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updated: 3/29/2017 12:26 PM

Prospect High School entrepreneur's Instagram accounts have millions of followers

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  • Connor Morrison of Arlington Heights is a young entrepreneur who has millions of followers on Instagram.

      Connor Morrison of Arlington Heights is a young entrepreneur who has millions of followers on Instagram.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Connor Morrison of Arlington Heights is a young entrepreneur who has millions of followers on Instagram.

      Connor Morrison of Arlington Heights is a young entrepreneur who has millions of followers on Instagram.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 

Prospect High School junior Connor Morrison of Arlington Heights juggles a heavy academic load, while also working out with the varsity baseball team.

Between all of that, he makes time for his flourishing business: his Instagram accounts, which have millions of followers.

How staggering is that? According to Statista, an online statistics company, as of February 2015, nearly 60 percent of teens were on Instagram and, of those, they averaged 150 followers.

But Connor's Instagram account is not a personal one to keep his friends abreast of his activities. No, it's a business, and one that he's learning to manage with the help of the Entrepreneur class at Prospect.

The class is based upon the lean startup model, says Lance Burmeister, who teaches it. That model uses a BMC, or business model canvas, in place of a traditional business plan, though he concedes Connor had his model in place prior to starting the class. In the class, there are three groups of students who have app-based products.

"We have had a few students who have had entrepreneurial success while in high school," Burmeister says, "though I only know of one other student who has been as successful."

Connor bought his first Instagram page in the fall of his freshman year. He bought an existing page whose content is mostly nature photos that followers find pleasing, and he went into it with the idea of making money. Since then, he has purchased two more Instagram accounts.

While Connor posts new photos each night, the bulk of his time is spent managing the accounts, including dealing with advertisers who are looking to purchase space, and doing cross-promotional posts of other Instagram accounts -- which ends up gaining new followers for each site.

Connor says that most days he posts five to 10 ads and makes somewhere between 50 to 100 cross-promotional posts.

Connor was profiled in a December edition of the Prospector, the school newspaper, and his classmates and teachers were amazed to learn the number of followers he was drawing to his accounts.

In the story, cross promoting was described as a "shout-out for shout-out" basis, meaning that Connor will direct his followers to check out content on another page, and the other page does the same.

"I usually gain around 10-20,000 followers daily through cross promotion when I have time outside of school and sports to work on my business," Connor says. "My growth depends on how good my content is and how much I'm promoting."

New content usually comes in the form of photos and videos submitted by his fan base, and he will post them to the account for his following to see.

"With posting new content, I try to put myself in the perspective of one of my followers and I ask myself if I would watch that video or like that picture," Connor says.

"The content I usually post is eye-catching and always has a good cover picture. Meaning the first thing the follower sees is something that interests them. Then it pulls them in to watch the video."

Connor says he consciously chose to start out in business with Instagram because it is the most profitable.

"Facebook and YouTube are also good social media platforms, and I may expand there soon, but Instagram is the best currently, and has been for a couple years," he says. "Instagram is also very easy to use and it's easy to grow followers."

He's only a junior in high school, with ACT preparations looming and college choices to figure out, but judging by his success in business, odds are he'll manage just fine.

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