The digital and social media world we live in today has paved the way for a new type of fitness professional known as an influencer.
These people reach thousands, if not millions of people, influence entire markets, and earn good money.
But how can you become a fitness influencer, and what does the profession entail? Stick around because we are breaking it all down for you today.
How to Become an Influencer
To become a successful fitness influencer, you must find a niche, set yourself apart by showcasing your unique personality and experiences, focus on engagement over follower numbers, and create the most helpful and practical content possible. Understand your audience’s needs and experiment with various content formats. Above all else, be helpful.
First: Understanding the Role of a Fitness Influencer
A fitness influencer is a person with an established following in the fitness space. They share helpful content with their audience, team up with brands to promote various products and earn from affiliate marketing and sponsorships.
The process typically starts by building a social media presence before seeking sponsorship or expecting fitness brands to reach out.
Many fitness influencers also create their products (dietary supplements, clothing, courses, etc.) and promote them to their audience.
Here are a few pros and cons of becoming a fitness influencer:
- Ability to inspire and educate countless people
- Excellent earnings potential
- Opportunity to turn your passion into a career and build a personal brand
- Flexibility to work from anywhere
- Chance to collaborate with leading brands and prominent people
- Receiving free products to review and promote
- Constantly having to produce fresh and engaging content
- Feeling pressure to maintain a specific image and physique
- Risk of facing criticism from people online
- Uncertain income, especially at first
Finding Your Niche: The Key to Standing Out
The fitness industry is incredibly saturated and competitive, which makes standing out nearly impossible. You could be an expert with the best intentions, but you must set yourself apart to become a successful fitness influencer.
One of the most effective ways to stand out is to pick a niche. Doing so allows you to target a specific group of people, provide more targeted advice, and build a name for yourself.
Trying to please everyone would make you appear like another generic fitness influencer with nothing unique to add to the conversation.
Take Bret Contreras as an example. While he is not precisely an influencer, he is well-known in the fitness industry and has selected a specific niche: glute training. Because of his persistence in that field, most people looking for glute-training advice and coaching turn to him.
Here are a few tips on finding your niche:
- Consider your interest: What aspect of fitness interests you the most? Is there a specific fitness topic you love learning about and sharing your knowledge with others?
- Keep your expertise in mind: What area are you most knowledgeable in or have real-world experience (e.g., coaching people)?
- Do some research: What are other fitness influencers doing? Is it working for them? Can you identify gaps in the market you could fill with your unique experience and expertise?
Finding a niche doesn’t mean limiting yourself. It simply means narrowing down your focus to better serve a select group of people.
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Set Yourself Apart with a Unique Voice and Brand
As discussed previously, the industry is incredibly competitive, making it difficult to stand out if you’re not unique. Aside from picking a niche, developing a unique voice and brand is another way to get people’s attention.
Take Physiqonomics as an example. Aadam is not an influencer, but a fitness content creator, who has built a decent following online with his brutally honest take on various topics and tough-love attitude. Here’s an excerpt from his About page:
Another example is NerdFitness. Steve Kamb is also not an influencer, but he’s behind a wildly successful fitness brand he built by displaying his personality, targeting a niche (nerds looking to get fit), and sharing helpful information.
Here are a few tips:
- Identify your values: What do you be known for? Helping people lose weight, recover after surgery, pack on muscle on their skinny frame, or something else?
- Define your unique value proposition (UVP): What sets you apart, and why should anyone pick your brand over someone else’s?
- Consider your natural tone of voice: How would you speak to a friend? Use the same voice when producing content.
- Make your brand recognizable: Hire a professional to make a logo that represents you and your brand. Display the logo across your social media accounts and use the same font and colors. Doing so will help increase recognition, regardless of how people stumble upon your brand.
- Share your story: People connect with stories, so why not share yours? Tell your audience about your unique experiences, where you started, and what roadblocks you faced. This can help people form an emotional connection with you.
Building Your Audience: It’s More than Just Numbers
Successful fitness influencers know how to engage their audience and foster a real connection. Having a huge following isn’t necessarily the same as having an engaged audience and a thriving business.
