episode 8 - sara mccarty from run wild my child

Hi everybody. This is the Rewild Mamas with Brenna Jeanneret. I'm here today with Sara McCarty, who you may know from Run Wild My Child. I'm really excited to talk to her today. She is going to talk to us all about Instagram and how she grew her following to 81,000 followers, which is just so impressive to me. Especially because Run Wild My Child is not the only thing that she does! It seems like it would be because it's just, it's so well done. There are so many resources, but she's actually also an attorney, and she has three kids at home, so I just I thought it would be so great to talk with her all about Instagram, and how she makes all that happened.

So, Sara, tell us a little bit about how you started all this.

Well, hi. Thank you so much for having me. I'm absolutely honored to be here. This is one of my favorite things to talk about. So this should be fun. Yeah, like you mentioned. So I started Run Wild My Child, back in 2017, I had a personal blog before that and decided that I wasn't as comfortable as my kids got older talking about the intimate and personal details of their milestones and everything. So, while that was really fun, when they were babies to share all the pictures and funny things that they did and said and everything that we were doing, I got kind of a little nervous with just putting all of that out there.

But I didn't wanna stop blogging and being a part of this amazing online community. So I took a hard look at what was doing really well on the blog, and it was all of our posts about fly fishing and hiking and camping with our kids. And I realized that there just wasn't a lot of information out there for parents that wanted to become outdoorsy and were just getting started with getting their kids outside there. It was great timing because I think parents were really realizing that they didn't want their kids growing up on screens and that, you know, they wanted to give their children a childhood kind of like the one they grew up with being outside and being a part of nature and having some independence on, we formed Run Wild, just to give parents some kind of guidance, some advice and inspiration encouragement to hold their hand and get them outside with their kids to motivate and inspire. And it has just taken off. And I think a lot of it was just good timing. But there, you know, it is a lot of work as well. And it doesn't feel like work because it is so much fun.

Yeah. And you had, so full disclosure, guys. So Sara and I actually did this episode once already. We recorded this last week, but unfortunately, there was a technical difficulty. And so it was basically me introducing the show and then just 30 minutes of silence. So, well, I asked Sara if she would please do the episode again because she had so much great insight to share, and she was gracious enough to allow me to meet with her again.

So last time we spoke, I know you had mentioned to that you ended up having, you had some extra time because you had just had your third child, right when you were kind of starting Run Wild. And so you had some time on your hands to kind of work with it?

Yes. So I launched in May of 2017, and I just thought it was great timing because both of my kids were little but getting ready. You know, one was in school and the other one was in preschool, and I had just a little bit of extra time, I and it just seemed like a good time to launch because there were just so many great things going on with what we were able to do with our kids. They were old enough to be able to do some really fun stuff, so it all went great. And then two months later, I got pregnant with my third. It was a complete shock. We did, uh, we had gone through infertility stuff with the first two, so it was a big surprise having that third one come along. I mean, very, very wanted, but definitely a surprise. And it was just amazing. But I also, you know, was almost 40. And there was a much harder pregnancy that time around. And I just felt terrible and then recovery, it was hard. So I spent a lot of time just laying around the house and recovering and just, you know, it wasn't ideal to have a phone in my hand. But it did give me the opportunity to spend a lot of time really developing our message and figuring out Instagram and what was working and getting our hashtag out there and convincing people to use it. You know, there are a lot of late-night nursing sessions and, you know, middle of the night everything and just sitting around. And, you know, I'm not a huge TV person. I just so you know, I spend my time productively, I guess. To figure out the business side of Instagram.

Yeah, definitely. And I love, too that you mentioned the hashtag because you had mentioned that last time as well, when I asked, you know, there's probably a lot of moms or dads out there listening who may be trying to start their own Instagram following and trying to get their brand out there. And I had asked what you thought was, you know, a great first step and you had mentioned the hashtag. So would you talk a little bit more about that?

