How to Grow a Fitness Instagram Account Fast
Hi there! If you’re new here, I am Jessica Alzamora and I currently have a following well over 100k on my Instagram profile, @Jessica.a156.
I want to be open and honest with you all about how it is done, because it originally took me three years of trying to figure it out and not getting many honest answers from other people.
I have been a fitness influencer for six years now and it has been my full time job for those six years. I have met many fitness influencers at events and sponsorships held by fitness brands and it’s basically the same thing all around.
So let’s talk about how to grow a fitness instagram account to over 100k!
* By the way, I’m not guaranteeing results- just sharing what has worked for me!
Why grow an Instagram account?
Growing an Instagram account isn’t easy, so you have to decide if it’s even worth it to you.
Everyones “why” is going to be different, but here are some reasons you may want to:
- To build a community
- To market and promote your business
- As an extension to your blog (or any other business)
- As a way to connect with your readers more casually
- For sponsored posts/financial reasons
- To simply share what you love with as many people as possible
And I’m sure there are a million other reasons, too.
How much money can be made on Instagram?
Let’s be honest, some people just want to know about the money. I’ll just say it’s totally up to you. You can make money from selling your own products, through sponsorships, through affiliate marketing or through promotions that Instagram provides.
I’ve learned that what people charge for a sponsored post varies hugely. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to know your worth.
Some people may accept a post in exchange for product while others may charge $3,000- it’s totally up to you and what you are truly comfortable with.
The average has been $100 per 10k instagram followers. However, like I said, this varies hugely and there are tons of arguments about it in the fitness industry and just in the influencer world in general.
Sometimes brands pay more than that, sometimes they pay less and sometimes they pay exactly that. It really just depends- but after years of experience I would say that’s pretty much the average.
How to grow your Instagram page
How Long Does it Take to Become an Influencer?
Okay, let’s get down to business.
I’m going to be very honest with you all and tell you that it has taken me treating Instagram like a full time job in order to build it to where it is now- an actual full time job.
It hasn’t just been an hour a day, it has been what feels like all day everyday. But, keep in mind, my blog IS my full time job.
So when my kids are at school, I have all of this time to dedicate to it. That means I put my blog on the back burner for a few months and focused all of my efforts on Instagram because I know that’s where my audience hangs out and it would be worth it for me.
It’s hard work and it took me three years to build it to where I could make income solely off of income and my blog was a second source of income.
However, Instagram was will new-ish and I didn’t know what I was doing. I believe that if you know what you’re doing and you focus, you can grow your Instagram followers to 100k within a year.
What to do to grow a fitness Instagram Account
- Turn your account in to a business account. That is the first thing you should do.
With a business account, you can actually see your analytics and to become a fitness influencer… you need this.
Your business analytics will tell you everything you need to know to grow your page. It will tell you who are the instagram users that are following you and if they are your target audience, it will tell you the best days and best time to post and it’s a great way to keep track of your growth.
Once you have that, go in to your analytics and look at the days and times your audience is the most active. Then post at minimum three times a week during those peak times.
- Know who your ideal follower is.
You want to have a target to reach and post high quality content to reach them.
For example, are you trying to reach people looking for information on weight loss? People who are already fitness professionals? Yogis? Will you have a bodybuilding account? Etc.
You need to know exactly who your potential followers are so you can figure out the most effective ways to reach them.
Plus, when it comes time to monetize, you’ll have the right person to sell your products too.
- Take great pictures for your instagram posts.
I know this sounds like common sense, but it is the main thing that is going to determine if people are going to want to follow you. How many peoples pages have you landed on and decided not to follow them because there was nothing special about their page?
And how many people have you decided to follow because you saw their pictures and thought “wow?”
It’s easy to say that Instagram is moving away from perfect pictures, and that may be true, but there has to be a middle ground. That isn’t an excuse to just take crappy photos and expect people to follow you.
Make the effort to take pictures outdoors or by windows, edit your photos and play with the brightness, contrast, shadows, etc (I use the Snapseed app for this).
