Mike Robertson is one of the smartest people I know….he also happens to write one of my fave and most informative blogs. I thought I would post his today as my ‘guest blog’. Enjoy!
Blogging I get e-mails on a weekly basis asking me about ways to break into the fitness writing industry. It’s a little amusing to say the least – I absolutely loathed English throughout high school, and if you would’ve told me that I would be paid at any point in my life for my writing, I probably would’ve laughed in your face.
With that being said, when it comes to writing I’m still no Adam Bornstein, Adam Campbell, Lou Schuler or Sean Hyson. I am simply a guy who enjoys teaching people about my passion – fitness.
Over the past few years, here are a few facts about my writing and website:
•I’ve written well over 100 articles (I’m too lazy to count them all, so this is probably on the low-side).
•I’ve been blogging since 2006.
•My blog has grown from ~50 hits per day to one that gets anywhere from 800-1000 hits per day.
•My newsletter list has doubled in the past year and a half! (And no, it’s not from 10 to 20)
I don’t say any of this to blow sunshine up my rear end, or to make people believe I’ve become some sort of prolific writer. Instead, what I can offer are some tips and tricks to help you write successfully and grow your blog.
What I’m noticing is that while blogs are currently all the rage, the divide between the good and the bad is growing rapidly. The ones that follow the principles below grow on a consistent basis; others die a painful death in cyber space, never to be heard from again.
With that being said, here are 13 tips to help you become a better fitness blogger in 2010.
1. Content is still king.
Regardless of what techy people will tell you, great content will keep coming back to your website time-and-again.
Sure search engine optimization and great headlines will help, but if you’re not providing great content, people will quickly stop visiting your site. There’s nothing worse than a great headline followed up with sub-par content. NOTHING.
2. Keep it (primarily) positive.
Nobody likes a downer. If the entire mood of your blog is negative, people will eventually stop showing up.
Now, don’t confuse this with being soft! If you’re passionate about something, let it be known. I try to be as positive as possible, but sometimes things I see in the industry flat out piss me off. The goal, then, is to not just complain about what’s wrong, but to provide solutions that you feel are more appropriate. Don’t leave people hanging.
3. Use spell and grammar check.
Remember that whole thing about not being great at English?
Luckily for me, they invited computers!
I write all my newsletters and articles in Microsoft Word, putting them through spell and grammar checking before they see the light of day. Sure, thing will slip through from time-to-time, but this simple yet effective tip will keep your posts looking tidy and professional.
4. Keep it fresh.
It’s imperative that you work to keep your blog fresh. Consistently blogging about the same thing, or writing in the same way over and over, gets boring very quickly.
The easiest way to avoid this is to keep learning. If you’re consistently reading articles and books, listening to Podcasts, and attending seminars, fresh content will never be an issue.
5. Use multiple writing styles.
This goes hand-in-hand with my previous point – by constantly changing or tweaking your writing style, you help keep your posts fresh and informative.
I’m sure there’s some fancy term for this in the writing world, but I try and mix it up – sometimes I use stories, other times a Q&A format, and when all else fails, old-fashioned direct content gets the job done.
Try a host of different styles and see what works best for you.
6. The rule of 50+ blogs.
I have a rule that works well for many beginning bloggers and fitness writers – write a minimum of 50 blogs before you try and get an article published.
There’s nothing magical about the number 50, but if you take the time to write 50 or more blogs, you have taken the time to find your creative “voice” and put it to work for you. As well, you have an idea of the creative process that goes into writing; at that point in time an article is really just a more in-depth blog post.
7. To niche or not to niche?
This is a huge question – it’s not really a question of whether or not to niche yourself, rather, it’s how niche do you want to be?
For instance, I consider myself in the very broad niche of fitness. I write about anatomy, fat loss, strength training, corrective exercise, etc. It may not be ideal from a marketing or sales perspective, but it helps me deal with my ADD a bit!
On the other hand, there are people that are very niche – for instance, fat loss experts who write solely about the many facets of fat loss.
