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Instagram for Coaches: 3 Foolproof Steps in 2021

Want to use Instagram to grow your coaching business?

You’re in the right place. Today, you get the best Instagram strategy to get more clients, while spending just a few hours a week. 

Want to learn more? Here’s how to use Instagram for coaches.  

How to use Instagram for coaches 

Instagram is an incredibly engaging platform — and great for business owners.

One in three Instagram users says that they are more interested in buying something after they’ve seen it in an Instagram story. 200+ million users visit at least one business profile every day. 54% of people say they have made a purchase either in the moment or after having seen the product or service on Instagram. 

No surprise then that it’s currently my favorite social media platform. I love how I can show all aspects of my business on this one platform. 

Actually, the way I like to think of Instagram is that it’s a library of my work. 

Luisa Zhou Instagram feed

Personally, I didn’t use Instagram to grow my own business when I was new to coaching. But it is a great platform to get your first coaching clients or grow your coaching business. 

After all, I’ve used it to sell anything from my courses, which range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, to my $18,000+ mastermind coaching package. 

The way I do it is through a combination of sharing stories that share more personal aspects of my life and tips on business and other great content. (By the way, you can follow me here.)

Of course, it’s not just me. 

Some of my clients who have successfully used Instagram to get their first clients or grow their businesses include Cristina, who is a naturopathic doctor…

Instagram client example

And Adunola, a career coach for millennials. 

Instagram client feed

How do you use Instagram for coaches, though? How do you set up a profile and create content that sells? Here’s your ultimate Instagram strategy.

Step #1: Create a compelling profile that draws people in

The first thing is to set up an Instagram profile that draws people in. 

Use a headshot and make it clear what you do and what your niche is. 

This is what my profile looks like:  

Luisa Zhou Instagram profile

What do you notice?

For example, if you’re a health coach, don’t just say: “Health coach.” 

Instead, you could say: “I’ve helped (number of) people collectively lose (number of) pounds.” List any results you’ve gotten for yourself or others, along with any credentials (like degrees and certificates). 

In terms of curating your profile, your posts, or at least the first nine posts people see when they visit your profile, should show visitors what you do. So if you’re a health coach, that means showing before-and-after images, sharing tips, recipes, or quotes, and maybe showing yourself cooking or working out.

Instagram health post example
As a health coach, you can show food, workouts, or share facts.

Step #2: Create the right content that people love to watch and engage with 

Instagram is like any other social media platform — to get sales, you need to connect with your audience and build relationships. This you do by creating and publishing content.

You see, your content is what people engage with every day.

So it needs to be good. But you also need to be able to create it fast and consistently publish new content. 

Here, I show you how to use every aspect of Instagram in the right way to grow your business without wasting hours every day.

Different aspects of Instagram

Instagram is a great platform because it’s so varied. You have…

Posts. Your Instagram posts let you show your expertise. 

Videos. This is where you share more in-depth content.

Stories. You get to be more personal and share the “behind-the-scenes.”

Lives. Lives are more like live coaching where you answer Q&As.

Reels. These are video versions of your posts. 

People can also connect and DM you. That’s another way to build relationships, where you have direct one-on-one conversations with people. 

You should use all aspects of Instagram available to you. The trick is to use them in the right way. That’s what we’ll look at next.

Create engaging Instagram posts 

The “secret” to getting people interested in your content? 

Create what I call “QI” content — content that’s quick and impactful. The idea is that people get a quick reframe. 

For example, you might compare two different diets, give five tips or three steps, share common mistakes, give a reminder, or share a quote. 

Luisa Zhou Instagram post example

In this video, I show you how to never run out of content ideas.

Note: There’s this myth that your content has to be amazing and beautiful. That’s not true. 

Just a short while back, my own posts were not at all perfect. Even when I was making seven figures for years, I used Canva to create simple posts.