Be proud of your pictures, don’t just throw pictures up to have something there.
You don’t need to go take professional photos or have photoshoots every month, a phone is literally enough. That’s all I used to grow until I was making enough income off of it to justify more professional photos.
You don’t need a super curated instagram feed, you just need to look worth the follow. Would you follow a page like yours? That’s how you’ll know if you’re doing it right.
- Take the time to engage with your followers.
I like to randomly go through my followers list and comment on their pictures.
When people comment on my pictures, I go on their page and like/comment on their photos as well.
When I see someone new following me, I go to their page and engage right away. This makes them want to continue engaging with your content because they know they will hear back from you and not be ignored.
And you need to have engaged followers or Instagram will think they are fake followers and your account will basically be hidden from people.
- Use Instagram Reels. That is one of the fastest and best ways to grow now because Instagram is competing with TikTok and pushing reels.
They even offer payment for Reels to influencers now.
Video content doesn’t even have to be fancy. Videos recorded on your phone doing your workout routines or sharing your fitness journey tips will do the job.
But don’t forget it’s best to do this from a business profile and not a personal account.
- Make sure you post on your instagram stories daily.
This helps Instagram see that you are active and keeps your followers engaged.
You’ll notice the more you get them to engage, the more Instagram will push your stories to the front of the line and the more people will begin watching them.
- Find feature accounts in your niche and send them a direct message letting them know you are interested in a feature (again, you have to have great photos in order for them to want to feature you).
This gives them content and gives you exposure.
And, believe me, every niche has feature accounts- especially fitness.
Some will charge, but many will do it for free. I also tag feature accounts when I post a photo and I think it will work for their account.
I have been featured on accounts that range from 80k followers to an account that has 11M followers (and didn’t pay for any).
You guys, this is huge! No one talks about it, but it works. When I was featured on the 11M account, I gained nearly 30k followers in ONE day!
While I was growing, I would DM five feature accounts daily and would also follow up in a week if I didn’t hear back.
Con: You’ll gain a bunch of followers, but you will lose a lot of them as well. But that’s okay, you can’t be for everyone. If they don’t stick around it just means your content wasn’t a fit for them- it doesn’t mean your content sucks.
- Link your other social media platforms to Instagram.
If you have a blog, link your Instagram account there too. The more backlinks you have going to your page, the better. Especially if you are popular on another social network.
This gives your profile a little juice in instagram’s algorithm.
- Loop giveaways.
This is a hot topic, but it works.
The key here is to do giveaways in your niche, that your followers will love. I like to do giveaways that are fitness or mom related, for example a jogging stroller and a Fitbit.
Because of this, the followers I gain stick around and actually engage. There are loops between $25-40 and would say I keep around 600-1200 followers each time (you are definitely going to lose some followers after, that is why it’s important to do giveaways in your niche).
The reality is, it’s the same as hosting your own giveaway as a way to gain followers. Except now you’re teaming up with a group of other bloggers and providing a more expensive prize.
Basically, each influencer posts the giveaway on their page and for people to enter they have to be following every influencer who is a part of the giveaway.
Con: You have to pay, some people are annoyed by them, it’s a hot topic .
- Use 30 hashtags every time you post.
This really works, people DO search hashtags and follow people they see on there.
Since 30 is the max hashtags allows, you should use them all.
There are a lot of apps that let you save and find hashtags in your niche.
Then every time you post you can go on to the app, click shuffle, and it will pull 30 hashtags and copy them to your clipboard.
It’s super easy. I use a 50/50 mix of hashtags that have 50-100k posts and hashtags that have higher numbers.
It’s also a great way to increase brand awareness because you’ll be under all the hashtags in your industry.
- Find well known influencers in your niche and comment on their posts.
If you have a great profile picture that represents your brand and commenting something meaningful or funny, people will click on your profile to see what you’re about.
If they like your content, they will follow.
I have gained many, many new followers and engagement from this alone.
