In 2015, Tina Meeks started posting on Instagram to find a community. Meeks and her husband, James, had just moved to Phoenix. Meeks was 27 with a five-year-old and a newborn. She was lonely in her new environment. So she started the Instagram account that later became her side hustle.
“Nobody seemed to understand, not even my husband,” she says. “So I turned to the internet to connect, just have somebody tell me that I wasn’t over here in my head going crazy. I began sharing the ups and the downs of balancing motherhood and my work life.”
Turning Her Side Hustle Into Her Full-Time Job
Meeks named her account “Her Life Sparkles” after her childhood nickname, Sparkle. She posted about parenting, clothes, relationships, hair care, food, and even Halloween costumes. Despite her humble reason for opening the account, Meeks made $1,000 collaborating with brands during that first year. She considered Instagram a side hustle, alongside her full-time job as an insurance adjuster with a $55,000 salary.
She balanced these two jobs well until 2018, when she became pregnant for the third time. It wasn’t a planned pregnancy, but it brought a lot of success to her account, reaching 10,000 followers. This made her a micro-influencer. Plus, brands reached out to partner with her, from diapers to soaps to clothes. Many of Meeks’ followers were fellow mothers who enjoy the relatable content and trust her product recommendations.
Therefore, Meeks realized that her side hustle had growth potential. So she took her account more seriously, studying photography and buying a professional camera. As time went on, all of her time, money, and effort paid off. Meeks used her new skills to create her own marketing business when the pandemic lockdowns came, with her kids as models and her home as the studio.
In 2020, she made over $300,000 advertising with brands and coaching aspiring mom influencers. So she quit her job and turned her side-hustle into a full-time job. Today, she has over 67 thousand followers.
The Rise of Mom Influencers
Furthermore, Meeks knows how much her account is worth, with her high engagement and trust with the Black moms in her audience. So she sets her own rates and negotiates when a brand approaches her.
“It’s on a campaign-to-campaign basis. I go by the calculation of 4% to 6% of your following size as your baseline rate,” Meeks says. “Nine times out of 10 in brand board rooms and marketing rooms, there isn’t someone who knows how to speak to Black women in a way that’s going to connect. So not only are you hiring me to create quality content, you’re also hiring me to speak to my audience about your product in a manner that is relatable and valuable to their life. That connection point alone is priceless.”
Mom influencers are powerhouses in the social media marketing industry. And companies are starting to utilize these influencers to market their brand.
“Moms are a much more lucrative category than millennials,” says Joe Gagliese, co-founder and CEO of the influencer marketing agency Viral Nation. “They have a lot more buying power and are usually very PG-rated in their content. They’re very brandable.”
Meek agrees, saying that “people are obsessed. Now, with more people at home during the pandemic, they are just so wrapped up in our family and our story and what we’re doing and what the kids are doing.”cnbc
How to Become a Mom Influencer
Tina Meeks now has a side hustle to her side hustle’ coaching other women to achieve their own success as influencers. In that spirit, here is advice for other moms interested in starting an account by some other moms in the business.
“Don’t try to be anyone but yourself,” says Ginger Parrish of @gparrish. “Find YOUR voice. Dig for the things that make your heart tick and hold on to them for dear life. Social media becomes a whole lot easier once you’re able to separate your genuine joy from what others think of you. If you learn to love your true, imperfect self offline, you’ll feel much more confident online!“
Keep it real
“Be transparent through your posts, keep active engagement with your followers, and never let it become YOU,” says Angelica Calad of @taylensmom. “The beauty of being an influencer is knowing how to communicate through photos and small captions without letting it blind you from the beauty of your own blessings.”
For Hannah Carpenter of @hannahacarpenter, it took about three years and 40 thousand followers before she started making money through sponsorships.
“I think people expect to have a ton of followers immediately,” she says. “It doesn’t just happen overnight and takes a lot of practice and a lot of work.”
Keep a work-life balance
It’s hard to build a brand while raising kids. So don’t get caught up in all the stress. Remember to enjoy it!
“Balance is hard, but the trick is to just enjoy all the fun we are having,” says Shannon Barker and Michaela Ehrle of @mothertruckerco. “If we could give any tips to moms out there, it would be to do something that you love! You have to be true to yourself and build something that you believe in.”
Just do it
“The best advice I could give moms is just to start doing SOMETHING even if it sucks!” says Michelle Gindi of @buddhabowlsandburpees. “My first Instagram posts had terrible pictures, no hashtags, and uninspired captions. The only way to get better is to try at your own pace and your own schedule! Before you know it, you can be making REAL money and be home for your kids.”