Tony Gentilcore

Because heavy things won't lift themselves

6 Keys to a Successful (Fitness) Blog: The Stuff I Didn’t Get To Yesterday

tips for success

Yesterday I spent a little time marinating around the topic of fitness blogging, and discussed a handful of characteristics (or tips) I felt would help anyone interested in starting their own blog.

To recap:

  • Serving as the umbrella over this whole conversation is the notion of experience. I feel it’s important to have a few years of experience under your belt actually training people – and getting good at what you do – before you start writing about it and “disguising” yourself as an expert.
  • It’s a bit old school, I know (especially considering the digital age we currently live in).  But there’s something to be said about practicing what you preach.  Sadly, there are many (MANY) fitness professionals out there who don’t even train people, yet because they’re a prolific writer (and good for them if they are), are seen as an expert.
  • This isn’t to say, of course, that one can’t start a blog just for the hell of it to help educate friends or family members (and to gain valuable writing experience), but in general, it helps to gain real life experience.

With the “ranty” stuff out of the way……..

  • Just start.  Quit procrastinating and talking about stating a blog and DO IT!
  • Set a schedule and be consistent with it. You know how when your girlfriend gets mad at you for not taking out the trash when you’re supposed to, and then she gets all pissed and you don’t get any action for like three days?  Well, not sticking with a consistent blogging schedule is roughly the same thing.  Except not really.  You get the idea, though.
  • Content is king. People recognize s*** when they see it.  You can use all the snazzy graphics, fonts, bells, and whistles you want, if you don’t write good content, people won’t want to read what you have to say. Period.

In case you missed it, you can go HERE and read in more detail what I had to say.

Full disclosure:  I should have known better than to dedicated two full days to blogging specific content.  Yesterday’s post wasn’t as popular or “shared” as much as I had hoped, which makes sense given that there’s only a small percentage of people who read this blog who actually blog themselves.

Nevertheless, I need to finish what I started, but I’ll try to keep this one as succinct as possible.

To make up for it, here’s a picture of some random hot chick being hot.

BAM!

 4. Be Patient

When I first started blogging 30 unique views/vistors was considered a good day.  If I somehow hit 50, I was immediately outside doing cartwheels and kissing babies.

Building a successful blog that garners a decent amount of traffic (and if you’re lucky, results in some additional side income) takes a while.  Usually years.

The cold hard truth is that you’re NOT going to become an overnight blogging sensation.  Despite what many will have you think, you’re not going to have thousands of people flock to read your latest post fledgling on every word and exclamation point you write.

I don’t think I reached 1,000 unique views until 2009 (three years after I initially started blogging). Today, my more popular posts hover around 2000-2500 visitors and my Alexa.com ranking (a free web based analytics ranking site) is 307,303, which ain’t too shabby considering anything under a million is considered respectable.

I’m not saying this to brag.  Rather, I’m just saying that it takes a looooong freaking time to build a popular blog.  Unless you’re an analytics Terminator like Jon Goodman.  That guy knows how to do it, and do it right!  He’s built the PTDC into a very successful, very popular site in less than two years.

Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t ways to do so faster – you’re not handcuffed to Mediocreville forever.

Admittedly, I was a little behind the curve back in the day and didn’t understand the power of social media, but there are some tried and true ways to help increase traffic:

- It bears repeating……..write good content.  If you’re stuff is good, people will find you.

- Write for free.  Offer to write free posts or articles for other sites to help get your name out there.  Their “payment” to you is a link back to your site.

- Write guest posts.  This is probably my first choice as it serves a purpose for both parties.  1.  You get your name out there.  2.  The other guys (whom you’re writing for) don’t have to write a post that given day.  It’s a win-win.

That said, there’s a right way and wrong way to approach the whole guest blogging thing.

What not to do:  Hi, my name is Douchy McDouchyington and I want to write for your site.

I get requests like this ALL….THE….TIME, and I can tell you that those types of emails go straight to my trash folder.

Cold emailing someone out of the blue and asking them for a pretty big favor – when they don’t know you from a hole in the wall – is a ballsy thing to do.

What to do:  Try something like this.

Hi, my name is “Eva Mendes” and I’m a huge fan of your work.  I always love your stuff on T-Nation, and I make it a point to check out your blog on a daily basis. I work as a trainer in “x town or city” and I’m trying to reach out to those people whom I look up to and respect just to say hi and to see if there’s anything I can do to help them out.

And, if I might add, you’re exceptionally brilliant, witty, and good looking.

Okay, that last part isn’t necessary, but something like this is bound to get you on one’s “good side” more so than the first example. Building some semblance of rapport at the beginning is just common sense and will go a longs ways in reducing one’s bullshit meter exponentially.

Speaking firsthand, eventually if he or she offers to write a guest post, I’m usually more than happy to help out assuming what they have in mind is a good fit.

5. Be Yourself

I think a lot of what makes my site so “successful” is because I’m not scared to be me.  I think it’s safe to say that how I write is how I am in person.  I’m not afraid to use a little self-deprecating humor, talk about my cat, and then turn right around and discuss the intricacies of the deadlift.

In his book Writing for Fitness, Rob Fitzgerald  mentioned how some people are internet tough guys, some are nerdtastic and want to quote research, and others play the motivational coach card.

