It flabbergasts me that this is my 497th article.
Looking back to the beginning of my fitness writing pursuits in 2014, I never thought it would amount to such an immense body of work, let alone, a total of 10,000+ readers a month.
Moreover, if someone said I would be writing for thousands by year 2019, I would’ve said they were crazy.
Oh, and would’ve said “f*ck outta here” as I sipped my espresso with a nonchalant air.
While I’ve never labeled myself a “writer,” I guess you can say I’ve done okay.
For the past four years of being immersed in this practice, I’ve gotten away with several things:
– Writing in sentence fragments
– Using profanity graciously
– Mispelling entrepreneur
– Referencing Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and relations with North Korea to exercise science
– Not using colons correctly
Adding on, I’ve also accomplished many things:
– Being featured in Women’s Health, Shape, Self, and U.S. News.
– Writing for Stack.com
– Writing for the International Youth Conditioning Association
– Writing for Football Fitness Federation and appearing on their podcast
– Writing for TonyGentilcore.com
– Meeting and high fiving Tony Gentilcore
– Being followed by legendary strength coach Michael Boyle
– Writing a 100+ page book on youth soccer fitness.
Funny enough, I’ve joked with my parents that receiving an education from Johns Hopkins University led me to one thing: to write. In fact, their dreams of me becoming a surgeon dwindled the moment I discovered the creative writing and philosophy courses on campus.
And as much as “doctor” was a more prestigious label than “writer,” I couldn’t help but fall in love with the power of words and the art of storytelling. Of course, this was going against the status quo at the world’s top medical school, but I couldn’t help but lean into what provided me the most fulfillment.
What’s funnier is, as much as I thought I had my life ironed out in college, my degree from Johns Hopkins was the jumpstart to an unexpected career as a fitness writer (and strength and conditioning coach).
And I suppose the logical, left brain of my nerdy, engineer dad, coupled with the creative, insightful right brain of my concert pianist mom, boded well for me.
Fitness writing, to that end, requires both logic and creativity.
For one, you’re using your left brain to dive into concepts on exercise science, biomechanics, and teaching cues. On the other end, you’re swirling around your right brain to design eloquent sentences, captivate your readers with word play, and tell your story with improvisation.
Too, fitness writing requires more than integrating the hemispheres of your brain.
In order to stay afloat in a flooded online space, you have to have more than an interconnected brain, pretty face, and sleek MacBook Pro.
Due to the saturated nature of the strength and conditioning industry, everyone is eager to get attention and be heard amongst the masses. And more often than not, new strength coaches see starting a blog as the panacea for business success.
While blogging has lead me to increased exposure and connection, it has by no means been a business plan. Even if you want to get to a point where you can sip margaritas on the beach while calling online clients, it still takes YEARS.
Truthfully, it wasn’t until year three that I felt I was gaining traction. Even now, I still feel I’m on the upswing and “grinding it out.” And if you’re wondering, still no margaritas on the beach for me. And I’m in YEAR FOUR, yo.
I started writing because I selfishly wanted my own creative space. Drafting my inner monologue is both fulfilling and satisfying for me. And as much as you think my blogs are for you, they’re not. With all due respect, if people relate to them, great. If not, that’s fine too.
So if you’re just getting started in your blogging journey, before you talk to me about your dreams of making six figures through online coaching, nail these pointers down first on how to not suck at writing:
1. Write on your niche topic.
There are few fitness bloggers I follow nowadays.
It seems everyone is writing on strength training for women, holistic nutrition, and ketogenic diets.
In today’s online world, you have the opportunity to get super niche and be a specialist in your unique area of expertise.
As a personal example, there are now tons of soccer performance blogs. While I write on this topic, I tune into a sub-topic of this niche by focusing on soccer performance for kids ages 11-18.
So how can you plunge into the depths of your specialty even further? There are readers out there who will thank you for your meticulousness in your craft.
2. Expand your vocabulary.
If you write like you’re in the first grade, your readers will not take you seriously.
With so many blogs out there, your defaults should be:
– Proper grammar.
– Sentence variety.
– Diverse menu of vocabulary.
These are non-negotiable in today’s day and age.
Too often, I see bloggers overusing banal, yawning words that can be substituted with more decorative, moving words. So to boost your eloquence, I have an idea: start with using Thesaurus.com.
3. Vary your sentences.
Coming back to sentence variety, it’s paramount you don’t start every sentence with the same word or phrase.
Nonetheless, people are super freaking ADHD nowadays. What are you going to do to maintain your readers’ attention?
Here are some transitional phrases you can get started with:
– Expounding further,
– Adding on,
– More cogent to my point,
– To wrap up,
– Oddly enough,
– Considering this,
– Above all,
– More paramount,
Don’t be boring. Rather, be like Tiesto transitioning songs: face-melting smooth.
4. Read books on how to write.
If you want to be a writer, expect to be a continuous student of the craft. I mean, come on: if you’re a strength and conditioning coach, aren’t you constantly learning new training methods? Writing is no different, Skippy.
With that said, reading other authors’ books allows you to sharpen up your diction, to discover your own style, and to bolster your vocabulary.
I remember when I read Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is The Enemy and being mind f*cked with how many words I didn’t know.
In fact, every time I learn a new word, I scribble it down and define it in my notebook so I can use it for later. <— SAT prep class coming in handy. ;-O
Adding on, if you want more excellent resources on how to write better, these are my top picks:
Everybody Writes – Ann Handley
Content Rules: How To Create Killer Blogs – Ann Handley
Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer – Roy Peter Clark
Now that you have the tips and resources you need, it’s time to start writing.
One of the best ways to get better is to practice daily. This could be in the form of a blog, an email newsletter, an Instagram post, a tweet, or I don’t know, an alluring opening line on Tinder.
Whatever it is, be sure to write every day to some degree.
6. Welcome the internet trolls.
Yes, welcoming internet trolls gets you better at writing. I’d argue this is the best piece of advice for you.
Of course, I know this is a tough pill to swallow, but content creation comes with trolls. People will disagree with you. People will challenge you. People will interrogate you.
And as much as most see this as an annoyance, I see it as an impetus for growth.
Here’s why: trolls have their way of lighting a fire under your butt.
For me, my best articles have stemmed from me getting triggered. Every time I’m aggravated by someone, I exclaim, “I NEED TO WRITE ON THIS!!!!!”
Anndddddddd I do.
But yo. This isn’t to say I write for trolls to prove them wrong, but rather, to articulate my message in a clearer, more concise way. Now, I write with many caveats and perspectives so people understand concepts better.
So welcome the trolls. Get triggered. Be infuriated. Be lit the hell up. If anything, let your fire and fervor propel you to tap away at your keyboard.
Above all, though, write consistently.
But also, start your business plan after you have 200+ blogs under your belt.