are so many “touristy” things I haven’t done. I got such an overwhelming response from Arkansans with their favorite things to do in the Natural State, and it has been fun crossing those off my list and sharing my experiences with my readers.

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? I love to travel and write about my travels on my blog and social media. I also want to inspire people to enjoy where they live. You don’t have to travel the world to have fun, eat well and go on an adventure. There’s no place like home!

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What type of story do you like to write about most? I love to write my book and TV show reviews. I could talk about entertainment every day of the week, so this is a great way to share my passion. Everyone is always busy, so I think it’s important to have something that can help you escape from your craziness just for a little bit. Like a book that keeps you up all night or a TV show that makes you laugh untill you cry, and I love to share my ideas!

What made you start blogging? I started blogging in college as a creative outlet. I’ve been passionate about writing since I was a little girl, and this was a way for me to write whenever I wanted about whatever I wanted. I really started blogging purely for me.

How has Northwest Arkansas help grow your social media presence? I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and have loved more than anything watching my little hometown grow the last few years. I blog about my favorite local restaurants, breweries, events, etc. and encourage everyone to eat and drink local! I’m friends with many of the local shop and restaurant owners so I often post on social media, tagging them and using local hashtags.

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Mille with husband Kyle


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(or two, or ...) join us for pre-concert celebrations, patio dining, football season, etc.

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influencer

Paige Ray Meredith

@_paigemeredith_

My podcast asks, ‘Can motherhood & creativity coexist?’ My life answer is evidence that the answer is yes. paigemeredith.com/blog What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? My favorite is Instagram because it’s a mix of pretty inspiration and a community of likeminded women. VSCO is my favorite photo editing app. It’s a super easy way to make my iPhone photos a bit more legit.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? I believe that “breaks” in any field are due to a lot of hard work. Although I’ve been blogging for four years, it was when I started producing my podcast, Hear Motherhood, that I was able to connect with other women who were wondering if it was possible for motherhood and creativity to coexist.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger and using social media outlets? The thing I appreciate most about blogging is that there is always a new challenge like becoming a better photographer, interviewer, stylist, audio editor or web designer. There is always something new to learn, which is what keeps me hooked.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I am fortunate enough to get emails, notes, and messages that say, “Yes! What you shared matters. I can totally relate to this.” Knowing that other people benefit from my work inspires me to keep going.

Where do you see the future of your blog going? After spending the majority of 2015 focusing on how other moms pursued their creativity and art, I’ve spent 2016 pursuing my own via painting bright and bold watercolors. My goal is to continue documenting this process on the blog while sharing the ups and downs of putting my art into the world. 51


What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? I want to continue telling women that combining creativity and motherhood is not just possible but fun and incredibly fulfilling.

How has Northwest Arkansas help grow your social media presence? The Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group has helped me. Iis an incredibly great group of men and women who meet every other month to talk about how we can use our collective voices to make a positive impact on the community around us. Food insecurity, domestic abuse, and mental health are some of the topics we’ve joined together about in the past.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? I love to share my local favorites with my nationwide audience like Shindig Paperie, The Little Craft Show, Crystal Bridges, and Gingiber. I adore it when someone says, “Who knew Arkansas was so cool?!?”

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? In a society that is constantly attached to their devices, I think bloggers and social media influencers have an important place in the current media landscape.

What is your favorite memory with your kids? I cherish any moment that makes my son Sam light up. Whether it’s dancing to Queen when we first get in the car, exploring the splash park in downtown Bentonville, or making the animal sounds when we read a book before he goes to bed.

What made you start blogging? I started blogging because I needed a creative outlet when I was a full time grad student.

How do you use social media to promote your page? Asking, “What do you think?” or “How do you do this?” allows a way for conversation to start and social media is nothing if not a modern day conversation.

What type of story do you like to write about most? While I enjoy “Note to Self” posts because they give me a space to be vulnerable and my “Business of Art” posts because they are a chance to share the knowledge I’ve gained, my favorite posts are “The Story Behind the Art”. This is where I tell the story of the pieces I have created. I name the majority of my work after strong women in my life, and these posts often pull from my childhood memories of growing up in Hope, Arkansas.

