The non-clinical spotlight series exists to shed light on all of the interesting paths that physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals have taken. Today’s spotlight focuses on Jen Esquer, PT, DPT, who went from physical therapist to Instagram influencer DocJenFit, founder of The Mobility Method.
What is your full name and title?
Dr. Jen Esquer, PT, DPT
Founder of The Mobility Method
Where did you go to PT school, and when did you graduate?
I graduated from Loma Linda University in 2015.
What did you do when you first graduated from school?
Well…it’s complicated. Frankly, I never intended to be where I am now! I worked briefly in an outpatient clinic, but my online presence in the educational space grew so quickly, I didn’t stay there long.
Very cool! So, can you tell us a bit about how you got here?
Sure! I started an Instagram account during PT school, mainly to share my fitness journey. I had some followers, but I mainly used it to keep in touch with friends and family.
When I graduated, I decided I wanted to use the account differently. I wanted people to realize I was now a doctor and had some good knowledge and clinical expertise to offer, so I renamed the account DocJenFit, and I started to shift my Instagram account to the educational space.
I was able to pick the brain of Vinnie Pham (@vinnierehab) to help me move my Instagram account from generic student stuff to an educational Instagram account, as he was already doing that himself.
So were you working in the clinic at this time?
Yes, I was in the clinic, and while I was doing that, I just decided to lean into the educational space.
I also started getting people reaching out personally for treatment from my Instagram account!
Were you trying to work a traditional clinical role, or were you trying to do more of your own thing as a clinician?
Pretty quickly, I realized that people were willing to pay me cash for my treatments, so I started going to CrossFit twice per week to build my patient base.
During this time, I started getting other opportunities for promotion and advertising.
Wow, so this was all from your social media following?
Pretty much, yes! It was exciting to expand my reach as a PT to help many, many more people than I could have without my instagram presence.
I’m impressed! Where did you learn all of this?
It helped that I was dating an online marketer! During my third year of PT school, my boyfriend was getting home chiropractic treatments. His chiropractor was far from traditional; she used soft tissue mobilization, mobilizations, exercises, breathing techniques, and more in her practice.
This chiropractor was working outside of the box, all on her own, and she was cash-based. I realized I wanted to do something similar.
I asked one of my professors about it at the time. I said, “Now that we have direct access, can we do something similar to what my boyfriend’s chiropractor is doing?”
My professor said, “NO!” It’s a terrible idea!”
But you went for it anyway! Why?
I realized in that moment that people in our profession are scared of change and new mindsets.
Most of our schools are not equipped to teach business skills because we’ve been working within this small box of a medical model for so long.
Now, some schools do teach business; one of my friends was lucky enough to have Kelly Starrett as a speaker at her school (Western University). But overall, we’re not taught to think outside the box.
This is a shame, because we could all help so many more patients if we simply stepped out beyond the traditional model of practice that we learn in school.
How did you come up with your new online persona?
During school, my Instagram name was was jen_es_care, which is how you pronounce my name. As I mentioned, my account was initially created purely for family and friends, not something I intended to grow.
Then, I graduated and started thinking seriously about how I could convey to people that I had something valuable to provide. I knew someone who created the name Natalie Jill Fitness, and after throwing a few ideas out there, we settled on DocJenFit!
So you had a successful Instagram account and a cash-based practice. Where were you professionally at this point?
By this point, I was in talks with a company called Myodetox regarding possibly becoming a clinic director/owner. I’d have several PTs and chiros working under me in this role, so it was intriguing and tempting, but I was also realizing that I preferred working on my own. So as much as I loved the Myodetox team, I was at a crossroads.
When did you become The Mobility Method founder, and why?
As I was realizing how much I enjoyed being my own boss, I also had a terrifying realization: If Instagram goes away, I get forgotten.
That’s when I created The Mobility Method. Because that was something I could sell online, using my hard-earned knowledge, and it didn’t depend on Instagram alone. And as I dove into that more, I realized I had to tell the Myodetox team that I couldn’t move forward with that leadership role.
I do still collaborate and teach with them, but I need most of my time and energy to go into growing my own venture.
Were you still treating patients while you developed The Mobility Method?
When I created The Mobility Method, I had been working privately with clients for about six months. It was starting to feel like a lot, on top of social media and handling my teaching engagements.
Honestly, working one-on-one with six to eight private-pay patients per day is more exhausting than it sounds, so I was wondering what else I could do.
I asked myself, “How can I use what I already know?” And I was able to learn from my boyfriend and other friends who were working in in online marketing.
Why did you decide to focus on The Mobility Method vs. following the traditional path of patient care?
I wanted to provide more value than I could in a 60-second Instagram video that people may or may not see. And I knew that working in a clinic wouldn’t allow me to reach as many possible as other routes would.
My goal has always been to serve others and provide people with tools that will be valuable in their lives and for their bodies.
I hear that launching a course is tough! What were some of the challenges you faced?