Yeah. I love this topic. I'm hoping to put together some kind, of course, on basically how to do all the things to grow your following to build your brand, to get more clients to grow the community, everything. Just using a branded hashtag. So what that basically means is coming up with a hashtag that is your own. And it could either be your company's name. Just a cute, clever saying but you want to make sure that you know no one else is using it. It can have some use, but, you know, that as long as no one else is actively using it for their business, you know, find something that works for you. That's clever and, you know, is easy for people to remember and really speaks to your brand where people can find your company just by seeing that hashtag, and then it's up to you to start getting the word out. And really, what this means is finding your ideal customer going out either asking them to use your tag commenting on their post, engaging with them, you know, getting their eyes on your content so they see that it makes sense for them to use your tag.

Feature them as you know, as much as you can, put them in your story, put them on your feed. People love being featured. It is actually just a wonderful thing to do because they feel validated. They feel seen and appreciated. They love, you know, having that extra exposure. Plus, it's great for your business because it is, you know, people using your products, your services, using your hashtag in a genuine way that feels very authentic for other people to see. So, branded hashtags are just really fun to use, and it's a great way to get people talking about your brand and your products and, it catches on quickly, and then the more people their followers see it, they start using it. And you can really grow fast that way.

Yeah, I love that you mentioned that and kind of brought it full circle because so the way that your platform kind of exploded is that you opened it up to the community members and you were like, you know, be a part of this we’ll feature you we’ll, you know, help get your word out there and your name and your pictures. And you know, we'll also be getting our name out there. And you know, there's all these other parents who, you know, they do activities that maybe your family doesn't do. And so you've opened it up, to outdoor, everything, which I think is so great and also so inclusive. And it's also, I feel like the cornerstone of building a community is, you know, it's kind of a symbiotic relationship like it is good for you, and it's good for them. So everybody is motivated, you know, to work on this thing together.

I recently did a takeover day on Sara’s Instagram, and it was awesome because I'd never done anything like that before. I was telling Sara last time, actually, I had to spend, you know, like a week or so actually learning how to Instagram because, you know, my Instagram knowledge is so new. I guess I just haven't, you know, utilized the platform recently. And so I had to spend some time, you know, trying to figure out how to do it and, you know, post and whatever. So I did the takeover day, and it was so fun. Like, the community is so inviting and inclusive, and they're just excited, you know, to welcome you in and, you know, comment on your pictures and your story. So for me, it was sort of, it was like a nice ego boost. You know, like all these likes and these comments.

And this day, like my Instagram account, is less than 100 followers. And so going on to Sara's was like, this big, like a hug of likes, you know, like everybody was so excited, you know, to see my pictures. And they read my story. so that was awesome. It was a really great experience for me. but I did, I wanted to ask you, though, because when I was doing it, and again, this is probably due to my, you know, lack of Instagram knowledge because I remember feeling, you know, the irony of it in the moment, because I was at the park with my son, you know, trying to encourage him to stay out. And we were gonna play and look at these leaves. And in the middle of it, you know, I'm stopping to try to do this post on Instagram, and I just the irony just struck me. You know, I'm on this screen trying to encourage him to be, you know, to play outside and to be outside. And I know you had mentioned, you know, a couple of tricks that you use, And you know how you sort of lean on your community a little bit to help you out with that.

Oh, absolutely. There is definitely some irony in being an online resource to get people offline all right. Yeah. There are definitely things that we do, and I think one of them is being very strategic about how much time we want to spend online and what it is that we're trying to accomplish. I don't want to be on Instagram all day every day. so I plan all of my posts down in advance. I usually do everything Sunday night. I'll sit down for half an hour and I'll put everything in a planner, draft all of my captions get everything ready to go, and then it's all there so I can just hit publish whenever it's time to jump in and hit publish.

And I engage strategically, I have kind of a strategy that I do when I'm online and how to engage. You know, I engage a lot with the people using our hashtag, so that is something that it's just a little bit of love back to them. If you're going to use our hashtag, we want you to feel appreciated. And we will like, you know, try to like and comment as much as we can on the posts that use our hashtag. And then you know, there's a lot of other, components to running an Instagram account that is this big and one of them is having moderators, and we have a group of just outstanding moms slash photographers slash just outdoor enthusiasts that help out with the account, and we have a schedule that comes out monthly, and they usually have one day, you know, every other week, and, so I'm not the person who's on there every single day. It’s not just me. It takes a village to do this.

