When a Covington woman needed to connect with other moms during the first months of her pregnancy, she turned on her computer in search of community. Now, she has two children, 13,000 Instagram followers and her own business.

Donnya Negera, a 28-year-old “microinfluencer,” started her Instagram account three years ago, reaching out to brands for partnerships.

This has led to deals with fast food companies such as Sonic and Dunkin' Donuts and skincare brands such as Neutrogena and Aveeno. Negera said brands are increasingly trying to find smaller influencers, or “microinfluencers,” to promote their products.

She said she got paid $75 for her first post back in 2019. Today, she charges brands between $600 and $2,000 per post on her Instagram account, @donnyanegerablog. She earned about $13,000 from partnerships over the last year.

“Because we have like 5,000 followers or 20,000 followers instead of hundreds of thousands, we have a tight-knit web, a community who trusts what we say about products,” she said.

Negera said both brands and followers respond best to the content she creates with her daughter, Abi, 4 and son, Amaan, 2. In one video on her Instagram feed, Negera demonstrates a bathtime routine using Aveeno baby shampoo and moisturizer on Amaan as he giggles and bounces with excitement.

"That's what the businesses and followers are looking for, the real-life applications of these products, the real families using them," she said.

Negera said microinfluencing is building momentum, especially in the Black community, which opens doors for women to build trust with their audiences, create sponsored content and generate enough revenue to start their own businesses.

She started YUUMA Collection, a modern diaper bag business, with the money she made from her Instagram content.

“The opportunity is out there — I tell women that all the time,” she said.

Parents who share tips and product recommendations online make up a multibillion dollar industry of blogging and advertising on social media. They’re gaining popularity as influencers, and Negera said companies are willing to pay thousands of dollars for an Instagram post promoting their products to parents.

The national industry of parenting influencers is overwhelmingly White, and Negera said the influencer space in Louisiana follows suit. She said she noticed a discrepancy in how much White parenting influencers were getting paid compared with Black influencers.

“What these brands didn’t recognize at the time is that influencers talk to each other,” Negera said. “I saw a White influencer who was paid $2,500 by a company who paid a Black influencer $200 for the same work.”

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

The multibillion-dollar world of sleep training guides, toddler activity ideas, breastfeeding tips and all things parenting has traditionally been overwhelmingly White. Parenting book jackets feature mostly White faces. The so-called mom influencers who brands choose to advertise their products have, until recently, also been mostly White.

This has left a hole for women of color — especially new moms — who struggle to find culturally relevant parenting advice and products.

Increasingly, they're taking matters into their own hands.

“I tell Black creators that there are brands out there that will pay them what they’re worth,” Negera said. “We don’t need to accept partnerships with companies that only have White models. There are brands who are actively creating a diverse space.”

Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University, told The Associated Press that White women have dominated the parenting influencer industry because they have been the majority in the past, able to reach the widest audience. But he’s seeing more Latinas, Black and Asian women curating their social media accounts as influencers.

“It’s like a chicken and an egg situation. Marketers want to spend money on Latino influencers, but you have to find them. There’s not as many as you might think,” Chiagouris said.

Recent studies say millennial parents use social media as a marketplace, with 58% of millennial parents saying they would rather buy a product from social media than shop on retail sites.

For Stacey Ferguson, the need for diverse parenting voices has been top of mind for many years. She struggled to find online forums and communities that resonated with her experiences as a Black mother.

Ferguson, a lawyer by training who is now a business owner in the Washington, D.C., area, co-founded Blogalicious along with two other women 12 years ago. The organization and annual conference helped women of color monetize and grow their blogs.

The first Blogalicious conference drew 177 people; by the time Ferguson decided to shut them down in 2017, 500 people attended each year.

“There really was like this feeling of magic in the room. And what we were really surprised about was that a lot of brands were really interested to come and meet our community,” Ferguson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email Caroline Savoie at CSavoie@TheAdvocate.com or follow her on Twitter at @CarolineSavo.