What It’s Really Like as an Instagram Mommy Influencer.
I have been a blogger for 11 years now and my blog started as simply an online journal. A place to keep memories of our family and share them with others.
Over the years the blog grew, very organically, and along with that growth came new friends, a larger following, and a bit of a hybrid blog combining both our personal lives as well as tips, tricks, and advice I learn along the way.
A big shift happened for me when that whole stalker situation happened with the blog (you can read about it here).
Up until that point I had been accepting friend requests from blog readers on my personal Facebook account.
Once the copy-cat came out I decided I had to separate personal and blog a bit. Which is tricky because my blog IS personal, right?!?!
At that point I went ahead and created The Journey of Parenthood Facebook Page. A place where blog friends could find me on Facebook without being my actual “friends.”
However, a Facebook page isn’t all that great at connecting people together so when Instagram came out I thought it’d be a PERFECT platform to connect to my blog readers in a personal way.
While my blog is super personal, I typically blog behind real-time and often fall several weeks to even months behind when blogging.
Instagram allows my blog readers to see things in “real-time.” Once Stories started on Instagram I was all about it.
I love that Stories are truly instant and are a quick way to capture moments and truly a way for me to almost “make notes” on things to remember to include in my blog posts as I write them!
Social media is always changing and Instagram has evolved from more than just “instantly” sharing what’s going on in your day to now being much more intentional and thought out.
As my Instagram following grew I realized it wasn’t just people finding me from the blog, but now it’s people who find me on Instagram and only know me on Instagram.
Instagram is an ENTIRELY different ballgame than blogging.
I now am currently wearing two hats: “mom blogger” and “mom influencer.”
I think the world of Instagram is very interesting and I have learned a TON over the last couple of years and thought it’d be a fun post to kinda dig a little deeper into the whole Insta lifestyle and share with y’all what I’ve learned and some things you probably don’t know!
Instagram is WORK
My blog grew organically.
I did NOTHING to purposely grow my audience on my blog until it was about 8 years old and I learned that Pinterest should involve more than just pinning random pictures and that SEO was a “thing.”
Instagram is not organic. At all.
You can’t just randomly post pictures and expect people to see them. Followers don’t just magically find you.
Heck, people who DO follow you have a good chance of not even SEEING the stuff you post because Instagram makes it super tough to get things seen (Their hope? That you will PAY to promote your posts!).
Tagging brands matter.
Time of day that you post matters.
Frequency of posing matters.
Instagram only shows your stuff IF people engage with it…yet people can only engage with stuff if they actually SEE it…and people can’t see it if Instagram doesn’t show it…
Engagement refers to people interacting with your content on your feed. Liking pictures, commenting on photos, saving things.
And yes, even with “likes” going away…they will still matter in the eyes of Instagram in regards to allowing people to actually SEE content from accounts they follow!
All of the things that Instagram is wanting people to do are things they naturally don’t. We don’t engaged! We scroll. And scroll. And scroll.
As a culture now overall we’re just less likely to engage. I used to get TONS of comments on blog posts, now I get barely any. It’s just how things are now!
I myself used to be a “chronic liker” on Facebook. I’d like EVERYTHING because it makes you feel good to get positive feedback from others…until Facebook got so overfilled with politics that I had to be careful about which posts I liked and then I just stopped liking at all!
It takes a lot of time and energy to build an authentic, engaging, supportive audience on Instagram – especially when it comes to the feed portion.
And it’s why people who you follow on Instagram appreciate it SO MUCH when you do take the time to like, comment and engage with the stuff we’re putting out there – it’s HUGE!
Stories vs Feed
Instagram has split itself into two entities (not even bothering to mention IGTV b/c who watches that?). The feed and Stories.
The feed is the pictures you see when you scroll on Instagram and the ones that live on your profile page.
Stories are featured at the top of Instagram and go away after 24 hours.
Personally? I watch stories WAY more than I scroll the feed and I enjoy posting stories WAY more than I enjoy posting on the feed too!
It’s a casual space. For me, it’s my favorite social media area. I love me some Stories! Stories are the most FUN thing I do in the social media space 🙂
I have been fortunate to have a very loyal following from having been blogging for so long, so I have a very high engagement rate on my Stories with no effort required on my end other than just posting them.
I love connecting with my community in Stories (although replying to DMS can be tough b/c Instagram hides them so often too!) and always learn and grow so much from what I learn from people in that space.
I also love that I am able to “block” people from viewing my stories. My blog is public. Everything I say here can be seen by ANYONE.
But in stories? I can share things that are on my heart that I may not want to be shared in such a permanent, World Wide Web sorta way.
