Instagram can be a pretty strange place.

One minute, you’re looking at your mom’s grainy photo of her cat. And the next minute you’re scrolling by reality TV stars trying to sell vitamin gummy bears.

It’s weird.

But as a business owner, I love it. I’m in love with Instagram for business. There, I said it, and it’s also the “can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kind of love.”


I can see you rolling your eyes from here. 🙄

But wait.

I’m a firm believer in Instagram for business owners because I’ve seen the results myself. By investing in Instagram — committing to strategies and growing my expertise — I was able to:

  • Sign my very first client back in 2013
  • Launch an agency to grow Instagram accounts for clients in 2014
  • Grow a personal following of over 60,000+ followers in less than a year
  • Get press coverage from Forbes and Entrepreneur

All from Instagram!

It’s not just me though. Sooooo many business owners from all kinds of different industries are investing in Instagram. And it’s working.

how this entrepreneur sold $50000 worth of event tickets - Elise Darma

Sara Christensen of Kickass Masterminds — one of the industry’s top mastermind groups — is one of those business owners. Like me, she’s seen how powerful and profitable Instagram can be for biz.

After doing an Instagram strategy session with me in January 2018, Sara made Kickass Mastermind’s Instagram account one of her main focuses.

She consistently put my strategies into action and grew her following to about 2,000 followers.

Two thousand doesn’t sound that impressive, right?

Except that she focused on quality over quantity. It paid off in a big way.

The quality of her followers mattered more to Sara because Kickass Masterminds is a business that’s all about people.

The sole focus of Kickass: producing high-value mastermind groups of smart, accomplished people that help elevate participating entrepreneurs to get to the next level of their biz.

Kickass creates these masterminds for established, full-time entrepreneurs, as well as hosts masterminds for other brands and businesses.

In the world of masterminds, Kickass is the best in the biz.

Near the end of 2018, Kickass Masterminds SOLD OUT its exclusive three-day Mastermind Live event. This event was capped at 40-ish people and tickets were an investment of up to $2,000.

But Sara sold it out in a matter of weeks — all by leveraging the power of Instagram. 👏

How did she do it?

Almost a year to the day of our first Instagram strategy session call, we chatted again so she could fill me in on her awesome success.

Here’s how Sara invested in Instagram for business and leveraged the platform to make *real* results happen! 👇

If you would prefer to watch Sara share her story in video format and hear how this all went down straight from her, scroll to the bottom of this post.

1. She discovered Instagram-for-business strategies — and committed to them

Kickass Masterminds had about 500 Instagram followers when Sara reached out to me in early 2018, wanting to sharpen her Instagram business marketing skills.

Sara didn’t want her business Instagram page to simply be a passive presence. She wanted to actively use the platform to make things happen.

After our Instagram strategy session, she went to work in three particular areas.

  1. She became laser-focused on identifying exactly why Kickass Masterminds was on Instagram and what she wanted to get out of it
  2. She committed to using Instagram Stories to connect with followers
  3. She embraced an authentic, personable, funny and unpolished approach to Instagram Stories to make her content super engaging

A sneak peek into some of Sara’s super fun IG Stories…


“For us, it was really important to be able to have an Instagram strategy that allowed us to establish ourselves as the authority on masterminds, for whatever type of ideal client we were dealing with.

Elise gave us so many ideas and suggestions.”

2. She mastered Instagram Stories

Sara’s business is all about those real-life connections. She wants her followers to join her offline, in face-to-face mastermind groups.

To make this happen, Sara embraced Instagram Stories.

They’ve become the *secret sauce* for Kickass Masterminds. Sara cultivated her own Story tactics, and they’re totally working.

“Because of the nature of our business and what we’re trying to accomplish, Instagram Stories is such a beautiful way to connect in such a true and meaningful way with people because it is less polished, because it is honest, because it’s real.”

Kickass Mastermind’s strategy for Instagram Stories relies on three different elements:


Most of Sara’s Stories for Kickass Masterminds are unpolished. They’re real, raw and “show the beautiful, messy, human experience of being a business owner.”


Sara tries to always be informative and entertaining. She uses the GIF feature often to add some laugh-inducing details to her content.

(I find myself literally LOL-ing when watching Sara’s Stories; she does a stellar job.)


Sara says only some of her Instagram Story content is planned strategically. It’s not like she’s using Canva to create templates for every Story.

“Honest to God, so much of it is just on the fly. For the most part, I’m using the native Instagram Story features.”

One app she does use for pre-planned content: CutStory. This app (available for both Android and iPhone) lets Sara break pre-recorded videos into 15-second sections that work for Instagram Stories.*

*Since the interview, IG has updated and made this part of the platform!

