5 Chicago Lifestyle Bloggers: The Story Behind Their Following

Chicago Lifestyle. How do you become the Chicago cosmopolitan city girl you’ve always aspired to become? At Windy City Cosmo, we focus on building genuine relationships and the beauty, events, skills, and cocktails behind them.

There are a lot of Chicago lifestyle bloggers with a lot of followers. As we’ve dined with and liked their Instagram posts, a few of them stood out. I’ve spoken with some of the most active Chicago lifestyle bloggers to learn why they blog and how they build a following. These bloggers post about food events, botox and beauty trends, the next best cocktail, how to get over your exboyfriend, and how to throw your next holiday party.

If you’re looking for what to do on a Friday night, an event to take your girlfriends to if you’re a Dior girl, or if you are more Chanel, and some fashion tips, then let me introduce you to some of my trusted Chicago lifestyle bloggers on Instagram.

This article includes the following bloggers:

Hungerlust Travel, I admire her photography and how she makes me want to wanderlust.

Now You Know Events/Appetite 4 Adventure, I love how she is always on the scene at the latest food events. She always makes me hungry with her cheesy pizzas and boozy cocktails.

Once Upon a Dollhouse, I love their personalities and their twin vibes when it comes to photo shoots. If you are looking for outfit inspiration, they are always adding a little sparkle and maybe a bow.

The Haute Seeker, I love her weekend events roundup. She always has something creative.

Jodidangerous, I love that this Instagram has spunk and variety, but also serenity.

Hungerlust Travel:

Meet Lily from Hungerlust Travel.

She’s a food and travel blogger based in West Loop Chicago. When she’s home, she introduces you to new and classic restaurants around the city, and when she travels, she post photos of my activities and meals to inspire you to visit those cities as well!

How did you get started?

Hungerlust used to be solely a food Instagram, then I started to feel too restricted that I couldn’t post what I was seeing on vacation, only what I was eating. I’ve had my Instagram since December 2015, and just started blogging this summer.

Lakeview, Chicago: Earlier this month I attended a @dablonvineyards wine tasting at the beautiful music box theatre. Dablon is a winery in southwestern Michigan that is aiming to chance the face of Michigan wine! The reputation is that all wine in the area is sweet, given the cold climate. However, they're growing a lot of traditional dry grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir! I went on a Michigan tasting a few years ago that involved mostly ice wine and s'mores wine so this year I'm going to plan my own and start it off at Dablon! Their tasting room has been recently renovated and they have a brand new private room that I can't wait to visit! #hungerlustlakeview #dablonandcg #dablonwine #chicagogrammers

A post shared by lily📍chicago | travel | food (@hungerlusttravel) on

What’s your favorite platform to share content? Do you use social tools to help you? If so, which ones?

I am solely Instagram at this time, but I know I need to start working on Pinterest more to grow my blog viewers.

How much time do you devote to blogging each week?

I spend about 10-15 hours on Instagram per week, but blogging is more sporadic. When I sit down to write a new city guide, I will spend 5-10 hours on it over a few days, but then I go weeks without adding new content… oops! (which is actually one of the current trends according to Orbit Media’s research with over 1,000 bloggers). I post on Instagram once a day.

How do you choose what to share with your readers or followers?

I share a photo if it’s visually pleasing, and I enjoyed the story behind it. I could have a beautiful picture, but if I didn’t enjoy the activity or meal, I won’t share it (which is similar to what Erin from 312 Food does, as well).

You can follow Hungerlust Travel on Instagram or her blog below:


Now You Know Events:

Meet Katie Cahnmann from Now You Know Events.

Katie created Now You Know Events (NYK) to offer a comprehensive site to share cool events and openings happening in and around Chicago. It’s an easy way for anyone to find something interesting and fun to do. She tries to share a little bit of everything to cover everyone’s interest from fashion to charity, food, sports, art, free, etc.

How did you get started?

I was working full-time as the Director of Social Support at a charter high school on the south side of dealing with really heavy issues with my students – anger, depression, suicide, gang violence, etc. I needed an outlet I sought out fun things to do in Chicago and would invite friends out. Everyone encouraged me to start my own website as I knew about an eclectic mix of events going on in and near the city. That’s how NYK was born!

What’s your favorite platform to share content? Do you use social tools to help you? If so, which ones?