Many mommy influencers are ONLY on Instagram. They aren’t bloggers and don’t have the base community set up when they get started so having their stories seen can be tough.
Stories can take just as much work for people to grow as the feed does.
If someone doesn’t already have that loyal base following that have to work to get their stories seen.
Hashtags, locations, tagging – there are lots of ways to help beat the Instagram algorithm!
Hitting 10,000 followers on Instagram is a huge milestone achievement because it allows for the swipe up feature in Stories.
I was SUPER pumped about this milestone because I’m a blogger!
I’ve never, ever had any desire or goal to be an “influencer” (I LOATHE that term). I blog. I have a mom blog. A parenting blog. I talk about things moms talk about…my children.
But I also happen to use Instagram, like most parents, and have been fortunate enough to meet many new friends through that platform and having the swipe up to share my blog posts helps that community SEE my blog!
My purpose in Instagram is my desire to connect to my blog community and now it’s also become to help my Instagram community connect to my blog!
I did not anticipate that hitting 10k would also bring about this new part of Instagram for me which is sponsored content.
Sponsored content happens many different ways on Instagram.
Paid Collabs vs Item Exchange
I dare say MAJORITY of sponsored content you see on Instagram is in exchange for product only.
Brands use Instagram Influencers to get their products seen and try to minimize their advertising costs as much as possible so they will pitch to people (or campaign platforms) for product only.
Which is really, really unfair.
Instagram influencers ARE advertisers. Showing a brand to their followers helps the brand in a HUGE way and brands should be PAYING for that exposure.
I’m really anti-product-only campaigns. However, I have done them myself from time to time (I know, it’s hypocritical but sometimes you really want the free stuff haha!).
Usually if you see #gifted it means the item was given for free in exchange for the post.
Typically if I do product only collaborations it’s because I already LOVE the product or it’s a company that is newer and I want to help them.
I am passionate about people who have passion. Creative people are so awesome to me (I’m zero percent creative!) and I’ve always been big about helping creators out!
Smaller businesses, authors, brands I love, items I’d like to own, things I already recommend…those are the only sort of product for post exchanges I will do, and most often they are featured in my stories.
Paid collaborations obviously means the influencer is being paid by the brand to post.
Payment amounts can be all over the place and as a Instagram user there isn’t really anyway to tell how much an influencer is making for the posts they are showcasing.
Both paid and product only campaigns come about in three different ways:
Reaching Out to Brands
For people who work
Personally? I feel weird reaching out and asking a brand to pay me haha! So it’s not something I spend time or effort on doing.
I have reached out to a couple of experiences I was hoping to do with my family but when you have four kids it’s kinda a lot and I’ve yet to have luck getting free experiences that way but figure if it’s something we’re planning to do anyway…it doesn’t hurt to send a quick email and try!
I am trying to do better about thinking ahead and reaching out to brands I want to work with. If it’s a product I’m planning to purchase anyway, why not do a sponsored post with the company for it?
Brands Reaching Out
A very common way to work with a company is that they contact me via email or DM on Instagram.
Personally I always respond to any collaboration requests in my DMs with my email address and have them email me instead.
99% of the time the brand is looking for product only collaborations.
A lot of the time it’s random stuff. I’ve gotten in the routine of just replying to those emails with my rates for collabs and I typically never hear back from them again!
Sometimes though a brand reaches out and they are the real deal.
Those are awesome moments and I’ve been connected with some really great brands that I’ve LOVED working with.
Some of those opportunities make me want to pinch myself to believe they really have happened (looking at you Universal!)
Working directly with a company is the best collaboration because they are
Applying to Campaigns
A third way to get connected with brands is through influencer marketing platforms that work to connect influencers with brands.
You login to the platform and see opportunities and then apply to the ones that may interest you or fit your personal brand or style.
When doing these sorts of campaigns you’re not working directly with the brand itself but instead connecting through the marketing platform team.
Many of my collabs come through this route and it’s typically a very smooth process but also typically it’s the work in exchange for a set rate.
When working directly with brands there is room to negotiate and set your own rates.
When applying to campaigns there is less of that wiggle room so often you’ll do just as much work for much less income from it.
Sometimes it’s even MORE work because you will agree to the terms and the brand will then communicate a change in terms last minute or push deadlines and such.
What It’s Like Doing Sponsored Posts
It’s natural to look at someone’s Instagram feed and assume that their sponsored stuff is super easy, but y’all it ain’t no joke.
Brands will typically either ship the product OR require you to purchase it yourself (and then the cost of the product comes out of your earnings…).
They will then typically have very specific requirements for the campaign.
Talking points you have to cover.
