Woman behind Unskinny Boppy blog opens up about her rise to Internet fame

Story by Grace Thornton

Photograph by Dawn Harrison

When Pinterest was born, Beth Bryan was already there.

“About 10 years ago, my friends and I were a group of newlywed women and we were all sharing ideas of how to decorate our houses,” she said.

She started posting those photos on a blog back when blogging wasn’t really even the thing yet. “It was a great way to share projects,” she said, noting that it was more like a personal journal than a site for the masses.

She kept posting. And then a photo Bryan pinned of her son, Garrett, in front of a glowing Christmas tree — along with instructions on how to do it yourself — went viral on Pinterest in 2011.

“I can’t really pinpoint what started it, but after that happened, everything changed,” she said. “It’s been this big, organic, fun ride.”

On her blog, unskinnyboppy.com, Bryan posts a lot of do-it-yourself home projects “that appeal to the weekend warrior audience,” she said. Those include interior design, holiday décor, gardening ideas, photography tricks and stories of motherhood.

The name came after her friend and fellow blogger, Dusty of All Things G&D, was talking about her trip to see Poison in concert.

“She inspired me to name my blog ‘Unskinny Bop’ (after the Poison song), but then I glanced over at the Boppy pillow that my son was sitting in on the floor and poof — a magical idea was formed,” she wrote on her blog.

Her traffic at Unskinny Boppy grew to the point that she was able to quit her job two years ago and become a full-time blogger, she said.

“I’ve always been creative and enjoyed doing artistic things,” said Bryan, an Alabaster resident with an interior design degree from the University of Montevallo.

She has a Project Hall of Fame on her blog that includes things from a Christmas star made from scrap wood to her secret recipe for the perfect cup of hot chocolate, which has been pinned more than 80,000 times.

Her four most popular posts, other than her son in front of the Christmas tree, are a “lazy girl’s timesaving tips for painting wall stripes,” a DIY succulent wreath tutorial, a ladder lantern hanger and a virtual tour of her house.

And her audience — primarily married-with-children women between the ages of 30-65 — has been eating it up. Bryan has 132,600 Pinterest followers, more than 2,000 Facebook fans and 200,000 page views a month — 300,000 around the holidays.

“Christmas is my boom time,” she said.

Bryan has been featured in HGTV Gardens, Country Living, Good Housekeeping and Pottery Barn, among others. She’s been a blog contributor to sites like Behr Designer Stories and the True Value Blog Squad, and she’s helped Home Depot with Do-It-Herself Workshops.

She’s also been featured several times in Better Homes and Gardens, including a piece Jamie Lott wrote about flea market Christmas décor.

“You know those great old things you spy at the flea market and your first question is, ‘What is it’? But the second thing you wonder, since you love it even though you have no idea what it is, is ‘What can I do with it’? This is one of those wonderful things,” Lott wrote about an old French shaving sink that Bryan filled with Christmas lights, baubles and other decorations.

But who’d have thought to do that, she asked — “Beth from the blog Unskinny Boppy did! Take those unexpected things you love, that reach out and grab your attention, even if you don’t know what they are and think of unexpected uses for them.”

That concept exactly is one of Bryan’s favorite things — a whole section of her blog is dedicated to upcycled and repurposed junk. She’s got projects in that section from a planter made of thrift store bowls to an end table made of Coca-Cola crates and an old window.

She also recently launched her first digital project, The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Lightroom, an e-workshop designed to teach people how to edit photos in Adobe Lightroom.

“It’s been my major focus lately and will continue to be through this holiday season,” she said.

The launch of her master class was on Cyber Monday, Nov. 28.

For more information, visit http://bethcbryan.com/classes/lazylightroom.

To check out Bryan’s blog, visit unskinnyboppy.com.