I don't want it to be too much for me, and I don't want to be too much for any of them. So we all take turns and we get to share our own content. And the content you know that we like to feature. Everybody's a little unique and that they, you know, some people like sharing certain kinds of photos and other people, you know, and it's up to them to create the captions. So some people like sharing nature facts or facts about where the photo was taken or photography tips, or they share their own personal hikes or surfing lessons or whatever it is that they're doing. So it gives a little, you know, a unique perspective into the lives of some other people. And it's not just me. And then we also have a team of over 20 our creative team or these are writers for our website, and with each website post, they do a season. They get an Instagram takeover day to promote their post and to share anything that they want about their own business. And you know, any photos that they choose to pick to feature. And it's just, a lovely way to kind of give our followers a little more diversity, and different unique perspectives. some additional parenting advice that, you know, just that's not all me. I love this community, and I love what I've built, but I also don't want it to be the Sara show. You know, this thing isn't about me. This is a community, and I want to be able to share our platform with other voices.

Yeah, I love that. And I think it's so smart. And so if you were listening to what Sara was talking about her creative team, which is...you put out a call for that, I think. When was that? Like, back in the summer? Sometime. Is that right?

We were looking for new members back in April.

Okay. So I actually saw that and was like, Oh, my gosh, that's like a coveted position, in my opinion, because I love to write, and I love to write about all things outdoors, and I thought, Oh, wow, that would be awesome. So that's actually how I got involved with Sara and did the piece for their blog and then did the takeover day.

I'm not part of the creative team, but it is a coveted position in my opinion. So if you're also out there thinking that would be awesome, I know you're planning to lunch or to put out another call in the spring. Is that right?

Yeah. This is our second year. I realized quickly once things started growing that I couldn't do this all on my own. And the content creation for the website was one of the I think the most fun parts of all of this. I, like you. I love writing. And it's more of my jam than the photography which I also love. But I'm not that good at it. I love being the editor and taking on the responsibility of having everybody else create this content. And then I curate and edit and get it to what I want. And they have these beautiful images. But it allows us to feature moms and dads. We have two dads on the team as well. Yeah, from all over the country. Canada, Australia, Vanuatu, Europe. It's really fun. So we get a lot of unique perspectives. They're all just amazing writers, multiple kids, lots of experience. just they're just fantastic people. And as part of the team, you know, they write for us, and then we, help them grow their businesses. Well, this is, you know, it's definitely two-sided. So we have a mastermind group that we meet once a month, and we work on goals and try to figure out ways to help them with their own businesses or grow their brand. There's a lot of collaboration and networking and fun that we have on the team.

I love that. That's so smart because I'm sure that, you know, they love to write for you and to be a part of the community. But to go a step further and to actually help, you know, integrate them into the behind-the-scenes and what you’re what you guys are actually doing and to help them then you know, apply those principles and grow their own brand is just...I just, I really like how the community is built that way. You know what, how it's interlocking. It's not just a one-sided you know, like my post, and like my, featured whatever, you know, picture. And it's just, you know, it's all for me. It's very interactive and back and forth and, you know, trying to, like, help each other. Because the whole point, I mean all these parents, everyone that I've interacted with, all we want is, you know, to make sure that we're looking out for our kids and getting them outside, because we hold that as a very high priority and a high value in our, you know, in our lives and so having insight and all these other people who also hold that same ideal. I feel like it's just so helpful, especially now during the pandemic, when everything is virtual and everything is online. To be able to have that virtual community I feel like is just huge, which, partly for me, that is why I started this podcast to begin with. I was trying to kind of build that virtual community while we were missing it, you know, physically. It's a nice way to sort of, you know, bridge that gap to talk to other moms out there like, What are you doing? You know what's going on behind the scenes in your life? So, yeah, I just really like how that's kind of that comes full circle with your brand and your Instagram.