What do you wish to accomplish with your blog? I want to become a full time artist, and I want my blog to be the place where people go to see the behind the scenes of me, my family, and my art. I believe the opportunity to tell a story allows people to connect with an artist in a way that’s not possible otherwise. 52


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influencer

Sarah Fortune Gill @sarahfortune

Mom to Iris. Wife to @jtoddgill. Lover of travel, fun, and being cozy. sarahfortune.com What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? Instagram is my number one love, but lately I’ve really been into Snapchat too. As for my blog, lucky for me, one of my husband’s many talents is web design so he built my blog through WordPress. I use the VSCO app for nearly all of my photo editing.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? I’ve been blogging for over 15 years, but I didn’t really start to gain a lot of followers until I had my daughter, Iris. We had our own mini-following for a while, but last year everything really exploded when her CVS-themed birthday party went viral. We were trending on Buzzfeed, talked about on The Today Show, and even had a shout-out from Britney Spears.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger and using social media outlets? It’s more time consuming than a lot of people realize. Blogging has evolved into a pretty substantial hobby, but I also have a full-time job. Balancing my work, home and blogging life can be difficult, but I do what I can when I can while trying to keep it all as authentic as possible along the way.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I love having a digital diary of my life to look back on. The amount of photos I take is pretty crazy (I currently have over 10,000 on my iPhone right now), so having a designated place like my blog or Instagram is my version of a baby book or photo album. The fact that other people like it too, is just icing on the cake!

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? I try to be fun, yet honest in what I show because I feel like that’s what’s most relatable. I’ve learned that some of our messy moments are often the ones that are most liked. 55


Where do you see the future of your blog going? Right now a big focus is on my four-year-old, but as she gets older I know she might not always want to be a part of it. I’m starting to incorporate new content that reflects more of a lifestyle blog, as opposed to just a mommy blog. Being a mom is only one part of who I am, so I’m trying to do better about reflecting that in my online space. I hope to focus more on travel and things that I love here in Northwest Arkansas.

How has Northwest Arkansas help grow your social media presence? Not only has social media helped make some great connections in Northwest Arkansas, but I’ve gained some really wonderful friends out of it. I’ve also been able to work with campaigns that I normally might not get to be a part of. I often work with global social influencer agencies, but some of my most favorite campaigns have been through agencies right here in Northwest Arkansas. Our area is very unique in that way, so I feel fortunate to have those opportunities.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? It started with children’s clothing companies reaching out and wanting to give Iris outfits in exchange for me tagging their brand in photos on Instagram. In the last couple of years, I’ve worked with an assortment of big brands, such as Coca-Cola, Campbell’s, Crest, etc. I also occasionally work with convention and visitors’ bureaus or hotels for my travel posts. One of my favorite kinds of posts, though, is the local ones. My family and I have a lot of love for Fayetteville, so sharing bits and pieces about our area is a lot of fun, especially when I hear from people who have never even heard of it before.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? Every influencer is different, so I really think it varies depending on quite a few factors. For example, what the brand is requesting, how many followers or what kind of engagement the blogger has, if there is any trade given, etc. While I have base rates, I’m always excited to talk about creative ways to make a collaboration work for both parties.

What is your favorite memory with your daughter? It’s absolutely impossible to pick just one, but our vacations at the beach are certainly up there. A few years ago we started going to 30A in Florida every summer, and I hope it’s a tradition that continues.

What type of story do you like to write about most?

I love writing about the adventures we go on as a family, but I also like to take the time to post about what it’s like to be a working mom and just everyday moments. I often let my photos do the talking, and my four-year-old, who has been known to say some pretty silly stuff.

What do you wish to accomplish with your blog? About two years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to blog at least once a week. I’ve been pretty good about sticking to that, and it’s definitely my goal to continue. With each year I’ve met more amazing people and gained some pretty great experiences that I normally wouldn’t have. I hope that continues for years to come! 56


Sarah with husband Todd and daughter Iris 57 photo courtesy of Benfield Photography


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influencer

Stephanie Buckley

@theparkwife

Live on a state park with my hunky ranger, 3 warrior boys, a lot of laundry. Own @thewomenbloggers, social media influencer talent agency. Jesus gal. theparkwife.com What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? I love Instagram because life can get so chaotic and there are times where I just want to see a photo of what is happening in my friends lives and with brands I love.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? I started The Park Wife blog back in 2006, yes, that was 10 years ago, I’m considered an old-timer in the blog world. The Park Wife blog was always been meant to be just a love letter to my children. When I started, blogging was a foreign concept to many. I spent the first five years explaining what a blog was while most people’s eyes glazed over and they gave me a “bless your heart.” In 2009, after waiting in line for four hours for my blog friend Ree Drummond to sign her first cookbook (this was before Food Network), I figured I was not the only blogger in Arkansas. When, I put up the Arkansas Women Bloggers site. Seven years later, we have over 780 registered bloggers, held five successful social media conferences and are providing content for some amazing companies that understand the value of social influencers. We have created a community of women who gather, grow and connect online and in the real world. Due to its success, I spread the love into seven other states and now have The Women Bloggers, a talent agency for influencer/bloggers. My success in the blogging world did not come from my personal blog, but from gathering women bloggers in our state, creating a network of talented women and helping them to utilize their skills.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger and using social media outlets? Some challenges have been the learning curve and the saturated market. Over the past 10 years, technology has moved pretty fast. Every week there is a new platform, a new tool, and another way you should be doing certain things to be successful. Bloggers should pick one or two networks where they can shine. It’s better to do two great projects than six halfway. 59


