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A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

Proven Strategies to Become an Instagram Influencer

A year ago, I asked my niece what she planned to do after she left school. “I want to become an influencer with my own eyelash extension brand,” she said. I was shocked. 

That’s when I Googled how many Gen Z’ers want to be influencers. I was shocked again! According to this survey, 57% of Gen Z would like to be an influencer.

Then I remembered that time I wanted to be one, and so I started my own YouTube channel. 

But that’s another story. 

The allure of becoming an influencer and building a large following doing something you love is undoubtedly appealing. Add to that the insane income you can generate, and these days, it’s pretty easy to see why so many people chase that dream. 

If you’re looking to become an influencer, particularly a successful fitness influencer on Instagram, stick around because I’ll be breaking down what it takes to go from zero to hero.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Instagram Platform for Fitness Influencers

So, why Instagram? Well, even today, Instagram remains one of the most popular social media platforms and a powerful tool for fitness influencers to build their brand, engage with their target audience, and build successful “influencer” careers.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

The secret to succeeding on the platform as a fitness influencer is mastering all of its features. 

These include:

  • Reels: This short-form video content is currently the primary driver of discovery and growth on Instagram.

  • Instagram Stories: Great for sharing real-time updates, answering questions, and building a more personal connection with followers.

  • Live Broadcasts: Going live allows fitness influencers to host Q&As and lead workouts in real-time.

  • Instagram Highlights: This gives fitness influencers a way to curate and showcase their best content.

An effective content strategy for mastery will mix educational, inspirational, and entertaining content to keep followers engaged. 

I’ll discuss this in more depth later in the article. For now, let’s dive into Instagram's interesting or, should I say, complex algorithm.

The Basics of Instagram's Algorithm

Once you understand how Instagram’s algorithm works, you can begin optimizing content accordingly. 

Sounds simple, right?

Well, not exactly.

It requires keeping up with trends and updates as the platform is constantly evolving— Which means your content needs to evolve with it.

With that said, some key factors remain important for fitness influencers to focus on.

Timeliness and Relevance

The algorithm prioritizes posts that are relevant and up-to-date for the user's current context and content that is highly relevant to each user's interests and past engagement behavior. 

Therefore, aspiring fitness influencers need to analyze Instagram Insights closely to ensure their content aligns with their target audience's preferences. 

To do this, you will first need a business or creator account. Once you sign up, you can then access the Insights dashboard by going to your profile and tapping the "Insights" button.

You’ll be focusing on these three things:

  • Content

  • Audience

  • Discover

Use the "Content" section to identify patterns among your top-performing posts in terms of reach, engagement, and saves.

Analyze "Audience" data to understand your followers' demographics, locations, and activity on the platform.

Finally, explore the "Discover" section to stay up-to-date on trending fitness-related hashtags, accounts, and content that you can adapt for your own strategy.

Engagement Signals

When your content generates engagement metrics like comments, shares, saves, and views, the algorithm calculates these numbers and decides whether to promote it to larger audiences.

To achieve greater engagement, do the following:

  • Be unique and authentic to who you are

  • Create visually compelling content that stops users from scrolling

  • Ask thought-provoking questions in captions to prompt discussions

  • Build genuine connections with your community through responsive commenting

  • Go live at least once a week

  • Run a giveaway

The algorithm also favors content from accounts users regularly engage with and have developed relationships with. 

So, to further increase your engagement, make sure you are posting new content on a consistent cadence to remain top-of-mind. 

You can also share behind-the-scenes glimpses into your personal life and routine, or collaborate with other creators to cross-promote content and reach new audiences.

Crafting a Compelling Instagram Bio

Just like any other platform, your Instagram bio is your handshake to the world. Spend time developing a bio that makes a strong first impression and clearly communicates your identity. 

Best practices for a killer bio include:

  • A clear, concise description of your niche and expertise

  • Relevant keywords and hashtags to improve discoverability

  • A call-to-action (e.g., "Check out my latest workout guides!")

  • Use of emojis and formatting to make the bio visually appealing

  • A link to your website or other important content like an email newsletter

Check out Kayla Itsines profile bio as an example.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

Remember to regularly update your bio to reflect your evolving brand and offerings.

Understanding Instagram Analytics for Growth

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

Understanding how the algorithm works is just as important as understanding your analytics. Any successful business has a strong understanding of its data, and an influencer is no different. 

There are six core metrics you need to monitor, these are:

  1. Follower Count

  2. Follower Growth Rate

  3. Engagement Rate

  4. Reach and Impressions

  5. Top Performing Content

  6. Audience Demographics

When tracking your follower count, look for spikes and dips in your followers. Ask yourself, what caused these? Was it a viral video, a collab, a specific location you went to, etc? Note your findings to help identify patterns. 

