How blogging makes you conquer the fitness industry
In this article, I outline the learning from three years of blogging in which I build a blog with 10.000 organic visits a month without using any paid traffic or other forms of advertising. I am self-learned by trial and error and had no earlier experience in marketing. My sales background helped. With these techniques, I manage to produce six blog posts a week with 1000 words and rank on Google page 1 for the topics I set out to conquer.
Set a ridiculous goal
If you want to conquer anything you have to have the will to win. Complete annihilation of your competition. Be the best at what you do. Bet on the big things. Believe in yourself. Walk the talk. Wrestle with Goliath. Be David and just throw that stone in the right spot with all you have. This is the mindset of winners and should be reflected in your goals.
"Set you ten year goals. Then think about how you can reach them in 6 months"
That is the kind of thinking you need and I am getting better at it. Setting goals that make people's heads turn.
After reading that quote I challenged myself to publish one blog post a day by the end of the year. Guess what, I have quadrupled my output and the first people are even asking me have I am being so productive. All started with that mind shift.
Now I can say "I publish a 1000 word blog post which I have written almost every day". Anyone in publishing or blogging does turn their head at this and ask me how. Here I outline the process.
It all started with the ridiculous goal. If you are satisfied with average that is what you get.
Make a plan
Once you have set a goal like posting every week day break it down in digestible chunks and quantify it. Publishing every day breaks down to
- 365 blog post in a year
- 7 blog posts a week
- 52 weekly plans
- 52 Mondays
- 52 Tuesdays
- 52 wednesdays
- 52 Thursdays
- 52 Fridays
- 52 Saturdays
- 52 Sundays
- One Christmas Day
- One Easter Day
- One New Year's Eve
- One st. Patrick's day
- One thanksgiving
My breakthrough on content production came when I combined some Insights from Daniel Kahnemans book thinking fast and slow and the marketing advice from Dan Ogilvy, one of the greatest marketing gurus of all time.
Daniel Kahneman divides our thinking into systems, system one and system two.
System one are your gut instinct and snap reactions which help you to stay alive. This system helps you to avoid stepping in front of a bus, get hit by a stone that is thrown at you and when you are about to drop your glass and catch it just before disaster strikes.
System two is the part of the brain which makes us think rationally and deliberately.
This is the part of the brain which gets activated when you do math equations, your taxes or think hard about solving a specific problem.
If you are in fitness and show your t*** and ass wherever you can you are mainly appealing to system 1. Content which gets viral like the ice bucket challenge also appeals to system 1. If you explain how the body works, how someone can commit to long-term goals and persist or how to break through plateaus you are appealing to System 2.
System 1 works quick but with no long-lasting impact. System 2 works slow but with long-lasting adjustments of behavior if successfully influenced. You will not do your exercise regime differently from doing the ice bucket challenge. This can only be achieved by a convincing, well researched use case. I realized that I wanted to create content which appeals more to System 2 as I want to make people better. Entertaining or sexually arousing them is not my priority.
The problem this posed to me was how to keep it interesting on my blog. When you do the same over and over again it can quite stale for you and your audience. In the beginning, I just went and posted the same things each day until I moved on to the next. This made my blog very repetitive and it bugged me to the extent that I lost faith and thought to myself what was the point of all this.
Then I read the book "Ogilvy on advertising" which I recommend to anyone who wants to improve their marketing skills as it is a pragmatic and funny book to read. One quote from this book is
"You are not advertising to a standing army, but a marching band"
What this means is that whatever you put out to the public always has a different audience at a certain point in time. This makes your marketing a lot less repetitive to the outside world then it seems to you. Whenever I feel like I am doing too much of the same I remember this metaphor and adapt accordingly.
In the case of my content plan, I decided that I post on one topic on a weekly basis. It is quite easy to get ten to 50 headlines for a certain topic to write about, which I will outline later in this article. If you write an article for each headline and post weekly that means you are covered for Monday for half a year to a year. The good news is if you do this once your blog is already on a biweekly or weekly schedule. With this, you are already better than 90% of the bloggers out there as they usually lack consistency.