I have a website (www.nowyouknowevents.com) where I share all upcoming events as well as recaps/reviews of events and places, occasional interviews with cool people doing cool things in Chicago, photos, and more. I also use MailChimp to send out newsletters and social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I used to use Pinterest but not so much anymore.

Who inspires you in the blogging community?

The entire group of incredible bloggers. There are so many. I’ve belonged to different groups of bloggers and stayed up-to-date with some including Chicago Bloggers Network, Windy City Bloggers, and Chicagogrammers to name a few. There are so many amazing bloggers in Chicago and it’s been a super supportive community.

How much time do you devote to blogging each week?

I used to devote a lot more but given everything that has happened in my personal and professional life over the last couple of years that time has decreased. I used to update the blog daily but now I do it weekly.

How do you choose what to share with your readers or followers?

I really try to be conscious of my readers, subscribers, and followers and only share what I truly believe they will appreciate and enjoy. Occasionally, I will share things I personally love and just hope my followers do, too. My hope is that anything I post resonates with my readers.

You can follow Appetite for Adventure on Instagram or Now You Know Events blog below:

Website: http://www.nowyouknowevents.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NowYouKnowEvents/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NYK_Events
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/appetite_4_adventure/

Once Upon a Dollhouse:

Meet Caitlin Campbell and  Danielle Sommerfeld, the dolls behind Once Upon a Dollhouse.

Once Upon a Dollhouse chronicles the dolls’ friendship and their adventures as they celebrate the beauty of life. Their ultimate goal is to inspire readers to become their healthiest and happiest selves – whether it’s through your own best friend, yoga, music, crystal healing or even fashion.

How did you get started?

This has to be one of our favorite questions! Of course we have a story behind it. Shall we start with Once upon a time… ? We met by a combination of serendipity and magic and became the fastest of friends. Soon enough, we became roommates and moved into the glam pad that will forever be remembered as our life-size Dollhouse. The Dollhouse became the meeting place for all of our best friends where we shared laughs, meals, girl talk and plenty of champagne. Before we knew it, people started to ask us what events we were going to, our favorite music to listen to, our workout routines, our favorite boutiques and more. Then, we decided to write it all down and to share our sparkle with the world! Once Upon a Dollhouse was officially launched in January 2016 to chronicle our best friend adventures and celebrate the beauty of life. In this world, our ultimate goal is to share positivity and inspire our fans and followers to become their healthiest, happiest self.

What’s your favorite platform to share content? Do you use social tools to help you? If so, which ones?

Instagram is our absolute favorite! Our main resource is each other. It’s important for us to always be in constant communication so that we can maintain an authentic brand message that we are both proud of. We encourage each other and celebrate our ideas and every milestone we hit along the way.

Who inspires you in the blogging community?

We have met so many inspirational women in the blogging community right here in Chicago! We are proud to be a part of such a strong network of women that supports one another. A few of our go-to gals are Windy City Cosmo (duh!), Julz Chez and Caroline Taft.Everyone has their own unique story…. WCC is always there for us . and right now is training for a marathon, Julz Chez is the sweetest small town gal turned fashion maven and Caroline Taft is a former U.S. Army Reserves Intelligence Officer turned culinary creative and photographer. The best part about these inspiring ladies is that we’ve become great friends along the way!

How much time do you devote to blogging each week?

It really varies week to week. For us, it’s all about balance. We balance our friendship with our business to keep our motivation, consistency and vibrant energy in tact.

How do you choose what to share with your readers or followers?

We like to share content with our readers that sparks a sparkle! We’re an open book and looking to share our light and positivity with others – especially at a time when we need it most! Stay tuned for a more “risque” topic coming up on the blog soon about aging gracefully.

We like to share content with our readers that sparks a sparkle! We’re an open book and looking to share our light and positivity with others – especially at a time when we need it most! Stay tuned for a more “risque” topic coming up on the blog soon about aging gracefully.

You can follow Once Upon a Dollhouse on Instagram or on their blog below:

The Haute Seeker:

Meet Taylor Justin from The Haute Seeker.

The Haute Seeker is a curated lifestyle blog that seeks out and shares the unseen fashion, food, arts, and community good in the city of Chicago.

How did you get started?

I am not new to this. I’m inquisitive by nature. I moved to Chicago out of college and had no family or friends in the city. I wasn’t going to sit at home so I would go out everyday and visit neighborhoods that interested me. I became very acclimated to Chicago and always knew where to go and became a resource to close friends. I decided to challenge myself and become a resource for others who are culture vultures and that’s when I started The Haute Seeker.

