You’ve all seen these characters on different social media platforms such as Instagram touting their shiny new toy, oversized mansion, or photos from a far away vacation destination.
When compared to them, you could easily feel like you’re not making it financially. However, I don’t believe that to be true.
I’m here to ask one simple question… Are these so called “Instapreneurs” actually killing it financially?
There’s no short answer to this question. The truth is, everyone is different. Many varieties of people can find success through a wider variety of avenues.
Social media is a platform that has been touted as an accurate representation of someone’s life, however, as many of you already know, we usually tend to highlight the significant moments and sometimes items that make our life look just a little more glamorous than it may really be.
One of the largest scandals of 2018 has to be the amount of money these “Instapreneurs” essentially stole from consumers who don’t understand how to do their due diligence. You may be a victim just like me, and that’s okay because you hadn’t yet read this article.
These people often times will take money for shout outs and to help promote the growth of smaller accounts.
What many of those paying for this service (myself included at the time) don’t understand is that this person and their associated account may not actually be as successful as they’ve made themselves out to be.
Trying to Learn a New Platform
When I first began my online journey I thought that growing an Instagram following would be the ticket to my success (this was prior to finding Wealthy Affiliate). I tried almost everything I could to grow my following organically with no paid shout outs.
Stupidly, I immediately thought that chasing the quote over a nice car photograph would be an attractive avenue to reach other Instagram users. I very quickly realized that I wasn’t the only chump attempting to jump into that niche.
You might think I’m kidding… unfortunately, I’m not… @incitewealth
I didn’t yet understand that in order to thrive I needed to be unique, create my own personality, and allow others to follow my experience as a human. This is what “sells” so to speak.
There was also another very elephant in the room I was missing that only experience could reveal.
Trying to Force Growth Inorganically
After I realized that I wasn’t going to see organic growth anytime soon, I wanted to figure out how to force my Instagram to be seen and put my account on a fast track to the top of the Discover Page. I hadn’t yet had any formal training on Instagram.
What did I do? I looked up accounts within my niche that seemed to have built a solid following in a relatively short amount of time and I followed them. These accounts all held a 50k plus follower base so I figured I would see some easy exposure to the type of people that would follow me.
I first paid $30 for a trial shout out that gave me one single post, posted for 24 hours on another Instagram accounts page.
This account at the time had 50.4k followers, the going rate was reasonable and I was confident I would see results. We established a time the post would be pushed out, I chose the content that would be reposted, and we had a deal.
The next day at 5am PST my post popped up on his feed. This was an optimal time because most of his followers were supposed to be active around 8am EST.
I immediately saw a flood of likes on his post, I also immediately gained around 50-100 followers.
Over the course of the day I had likes pouring in on my most recent post, and gained about another 100 followers in awkward spurts almost at the beginning of every hour.
This seemed like precisely what I was looking for.
The next purchase was a package of 5 photos posted across 5 days for only $100 until I was comfortable.
After we had built a good working relationship I was supposed to purchase one of this person’s “media packages” that would cost $999/month for organic growth of 1000-1500 followers per month guaranteed.
I went ahead with the purchase of the 5 photos, and I received great results. However, something didn’t feel quite right about this arrangement.
Red Flags Rising
This account had guaranteed me an increase in followers based on “exposure” and “experience”. I hit that follower number almost exactly on my first post. All subsequent posts came in exactly at their guaranteed number as well.
The accounts following me were strange. The accounts that followed me were from far off countries that were completely out of my target market. Many had only a couple of followers but were following thousands. Their profile pictures were often not legitimate and had some strange graphic as the photo.
There was a lot of unfollowing. At least 10-15% of these accounts would disappear 1-2 days after a post was created and I was followed.
These accounts were not the accounts liking my posts, or the promoted posts on the sponsor account’s page. In addition, my next posts were not generating the same type of engagement that they should with my new follower base.
It was very clear to me very quickly that I would not be actually gaining anything through promoting posts with this sponsor account. I had seen no increase in link clicks on page, or visits to my account page for that matter.
I was hitting the Discover/Explore Page I will admit. However, I was running the risk of losing my account for gaining mass following via bots on Instagram.
I immediately started asking questions of this so-called Instapreneur and when I could not receive clear answers regarding their method of growth and reasoning for such odd timing on follower gains, I realized that this level of transparency and style of running a business was not for me.
I have always preached practicing good business etiquette and am a firm believer in honesty, transparency, and doing right by others. This experience while unfair, and against my morals, taught me a very important lesson.
Above all else, this experience taught me that just because you see someone touting expensive, luxury items or experiences, does not mean that any of it is real.
I often see people editing clips from movies together and posting them with some type of wording over the video that is meant to be inspirational. None of the content is original, and in fact, much of it is protected by Copyright.
The Lamborghini that guy is driving down Highway 1 in California? Likely rented. I know because I live here and I have driven by the rental company that many have rented from. The car featured on many Instapreneur pages is present and accounted for on that lot.
The giant mansion that this Instapreneur supposedly lives in? AirBNB. I know because I use AirBNB on my travels, and that mansion has time and again appeared in my search.
So before you believe everything you see, make certain to do your due diligence. Don’t get discouraged. Find a platform that works for you. Promote your own personality, share true success, and don’t become part of the “fake it ’til you make it” craze.
Remember that you don’t want all of those shiny things before you establish true wealth. Depreciating assets are the worst type of assets. Unless you have the free cash flow to treat yourself, look for alternatives and investments that helps build your asset column and reduce liabilities.
There are many platforms out there that will allow you to build a real online business such as Wealthy Affiliate. It was here that I learned how to build a successful affiliate marketing website. It was also here that I was able to bounce my social media ideas off of many great mentors and learn what it takes to grow a real organic following.
I have since been able to grow a following across all social media platforms. It has helped drive sales and affiliate commissions tremendously.
On top of that, I no longer pay weak accounts run by fake Instapreneurs for shout outs that don’t drive real engagement and use phantom account platforms on a markup to fake engagement on your posts.
If you’d like to bounce ideas off of my, discuss my social media endeavors in more detail, or learn about affiliate marketing, feel free to drop me a comment below or head over to my profile at Wealthy Affiliate. It’s free to sign up and I’m always available to answer questions.
My favorite quick read: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki