Former Lagunan talks about becoming a social media maven
By Rita Robinson, Special to the Independent
How does a boymom of three with a journalism degree and a passion to write get 103,000 Instagram followers in only a few years, major brand sponsorship, and speaking and world travel engagements? “I just started a blog.”
It all started in a seaside condo in Laguna Beach with a newborn who was colicky.
Katy Allan was sitting at her kitchen counter, trying to soothe her inconsolable new son, who was spitting up and crying from colic. He had been this way since birth.
“He was a tough baby,” she said. “I felt so alone and knew there had to be other women like me out there.”
So she started to blog.
“I would go on there and tell little stories about what he would do that day,” she said. “That made it fun.” As opposed to the crying and spitting up part.
“Social media wasn’t even around when I was in college,” Allan said. It was all Greek to her. “It looked like to me that anyone could start a social media account. So I started a blog.”
As the author of savoringtheflavoring.com, Allan will share her uncalculated rise to becoming a major social media influencer at 8 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22, as the first speaker for the Level Up Leadership breakfast series at the Inside Edge in Newport Beach. The talk takes place at the Pacific Club, 4110 MacArthur Avenue.
Blogging gave the “on-hold” Auburn-educated journalist a creative outlet while being taxed-to-the-max as a new boymom—a Millennial term coined for an experience, not a category. “It was a way I could write, whether people were looking at it or not,” she explained. “At least it was a start.”
With her Southern y’all charm and the wit and looks reminiscent of a less-citified Jenny McCarthy, Allan’s dream post-college was to move to New York and write for a magazine. But her father, Ray Clawson, CEO of Nexem Staffing in Newport Beach, worried about his daughter going solo in such a big city. So he encouraged her to turn left. She did. Having spent summers in Newport Beach growing up, her heart didn’t need much nudging. She met her husband, John, moved to Laguna Beach, and started a family.
The blogging about baby Jack stopped when she became pregnant with her second son, Ford, and then, 17 months later, Luke. Boymom was fast becoming a boom industry.
After relocating to a small town north of Atlanta, Georgia, and feeling steadier about managing her rowdy brood and happy for preschool, she got back to blogging.
The experience with Jack turned Allan into a researcher, desperately seeking the secret that would soothe her baby’s tummy. Loving to cook (her mother is a dietitian), the quality of the food she provided herself as a nursing mom and, later on, her man-tribe, took a giant step toward less processed, more plant-based and organic.
“In a non-intimidating way, I made food the main subject this time and married that with the storytelling,” she explained of her blogging.
A girlfriend encouraged her to open a social media account, another foreign subject, to drive traffic to her blog. Within a year, she had 30,000 followers. The big brands started watching.
Today, Allan’s Instagram account attracts 103,000 followers and the big brands are not just watching, they’re sponsoring—brands like Whole Foods, Thrive Market, Vital Farms and Kitchenaid.
“Instagram is where I found success in building a loyal following,” said the influencer. ”I was able to put my own spin on it.”
Allan posted on Instagram every day, writing a caption for a favorite product that would direct readers to her savoringtheflavoring blog. Back then, Instagram was mostly pictures of things, which she modeled until she started putting herself in the photos. It’s not just the technology of it, she said, it’s the feeling of it.
“I want people to feel they know me and to feel they’re not alone,” she said. “I’ll say things intimating that motherhood is hard sometimes, that marriage is hard sometimes. I know how hard it is to relate to other Instagram accounts. ‘Oh, look at her. She’s just walking around LA everyday being fabulous.’ That’s not my life, that’s not the real world.”
Now Allan gets paid to post and to assist brands in the latest arena, “influencer relations,” for worldwide market exposure. It all happened organically, she said, without her ever having to approach any brand.
“I didn’t have any plans on ‘how am I going to monetize this?’ or anything like that,” she said. “They all found me. I support these brands because I genuinely like them. Brands are just happy to see that there’s someone helping them out.”
Allan said her experience shows that you can still start a project from scratch with very little investment and, if your heart’s in it, grow a burgeoning home-based business online.
“There has never been a time like this in history,” Allan said. “I have Instagram friends from across the world making a recipe I just typed into a computer. It’s so cool to me. It opens up so many opportunities.”
Those interested in Allan’s meteoric influencer story can catch her at the Inside Edge on Jan. 22 for her talk on “The Business of Influence: Turning an Instagram Account Into a Career.” The cost for the 8 a.m. breakfast talk is $40 for first-time guests, $55 for returning guests. Spaces are limited. Register online at insideedge.org.