I’d recommend calculating your follower growth rate every month. Benchmark your growth rate against industry averages and then set some targets for you to hit.

If you don’t have a creator or business account (you should if you’re taking this seriously), you can manually calculate your engagement rates by dividing your total engagements by your impressions.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

Once you know your engagement rates, it’s time to identify what posts worked best. Analyze how factors like hashtag usage, account tagging, and posting time impact your reach and impressions.

By the way, posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without.  

The best influencers identify their highest-performing posts by evaluating metrics like engagement rate, saves, shares, and website clicks (if applicable). 

Closely examine the details of these top posts, including captions, visuals, and optimizations used to uncover successful content formulas to replicate.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

What I mean by that is once you’ve identified what works, stick with it until it doesn’t. 

If you find your account growth has plateaued, start leveraging audience data in Instagram Insights to build detailed personas of your follower base. 

By understanding their age, gender, location, interests, and activity patterns, you can begin to push out content that is personalized to them.

Developing Your Unique Fitness Brand on Instagram

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

Spoiler alert, being a fitness influencer has been a thing for around a decade now. This means you’re stepping into a very competitive world. 

So, the question is, how do you stand out in the crowd? How do you get noticed and transcend into the “influencer” status? 

The truth is anyone can be an influencer. Right? 

Heck, my cat influences me, and I bet yours does, too.

Don’t let the numbers dictate your level of “influence.”

Okay, with that off my chest, let’s answer the question of how to stand out. 

It’s a relatively straightforward answer. You need a personal brand. 

As the fitness space continues to grow more saturated, it's crucial for you to develop a distinct personal brand that helps you stand out from the crowd.

To do this you’ll need to be unique, authentic, and provide content that lights up the screen.

Let me break down how you can develop your unique fitness brand on Instagram below.

Identifying Your Fitness Niche

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, you need a niche. But what does that even mean and how do I find my niche? 

To begin, ask yourself these questions and note down your answers:

What makes your fitness perspective, expertise, or approach different from others in the space?

This question will determine your unique selling proposition (USP), which will differentiate you from others.

Once you have that, you can then ask yourself questions like:

  • What specific fitness modalities, training styles, or nutrition philosophies do you specialize in?

  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?

  • What is your unique background or life experience that informs your approach to health and wellness?

  • How can you deliver value to your audience in a way your competitors cannot?

  • What makes you, you?

If you still can’t identify your niche, I’d suggest asking friends what they think you’re good at. You can also create a list of questions that you think will help narrow this down for you. 

Once you pick a niche, I’d encourage you to find a niche within it. This will help you narrow down your audience even further, allowing you to target your content in a more personalized way. 

For example, I played high-level basketball for years, so my niche is basketball. However, I can narrow that down further by focusing on a few things I know I’m good at. 

I was an excellent defender and shooter and knew how to cut to the basket. 

With that in mind, I could become a coach and teach people how to defend, shoot, or even properly cut to the basket. You’d be surprised how many people don’t look at the ball when cutting and have the ball hit them in the back of the head. 

Anyways, in short, ask yourself questions, identify what you excel in, and then break that down further to find a niche within a niche. 

Creating a Visually Appealing Instagram Feed

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

Once you've pinpointed your USP, it’s time to build your brand and optimize your Instagram to reflect that.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Develop a consistent color palette, fonts, and overall aesthetic for your content

  • Curate a visually striking grid layout that immediately catches the eye

  • Develop branded visual assets like workout graphics, quote cards, and thumbnails

You don’t have to be a designer to build your brand. You can leverage free tools like Canva to help you with everything you’ll need. 

The Importance of Authenticity in Branding

In addition to the visual branding, it's important to develop a unique tone of voice that aligns with your fitness persona. 

This will be the foundation on which you build authenticity. 

Are you an inspiring motivator, a tough-love trainer, or a laid-back yogi? Your communication with your audience should feel authentic and on-brand.

This will come through in your caption writing, the personality you convey in Stories and Live videos, and the overall messaging and values you communicate.

Finally, position yourself as a trusted authority in your niche by consistently demonstrating your expertise through your content. 

This could include:

  • Sharing in-depth exercise demonstrations, meal prep tutorials, or training tips

  • Creating signature programs, challenges, or other valuable resources for your audience

Content Creation Strategies for Fitness Influencers

Once you have the foundations in place, it’s finally time to start creating content. Your content is the foundation of your brand and is the key to driving engagement with your target audience. 

