How did a down on his luck personal trainer become the best-paid person in the fitness industry?
I doubt Joe Wicks knew, when he first posted a 15-second recipe video on Instagram, that one day he’d be on the cover of magazines, the author of several books, and receive recognition from the Queen of England… but that’s the power of content.
Joe Wicks, otherwise known as The Body Coach, is an internet fitness sensation turned U.K. national treasure. But rewind ten years, and you’ll see that he started right where most businesses and brands do – with no followers, very little work, and scrambling around to get clients.
It was only when Joe started creating content that he changed the game. Today, Joe Wicks is a shining example of what content can do for your personal brand and business.
This post is the first in my new content marketing case study series, It Started with Content. Each month, I’ll reveal how a business or brand utilized the power of content to achieve wonderful things. I’ll look at what really sets their content apart so you can learn from their experience.
To read, watch, or listen to all of the It Started with Content case studies, search on my website using the hashtag #ItStartedwithContent.
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From content zero to content hero!
In 2012, Joe Wicks was an unknown personal trainer, doing his best to grow his business.
He worked extremely hard to promote his workout classes, which included handing out flyers at train stations. He’d arrive at the park every morning, ready to host his classes whether people came or not...(sometimes no one turned up).
And he’s listed as the best-paid personal trainer in the world.
Starting with content
In 2013, Joe started posting Instagram content. He brought his The Body Coach brand to a platform with global reach (whether he planned to launch a brand or not). But there was one problem.
Instagram was already saturated with fitness content.
Looking at the platform today, there are over 57,000 personal trainers based in the U.K., more than 340,000(!) in the U.S., and over 180 million uses of the #fitness hashtag on Instagram.
How did Joe stand out?
Joe started sharing 15-second recipe videos. He wanted to inspire people to cook healthy meals, even if they felt they had no time. He created short videos to show how it’s possible in less than 15 minutes. He called the series #Leanin15.
The short-form videos were incredibly unique at the time. Joe was way ahead of the TikTok and Instagram Reels curve! He pioneered the high-value, micro-content format.
But what’s really interesting is that Joe wasn’t creating content for content’s sake or for vanity metrics…he was doing it to achieve a goal. He wanted to help people eat healthier, and Instagram allowed him to do that.
He had fun with it. Inventing his own terminology, making each video playful and entertaining. With each video, Joe’s personal brand strengthened.
The secret sauce to content success: consistency
Joe had the perfect core content. It was entertaining, informative, and had a strong message. But his approach to delivering the content is what propelled him head and shoulders above the competition.
Just as he’d turned up every day to flyer at the train station, Joe applied the same work ethic to creating content. He became relentlessly consistent, creating videos after long days at work, when his neighbours complained late at night, or even when he just didn’t feel like it.
Driven by passion and purpose, Joe’s dedication to creating content began to grow his following.
Joe used his YouTube channel, “The Home of Home Workouts” aka The Body Coach TV, to bring even more diverse, free video content to his increasing audience. Here, the focus was on workouts, as opposed to nutrition and recipes on Instagram.
Again, Joe stayed consistent with his message and his content approach. On YouTube, he could create longer real-time workout videos and deliver them to people across the globe – with no need to hand out flyers!
When content changed the game
Joe became incredibly successful. His audience grew with every new video and Instagram post, and the national media began featuring this new online sensation, The Body Coach, on TV and in newspapers (the first time I heard about Joe Wicks was on a daytime TV show, many, many years ago!).
Joe landed a book deal, and in December 2015 he published his first recipe book, “Lean in 15”. Taken right from his Instagram concept, the book was an instant bestseller.
You could say his Instagram content got repurposed into a book. Which I LOVE!
With the book, Joe’s following grew, and he had more and more opportunities presented to him. Since his first book Joe has…
- Published more than 10 bestsellers worldwide (and repurposed the Lean in 15 concept into at least five of them!)
- Created a hugely popular online fitness and nutrition plan
- Hosted his own U.K. TV show
- Launched The Body Coach app and membership program
- Started a podcast
- Is now the CEO of a hugely successful business, with a personal wealth reported to be over $20m
If you follow Joe on any of his platforms, you’ll know that what keeps him motivated isn’t the money or the perks (although I’m sure they help!) it’s his purpose.
Joe’s passionate message about keeping families fit and healthy is what drives him, and thanks to content, he’s been able to deliver that message far and wide.
He’s been interviewed for many newspapers about his “man-on-a-mission” attitude, but my favorite quote of his is from this 2016 The Guardian interview.
When asked about what makes him so successful, Joe responded:
Joe recognized that content doesn’t change the game automatically, you have to put the work in. That can be a challenge in itself. But when you’re dedicated and passionate, truly amazing things can happen… and it will pay off in the end.
But Joe’s story doesn’t end there. His biggest content creating challenge to date came in March 2020 when the pandemic hit, and more than half of the world went into lockdown.
Joe’s charity content challenge
Joe was just days away from a national school tour when the U.K. went into lockdown. With that cancelled, he decided to take it online instead.
He launched PE with Joe, a Monday-Friday livestreamed workout initiative on YouTube, to get children (and their parents) exercising every day during lockdown. Sticking by his consistent content approach, Joe vowed to provide these free live workout videos every weekday until the end of lockdown – little did he know that he’d be committed until the end of July!
His promise was recognized by media worldwide. Joe was featured on TV and radio shows across the globe and it increased his number of YouTube channel subscribers from 900k to well over 2 million.
On his second day, Joe broke the world record for the largest livestreamed YouTube workout as more than 950,000 families took part. His 70 PE with Joe videos have now had over 70 million views in total.
It wasn’t always easy, but by keeping his purpose and passion at the forefront of his mind, Joe continued to provide PE with Joe content for a whopping 18 weeks.
With so many eyes on him, Joe took the opportunity to help others in need. He used his platform to raise over £500,000 for charity during the PE with Joe initiative (and later that same year, he raised more than £1.5m with a 24-hour PE challenge).
In October 2020, Joe’s dedication was recognized by the Queen of England with an MBE.
Where will content take Joe next?
Joe Wicks is a perfect example of just what can happen when you’re a passionate and dedicated content creator. What some perceive as his “overnight success” is the result of years of consistent hard work.
Joe’s story shows that content can be a long game, but the rewards can be so worth it.
I can’t wait to see where Joe’s content takes him next.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this case study post. I’ll be posting more inspiring case study stories with the hashtag #ItStartedwithContent, so look out for them on my website, podcast, social media, and on my YouTube channel!
Are you ready to get started with content? We can help you launch a YouTube channel or a podcast, create content, and consistently work towards your business goals. If you want your brand to be bigger than The Body Coach (we should all set big goals), get in touch.