Ways the image must appear.
Ways in which the image may, or may not, be altered.
Hashtags to use.
I’ve even had ones that specified certain poses for my toddler to be in and colors that weren’t allowed to be shown at all in the image.
Sometimes brands have to approve of your content prior to posting.
And sometimes they have the rights to change your content too.
It takes a LOT of time to put together the final image you see in your feed!
When I’m the one in the photos…it’s super-duper awkward and requires my sweet husband to be an IG Husband which isn’t always his dream job nor his best skill set (although having a tall husband does mean some great angles!)
When it’s the kids being featured it means lots of bribery and taking a BILLION pics to get that one decent one where they aren’t doing super cheesy posed grins.
I never, ever realized how much of a J O B instagram was until I started working in the space myself!
I have a HUGE appreciation for those perfect IG pics I see pop up in my feed b/c I know they are dang hard to make happen (or maybe these people have robots as kids?)
Earning Money on Instagram
At first I felt REALLY weird about earning money on Instagram.
It took me YEARS to even place ads on my blog. I felt uncomfortable with the idea of earning income off of blogging.
But it’s work yall. Its time, effort, energy, and every single blog out there has ads on it! So why was I being stubborn about it?
I think about all the money I missed out on just because I felt uncomfortable earning money from my hobby that I enjoyed doing.
By the time I started growing in Instagram I was def less uncomfortable with earning income from it.
My blog and Instagram earnings allow me to print my blog posts into books for my kids. It’s my purpose behind it ALL.
And getting a fun toy that my kids enjoy + getting paid for it? Sure. Why not?
That added money allows us more quality time together on trips (coughDisneyAnnualPassescough) and I appreciate the blessing of being able to earn income at home with my kids involved in the process!
I used to be really annoyed by people who constantly had “swipe up” in their stories and “link in bio!” on their feed.
But now? I get it.
These bigger accounts? They are making six figures EASY off of Instagram alone yall. It’s a FULL TIME JOB.
Campaigns and brands pay a variety of amounts. Most people have a set rate but it will vary too.
My biggest campaign to
The ones with millions of followers can earn 6 figures per post even!
The ones with 100,000+ (or close to it) often have paid assistants who take their pictures for them and do most of their Stories too!
It is always wise to diversify income – no matter what space you are in.
While my goal and passion has always been to be a stay at home mom, it’s also been a joy and blessing to our lives to have the blog and Instagram earnings.
When I get scared about Zach’s health it brings me peace of mind knowing I have a way to contribute to our family earnings if needed.
I am always so appreciative of my blessings and never want to take any of it for granted or seem ungrateful in any way.
Again, seeing “swipe up” used to annoy me. I know it annoys some of yall too.
But once I got the swipe up feature myself and was able to start linking products?
I could see just how much of a pain it is to find the links for things!
Yes, when people share items in a swipe up they are earning affiliate income from those purchases.
I never realized just how LITTLE people are earning from those clicks though!
The average $20 purchase from a swipe up earns me around $0.20. Yes. TWENTY CENTS. And that’s IF the purchaser doesn’t decide to return it. And IF the code actually gets properly tracked (which it often doesn’t).
You’d have to sell a TON of stuff in a swipe up to make any real income from it.
For me personally, I’ve always linked where things are from on my blog.
It’s helpful to the reader to know where something was purchased or where we ate or a hotel we stayed at.
I was linking on my blog before I even knew there was a such thing as an affiliate link!
When sharing a swipe up it’s the same thing as sharing a link on the blog. It’s helping people find an item.
When I forget to link something I will get a DM asking for a link – it’s way easier and runs smoother to just try to be mindful and share links as I post things rather than sending a bunch of dms with links later 🙂
It’s a pain to hunt down those links and now that I do them myself I can’t even fathom the amount of time these huge fashion bloggers spend (well actually their assistants do it I’m sure!).
It makes me appreciate the effort that goes into sharing items and I’m more likely to support other influencers and purchase from their links now that I know the work that goes into it behind the scenes!
A lot of Amazon is CRAP and you really have to try things on to know if it’s a good item!
So when I share an Amazon find that is a WIN? It saves my community from having to try a bunch of duds themselves!
While swiping up to things makes me appreciate bigger influencers more…being in this space also frustrates me at these bigger accounts too.
I had no clue about this myself but it is actually against the LAW to not disclose in your blog or on your Instagram.
If you’re earning money and working for a brand or on a campaign – you gotta tell people.
Anytime I do any sponsored content where I earn money for the post you will ALWAYS see #ad or #sponsored at the beginning of my posts. Always.