Tips for Creating Engaging and Inspirational Content

Micro-Niche Targeting: I touched on this above already, but here it is again— Identify a specific niche within fitness that aligns with your expertise and passions. Your content will become more specialized, attracting a dedicated following seeking unique insights.

Get Good At Storytelling: Learn to tell captivating stories that move your audience to take action. Share personal anecdotes tied to fitness challenges and triumphs, highlighting pivotal moments and lessons learned.

Strategic Collaborations: To expand your reach and credibility, collaborate with other influencers, fitness brands, or experts in similar fields. Host live workouts, share each other's content, or participate in challenges.

Interactive Content: Get to know your audience on a deeper level while making your content more engaging and fun. Encourage interaction with your audience through polls, quizzes, and questions. Create a poll asking your followers whether they prefer leg day or arm day. Not only will they be more inclined to engage with your content, but you might also gain insights into the type of content you should be creating more of.

User-Generated Content (UGC): UGC can help build social proof for your brand and make it feel more trustworthy. It's also a cost-effective way to create more content. Encourage your followers to create content featuring your brand or product. Then, you can repost that content as UGC.

Utilizing Instagram Stories and Reels for Greater Reach

Instagram Stories and Reels are still the best method for driving organic traffic to your profile. 

Maximize Reels' visibility by using trending music, hashtags, and effects. Experiment with different video formats like educational tutorials, quick transformations, or motivational clips.

Make sure you use advanced Story features like Swipe-Up links (for accounts with over 10k followers).

In addition to creating Stories and Reels, don’t skip out on creating Highlights for your workout routines, nutrition tips, behind-the-scenes glimpses, etc. 

This curated content keeps valuable information accessible for anyone who visits your profile and encourages longer engagement.

Let’s look at how Kayla Itsines has set up her highlights below.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

As you can see, it’s very easy to find her most popular programs as soon as you visit her profile. 

Consistency Is Key: Planning Your Content Calendar

Maintaining a consistent content schedule via a content calendar is the most important thing to do as a fitness influencer on Instagram. 

Here's a simplified breakdown to guide your content calendar:

  • Content Pillars and Themes: Establish core themes like workouts, nutrition, and mindset.

  • Evergreen vs. Timely Content: Balance timeless content with current trends.

  • A/B Testing: Experiment with formats, captions, and posting times to refine your approach.

  • Engagement and Community Building: Prioritize engagement with comments, messages, and active participation in fitness conversations.

Here’s a simple example of what a typical content calendar for one week would look like:

  • Monday: Workout Video (Evergreen)

  • Tuesday: Nutrition Tips (Evergreen)

  • Wednesday: Q&A Session (Timely - responding to current questions or trends)

  • Thursday: Behind-the-Scenes Reel (Timely - sharing an event or daily routine)

  • Friday: Mindset Motivation (Evergreen)

  • Saturday: A/B Test Post (Experimenting with a new content format)

  • Sunday: Community Challenge (Engagement - encouraging followers to participate)

Engaging with Your Instagram Audience

Forget your follower count, engagement and engaging with your audience is what really matters. 

Ever heard the saying, “I’d rather have 1000 true fans than 10,000 followers?”

The truth is, that follower count, at the end of the day, is a vanity metric. The number itself doesn’t matter nor does it tell the full story of your brand.

What really matters? Your engagement rate. 

For some context, the average engagement rate for all post types is 0.71%. Photo posts are 0.59%, carousel posts get 1.26%, and finally, Instagram Reels get 1.23%.

So, as you’re building your audience, make sure to engage back, especially when you’re just getting started.

I guess now is a good time to say, do not buy bots or pay for boosted engagement. 

Those days are over. 

Also, don’t compare yourself to others. Whether you’re growing fast or slow and steady, stick with the plan. Organic growth will always win in the end. Plus, you won’t risk your account getting banned.

So, how do you increase your Instagram engagement in 2024?

Ask around, and most people will tell you the following:

  • Engage through Stories stickers

  • Create relatable memes

  • Share Instagram Reels

  • Create shareable graphics

  • Share information in Carousel Posts

  • Include call-to-actions

  • Let your personality shine on Stories

  • Host a giveaway

  • Post when your audience is engaged

  • Use relevant hashtags

You may be wondering about Memes. My brand doesn’t share memes, but they can be a great tool depending on your niche and brand personality.

I’d suggest using another platform, let’s say X (Formerly Twitter), where you could share a meme that links back to your Instagram profile. That way, you can leverage a meme's virality and send that traffic to your Instagram.

