I'm a Mom and an Instagram Influencer: This is How I Support My Family

Stay-at-home moms are using social media to tap into the direct marketing and branding industry to make real money from home. Curious about how to join them? Danielle Lucia Schaffer, the influencer behind City Girl Gone Mom, shares her experience.

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Photo: Courtesy of Danielle Schaffer

Some of my most insightful, inspiring, and innovative friends are my fellow baby-wearing, storytelling, photo capturing mom bosses. You see, we have this crazy commonality of being social media savvy while juggling a few kids, a camera, and a handful of contracts. We've created a career and a brand around making the most of motherhood, and I think we do a pretty good job of capturing the good, the bad, and sometimes even the ugly. We boomerang our best moments with cheesy champagne toasts, and then we blog about our setbacks—the spills and the sleepless nights. At the end of the day, we've all worked countless hours to turn motherhood into a stay-at-home mom career that allows us to hold onto and capture the fleeting moments with our little ones, and sometimes be the breadwinners in our families.

Stay-at-home mom jobs have been on the rise for quite some time. Whether it's a product, a service, or a blog, we all have to lean on our friends, followers, and fans for our businesses to grow. And social media has become a fantastic way to develop a network and create influence around the things we're most passionate about. Some may find this hard to believe, but as moms, there are actually things out there (besides our children) that motivate us, make us tick, and give us purpose. For me, it's being able to interact with other moms, offer tips on products I love, share stories, and give virtual high fives to the other hardworking parents out there who tune in.

Bette Midler once said, "I want it all, and I would like it delivered." Who doesn't, right? Social media influencers, in particular, are able to meet parents in their homes through brand partnerships, and it's proving plentiful and powerful. Strategic content creators are making it very easy for brands to forego a traditional advertising agency approach to marketing, as influencers put a new spin on the tried and true testimonial. On the flip side, moms around the globe are harnessing their creativity by capturing what they do best, "motherhood," and making it a pretty attractive income stream. But success will only come to those who are forging new paths with authentic and thoughtful content will stand out among the rest.

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Courtesy of Danielle Schaffer

My Entrepreneur Path

After I had my first child in 2006, I couldn't picture returning to my nine-to-five journalism job. I wasn't ready to stop working entirely, but I wanted to have more time to spend with my son. This motivated me to channel my inner creative: I flipped lamps, had a photography business, and I even owned a pregnancy fitness franchise for a while. These flex jobs provided solid—albeit temporary—sources of income. And while I had grit and street hustle to keep it all up, by the time I had my fourth child, it was clearly time for a lifestyle change. My family left the Carolinas on the East Coast for the sunny and chill side of Southern California, I started a blog. My new identity as City Girl Gone Mom was born.

What's different now is that I get to stay home and somewhat make my own hours. I can go to the assembly at school, or take my toddler to the bookstore and sip on a latte while reading a nursery rhyme with him. Of course, there are those days where paid campaigns have me working more than I would ever want, but it's fun. I make it fun for me, the team I am working with, and for my family who often join me at events or on set. I am intentional about being present with my kids even on those long work days and I salute every working mom because it is hard. After four children there is no such thing as balancing, it's more so blending. Whether you have one, four, or even half a dozen children, you are making it all happen. And the truth is all our children want is us, so they are the constant reminder as to when I need to stop my workday.

My children do understand that we as a family have become a brand and we partner with other brands that match our lifestyle and our beliefs. Through my work, my children get to see the world, try new things, and also share their ideas about a partnership we all enter into. They get to see their mom being creative and even help me brainstorm ideas. And if you are like me—an eternal goal-driven optimist—you will think there is more time in the day than there really is. The truth is, there is not. So it's really important that I set up specific work hours so I can unplug from my social world and plug into my family when they get home from school.

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Courtesy of Danielle Schaffer

How to Become a Stay-at-Home Mom Influencer

Create a multi-dimensional approach with a blog

I recommend starting with a blog, no matter if your business is a product, or your product is your blog. Once you find your niche, stick to it, be creative, and whatever you do, be "real." People are drawn to authenticity and are looking for others to which they can relate.

My blog chronicles my life, my love of family, fashion, food, and more. My social media channels amplify the blog. And these days, it's become so much more than just writing a couple of articles every week. Through my blog, I've been able to take my love of photography and videography—on both sides of the lens—to the next level. So, ask yourself what your strongest points are in this space. Is it photography, staging, videography, your writing chops? And build upon that.

Make it personal

As crazy as this sounds, your identity and personal story should be part of your business strategy. You want to have a consistent message—and not be all over the place. If you are a mom who specializes in children's behavior, don't review sunglasses. It doesn't work. Stick with your specialty, but organically weave in other facets of your life. If you're a mom who sells essential oils, your own success will be determined by your experiences with the products and the testimonials of your family and friends. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Don't be afraid to share.

Create your own style and stick to it

Treat every image you post as if it's a piece of art. Be thoughtful about it. Is it aesthetically pleasing to the eye? Some social media influencers focus more on the perfect photo, shot with an uber-expensive camera, while others use their iPhone, and do just fine. Whichever direction you take, create your own style and stick to it. Establishing a consistent brand makes it all the more easy for others to relate, to preach what you're preaching, and to buy what you're selling. I was a photographer long before blogging became mainstream, so I prefer to share professional images. That's just me. There are several great mobile apps, however, that can create a similar effect from your smartphone photos. It's just a matter of preference and convenience. Just be consistent!

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Courtesy of Danielle Schaffer

Don't sweat the small stuff

Naysayers will be naysayers, but I'll continue to spread the gospel of awesome products, business, and organizations that I believe in. I'm really proud of the community that I've cultivated around my stories in parenting. And while some choose to spend their energy picking apart the personal triumphs of others, I choose to celebrate those triumphs, and getting paid to do so is a win/win.

As with anything, it's not easy, and success does not happen overnight. Although part of my job is to share picture perfect moments of mommyhood, truth be told, I am putting in more hours of work now than I ever have. And that's not even counting the hours mothering! The only difference now is that my children are my focus, and when I'm not focused on them or my husband, the social aspect of my business truly fulfills me.

I am beyond blessed to share this endeavor with women around the world. This has been the most fulfilling and rewarding job I've ever had. And this is just the beginning. The rise of the stay-at-home "mompreneur" has not even come close to reaching its peak. Brands all over the world consider us a powerful vehicle in reaching their audience. We all know that moms hold the purchasing power—at least that holds true in our household. So, to all the women out there entering into or mastering the stay-at-home mom hustle, I salute you. And I believe there's room for all of us to thrive here.

Danielle Schaffer lives in California with her husband and four children. You can find Danielle at citygirlgonemom.com, on Instagram at @citygirlgonemom, and on her popular podcast, "The Mom Confidential."

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