38 Tips For Beginner Fitness Bloggers
I recently received a question via Instagram from up-and-coming Personal Trainer George Smith:
"I'm setting a website up and planning on writing some blogs. I've enjoyed the stuff you've written so I wondered if you had any advice?"
Let's delve into this!
First of all, if one of my old English teachers knew I was being asked about writing advice she would probably eat her own face!
I feel like this a massive win because I am a petty, petty man.
There was one English teacher called Miss/Mrs/Ms Knipe who was an absolute battleax and she believed in me, and I'll never forget she thought I had writing talent.
She definitely planted the seed that eventually got me writing. What a hero. She was probably wrong about the talent bit though.
Let's go through some advice I would offer to any coaches want to get their writing out there via the blog format:
1) Start writing
Don't think about doing it in the future, start now. Start as many articles as you want, if it dies a death and you can't finish an article, write another until you start to find your voice.
If you don't start writing, you can never start publishing. The quicker you get going the better.
You may experience numerous false-starts and not find your voice for a while.
As you gain experience both in your field of coaching and in writing you'll slowly find that voice. Keep going until you find it and can produce a finished article.
2) Don't expect to be a great writer for many years
I'm not there yet.
I'm extremely far away from being a great writer.
But I'm far better than when I started and that's what's important.
You may be at the start of your writing journey and you may never regard yourself as a great writer but eventually, you'll write an article that helps someone in a dark place or you'll help someone who is struggling with a problem and it will make it all worth it.
3) Know who you are aiming your writing at
Is it your clients? Is it other trainers? Is it people of a similar age to you?
Write to the audience you are targeting.
Personally I mainly write for other coaches and people interested in strength training so I imagine I'm talking to someone who falls into these categories.
It seems to work.
4) Use a grammar extension like Grammarly
While it may seem lazy for an app to help with all your punctuation mistakes, you'll learn a lot and before long your writing will feature far fewer mistakes.
My writing is littered with mistakes, Grammarly definitely helps me come across as not an absolute uneducated oaf if the occasional mistake still creeps in.
Grammarly is available for free on both desktop or mobile so you've no excuse for making huge mistakes anymore.
You can find out more HERE.
5) If you are nervous about posting things, post on a blog where no-one will see it until pressing 'publish' isn't nerve-wracking
Eventually, you'll feel secure enough to post in public and expose yourself to someone not liking your stuff!
Publishing your writing can be a daunting thing, but I promise it gets easier the more often you do it.
The only way to get over imposter syndrome is to face it head-on.
6) Write down ideas for articles whenever they come to you
It helps if you write your ideas down. I've forgotten about articles I'm sure would have been at least slightly above average because I didn't write them down.
I use Evernote. Whenever an article idea hits I'll get int on to there as soon as I can.
7) Make sure you read your article out loud before you publish it
Reading your writing out loud will often make you realize you've worded something unclearly, lazily, or in a way doesn't make much sense.
It's also a great way to spot mistakes your Grammarly extension has missed.
Sometimes, you'll realize what you have written is literally making you fall asleep by reading aloud.
If your own work is making you fall asleep, you might want to make it more entertaining. reading aloud often helps you to know how and where to do this.
8) If you can, have other people read the article before you publish it
Another perspective always helps. If the person reading your article fits your desired audience, even better!
9) Read a lot.
Among the best ways, you can work on your own writing is by reading other people's work.
My favorite fitness writers are Tony Gentilcore, Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, and Dan John.
Who are yours?
When you find someone who inspires you, give them a follow on social media. Reach out to them if they write something that helps you. It doesn't necessarily help you as a writer, but it feels good to get a response from someone you look up to.
10) Read The Best Articles Of The Week on ThePTDC.com every week
This is where I'm exposed to the most authors I've never heard of. Add the authors of articles you like on social media and see how they address their audience.
There are many other "Best Articles In The Fitness Industry."
This one is my favorite.
Another great one is "Stuff To Read While You're Pretending To Work" By Tony Gentilcore.
