These social media mavens and moms have some serious marketing clout as influencers—and have tons of fun doing it.
In this age of tech and gadgetry, a new type of marketing opportunity has sprouted from the seeds of social media. The result? Social media influencers.
These influencers are powerful experts and personalities who have amassed a significant social media following. In fact, the fans—which number in the thousands and millions—are so large that companies and brands pay these influencers for a mention.
These influencers can include anyone with a niche market—from travel to beauty and fashion—including moms.
Orange County is home to many such influential moms with this special kind of marketing power. We reached out to some of them and they took time from their very busy schedules to answer our pressing questions about parenting, social media and the balancing of the two.
Kids: Stella, 9, and Blaise, 7
Handle: @stellaandblaise and Stella & Blaise on YouTube
City: Huntington Beach
How did your social media life begin? “I was researching the Internet on how to take care of natural curly hair and came across Instagram. At first it was a way for me to gain tips on products and connect with other moms of curly kids. It eventually turned into a fashion/lifestyle page as I found it fun to create different looks for the kids. Stella was just starting her modeling career in LA and it was also a page to connect with other ‘stage’ moms.”
How did it turn into a moneymaking enterprise? “It naturally turned into a business when companies such as Target and Gap wanted us to feature looks for them on our page.”
How does social media influencing work? “It’s still funny sometimes to call ourselves ‘social media influencers.’ I really see this as an opportunity to share great products and tips to other families. We have turned down deals when they don’t fit our lifestyle or it’s a product I would not recommend to others. I buy and get ideas often from other influencers too. It’s a great way to see a product/or service in use with those you know.”
How does your family get involved? “My husband is super supportive of our business and will sometimes take a photo for us. LOL. It’s mostly just myself and the kiddos that are involved.”
Is this a full-time job for you? “Yes.”
How do you juggle parenting with running a business? “It can be really crazy at times like all other families. Our kids are not only involved with our IG business, but they are involved with many other activities. They are also models/actors and we travel often back and forth to LA on a weekly basis. They [are] also currently both playing two sports. I’m thankful for my husband who’s very helpful. Most work for me is done during the school day where I can edit photos, reply to emails or prepare for photoshoots.”
Did you ever imagine you could make money from social media? “No! So funny how it transitioned almost overnight.”
What is the ultimate goal? “My kids would love to grow our YT channel and focus on making more fun videos. I would say that our goal is to continue making this a fun adventure for all of us and of course make extra money for their college savings.”
Do you have any advice for moms or others who want to become social media influencers? “Do make it fun for your kids. Don’t force them to take photos or videos. It should happen naturally. Do be authentic and let others take a peek into your daily life as a mom. Don’t buy followers. I’m not sure if people still do this, but it was popular at one point. Do grow your business organically. Do collabs with other accounts or companies that you respect/like. Do take candid photos. Don’t over pose your kids/yourself. Make it a real moment.”
Kids: Jack, 15, Kyle, 12, Vann, 8, and Dani, 1 1/2
Handle: @popsicleblog / Sandy Toes and Popsicles on Facebook
City: Anaheim Hills
How did your social media life begin? “I began my social media life as a blogger when my oldest son was five years old. Back then is when I first started to look online to find fun activities to take my kids to. I was really good at finding the free and lost-cost events. My friends would always ask me how I found so many cool things to do. So I started the blog Sandy Toes and Popsicles to share all my finds and ideas with them. It was only meant to be a summertime gig … that is why I named it Sandy Toes and Popsicles … representing the beach and the perfect summer treat.”
How did it turn into a moneymaking enterprise? “I have been blogging [since] 2007. Around year three I started making money. At year six, I was making enough money to not worry about my other job as a freelance graphic designer and I closed my wedding invitation business. Today, I make most of my money by partnering with brands that my family enjoys. They pay me to write about my experience with them, or even create a recipe or craft with their products. I have also been paid to cover and/or host events in the community, and have had some paid brand ambassadorships.
How does your family get involved? “Although I do most of the work on my social channels, my kids get to enjoy many events and activities around Southern California that I share on my channels. They have become very good at posing for photos and being well-behaved when we are ‘working.’ Even little Dani will walk up to a colorful wall on the street and say ‘cheese Mommy’ without even being asked to. My husband is the real lifesaver behind my blog and social channels. He is always supportive, more than helpful with the kids and makes sure that I have everything I need to create content.”
Is this a full-time job for you? “Besides being a stay-at-home mom, blogging is my full-time job. It’s been this way for the past five years. Before blogging, I was a freelance graphic designer and had a custom wedding invitation business.
How do you juggle parenting with running a business? “Juggle is the perfect word to describe how I parent and run a business. I don’t believe that there will ever [be] a perfect balance between the two, but I have found that some things [do] make life go smoother for our family. Working in the early mornings before the kids wake up, not saying ‘yes’ to too many, hiring someone to do my laundry has helped me keep it together as a mom and business woman. Sometimes I give up having a clean house for the week, and sometimes I have to miss out on a business opportunity. There’s always give and take and a lot of patience … for sure, it’s not always pretty. But in the end, I make it work.”
Did you ever imagine you could make money from social media? “When I first started blogging, it really was just a hobby. I wanted to help people find things to do. It’s just the icing on the cake that I now get paid to do what I love.”
What is the ultimate goal? “To sell my blog and move to Hawaii! Just joking. My ultimate goal is to continue to share fun things to do around Orange County with my readers and create an online memory book of sorts for my kids to cherish for a lifetime.”