The key, though, is just to be yourself.  Don’t be someone you’re not.

By that same token, have a little fun and don’t take yourself so seriously all the time. Poop!

 6. Interact With Your Readers!

What’s the point of writing if you never interact with your readers!?!?  I always try to respond to all the comments I receive here on this blog (as well as those on Facebook and Twitter).  By doing so, I convey to my readers that I actually care what they have to say (and I do!) and that I value their support.

If you’re going to build the brand of “YOU,” it only makes sense to recognize those who go out of their way to not only comment, but share your work as well.

Shunning or ignoring them is the last thing you should be doing.

And there you have it.  Six keys to building a successful fitness blog.  Were they earth shattering secrets?  No. But I do feel they’ll point people in the right direction.

Have any of your own insights?  Feel free to share them below!

 

Did I just blow your mind? Make (or ruin) your day? Leave a comment, then share this with EVERYBODY.
  • Larry

    “Hi, I’m George, George McFly. You’re my density.” Can I write for you? Oh, I love your blog.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTNelson MikeTNelson

    Oh crap, you mean I have to APPLY what I learned by training people and actually picking things up and setting them down myself! How dare you! hahaha. Good tips Tony and keep up the good work. rock on Mike T Nelson

    • TonyGentilcore

      Weird how that works, huh?….;o) Thanks for chiming in MIke. Always appreciate it!

  • MRT

    Awesome tips Tony I sincerely appreciate the content! Now can you hook a brother up with some graphics tips? Your blog is beautiful like you DL (no homo) and I’m trying to design mine, but I feel like a half retarded chipmunk…

    • TonyGentilcore

      Here was my progression:

      1. I started off with a simple blogspot blog that I got for free. I used that for roughly 3 months.

      2. Then I got hooked up with The Boston Herald and starting blogging on their website.

      3. I did that for two years and then decided it was time to go on my own. I trade-bartered with a guy who set up a simple WordPress blog for me in exchange for writing his programs.

      4. After another year or so, I came to the conclusion that if I really wanted to take my blog to the next level, I’d need to hire someone to make a new one from scratch. Enter Jason Lengstorf and the peeps over ay Copter Labs.

      They do an amazing job and have worked extensively with many fitness people you’d recognize: Nate Green, John Romaniello, Sean Hyson, Lee Boyce, etc.

  • Stephanie

    Good stuff as always Tony! As a relatively new baby- blogger (going on 9 months here), I always appreciate reading stuff like this. I think one of the things I underestimated was the time commitment, so that would be one thing I would definitely add for other newcomers. No matter how short and concise your posts are, it’s a huge commitment to actually stay on top of multiple posts per week, so it’s good to know that and plan out your schedule before getting started!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Great point. I’ve gotten better as of late with my writing “process,” and I can bang out posts with better efficiency, but I’m still spending upwards of 60-120 minutes per day writing certain posts.

      The key I found was to pick a set time (in the AM for me) to sit down and actually write. Sounds like that’s exactly what you did.

  • http://twitter.com/Kedrickwan Kedric

    Thanks Tony for this absolutely timely post. I’m planning to baby a blog really soon and this couldn’t be more than great. Once again keep rocking and do what you do best.

    P/S : Please cite the source of the random picture of a girl being hot for reference purpose.

    thanks,
    -kedric

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad to help Kedric, and happy blogging! As far as the picture is concerned, I snaked it from a site called Gymhotties.com. Standard….;o)

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  • http://twitter.com/lostinfitness steven collins

    Good tips Tony. When you write a post do you spend a lot of time editing down, because your posts always seem succinct, to the point & without any fluff or wasted words? (of course, pictures of hot women help to drive traffic to a blog as well!) Thanks

    • TonyGentilcore

      First off – THANKS! For someone to state that I’m succinct and to the point flies in the face of how I used to write in the past (and some of my editors might disagree with you…haha).

      It’s taken a looooooooong time for me to get to the point where I feel I’m a competent writer. Still, I recognize I have a ways to go where I can place myself in the same company as Romaniello, Cressey, and the like.

      Full disclosure: my writing process is a bit lengthy. For some reason – and I know many writers can commiserate along with me on this one, I can’t just sit down and write something and THEN go back and edit.

      For me, I have to make sure every sentence and paragraph is perfect before I move on. In that way, sometimes it takes me 30 minutes just to write 100 words. Other times, it’s much faster.

      I DO edit down. One thing I’ve learned from guys like Adam Bornstein, Bryan Krahn (and other editors I’ve dealt with) is that less is more. Of course, this comes with practice, but I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t taken a TON of trial and error to learn how to choose my words and still get my message across.

  • Ben Mackenzie

    BAM!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ines-Subashka/597090074 Ines Subashka

    “When I first started blogging 30 unique views/vistors was considered a
    good day. If I somehow hit 50, I was immediately outside doing
    cartwheels and kissing babies.” That is the best sentence I’ve ever read! Great post, Tony! :)

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  • EliteFitnessKC

    Thanks a lot!! this post will really help me as I try to start my own fitness blog, good work!!!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad it was useful! Thanks for reading.

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  • http://bachperformance.com/ Eric Bach

    Just re-read this gem for probably the 5th time. Always great reinforcement of the right way to do things. Great post Tony!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Well thanks Eric! Glad it hasn’t bored you to tears yet.