How long have you been creating on Instagram for, and what was the main reason for choosing Instagram as a platform?

I’ve been on Instagram for three and a half years, coming up to four years. There weren’t many people talking about finance on Instagram when I started. For me, it was, it was about creating my own narrative, creating my own platform and using my expertise to help people. I genuinely felt like I’d be able to put out my knowledge and reach people, and that it would just grow organically into a large following, how wrong I was!

It sounds like it was quite challenging to gain traction to gain followers in the beginning.

When I first started, my content was so much more information-heavy than it is now. I used to spend hours breaking down complicated concepts to try and make them relatable to people. For example, I’d do breakdowns of different financial terms and explain what they all meant, and all of it got aired! (Translation: nobody cared!)

I used to get like ten likes per post, and even then, I knew most of the people. I got to a point where I was posting maybe twice a day. And then by the time I’d woken up, I’d have fewer followers than went to sleep! I couldn’t understand it.

Then I remember someone saying, “Look, just follow everyone. Follow people, and then they will follow you back”. So then I started following people’s accounts, people would follow back, and then a few days later they’d unfollow me!

Sounds tough! How did you get through that period?

I just persevered. I said to myself, “This is my calling, I’m just going to have to try a different way”. At one point, I hired a company. I would pay them £350-500 a month to help me to produce content. I worked with them for about six months – this was when I learned about hashtags, Canva and when the best times to post were.

This was when I started to create videos too. Although in the beginning, it would take me two hours to do a one-minute video because I would stumble, and then I’d start re-recording the whole thing. Now I’ll film a video, and although I might stumble ten times, I still throw the video up and get viral success because it’s authentic. I didn’t know that at the time – I thought had to be perfect – but ultimately people buy into you just being you.

Going to events and speaking helped as well. I remember speaking at an event and getting 1,000 followers in a day because so many people shared my talks on their stories.

At what point along this 3-4 year journey did you reach the tipping point that led you towards your 19k following now?

There was a point when I got to 10k followers, about 18 months ago now, which is when I left my job, and I decided to go full time on The Eman Effect. (I didn’t leave, by the way, I got made redundant. Either way, I always tell myself I left).

I started to emulate Gary Vee, Eric Thomas, Les Brown and Steve Harvey. I love all their motivational content, and I started watching their stuff and absorbing it. Gary Vee, in particular, helped me in regards to engaging with my audience.

The one day, the opportunity to appear on Save Well, Spend Better on Channel 4 appeared out of nowhere! Many thanks to Bola Sol for putting me forward for that. I wasn’t expecting it, but the opportunity came, and I seized it, and that, of course, has helped me grow to where we are today in regards to the following!

And then, bam! On August 11 2020, the Sun writes up a profile piece about your appearance on ITV’s this morning show! How did you feel being featured in the press?

When I was in secondary school, my friends and I would always read The Sun because it had the best football stuff. My head of year used to joke that we read The Sun like the Koran because we’d always start from the back and read the sports pages. So it’s something I’ve always read since my school days.

So for me to grow up all these years later, to find out that something I’ve been reading since I was 11 or 12 is now talking about me, is unbelievable. I never used to get the best grades, neither did I go to the best uni, and so being featured in The Sun as a financial expert was a fantastic moment.

My mum and dad got phone calls from everyone saying, “your son’s in the newspaper!” and it was just huge for them too.

In essence, you’ve just described a self-fulfilling prophecy. You used to read the Sun as a youngster, and now you’ve been featured in it. There’s a second self-fulfilling prophecy at work here too, which is that you’ve always looked up to Martin Lewis and the work he’s done, and then The Sun directly compares you to him in the article. How did that feel?

It was an honour – an absolute honour. When I started three and a half, four years ago, whenever people asked me what my dream was, I would tell them, “I want to be the next Martin Lewis to a new generation. I want to be the next Martin Lewis”.

I’m inspired by what he’s done and how he’s become the most trusted person in the nation when it comes to people’s finances. I admire what he’s done with his brand and the way he stands up for consumer rights. That’s something I want to do in future.

For them to compare the two of us was just amazing. It was self-fulfilling. I fully believe in affirmations, speaking things into existence and in working hard. Even though I didn’t know how it would happen when I said it – I didn’t even have 100 followers at the time – I did have the belief and the work ethic. And I do feel it is now coming to pass.

The Sun piece also mentions your wife and your family. Do you see your family as a part of your brand?

At first, I was like, “wow, they mentioned my wife, and that she bakes cakes etc.”. But then I thought, you know what that is my brand. My wife, my family, is part of my brand because my family is my ‘why’. My family are a part of everything I do, and without them, there is no point to anything that I’m doing.

I get calls and emails from young people who tell me, “Eman, you make being a dad look cool!”, “You make being married look cool!”. These guys are like 16, 17, 18 years old. They see what I have, and it makes them think, “Okay, I want to have kids, I want to have a family. I want to have what Eman has!”.

In the media, the people we usually praise the most are the ones that have all the girls and nice cars. But now, people can see that I am living a good life. I’m married, I’ve got four kids, and I make it look cool! Brands see it too. My family is the main reason why Asda approached me. Representation matters!