Or… how to go from bankrupt to mid-six figures posting stuff other people said and wrote.
If you had told me that it was possible to earn six figures by doing nothing more than posting other people’s quotes online, I probably would have told you it was a pipe dream.
But what do I know?
Believe it or not, the Instagram account @StoicReflections has grown to 850,000 followers and six figures of income in under three years.
The creator chooses famous motivational quotes and posts them every day, including strategic hashtags to get more traffic to them.
And once he started to build a significant audience, he created two simple products that have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
When Alexander, the man behind the popular Instagram account @StoicReflections, went bankrupt only a few years ago, he took up philosophical meditations to see him through the tough time.
Then he began posting those mantras online and grew enough of a following that he now makes a full-time living from Instagram.
There’s an important lesson here: When things seem especially bad, ask yourself, “What’s good about this?”
And maybe also ask yourself, “How can I use this experience to help others and even build a business?”
Alexander doesn’t use his last name on @StoicReflections because he wants to keep his identity separate from his account.
Since he’s not the face of his page, he’s not a typical Instagram influencer. And yet he has seen growth in line with other successful personalities on the platform.
@StoicReflections has gained over 850,000 followers in less than three years simply by sharing tenets of Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy that preaches an indifference to pleasure and pain.
Alexander shares quotes he feels resonate with the stoic philosophy with his fans, most of which are business-minded people.
But Alexander does not post ads or sponsored deals since he feels it would dilute the virtue of his Instagram account.
“There’s a lot of brand equity you’ll just lose by just taking ads,” he said.
Then last year, Alexander created two simple products that have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, allowing him to earn a full-time living from his motivational Instagram account.
Before @StoicReflections, 28-year-old Alexander ran a business selling inexpensive products from China that he said turned a nice profit.
Alexander was successful enough that he was able to travel a great deal and live in expensive luxury apartments. But then the bottom fell out of his business, and he ended up going from the 34th floor of a luxury apartment to a five-bedroom roommate situation.
It seems that as fast as he was pocketing money from his e-commerce business, he was also spending it. His debts were in the five-figure range when his business dried up and he found himself with no income and in debt.
To cope with his situation, Alexander began studying Stoicism in 2019 to help him get through this tough time in his life.
“It teaches you resilience and the dichotomy of control: What you can control and what you can’t control,” he said.
Alexander initially created @StoicReflections to keep himself accountable. He posted quotes every day, like “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings,” so he could try to live up to them.
@StoicReflections started as a hobby and not a business, but he quickly discovered ways to cultivate an audience in the self-help and motivational corners of Instagram.
To build his first 100,000 followers, he used hashtag discovery.
Alexander favored shorter quotes that were easily legible even on a square grid. And he inverted the traditional black text on white background to make his posts stand out with white text on a black background.
There were accounts on Instagram that were similar to his, so Alexander looked for more ways to differentiate himself. He noticed that popular hashtags, like #wisdom and #philosophy, would have over a million posts. The competition for those was simply too high, so he would strategically used hashtags with fewer aggregates of 10,000 or less to boost his posts to the top.
This hashtag discovery method allowed his account to grow 100,000 followers in the first year alone. His method was to post a quote every day, hashtag every post and gain about 100 new followers a day.
When a famous person shared his posts, he would sometimes get thousands of new followers instantly. And by his second year, his page had well over 400,000 followers.
That’s when he began to get requests from brands to post sponsored content but refused them on the grounds it would take away from what he was doing.
Then last year Alexander created two new products of his own.
One was digital cellphone wallpaper of famous philosophical and motivational quotes. A pack of 55 quotes downloadable wallpaper sells for $9. Next, he created a calendar rooted in ancient Stoic beliefs that “help you harness the concept by visualizing your life week by week,” according to its description. You can buy a digital copy for $19, a printed copy for $39, and a framed version for $79.
These 2 simple products have allowed him to make a full time income with his part time Instagram hobby.
While he doesn’t want to publicly disclose the exact revenue number, Alexander has made in the mid-six-figure range from sales of his wallpaper and calendars. He’s able to run his Instagram account with very little overhead costs because his products are mostly digital.
He said he also now only spends about 30 minutes a day preparing posts and interacting with commenters.
Alexander added he’s not sure if @StoicReflections is a long-term career for him, but he is considering introducing new products for the account, such as an app.
From simple hobby to mid-six figures – it really does make you think of the possibilities, doesn’t it?