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HILTON HEAD MOM MAKES SOCIAL MEDIA PAY OFF

In most ways, Amber Faust is like any other mother of three: constantly busy, splitting her time between work, activities, and driving her kids all over Beaufort County. But there is one thing Faust has that many of us don’t: an Instagram following of more than 200,000.  

With her website (faustisland.com) and Instagram account (@faustisland), Faust has built a small empire as a professional social media influencer.

What does being an influencer entail? For Faust, it means partnering with various companies and brands on product reviews and promotions — for which she is paid and receives some pretty nice perks.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, she said; running Faust Island’s social media pages isn’t the same as posting pictures of your kids or pets on your personal Facebook page. But she said she didn’t start out looking to become an influencer.

“Nobody says in third grade, ‘I want to be an influencer when I grow up,’” she said. “I actually wanted to be an archaeologist but was given the impression girls didn’t do that.”

Amber Faust2

Even as brands started reaching out to partner with her, drawn by her endearing, authentic attitude in her photos and posts, she “didn’t even know what this was that I was doing.”

For the Hilton Head Island mom, it all began with photos. Faust used to be a professional photographer, and after the birth of her second child three years ago, she put her skills to work taking pictures of baby Oli, and her older daughter, Piper. When she started posting the pictures to Instagram, people loved them.

“To be honest, I think it started because people like babies. Babies are cute, so people like to follow babies,” she said.

Gradually, Faust’s audience grew — and kept growing. She hit about 50,000 followers before she realized that this could be more than a hobby. By then, she was pregnant with another son, Milo, so when baby- and family-oriented product companies started contacting her to ask if she wanted to partner with them, she said yes.

In the beginning, she mostly got paid in free stuff. Companies would send her free diapers, baby sleep products, food or clothes. With two young sons only 15 months apart, a tween, and a husband who had recently begun training as a firefighter, this was a major score for her family. And Faust figured that if she liked the products, she didn’t have to feel uncomfortable posting positive reviews.

But then one company’s request caught Faust off-guard: When asking if she would be a brand partner, the company asked Faust to send over her rates and media packet.

“Am I supposed to be charging for this?” Faust said she wondered.

She reached out to a family member with a marketing and advertising background, and he helped her get leverage her Instagram profile to build a real business — putting a media packet together, figuring out going rates, and hooking up with agencies to help her be more selective about brand partnerships. Like any other contractor, the work isn’t always steady, but it pays well.

Today, Faust runs her social media life like it’s a small business — because for her, it is. As her business grows, her clients and audience are bigger, her projects are more complicated, and her follower count keeps growing. But she must balance those successes with her home life, including her increasingly active kids and her husband’s firefighter schedule.

“For the most part, I’m still that mom who works on top of the pile of Legos and building blocks,” Faust said. “I’m just glad that I have a good camera that works, and I know how to use it.”