It's been so much fun. It's been the part of this that I didn't expect to love so much. I didn't really know what to expect going into this. And, it has just been amazing. Helping, you know, get to know these people and help them with achieving their goals. We are, 100% about community over competition. And there is no competition between any of us we’re in the same industry, you know, some are photographers, some are other bloggers. Some are just, you know, people growing in Instagram accounts, you know, influencers. Some are just moms that really don't spend a lot of time on social at all. And we kind of have everything, and we know that the ultimate goal is to get kids outside and whether it's, you know, through what we do or through somebody else's voice. You know, there is enough people to go. followers to go around, and we want everybody to be able to find someone that speaks to them and really moves them and inspires them. So if it's not me, you know, I hope it's someone else on our team or someone else anywhere. It encourages you to get outside and spend time in nature. Because, really, that is what this is all about. And we're all committed to raising amazing humans. And, it's just it's been really fun.

Yeah. No, I love that. I love everything about that message. I did want to circle back really quick to something that I wanted to talk about last time, and it totally skipped my mind. but so you had mentioned you sort of took a step back, at some point, because you didn't feel comfortable. You know, putting all of your kid’s details out there. And you are, you know, a little bit nervous about privacy. so I also I feel like every time I post something on Instagram or Facebook or my blog or anywhere with my son involved, I always feel, a little bit anxious or, you know, I have these reservations about it, you know, like, do I really want his face out there? I don't know. Is that something you know, that he needs to decide? Is it something that I can decide right now? And, you know, I just sort of get paralyzed by it.

And I don't...my pictures, speak to it on my Instagram account. If you happen to go on there, you'll see my strategy is a little bit like, Wilson on Tool Time with Tim Taylor back in the day, they never showed Wilson's full face. That's kind of the strategy I've taken, you know, whether that's right or wrong, I don't know. And I you know, I love seeing tiny, cute little faces out there, so I'm not saying one way or the other, But I'm probably not the only mom out there. You know, you and I are probably not the only ones who are, you know, a little bit concerned about privacy issues. So I guess I'm just wondering, you know what you think about that in terms of like the outdoor community and these Instagram accounts.

I think every parent that is posting online worries about this and it's something like you, said there's no right or wrong. You just have to figure out what works for you and what you're comfortable with and go from there. And if that's never posting the front, you know your kid’s face, that's, you know, 100% fine. you have to do what works best for you. I mean, there are certain precautions that you can take with, you know, having a private account. you know, manually approving who sees your content? You know, I don't use my kid’s first names, so they have nicknames that they that we use. I don't geotag locations. I don't talk about specifically like the community where we live there, there, things that you can put in place.

You just have to get comfortable with you know what you feel comfortable with, and everybody will have a different perspective on this. Some people will say, you know that they are anti-Instagram and they don't want their kids online their images online at all, and that is 100% fine. that is what works best for them. And I think as long as we can all be kind to each other and, realized that everyone has a little bit of a different comfort level and be respectful. That's, you know, that's a good start.

Yeah. No, I agree with that. I think that's a great answer, because, I mean, I feel like so much of parenting, you know, can come down to that. It's what you're comfortable with. What works well, for your family. yeah, my husband is a tech nerd. And he knows all you know. He works in security, and he's online all the time. So he knows the ins and outs about, you know, privacy issues and all of that kind of stuff. And I'm you know, I ask him every once in a while, like, what do you think about this picture like, Is this okay? Should I put this out here? And he's like, you know, he doesn't have an issue with it. He doesn't worry about it as much, I guess because he doesn't see, you know, a threat. Necessarily. And I don't know why, but for whatever reason, you know I do. I feel that, like, nervous tension about it, and I get sort of like, anxious about posting those things. And, you know, for him that's fine, too, because he's actually not on any social media. So he's like, you know, do whatever makes you feel good. He's like, that's fine because he's not posting anything anywhere. So he's sort of is just there for, you know, like support for me and trying to talk to me about you know, what I think is good to put out there. So, you know, even within our family, they're sort of differing, you know, balances of what we feel comfortable with and what we don't. So, yeah, just to echo what you said, I guess, like, yeah, whatever you're comfortable with is what you should do for your family. yeah, we'll probably continue doing the Wilson route on my end because I get nervous about it. But luckily, my kid doesn't like me taking pictures of him anyways. So, like the one, I posted for Halloween was just his butt his Batman butt costume, because I was like, Oh, can I take your picture? You're so cute. And he immediately just turned around and showed me his butt. I was like, well, that's perfect for what I'm doing anyway.

