Nestor Aguilar is the founder of 818 Insider, a website and social media brand focused on highlighting the San Fernando Valley’s landmarks, businesses and people. Aguilar was born to parents from El Salvador and raised in Lake Balboa. He sells residential real estate as an independent agent at Compass in conjunction with his work at 818 Insider.
What inspired your business?
In my real estate business, I’ve always been really focused around video content. It’s one of my passions and it’s a big part of my marketing. So when the pandemic hit, I was at home doing nothing for the first few months. I asked myself, “What can I do to bring value to the community and really put myself out there?” I thought, “Well, why not share the stories of the small businesses that are in the Valley?” It all started Instagram, and I was just going to upload all my videos to YouTube. It’s just a mix of everything and that’s kind of how my page started really blowing up in the last year.
What do you like about running 818 Insider?
The fact that I’m able to bring business to these small businesses, just through a picture, through an Instagram story, through videos. That was the whole vision (with 818 Insider).
And the most challenging?
It can definitely be very time consuming having to drive out and film and edit. It just had so much of an evolution in the last year and a half since I started it. But the way I look at it, it’s not just me showing up and saying, “Hey, I’m the 818 Insider, I’m going to take a couple pictures.” It’s the relationship and connection I’m making with that business owner. I personally know so many business owners out there and they know they have someone they can count on and trust when they need help.
How does 818 Insider make money?
I started my own T-shirt line. I’ve made some money from that. But it’s not something that I’ve really pushed because it’s not a focus of mine. I never charge for my time, it’s really out of passion. However, building trust with the community gains trust for me to earn their business (as a realtor). They know what I do, because I definitely mention it, I say I’m a San Fernando Valley real estate agent. Occasionally somebody on my page (reaches out). That is my monetization; that’s where I pretty much get payment for my time. The people in the community trust me to do business with them, or to do business with me, and I’m able to help them buy or sell a home. It’s definitely a great way to connect with the community.
How has your heritage played a role in your business?
I come from a Central American family. My parents are from El Salvador. It’s great when I connect with other Salvadorian businesses, it feels like home when you’re connecting with them. I know the grind that these people go through. I’ve seen it firsthand from my own mom, the grind that she had to go through to raise three boys. So, to be able to just do a little thing, just simply putting a picture of their food or their business on social media, it goes a long way and they really appreciate it.
What advice would you give for someone starting a social media business?
The problem nowadays in the social media world is that people focus more on (followers) than the real mission. This is not about gaining followers. It’s not about gaining fame, but it’s really about bringing value. So, when you come from a place of contribution and you’re bringing value to someone, people are truly going to appreciate that and they’re going to want to support you.