You can read more about how to engage with your audience here

Methods for Increasing Audience Interaction and Engagement

Look, we all know that creating killer content is only half the battle these days.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Geotag your posts

  • Follow relevant influencers

  • Respond to comments and DMs

  • Cross-promote on other channels

  • Promote to your existing network

  • Explore cross-niche collabs

A couple of other advanced techniques you can use are:

  • Building relationships with local businesses in your niche (restaurants, studios, and brands in your space can lead to all kinds of mutually beneficial opportunities)

  • Focus on shareable content—things that are entertaining, educational, and genuinely valuable to your target audience

Collaborating with Other Fitness Influencers and Brands

You’d be surprised at how willing influencers or creators who are already successful are to help others on their journey. 

Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with them that includes:

  • Showing your support and gratitude

  • Sharing their best content regularly

  • Mentioning them in your own posts if it’s relatable

  • Networking with them and if possible, setting up meetings

If possible, and I highly recommend this— find a way to give something to them first. You don’t just want to take from them. You need to be able to offer something valuable to them too.

Monetizing Your Instagram Fitness Influence

And now for the fun part. Making money off of your hard work and newfound influence.

Exploring Different Avenues for Monetization

The most obvious starting point for monetizing your Instagram is via affiliate marketing

You will earn commissions by promoting products. I’m sure you’ve seen your favorite influencer do this, so I won’t go into too much detail here.

Just make sure to do your research and partner with brands that align with your niche and values to maintain authenticity.

Next, you’ll likely start selling digital products. Create and sell workout programs, plans, nutrition guides, or e-books. 

Create and sell digital products using platforms like Gumroad or Teachable. They’re easy to set up and beginner-friendly. 

Here are other common ways to monetize your audience on Instagram:

Offering Coaching or Online Training: Launch a virtual coaching or online training program where you provide personalized fitness and nutrition guidance to your followers.

Use tools like Zoom, Google Meet, or dedicated fitness platforms to facilitate your online coaching sessions.

Hosting Fitness Challenges: Run time-limited fitness challenges that your audience can participate in, either for free or for a fee. 

Promote your challenges through Instagram Stories, Reels, and feed posts to drive sign-ups.

To give you an idea of what you can earn as an influencer check out the graphic below from Influencer Marketing Hub.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

Monetize With An Email Newsletter

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Successful Instagram Fitness Influencer

Another way to monetize and build your audience is through an email newsletter

Now, I’m probably biased, but I actually think this is the best way! 

Why? In short, you never fully own your audience on any social platform. At any moment, the platform could shut down, ban your account, and change the algorithm so your posts no longer reach a wide audience.

That’s kinda scary, right? 

But with email, you own your list. No one can take it from you. Now, that’s powerful. 

Because you don’t truly own your audience on social platforms, many top influencers are leveraging the power of email marketing to deepen connections with their audience and drive revenue through exclusive content and offers. 

By starting an email newsletter, you can provide valuable insights, behind-the-scenes stories, and special promotions directly to your subscribers' inboxes.

Integrating email marketing into your influencer strategy not only diversifies your revenue streams but also strengthens your brand presence and builds long-term loyalty among your audience.

Heck, even Arnold, yes, that Arnold has an email newsletter

Why Trust Me? Russell, the founder of InboxConnect marketing agency, has over five years of deep expertise in email marketing. Under his leadership, the agency has become known for innovative strategies with notable successes, including campaigns for renowned clients like Payoneer.

Ensure Authenticity: Only promote products or services that you genuinely believe in and would use yourself. This will help you maintain trust with your audience.

Disclose Sponsorships: Clearly label all sponsored content as such, in line with FTC guidelines, to avoid any perception of deception.

Diversify Income Streams: Don't rely solely on sponsored content or affiliate marketing. Incorporate a mix of monetization strategies to create a more sustainable business model.

Monitor Performance: Track the engagement and conversion rates of your sponsored and affiliate content to optimize your approach over time.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Building a successful fitness brand on Instagram takes dedication and a deep understanding of the platform. Remember, the key lies in creating unique, high-quality content, fostering authentic connections, and adapting to evolving trends.

As you embark on this journey, don't be afraid to experiment and continuously evolve your approach. With creativity and commitment, you can transform your Instagram presence into a powerful platform for inspiration, community, and monetization.

An email newsletter is one of the best ways to monetize your Instagram. If you don't have one yet, don’t worry. Our guide here will get you from 0 to 1000 subscribers in no time.

So, what are you waiting for?

Sign up with beehiiv today and start building a loyal following, expanding your influence, and unlocking new growth opportunities for your fitness brand.

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