By reading these and following the authors I've engaged with, it's given me new opportunities via the podcast I co-host, it's helped me improve my coaching, my training and my life.
11) When you complete and publish an article you think is high quality, send it off to ThePTDC via their hashtag and you might get your work read by people all over the world.
If you think you've written a good blog article or piece for social media, simply include the hashtag #PTDCBestSubmission to make them aware of your work and if they like it, you'll get a mention on their 'best of' article published every Sunday.
I've been on there roughly 3 times and it's always a thrill to see your name up there with the coaches you admire.
12) Offer to write for other blogs
I've written for four other blogs at this point, it's always daunting but if you have a coach you admire, ask to write for them and see what happens. If your old training provider has a blog, ask to write for it. If a writing opportunity comes up, go for it. Expose yourself to risk as a writer and hopefully, you'll rise to the occasion.
Most coaches will see it as a compliment you want to write for their blog. Make sure you approach them respectfully, or, if you are like me and often go at them with a bit of banter, be prepared to check your inbox 68 million times a day to check whether you've offended them.
The struggle is real.
13) Revisit old articles periodically and see how your style has changed
Eventually, you'll look back and think "my writing was fucking awful" and you'll probably be right, but you will find some great content you can clean up and probably use again.
You may find you want to push it into the back of your mind and pretend none of it ever happened as I have with my old blogs.
Because of writing the above paragraph I went and found my first blog post. It's not quite as bad as I thought it would be!
If you'd like to read it in all it's glory, you can find it HERE.
14) Promote your articles by using quotes from them on your social media.
Canva is a great tool. If you want to promote your articles a little more than posting it on social media you can quickly and easily make neat quotation slides and infographics to push your article using any social media or seminar you want.
With the social media algorithms disappearing content as quickly as they do these days, posting slightly more regularly can help your writing reach more people.
15) Try to write as much and as often as you can
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Stephen King tells people the best writing advice is to read and write a lot. Most people who have a blog will go through a stage of completely hammering out the content. I don't think any of us regret the lessons we learned from those stages in our lives.
16) Feature a call to action
Do you want someone to try a particular exercise? Make sure you ask them to try an exercise! If you want them to sign up for your newsletter, make sure you ask people to do it.
By calling people to action and facilitating change, you can change the world, or at least have a stronger business because you are so motivational and handsome.
17) Know few people will read your stuff at first so the pressure you are putting on yourself is probably unnecessary
When you first start your blog, unless you already have a huge following, fuck-all people will read your blog. Keep putting out the content and if it has substance and you push the content enough, you'll build yourself a solid readership and who knows? Maybe one day you'll be paid to write for someone else and be able to call yourself a writer.
18) Don't call yourself a writer until you're paid for it
I mean, you can if you want but it seems somewhat dishonest.
Setting and achieving the goal of being paid for your writing feels extremely rewarding. It took me about 6 years of being a PT to be paid for anything written so stay the course if that's what you want to do!
19) Read John Romaniello's blog
He is a massive writing snob, a great writer, and a badass in his own right. His work definitely made me more aware of my writing abilities or lack thereof.
My writing wouldn't live up to his standards. If you do want to work with him directly, John offers a writing mentor service which would be an incredible thing to be involved with.
Here is a great example of his work:
20) Read Tony Gentilcore's blog
Everyone knows I love his work, so I'll leave it at that.
CLICK HERE to read it now.
21) Listen and read the work of Dan John and other natural storytellers. Your writing will benefit from it.
A great example of Brett's work is featured HERE that every beginner blogger should read.
22) Make sure you are pushing your blog!
If you believe your ideas have value. It's time to start pushing your work.
Eventually, you want people to read your work. If you are nervous about publishing your work but you want to share your unique perspective it's time to push out of your comfort zone, at least a little bit.
It's ok, my first 100 blog articles probably sucked ass. Some people would argue my writing still sucks ass!
It's now much easier for me to publish a piece without overthinking because I am so used to the process. You have to keep going until you are in a similar situation.