Repeat this process and you will see that little by little you build your schedule up day for day. I found producing content for specific weekdays to create one consistent weekly topic stream to be the most satisfying and productive set up for what I am doing. The posts are scheduled for 7 pm Berlin Time each day going with advice from SEO expert Neil Patel who states that a constant posting time is better than changing it continuously.
Thrown around a lot by successful people and self-help books. In books focus is usually discussed with a lot of concept Riff Raff and very low on context and specific examples. Well here is one.
The first thing I did was give up running too many shows at the same time. I tried to do YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Google+, Instagram, hell I would even do yellow pages.
While I produced a lot of content I spread Myself to thin. I am a one-man band with no one to hold the camera for me. I am also not the most ripped person in the world and I am old. I do not have the abs or ass to make Instagram work.
My home was full of my dogs, teenage kids and my wife wants to spend time in the evenings. Unless I get them all onto YouTube it is much harder to get the filming done. Google+ I just do not really get, Facebook is for friends and family and LinkedIn for my Consulting job.
What I do understand and like to do is the written word. I like to read and write. When I was a teenager I wrote short stories and poems. With 12 I started reading philosophy like Nietzsche, Dante, and Sun Tzu. I did a speed reading course paid by my employer and lately developed an obsession with positive thinking and productivity.
All of these strengths and weaknesses lend themselves to focusing on the most text prone social media platform Twitter and the most text-heavy platform for complex content, blogging.
Since I have redistributed my time the average view count per content has doubled. So before you blindly produce stuff and buy into the thought train of "you must be present on all platforms so that everybody sees you" ask yourself "which Medium am I most likely to dominate with the time and resources I have".
Ultimately you want to be omnipresent like Coca-Cola but this is hard when n=1. If you spread yourself too thin your content is very unlikely to have an impact. Learn from me and don't take a year to make this mind shift.
A nice byproduct of focusing is that the data you collect is also more impactful and meaningful to make a decision at a later stage when you decide to get more visual on Instagram and YouTube.
So, In the end, I stopped everything except blogging and Twitter which gave me more time to think, research and do something meaningful.
By all means, if you look like a supermodel and cannot even spell your own name correctly and think an Ikea instructions guide is complex make use of your skill set and use Instagram and YouTube to build your following. In our visual world, your chances of getting famous are probably even higher than mine this way.
This is why I am working on looking like a supermodel at the moment as I figured it is pointless to go Into production for visuals as long as I look like a slightly better-trained dad. Another option would be to hire someone who looks better than me but I think that's cheating for what I want to represent.
Prioritise using Google trends
The next thing I could have done better is to make more use of the free Google Trends tool before starting to produce my content.
What I did was to produce the best reviews you can find on the internet for
As these were the programs I did and also the goal I set for myself from a marketing perspective to conquering these niches. If you now would care to open Google and bother to type these words in combined with the review you will find that I succeeded. I am very proud of these blog posts.
The downside of this is that I could probably have covered more ground at the same time for what I want to do by looking at Google Trends first.
The graphs in Google Trends help you to determine what your market potential is. You should make an informed guess before you produce content on how big the market is, how high the entry barrier is and how much competition you have to expect.
For those of you who have not studied business look up the Porter Model for a deep dive on this. For those of you who have, maybe do a refresher. Sometimes it is hard to get your head around these things so I'll try a little metaphor to explain.
Think of the market or the internet like fields with cows. There is a certain number per field, a fence around it and several farmers competing to get the cows from that field. What I did was to pick a field with a low fence with only a few cows in them which are chased by almost no farmers. I made that choice without analyzing.
What I should have done instead is to use Google Trends to look for the fields with the most cows in them. Then look at how high the fence is ( how hard is it to produce impactful content for this topic) and then check how many farmers are going after this field (who else is producing content). You want to find fields with a lot of cows on them with no other farmer to be seen and ideally no fence.
In an earlier post called "how fit and powerful is the American psyche" I have outlined this process of picking the right field to plant your content seeds in more detail.
Expand with answer the public
Once you have picked the topics you want to write about expand them with Answerthepublic. Answer the public is a free service which provides you with questions and phrases which others type into google.
This is very helpful to quickly build a content plan as each phrase someone puts into Google is a relevant opportunity for you to educate your audience. Remember that is what excellent marketing is all about.
