If your career (and by extension, personal) success relies heavily upon gaining more clients and/or customers, you need to find and use effective ways to make more and more people aware of you and the services you offer.
You have to spread the word. You need to promote yourself and your business.
Writing is perhaps the most effective way to accomplish this, which is why I’ve decided to write this article on how to be a more effective writer.
I’m really passionate about this subject because writing has undeniably been the linchpin for my own success in the fitness arena — it’d be great if I had the best physique, the highest IQ, or the most famous clients, but sadly none of these things are the case.
Instead, I’m an experienced and thoughtful coach who has a unique and relevant point of view about fitness. The challenge is to reach the people who are most likely to value the insights that I have to offer. And as it turns out, the ability to write is one of the very best ways to accomplish this goal.
It's time to learn how to write like a pro!
The Case For Becoming A Much Better Writer
Now before you write this off (note pun please) as something you can’t do, I’d like to make something clear: I’m minimally interested in the technical elements of writing. In fact, I’m not even sure what a supposition is, and I personally type with two fingers. Instead, I’m interested in writing as a leveraged form of communication.
Note that wood “leveraged:”
If you work with a personal training client, your leverage is 1:1.
If you train a small group, your leverage is around 1:8-12
If you speak to a group of people, your leverage is even better: perhaps 1:100.
However, if you publish an article in an established magazine (online or offline), your reach is multiplied far beyond any of the numbers I’ve just cited.
Over time, you might in fact reach millions of people. And, in many cases, you’ll be paid for doing it!
Build a HUGE audience (and loyal following) using your written words.
There’s a second reason you should develop your writing skills, which at first might seem less pragmatic, but in reality, is just as crucial as the first reason I provided: Writing is the best way to develop and refine your unique point of view.
There’s an old saying that goes “When one teaches, two learn.” This applies to writing, because ultimately, writing is a form of teaching. If you can’t effectively describe your point of view, you don’t have a point of view.
With the assumption that I’ve made a good case for becoming a more effective writer, let’s shift our attention to three different steps or strategies that'll help you do just that.
1. Find Your Writing Voice
Needless to say, in order to write, you’ll need to find something worthwhile to write about. And when I say “worthwhile,” that applies to both you and your intended reader. Your subject matter (and the way you write about it) must be some combination of entertaining, educational, and viral.
Ultimately, the goal of any piece of written content is to change the reader’s behavior: in the case of fitness writing, it’s typically to get them to adopt more effective training and nutrition strategies.
But also, we’re looking for our readers to view you in a more positive light than they did before (credentialization) and also, hopefully, to purchase your products and/or services at some point.
As it turns out, this first step is a challenge for new and experiences writers alike:
- For new writers, the problem is that you haven’t yet refined your point of view.
- For experienced writers, the problem is that you’ve already shared your point of view hundreds or perhaps even thousands of times, and you can’t figure out anything new to share with your audience.
Here’s some food for thought for both camps:
If you’re new to writing and need a topic, think about the ideas or practices you’re excited about — the things you care deeply about. Or (and perhaps even better) consider the things that drive you crazy — perhaps it’s the common mistakes people make (as seen in the video below), and what you think they should do instead.
I use Evernote to keep a list of unfinished article concepts that I revisit each day that I work on my writing.
For highly experienced writers, I feel your pain! What I find helpful is to always stay alert to new topics and trends through social media outlets.
When you happen across a post with high numbers of comments, that’s a sign that it’s a hot topic that you might write about.
And remember, writing isn’t only about writing about new topics — often it’s more about covering familiar themes in a new, improved way. As a lifter and a coach who also writes, I’ve trained myself to be constantly on the lookout for new article topics whenever I’m watching other people workout, whenever I’m discussing fitness with anyone, and/or whenever I’m reading other people’s writing.
Your next topic is always out there, you’ve just gotta find it!
2. Start Writing
Every writer knows that there’s nothing more daunting than staring at a blank Word document. Like most things, the way to get better at writing is by actually doing it. This means that your first writing projects might not be up to the standard that you’re hoping for. That’s fine. Just start writing, even if you have no idea what you’ll do with it.
My personal goal (which I don’t always hit by the way) is to write 5000 words a week. If you’re new to the practice, I’d suggest a much smaller number — perhaps more along the lines of 250 words a day. If you commit to this, you’ll have 1750 new words each week, which is a full-length article. Once 250 words becomes fairly easy, bump it up to 500 and so on.
Ultimately, the key is simply to start.
And that’s much more likely to happen if you prioritize your writing output. Personally, I always try to get my writing knocked out as early in the day as possible, while energy is still high and distractions are low.
From the weekly point of view, I try to get my 5000 words completed as early in the week as possible — usually by Thursday. So in other words, every day and every week I try to front load my writing output.
A Few Thoughts About Style:
• I always want my writing to sound like natural speech when I read it from the page. To that end, I always use contractions (such as “can’t” and “haven’t”) whenever possible, and I’m not against common slang either (“gonna, ”jacked”). The more my writing sounds like natural conversation, the easier it’ll be to read and comprehend.
• Controversial and polarizing topics are great, as long as they’re not controversial and polarizing for they’re own sake. I’m always happy when people love or hate my writing — it’s when they don’t have a strong opinion that I start to worry.
• “Numerical” or “list” articles are the easiest pieces to write and to read. For example, "The 3 Biggest Mistakes Newbies Make In the Gym" would be a simple topic to write, and it would likely draw the attention of people who are just starting out with exercise.
• Use stories whenever possible. This is the weakest aspect of my writing game personally. Human beings have communicated via stories for thousands of years, and are still hard-wired for story-telling. So rather than simply stating something like “Too many trainers use stability training drills for their clients,” share a personal experience in the form of a story. For example, “Last week I watched as a popular trainer at my gym put her client through a hour’s worth of stability drills…"
• Finally, have some type of “call to action” for your reader in all of your written content — nudge them to act on what they’ve learned through your writing. Take your reader from theory to practice so that they’ll actually benefit from reading your content.
3. Get Published
If you’re not a seasoned writer, it’s highly likely that you’ll feel intimidated about offering your content to an established publication, be it online or offline. Or, perhaps you’ve already suffered a rejection?
If you've been rejected, welcome to the club, and don’t take it personally.
Whether or not you succeed in selling your content right out of the gate, I’d strongly urge you to consider creating a blog and to make regular posts. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable, hone your skills, and garner valuable feedback about your writing.
This could be as simple as making regular posts on your Facebook page, so there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t do it.
If your writing’s good, people will notice — they’ll share your content, and before long, you’ll have made a name for yourself. For each piece that you post, take note of how much interaction you receive — anytime you see a high number of likes, shares, and/or comments, it’s sure sign that you’re on the right track.
Like anything else, successful writing comes down to focusing on the process more than the anticipated result. When you write more, you’ll become a better writer. When you’re a better writer, your writing will reach more eyeballs. And when that happens, the results tend to take care of themselves.
Here’s Your Challenge…
Oh, and just in case you were waiting for a call-to-action, I want you to go write 500 words right now. I’m serious!
Think of something that really pisses you off, or something that really excites you. Tell me about it right now. Because that’s all writing really is — you’re just expressing your opinion to others. You do this all the time in conversation, so why is it so hard to do it in writing? Answer: it’s not. Don’t make me come over there — 500 words.