How an online barre teacher makes six figures using only Instagram (without ads!)
Mid-March 2020. A typical grey, slushy, late-winter-in-Toronto kinda day.
My phone screen lit up. News alerts — lots of them.
Texts from friends. And then, endless emails from businesses.
Closed until further notice. Curbside pickup only. In-person classes cancelled.
Coffee shops. My go-to restaurants. My favorite fitness studios.
Damn. Coffee? A pick-up window would do just fine.
Restaurants? I could always order delivery.
But my favorite spot for circuit training, where I could work up a sweat and decompress after sitting around, talking about Instagram all day (😉)?
What would my substitute be? And, more importantly, how would they make money?
The answer: one of the most popular words of 2020. P-I-V-O-T.
It seems like nine out of 10 business owners had to do some kind of pivot.
In the fitness space, it was probably more like 10/10.
Adrienne Kimberley Rabena (@barrewithadrienne) is one of those business owners. Prior to COVID-19 turning things upside down, the Seattle-based barre instructor was running (along with her husband) her own studios, teaching barre and yoga classes and training teachers.
They were exhausted. The burnout was real.
Fast-forward to now. Adrienne is still teaching and training. But, she has happily and permanently traded her studios for a completely online business — one that’s making her more money than she ever has before. As in, over $120,000 in eight months.
How did she do it? By pivoting her business and her Instagram strategy.
As Adrienne was changing up her business model, she was also changing up her Instagram tactics using Story Vault and Social Bank, two of my insight-packed, tried-and-true Instagram resources (here’s the proof!)
^ That’s just one of the insanely amazing DMs I’ve received from Adrienne in the last year.
With every crazy business milestone Adrienne hit, the more curious I became about how she turned her Instagram account into a huge money-maker for her biz — without even running ads! 🤯
So, we met up (over Zoom, of course) to talk all about the Instagram strategies Adrienne used to build mega success for her online fitness business *AND* how other online fitness entrepreneurs can do the same. You don’t wanna miss this. Keep reading
👇 If you’d rather get the deets straight from Adrienne herself, scroll down to the end of this post.
1. She identified her Instagram pain points
I often hear from overwhelmed followers that they’re not even sure where to start when it comes to levelling up their Instagram strategy.
Adrienne started where she knew she was having the most trouble: Instagram Stories.
I was putting all this incredible content out there, like really thoughtful, really beautiful, really intentional, and no one was responding. I knew my Story game was lacking. I just didn’t know how to make Stories look good. I knew that more people were seeing my Stories than my posts, but I really didn’t know how to leverage that. I was kind of in a stagnant place before Story Vault.
Instead of trying to change everything at once, Adrienne focused her efforts on first addressing a known weak spot. And through Story Vault, she picked up a few tidbits that turned that weak spot into a strong one.
Tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. Use Instagram stickers to encourage interaction. And always, always end with a CTA.
That formula has really, really, really, really worked. I create a Story. And then I usually have some sort of button that they can push or interact with. I ask them to reply.
The payoff: hundreds of poll responses, hundreds of signups, and the motivation to keep building on her Instagram efforts.
2. She overhauled everything about her Instagram profile
Your Instagram profile is 100% a book that gets judged by its cover.
You could be posting amazing, high-quality content (☝️ remember what Adrienne said?) but if users aren’t inspired to click on your posts to discover that content, then what does it even matter?
That’s why everything else about your Instagram profile matters, too — your username, your title, your bio, and your visuals.
All of those elements and how they work together signal to a potential follower that your account is tailored to them, and that following you is worth their while.
With that lesson in mind, Adrienne went about giving her profile a makeover.
She changed her title so that people could find her more easily. She rewrote her bio so that it summed up her and her business in a short, catchy way, while also sneaking in some CTAs.
And she chose a clear visual direction to follow, using cohesive and consistent colors, styles and themes.
The overall effect is powerful.
One quick look at Adrienne’s Instagram profile and you get a sense of who she is, what she’s all about and whether her content is something you’re interested in.
There’s clarity around what my page is about. My title and bio represent what people would search for. I updated my Highlights to emphasize my offering. There’s a cohesive visual theme, colors, and quotes that resonate with my clients. Ideally just by looking at it, people know what I do and who I serve. I think that creates the sense of trust and also makes my target market feel like I know them. They know what they’re engaged with. And they want to buy things from you.
3. She tried things out (and wasn’t afraid of the results)
I’ll be the first to tell you that there are no rules for IG success.
There are no rights and wrongs. At the end of the day, Instagram is built around an algorithm and we’re all just trying to figure out how to master it. 😅
“Trying” is the operative word. You gotta try things out and see what works for you.
