How to Make Money

How One Mom’s Instagram Photos Helped Her Earn Thousands

July 18, 2014
by Kelly Gurnett
Contributor
Image: Instagram

Baby pics + puppy pics = big social media shares.

If you’ve spent any time on the Internet, that formula probably doesn’t surprise you. But did you realize baby pics plus puppy pics could also equal a book deal? Or a six-figure income?

As Business Insider recently reported, one mommy blogger managed to do just that.

So, just how did this savvy mom turn her cute Instagram feed into fame and fortune?

Mining Her Own Life

At first, Jessica’s Shyba’s blog, Momma’s Gone City, was largely a personal affair. She used it to keep in touch with friends and family after moving from California to Manhattan, posting about her family, being a parent and making the transition to a big city. Two years in, she decided to make a business of it and began soliciting ads and sponsorships.

She didn’t do anything revolutionary. She wasn’t a guru and didn’t have an MBA. She just took what she was experiencing and shared it in a way that others could relate to, and when she had a large enough audience, she found a way to turn a profit from it.

Building a Brand

Jessica’s “big break” came when she adopted an adorable German Shepherd/Shar Pei mix from the SPCA. The puppy, named Theo, quickly became a favorite naptime cuddle buddy of her young son, Beau, and Jessica started sharing photos of the pair in all manner of cute sleeping positions on Instagram.

Wisely, she added the hashtag “#theoandbeau” to make the photos easier to track — which came in handy when they went viral.

Leveraging Her Success

The Instagram series was so popular, Jessica soon earned attention from The Huffington Post and an appearance on Good Morning America. Traffic to her blog spiked, averaging nearly one million hits a month. (She still continues to gain 1,000 new followers each day.)

All this media coverage put Jessica on the radar of publishing agents, which quickly led to a deal to turn the photo series into two children’s books: Naptime With Theo and Beau and Bathtime With Theo and Beau (both due out in 2015).

Cashing In

As if the book deal weren’t enough, Jessica’s rise to fame has also attracted many more advertising and sponsorship requests for her blog — so many that she had to hire help to field them all. From a five-year-old blog that once gave earned her a little side income, her current ad revenue plus book advance now bring her in a cool six figures a year.

All from sharing some cute photos on Instagram.

Your turn: How can you mine your own experience and leverage them on social media to find similar success?

Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.

by Kelly Gurnett
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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