Con: People who follow you may get annoyed seeing you commenting on everyones stuff.
- Write captions that resonate with your audience.
You know your audience and target market best, so if you think they like long captions- write them. If you think they like short captions- write those.
If you just don’t know, try both and see what gets the most engagement. You want to create the kind of content that gets people to engage with your posts.
Just make sure you always give them something to respond to.
Ask a question or write something thought provoking.
I mean, what would you be more likely to respond to: 1) What’s your favorite song to workout to? I need a new playlist. or 2) I listen to Beyonce when I run.
Remember, these are real people that enjoy engaging but you have to show them you’ll engage back or it’s not worth their time.
- Instagram Bio.
I don’t have much in mine anymore because I’m switching gears after being in a car accident.
However, you want your Instagram bio to give people an idea of who you are because when they click on to your page off of somewhere else, that’s what’s going to make them decide if they follow or don’t.
Well, their entire decision wont be based on it but a large part will be.
Regardless, it’s an easy way to let them know you’re a fitness account and what kind. This is for you to make a good first impression.
- Use IG stories. If people watch your stories, they’re more likely to see your posts in their feeds.
- Post daily on weekdays.
For me, at least, weekends are dead so I’d rather save that content for a week day. But I find that if I am not posting daily, my engagement drops and it’s hard to build back up.
- Post at the peak times that your audience is online.
To find this, go to your insights (business profiles) and click on audience. Then scroll down and it will tell you the days and times most of your followers are online- that’s when you want to post.
- Look for “challenges” in your niche.
For example, there are all kinds of fitness challenges in the fitness niche. So if you see a squat challenge is going on, join in and use the hashtag!
I especially like to participate in challenges being held by large accounts (like celebrities). They (or their social media manager) look through these hashtags and feature their favorites on their page to bring awareness to whatever it is they’re marketing.
I did a challenge a famous singer was hosting one time and they decided to feature me! Not only did it feel amazing but I gained over 20k followers in 48 hours.
- Let go of the idea that people need to pay you for every piece of content you create.
A celebrity is not likely to pay you to feature your content, but if they do feature it there is a potential for HUGE growth. So you have to weigh the good and the bad.
- Exchange story shoutouts with other influencers in your niche.
I have done this several times and it’s super easy and you get a nice boost in followers.
Basically, you each screenshot each others profile and upload it to your stories telling your followers this is your friend or an account you love and ask them to follow that account.
You can even do multiple stories (this has worked best for me) where one picture is a screenshot and the other is a single photo.
Don’t worry about an account being much larger than yours, still DM them and give it a shot. Stop being scared of hearing “no” or embarrassing yourself.
You’ll never know unless you try it. I have sent DM’s to accounts as large as 300-500k and they agreed to exchange shoutouts.
What not to do to grow a fitness Instagram account
- Do. not. buy. followers.
It will ruin your account if you have a ton of followers and little to no engagement.
Instagram will stop showing your stuff to other people and then you’re just going to have a mess of accounts from India following you. I’ve never done this, but I have seen people who have regret it terribly.
Also, brands will not work with you. It’s easy to see if your followers are real or fake and you can get black listed.
- Stop worrying about other accounts and how/why they’re growing and you’re not. Just focus on yourself and your page, because worrying about anyone else is a waste of time. If you’re really dying to know, DM them and ask what’s working for them.
- Follow/unfollow. I tried it before and just felt yucky afterwards. I felt bad unfollowing people and it’s just mean. Plus, people are on to it now so they will unfollow you right back.
- Do not post other peoples content without permission. You do not want to get hit with copyright infringement and it’s unfair to them if they never agreed to it.
That’s all, folks! I hope this helps!
P.S: Something else my business coach, always mentions is that it’s not all about numbers. And this is so true. I hesitate to say it because people consider my numbers high, but they weren’t always high. I started at 0 like everyone else. And if it weren’t for the content and engagement, I would have never grown. So you need to really focus on talking to your followers and creating great content- this will eventually lead to numbers.