Power mums: the rise of Canberra's most influential Instagrammers
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Power mums: the rise of Canberra's most influential Instagrammers

First there was the rise of the mummy blogger, then the rise of the Facebook mums (hello, Constance Hall), but in 2018 it's all about the mummy grammer: women who share their parenting moments on Instagram.

I chatted to three of Canberra's most influential mummy grammers about how they find time to post daily, being criticised for sharing pics of their kids, and whether there really are perks for online influencers.

Canberra's most influential mummy grammers: Lauren Lauren Dubois, Camille Aniversario and Barbara Bryan.

Canberra's most influential mummy grammers: Lauren Lauren Dubois, Camille Aniversario and Barbara Bryan.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Camille Aniversario

Owner of @camilleaniversario, @pipandlou, @themargerykids and @invincibleshe

Combined audience: 20,661

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Why was each one of your Instagram accounts started?

@camilleaniversario is my personal account and family platform. This is my primary account where I discuss and share the daily travels of my family. I post mini blogs, share my off-the-wall home styling and lifetime love for thrift shopping and upcycling furnture. This account is a personal outlet and really just ties the others together.

@pipandlou was created in late 2013 in preparation for the business I was building at the time. It was from supporting local charities through my dessert platform that my advocacy platform was born. From there I founded my blog INVINCIBLE SHE and created its corresponding social media accounts as a way of sharing the blog’s content.

@themargerykids is my new business venture. I developed and trademarked the business in the first half of 2017. It was put on hold as I learned my twins were on the way. I am now in the process of bringing it to life. But I will keep her under wraps until I’m ready to launch officially.

What conversations are you leading online?

These vary. First and foremost, I am a mother. But I also happen to be a mother who manages several businesses and platforms on a full-time basis. I am a mother/woman who escaped domestic violence with an infant and who continues to deal with the trauma that stemmed from that.

So basically through INVINCIBLE SHE, I am leading conversations on overcoming adversity of all kinds. On entrepreneurship. On wellness and reducing the stigma around mental health. On stress management and achieving balance (still trying to manage this myself). I’m fiercely pushing back against societal ideologies that aim to keep family violence a closed-door issue.

I’m a staunch advocate of single parenting where that situation is a safer, healthier option for the children concerned. I’m trying to champion greater awareness of childhood anxiety and advocate for the need to teach our kids that it’s ok to seek help and not to be embarrassed.

I also want to emphasise the fact that it is possible to be a proud stay-home mother and wife while still being a feminist. I’m really tired of hearing women bash each other for simply having opposing views on feminism.

Feminism is still absolutely necessary and frankly integral to the future success of our communities. However, in my mind feminism is about ensuring that women have the right to choose. If their choice to to pursue a family life as opposed to a stellar career, then that’s their choice.

I take great pride in being a woman who is cut from many cloths. I am a successful businesswoman but I am also very content in my role as a mother and a wife. Both are ok and the absence of either one does not reduce the value of what I choose to offer as a woman.

What access does being an influencer give you that other people don't have?

A platform. This is why I founded the INVINCIBLE SHE events and why I chose not to speak at them. For me, INVINCIBLE SHE is about passing the microphone and offering other women a platform to discuss their opinions and experiences.

I don’t know that I fall squarely into the ‘mummy blogger’ title. I am a mum who blogs, but my platform extends to issues beyond motherhood, issues affecting all women, whether they’re mothers or otherwise.

Have you or do you use your influence on behalf of any businesses, organisations or brands? If not, is that where you'd like to get to?

My influence was born of my own business, and the opportunity to collaborate with other self starters and entrepreneurs has been a wonderful consequence of that.

On my personal account I share pictures of my children and how I dress them. As a result I am now often approached by children’s brands wanting to collaborate on social media and I am considering those collaborations. However, you will not see me stand behind any product or organisation that I do not genuinely believe in.

It’s very important to me that I provide honest support and reviews. If it’s on my social media it’s because I love it and use it often. For this reason I am generally very considered about brand collaborations.

This is a hot topic, many people don’t share photos of their children. For me this is a form of empowerment and control, if you will. My daughter and I spent a lot of time hiding. So now I figure if the opinions swirl, I’m at least going to weigh in on their directionality.

What do you take your pics with? Camera or iPhone?