Post it up on your social media, get some sponsored ads on the go if you can, and get promoting!
23) Some articles don't work.
Don't worry and move on. Make sure you save the article somewhere. You might have a revelation about it later.
I've binned many an article.
Not all ideas are meant to see fruition!
24) Write about what you know and not what you WANT to know about
If you write about things you don't have experience in, you will probably do more harm than good.
Write about things you are familiar with and you'll come across far better.
I've tried to write about many things I didn't know enough about. The articles always come out badly. Make sure you can actually converse about whatever you are writing about. Make sure you can simplify whatever message you are trying to convey. If you can't, you probably don't know enough about it and should write about something else.
25) Don't be a dick
Like I said earlier, read your stuff out loud. Do you come across as a dick?
Then you are like me!
Try to keep it to a minimum and you'll be ok.
I know I don't need to tell you racism, sexism, bullying, and all that shit isn't cool because you are a good person. Well done!
26) Write articles to a length YOU are happy with
I know successful bloggers who write pieces of all different lengths. My articles average out at around 1000 words because I run out of things to say quite quickly. You might love delving into every nook and cranny of a subject, if that's you, delve away!
Some people will say you need short, snappy articles, others will say longer articles are the way forward.
The crux of it is there are authors, bloggers, and writers successfully publishing their work using completely different word counts.
One thing I have noticed is if you do a series featuring many parts, each successive part will often get less readership. It's up to you to decide whether it's worth the drop in views.
27) If you are quoting people, give them credit!
Because you are a nice person and wouldn't want to take credit for someone else's work would you?
You can do this via citations, including links to their sites in the articles themselves or via social media. It doesn't matter how you do it, give your references credit.
28) Check the title and introduction periodically to make sure you are staying on track
I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I constantly lose track, go off on crazy tangents, and spend an inordinate amount of time looking at Tiger King memes.
Keep checking back to your title, or writing plan or rereading your work so you aren't straying too far away from what you want to say.
29) Take writing classes and courses if you can
I haven't been to any writing courses yet. I'm sure they'd do wonders for my writing. If you have the time, resources and inclination I'd recommend you get on as many courses as you can.
There are loads of free courses you can do. Another suggestion is to keep an eye on things like Groupon for any discounted courses you can take advantage of.
I need to take my own advice here!
30) Read writing blogs
Reading the work of writers' will make you a better writer. Here is a post that will link you up to 10 writing blogs you can browse at your leisure and take influence from!
If you have any writing blogs you love reading, I'd love to hear about them.
31) Have fun with it
Many people have written about the nightmare-ish chore that is the writing process. In a Brett Bartholomew article (which I linked to earlier) he talks of an Ernest Hemingway quote:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
It can be an arduous, grim task as you stare at a screen begging for the words to fall into line all the while wondering whether what you are writing has any merit whatsoever. It is a process riddled with doubt, second-guessing, and sometimes, a great deal of frustration.
This is why I feel most fitness writers should try to have fun with it, especially at first.
You might want to write short stories or poems and not publish them. If you are like me, you might enjoy filling your articles with memes, quotes, and other more trivial things that break up the writing and to entertain as well as trying to educate.
If you are a "serious" writer, writing about subjects which are dry, complex where humor or memes don't necessarily have a place, it's more difficult to find ways to make the process fun.
I'd suggest taking regular breaks to decompress. Superset your writing with something like playing guitar or other forms of writing to keep the process "as fun" as you can.
32) Use your articles as a starting point for further products, talks and other forms of content
If you find you could write about a particular subject forever, maybe you could make it into an e-book?
Maybe you could do a video series alongside the e-book?
Maybe you could make it into an online course?
Using your articles as a jumping-off point for further products or services won't necessarily make you a better writer per se but it will almost enhance your money-making potential, your fulfillment, and the amount content which you produce.
33) Make your blog/website as simple, fast and clear as possible
In other words, optimise your blog for maximum readership.