So, so before I let you go, Sara, I did want to talk about what, is coming up in the future of Run Wild My Child because you have a couple of exciting things on the horizon.

We're always in the process of new things we are hopefully going to launch a podcast soon, which I'm really excited about. This will mainly be a way for us to, I guess repurpose some of the amazing content that we already have on our website. I'd love to be able to do just a Q and A interview with the writers that we have talking about their post giving some behind the scenes on what their activity was or, you know, kind of the true-life story of, you know, the meltdowns that actually happened. Even though, you know, we may not have the pictures of that in the post, you know that it's happening and we just want to be able to relate to parents a little bit. More to inspire them to let them know that you know, things go wrong on you're not going to get that on Instagram or online as much. But we want to talk about you know, the hard stuff about parenting and getting outside with kids isn't always easy.

it's just, it would just be another way to kind of share the voices of our contributors. They are just incredible people. And it would be a great way to promote them and the content that they have worked so hard to create. And, we're also in the process of launching. There will be an Instagram course.

So it’s happening?!

Yes, it is happening. So, Jenny, my friend Jenny Urich, who you may know from 1000 Hours Outside, she is a member of our creative team. And we are going to do a live presentation like a webinar. It's gonna have like, a workbook. And, I think it will be about an hour with maybe another 30 minute Q and A to answer your questions about Instagram. And we are basically just give the down and dirty about how he did this. And we're going to be, you know, 100% upfront and honest about how long it took to grow what we have. How many hours? A day or a week? Or you know that we're actually sharing what our strategy is and how we both grew our accounts. I think that she's getting really close to crossing the 1000, 100,000 threshold. And when she started on the creative team, she had, like, 3000.

Is that right?!

Yeah, it has exploded. And she is killing it. And, I'm so excited to be working with her again on this, and it's gonna be a blast. And it'll just be, you know, us chit-chatting. Sharing what worked for us? What didn't work and helping people really nail down what their focus is, what their strategy is, what their message is. And, and I've been really excited about it. It will be within the next couple of weeks, even that we're going to try to get this up and going.

Yeah, I was gonna ask if you had a date nailed down, but so not quite yet. Some time in November, maybe?

Yeah, sometime November. We're hoping to do it before Thanksgiving. So we’re in the mindset of let's just do it and see how it is.

Yeah. So if you're out there listening Yeah, keep an eye on Sara's page. I imagine you'll do announcement there at some point. So you can keep an I out for that. And then also, Sara, Last time we spoke, you did mention too there's a class with, like, a challenge component.

Well, absolutely. So we have paired up two of my favorite things in the world which, you know, on Instagram is the taking pictures and getting kids outside. And I have just I loved being a part of this community because there are so many amazing photographers out there that just inspire me all the time to, pick up my camera and try something new. And if you're anything like me...you have a lot, you know, a long way to go before you get to that level of some of these photographers that we're featuring, but we have paired up with another company called Hello Storyteller. And they are a group of photographers, all moms, that are online...but the ones we work with, are moms, and they’re online. And they do four little photography courses and whether that's you know how to take photos, you know, inside your house, whether it's taking a photo, you know, how to edit...They have, you know, a plethora of courses, and we are doing a challenge with them that is inspired by getting outside with your kids.

