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I bought an Instagram page for $1400, made $2500 in 72 hours. 😂

The backstory

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.

The price

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.

Conclusion

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.

  1. 7

    Looks like a gimmicky post. Let us know more about how your managed to buy the account and what kind of strategy did you use to highlight your skills in from of the new audience.

    1. 22

      I feel there's far too much of a presumption of guilt here, and now it's leading to a strange pile-on.

      There are a million process-related details that go into any growth strategy — just because OP didn't include all of them in the first draft of his post (I see he's added new details following all of this criticism) doesn't mean his intentions were bad. It probably just means he considered the bottom-line information to be the most novel and noteworthy.

      Surely the best approach is to simply ask for the details you're interested in the comments and to assess his intentions based on his response (rather than to lead with the "gimmicky" judgement)?

    2. 9

      Yep. Don't fall for it IH. This guy makes a spammy post every three months or so about his solo design agency and how he's smashing records. I fell for this gimmick, subscribed, and realized after about two design requests that his design skills are actually terrible.

      1. 1

        @rjbrown3 yes, please do share with the community. That’s a pretty strong statement so hopefully you can share some evidence to back it up. 😀

      2. 1

        Care to explain more about what happened exactly? What sort of design did you request and what made the result terrible?

        1. 4

          Sure, I'll try my best. It was an inner page, that relies on organic traffic from google where the search may be something like 'Chicken Pot Pie Recipe'. (It's not a recipe site but similar structure). So continuing on with that concept for the sake of this story. My page relied on user behavior, where I am trying to guide user behavior to click on a certain button. So let's say the page said, 'Step One: cook chicken', then you would click 'View next step'. And so on, I'm not getting into the reasons behind that type of structure. Back to the design story, the submitted design page had no 'eye movement' towards the CTA. All the buttons were the same color. Every element was spaced to an extreme extent. Remember, the page was the first page someone from Google would land on. You have to realize as a designer, you only have a second or two to draw in that user. You absolutely have to catch their attention. This design failed to do so because it was spaced very far and monotonous (with the same colors). Typically, when a designer fails to provide a user behavior desired design, it's because they are just trying to make 'artwork' and fail to understand how users' interact on the web, Brett's designs didn't even meet that standard of 'artwork'. Brett might be fantastic most of the time and I just had a bad experience, I don't want to completely discredit his work. Just want to say, be careful falling for these types of 'success' posts.

          1. 5

            Please reply specifically with your project so I’m able to provide an actual response. Obviously I’m not going to disagree with the basic tenants that make up a landing page. Likewise, I’m not going to argue here on IH whether or not some CTAs should be the same color or what the appropriate amount of space is between elements when no context is provided towards the actual use case. So please replace “chicken pot pie” with your actual project so I’m able to actually respond, because at this point I’m questioning whether or not you’ve ever used the service. I hope I’m wrong.

          2. 4

            Also, I have to say - to call someone out here on IH by stating their “design skills are terrible” is a pretty low thing to do as a community member. That sort of trolling has no place here.

          3. 1

            Thanks for sharing your experience! I look forward to hearing @brettwill1025's thoughts.

        2. 2

          @rjbrown3 yes, please do share with the community. That’s a pretty strong statement so hopefully you can share some evidence to back it up. 😀

      3. 1

        This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

    3. 2

      Hey! No magic formula here, really. I DM’ed a bunch of pages that fit my niche (UX/UI design) and out of about 20 pages that I messaged, I receive a reply from one. After negotiating a little bit, I drew up a contract and completed the sale via PayPal. It was a bit nerve wrecking since buying a page gives you very little security in the sense that you’ll be granted the page in return for payment, but thankfully I found a trustworthy person.

      The page primarily shared tips and tricks for designers, so I simply began sharing my own, obviously branded DesignJoy. But then I created a post highlighting how I started offering design as a subscription, which is a new concept to most designers. That post sort of took off, and the rest is history.

      Thanks for the question!

      1. 0

        So you shared a post that shows to 100s of designers how to compete with you ? why would you do that ?

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          I’m fairly confident that most designers won’t be able to build what I’ve built, but even if they do, the market is large enough for a high number of subscription services to succeed.

  2. 4

    This is super interesting! I have so many questions.

    How did you find the page and negotiate with the seller?

    Did you validate any metrics before buying? Engagement, potential number of fake followers, etc?

    Do you still post similar content to the previous owner? Or is all just your own content now?

    1. 3

      Good question. Like I said above, I DM’ed a bunch of pages after searching for them in the Explore section. Finally got a reply and the rest is history there!

      Funny enough, I did very little research in terms of metrics or audience. I have a lot of experience with content creation and growing pages (I used to do it professionally), so I was confident that I could make it work. If not, all I was out was $1400.

      Fake followers were my biggest concern but thankfully I got lucky.

      And yes I did for sure post similar content than before. The previous owner only shared posts from other creators though (no original content).

      Thanks for the question!

    2. 2

      I had the same questions! Did you inform the audience that it was you now?

      1. 2

        I was torn on this, both on how well it would go over, or if they would even care. So I simply made a introductory post about running DesignJoy, and that was it. No mention of my “taking over” the page though. Seems to have worked out just fine as engagement is up about 500%. 👍

  3. 3

    Hey! :) Where did you buy the page?

    1. 2

      Straight off Instagram!

  4. 3

    Please share the profile on Instagram. It sounds interesting to see.

    1. 2

      Sure! The handle is @designjoy.co

      😊

      1. 1

        Really nice profile. I subsribed :D

  5. 2

    Congrats! There is a problem though, your business is a design service. You didn't make a net profit of $1,100. You still have to put in time to service that $2,500 client. I don't think landing clients would be your bottleneck with your business model, 2,500 per month is really a steal! It is how you can scale your business. You don't have unlimited time to sell.

  6. 2

    $.024 per instagram follower - not bad!

    1. 1

      I guess? Haha I really don’t know what’s good or bad!

  7. 2

    A true hacker...
    Thanks for sharing, it's a great way of promoting your product.

  8. 1

    There's some 🧂here today.

  9. 1

    I like it. This is what we might call "speeding up the process". But I couldn't understand what exactly he was selling.

  10. 1

    What's the URL of that Instagram page?

  11. 1

    Yeeeah, well done!!!

  12. 1

    i wanna buy an account too - so I can post memes - where should I go?

    1. 1

      Search for pages in Instagram and start messaging them. You’d be surprised!

  13. 1

    I wonder how the pricing for Instagram pages works, with all the complexity of followers` quality + engagement.

    1. 2

      That’s a good question! I’m sure there is some formula you could use based on montetization, but this page had none so I had a budget in mind that I wanted to spend. So I searched until I found one within that realm. That’s not to say though with more time that I couldnt find one with double the followers for the same price.

      1. 1

        you thinking of reselling it to anyone after you x2'd your money? :)

        1. 1

          Nah! I didn’t do it with the intention of making anything off of it, I wanted the audience so I’m good. 😊

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