Your Instagram Story prompt might be met with crickets. Or you might see your highest levels of engagement yet.
That’s what Adrienne did: try stuff. She experimented with different tactics, seeing what resonated with her audience and what fell flat, and adapted accordingly.
I tried out lots of strategies, from hashtags to DM strategies to following followers of competitors to understanding who are “influencers” in my market. I still do these things!
4. She talked and listened to her Instagram audience
Adrienne grasped one of my most important, most crucial Instagram philosophies right away: Instagram is a two-way channel. Talk. Listen. Engage.
If you’re not interacting with your audience every day — and I mean beyond just double-tapping — you’re missing one of your biggest opportunities to bring in $. In Adrienne’s case, she focused on:
- creating opportunities for her audience to interact and weigh in;
- listening thoughtfully to what her audience was saying; and
- tailoring her content, products and services accordingly.
Because she has listened to what her audience tells her they want, she’s been able to give them exactly what they need. And that’s been a game-changer when it comes to revenue.
Pay attention to what people need and want and what they’re asking from you. And not necessarily your plan for what you’re going to give to them. We’ll create a new course for that, or we’ll create a new resource for this, and that’s the value.
5. She focused on building authentic relationships with followers through direct messages
Listening to your IG audience is part one of two when it comes to building an engaged following that will buy your products and services.
Part two: build real, authentic relationships that go beyond just “Great pic, Susan.”
My advice: do it through DMs, like Adrienne did.
IG comments are good for surface-level relationship building. Direct messages are for building those more memorable, personal connections. The ones that turn into sales.
It’s not about sliding into your followers’ inboxes with a sales pitch.
It’s about taking an opportunity to start a real conversation — one where you might be able to nudge them a little further down your sales funnel. In a way that feels natural, and not like an old friend from high school is trying to rope you into a multi-level marketing scheme.
Take Adrienne’s strategy. When she ran a poll in a Story, for instance, she was waiting on the other end to respond to her followers as their votes came into her inbox. But not with a sales pitch; she’d talk to them like she would if they were a student at her studio.
She engaged with them person-to-person and, when the time felt right, she’d ask if they were interested in joining a class. She got a lot of yeses.
I think that authentic engagement really showed itself over Black Friday weekend for us. We had been engaging with people for months and months. They were interested in our services and interested in our products, but they hadn’t committed. And then when the time came, we just did so well. I think we ended up in the $45,000 range of sales that week, because they thought about us and they felt like they knew us and they trusted our product.
Adrienne’s advice for other fitness business owners
It IS possible to make a lot more money online than you were making in person. Don’t be afraid to jump into the online world, because your clients want you. It’s like having a good hairdresser; you just go out of your way for that person. Do it as high quality as possible. You just need some good lighting and a smart device. Look up a couple videos on how to make your audio good and your picture good. Do it with the means you have, but as high quality as possible, because that’s what’s standing out right now. Because everyone’s teaching online now.
Ready for six-figure results like Adrienne’s?
Like a fitness instructor (😉) might say… you gotta put in the work.
Luckily, it’s a lot easier (and faster) than getting washboard abs.
For payoff like Adrienne’s, you need Adrienne’s strategies. Like overhauling your Instagram Story game and taking your Stories from forgettable to profitable.
Do like Adrienne did and get your hands on Story Vault — my collection of over 800 (!) strategic, ready-to-use Instagram Story prompts and ideas guaranteed to help you:
- Save time spent struggling to come up with content
- Boost visibility on Instagram (more eyeballs = more opportunities)
- Attract new followers (ones that actually fit your customer profile)
- Fill your inbox with DMs from hot leads
- Sell your products and services to clients and customers who are eager and ready to buy — all through Instagram!
Story Vault is based on my trial-and-error experiments to make my own Instagram Story strategy efficient, engaging and rewarding ($).
These are real, tried-and-true prompts, questions and formulas that I tested on my own business, to be sure that they worked.
And they did. Big time.
Stop wasting time on trying to make pretty Stories that suck your time and don’t achieve anything.
Get Story Vault and say bye bye social media overwhelm and hello, social media profits. Don’t take it from me; take it from Adrienne:
I’ve been blowing up your DMs because I know that your tools have helped us actually be successful in the online world. Your strategies have really, really helped us secure leads and close sales for our service.
HEAR IT STRAIGHT FROM ADRIENNE:
Learn how this online yoga and barre instructor brought in over $120,000 in revenue only eight months after taking Elise’s courses.
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