This process is also referred to as long-tail marketing. You look for everything people could be interested in and provide an answer for it. While this can feel like death by a thousand cuts to you as the one who is creating the experience,
You just go to the website and type in the phrase or word you want to be famous for. After this Answerthepublic generates questions, prepositions and alphabetical order in which context your area of interest is being searched for.
Usually, I get somewhere between 30 to 200 headlines out of this process for one topic. I then pick the 20 to 50 I feel most confident to write an article about and proceed.
Read the first ten hits on google
Your goal is to write something which is better than everything else on the internet which exists to date for the headlines you got out of
What I like to do is to get the first ten hits of Google and start my article from there. These will go onto the end of the blog post under "Resources". I get the links, copy them into Evernote under their heading and keep them sitting there to come back to.
I run through this process for all the headings which I have gathered in the Answerthepublic exercise. Once done with that the research starts on a deeper level.
I will read each of the ten first hits for my topic and summarize them. This will build the backbone and subheadings of my own, better article, at the end of the process. By this, you learn from the best and the structure which already gets people to stay on the website for longer.
It is one of the simplest techniques I found to educate yourself quickly while learning from other and expanding on it with your own experience. Think of this as the research process for a light master thesis.
Share your research
One of Guy Kawasaki's tips is to keep the ratio of sharing on your channels between your own and others content somewhere around 8 to 1 or even ten to one. The good news is that if you share all of the articles which you have found with this method on your social media channels you will get to this ratio.
I like to do one social media post per day per topic. So let's say I am researching kettlebell, fitness and bench press at the same time I will have around 60 drafts (20 per topic) flying around. For each of these drafts, I will use 10 sources which brings us already to 600 social media shares.
These shares I will distribute on 200 days, one each day for each topic, to keep the content not too repetitive. You can see how this quickly can add up to a considerable social media plan.
Another added bonus with this is that if you share more content with others they often do retweet or comment on their own produce on your channel. This leads to bigger reach and more interactions with you.
Structure your blog posts
Once you have read and shared the content which is already winning on the internet it is time to turn to structuring your own blog post. Based on what you have gathered you should by now have an idea what you should talk about in your post based on the headline you picked and what others have written about it.
Again I go back to Evernote and hammer out the subheadings of what will become my blog post. Do this for all of your articles on one topic before you start the actual writing. This will help you to be more productive and not get stuck at a later stage on a particular article, wasting a lot of time in the process, even though it seems excessive at first.
As I aim to write at least 1000 words a post I get about 200 - 300 words per subheading in. Structuring your blog posts first will make it a lot easier to write a 1000 word article quickly as each subheading will be a prompt for you to spill out 200 words. In addition, it also makes the content more readable for your audience than a continuous brain fart with no real structure to it.
Write 1000 words or more
Generally speaking, the longer the content, the more likely it will be that it ranks high. The only challenge with that is that oftentimes longer blog posts a written pretty badly. With practice comes perfection, do not shy away from it.
The posts I have written which have done best so far were structured, helpful, very long, detailed, a bit funny and also very easy to write.
The ones which I had to fight through, did not want to write in the first place or had to do tons of research for to the point of exhaustion usually fared not so well.
Put a link in each paragraph
Aim to put one relevant link either to your own or other content into each paragraph you write. It is no coincidence that Wikipedia is ranking so well for a lot of topics as they provide a ton of extra links to further relevant content within the platform.
You should do the same. Wherever there is the opportunity to share your sources and make people better or save them time with a link, do so. Some webmasters tend to be selfish and only link their own content. That is not how you will be perceived as an expert in your given field in the long run.
Again, go with the best practice from your writing at college, where you would put footnotes within your text and also present pro and cons to each information you provide for a balanced view.
Learn from Stephen King and get into the habit of writing daily. Apparently, at one stage of his career, he decided to write at least two pages every single day. Since then he has become one of the most successful authors of all times writing bestsellers like IT, Shawshank redemption and the green mile.
If you write only one page a day you will have written a book by the end of the year. If you do two you will either have written one very long book or two short ones. Again consistency and discipline get you to where you want to be. It is no different from blogging.
