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Real Instagram influencer numbers: The Truth

Having 100K Instagram followers isn't as great as it seems. Here's the real offers that I and other influencers get. (You'll probably laugh)

Ramit Sethi

Well, well, well. I’ve suddenly discovered the secrets of being a real Instagram influencer.

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These “influencer” pitches I’m getting now make me laugh and laugh.

I can see the conference room conversation:

Boss: “OK Johnson, we gotta sell these yellow braided leather belts…hey what about that guy Ramit?”

Johnson: “Um, I think he talks about money and business.”

Boss: “Does he wear leather belts?”

Johnson: “Um, I’ve actually never seen him wearing a bel—“


Now, with 140K followers on Instagram, I’m not that big. But I guess I crossed some mysterious D-list “influencer” level where companies now offer me free stuff (that I do not want). BTW, where were these free things when I had no money and would have actually worn a yellow belt??

Being on the receiving end of these pitches has been great. I get to see, firsthand, the underworld of influencers and deals.

And as I dug deeper, I started to realize a few more things about these offers.


If you’re hoping to become an influencer and get paid to post stuff, you need 100K+ followers. (There are lots of bigger celebs, but I’m talking about the goals of an ordinary person starting out.)

And yet, here I am with 140,000 followers…and these influencer offers suck!

Imagine I’d spent 2 years hustling and posting pics of beaches and inspirational quotes like “HUSTLE HARD, FLOW EASY,” knowing that if I just hit my goal of 100K followers, I’d eventually be getting money thrown at me…

…then imagine what it would feel like to watch my follower # tick up from 99,999 followers…

…and suddenly watch my first “influencer” offer come in — to promote Raid, the bug spray?

LOL! Follow me on Twitter
The key lesson here is to know about life goals where if you WIN…you actually LOSE.

If you’ve spent years and years thinking about doing something, find out if winning is really what you want.

  • If your DREAM is to buy a house, go ask 10 homeowners how they like it
  • If you’re thinking about getting married or having kids, go ask 10 married people/parents the true pros/cons (be sure to ask people you admire)
  • If you’ve spent 3 years in college thinking you want to go to law school, ask 10 lawyers if they like their job

For those of you thinking of becoming an IG influencer, allow me: If you somehow get 100,000 followers…you can expect to get bags of popcorn thrown at you. Wow.

INSTAGRAM INFLUENCER INSIGHT #2: Build assets, not random posts

Hey, listen. If you want to make an extra couple hundred bucks a month promoting how much you love some random mattress, be my guest. I think it’s great that more and more people are thinking about how to increase their earnings instead of cutting back on lattes.

But I really want people to think bigger. The opportunity is not just to hustle and make $500.

The real opportunity here is to build a REAL ASSET.

Allow me to illustrate the 3 levels of knowledge about assets:

Level 1: Ordinary Americans who spend more than they earn.

“Asset? What’s an asset? I just want to buy that car. It’s so cool.” Most Americans never think about earning more at all — they spend more than they earn, and they buy whatever they want because they want it. Then they enter the predictable pattern of trying to cut back on inconsequential spending, feeling puritanically guilty about their poor spending habits, becoming radicalized about taxes and blaming the government, and finally dying.

Level 2: Ordinary Americans who think they know about assets.

A small percentage of people hear the word “asset” and basically take their purchases — a car, a house, etc. — and try to convince themselves they’re assets. “What? That marble countertop is a great investment. It will raise the value of my house, which is an investment.” I’m sorry but you are very wrong. The good news is that your heart is in the right place.

Level 3: Americans who know what an asset actually is (and/or have read I Will Teach You To Be Rich).

Finally, a very small percentage of people realize they can spend on things they love — but also slowly accumulate assets that will pay them far into the future. These assets can be an investment portfolio, a business, real estate. Eventually these assets can provide more than a salary ever could.

Chapter 7 of my New York Times best-selling book:
How to build an investment portfolio that will earn you more than your salary
I love that a lot of the IWT community thinks about earning more (not just cutting back). Some people are doing 1-on-1 coaching, others have created video courses, and lots more. But you can go further and think beyond a random IG post or next month’s earnings. Let me show you what I mean.

NOT AN ASSET: Promoting a new frozen carrot product from Procter & Gamble on your Instagram account with 187 followers
A REAL ASSET: Building a business that generates $500/month or $50,000/month (we’ve helped people do both)

An asset can generate value even when you’re not actively working on it.

By the way, you don’t need a business to build an asset. If you have a 9-5 job, you can build an asset by setting up automatic investments, even at $50/mo or $200/month (which will generate tens of thousands of dollars). I show you how in my book

If you want to build a product — and turn that into a side business or a full-time business — I show you how to do that in my FREE Ultimate Guide to Business.

Example of an automatic asset: $2,500 from one customer 

Here’s an example: Last week, on a random day, we sold a copy of a product I created about 6 years ago:

Customer Purchase #1

That customer went on to buy a second product:

Customer Purchase #2

That’s ~$2,500 from one customer.

He went through tons of free blog posts, videos, and emails we spent time creating — and eventually finding it so valuable, happily paid us thousands of dollars. And it all happened automatically.

So, I love seeing behind the curtain of Instagram influencer ads. They’re probably not right for me, but it’s good to know the type of offers that are being thrown around.

But instead of one-off ads, I focus on a system. Build an asset in life. It takes more work upfront, but it is infinitely more valuable.

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  1. avatar

    (; lol. Funny and true. I like it.
    And I really like the part about the assets. I have been building my personal blog with deep articles (can share URLs if there is an interest) for a while. Although it's not a business (not yet (; ), having this turned out to be a great advantage for job interviews. In that sense, I consider this as an asset and would recommend anyone to do the same. And you don't need any money to start.

  2. avatar

    Maybe it's your niche? And just because your got a 100k followers doesn't mean you start getting offers. Plenty of people getting all sort of perks with a quarter of the following.

    For me, I've created a food Instagram with a modest 30k followers that gives me exclusive access to restaurant launches, free brunches, lunches and dinners every single week.

    As a foodie, getting $15,000+ worth of free food for not much output, has it's perks and is a great lifestyle hack.