- Instagram account @StoicReflections has garnered 844,000 followers in less than three years.
- The creator posts famous motivational quotes every day, and uses strategic hashtags to enhance them.
- They introduced two simple products that have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
Alexander, the man behind the popular Instagram account @StoicReflections, went bankrupt just a few years ago.
But that became an invaluable time in his life when he embraced philosophical meditation, began posting mantras online, and his following grew so much that he now makes a full-time living off Instagram.
Sikandar, who asked to keep his surname private to keep his identity separate from his account, is not a typical influencer. She is not the face of her page, but she has seen growth in line with other successful personalities on the stage. @StoicReflections in less than three years has gained over 844,000 followers sharing the principles of Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy that preached indifference to pleasure and pain. He shares both quotes from Stoic philosophers, and also quotes that resonate with philosophy that comes from famous figures from George Washington to Ray Dalio.
She told Insider that her fans are mostly business-minded people — in fact, Sofia Amoruso, Nasty Gal’s founder and self-identified girlboss, is a frequent participant of her posts.
Because his account is about philosophical teachings, he said he worries that repeatedly posting ads or sponsored deals will dilute its merits.
“You’ll lose a lot of brand equity just by taking ads,” he said.
Last year, Alexander decided to create two simpler products instead, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. He has also allowed them to lead a full time life with his inspiring Instagram account.
Alexander, 28, who lives in Ottawa, has a background in e-commerce. Before @StoicReflections, he ran a business selling cheap commercial goods from China, which he said made a decent profit.
“It was successful enough that I was traveling a lot, living in expensive luxury apartments,” he said. “But I was moving from the 34th floor of a luxury apartment to the position of a five-bedroom roommate.”
He was spending as fast as he was earning money from his e-commerce business. He said that he has debt in the five-figure range.
“I was really, really financially stupid,” he said. “But it was the best lesson for me.”
In early 2019, Alexander began studying Stoicism to help him get through the difficult times in his life.
“It teaches you the duality of flexibility and control: what you can control and what you cannot control,” he said.
In June 2019, he created @StoicReflections to hold himself accountable. He posted quotes every day, such as “Wisdom without ambition is a bird without wings,” to try to live up to them.
Alexander said that he didn’t have separate business plans for it at the time, but he explored ways to grow an audience in the self-help and motivational corners of Instagram.
The discovery of the hashtag was how they first built up 100,000 followers, he said.
Instagram / @StoicReflections
There were some major aesthetic elements in Alexander’s approach. He used to draw short quotes so that they would be easily legible even on a square grid. He also noticed that many other quote posts had black text on a white background.
“So I turned it upside down,” he said of his posts which are mostly white text on a black background.
Hashtags were another place they tried to differentiate themselves from similar accounts. They noticed that popular hashtags like #wisdom and #philosophy would have over a million posts, and only a few would reach the top of the rankings. So he would strategically use hashtags that had fewer aggregates so that his posts could reach the top.
“I will use hashtags that have 10K or less posts, so people will be more likely to click on me,” he said.
In her first year, her account grew by 100,000 followers using her hashtag search method. He posted a quote every day, hashtagged every post, and would gain about 100 new followers a day. From time to time, when a famous person shares their post, they immediately see thousands of new followers. By her second year, her page had over 400,000 followers.
He started receiving requests from brands to post sponsored content, but he declined.
“I thought it would take away from what I was doing,” he said. “Its purpose, at least in the beginning, was not to make money at all. I’m not going to be a giant advertisement.”
Instead, last year Sikandar came up with two product lines.
Had digital wallpaper for your phone of a famous philosopher and motivational quotes. A pack of 55 downloadable wallpapers sells for $9. Next, he created a calendar rooted in ancient Stoic beliefs, which according to its description “helps you use the concept by visualizing your life week by week”. You can buy a digital copy for $19, a printed copy for $39, and a framed version for $79.
2 Simple Products That Have Allowed Him To Fulfill His Instagram Hobbies
Instagram / @StoicReflections
While he doesn’t want to publicly disclose the exact revenue numbers, Sikandar has made in the middle of the six-figure range from sales from his wallpapers and calendars. She is able to run her Instagram account with very little overhead cost as her products are mostly digital.
He added that he too now spends only 30 minutes preparing posts and interacting with commenters.
Alexander said he’s not sure if @StoicReflections is a long-term career for him, but he’s looking at introducing new products to the account.
“I spend most of my time learning to code, so I’ll probably build an app,” he said. “I don’t have a plan or a road map. I could see myself continuing it for a long time, but it certainly isn’t my main thing forever… It was an experiment. When I went bankrupt Gone.”