My big challenge is that I had no email list, and the general attitude is no email list = big problem.
But I put up a squeeze page, which is a type of landing page (or lead page) that’s designed exclusively to capture email addresses, so that helped me build my list quickly.
Another challenge was that I honestly didn’t know what to do about anything regarding creating and marketing a program for the general public, so I had start learning marketing terms.
I wound up learning a LOT from other people.
What types of things did you learn, and from whom?
I sat down with girlfriend of mine who had 100k followers, and she taught me a lot about building my brand based on what I was good at. Her recommendation was to find a niche and double down.
For example, if you’re a yoga teacher, you can be the yogi who educates on alignment and form. In my case, I was the PT doctor who educates on how to move in a more healthy way.
I was an accessible, friendly fitness buff who happened to have a clinical doctorate. That was my niche!
With the help of my friend, I was able to build my Instagram account so it’s now at 400k!
Wow, any other pearls of wisdom?
This same friend of mine had been running programs for at least 1.5 years, and she taught me a lot of great information. It was actually pretty symbiotic. We’d exchange information about books to read, and masterminds to join, etc.
I was able to network quite a bit and connect with people who shared tons of great information with me.
One day, I sat in with Brendan Buchard, who is huge in the online marketing space. I learned a lot of new things beyond social media marketing. After all, social media is great, but there was online marketing before that.
I was able to take lots of notes from key players on how to really play the game.
This is great stuff, especially as I plan to launch my own course later this year! Do you have any recommended books on online marketing?
Yes, I have two that I recommend strongly.
This is a great book for selling pretty much anything online, and it’s a good place to start if you’re not familiar with online marketing.
This goes over email funnels and more in-depth marketing principles. It assumes you already know basic online marketing.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase products via the links in this post, I may receive a tiny commission, which will not affect your price. I use all affiliate earnings to grow this site and keep producing great content!
Who were some other helpful people you learned from?
At one point, I reached out to Lori Harder, who was nice enough to let me sit down with her for four hours to talk about launching my course.
Honestly, that time was instrumental and invaluable, and she was simply paying it forward. I found it incredibly inspiring that she was willing to do something like that for me.
Lori helped me by explaining to me how to set up a challenge to go into the launch of my product. She told me when to advertise for the challenge, and how to do Facebook ads.
Ah, Facebook ads. Those words make me shudder. Did she share any pearls of wisdom regarding those?
Yes, she went over what a successful Facebook ad looks like, when to run them, and how to structure re-targeting. We went over everything!
How did you come up with the name “The Mobility Method,” as well as the program itself?
I was sitting in car with my boyfriend, and we were writing down the program and going over potential names, and he came up with the name.
But it was based on a type of research we ran on my Instagram account.
Yes, we did an Instagram live to find out what people wanted out of a program, and most of the respondents said that they wanted mobility. That makes sense if you follow my Instagram, because I talk mostly about mobility. 🙂
We also ran an email survey, where I asked, “What is the one thing you want to learn from me?” Again, it turned out that everyone wanted to learn mobility techniques.
So the Instagram live and the email survey both confirmed what I suspected…that readers wanted more mobility info, so I decided that’s what I’d deliver! And that’s pretty much how the name and the idea were born!
What was one of your biggest challenges along the way?
It was definitely how to launch a product with no email list. I had the makings of a product without an email list, which, as I mentioned, is considered a huge no-no in the online marketing world.
So my first hurdle was to collect emails. I created an opt-in page as soon as I learned what an opt-in page was, and I put that opt-in page in my bio. I also ran challenges on Instagram.
I was able to collect 2000 email address from Instagram alone!
Wow! How does that work?
Lori recommended that I run the challenge itself on email, not Instagram, but I could ask someone to opt into the challenge by announcing it on Instagram.
I wound up doing this free challenge, and I reached out to personal friends I knew and asked for their help. I asked them if they would mind posting a story swipe-up about my free challenge.
So, without running ads (because it was too much to learn at the time), I was grateful to be able to have the support from my friends to help me promote my challenge. I ended up getting 11K people to opt-in to the challenge!
What is a free challenge?
You basically say, “Hey guys, I’m going to be running a seven-day challenge and I’ll give away prizes (Apple Watch, etc).” You have to know your audience to know what types of prizes will make them excited.
In any case, in order to get into the challenge and access my videos, people would have to opt-in to my email list. Once they were on the email list, I’d send them an email every day, which they would have to open to be eligible for the challenge.
Every day was a private page with the day’s private video. Again, I advertised this on Instagram, but the challenge itself was on email.
Because of this, my open rate skyrocketed, and then my click rate skyrocketed, which helped my search engine optimization (SEO).
This is making my head spin in a good way! Where do the prizes come into play?
To win prizes, you had to tag my Mobility Method Instagram account and post every day. I randomly selected winners, but I randomly picked an account, and that person hadn’t posted all seven days, that person couldn’t win.
