How Instagram profiles became small businesses

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I remember my first contact with Instagram. I was in Milan and a well-known street style photographer took a picture of me and posted it there. Back then it was just a new app with cool vintage filters. But consumerism found its way into this platform soon and brands flooded the feed with inspiring pictures.

Nothing is just for fun anymore or almost nothing. Of course, good things come from the activities we like most and that applies to social media too. I’m a sucker for Instagram, I admit, because compared to Facebook it is more positive, more relaxing to scroll down the feed. This social channel made “inspiration” its daily mission so people started to post not only for their friends, but also for potential followers who would love their “curatorial” skills.

It’s a job now to be an Insta blogger and the increasing number of editorial accounts is a good proof. Food, travel, deco/design and style are the main interests that attract millions of visitors and you can check that on famous profiles such as @chique_le_frique (2.6 million followers), @stylecliche (1.1 million followers) or @myinterior (2.3 million followers). Transparency is not a must in this business because most of the owners (of this kind of accounts) are not very willing to talk about it.

danielle bernstein

A famous article on this matter, which you might have read, is about Danielle Bernstein from @weworewhat (1.4 million followers). This charming 23 year old girl confirmed to harpersbazaar.com that her fees for an Instagram post may vary from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the type of collaboration. It’s good to be a blogger, isn’t it? Still, the numbers in the “posting” industry are not clear. But let’s move on to what drove people like her to build a small “social empire” and what are their (life) goals.

Brooke (@brookechamberlain_) is a sweet adventurer who started @interiorselfie about two and a half years ago. Her social community grew fast and now reaches 450k followers. She had an online homewares store which is what motivated her to start the whole thing.


Papersuede: Did you start it with a business purpose?

Brooke: My intention was to inspire others and to build the account up to a large following so that I could turn it into a business that I could run from anywhere in the world. I love to travel and share my experiences with my followers. I am off to Bali where I will share my favourite resorts, restaurants and locations as I travel and explore. I will be travelling through Europe in August.

P: How did this project evolve in time? What was your strategy to gain followers?

B: I started out not knowing a lot about Instagram, marketing and gaining followers but I just learnt more and morebrooke chamberlain as I went along. The biggest strategy I used was being consistent in posting and paying other Instagram accounts to share my page and also doing shoutout for shoutout with other accounts that had a similar amount of followers, which I still do.

P: Why do brands come to you? Aside from the big number of followers.

B: Brands come to me because @interiorselfie gives them access to a worldwide market where they can showcase their designs, products, artwork and anything else that I believe fits our company and branding. Instagram collaborations have fast become one of the most effective and affordable ways of marketing and increasing brand awareness.

P: Can you give me an approximate yearly income generated by this small business?

B: Income will vary from week to week. My goal was to be able to travel the world and still make an income from doing what I love and sharing the most beautiful pictures from around the globe.

In other words, if you are aware of the influence you have and how you can use it, Instagram can work for your happiness. But besides the financial benefits, there are the perks of being socially famous. The gifts from beauty, fashion and jewellery brands mostly can help you keep your personal feed colourful and FOMO generating. This is a reward many bloggers still accept in exchange for a tag and that’s also the case of Cristina.

Inspocafe is followed by 318k people and promotes stylish, cute or romantic pictures from around the web. Cristina Jurado, its owner, opened the profile two years ago because she wanted to have her favourite fashion pictures in one place. “I thought it was a good idea to post them on Instagram because somebody might also like them”, she told me. Although pretty successful, @inspocafe was not launched with a business plan in mind. Cristina has a fulltime job in retail and this is just a hobby.

Even though it may look simple, there are a few things you need to take into consideration when it comes to building a powerful profile. First, consistency is major: the average number of daily posts users with more than 1 million followers have is 8.58 pictures or videos. Second, if the account is about your style, you need to be ready to share your face. Every. Single. Day. The most liked picture ever is a photo of Kendall Jenner with her hair all hearts. With all this said, I can simply conclude that Instagram can easily become a love affair because we all know what’s the most used hashtag on the platform.


3 Thoughts to How Instagram profiles became small businesses

  1. Daiana Reply May 19, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Hi Miha,

    Loving the insights! Did you interview her over Insta?

    I do have to say, you don’t *really* need to show your face. Just look at the account @upcloseandstylish (1,8 m followers). She never shows her face. But then again, she has enough disposable income to keep the whole thing rolling (FOMO factor included, hehe) all by herself.

    If I remember correctly (it’s been a couple of months, I think?), Kendall no longer has the most liked pic on Insta… an old shot of Justin and Selena claimed the top spot. (:

    More articles like this one, please! Snapchat, maybe? :) Kisses xx

    • PS Reply May 19, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      Hello dear! The interviews were made on email. I wanted to talk to more people but they didn’t want to answer these questions. So it was a bit hard in documenting the article. I am not a fan of showing off too much, but a lot of the millenials do it.
      Last time I checked it was Kendall 😀 I guess her fans solved the case if Selena had the courage to top KJ :))
      Thanks for reading!

  2. Bota Reply May 22, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Very interesting article! :)


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