The 7 Deadly Sins of Fitness Blogging
Last week here on Breaking Muscle we released the results of our first ever Top 10 Best Fitness Blogs contest and came up with 10 solid winners. Every one of these blogs is in the category of either:
- Great, or
- "Gonna-be-great" (up and coming).
I was a judge, and I can tell you there were a number of blogs on the nomination list I really liked that just didn't make it in. That isn't a slight against them, but rather a testament to the quality of the winners.
But having a contest like this begs a number of questions in the mind of a lot of up-and-coming bloggers in the fitness industry. (Questions I get in my inbox all the time.)
The main one is: How do I become a successful fitness blogger, too, Nick?
The problem with a question like that is that there isn't just one answer. There are hundreds.
To be a truly successful blogger (in any category, not just fitness) you need to:
- Write good content (You'd think this would be obvious)
- Be consistent for a VERY long time (Blogging is not a "fast-track" method!)
- Learn about, and execute on, what I call "Marketing 2.0"
Those are the general basics you probably already know! So, below I'm going to get specific on you. Keep in mind, however, this just scratches the surface. But if you take these 7 sins to heart, you will be leaps and bounds above the other bloggers out there.
Avoid these, and you'll be getting somewhere:
1. Not Being You
Every writing instructor tries to hammer home the importance of developing your own "voice." But, what the Hell does that mean? It means you shouldn't be "writing" at all! If you write your blog posts like school essays, then not even you will want to read them!
Every time you write something, read it out loud to yourself. If it sounds stifled and wonky - or worst of all - "academic", then go back and redo it. Your friends should read your stuff and say, "Wow! That sounds exactly like YOU." (Which COULD sound academic if you just happen to talk that way!)
In other words, get good at the act of writing like you talk. If you would say something a certain way in a conversation with someone, then that's how you should write it. Yes, that does mean that your English teachers will cringe! But you aren't writing for them.
2. Not Answering Your Comments, Emails, Tweets, and Messages
Not engaging with the audience that has gone out of their way to read your stuff makes you a punk. You don't want to be a punk!
The entire point of putting yourself out there isn't to make yourself look cool, it's to help people. I got into the fitness industry because what I like to do is help people to help themselves. That's my JOB. It would be rather strange to avoid answering questions, and avoid any real human contact with the very people who seem to be positively responding to my writing! I love my audience. They're "my peeps."
Because of that, I answer EVERY SINGLE EMAIL, every single tweet, every Facebook message, everything - and I get a hell of a lot more than you do.
If I can do it, you can too. No excuses.
3. Not Having an Email List
Remember when we were all on Myspace?
It's great to have Facebook fans and Twitter followers, but those are platforms owned by other people. Never allow your audience to be "owned" by someone else. While I don't think Facebook is going to go under any time soon, they could very easily change their rules and make communicating with your audience a LOT harder.
Email is the one thing that just ain't gonna go away. Your email address is the online version of your physical address. Everyone has one, needs one, and will always need one.
When you join my email list, that's like getting an invitation into my house and like giving me an invitation into yours. When you join up, you and I are more connected. Anytime you have a question, all you have to do is click "reply" to one of my broadcasts, and it goes directly to my inbox, and I'll answer it.
You MUST stay as personal and close to your audience as humanly possible. Email is about as close as it gets online.
4. Not Giving People a REASON to Join Your Email List
This articles title is a rip off of my mini-ebook, The 7 Deadly Sins of Olympic Weightlifting. It's the ebook you get when you join my email newsletter list. It's free, and it's about five times as long and in depth as what many people SELL as ebooks for $30 bucks.
I get emails all the time from people telling me it's something that really helped them, that I should charge for it, that I'm crazy to just "give" this away. That's the kind of thing you want to be hearing!
Most people won't join an email list unless they get something immediate in return. That's something that is widely known. What is not known is you have to be serious about it. Don't create a "lead magnet" just to "trick" people into joining your email list!! I hate that.
You are here to help people. Put your heart into it, and people will be glad to enter your house and start hanging out with you.
5. Focusing on Quantity Over Quality
Every "How to Blog" post on the Internet will inevitably tell you to make sure you start posting short (500 words or so) "articles" at least once a week. And the more often you post, the better. Many argue you should post daily.
I'm going to tell you the opposite.
I don't care how often you post, and I don't care if you are consistent or not. That's all stuff you can work on AFTER you figure out something far more important:
Your shit has gotta be good!
One of my favorite bloggers, Matt Perryman, who was in the Top 10 here at BM, doesn't post as regularly as most. He doesn't follow a very set schedule. He just writes really good stuff and posts it when its ready.
Another favorite of mine, JC Deen, is the same.
I'm in that crowd as well. My articles are often 2,000 to 4,000 words long! That takes a while. But it means when someone comes to my blog, there are hours and hours of good stuff for them to sink their teeth into; stuff that is "ever-green" - it won't be irrelevant in a month and is something I can be proud of.
6. Being Too "Bloggy"
You may not have noticed, but I tend to avoid calling my blog posts, "blog posts." I call them "articles."
Because a blog post is something that is short, usually is just a glorified link to something else, and isn't anything you'd ever bother reading if it was on paper. I'm not interested in that kind of thing.
Yes, I do those kinds of posts, too. For instance, whenever I have an article up here - every Tuesday - I link to it on my blog. But, that kind of "post" is not what the success of my own blog is founded on.
The success of The Iron Samurai is based on a series of ridiculously long, in-depth, and very personal articles. Those are my bread and butter.
7. Not Fully Accepting that Blogging IS Writing
It's no longer good enough to be a coach who happens to blog. Or an athlete that happens to blog. Or any kind of practitioner who just has a blog to "get exposure" for their offline stuff.
There are a million people doing that. If you want to stand out, you have to take blogging (or podcasting, or video, whatever) seriously - on its own terms!
A few years ago I made a conscious choice. I was going to take the writing side of blogging just as seriously as I have always taken song-writing, or art, or coaching, or my own strength training. That's the reason I have one of the most popular blogs around in my niche. I got passionate about it. It's something I LOVE to do. And I put a lot of love into that weird little blog of mine every time I write.
I didn't make this decision so I could be super-duper-popular or anything silly like that. It was so I could help more people, do better, improve as a writer, and grow as a person.
The growth of the blog was a byproduct.
I've already gone on too long! And yet, the above ideas STILL only scratch the surface. There are a lot of details I had to leave out. But if you don't have the basics down, you got nothing.
If I could sum up the entire point of this article, it is this:
- When I'm in the gym, I'm a coach who just happens to have a blog.
- When I'm blogging, I'm a writer who just happens to coach.
To be a good blogger that people actually want to read, you have to BE a blogger and love it.