I received this e-mail the other day:
I’m having a bit of an identity crisis… I started domain.com because I love fitness and nutrition and equally love writing. However, the fitness industry is pretty crowded and I can’t help but think I need something to separate me from the crowd.
I get this question quite often.
My answer was pretty simple: Don’t write strictly about fitness.
Obviously, I included a more detailed answer about why and how this particular individual could merge his passions for writing and fitness. But, the honest answer is that literally every piece of fitness information is covered out there in some capacity already.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people throw up a blog post on how to do a deadlift. This is not a knock to those particular individuals because I believe I did the exact same thing when I was doing more run of the mill stuff over at JD Strength when it was live.
Great topics are often hard to come by.
I have nothing against deadlifts. I love them. But, this doesn’t change the fact that there are millions of posts on how to do a deadlift (Google returned 3,050,000 to be exact).
If you’re really looking for a tutorial, check out this post by Mike Robertson for literally everything you would need to know.
Back to the topic at hand.
The fitness industry is saturated with information. Every time I turn my head, there is a new article out on “10 Tips You Didn’t Know About Abs” or “The New Diet That Banishes Belly Fat”. For every new headline that breaks the newsstand, there’s also a dozen more blog posts that are written on why deadlifts are great or why planks are far superior to crunches and in fact, crunches give you ulcers, and bad acne.
I understand the desire to write about these things. People want to write about topics they know and understand. The only problem is that everyone else in the fitness industry knows the same thing.
But, blogs aren’t written for fitness professionals you might say.
I understand. But, general blog posts about how to deadlift aren’t helping the masses get fit either. You can’t sit here and tell me that post #3,050,001 concerning how to do a deadlift is going to result in a dramatic change in the obesity epidemic and that everyone will be sporting rock-hard glutes for Christmas.
Should we give up on fitness blogging altogether?
Of course not.
In the advice I gave above, I definitely didn’t tell this individual to forget all about blogging. I still think blogging can be a tremendous way to share your enthusiasm and passion for fitness.
Just stop writing blogs about something everyone knows about.
But, the fitness magazines do it.
Trust me. I feel your pain. I’ve written dozens of articles on very similar topics that I feel have been beaten to death in the media. But, major magazines have to fill 2-5 spots online every day plus compile an entire magazine 10 months out of the year. At that point, it’s extremely hard to not repeat content. Plus, I think readers tend to understand that and the editors still market the material in a way that sounds new and exciting.
Make your blog different.
Here’s an example: Literally everyone has written about squats in some capacity. If I saw an article about squats, chances are I wouldn’t click unless it was someone that I truly respected as an authority on squatting (more on that later). So, instead of writing an article on squatting, Chris Smith wrote an article titled “10 Reasons Squats Are a Terrible Exercise“.
I clicked immediately.
Now granted, Chris wrote this entire post as a joke, but unfortunately, most people failed to realize that before they blasted him in the comment section. Nonetheless, the article went viral and received 9.4k likes on his site.
Chris knows how to squat. He’s got the powerlifting records to prove it. But, if he would have written an article on the benefits of squats, it would have gotten mediocre results at best.
So, what should you write about?
I think you should cover what you’re interested in and passionate about. If that means fitness, go for it.
But, that doesn’t mean we need to tackle the basics of deadlifting over and over. That’s been done time and time again – many cases very poorly by writers simply looking to put something out there.
Here’s the three-option approach I provided in the answer to the question above.
1. Write really good infotainment pieces like Tony Gentilcore.
I seriously believe Tony was meant to become a comedian in another life. Not only is the dude wicked smart, but he’s also extremely funny.
In fact, just as I was writing this, he put up a blog post fixing deadlift errors. I read the entire thing.
2. Provide information that no one else has. I call this the Wil Flemming approach.
Wil is an extremely knowledgeable coach across the board, but he’s better than almost anyone at instructing and critiquing Olympic lifting form. He pumps his blog full of Olympic lifting posts, videos, products, etc. Since he’s so specific, his material attracts a specific type of reader. He doesn’t write about why carbs are bad but fats are good. That can be found elsewhere. If you go to Wil’s blog, you know you’re going to find in-depth info on Olympic lifting.
For comparison, check out this blog post he did on power cleans. I know how to power clean and have an Olympic lifting certification. But, Wil is an expert in the area. As a result, I read it and learned some things.
3. Approach fitness from a different angle like NerdFitness.com.
Still want to approach fitness from a general sense? You have to approach it from a different angle. That’s exactly what Steve Kamb.
If you go to the Nerd Fitness site, you’ll find articles about deadlifts that are pretty basic, but they still receive a ton of shares and comments. (Probably because they were published in 2009 before everybody and their grandma had a blog.) But, you’ll also find productivity articles that are meant to appeal to a specific crowd – nerds. I’ve spoken with Steve about this, and he makes it a point to drive away people that aren’t a good fit. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. Work towards a specific crowd.
Stop worrying about numbers.
It’s easy to get caught up in monitoring social shares, blog visits, etc. None of that matters unless you’re talking about monetizing your site through display advertising, but that’s not the route you want to go (we can dive more into that later).
Worry about impacting people and changing lives. Isn’t that why you’re writing in the first place?
To quote Brian Gardner on this one:
I’ve finally wrapped myself around the idea that I’d rather affect a few deeply, than many on the surface.
So, what am I doing?
I write a variety of posts – few of which are strictly about fitness. I feel like I have more to offer plus I just get bored.
I mainly address this because I’ve had a few newsletter unsubscribers over the past few days mention that they thought the site was about fitness. Yes, I do freelance quite a bit about the health and fitness industry. But, I feel like I have more to offer than just that.
If you want strictly fitness information, I urge you to follow me on Twitter as I post some good stuff there.
Otherwise, stick around for a variety of content. I’ve written about my follies in college, previous struggles with eating, and plan on putting out my thoughts on education up as well. This blog is more personal than informational, but I hope you still find it interesting and can glean some helpful advice out of these posts.
But please, don’t write another deadlifting tutorial covering the basics of the hip hinge. It’s out there already. Make yourself standout. Make yourself different.