Do you have any advice for moms or others who want to become social media influencers? “I believe that anyone who puts in the hard work and time into being a social media influencer can do it. Make sure to post quality content—that your photos are good quality and interesting to others you are hoping to reach. Make sure that a good percentage of what you post is giving back to your fans … whether it be an inspirational message, fun ideas on things to do/wear/make, or just photos that bring joy. Tag brands featured in your posts so that your followers can find the things you use and so that those brands will take notice. Stay true to yourself and your niche.”
Kids: Vance, 3
City: Huntington Beach
How did your social media life begin? “I had a stroke about 10 years ago and wanted to share my journey back to health. Although it wasn’t until many years later, I had made so many lifestyle changes and people always asked about them. I wanted to have a place to share the highs and lows of life after such a traumatic event. I fell in love with natural ways to cure everything and it evolved into more. Ways to have glowing, healthy skin, more energy and an overall happier life.”
How did it turn into a moneymaking enterprise? “When I really started to become invested in the quality of my photos, and staying true to my style, is when I saw a change in my blog. I started opening up more about my life as a mom, a wife and our healthy lifestyle, and people become more invested in you. That makes companies more interested in you also and that’s how you grow your business.”
How does social media influencing work? “I think this is different for everyone. I really connect with the women that follow along with me on my journey. I share my love for fashion, beauty and a healthy family lifestyle and they share their passions with me. I think if you are inspiring people to be happier in their lives then you are doing your job as an influencer.”
How does your family get involved? “My husband is the other half to my success. He is my photographer, my manager and everything in between. There is no way I could do it without him.”
Is this a full-time job for you? “Social media is more than a full-time job. It’s endless.”
How do you juggle parenting with running a business? “I do the best I can. I stay up all hours of the night making sure I meet deadlines and create beautiful content. I want to be present in my little boy’s life and not staring at my phone all day. I try to make a schedule to get the most done when he is asleep or napping. It’s such a tough question for a mom, and there is always mom guilt but I try to include him, wherever I can, so he knows I am working hard for all of us. My husband [and] I are always working out our schedules to make the most of our time with Van. He is my top priority and I want to be the best mom I can so I sacrifice in other areas to make up for it. That must be why I have these dark circles, the endless nights with no sleep. I still wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Did you ever imagine you could make money from social media? “Yes, I knew the potential was there and I absolutely love that I get to create for a job. I love that there is always a challenge to do better. Post better photos, travel more, work with dream brands and do it all while being a mom at home. It is what keeps me going. It’s what makes working so hard worth it.”
What is the ultimate goal? “I would love to have my own brand. I’m not sure exactly what it is yet but I have a few ideas. Lastly to inspire a beautiful life. I am truly blessed to have the life I always dreamed of here by the ocean with my little family and I love sharing that with this amazing community. I haven’t always known exactly how to say how much I love my life without it sounding too fake, but what I have learned through trial and error is it’s OK to just say it. I am lucky and thankful for this life with my two guys.”
Do you have any advice for moms or others who want to become social media influencers? “My advice to the other moms out there is find something that sets you apart. Be you instead of doing what everyone else is doing and when you feel like quitting, don’t. Make lots of friends in the same boat as you and share your wins and struggles with each other. Don’t compare yourself to the girl with 200,000 followers when you just started. And most of all, choose your family first. Love your babies when they are pulling at you to get off your phone, play with them and be a good mom, then be an influencer.”
Kids: Ben, 19, and Zachary, 13
Handle: @Everything Evelyne
City: Newport Coast
How did your social media life begin? “My social media life began about four years ago. My boys were getting older and I felt like they were getting more into their own lives. I used to be a speech language pathologist before I had kids. I specialized in the autistic population. I felt like being a parent, I wanted to do something totally different not involving kids. I have always had a passion for fashion and beauty. I have no training. I’m just a mom who wants to feel good about herself. I started this blog to help inspire women of all ages, sizes and professions to take fashion risks and step outside of their comfort zones. I could not believe how many people were inspired and motivated by my words. It feels very rewarding.”
How did it turn into a moneymaking enterprise? “I felt like my blog started out as a hobby and just for fun. And little by little as my following grew, I realized I could actually get paid for talking about things that I love. It was a win-win. Now I’m trying to be more selective in which brands I represent and share with my readers based on things I really love.”
How does your family get involved? “My family is so supportive of my blog. I think it is such a great example to show my boys to run after things you are passionate about.”
Is this a full-time job for you? “This has now become a full-time job for me. I spend most of my time on social media responding to emails, messages, working on campaigns. I take photos with a professional photographer twice a month and I attend many events. One of my favorite parts of being an influencer is all of the relationships I have made. I feel so fortunate to have met some amazing women in this business.”
How do you juggle parenting with running a business? “Yes, I juggle parenting and running a business by asking for a lot of help from my friends with my 13-year-old, and make sure that the time I am with my kids that it is quality time—no cell phones or social media.”
What is the ultimate goal? “My ultimate goal is to work with more brands and keep influencing people. And stay authentic to myself.”
Do you have any advice for moms or others who want to become social media influencers? “My advice to other moms is that as your kids get older, you start to reevaluate where you fit in this world. At least I did. I needed to figure out a second career path for the second part of my life when the boys were getting older. Social media and being an influencer is so fun and glamorous but it is also a ton of work. I enjoy it all and I can’t wait to keep going. Being a parent means asking people for help and delegate. I ask for rides from friends and set up play dates, but the nice thing is you work for yourself and set your own hours. I can make this influencer lifestyle fit into my schedule the best I can.”
Story by Jessica Peralta | Photography by Ralph Palumbo
Location: Ocean Institute in Dana Point on the Research Vessel Sea Explorer