Meet the 19-year-old earning money rating Instagram profiles on TikTok

Meet the 19-year-old earning money rating Instagram profiles on TikTok

Evan Smith, a 19-year-old TikTok sensation, has turned his passion for Instagram aesthetics into a lucrative business. With over 200,000 followers and 33.9 million likes on his TikTok page, which he dubs “the Instagram bible,” Smith has captivated a large audience eager for his Instagram advice. His “Instagram rating return” series, where he critiques and offers tips on improving Instagram profiles, has become immensely popular, earning him tens of thousands of dollars.

Smith’s journey began in 2022 when he was just 16. He started by rating his friends’ Instagram accounts on TikTok, noticing a growing trend in social media profile ratings. His keen eye for design and honest feedback quickly garnered attention. “I always was into my Instagram feed,” Smith explained. “It was always something I was hyperfixated on, no matter where I was or what time of my life.”

His friends often didn’t know they were featured until the videos were posted, but many appreciated his insights. As demand grew, Smith expanded his ratings to strangers’ accounts. A video inviting people to submit their Instagram usernames for a rating received 900 comments, signaling the start of something big.

By the fall of that year, the demand was so high that Smith introduced a $3 fee to move up the waitlist. He woke up the next day to $300 in payments. As his popularity soared, he raised his prices, offering private ratings for $12 and feed designs for $25. For the feed designs, Smith asks customers about their aesthetic preferences and curates a sample Instagram feed using Pinterest images.

Smith’s earnings have been impressive. Last month, he made about $1,090 from monthly submissions and $2,700 from TikTok’s Creator Fund. His success caught the attention of Adobe Lightroom, leading to a partnership where he created three preset filters. He’s also collaborated with the Instagram Creators program.

Initially, Smith spent his earnings on luxury items like a Prada bag. However, he has since shifted his focus to more meaningful expenditures. He now works with his dad to invest in the stock market and funded his spring break trip to Paris and London with his own money. “The fact that I was able to do that for myself — I felt so proud of myself,” Smith said. “I’m trying to spend it more on experiences and looking into the future.”

Currently studying media and communications at Pace University, Smith is also a digital media intern for a boutique, managing the brand’s social media account. He envisions a long-term career in marketing and social media. “I want to turn this into something long term,” Smith said, aware of the fleeting nature of fame and money for influencers.

Smith’s honesty in his ratings is what followers pay for. In one viral video with over 100,000 likes, he bluntly tells a user, “There are so many things wrong with your profile,” and advises renaming Instagram story highlights and deleting five photos. Another customer, after receiving a rating, commented, “LMAO this was brutal thank you,” alongside a praying emoji.

Despite some criticism for focusing too much on Instagram and being superficial, Smith defends his passion. “Instagram is a fun medium I use to express myself,” he said. His Instagram page reflects his identity as a teen from a beach town in Massachusetts who loves to travel and hang out with friends. “Some people paint and do art,” Smith said. “I like taking really cool photos.”

Smith’s long-running series has a binge-worthy appeal, contributing to his Creator Fund earnings as his videos are mostly over a minute long. Some users have tried to replicate his Instagram ratings videos, often tagging Smith in their posts. Occasionally, he even gets recognized in public. “The other day, this girl stops me on the sidewalk,” Smith recalled. “She’s like, ‘You’re Evan Smith. You rate the Instagrams.’ She was like freaking out.”

Smith’s story is a testament to how a niche passion can turn into a profitable venture. His journey from rating friends’ Instagram profiles to earning thousands of dollars and partnering with major brands showcases the power of social media and the opportunities it can create for young entrepreneurs.

Source: NBC News

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