Amber Faust never imagined she would make a profession capturing photos of her children all day, yet, here she is.
Faust, 33, works as a mom blogger, also known as an “influencer.”
Each morning she wakes up to a new package on her doorstep. Baby clothes, food, strollers, new gadgets ... you name it, she got it — for free.
With brands trying to get their latest kid-friendly products into the hands of moms across the globe, bloggers like Faust are a hot commodity.
“You can make a good living from it … like a very good living from it,” Faust said.
For posting a photo on Instagram, she typically receives about $1,000 and for writing a blog post, she gets about $800.
“Some of my family think it’s weird, until they realize that I don’t have to send my kids to daycare. I actually get paid to play with them all day and then at bedtime, I post a few pictures, and so they’re OK with it,” she said.
Prior to becoming an influencer, Faust was a professional photographer, booking gigs for wedding and other events throughout the week.
In late 2015, after having her first son, Oli, Faust began taking photos of him and posting them on Instagram. After a few months, she started receiving messages from brands.
“They kept asking ‘Can we send you stuff for him to wear because you take really cute pictures of your son?’,” Faust recalled. “I always said OK, because free stuff is always great, especially with a newborn.”
Within a month, Faust had a stack of 20 outfits for her son from various companies.
Over time, the stack of free clothes and products grew taller. Then companies started paying her to post photos of her children with the free products.
“It turned crazy really fast, and when I had my other son, it just got crazier,” she said. “Then companies started talking to me about my daughter and it just kept growing until I was actually making a living posting pictures of my kids on Instagram.”
Influencers such as Faust have become a widely used marketing tool over the last few years.
More than 60 percent of brands used influencers in their 2016 marketing strategies, according to Chute, a social media marketing platform.
“In a world swimming in content, people want to get their information from people they trust,” said Charlie Clark, a spokesperson for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. “They’re called influencers for a reason. They have such a strong and loyal following. People want to wear what they wear, eat what they eat and travel where they travel.”
Clark said the chamber actively pursues bloggers and influencers every day in order to reach niche markets.
“Influencers are a big part of what we do in terms of garnering coverage for the destination,” she said. “When you have a destination like ours that has so many facets to it ... influencers help you hone into those niches and maximize coverage.”
Later this month, the chamber is bringing in travel influencer Matt Hranek, who posts on Instagram as “wmbrownproject,” for the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance.
The chamber works with partnering hotels on the island to host influencers and the perks they receive vary depending on the person, Clark said.
“We know that once we get people here, statistics show that they’re likely going to come back again,” she said. “So it’s all about constantly filling the pipeline and reaching the audience of millennials. Influencers are a great way to do that.”
Last month, Dramamine, a motion sickness medicine company, gave Faust and her daughter, Piper, a free 10-day trip to Europe. On top of the free trip, Faust was also paid to go on the trip.
For the total eclipse in August, Faust and her family were given an RV to drive to the path of totality.
In December, her son Oli will get his first haircut on Main Street of Disney World. You guessed it ... for free.
Faust hasn’t forgotten how much she owes her children either. She pays her daughter modeling fees and is beginning to set aside earnings for her sons too.
As for what makes her so successful, Faust says she owes part of it to Hilton Head Island’s scenery.
Her favorite spots to photograph her children include the beach, the Sea Pines Forest Preserve and the Hilton Head library, which has the “prettiest light in the winter,” she said.
“We’ve always got great weather and great greenery here,” she said. “All the kids brands want them outside in nature right now. Outdoors photography and natural lighting is a big draw.”
If it gets hard to compete, Faust said she’ll quit.
But for now, she says there’s “more than enough work for all of the influencers and mom bloggers.”