That was how I grew my Mobility Method Instagram account, too 🙂
So, tell me! How did the launch go??
It was an incredible launch – it even shocked my experienced marketing friends!
What is your best piece of advice for someone looking to launch a product?
Build your audience and your email list first!
For a whole year before this, I’d been giving out free content every single day. I was feeding people with tons of free info. So then when I had an offer to sell a product, people were happy to support me because I had supported them–with nothing in exchange–for a whole year.
And if you think about it, what we’re all really about is helping people. I am excited that I have found a creative way to share what we PTs can do—and I can share our message with a much bigger audience because of my use of online marketing tactics.
Do you have any recommendations for courses, podcasts, or other growth systems?
I highly recommend the personal development program called Ascension Leadership Academy—I am actually in the PhD program now!
This program empowers people to invest in themselves.
I’ve never heard of it!
It turns out that there are other programs like this all around the country. There’s one in Ohio and Philadelphia called Next Level, as well as a few others around the U.S.
So was there a certain magic bullet that made you so successful?
I think it was a blend of numerous factors. The Ascension Leadership Academy was huge, as was my meeting with Lori. Plus, my loved ones were keeping me motivated. They were constantly saying, “Do another live,” “Do another post,” etc.
Putting myself out there was a way to sell my mission and vision, and get more sales every single time in the process.
I was lucky to have people in my corner pushing me along the way. I also had to do lots of work to get myself out there and get out of my own way.
Do you have any specific Instagram tips for us?
I sure do!
My number one tip: Know who are you talking to.
Know your audience you want to attract, and think about how you are going to talk and grow your message. Don’t be afraid of what people will think. Keep doing you!
In my case, I realized that lots of clinicians are only talking to other clinicians on Instagram. Their language was technical and research-based. How to mobilize/manipulate/position the body, etc.
But my audience was the general public, and I realized that type of language is not something that will attract an everyday person.
Social media is a billboard.
You must be able to capture someones attention quickly. This is why I use the photo next to most of my videos. When people see a red dot indicating pain on the shoulder, they are more inclined to watch the video to see how to get rid of that pain they might be having!
Find a hashtag and make it yours.
Find something catchy that’s not too long; that makes it easier to follow a hashtag. You can say something like, “I’m going to be doing a fitness tip each Tuesday, so be sure to follow this hashtag so you don’t miss my next pic!” Then include these little catchy hashtags to have people follow. For me, I’ll use ones like #tiptuesday or #funfactfriday. Make your hashtag unique.
Be aware of the limitations of hashtags.
Before you commit to a hashtag, search it. If 50k people are already using it, don’t use it. Yours would be lost in the shuffle.
A popular hashtag won’t necessarily make you more known. There are better ways to build your audience than hashtags. That said, certainly use hashtags in comments or in your post, but don’t use more than 10 because then it looks spammy.
Understand what it takes to truly grow an audience.
If you’re not growing your followers, it’s not because of your crummy hashtag. It’s that you’re not putting out catchy enough stuff. Explore content that resonates with your unique audience.
For me, I know my audience wants more pain-free movement, so I’ll often post a photo of anatomy or a pain spot next to video to draw people in.
Do you have any productivity or tech tips for budding Instagrammers?
Play around with things that work for you. I always keep a running list on my phone, which contains ideas of videos I’d like to shoot.
I’m always adding ideas when people ask me specific questions or I randomly think of something. That way, there’s always fresh content for me to shoot to keep my audience engaged.
Do you have any additional success tips for the readers?
Don’t deprive yourself of personal growth opportunities. I love masterminds and leadership summits. Some people call these organizations cults, but they will help get you out of your own way, which is often a huge barrier for entrepreneurs or anyone trying to succeed.
Entrepreneurs, especially, need sources of resilience.
Consistency is key for everything. Good things happen because you keep up and chip away at them every day. If you find something working for you, and it’s what you want to do, keep at it. Something good will come of it.
People like nice people. It’s easy to slip into the mindset where you see the world as everyone else doing incredible things, but it’s too late for you. But that’s not true; there’s plenty of room for you to do things, too. It leads to partnerships. Be nice. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, like an informational interview, or even a little help with promoting.
When I launched my program, the guys from Myodetox helped me out by linking to my program in their profile. Dr. Jacob Harden talked about my program. MoveU talked about my free challenge.
Have you had any judgers/haters along the way? How have you handled it?
Knock on wood, I have not had too many. Yes, I have spammy people who say silly things and I just respond with love and eventually block them if they continue.
But in general, I’ve built great and respectful relationships with my peers and I am grateful to say I am friends with many people I once looked up to and respected in my field.
There has only been one bigger Instagram page that was going around spreading hate to a lot of clinicians, but I luckily stayed out of his feed!
If you could give one piece of advice to someone with a great idea, what would it be?
Share it! The world needs to hear it!
Thanks for your insight, Jen!