So we do an eight-week course. We did this over the summer, and it was amazing. It's so much fun. And every week is a new activity, and I do the activity side so we'll come up with an activity, and it will be traditional activities that you can do like in the snow. And then there will be an option for something that you can do. If you're in a location where there's not any snow so, it'll be a little bit of both, and we'll give you all the info that you need to do the activity.

you know how to adapt it where wherever you live, your location, your whether the age of your children, And then we will also give you all the info you need on how to take pictures of this. So what Angles. You know what perspectives to use. How to edit, what settings to use on your camera, which lends to use, do example, tons of examples. And then every week. You know, we do a live on Facebook and we go in and answer questions and we talk about it. We do behind the scenes shooting about you know what, this looks like once you get the image, and then how do you edit it? We, go through and have an album so everybody can upload their pictures weekly and inspire each other. And then at the end, if you participate in all eight weeks and you do all the activities, there's a big prize package. So we pick one person that did all eight weeks and randomly choose somebody to win. You know, a big price pack. And it is. It's just been so great, especially right now when everybody needs to get outside. But it's really hard because it's getting cold and you know, you may not necessarily want to get outside. you know, there are places they're closed. And, there are, you know, health concerns and getting outside is just it is going to make you feel so much better. It is going to, you know, this will be accountability. It'll be a reason to get outside. It'll motivate you. and it's just it's so much fun. We've got a little private Facebook group, and we all get to know each other, and it's a blast, So that's coming up in January.

Okay, Awesome. And so will you also announced that on your page? Okay, so if you want to know about that and when it's coming up in January, watch Sara's page watch. Watch it for the November announcement as well. and if you don't follow her, definitely follow her, because there is so much great inspiration on that page.

So, wow. Awesome. And that challenge just sounds. So perfect for this time right now, because yeah, everybody, including parents, needs, you know, kind of like a new motivation. New activity to get outside, you know? What else can I possibly do with sidewalk chalk? ...like I don't know what I can, You know, I can take a picture of it. So, like, let's figure that out. Yeah, something new.

Uh-huh. And it's really fun to see kind of how everybody interprets the challenge. So we've got our activities nailed down. And there are four photographers. They each get two weeks. So you really get to know everybody and everybody that does the challenge, you know, post their photos, and then you see how you know how they've adapted this activity to work for their specific location for their kids. You know, over the summer, we did camping and the differences between, you know, people camping in their backyard, people camping, you know, on the side of a mountain. I mean it just, like, just amazing thing, beach camping. And like, just all kinds of things. Some people just set up the camp, you know, in a tent in the front yard, or just made a fire and did s' mores. Everybody kind of did it the way that, was best suited for them that they could, you know, that they could manage and, you know, they've got all of this inspiration and advice to use, you know, the next time they go camping, you know, to take photos. So, it's just been so much fun. And it really was inspiring and motivating. And I heard so many people say, you know, I wouldn't have done any of this if you didn't encourage us to do this. And every time I dreaded doing it and didn't want to do it and we had so much fun. And even with adults, you know, like grown kids made quite a few people with teenagers and forced them to do this, and they had a blast. So flying a kite, you know, but it was just it was so much fun.

Yeah, no, that sounds great. I feel like everyone needs, you know, something a little bit different to get them to get them motivated to get out. well, so if you've been listening to the whole episode, and you have any questions or you wanna touch in with sorry, touch base with us and talk to me about what Sara had to say, or you want you have questions for her? you can, of course, reach out to Sara on her and on her Instagram. But you can also email me, at therewildmamas@gmail.com and if there is a topic that you want to be discussed or if there is someone that you would like to come on the show, you can also email me that I'd love to hear your feedback. let me know what you think about the episode. and other than that, Sara, Did I miss anything? Do you have any other, anything else you'd like to add?

No. Just thank you so much for having me again to talk to you. I just loved when you did your Instagram takeover for our account, and I encourage everybody to go back and read your story. You are an amazing writer, and we'd love to have you back any time.

Oh, thank you so much, Sara. I really appreciate that. And I might take you up on that. I loved writing for your site. It was really fun for me. I enjoyed every minute of it.

That sounds great. Okay.

Thanks so much and have a great day.