What’s your favorite platform to share content? Do you use social tools to help you? If so, which ones?

Instagram by far! I treat it like a mood/ inspiration board.  I use Buffer to keep my social media in check. Thank God I discovered that tool. It helps me so much!

Who inspires you in the blogging community?

I am inspired by the stories that people share. It’s awesome to seek fellow bloggers shine and grow.

How much time do you devote to blogging each week?

Every single day. If I am not writing I’m planning my content and generating leads. My post goals are two a week, 3 if I’m being very ambitious.

How do you choose what to share with your readers or followers?

I share what I would want to read. I’ve realized my content is not for everyone and it never will be because not everyone likes the same things. And that’s okay! If you are inspired by everyday people, you like interesting things, or are moved by cultural innovations than you will love my content.

You can follow The Haute Seeker on Instagram or on their blog below:


Meet Jodi Dudek. Her blog will be launching in the next couple of months. For now, you can find her on Instagram: @jodidangerous

Jodi wanted to use my actual name, but make it a little fun. The “dangerous” is because she does what I want. 😉 People should follow her because I’ve experienced a lot in life and continue to enjoy a good adventure and try to share that in a thoughtful way. She’ll be working on some fun things shortly, she’d love to grow interest.

How did you get started?

I was interested in blogs and eBay stars years ago, have been in the design community for over 15 years, joined Instagram when it very first started, and am even now head of social media creative for a large company. Travelling and being naturally curious have been huge catalysts, and I have grown to really love meeting new people and sharing great stories!

What’s your favorite platform to share content? Do you use social tools to help you? If so, which ones?

Instagram, hands down. Specifically, I post an Instagram Story nearly every day.

Who inspires you in the blogging community?

So many people. On a large level, Brit+Co and Bri from DesignLoveFest really kill it. Beyond that, I appreciate anyone who is well-curated, and even informative… thoughtfulness, organization, and beautiful content!

How much time do you devote to blogging/content creation each week?

It used to be a decent amount, but due to having a full-time gig in social media, my presence has been minimal.

How do you choose what to share with your readers or followers?

First, I don’t over-share. Relevancy is fairly important, but also things that I am passionate about.

You can follow JodiDangerous on Instagram here:

Jodidangerous is the only one that I’m comfortable with at this time… stay tuned!


There’s a lot of Chicago bloggers. Some are sassy, some take a killer #ootd (outfit of the day) photo and others build a community around cultural events or the love of shoes.

I hope you connect with some of these Instagrammers and bloggers.

Who do you love to follow and why do you like or comment on their content?




Happy International Women’s Day, Ms. Independent

Today, March 8, 2017, is the 106th International Women’s Day, a day that the United Nations recognizes women’s advancements in the workplace, as well as socially and economically.

And I want to take a moment to say thank you. There is no better satisfaction than being an independent woman. I was shopping for groceries, something I did about every other month last year, but I do every other day now that I’m learning to cook. And, all I could think about was how exhausting and scary it is to be an adult – to realize that it’s just you supporting yourself, balancing your budget, cooking for yourself, all while supporting charity and being kind to that neighbor who kept you up till 4 am in the morning (just kidding – I’ve always had good neighbors, I even dated one, but that’s another story).

When I first moved to Chicago, there were a lot of people overprotective about me. When you think of a woman in the city, you think of self-defense, safety, taking a car home instead of the Red Line at midnight, and having a doorman. And while I think you do have to be aware and cautious (regardless of gender), I think that things that once classified men as gentlemen like walking or driving me home are nice, but quite unnecessary (unless I’m wearing stilettos and it’s 0 degrees).

I don’t feel the need to be bailed out by my parents or to spend my nights in the Viagra Triangle trying to marry rich (and unfortunately, old). I’m more concerned about having dreams and making plans and thinking about educating myself on 401ks and stocks and being business savvy. I don’t look to men as lovers, but rather mentors.

I realize that as one female entrepreneur told me, “There’s nothing better than having your own money.”

It’s really nice that we as women don’t have to subscribe to a system where we are the weaker sex, dependent on men to find us pretty enough and competent in chores and cooking to marry. I love the idea of marriage and being a wife, but I also understand that I might not find my prince charming, and I don’t have to make that my mission in life.