My personal routine is that I write the backbones of my articles and do the research during the week, which is already writing, to then finalize them on the weekend where the pages just pour out of me.
Stay focused when producing
Again we are getting back to focus. It applies to all levels and here we are further down where you have to keep the focus on one topic when writing rather than jumping around between different ones.
If you focus only on the kettlebell and write six blog posts in a weekend about it after the second article you will be able to recycle certain phrases and write the next four a lot quicker than the first two. If however, you write 6 blog posts in a weekend, one about the bench press, the next about the squat and the others scattered about between different headlines, you will make less process and the quality of each is very likely to be lower.
Repetition and constant rethinking on one topic increase the quality and lower the production time per piece written. Avoid being led astray.
For me, that means that I pick one topic for Saturday and one for Sunday which I would like to write about and stick with it. I discipline myself to not jump between different ideas even when I get stuck on one.
Promote your content to people who ask
Content promotion is a big one and honestly something which I neglect a lot as I prefer the act of writing the act of sending my content to different people who might be interested in it. I already do contact people who do not necessarily want to be contacted in my daily job, I like to avoid continuing that after I clocked out.
Best practice is to get a list of social media channels, blogs, companies and potential customers of yours and promote and do a targeted marketing approach by sending them your content proactively. This takes more time and effort but will get results for you.
What worked quite well for me is to distribute what I write to people who already got in touch me with me and asked for my feedback. I send emails with my best pieces to guest bloggers or anyone who directly interacted with me via mail or social media.
This is not as aggressive and takes longer to yield results. The upshot is that the following you build this way is a lot more likely to stick around for long.
Learn how to use Evernote
Even though there are a lot of blogging tools out there which provide you with composers and all kinds of "What you is what you get" content management systems my go-to tool for writing is Evernote. Keeping my blog posts in Evernote has the following advantages
- I can access my content from anyplace, anytime, any device without long loading times
- I can reference all of my other notes, even if they are not directly related to my blog
- I can exchange notes with others on Evernote as it a popular platform
- I keep all of my written content, even if my website tool had to be changed
Fifty shades of grey was apparently written on the author's cell phone. Once you perfect writing on your commute using your phone with the Evernote app your productivity will go through the roof.
Learn how to use Blinkist
Blinkist is a relatively new addition to my writer's arsenal, but a powerful one. Blinkist helps you to follow the Pareto principle when researching by aggregating books to blinks. You will read about the 10 - 13 essential points of the books you can find on the platform.
The quality of the points being is usually higher than in blog posts you find on the internet as they are taken from books which have to go through a publishing process. This makes the research conducted through this medium of higher quality in my opinion that the Google research I have outlined.
When you combine the two the links you will provide will be to blogs and books alike at the end of each of your posts. Experts will appreciate this and perceive even more as a thought leader within your given area you have chosen to win in.
This is taken from Seth Godin's book Linchpin. If you want to be an artist and one of the best in your given field you have to deliver. You have to ship. So put a ship date on each of your blog posts so that you discipline yourself to when to publish. Once you reach the deadline publish even if you are not ready.
This keeps lazy people from procrastination and perfectionists from hesitating.
Analyse, rinse and repeat
Use tools like Google Analytics, Hubspot, Crazy Egg, buzzsumo, coschedule, pardot, marketo,
Produce more of the things which work and repeat them. Learn from what did not work and improve for the next round. Here it comes full circle to tie in with the goals you set. Anything which is useful gets reused. Anything which does not work gets discarded.
In my example, I put a lot of effort into a supplements series for which I was sure I would make good traction. I put a lot of ton time in and learned a lot along the way. From a marketing performance perspective, that series was a complete flop. You find the articles listed below. After learning this I decided to tweak the approach and start to compare different types of supplements rather than picking one type of supplement apart.
- Digestive Enzymes
- Fish Oil
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
The blog resulting from that is my second most successful ever written.
Set a goal, make a plan, prioritize based on data, use technology to speed yourself up and be disciplined. Rinse and repeat and soon you will conquer spaces you have never dreamed of and be better than you have ever been before. If you have any questions or recommendation please leave them in the comments section below. I hope this was empowering.
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