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How I Made $40,000 off Instagram when I was 15

Updated on October 1, 2016

How I got the idea

It all began back in 2013 when I was a sophomore in high school. One day at lunch a friend of mine brought up the fact that he knew someone who was making money from Instagram. He said that Instagram was paying him directly $300 a week for having over 30,000 followers. I called bs.

After school that day I rushed home and jumped on my computer and started researching "making money from Instagram". Nothing really came up at the time other than people promoting their multi level marketing pyramid schemes. But one thing did come up and it was someone selling Instagram shoutouts on eBay. I thought to myself "there's no way someone would actually pay for a shoutout,” but boy was I wrong. This guy was selling shoutouts to an Instagram account with 150,000 followers and was charging $20 to keep the post up on the page for 24 hours. And the thing is he had sold over 100 shoutouts and sold 4 that day. I thought to myself "wow that's $80 for basically doing nothing but posting a few pictures".

How I got started

I though to myself the only thing I needed to start making money was an Instagram account with a lot of followers. I started studying how all these instafamous accounts were getting tons of followers, and I noticed they were either Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian clones/wannabes, movie stars, or actual famous people. Me just being an average kid, I knew I couldn't reach many people with my looks.

I then started looking into accounts that posted funny sayings, funny cartoons and stuff along those lines. None of the accounts really had tons of followers, nothing over 100k. But I thought it would be a good start for me. Later on that day I created an account named @PricelessVideos, and immediately started posting funny cartoon clips that I found around the internet. I linked all the posts with good popular hashtags that were related to the video, and always put a funny caption to go with it. I was getting up to 70 likes on all my videos but I only had 7 followers by the end of my first day.

Nothing was working out

I woke up the next day had 8 followers and felt totally bummed. I had already posted 10 videos and probably had close to 1,000 likes total. But why only 8 followers.? I felt that i was a failure and decided to give up.

When everything started working out

Right after I had given up, a thought jolted into my mind "what if I follow the people that liked the videos and see if they follow back?" Boom! This was it. I followed 500 people and over 300 of them followed back that same day. I kept following and following people until I was following 20,000 people and I had over 12,000 followers to my account.

How I put my accounts on autopilot

I kept posting the funny videos and I was getting close to 2,000 likes per post. I was getting tired of manually following people so I started searching the internet and found something called the "Instabot 2.0" it was an automatic Instagram following program. It cost $99 per month to use it, and it follows up to 20,000 people per day. I immediately broke open my piggy bank with money saved from 10 years of lemonade stands. Rode my Go-Ped motorized scooter to CVS and bought one of those VISA gift card/debit card things. Scooted home and rushed upstairs to my room, bought the Instabot 2.0 and entered all the account info.
I started following people that had anything to do with the #Funny. Not sure exactly how they were found, but there was a total of about 350,000 Instagram accounts linked to #Funny. I clicked the button "Follow all,” let it run all day, and I went from following about 20k to following 36k and I had gained over 5k new followers that day. After a few weeks, my account was following 700,000 people. And at that time had over 300,000 people following me. I was averaging 20,000-30,000 likes per post. I decided it was time to start making money.

Let the money roll in

I posted my first eBay listing selling a "Shoutout to my 300,000 Instagram followers." I included a screenshot of my Instagram profile so they could see I was following 700k people, but nobody seemed to care. I included in the description that I would keep the shoutout up for 24 hours then take it down. I was charging $19.99 per shoutout.

I woke up the next day feeling like I was rich. I had sold 12 shoutouts overnight. I'm 15 years old and I just made more money while I was sleeping than my parents do in a whole day! Well not really, but I have not come across that much money before. I never felt so motivated in my life before. I started posting screenshots of their profiles telling my followers to follow them, I posted about 2 per hour. Once I was done posting the 12, I logged back on to eBay to see that customers had already left me positive feedback and their shoutouts weren't even over with yet! Even better I checked what I sold and I had already sold another 4 shoutouts. Boom another $80 during the day. My total earning so far are $320 minus eBay and PayPal fees, which comes out to around $272 in my pocket. So I've already covered the $99 bot for the month, and already made $173 in profit in less than 24 hours of being on ebay. For the next few weeks I averaged about $175-$250 a day, and my ebay account was getting popular from all the positive feedback i was receiving. I was not going to stop here.

