I’m starting this series with one of my hustles. Total transparency. Use it to get inspired.
In short, what’s the hustle all about?
I own an Instagram page with 1.360.000 followers. I sell ads and shoutouts to people looking to grow their brand (account) or sell courses.
How much are you making?
$60,000 last year (2023)
This has been pretty solid for the past 4 years.
How much time are you investing?
I’ve created a flow in my content generation and cut as many time-consuming efforts as possible. So for maintenance and dropping the posts about 30 minutes a day. But 7 days a week.
How did you get the idea?
I was looking to buy ads on Instagram accounts to grow the personal brand of a general manager while working for a Branding agency.
When reaching out to the specific page I now own, the owner mentioned that he wanted to sell instead.
I just learned about this hustle. I just found out these accounts existed when a friend mentioned them.
How did you grow it? Any tactics?
At first, I was clueless about the approach. But instead of reinventing the wheel, I applied the Pareto Principle:
The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, used mostly in business and economics, states that 80% of outcomes results from 20% of causes.
Applying this to the page I took 20% of the old and best-performing content and just recycled those posts. This gave me time to dive into the world of Instagram theme pages. I learned what worked and just started to search for more of the same content.
If you know about this principle, you can search for related pages, forums, and YouTube channels. Find their top 20 best-performing content and just give it your own twist.
This only works if you already have momentum tho. Usually, the tactics used to grow it from scratch are:
- Follow/unfollow (Keep following people in the hope they follow back) Up until 1000 followers. Then:
- Find similar pages and shout out to each other.
- Get into engagement groups with these pages and like / comment on content.
- Do the same if you get to 10k. With bigger pages.
- Keep going until you get momentum and growth occurs organically.
How do you monetize?
I solely sell ads and shoutouts. People (often agencies) reach out via DM and offer to buy shoutouts in bulk (20 – 100 posts at a time). They pay upfront and I’ll post whatever content they send me. Sometimes 5 different ads a day. They usually stay up for 24 hours. After I’ll send them the insights and archive the posts.
How sustainable is it? Does it have a future?
Advertising will always be based on attracting eyeballs. If you have an audience you can sell ads. In that light, there will always be a future. I’m just not sure if web2-based platforms belong in that future.
Basically, I don’t own my audience. Unlike a newsletter or community. If you pay close attention, you already see many creators advertise their own communities.
If Meta decides to pull the plug I’m doomed. Similar to business pages on Facebook. Once Facebook switched to its “Pay to play” method, pages went dead. So in that light, I try to look at my current “asset” as a nice addition but not lasting.
What are your next steps?
Building on the answer above I’m looking for angles to provide actual value to my followers. I can ask them what they want and invest time and resources to create that content. I’ll share it on different platforms to diversify my audience and build something a bit more sustainable.
Looking at my current approach you’ll see it first hand. Trying to convert you from Instagram to my newsletter.
There will always be room for “eyeballs” but you have to spread your efforts or you’ll be doomed.
My next steps are clear:
- Provide more value
- Build a community on a platform I own
Any advice for people who want to do the same and are starting right now?
Ads promoting starting a faceless Instagram page have been popping up. The ads claim that you can make 10k a month. Correction, even 100k a month is mentioned.
I know it’s possible (The 10k). The problem is that the business model these gurus promote is different from their own. They basically sell you the method, that’s their source of revenue. I know for a fact that one of these gurus just bought a 600k page for credibility. He knows shit about growing and running a page. He is just going with the hype and selling the courses surrounding it.
So he bought a big page and created a course around growing and monetizing a similar page. Then he sells you the course, and the upsell, and another upsell. Until he indeed hits his 10k a month.
My advice would be to think twice. It’s possible to start a new page from scratch. You either have to pour in a lot of money to buy shoutouts or create content that’s way more valuable than the regular stuff out there.
In both cases, it’s going to take you a long time. Most of these pages were built a while ago by kids. Kids who have time and patience to keep going. They hustle:
- Follow/unfollow techniques
- Shoutouts with similar size pages
- Engagement groups with other pages
- Commenting on posts on big pages
Something I would even do myself. Instead, I just bought one when the opportunity came up.
I would rather start with a small 100k page and put effort into growing that further. That is if you’re solely looking to earn money from shoutouts. The bigger picture should be building a platform you own.
So once you nail your idea or niche, you can always start an Instagram page. But don’t focus on growing it for the ad revenue. Instead, focus on building a platform around your niche.
You have to put in the time one way or another. You’d better think 5 steps ahead before you commit to an asset that probably has no future in web3.