I’m thankful that I have women and men who paved the road to the independence I have had for the past four years in Chicago.

What is International Women’s Day?

This year, given the drastic political changes and the ongoing fight about government funding of Planned Parenthood and on a broader spectrum, how to handle health care in America, many women have chosen to wear red and march for a bigger statement – A Day Without Women. This campaign is from the same infamous leaders and organizers of the Women’s March on Washington this January.

The Day Without Women is to show what it would be like without women. Women were encouraged to take the day off so people would see the effects. 

What Does It Mean?

But this year is also about “Women in the Changing World of Work,” which highlights the accomplishments of women in the workplace, but also how much further that we have to go for equal representation. The need for women’s rights in the workplace has been recently fueled by viral letters like ex-Uber, Susan J. Fowler. 

So, I want to leave you with this quote:

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,” a famous quote from journalist Gloria Steinem.


How to Build a Valuable Network

Congratulations. You have 500+ contacts on LinkedIn. You have them. But do you know your network?

Recently, I took a marketing job at an innovation consulting firm, PreScouter, Inc. I love it for several reasons. Besides working with smart people (corporate America, Ph.D. students, and critical thinkers in general), the first and the main reason that I love marketing is because I can connect with people.

I have been building my network for years by interviewing CEOs and learning from startups, going to Paris Fashion Week, attending networking mixers at 1871 and Ms. Tech, and meeting new faces at niche events or rooftop parties.

While that’s a good step, it’s the first step.

After you have had your fill of free wine and pizza, I invite you to look around the room.

How to Build a Valuable Network:

Here are the top four ways to build a network of value – a network that can help you meet your business goals and personal goals.

Have a point.

This is the reason you are all here. Why are you networking, to begin with?

Ask yourself:

  • Do you want a job?
  • Do you want to do business with this company?
  • Do you see yourself needing their services or partnering in the future?
  • Do you have common interests like cooking or attending events?

When you find out why you want to connect, it’s easier to search for people who can help you meet your goals. It’s also easier to see which events to attend that align with your goals.

BUT, remember….

Don’t nix people. I went to a networking event, and someone was like “oh, you’re in marketing, I don’t want your business card.”

You never know how you can leverage your contacts in the future, so the general rule of being nice to everyone applies. However, as marketing and sales people know, there are warm leads, cold leads, and hot leads. Categorize the people you meet so you can better approach them people on LinkedIn or Twitter or at events. It will help you meet your goals faster.

Key takeaway: Not everyone in your network will be valuable.

Be helpful before you need help.

One of the reasons you build your network is not just for yourself, it’s also to help other people. A niche interest group might need a local Chicago designer, and you are part of SheSays Chicago so that you can connect a new contact with your network.

One of the rules that Robert Cialdini shares in his book, “Influence: Science and Practice” is the rule of reciprocity. When you do something nice for someone, they want to return the favor.

Key takeaway: Give first.

Do a maintenance check.

Are there people in your network who you don’t know?

Just because you cannot help each other at the moment, doesn’t mean that you should delete them from your database. Keep up to date notes about how you met (you can add private notes on LinkedIn profiles to remind you) and how you might be able to help each other based on interests and projects.

In the book “Never Eat Alone,” Keith Ferrazzi shows readers how to build a spreadsheet to keep track of contacts in terms of the last point of contact and how you might help each other. You can download the template here. 

After you find a method to keep track of your contacts. You want to make sure to stay in touch. The longer you go without talking with someone, the harder it becomes to connect – especially if you only met at a 3-hour networking event.

Key takeaway: Reach out to your network at least two times per year.

Be interested and up to date.

Most importantly, find ways to be on your network’s radar. There are great resources like Google Alerts and LinkedIn Updates, to name a few.

Subscribe to other people’s blogs. Check the updates from your LinkedIn updates section. Share an event that one of your friends is planning. Send an email to reconnect every six months.

You will miss so many opportunities because you don’t pay attention. Your friends, your family, and your connections are doing some amazing things, and unless they are in PR, they probably are bad at promoting them. So, dig in and get interested in what other people are doing. This is how you can see how to help one another.

Key takeaway: Pay attention to other’s people’s lives (and the headlines) for conversation starters.

Ultimately, there are many ways to start relationships. I find that the hardest part is to turn an introduction into a relationship to meet your goals and help others meet theirs. I hope some of these approaches will help you meet your business goals.


Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.