When $200 a day wasn't enough

I created new Instagram accounts that I posted similar things on, and promoted them through my biggest account. Those accounts grew at an unbelievable rate because my main account was so popular. I then started selling $5 shoutouts from all my smaller accounts with 30k-50k followers, and bumped up the price to $39.99 for shoutouts to my main account with over 700k followers by now. The sales have somewhat slowed down by this time, but I had 5 listings for shoutouts on eBay and I was still averaging about $250-$400 per day.

How did i balance all this with school?

Believe it or not, I was only spending about 1 hour on Instagram per day to get that money. At school I would tell everyone that I worked 1 hour a day on my phone and made hundreds. Everyone wanted to know how and what I was doing, but I kept my secrets to myself. I made a steady $250+ a day for about 2 months and I wanted more!

My earnings from fiver, remember that ebay was my main source of income
My earnings from fiver, remember that ebay was my main source of income

Adding even more smaller sources of income

I was still itching to make more money, so I searched the internet and found a website called fiverr, a website where for $5 people give marketing tips, voiceover recordings, SEO and things along those lines. I quickly posted a gig "For $5 I will shout you out to my 50,000 Instagram for 24 hours" and the website takes a dollar and gives you $4. They started selling like hot cakes, the the first week on fiverr I had sold 106 shoutouts! That's 106 x $4 = $424 + the money I was making from eBay. I felt rich! I then posted another gig "For $5 I will shout you out to my 800,000 Instagram followers for 1 hour". Even with it being only an hour long shoutout, they were still selling at a rate of about 10 per day".

But all your instagram accounts were full of spam/shoutouts

All of my Instagram accounts were full of shoutouts but I didn't care because I was making a full time adult income while I was in high school, and nobody seemed to care that all I did was post shoutouts. I had only received 100% positive feedback from ebay and fiver, so I continued to sell shoutouts on eBay and fiverr and averaged about $300 a day for another month. At this time I've totaled up around $20,000 profit after only about 3 months. My life was complete, I thought to myself that i could do this for the rest of my life but...

The worst of the worst happened

One normal saturday morning I woke up and went about my regular morning routine. I showered, brushed my teeth, got some breakfast and like I always do, logged onto my ebay and instagram accounts. As I went to open up my 3 instagram accounts on my brand new iPhone and 2 iPads, all my Instagram accounts were signed out. My heart dropped. I just had a feeling that if your Instagram account gets deleted/banned it logs you out without telling you. I just attempted to log into one of my accounts and it pops up with a message reading something like "your Instagram account has been removed due to violations of our TOS, please contact if you feel this was the wrong decision on our part" my mind went blank.

Its all over for good

I layed in my bed starting at the ceiling for 2 hours without moving. I finally got up, logged into eBay and refunded the $150 worth of orders that I got while I was sleeping and apologized to the purchasers telling them how my accounts just got deleted that morning. I tried emailing Instagram and sent them an email every day, I was very nice in my emails but I never got a response. I felt like my life had hit rock bottom. I was even more upset because Instagram had just added the 7500 follow limit to their app, so there was no way to follow that many people again.

It was fun while it lasted

As time passed, I learned to just be thankful for everything I learned during the whole thing. I learned that I got kinda lucky because Instagram didn't have the 7500 follow limit back then. But also learned that I was the only kid in my school that had made $20,000 without help from anyone, and that was something I was very proud of. When I turned 16 I bought a nice used car for $8,000 and had enough money for whatever else I wanted. It felt good to have a tastefully modded car payed for by myself when I was only 16, a feeling that most don't get to experience.

Once I turned 18 I found another way to make money from Instagram without even having an Instagram account. Please check out the next article that I will be releasing called “how I made $40,000 from Instagram without an Instagram account”

Thank you to everyone that reads this and I hope you enjoyed my first hub!


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