Along the journey of building quite a successful design service, I've neglected building an audience and sharing what I've learned over the years. And quite frankly, I just don't have the time. So I had the idea of "buying" an audience.
How I found the account
I started searching for popular design accounts on Instagram, initially through the search box, and mass messaging them. I copied and pasted the same message over and over, inquiring whether or not they'd be interested in selling their page.
As I began messaging more and more accounts, I started running out of accounts; that is until I discovered a handy little button on the profile page of most accounts. If you go to an account, you'll notice a small dropdown arrow to the right of the Follow & Message buttons (that is, if the account has this enabled. If you tap on it, it'll show a list of related accounts, including many that don't show up through general searches. Suddenly the pool of potential pages to buy grew exponentially!
Finally, after messaging around 30 accounts, I got a reply. And that reply turned into negotiations.
Coming up with a value for an account, especially one that is not currently being monetized, is hard, if not impossible. For me, it was one of those "if it feels right for both parties, it's right". My initial offer was for $1,200 (the account had 58k followers), but after a few rounds of negotiating, we landed at $1,400. I was happy with that.
The buying process
This part made me nervous. I was buying something that technically will never be mine (it's Instagram's after all). What if I make the payment and the guy totally ghosts me? What if the account gets lost in the ether in the process of being transferred? All of these concerns were real and valid, so I asked myself if I were to lose $1,400, would I be okay? The answer was yes, so I went for it.
I drew up a quick and dirty contract (for whatever that's worth), and initiated a payment via Paypal, since I felt at least some security since Paypal holds funds in an escrow account for a few days to ensure both parties are satisfied. Luckily, the purchase went off without a hitch, and the account, and importantly the email associated with it, were transferred to me.
Profiting $1,100 my first post
The title sounds kind of nuts, but that's exactly what happened. Though making money wasn't my driving force here, I knew if I had just converted one of the roughly 60,000 designers into a customer, even on the lowest tier plan, it would pay for the purchase and then some.
My first post introduced who I was, and how I built a design subscription service; a model more designers are not familiar with surprisingly. Sure enough, messages and comments starting rolling in, and within a few days, I landed a customer at $2,500/m. Boom, the purchase was covered, and I made $1,100 on top of that, not to mention an audience of 60,000+ designers.
I realize this formula isn't easy to replicate and won't work in most scenarios, but it worked for me. It would have taken me years, and hundreds of hours to build an audience this size, if I was even successful at all. So I worked smarter, and not harder.