What It's Really Like to Make a Living as a Momfluencer
There's a new gold rush in town. Internet town, that is. You've seen them on your Instagram feed: the momfluencers. Parent influencers, actually, because dads and nonbinary folks are certainly getting on board this trend, too. Chipper and polished, in beautiful homes with beautiful children, showing off products they all believe in—and that you definitely need in your life. Sponsored posts and #ads and affiliate marketing abound on their podcasts and blogs (if they still keep up with those old things).
Nearly everyone I've spoken to about in the influencer scene who is not involved in the influencer scene fully believes that nobody is actually making any money here—and I was among those naysayers prior to researching the wild world of online parenting influencers. Sure, maybe they're making a couple hundred bucks here and there for a few posts about a new brand, we thought. Trades for free press. DM to collab, anyone?
How wrong we were. Not only are these parents making money, many have turned Instagram influencing into a full-time job that is fully funding their kids' college tuitions, paying for new cars and homes, and building huge nest eggs for the years to come. But how are they pulling it off?
Here are some FAQs for those of you thinking you might actually like to collab your way into the parent influencer lifestyle.
How much money are we talking?
It depends. Yes, you need to have a lot of followers (a lot), but you also need a high level of engagement. There's a rule of thumb out there (of course, now somewhat outdated) that an influencer should be asking for one hundred dollars per one thousand followers. So, say you have 100 thousand followers and you're being asked to make a paid post for a brand—survey says, you should ask for at least ten thousand dollars for that work.
But of course, many newbies starting out don't know that rule and will take whatever low-ball pay the brand first offers. BIPOC influencers are routinely offered less thanks to limited financial transparency. The #InfluencerPayGap account is one place influencers can go to see how much others are making (especially white vs. BIPOC earners.) There are also rate calculators available to help you calculate how much you should earn based on followers, engagement, and how many bots are on your tail.
What are the hours involved?
A common misunderstanding is that influencing requires little to no work if you're naturally fabulous. (Spoiler alert: No one is naturally fabulous, especially not parents with young children where snot rockets and projectile vomit are the only predictable occurrences to the day.) Effective influencing requires unique, professional photos that can typically only come from a professional photographer with a pro set-up. Ring lights, the big cameras, hired guns for make-up—and that's just the photo-taking part.
There's also photo planning, caption-writing, and if it's a sponsored post, submitting and receiving approval for the content before posting anything or getting paid. Then there's the comment monitoring and answering, the Insta stories and reels, engagement, engagement, engagement, because this is a community, people!
Sarah Murdock, owner of the blog and Instagram account North Country Littles, says the hours fluctuate but three hours a day over the course of each day is standard for her. "If you are trying to do Instagram for money, you have to be on frequently so you can stay higher up in their algorithms," she says. "Or they start hiding you."
While content creation is a huge chunk of her time, the majority is spent simply being on Instagram and interacting with her community. "I absolutely love that community part of it," she says. "It doesn't feel like work."
Brandi Riley of Courage to Earn coaches influencers regularly on how to ask for their worth. "You have to learn to trust your gut," she says. Having a firm grasp of the worth of your time is key. Creatives in other fields have pay rates ranging anywhere from $75/hour to $150/hour, and many people underestimate the amount of time that goes into this work.
"You have to figure out how much time this is going to take from start to finish." Start to finish isn't just snapping the picture, writing the caption, and answering comments. It's creating the ideas, meeting with the brands, getting approval. "One campaign ends up being anywhere from 10 to 35 hours. That's just one Instagram post, if you're doing a really good job of it."
How do you get work?
Maybe it starts with a brand reaching out to collaborate. Maybe you have a friend in the influencer space who refers you to their manager. (Yes, influencers have managers.) Other OGs started with blogs that went viral and cashed them in for book deals and other opportunities, such as sponsored posts, cost per thousand (CPM) based ads, affiliate link income, and podcast ads.
Sarah Murdock started with a viral blog (North Country Littles) that went the influencing route when she was referred by an influencer friend to her current manager at SociableSociety. "My manager Sara and I have built an amazing relationship over the past couple years," Murdock says. "She handles all the background work—contracts, negotiations, reach outs, scheduling, etc.—allowing me to just focus on the creative side of it."
There are also groups and opportunities hopeful influencers can join to learn how to grow their base and start bringing in some bread. The Influencer's League (aka "an Ivy League Institution for Influencers") is one—for a cost.
On financial stability
Trends in social media change and warp just as quickly as posts go viral. Yesterday, the money was in mommy-blogging; today, it's Instagram. Tomorrow (or maybe today already, is it afternoon in California yet?) it's TikTok, or as I've painfully heard it called, MomTok. And, as with any good gold rush, there's a lot of money to be made—if you get there in time.
"Ride the wave hard," says Brandi Riley. "Get on there, create as much as you can, and charge up as much as you can."
For Murdock, she finds financial stability by never counting on any of her income made on social media. "My husband and I made a pact at the beginning to never rely on the money I make," she says. "I want to be able to stop whenever I want and not have it affect our lifestyle."
Any money she makes from influencing goes straight into savings. "However, buying a car with my own money was really awesome."