What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I am blessed to have some amazing fellow old timers that are still at it after all these years. We have bobbed and weaved, learned and refocused, and through it all we have built a great foundation for bloggers today. I would not be where I am today without the support of BooMama, The Pioneer Woman, Debbie Arnold, Julie Kohl, Fawn Reckhemmer and so many in the Arkansas Women Blogger community. Also, the brands and companies that trust me with their images, blogs and friendships.

Where do you see the future of your blog going? I think there will always be a place for blogging, but it will look a bit different. I see audio and podcasts where bloggers need to focus some time and effort. Finding time to read your favorite blogs is hard, so bloggers should also offer an audio recording of the post for followers. Microblogging on Instagram and video are growing rapidly also. Influencers are looking for smaller communities with authentic connections, which is why I created the Arkansas Women Bloggers conference in 2010. For five years, we built a fierce and dedicated following of influencers who came to the conference to gather tips, gain inspiration, and grow their blogs and businesses. This year, we have re-branded to Megaphone Summit to be held in Fayetteville, September 9-11 at The Chancellor Hotel. megaphonesummit.com

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? To be an encourager, a place that women can come to gather, grow and connect. No matter where they are in life, no matter what they are going through. I just want to be a non-judgmental place where you can ask questions, get help, and offer a few words of encouragement along the way.

How has Northwest Arkansas help grow your social media presence?
 None of what I do or what has been built would be possible without women bloggers who understand the importance of community, and who give themselves to help their fellow blogger.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote. 
 As a Talent Agency for bloggers and social influencers, I am contracted with some amazing brands and people. Currently, I am contracted for all content for First Security Bank’s OnlyinArk.com, Riceland Foods, Rhea Lana’s Children’s Consignment Inc, Central Arkansas McDonald’s Cooperative, Hot Springs CVB, Branson CVB, Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Taste Arkansas, De Nigris Vinegar of Italy and am the blogger/influencer implementation partner for Soapbox Insights + Influence, a division of Kendal King Group.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? In my position as a person who hires bloggers regularly, the most asked question I get is “how do I monetize my blog”? The answer always is, it take a lot of work, and it’s not easy. The most important thing a new blogger can do is to create amazing content (that means work on your writing) and form relationships with other bloggers. Your readers don’t want you to sell out. If you are doing a lot of sponsored content for brands, make sure you are weaving a great story. 60


Stephanie with husband Joe and sons Colt, Finn, and Hays

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influencer

Tara Gibson @themrsgibby

Tara Gibson/Believer/Wife & Mom/ Life & Travel & Fashion Blogger jimmychoosandtennisshoesblog.com LIKEtoKNOW.it/themrsgibby What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I love the one-on-one interaction I have with my followers on this platform. It is a great way to interact, and show snapshots into the behind the scenes of blogging as well as my life as a mom.

What caused your “big break” in the blogging/social media world? When I first started blogging I never thought anyone besides my family and friends would read it. Over time my readership has grown, major publications like People magazine recognized my content, and I hit major goals I set for myself. Taking time to celebrate even the smallest successes is important, but at the same time know there is always room for improvement!

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger and using social media outlets? Social media outlets are ever changing. Whether it be a new platform like Snapchat, or a new algorithm being introduced to an existing platform, as a social influencer you have to adapt quickly to change. I am a firm believer that you need to invest the most time into your blog. We own our blogs and have control over what happens with them.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? My biggest inspiration for my blog is when I travel. The architecture, people and overall atmosphere always inspire new ideas for content and outfits. I am a very visual person, and when I travel I am constantly looking for new color combinations and taking note of the different street style I see.

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? As a working mother I understand that life can get chaotic and stressful at times. The last thing you want to spend time worrying about is what you are wearing. I want to make the process of putting and outfit together easy for my readers so that they can spend more time focusing on important moments in life. 63


Where do you see the future of your blog going? As my life continues to evolve, so will my blog. My blog will always have the fashion aspect, but I hope to include more content towards working women and mothers.