Both. Quick unprepared snaps are on my iPhone. Otherwise I use my camera when I’m shooting interiors, dessert styling or quality family photographs.

What's your vision for your social media presence?

To be perfectly honest I don’t have a specific vision or content map. I simply post pictures as I take them or rediscover them in the trenches of my albums. I post mini blogs as the thoughts occur to me or if I see an issue that I feel is worth addressing.

If anything I hope that my writing is a source of comfort, that it’s informative and helps to both change the tone of old conversations and inspire new ones.

My social media has always been a visual diary of sorts. A messy collective of my life, creations and thoughts. Some people find that kind of thing interesting and inspirational, others find it abrasive and cluttered.

For this reason I just do my own thing. Like everything, you can’t please everyone, so your best bet is just to do what you like personally. I believe that this way, true authenticity is visible and people appreciate that.

Lauren Dubois

Owner of @thudandpop

Audience: 11,800

Why did you start @thudandpop and your the thudandpop blog?

I'm a journalist by trade and when I was due to go back to work after my maternity leave, I couldn't get full-time childcare and my workplace wasn't able to take me back on a part-time basis. So I was a bit stranded without a 'proper' job and an increasing itch to write and communicate because I'm a journo, that's what I do! So, obviously, I did the most cliche thing ever and started a blog.

As a new mum I'd found all of the parenting experts and gurus, and had read all the blogs on how to be the perfect mum, but I hadn't found a blogger that reflected the mum *I* was, which was (is) clueless and overwhelmed. I've always written in a comedy/sketch style, so I started writing about the disaster I was and, as it turns out, people love that.

What conversations are you leading online?

The most frequent comments I get are, "Oh my god, me too!", or "I could have written this myself" or my favourite, "I thought I was the only one!"

Motherhood can be really isolating and when you're home alone with a baby it can start to feel like it's all too much and if you have no one to talk to about it, you can start to feel like there's something wrong with you because mums are supposed to cherish every moment, right!?

Wrong. There are a lot of really crappy moments and finding out that everyone else has those crappy moments can be like releasing the pressure valve in an over-inflated tyre. We all really want to know we aren't the only ones struggling.

So my aim is to let all mums know they're not the only ones who want to run away or hide in the pantry or feel like massive failures. We all struggle, we all hate it at times. That doesn't mean you don't love your kids with every fibre of your being, it just means that witching hour is witching hour, no matter how #blessed you are.

I'm also a furious feminist and a big advocate of mums allowing themselves to have a bit of fun. Motherhood doesn't need to be so serious for Christ's sake!

Who's your tribe? Age, location, gender, other demographic?

Instagram tells me that most of my followers are women in their 20s and 30s. Mostly from Australia - Sydney and Melbourne. I need more Canberrans!

What access does being an influencer give you that other people don't have?

I have access to people's private lives. People tell me their deepest darkest secrets and fears and I feel very honoured and humbled by that. I've helped women through postnatal depression, through sexual assault and marriage problems.

It means a lot that these mums and dads trust me and they listen to me because they know I'll listen to them. I give people a lot of my time, which is really hard sometimes but if people take the time to send me messages, I take the time to reply. I want them to know I care about them and they have at least one person who understands.

I'm not sure that's the answer you wanted but it's the first and most important thing that popped into my head!

Have you, or do you, use your influence on behalf of any businesses, organisations or brands?

I have, yes. I've been asked by lots of brands and businesses to promote their products or services. I actually say no to most of them because I wouldn't want to promote something I would never use or don't believe in. It sounds very wanky but I couldn't sell myself like that because my community would lose trust in me overnight. I've seen how quickly engagement can drop when 'influencers' start shilling everything and anything. It's annoying and off-putting. So I will only promote products that I would (or do) use and things I think my followers would also find useful.

I've been gifted a lot of lovely products and I've been paid to write about products and services, but I always, always let people know exactly what I think and I write sponsored posts in the exact way I write everything - with a lot of humour and cheekiness, and if a brand is not on board with that, we don't work with each other.

I'm also happy to promote charity organisations and fundraisers. I did Frocktober a couple of years ago and while it was a hell of a lot of work, I felt so proud to help raise awareness for ovarian cancer (while wearing a ball gown at Supabarn!). I held a morning tea for followers of my blog and we raised $7000 for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.