3. She cultivated deep relationships

As of January 2019, Kickass Masterminds has 2,200 followers on Instagram. That’s about a 340% increase from last January.

That’s definitely good growth, but still not the *huge* kinda number that so many Instagram marketers get way too hung up on.



Sara’s happy with her follower count, though.

“Would I like that to grow? Yes, of course, obviously, but not just for the numbers. For the relationships.”

Sara suggests that making Instagram connections and turning those into real relationships all comes down to treating the platform like “an extension of humanity.”

Everyone says social media marketing is about relationships but Sara is someone who walks the walk. This is a concerted effort on her part, but she does it in a way that’s totally natural and authentic.

Using Instagram, Sara has online conversations just like the ones she would have in the offline world — asking lots of questions, being encouraging, and cheering people on.

I’m not kidding when I say she cheers people on.

She actually promotes her followers and customers in her Instagram Stories, featuring them when they’re doing awesome things like launching a product or releasing a book.

elise+darma+instagram+kickass+masterminds+sara+case+study (1)

Here are some examples of Sara featuring OTHERS in her IG Stories.


“It’s really just using the digital format of relationships to extend how you would treat someone in real life.”

By focusing on engagement and not just numbers, Kickass Masterminds has managed to establish a following that’s active, interested and much more likely to actually become paying customers.

Which brings me to my next point…

4. She leveraged Instagram engagement to turn followers into clients

When it came time to promote and sell spots for Mastermind Live, Sara turned to Instagram.

It’s not like she was trying to sell a small purchase, like a $10 eBook or a $40 shirt.

Mastermind Live is an intimate and exclusive event. The investment ranged from $950 to $1,950 and attendees had to cover their own accommodations and airfare.

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A solid ask, right?

But all 40 event spots disappeared in no time.

And a lot of them went to people whose first contact with Sara happened on Instagram.

“Instagram was pivotal in us being able to sell out this event and for us to create those connections along the way.”

To get all 40 spots sold quickly, Sara used a few pretty genius strategies.

  1. Firstly, she made the event invite-only. This was to make sure that the guest list was a well-curated group of people who would get the most possible value out of Mastermind Live.
  2. Secondly, she created a personalized video invitation for every single invitee. These videos lived on a personalized landing page that included all the details for the event. Brillllll-iant.

For Sara, these super personal touches were just a way of being consistent in her relationships with followers.

“We were consistent through that whole entire relationship. From the first contact we had with someone on Instagram, all the way through all those meaningful connections, celebrations, acknowledgements, all the way through to sending that invitation.

When the offer came up for $950 or $1,950, they had had enough of an experience with Kickass, with myself personally and with our brand to know that if they were going to spend $1,000, $2,000 … it would absolutely, positively be worth it.”

But her event efforts didn’t stop there. Oh, they most certainly did not.


Sara went ahead and made a separate, private Instagram account just for the people attending Mastermind Live.

It was meant to be an experiment, an alternative to using Facebook Groups for more intimate engagement. Because only the account owner can post content, the communication is sometimes one-way, which Sara says can be challenging.

But she points out that people are connecting with each other in the comments, which is a big win for Kickass Masterminds, since their followers are generally way more engaged on Instagram than on Facebook.

It’s a cool idea and a really unique way that Sara has taken Instagram strategies and adapted them to work for her business.

How Sara sums up her Instagram business strategies

For other entrepreneurs who want to invest in Instagram for business, Sara has some advice:

“Figure out exactly why you’re on Instagram, exactly where Instagram fits into your customer journey and exactly howyou can strategically use Instagram along every step of your customer relationship, including after they’ve purchased from you.”

And once you’ve done that, you have to “check yourself before you wreck yourself as you are actually implementing your strategy and moving forward with your tactics,” Sara says.

Sara’s final tip?

“It’s very easy to get caught up in the ego of Instagram and the numbers of Instagram and not wanting to feel stupid on Instagram. You really have to ask yourself: do you want to make the money or do you want to be popular?

“I don’t know about you, but I want to make the money.”

Ready for amazing Instagram business results like Sara?

Then do like Sara did and go back to step one: the strategy.

Show Me The Strategy! Instagram Growth Package is the secret weapon for busy business owners who are ready to take their Instagram efforts to the big leagues.

You’ll receive:

  • One Instagram Strategy Guide that includes everything you need to know and follow in order to grow your Instagram account effectively.
  • 60 minutes of face-to-face time with me (Elise!) to talk alllll things Instagram (including training of your team members)

Show Me The Strategy! Instagram Growth Package is everything you need to take your business’s Instagram account from passive to powerful.

Maybe my next case study will be about how YOUR business leveraged Instagram to achieve awesome results! 😉



How to boost your sales, leads and clients from instagram - Elise Darma webinar