The same goes for my stories. If I’m being PAID to post the content by company…I will tell you that!
If I received the item for free? I will use #gifted (typically the free stuff is only featured in my stories).
SO MANY big accounts do NOT disclose. AT ALL.
And it drives me crazy! That fashion blogger you love?
Most likely she has been given the clothes she’s showcasing – for free.
And most likely she’s also being paid to talk about the clothes too and just not telling you.
Insert mega big eye roll right here!
I’m not hating on the big influencers, I follow many of them myself and love the stuff they share!
I just wish they were more authentic and honest about their accounts!
I do think that sometimes people do not KNOW that they need to disclose, but often they do and choose not to because they want to seem authentic and genuine and not “spammy.”
I’ve had people tell me they see #ad or #sponsored and immediately brush the post aside and don’t take the input given by the post as truth because they know the person is being paid to say it.
So it makes sense that people don’t want to properly disclose in their posts but it doesn’t mean it’s okay not to.
Instagram is Advertising
Brands view Instagram as a place for advertising opportunities.
Get their product seen. Have that recognition.
It’s important as a consumer of social media to recognize that.
It’s called an “Influencer” because the content being posted is influencing people.
The job of an influencer is to bring awareness and it’s important as a consumer to understand this.
Even if you don’t realize it’s influencing you – it is.
Just seeing an item makes connections in your brain and you’re more likely to purchase an item on a shelf that you’ve seen before.
(I totally did this myself – I recently bought a brand of sunscreen because I’d seen it on Instagram!)
Disclosed or not, a lot of the content you see on your feed or in stories IS advertising.
Advertising does not mean, however, that it’s not genuine.
Everyone who works in the Instagram space has control over the brands they choose to work with.
And yes, when being paid to post on something (and receiving that item for free too) it’s natural to want to feature the best things about that product.
You want to make your employer (aka the brand) proud of the work you did for them.
You hope that maybe they will want to work with you again in the future.
That one well done campaign could snowball and lead to even better opportunities.
So yes, influencers are featuring the best aspects of a product and will find the things they like best about them to share.
Transparacy Struggles in an IG World
Something I have always, always taken pride in is that I’m very transparent.
I am who I am. I share my truth. I am an open book and always want to be upfront and honest with others.
That can be tricky with Instagram campaigns at times.
Sure, I can be picky about what I say “yes” to or the campaigns I apply for.
But sometimes? Sometimes you get the product and just don’t like it. But at that point you’ve already committed! Can’t really back out then right?
So yes, I will always do my best to only say “yes” to things that truly fit my “brand” and that I myself love or enjoy or that my kids are excited about (usually the toy campaigns I show them the offer and let them decide if we do it – they LOVE it!) or that I think others will benefit from.
But please, please know I will NEVER lie.
Yes I will feature the most positive aspects of something, but I won’t say I love something if I don’t.
I pride myself on being transparent and am ALWAYS open to talking privately about things I post if you’re wanting more info on something!
If you’re curious to know more about something I share, just shoot me a message! See a toy on my feed and want to know if my kids played with it for longer than 5 min? Ask!
See a household or clothing item and want to know how it fits, how much we use it, what our thoughts are after having it awhile? ASK ME ANYTHING!
Truly. I will always, always let you know my honest thoughts on something anytime about anything!
(I think by now yall know I’m the queen of “oversharing and owning it” and nothing is ever “too personal” to ask haha).
I take a lot of pride in the community that has been built the last decade through my blog and I have loved how that community has evolved on Instagram and will always continue to be my true self in all platforms!
Thoughts on Being an Instagram Mommy Influencer
Somedays? I wish I’d never even started with Instagram.
I wish I’d just stayed in my little blog bubble.
But as Walt Disney says “times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”
While I have always loved blogging a big part of that love has been the community that has come from blogging and the reality is that blogs just aren’t that community that they used to be – communities on social media live on the gram so that means if I wanna keep the tribe I have and love…I gotta be living on the gram too 😉
Truly. Y’all mean THE WORLD to me.
So there you have it – a bit of a behind the scenes look in the Instagrammer life!
I am so thankful to be part of yall’s lives and love having you in part of mine whether it’s via the blog, IG, FB or those few Twitter and youtube channel people too 😉
My goal in this post was really to let yall kinda know more about what I do behind the scenes on Insta and what all of it is about but I also hope in learning this stuff that you will be encouraged to really show love to the people you enjoy following!
They work hard to bring the content your way and shopping links, giving likes, and engaging is a big way to help them (and me!) out!
If you’re not currently following me on Instagram I’d love to connect with you there, and be warned I overshare in my stories even more than I overshare on the blog 😉