You don’t have to decide immediately, but if there’s a topic you consider yourself to be strong in, start blogging on that topic first and foremost. From there, you can either work to dominate your niche, or expand your horizons.
8. Develop trust with your readers.
This is an important (albeit often forgotten) point.
It’s human nature to want to trust each other. Many fitness bloggers make that hard, as their feelings and/or message tend to sway to-and-fro depending on what products they are currently pimping and promoting.
I have a strict rule, as many of my readers are also personal friends on Facebook and family members: If I wouldn’t recommend the product to a friend or family member, I won’t promote it. Period. I made this mistake once before with a product I wasn’t 100% behind, and it will never happen again.
It’s not easy, and it won’t make you rich (at least not overnight!), but always put your readers’ thoughts and needs first and foremost. If you do this, you’ll never have a shortage of people checking your blog.
9. Did I mention content?
Yes, it really is that important.
Taking it one step further, I’m constantly reminded of a quote from Jim Rohn on the topic of sharing knowledge and wealth:
“If your glass is full, the only wall to add something more is to pour something out.”
If you really want to help people out, keep teaching them things. I don’t view my knowledge as proprietary or “secret.” The only hold-up is that there’s only so much content/information you can get across in a blog post. The logical hierarchy then becomes this:
Blog Post –> Article –> Manual, DVD or Seminar Topic
If something is really large in scope, it’s no longer a simple blog post. To try and reduce it to such would be a disservice.
The goal, then, is to pair the message with the correct medium.
10. Read other great blogs.
There are two sure-fire ways to improve your writing skills:
1 – To write often (more on this later), and
2 – To read other peoples’ blogs.
There are more than a dozen fitness blogs I read every single-day. Each and every one has a unique message, writing style, and niche they are catering to. Not only does this keep me chock-full of writing ideas, but it also inspires me to keep getting better myself.
Here are a few of my favorites; be sure to add them to your Favorites if you haven’t already:
– Eric Cressey
– Alwyn Cosgrove
– Bill Hartman
– Leigh Peele
– Tony Gentilcore
– The FitCast
– TJ Lensch (aka TJ the Intern)
– Dan John
– Michael Boyle
– Robert “Dos” Remedios
– Chase Karnes
– Nate Green
11. Stay consistent with your message.
As the saying goes, “Consistency is key.” It’s no different in writing, but let’s look at a prime example.
If you’re a low-carb advocate one second, and a low-fat advocate the next, you need to be able to explain why you changed stances. If it’s simply to make money or pimp a product, that’s a problem.
This isn’t to say that you can’t change your mind – for instance, I’ve radically changed my thoughts on core training over the past 10 years. The goal with writing is to develop and espouse your philosophy; if you change your mind, why did you do it? Can you support it with research AND practical evidence? If so, that makes for great content and shows you’re willing to change your stance in light of compelling or more complete information.
If you’re doing something simply to pimp a product or create controversy, however, it’s going to be difficult to see consistent success in ANY endeavor.
12. Stay current.
While I briefly mentioned this above, you have to stay current. Go to seminars, read books and articles, listen to Podcasts, etc.
If you’re writing about things that were discussed five years ago, you’re not going to do well. Blogging as a whole is successful because it satisfies people wneed for here and now information. If you’re spewing thoughts that are old or outdated, it’s simply not going to work.
Staying on the cutting edge of the information curve is critical to developing and maintaining a successful blog.
13. Keep writing!
Possibly the most important point of them all, keep writing!
Just like the first time you baked a cake, mowed the yard, or wrote a training program, the first time is never perfect. In fact, it’s never perfect no matter how many times you try!
The goal, however, isn’t perfection – it’s the pursuit of perfection that’s important (thanks Lexus!).
With each blog you write, you’ll get better. Your vocabulary will increase, your style will improve, and your message will become more concise and direct. Whatever you do, if you have a message to convey, don’t stop writing!
So this very short blog post has turned into quite the ordeal. What about you guys? Any tips from the fitness bloggers out there that I might have missed or overlooked?
Have a great New Year!