Have you ever encountered a huge TikTok or Instagram account with millions of followers, yet their posts barely get 200 to 300 likes? What does that tell you? Probably that most of the audience isn’t engaged or that the brand has purchased fake followers to appear more credible.
Yet, there are also brands with fewer followers who get a lot more engagement on each update.
So, here are a few ways to boost engagement while also growing your following:
- Create good content: There is no way around it: you must provide value to keep people engaged with your brand. This could mean sharing workout tips, recipes, advice, anecdotes, motivational posts, etc.
- Engage with your audience: The biggest mistake you could make is to ignore people who engage with your social media posts. For example, if someone takes the time to write a comment, acknowledge them by responding, even if just to say ‘Thanks!’
- Collaborate with other influencers: A collaboration (or ‘collab’) can be a mutually-beneficial activity that grows your following, boosts engagement, and provides value for your audience. For example, you could get together with another fitness influencer and work out together.
- Host a giveaway: Everyone loves a giveaway, so why not engage your audience by giving something for free? You can give away physical or digital products, money, event tickets, and more to people who follow your social media account and like specific posts.
Be Helpful: Create Valuable and Actionable Content
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Content is king.” It refers to the undeniable fact that while marketing is essential, producing quality content is vital to becoming successful.
The content you produce plays a considerable role in how people perceive you, how (and if) they interact with your brand, and if they decide to follow you. Good content creates engagement, grows your audience, and provides countless opportunities.
In contrast, bad content leads nowhere fast. It doesn’t provide value, a unique perspective, or actionable advice your target audience can apply.
With that in mind, here are some actionable tips for producing quality content that grows your brand:
1. Understand Your Audience
Being aware of your audience’s goals, struggles, and challenges is essential for creating the most relevant and helpful content.
To do that:
- Monitor your audience by reading the comments and questions you receive
- Look at the comment sections of popular fitness influencers
- Analyze your most successful content and try to understand what makes it work
- Look at the content other influencers share and see which topics do best
- Participate in fitness communities on Reddit, Facebook, and other platforms
Discussing theoretical information, study findings, and hypotheses can be fun. However, that alone isn’t enough because people want actionable advice they can apply immediately.
Share workout routines, training tips, nutritional guidelines, and how-to instructions. Always approach content creation with the mindset of providing actionable information people can take and run with.
3. Experiment With Various Content Formats
Youtube videos, shorts (or reels), social media posts, articles, and email newsletters are some of the most popular content formats. Experiment with them across multiple platforms to see what works well. There is no need to limit yourself to one form of media.
4. Tell Them What to do Next
Your content should drive your target audience to do something–whether to comment and share, ask a question, sign up for a freebie, or check out more of your content.
Be specific with your call-to-action (CTA) and consider what makes the most sense. For example, if you answer audience questions in a weekly Q&A segment, encourage people to comment with a question you can answer in the next installment.
Doing so is beneficial because it gets people to do what you want, helps them in some way, and fosters engagement with your brand.
Unless you decide to mostly write about current trends and the latest happenings in the industry, you will likely have to cover topics that people have already discussed before you.
While that might seem like swimming against the current, there is a real opportunity to add your unique take and broaden the scope of various subjects.
Related article: 16 Fitness Content Ideas to Grow Your Business
How to Become an Authority (Beyond Content Marketing)
Growing your audience and building a successful career is more than just being a fitness influencer. You must strive to become a fitness expert––someone people look up to and seek out when they need their questions answered.
Here are a few ways to boost your credibility:
- Pursue a certification or degree: Becoming a certified personal trainer or earning a university degree in exercise science is a great way to set yourself apart from much of your competition. It shows your audience that you mean business and are willing to invest in yourself and gain more knowledge and expertise.
- Collaborate with other experts: Collab with other well-known people in the industry for workouts, go on reputable podcasts for interviews and discussions and write guest articles for established websites. These things get your name out there and teach people to associate you with respectable experts in the industry.
- Never stop learning: New research findings, ideas, and technologies come out all the time, and people want to know about them. Successful fitness influencers stay on top of things and can often answer questions about the latest trends and findings.
- Speak at events or conferences: This more advanced tactic might sound terrifying, but it can work incredibly well. Getting on stage and speaking about a subject, even in front of a small crowd, can instantly boost your credibility.
