How to Gain 20,000 Instagram Followers in One Year: Interview with Andre Crews

For many coaches and athletes out there, Instagram is a way to expand your reach, become more involved in your industry, and yes, even make some additional income.

A post shared by Andre Crews (@andrecrews) on

The rise to the top of the Instagram is a hard one, often already conquered by Instagram celebrities who have 100,000, 500,000, or even 1 million followers. Many great coaches and athletes trying to expand their audience are left to compete for the scraps, hoping one day to catch a shout out, celebrity meeting, or lucky break.

The harsh reality of many Instagram hopefuls is that going from 100 to 10,000 followers is extremely hard, and that many of us fail to develop an Instagram strategy that will allow us to be prepared for success when an opportunity presents itself.

In this article, we sat down with Andre Crews, a good friend of The Barbell CEO, and more importantly a charismatic, passionate, and 100% authentic CrossFit coach and athlete who grew his Instagram following by nearly 19,000+ followers in 1 year, organically (no paid marketing). More specifically:

  • Get to know Andre and what has led to his amazing success
  • Andre will share with us his five best tips for Instagram success

The Man Who Gained Nearly 20,000 Instagram Followers in One Year

Meet Andre Crews, coach, athlete, and great friend of ours here at The Barbell CEO. Andre shared with us why he got started in fitness, his journey to 20,000+ Instagram followers in just over one year, and what striving and struggling coaches/athletes can learn from his social media successes.


When Did You Start Your Fitness Transformation?

BBCEO: Many of our readers may not know this about you, but you first started in corporate finance, out of shape, and living pretty unhealthy. At what point did you say enough was enough, and make the commitment to become who you are today?

A video posted by Andre Crews (@andrecrews) on

Andre: "During summer 2010 I vividly remember commuting to work in finance and feeling sick on a daily basis. My stomach would knot up, my palms would get sweaty, and I'd experience waves of nausea. I'd never experienced anything like this before. Admittedly, my alcohol and fried food consumption probably didn't help haha. But just the thought of going to work would make me feel like this. This is when I realized I needed to make a change." 


Did You Have a Plan for Getting Instagram Followers?

BBCEO: Fast forward from that pivotal point when you made that switch to just over a year ago, when you had roughly 1,500 followers in Instagram. Did you plan on sitting here today with 20,000+ followers?

Andre: "Absolutely not. I remember a friend saying “Man, with the content you're putting up you deserve to have 10,000 followers!” I laughed and said “Yea sure. Maybe in 3 years.” I never had an actual timeline or goal, but I thought to myself I’d be fucking ecstatic with 10k haha."


What Did You Start Seeing Your Instagram Profile as a Brand?

BBCEO: At what point did you start thinking about your Instagram account from a business/branding/opportunity perspective?

A video posted by Andre Crews (@andrecrews) on

Andre: "Honestly, with the exception of my first 2-3 posts, I always treated my Instagram account like this. I wanted to create a brand for myself (#CrewsControl) in the fitness community so that one day I could open a gym wherever my wife and I decided to live. I thought I had to make it to the CrossFit Games to do this. So I figured my account would be an in depth look at my fitness journey from averagely fit dude to elite athlete over the course of 3-5 years.

But along the way, I realized that for me to become an elite crossfitter, working out would have to become a job. I tried this for a few months doing 2-3 workout sessions per day totaling 4-6 hours of fitness each day. Then those 2010 banker waves of nausea started coming back. And for me personally, it wasn't worth it. If you're not having fun working out, what's the point? So I shifted gears and started having fun in the gym everyday. I posted my workouts on Instagram with the intention of motivating, challenging, and inspiring as many people as possible...and having a great time doing it!"


What are the Perks of Having 20,000 Instagram Followers?

BBCEO: If you don't mind me asking, what are some perks that have come with your successes on Instagram?

A video posted by Andre Crews (@andrecrews) on

Andre: "A lot of random stuff. On the small end, businesses ship me samples of healthy snacks, drinks, shirts, etc. On the larger side, I've become a brand ambassador for two great companies. Zevia sends me delicious sugar free sodas and energy drinks made from natural ingredients every month. Evolution Advance Nutrition gives me all the supplements a growing boy needs on a monthly basis. I also get a cash kickback whenever any of my followers use my discount code “CREWS20” to get 20% OFF protein, pre-workout, and recovery formulas.

But these all pale in comparison to an email I got last year. A local business owner found me on Instagram, was inspired by my posts, and reached out to me. Remember how I thought I had to make it to the CrossFit Games to open my own gym?! 150 Bay CrossFit will open it’s doors in Jersey City this spring led by head coach and co owner Andre Crews! This is literally the reason I started using Instagram! I built my brand, grew my following, and (with a little bit of luck) created a platform to launch my own business!"


What Advice Can You Give Coaches/Athletes?

BBCEO: If you could give one word of advice to coaches and athletes out there looking to grow their social media following, what would it be?

A video posted by Andre Crews (@andrecrews) on

Andre: "Be You."


Final Words

When we first eclipsed the 1,000 follower mark, we were more than ecstatic. As you may know, reaching 20,000+ lives on Instagram is more than just a number, but rather a responsibility and an honor. Andre's story is an inspiration, not only to us here at the Barbell CEO, but countless lives who surf Instagram feeds for motivation, insight, and support. If you find yourself in a power position of influence, don't abuse it. Rather, treat your profile, followers, and role with respect to truly make a lasting impact on the lives of others.

Featured Image: @andrecrews via @martsromero on Instagram