How A 15-Year-Old Made A Profitable Fan Account On Instagram

Published: December 30th, 2018
Sammy Sternberg
Founder, @cowboyfeed
from New York, New York, USA
started October 2016
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello, my name is Samuel Sternberg, I’m 15 years old and I created the Instagram page @zekefeed. It’s a fan page for NFL player Ezekiel Elliott and has exploded over the last 2 years. In the last couple of months alone I’ve gained nearly 20,000 followers.

My source of revenue currently is selling ads and I hope to create my own products as well.

My customers are anyone wanting to promote their product or brand. I’ve grown over 50,000 engaged followers within the last 2 years and continue to grow.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

When I was 13 years old and in 8th grade I created this page.

I had Ezekiel Elliott on both of my fantasy football teams and just loved his game.

I don’t recommend using tools if you really want to grow an authentic page.

Previously I had created a few other successful Instagram pages. I created the pages for fun and wasn’t really thinking about money because I was fresh off my 13th birthday.

One of them which grew so fast and so strong and was suddenly hacked, a mistake I won’t make again.

The hacked account was a Syracuse University basketball team fan page. I started it at the beginning of March Madness and a few weeks later, towards the end of the tournament, I was already competing for the biggest Syracuse fan page. I even had the players DMing me and commenting on my posts.

When I first started @zekefeed, there was already a similar page at 10,000. I didn’t let that stop me from absolutely crushing it! I put in so much time and effort growing the page it absolutely exploded.

Take us through the process of building the account to where it is today.

Thankfully making and growing an Instagram cost 0$. But what it does take is hard work and hustle.

Following and unfollowing

My main strategy was following and unfollowing people in my niche. I didn’t use any services to do this, however now those do exist. I used my own hands and that was extremely hard and time-consuming.

While that strategy worked well 2 years ago it doesn’t so much now due to the fact it worked so well and everyone does it now. Nowadays on Instagram, you may notice similar looking pages following and unfollowing.

Comments on bigger pages

I also would comment stupid things on bigger pages in my niches profiles to grab attention.

Today Instagram has a feature that lets you like comments and the more liked your comment is, the more people will see it. I would recommend trying to comment things on posts you think can get liked and then seen by many.


I would take every opportunity I can to trade shoutouts with bigger accounts than me. To find people to do shoutouts with you can just search for accounts in your niche with a similar following.

For example, if you're a Dallas Cowboys fan page, search “Dallas” “Cowboys” and “DC” to find accounts in your niche. Then simply DM then politely asking if they’d be interested in your idea.

If can never hurt to DM accounts much bigger than yours.

How does your business model work?

While people sometimes DM asking to buy a shoutout... it is very rare. If you’re a Dallas Cowboys account go to #DallasCowboys and scroll through looking for anyone trying to sell something cowboys related, for example, someone selling Cowboys ticket packages or Cowboys tee shirts.

Make sure whatever idea you have is popular and has a lot of people who would be interested. Pick something that you believe TONS of people could possibly follow.

I would DM them asking if they want to buy a promotional post. After they pay I ask them to send me the picture and caption they want me to post. It’s that simple.

Recently, I tried making my own website to sell some Ezekiel Elliott bobbleheads I have laying around. It wasn’t a success at all, no sales. I observed what was wrong. The prices were good but the product itself wasn’t trendy at all and not interesting.

In the future, I’ll try to sell my own product right after a Cowboys win when the page is the hottest. And let’s say a player has a great game, I’ll sell product related to him.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

When it comes to being profitable from my Instagram page there are a couple things I can do. The first thing I can do is straight up selling people posts and stories.

They can choose to put their profit or brand on the post and in the caption, I direct my followers to their page or website. I currently charge 15$ for a story and 38$ for a full post. Every dollar I make on shoutouts is profit.

The second thing I can do make money is make my own product and brand. I would love to start making t-shirts but the market is so over saturated.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I don’t regret starting my account, it’s fun and successful. But when giving someone a tip on starting an Instagram account to grow big and make money I’d say this:

Make sure whatever idea you have is popular and has a lot of people who would be interested. Pick something that you believe TONS of people could possibly follow.

If you make an account for a random colleges basketball team, you can become their biggest page but there is a ceiling on how big you can get. But if you make a page about college basketball, in general, you can grow very big.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I don’t recommend using tools if you really want to grow an authentic page. However, some tools are helpful and I would recommend using.

For example, when doing the following and unfollowing there is an app called Cleaner. It will unfollow accounts for you which doesn’t have any disadvantages to doing that manually.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

If you want to get to the top of your market your going to have to put in work. If the next guy is spending 1 hour a day on his page you must spend 2.

Where can we go to learn more?

Please follow me @zekefeed and DM if you have any further questions/inquires!