Canva feed

I didn’t even use a photo editor. But if you need one, Snapseed is a popular tool. 

Upload your posts

To upload your Instagram posts, tap the “+” icon in the menu bar. Select the image you want to share or take a new photo. 

Then, you can add on effects and filters, a caption, and your location. 

You can also use a tool like Later to schedule your posts. According to Mention, 12 pm is a good time to post on Instagram, but that’s a very generic recommendation. YOUR audience might be most active in the mornings, during the day, or in the evenings, so test different times to see what works and what doesn’t.

Captions

As for captions, you can include up to 2,200 characters. But your followers can only see the first 3-4 lines so use that space to show what your post is all about. 

Test both short and long captions to see what works best. Personally, I like using long captions because there is just more space to engage people. Also, some industry research seems to back this up. Captions that are 1,000-2,000 characters long get the most engagement. 

Instagram description example
Here’s one of my descriptions… On the longer side, as you can see.

Publish videos on IGTV

IGTV, Instagram’s response to YouTube, is a great way to share more educational training videos. 

How do you create good IGTV content, though? And how do you create it fast? 

Here, I share how to create videos and livestreams for all platforms, including Instagram:

I personally don’t think you need anything too complicated for your videos. I run a multiple 7-figure business and my videos are not professionally produced.

But if you’re looking for a simple editing tool, check out Splice

To post an IGTV, tap on the profile icon and click on the “+” icon. Select IGTV Video and the video you want to upload. You can either use a cover image from the video or add one from your phone’s gallery. Then, enter a title and a description and post your video. That’s it!

Luisa Zhou video example
One of my Instagram videos.

Create irresistible Instagram stories 

Fun fact: 500 million people tune in every day to watch stories on Instagram. And one-third of the stories people watch are actually from businesses (like yours). 

Stories are the best way to drive engagement on Instagram and connect with your audience. 

They give that something that you get from reality TV — a glance into someone’s (in this case your) life. 

Your audience gets a more personal feel for who you are. And for you, they’re easy to create on the fly because they disappear within 24 hours. 

In my own stories, I share the behind-the-scenes of my business, like my work schedule or what it sometimes looks like to run a business. 

I might also share snippets from my own life, like my walks with Falco, my puppy. Or something from my life in New York, where I live. 

Luisa Zhou story example

As, again, a health coach, you might share how you make your favorite smoothie or a quick ab workout.

Other ideas are polls, ask me anything stories, podcast interviews, media features, and new YouTube videos (if you use YouTube). 

Go live on Instagram 

And then there are Instagram livestreams. Personally, I prefer Facebook livestreams, mainly because that’s where I started my business and so they’ve always been a core part of it. That said, it’s the same process.

Livestreams lets people connect with you in a completely different way than they otherwise would. They get to hear and talk to you in real-time, so this is a really interactive experience.

Use livestreams for live coaching. Again, this is a way more personal way to do it than on a video you publish because your audience is basically having a real-time conversation with you so I highly recommend that you start using lives. 

Share a livestream

Tap the camera icon or swipe right from anywhere in the Feed. Scroll to live and tap on the icon.

That’s it, now you’re ready to start your live.

Overcome your fear of livestreams

Even though livestreams are so powerful for connecting with people fast, I see a lot of coaches holding themselves back.

Doing livestreams feels uncomfortable and scary.

Do I know what this feels like? Heck yes. I was so scared of doing my first livestream back when I first started using social media for my business. I literally sweated bullets (sorry, TMI).

No way would I have ever watched a reply because I knew if I did, I would never have made another video again.

Fortunately, this is a skill you can learn. Today, I’m really comfortable in front of the camera. I literally think of a few things I’ll talk about and then I roll with it. 

How? Here’s how you can build up your confidence on camera: 

Blend in reels in your content

Finally, there are reels. 

With reels, you can mix up your normal, ‘static’ Instagram posts.

Share quick tips or comparisons, for example.