Here's a quote from my client, Ryan Townsend who is a CTO & web performance fanatic (as well as a jacked-man):
"When it comes to justifying the value of web performance, you may have come across the phrase "The Next Billion Users". These are people living in emerging markets who are not currently online but will be over the coming years.
As they join the web, many will have their experience hampered by the limited processing power of budget mobile devices and poor network connectivity – so this (I hope!) makes it an obvious business reason to invest in optimising performance and unlock the immense potential value in these markets."
You can find the full article HERE if you want to read more about web performance.
So while web performance won't make you a better writer, it will expose your writing to more people.
Speed matters, even on a fitness blog.
Here are a few quick pointers from a web performance complete novice who happens to have a number of clients who are experts in the field:
1) Keep graphics, fancy backgrounds, and pop-ups to an absolute minimum. The process of how the article loads will dictate how many people actually follow through with reading your article
2) Use external videos and things that have to "load" sparingly. The more that has to load, the more likely it is your site will be slow
3) Actually check how long it takes your site to load.
Here's how fast mine tested using a speed-checker you can find HERE:
I'm was happy with these results.
But then I ran another test on one of the articles themselves.
Those results were very different.
As you'll see here:
Terrible, I have some work to do if I'm to optimize my own blog. Optimize your performance and you'll optimize your readership far more effectively.
As each second passes by, you lose a huge percentage of readership. It's sad, it's harsh but unfortunately, it's true. Make sure you are taking responsibility for the speed and simplicity of your website for maximum readership.
34) There is lots of competition, you should publish anyway
Everyone has a blog now. Your job will be to try to do it better than everyone else. Accept that right from the beginning and then publish anyway.
35) Set writing goals
Most people respond well to set goals relating to their writing.
I like consistency goals to help me with my writing. I want to get a blog post out every week, so I try to write a post each week.
I sometimes fail. I reset, and try again to keep getting my content out there.
I used to have a goal of doing two articles a week. I managed to achieve that for over a year despite going on two separate month-long holidays like the over-privileged PT I am but it reached a point where due to client demand, I wasn't able to maintain that and had to reduce it down to about 1 a week so I don't go insane.
Over time, you'll find what goals work best for you.
What writing goals do you have?
36) Remove fluff words like "that" which unnecessarily lengthen your sentences without adding any extra meaning
This was another tip from John Romaniello.
To use an example:
"I crossed the bridge until I realised that I had forgotten something."
Which still makes sense without the unnecessary wording.
"I crossed the bridge until I realised I had forgotten something."
Reread your sentences, remove the unnecessary fluff, make your writing clearer and more concise.
Other examples of common fluff words and phrases:
Absolutely, certainly, completely, definitely
'All of the' instead of 'all the'
'At all times'
'Due to the fact that'
'For all intents and purposes'
'Has the ability to'
And many more. HERE is a great article to reference if you are ever unsure.
A great tool is to use the search tool by press Ctrl+F. Using that you can quickly search your writing to make sure you aren't using filler words which diminish the quality of your writing
37) Don't use loads of abbreviations unless you know your audience is familiar with them
Abbreviations require knowledge of the subject matter. If you are addressing beginners to strength training if you use the abbreviation SLRDL (single-leg Romanian deadlift) the chances are your readership won't have a clue what you are on about.
This goes back to knowing your audience.
Abbreviating everything might save you time, but it could cost you readers and limit the number of people you can help or work with.
If you have any doubts about whether someone will understand your abbreviation just don't abbreviate.
38) Take your time with formatting
If your formatting is terrible, people won't respect your opinion as much as first impressions matter.
Make sure you are previewing all your articles before you publish them and make sure they look presentable on both desktop screens and mobile screens because your writing should be laid out well on both.
That's all for now! Good luck with your writing. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. You can reach me via email to the address firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Instagram is @the_heavy_metal_strength_coach please give me a follow or if you feel the need to fill your ears with my voice you can listen to my podcast by searching for THe Grafters Podcast on your favorite podcast provider.
The Heavy Metal Strength Coach