Internet stars aren’t born, they’re made. Just ask Jen Selter, the gal whose perfect posterior has garnered more followers than Rihanna. So how can you go from no-name to phenom? We asked the Internet’s top fitness and yoga sensations for their stand-out secrets, from capturing that wow factor to crafting captivating captions, so you can go viral, too. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Quality beats quantity
Don’t post just for the sake of posting. “I want every post to mean something, so I don’t post just to fill space,” says yoga sensation Caitlin Turner (@gypsetgoddess). Photo quality matters, too: “We shoot our photos with DSLR cameras and play with lighting and photo composition in order to make our yoga poses more visually appealing,” adds Laura Kasperzak (@laurasykora), co-founder of Two Fit Moms.
3. … But be surprising
Yes, butt pics are popular, but only showing your behind can get boring. “When I see other Instagram accounts whose posts are all exactly the same, I lose interest quickly,” says IFBB Pro Abbie Burrows (@abbieburrows), who might throw in a pizza cheat day pic between training tips.
4. Take wow-worthy photos
Anyone can take a foot selfie, but holy-cow-how-does-she-do-that shots will get you noticed. “The wow factor is super important,” says Burrows who amazes fans with her enviable abs. “It keeps followers close and new ones intrigued!”
5. Show something new
People want the latest and greatest, so show off your trendy new yoga tights or an innovative exercise. “The visual is only one part of the wow factor — the other way we draw our followers in is by offering them ways to make these poses attainable and accessible for all fitness levels,” adds Masumi Goldman (@masumi_g), co-founder of Two Fit Moms.
6. Use your background to your advantage
How can you make a straightforward physique shot or simple yoga pose stand out? Do it in a surreal or surprising setting (like a handstand in the middle of a deserted highway). On the flipside, wild leggings or a leopard sports bra stand out against a plain backdrop.
7. Illustrate your message (literally)
When Turner wanted to send an “expose yourself to nature” message, she posted a photo of herself topless facing a stunning mountain backdrop. It got more than 4,500 likes. An inspirational message penned on your arm or leaning on a friend to share the sentiment can also do the trick.
8. Be motivational
Fitspo stars don’t just flaunt their assets, they flaunt motivation, too. “It’s all about keeping people inspired but also being realistic in those expectations so they don’t get frustrated and give up,” says fitness model Amber Dawn Orton (@mishkadawn).
9. Talk directly to your followers
Use your caption to connect with followers on a deeper level. “The photos are what draw people in, but followers want inspirational words and a glimpse into our daily lives,” says Kasperzak. “The captions make them realize there’s a person behind the Instagram account.”
10. Listen to your followers
Get to know your followers; read comments and notice what photos get more likes. “I pay attention to trends with my followers and try to give them what they want,” says Orton.
11. Use the right hashtags
“Hashtags help you trend your pictures and garner more likes,” says Burrows. But don’t hashtag every word, just the ones that’ll help people find you: #fitness, #exercise, #eatclean, #workout, #fitspo, #fitfam. “If you hashtag ‘yoga mom,’ you can connect with other mothers who practice yoga,” says Goldman, who also uses hashtags to promote online contests.
12. Let your personality shine through
Instagram may be two-dimensional, but you shouldn’t be. “Its important to have an online persona outside of just fitness,” says Orton. “I have never had a problem sharing my struggles and I think this has really helped people relate to me and see that its not just easy-peasy every single day.”
What’s your best advice to aspiring fitspos who want stand out on Instagram?
“Be different, be original. Don’t be afraid to post something you love because you think others will judge you or unfollow you! That’s what makes you you and not just another fitness chick!” — IFBB Pro Abbie Burrows (@abbieburrows), 30k followers
“Be yourself! There’s no need to spend two hours making the ‘perfect’ video or photo. Don’t be afraid of showing your natural personality!” — IFBB World Champion Margret Gnarr (@margretgnarr), 27k followers
“Get involved in the Instagram community. Offer inspiration, run challenges, provide tutorials, comment on peoples photos. Engagement is key.” —Laura Kasperzak (@laurasykora) and Masumi Goldman (@masumi_g), co-founders of Two Fit Moms, more than 1 million followers
“First, you need to find your niche, so start paying attention to what gets better responses on your page. Then try to be more dimensional. You want people to follow you for a variety of reasons and feel they can relate to you regardless of your passion within being a fitspo. It’s really all about finding a balance between being inspirational, real, relatable and unique.” — Fitness model Amber Dawn Orton (@mishkadawn), 72k followers
“My best advice is to be unabashedly and unapologetically yourself, because you are what sets you apart. People connect most with honesty and authenticity, not just perfection. Embrace your weirdness or uniqueness, and use it as an advantage to carve out your own space and your own audience.” —Yoga sensation Caitlin Turner (@gypsetgoddess), 215k followers