If you’ve been reading any of Jon Goodman’s work, you’ve figured out how to use social media in order to gain an audience that’s dying to hear what you have to say.
Yet the critical intersection of gaining an audience, being great at writing and having fitness knowledge is something that eludes people that want to get published.
Your Uncle Dan is here to help.
Having been regularly published on major fitness websites and in magazines, I’ve gotten to know the editors and gatekeepers who will ultimately judge whether your work is worthy. Here’s what I’ve learned:
With social media it’s easy to be crowned an expert. The process goes like this:
– Just say you’re an expert
– Have 3 friends back up the fact that you’re an expert
– and, lo and behold, you’ve become an expert.
However, publishers read hundreds of articles per week, and if you don’t know your stuff, it’ll show. Also helpful, is to actually walk the walk.
Almost every article has a picture of the writer attached to it somewhere. With everyone writing about same thing, the voice and source become a big part of what the audience identifies with.
So if you are 132lb newbie, don’t be writing about how to get huge. Remember, the cream always rises to the top…but so does the bullshit.
Know YOUR Audience
I describe my audience as ‘intelligent muscleheads’. They’re the people who read fitness articles during their lunch break. They enjoy understanding a bit of the science behind how a program actually works. And when I write a training program they haven’t seen before, they leave work a few minutes early because they can’t wait to get to the gym to try it out.
Joe Dowdell (who I share an office with) writes a lot on women’s fitness issues. I don’t try to speak to the same audience as Joe because a) that’s not what I’m passionate about and b) women don’t want to hear about fitness from a 225lb bald guy who brags about his overhead press.
The point is pretty clear, know who it is you want to talk to and target all of your writing to that audience. I write for T-Nation, Men’s Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, LiveStrong and the WWE Magazine. It’s not too hard to see the common thread there.
Know THEIR Audience
Spend time reading the website or publication that you’re looking to get into before submitting any work. Know their tone of voice, analyze the type of articles they tend to run, figure out the audience they’re going after.
There’s a huge difference between sites that run articles such as “Killer Moves That Will Get You Shredded For Summer” and “Top 3 Ways To Avoid Running Injuries”.
Learn To Write
Writing, like the clean and press, is a skill. I spent 14 years in advertising before pursuing a career in fitness. My job was to write and create TV, print and radio ads. My skills developed by writing every day.
Just because you learned to put words and sentences together in elementary school doesn’t mean you know how to write for an audience. Hone your skills and get great at writing. The less the editors have to mess with your stuff, the more likely they are to keep on publishing your work.[Tweet “The less editors have to mess with your stuff, the more likely they are to publish your work.”]
Be Persistent, But Be Cool About It
Editors are overworked and underpaid. Once you submit something for their consideration, it’s fine to follow up if you don’t hear back. Just don’t crush them with emails on a daily basis and don’t get insulted if it takes a while.
Once you’re ‘in the mix’ and they’ve run a couple of your articles, they’ll be much quicker to accept your work and respond. But, it just takes some time to build that up.
With so many sites and magazines now dedicated to fitness and turnover being much greater, there’s a huge demand for content. But they want it from guys who they know and trust.
If You Don’t Want To, DON’T Write!
EVERYONE thinks they need to be a writer these days. But if that’s not where your passion lies and you’re not willing to put in the work to foster relationships and develop the skills, don’t set your sites on becoming a writer.
There are plenty of solid writers out there and certainly not a lack of effective messaging for the public to read. If you focus on becoming a great trainer and developing a unique skill set, that will set you apart much more than a couple of articles that float up to the top of the news feed for 3 hours (sorry, Jon).
photo credit: AngryJulieMonday