Instagram Tips

Top Instagram Tips for Your Athlete Coaching Business

BY Jen Rulon

Instagram can be a great tool to grow you audience and find new athletes. Are you getting the most out of your account?

It was October 2012. I was sitting on the Kona pier watching my husband compete in the IRONMAN World Championship. The gun went off and a lightbulb went off, too. I needed to start my own coaching business. I decided to jump in feet first, and in December 2012 I received my LLC and DBA for I’ve never looked back.

While I made a ton of mistakes starting my business, felt a bit lost, and was very overwhelmed, there was one great decision that I made that genuinely changed how I marketed myself and my brand. I started an Instagram account in January of 2012.

Instagram is all about photos of everyday moments and activities. For your coaching company, that means showing off your services and team while educating followers about what sets your company apart. And, it might also be an opportunity to promote other products, such as books, racing gear, etc.

Let me be absolutely clear. I had no idea what to post at first for my triathlon coaching brand. I started posting photos and seeing what people liked and what they didn’t. At that time, Instagram wasn’t a massive platform like it is today so the traction was pretty low, but I started realizing a few things that I was doing wrong on Instagram.

Such as…

  1. Too many selfies!
  2. Too many cat photos.
  3. Poor quality photos.
  4. Photos not relevant to
  5. Photos with word overlays.

Over the years, I started getting really intentional with my social media, especially Instagram. Why? I was getting clients from Instagram. They ranged from Mexico to New York and Canada to California. After measuring a few data points I realized that the return of investment on Instagram was much higher than other social media platforms I was engaging on.

I learned a lot in the process and came up with the “Rulon Rules for Instagram” which you can use for your coaching business.

“Rulon Rules” for Instagram

1. Tell your followers a story

We know Instagram is about photos, photos, photos. It’s also important to tell the story behind the photo.

For example, if you are posting a motivational quote, why is it important and what does it mean to you? If you are posting a photo of beautiful scenery, what happened there that meant something to you? As a coach, you need to remember that you are always building a brand and your followers (your potential athletes) want to see what you bring to the table. Talk to them about what you are sharing and why.

2. Provide value to your followers

This tip may shock you: give free advice and education to your followers.

It’s important to offer your knowledge to potential clients and anyone that may be inspired to try your sport. Remember, that 10×100 swim with a:10 RI is not a new workout that you came up with. Your followers want to learn from you. If you can educate a potential athlete about a specific workout or strategy you use, they will have a better sense of your coaching style and will have more reason to trust you.

3. Respond to every comment and direct message

You are not Oprah or Beyoncé. Be authentic by chatting with your potential clients.

People want to know who is behind the camera and they want to make a connection with you. Yes, it can be time-consuming and it’s important to avoid hiring someone to do it for you or using a bot. If you want to show people who you are, start a conversation with your potential clients whether it is a direct message or in the comments.

Need help scheduling your social media?

Download author Jen Rulon’s free social media calendar to add structure to your social media strategy.

Why do I plug Instagram?

In 2018, I received a couple of emails from friends who found an article about Instagram’s role in endurance sports marketing. On the accompanying infographic, MultiSport Research explained that “Instagram has the highest engagement and post interaction compared to Facebook and Twitter.” I was also fortunate to be named one of the leading coaches on Instagram along with TriSutto.

Instagram is not about instant conversions or links. This is about the long-term benefit, so rate your success in terms of likes, follows and comments — not profit. Over time, you will start developing stable relationships throughout the country, see people at races that recognize you for being you and your coaching business and cheer on your team. Who wouldn’t want that?

Coaching Guide Image Of Noah With A Client At A Table.

How to Be a Successful Endurance Coach

Learn from this guide to help you each step of the way as you build and grow your coaching business.

Avatar1512765023 7
About Jen Rulon

Jen Rulon has been a triathlon coach for 22+ years and the owner of She received her Masters in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. You can find her knowledge as an author and speaker ranging from Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, Men’s Journal Online and the New York Times. 

Jen is the author of the book “Self-Motivation Strategies for Women,” highlighting how she has lived her life through passion, grit, and heart but now applies this method to the athletes that she coaches.

She also practices what she preaches–she’s a 15x Ironman Triathlete who qualified and participated in the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 14, 2017.