Luisa Zhou story example

Now you have your content… But how do you get followers? And how do you ultimately turn them into paying clients?

That’s what we’ll look at next. 

Step #3: Get Instagram followers and turn them into coaching clients

Before you start growing your following on Instagram, there’s one myth we need to bust.

People often think that to grow on Instagram, you need to go viral or you need to be some sort of Instagram influencer.

Not at all. I’ve never gone viral on Instagram and I’m not your typical influencer with beautifully curated travel and food photos. 

And the good news is… You don’t have to be, either, to get clients on Instagram. 

How to get Instagram followers

To grow your following, post consistently.

This is key. I myself post about three times a week, even though Instagram isn’t my main channel. 

If it is your main channel, post five times a week and do one livestream a week or alternate between livestreams and IGTVs every other week when you’re starting out. 

The next step is to use hashtags and tags in your posts. 

Hashtags help people find your posts because you appear in hashtag feeds where people who search for that hashtag can see your post. Note that in order to appear on hashtag feeds, your profile must be public.

Think of hashtags as keywords for your post. Ask yourself: What is your post about? Those are the types of hashtags you should use. 

Let’s say you’re sharing a healthy smoothie recipe. You might use the hashtag “#healthysmoothierecipe.” 

Search for that hashtag and in search results, go to Tags. Here, you get even more hashtag ideas. 

Use trending hashtags, as well as specific descriptive hashtags to show up in the right feeds. 

In terms of the number of hashtags to use, 1-4 hashtags is a good number. 

How to turn your followers into paying clients 

Making sales on Instagram is like making sales on any other social media platform. The first step is to build relationships and that’s what you do with your content. 

But once you have been publishing content consistently, it’s time to show the world that you also have something valuable to offer to those who want to work with you. 

When promoting your offer, use the 3:1 rule. For every three pieces of content that you publish, one can be an invite to work with you. You can simply end your post or livestream by saying, “DM me to learn more.” 

Or if you already have a webinar or lead magnet (a free gift people can download when they sign up for your email list), link to them.

But if you’re brand new to coaching and looking to get your first few clients, I have a specific strategy I recommend to my students.

The thing is that when you’re completely new to coaching, you probably have very few or zero students who have successfully used your methodology.

That’s why you need to earn your stripes. 

And the fastest way to get clients here is to… offer free coaching!

I call this the Taster Technique: you essentially give your audience a short but powerful coaching call (15-20 minutes).

This takes away a lot of the risk for people because they can see for themselves how good your coaching is. 

Facebook free call post
Here’s how one of my students got people to sign up for a free call post on Facebook. Use the same principles on Instagram!

You can simply offer your free coaching calls during livestreams or in your posts. 

And the final tip to using Instagram to get clients is to go off Instagram to find them.

Why, you may ask. Because Instagram is relatively slow for building a community when you’re starting out. 

That’s why you should use other strategies simultaneously to drive people back to your Instagram account where they can then learn more about you and finally sign up for your coaching. (Bonus: This also helps you boost your Instagram following.)

The other marketing strategies I recommend that you use include writing guest articles and pitching podcasts. (Here you get 26 strategies.) 

Getting your first few coaching clients will be a learning curve and it might take some time… But in the end, you build a completely new life for yourself on your own terms. 

Over to you!

There you have it. That’s how to use Instagram for coaches.

What your success comes down to is using all the platform’s features and diversifying your efforts until you’ve built up a following. 

Now I’d love to hear from you.

Have you started using Instagram for your coaching business? How’s it going?

Let me know in the comments below. 

Want to read the full social media for coaches guide? Read it here. 

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ABOUT LUISA

Luisa Zhou is the creator of the Employee to Entrepreneur system, which shows ambitious men and women how to build profitable and meaningful online businesses that replace (and exceed) their 9-5 salaries. Fun fact: She’s also a former International Space Station engineer. LEARN MORE

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