I also had the random experience recently where I posted about playgrounds and how crap they are for parents, lamenting the absence of fences, shade, comfortable seating and free flowing coffee - it was pretty tongue-in-cheek (and foul mouthed) but it went viral because apparently all parents feel the same.

Since then I've been contacted by park designers for my input, I've been speaking with an organisation about building a great, accessible park here in Canberra, my post has been republished in a leisure industry magazine as 'important feedback from parents' and I've been chatting to a developer about having my ideas included in proposals being put to councils across Australia for future park designs around the country. It's nuts to think my little rant could actually make things better for parents across the country who hate taking their kids to the park.

Do you post what inspires you day-to-day or work to a content plan?

I'm a day-to-day kind of girl. I've tried to work to a content plan but I'm just not that organised and when I do plan in advance, I always end up trashing my plans for some random thought that's popped up at the last minute while I'm putting the kids to bed. The best stuff I've written has been done a few minutes before I've posted it.

Do you have a 'day job'? If so, what is it?

I'm a voice coach at my old radio station for the journalists there. I also do casual news reading shifts when they need me. I've also started doing events and public speaking which I absolutely love and am hoping to do more of this year. I've also worked with the ACT government to produce videos for their initiatives like the walk to school 'Active Streets' program.

I'm also a freelance writer for publications like Essential Baby and Kidspot. And then there's those kids ...

Barbara Bryan

Owner of @letsgomum, @canberralocals, @canberrabucketlist and many more.

Combined audience: 102,991+

How did you get into the world of online influencing?

I started with my first website singlemum.com.au in 2009 for newly single parents who didn’t have a clue how to navigate the world. (I was newly single at the time too.) Letsgomum was my first instagram account and is currently my biggest. Letsgomum is a travel account dedicated to family-friendly travel experiences.

I have two Canberra-specific Instagram accounts as well, which I love.

What inspired you to start @letsgomum?

I’ve always travelled. I’ve travelled since I was very young and it might sounds strange but I've always written in my head. So I just decided to start putting those stories down. As soon as the kids were old enough, I took them to Uluru and I remember pushing them around the rock in a pram and thinking that's it, I'm just going to start writing.

When you post to @letsgomum, are you conscious that 50,000 people are watching?

It's a lot easier when you’ve got 500 or even 5000 followers but honestly, the number doesn’t matter. As long as you’re posting what makes you happy and you want to tell people about it. I’m naturally a really open person, I only post things I’m fully behind and have had bad experiences where I’ve sent products back and said thanks but no thanks.

I’m never going to recommend something I don’t love. I’m never going to post about a place I don’t love either. I’ve been to a lot of places that haven’t been great. I won’t burn anyone but I’m not going to push people to do something that I don’t think is great for families.

Are you from a marketing background?

(Laughs) No. I was a program administrator in international relations at the ANU. I loved my job but I just couldn’t do it anymore because of all the travel. It was just too demanding and I had little ones and I was a single parent. So when I left the ANU, I had to find something to fill in the time, and hope that that something would lead to an income.

What do your daughters think about being photographed for Instagram?

They crazy love it. They photobomb each other constantly. My eldest Brooke, who's 12, is a celebrity interviewer in her own right. She did some celebrity interviews for Nestle last year. She was in the marie claire January edition and she's just a media hog. There's no stopping that kid.

What kind of skills do you need to grow a following on Instagram?

Just be honest. With letsgomum, we just go and have a blast. We go and have a lot of fun wherever it is and I just can't be quiet about that. I just have to talk about it and share pictures. I'm just one of those people you can't shut up! I think people love our enthusiasm and travel is one of those things everyone wants to do.

What percentage of your time do you spend on @letsgomum?

When the kids are asleep, I work. And now that they're older, I do a lot more, because I've got so many balls in the air. We're about to head off to Victoria tomorrow morning - I haven't packed and that's normal. We're going on a three-week road trip and I'll be instagramming the whole time on @letsgomum.

How have you monetised your online presence?

I sell advertising on singlemum.com.au and we get paid now to go places with Let’s Go Mum which is great. I mean, how cool is that? We get to do some really amazing things. We visited Sydney Olympic Park earlier this year. They put a campervan next to the Olympic torch and we stayed there for the weekend. We did loads of activities, went to all the restaurants and we were just looking at each other going 'Whaaaaaat?'. It’s hard to believe sometimes and we feel very lucky.

Follow Bree Winchester on Instagram and Facebook.