Within any given week I get a handful of emails from people asking me how they can go about building a “successful” fitness blog. In today’s ever increasing digital world (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Matrix), it’s readily apparent that if you’re not up to snuff with technology – and all it has to offer – you may be left in the dust.
Do people have actual conversations anymore?
Believe me, I’m far from what you would call a technology geek. My cell phone would be considered an antique by today’s standards, I’m deathly afraid of Excel spreadsheets, and I can barely run a toaster without setting off a 5-stage fire alarm.
But one thing I do know – or, at least have a general grasp on – is blogging, and how fitness professionals can implement and use one to their advantage.
While a simple blog post couldn’t possibly come remotely close to explaining all the ins and outs of blogging, here are a few simple strategies/insights you’ll need to get the ball rolling.
Before we begin, however, let me address the elephant in the room. Is having a blog even necessary? No. Does having one mean you’ve finally made? Um, no.
I can’t reiterate enough my sentiments that one should gain ample experience before (s)he worries about starting a blog.
More important than having a popular blog is actually getting good (really good) at what you do – and actually coach people for a few years – before entering the blogosphere.
Just because you trained five people last week and read a book doesn’t mean you should start a blog about how to train people.
I mean, I made a meatloaf last night, I don’t consider myself an expert.
It’s just my personal opinion of course. And some may roll their eyes at me for being so “old school,” but I really feel that one should have 2-3 years of training experience under their belt before starting a blog. As a frame of reference, I started as a personal trainer in 2002. I didn’t start blogging until the fall of 2006. I spent a solid four years honing my craft, trying to get better before I even thought about spreading my knowledge to the interwebz. That, and blogs didn’t even really start gaining popularity until 2005. But whatever.
Anyhoo, lets get on with it.
1. Take the Initial Step
I understand this is the Captain Obvious thing to say, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t quite “get it.”
The first thing to consider is why do you want a blog in the first place?
Some people start a blog because they have a lot on their mind. Others use it as a source of venting. While others use it to build a brand and get their name out there.
Whatever the case may be, you have to start somewhere. Just saying you’re going to start a blog and then not doing anything about it isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Secondly, just write. About anything. One of the major deterrents as to why people are hesitant to begin with is that they feel they have nothing to say. More to the point, they feel as if everything has already been said and that they couldn’t possibly have anything more to add.
Let me let you in on a little secret: nothing is new, and everything has already been said.
But not in your voice. And not in your own context. Using myself as an example: I’m not like Nick Tumminello, or Jim “Smitty” Smith, or Dean Somerset, or any number of other bright guys (and women) who are thinkers and have an innate ability to come up with new(ish) ideas. I’m more of an interpreter. I’m able to read what others say and teach and parlay that info to others in an entertaining fashion.
Tracy Anderson is a quack, doesn’t know her ass from her acetabulum, and is about as intelligent as ham sandwich.
See how easy it is!
That wasn’t an original thought. Many have thought the exact same thing before me, and many will think the exact same thing years from now. In fact, I’m willing to bet that even when aliens visit Earth – when we’re all dead – they’ll somehow come across that video, scratch their heads, and think to themselves, “who the hell was that idiot?”
Suffice it to say, much like we would tell someone the hardest part about training is actually showing up, the same can be said about blogging. Just start. Go to blogspot.com, or blogger.com, or WordPress.com (which is what I would recommend), sign up for free, choose a template, and write.
2. Set a Schedule (and Be Consistent).
Once you are blogging, it’s important that you set a schedule and actually stick to it. Traffic isn’t going to come right away (more on this below), but one of the biggest traffic killers – in other words: deters people from visiting your site – is inconsistency.
This is going to be highly individual depending on one’s schedule. Pick a frequency. 2x, 3x, 4x per week? Whatever it is stick to it.
I strive for 4-5 posts per week, 3 minimum, and the fruits of my labor have paid off because I’m consistent.
Nothing turns people off than someone who blogs like a champ for a few weeks – providing killer content, increasing people’s level of awesome – only to disappear for a week. Stuff happens, life gets in the way, and there’s nothing you can do about that. Giving your readers a heads up (hey sorry everyone, I’m going to be away for a bit fighting terrorists) would go a long way as far as keeping them on your radar.
But if you just disappear, and it’s a running trend, you’re going to have a hard time building a successful following.
3. Content is King
We all know the saying: if it looks like s***, and it smells like s***, then it’s probably s***.
Don’t write s***.
[Read THIS for some excellent ideas on how to write killer content]
I know a lot of “experts” will say that you need to pick a niche and run with it. There are plenty of fitness blogs out there which focus solely on fat-loss, some on nutrition, and others on how to go about training bomb sniffing dolphins.
Just go with it.
I like to blog about getting people stronger. It’s what I know, and it works for me.
Whatever you choose to write about and focus on, you better make sure it’s damn good content. You need to own it!
To that end a few thoughts:
– Grammar counts too. I’m no Shakespeare, but I can tell you that if you’re mis-spelling every other word, confusing proper usage of there/their/they’re, and otherwise just showcasing slipshod work, people will call you out on it.
As much as I hate grammar Nazis, there comes a point where you need to call a spade a spade.
NOTE: I’ll call myself out and state there’s a handful of misspelled (or even missed) words in this very post. Whatever. Give me a break. It’s blog, not a dissertation. And, I’m not wearing my glasses.
– ALWAYS give credit. Like I said above, nothing is new out there, but if you’re taking credit for things you didn’t say or do, you suck. And someone will figure you out sooner or later.
– Not every posts needs to be Atlas Shrugged. Lengthy posts – while cool for showing off your writing chops and definitely warranted when you’re writing about something you’re passionate about – will bore the crap out of people after awhile.
In his book Rise to the Top, Jon Goodman mentioned how you should have a schedule of short, to the point posts (400-500 words) that are easily “shared” and help to generate more traffic, and long(er), more elaborate posts to help “keep” your current readers.
An example of the former would be something like a quick mobility exercise, or a brief quip you learned from a DVD. An example of the latter would this very post which, approaching 1200 words, is probably long enough for today.
Check back tomorrow for some more insight on what makes for a successful fitness blog.