Leveraging Social Media Platforms and Algorithms
Regardless of how you see social media, building a presence on platforms like Instagram and TikTok is essential for fitness influencers. It’s part of the job description.
A social media platform allows you to get your name out there, get people interested in what you have to say, and build your brand.
That said, each platform has a unique algorithm and rules you must know about. Understanding these can go a long way in helping you get the most out of your time, effort, and monetary investments (if you decide to use paid ads).
For example, Instagram is the ideal platform for sharing visual content: illustrations, graphics, and short videos (workouts, quick tips, recipes, etc). TikTok is similar in many ways, though the platform solely focuses on video content.
Here are a few essential things to keep in mind for social media success:
- Relevance: Social media is designed to display content similar to what people have seen and liked before. You can get plenty of content ideas by creating test accounts on social media platforms and looking at fitness content. Doing so would give you ideas for engaging posts that could show up on people’s feeds, even if they haven’t interacted with your brand.
- Engagement: Algorithms favor content that gets more shares, likes, and comments. Encourage your followers to engage with your posts to boost their performance and create a snowball effect.
- Recency: Newer posts tend to show up first on your followers’ feeds, so it’s best to learn about the best times to post based on where most of your audience lives.
- Watch time: If people watch your videos longer, algorithms take that as a sign of quality content, which could boost visibility. Produce engaging videos and always leave the most interesting part for the end.
For example, if you’re doing a short video on the top three biggest nutritional mistakes, start with number three and go down to number one.
Remember that social media is designed to provide users with the freshest and most engaging content to keep them longer on their platform.
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Monetizing Your Influence: Working with Sponsors and Advertisers
As a fitness influencer, one of the most exciting things about the job is the possibility of monetizing your online presence––in other words, turning the trust you’ve built into a steady income source.
As mentioned above, there are several ways to go about it, but perhaps the most popular option is brand partnerships. The objective is to connect with companies and promote their products and services to your audience. You can promote things to your audience through sponsored posts, reviews, or giveaways.
Other ways to monetize your influence include generating ad revenue from platforms like Youtube and offering your products and services. For example, you could create courses, have your clothing or supplements line, offer personal training online or in-person, and sell eBooks.
Here are some tips for finding the right sponsors (and avoiding the wrong ones):
- Think about your audience: The first and most important thing you should do is consider your target audience and what products or services might benefit them.
- Make sure it aligns with your brand: Consider any potential partnership and ask yourself, “Does this product or service align with my brand and values?”
- Research the potential partner: Look at the company’s reputation and values, what others have said about it, and how it treats current partners. Partner up with solid brands driven by the desire to help the market. Avoid those with a bad reputation that use questionable tactics.
- Start small: Negotiate one brand partnership to gain experience and learn what to expect.
- Negotiate fair compensation: Remember that brand partnerships should be mutually beneficial. Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t be afraid to ask for the appropriate compensation if you feel you’re improving the other brand’s bottom line.
Becoming a fitness influencer can be a lucrative and fulfilling career path, though it takes a lot of ongoing work and comes with some drawbacks you should know about.
Most notably, there is pressure to consistently produce fresh content and maintain a specific image and physique. Plus, there is always the risk of facing criticism from people online, but that’s true in all scenarios where you put yourself.
That said, the sky is the limit if you are willing to put in the work and provide value to people. There are challenges and uncertainties, but that’s true in any profession. Do your best, and you can enjoy considerable returns in the long run.
Check out Hevy Coach before you go. Our all-in-one platform is designed to help coaches and personal trainers manage their clients from a single dashboard. Write training plans, adjust workout variables when necessary, answer questions, and easily track progress.
1. How much do fitness influencers make?
Earnings heavily depend on how many followers an influencer has and how engaged their audience is.
On average, newer influencers can earn up to $600 per sponsored post and generate additional revenue from Youtube ads and their ventures (merchandise, online coaching, etc.)
2. Can I become a fitness influencer after 40?
You can become an influencer after 40, so long as you take the time to learn how social media works and can provide value to people. Many successful 40+ fitness influencers can inspire you: Tracy Anderson, Davina McCall, Bret Contreras, and others.