What would you say if someone told you that your fitness Instagram account–whether it’s brand spanking new with 100 followers or established at 15,000 followers and growing by the day–is worth more than your regular 9-to-5 job? You’d probably scoff. You’d probably think that person was crazy. You’d probably think, “But fitness is just something I do on the side – I still need a career!”
That would have been true in 2006. But this is 2016. The social media craze is in full swing with no signs of slowing down. Every day more platforms are popping up. Each new platform provides fitness enthusiasts a stage more powerful than any National Physique Committee show to get themselves noticed. From Snapchat to Pinterest, Periscope to Peach, there truly is no shortage of opportunities to turn your “something on the side” into your main source of income.
At its last public update in September 2015, Instagram boasted a whopping 400 million monthly active users. Approximately 70 million photos and videos are being uploaded to the social network each day. And fitness ranks as one of the most popular topics on Instagram. As of this writing, Instagram users have posted more than 114.5 million pictures or videos with the “fitness” hashtag. (For some truly amazing and insightful Instagram stats, check out this post from Sprout Social.)
If you’re in fitness, Instagram is undoubtedly the place to be. That’s been true ever since the first gym mirror selfie debuted. What’s changed is a little something that we’ll call “the modern economic shift.” In a world where people can go from 0 to 100 overnight simply by posting a photo or video that catches on like wildfire, your social currency IS your currency. Put another way, your ability to cultivate a solid fanbase – something that’s uniquely yours and that YOU control – is worth far more than any salaried position.
In the interest of clarity here, the concept of “worth” does NOT mean getting yourself noticed by a supplement, apparel, or other company that will pay you to hawk its wares. These days, companies are far more likely to adopt an affiliate or ambassadorship model to avoid actually paying the athletes who promote their goods. (Unless, that is, you count a lifetime supply of free product as “paying.”) Even the legitimate sponsorships that do exist don’t offer much in the way of sustainable income. Many athletes who accept sponsorships find themselves sacrificing their own unique image – an image that could make them far more money – in the name of “looking the part.”
What we mean by “worth” is really the opportunity to build your personal brand. Literally hundreds of male and female fitness addicts on Instagram have built enormous followings by simply showcasing their elite physiques, offering helpful diet / training tips, and providing motivation to the masses. Here are some of our favorite examples:
- Actor, model, and motivational speaker James Ellis (111,000 followers);
- Calisthenics king and Dubai-based trainer Kenneth Gallarzo (457,000 followers);
- Former Australian pole vaulter Amanda Bisk (486,000 followers);
- Fitness model and bodybuilding sensation Sergi Constance (1.4 million followers);
- Australian model-turned-personal-trainer Emily Skye (1.4 million followers); and
- Canadian model and Hourglass Workout creator Lyzabeth Lopez (2.1 million followers).
Obviously building a large fanbase does not happen overnight, nor will it come without a good deal of hard work. But for those willing to put in the effort, provide good content, and stay true to their own image, amassing a large fanbase yields incredible dividends.
What you do with your fanbase is entirely up to you. It could be developing your own signature fitness program. It could be bringing clients on for your customized coaching. Or it could be having fans subscribe to your newsletter chock full of pro-level tips and inside knowledge. The possibilities are truly endless. But one thing remains certain: If you take advantage of it, your fitness Instagram account can set you free from the 9-to-5 grind.