How has Northwest Arkansas help grow your social media presence? The support I have from the local boutiques has been wonderful. They definitely gave me the confidence to take my blog into the fashion route and continue to support me to this day.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote. I mainly feature fashion related items with the occasional home or lifestyle brand. I want my audience to trust my opinion and the companies and products I put on my blog are a reflection of my brand. I always do my research and make sure it is a true, organic fit.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? Bloggers invest a lot of time and passion into building their brand and growing an engaging social media following. We build media channels that reach thousands of people daily. The relationships we have with our readers on our social channels are a very powerful tool for brands/companies. Brands looking to use social influencers should absolutely expect to invest monetarily. The content we build has incredible reach and the consumption follows. Brands that do their due diligence and invest in the right influencers will reap the benefits.

How do you use social media to promote your page? I use Instagram mainly to promote my blog. It gives my readers a glimpse into my blog posts and it’s also a great tool to tease upcoming posts. Snapchat is the latest social media platform and it gives readers an unfiltered view into your life. I love using this tool to show the behind the scenes work that goes into blogging. It is also a great platform to get instant feedback from your readers.

Who is your biggest style inspiration? I have always admired Rachel Zoe and Olivia Palermo’s style.

What is your favorite store or brand? Currently, I really love the designs by Alexis and Self Portrait.

How would you describe your style? Feminine with Trendy touches

Do you have a specific look or image that you try to portray with your posts? I love showing my readers ways to mix high/low pieces. My best advice to my readers is to invest in the classics and spend less on the trendy items. I also believe confidence is your best accessory and at the end of the day, you should dress for yourself.

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influencer

Talya Tate Boerner

@gracegrits

I love the South, good food, and the Mississippi Delta. Arkansas is my hometown. The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee has arrived! Buy it today gracegritsgarden.com What’s your favorite social media platform and what apps do you use to create your blog? I take lots of photos and love the quick snapshot of life idea behind Instagram. I find Facebook is the best way for me to engage with my audience even with its constantly changing algorithms.

What challenges have you faced and overcome as a blogger using social media outlets? “It’s never too late” is my motto. I left a thirty-year-banking career to begin working on my first novel and to start a blog. The biggest challenge for me was jumping out of my comfort zone and into something completely different. Learning to set up a blog and wading through the technical side, putting myself out there, and navigating the world of social media were all challenges for me. I’m still learning.

What’s your biggest inspiration for blogging? I draw inspiration from natural surroundings, the feel of the soil, and the smell of the air. I grew up on a farm in the Delta, so land and nature is important to me. Nostalgia and history inspires me as well.

What message or purpose do you want to show in social media? I hope to stir a feeling within my readers; to help folks realize we are very much alike with common dreams and goals. I try to emphasize what’s good and right in the South and the Delta and to celebrate traditions.

What made you start blogging? My goal was to write a book. I started my blog as a way to showcase my writing and to attract a publisher. At the time I had no clue what I was doing, but from the beginning I wrote about things that make me happy. That’s worked for me. 67


How has Northwest Arkansas helped grow your social media presence? Indirectly, Northwest Arkansas helped me find a publisher for my first novel, The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee. Two years ago, I moved from Dallas to Fayetteville. Northwest Arkansas has an incredibly engaged literary community as well as businesses and individuals who understand the value of social media. Relocating back to Arkansas provided me with a stronger writing support group and an abundance of things to write about. My platform has grown authentically and organically. Publishers are more apt to sign a writer who has a strong social media presence.

What companies, products, people, etc. do you advertise or promote? Through The Women Bloggers, I freelance for First Security Bank’s blog (onlyinarkansas. com), Mountain Valley Water and The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. I’ve promoted Paper Source, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Little Free Library, and several tourist bureaus. I also freelance for Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Front Porch Magazine in my regular column, Delta Child. I’m committed to local and literacy and all things Arkansas.

Should bloggers always expect compensation for the social media promotions? In a word, yes. There is incredible value in market influence, and giving away the milk for free dilutes the value for all of us.

What type of story do you like to write about most? Stories highlighting the extraordinary in ordinary things. Vintage finds. Southern inspired topics. Old recipes.

Favorite recipe: Side dishes are my favorite, especially those using fresh vegetables from the local farmers’ market. One of my favorite recipes includes roasted black-eyed peas and okra with mint from the garden, southern with a twist. I love to use fresh herbs in unusual ways.

Where does your food inspiration come from? Old vintage cookbooks and dishes my mother and grandmother made. I like to watch cooking shows, too. Top Chef is one of my favorites.

What is your best/favorite blogging moment? My favorite blogging moment involved an old Nancy Drew book I found at a Fayetteville antique store. Inside the cover of the book, the original owner had written her name along with a list of her favorite songs, hits from 1957. After doing a bit of my own sleuthing, I blogged about the book and the book’s original owner. A few months later, the original owner contacted me. She’s in her late 70’s but was 18 when she owned the book. She lives in Maryland. I returned her book to her and we’re now Facebook friends.

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3W Lifestyle Aug/Sept/Oct 2016