Blog Spotlight with Nicola Joyce, editor of The Fit Writer

The Fit Writer is the personal blog of freelance fitness copywriter and journalist Nicola Joyce. She talks about her own training and competing (she's an amateur World Champion natural bodybuilder) and  just occasionally!  blogs about the business of writing and freelancing.

Tell us about your blog, how did you get started? Why did you choose your subject?

I started my blog as an immediate result of attending a fitness business event (FEB 2010). The speakers were advising attendees on how to market their own fitness businesses, including how to make the most of social media and blogging to dominate their niche. I was the only non-PT there and I realised there was a gap in the market for blogs about fitness copywriting (or written by fitness copywriters, at least!) My subject chose me: I write about my work, my training and my life.

How do you source content for your blog?

From my every day life experiences, conversations and eavesdropping, mostly. I do also use trends, surveys, news and press releases but often as a hook for a post. As a features writer, I have daily access to loads of press releases and have great relationships with PRs in the sport, fitness and healthy living sectors. Mostly though I just blog about what's on my mind or what I see and hear other people discussing in (or about) the industry.

Do you have a favourite post or one that best sums up your blog?

I love the blog posts written by my dog. He's a far better writer than me, much funnier, and has a great observational style (even if his observations are mostly made from the height of my knee). He's blogged about fitness (including running, running alongside a bike, and playing with footballs) and has even blogged about what happens at a fitness magazine photoshoot. He finds writing very taxing, though. It makes him snore in his sleep.

Do you write reviews? How many people read your reviews?

I do, although I limit the amount. This is partly because – to be perfectly honest – getting a free review from me is very valuable, and I'd rather people commission me as a freelance copywriter so I actually get paid for writing. I'm also quite protective of my readers. They put their trust in me and my writing and I would never want to overwhelm them with review content, or cause them to think I was promoting stuff just for the sake of it. I value their time. However, if the product is something I'm genuinely interested in or believe my blog readers will really want to know about, I will consider doing a review. When I'm particularly busy with paid writing work, I put the reviews on the backburner. Paid work has to come first! My blog gets around 300 views a day and the reviews are very popular. My WordPress stats tell me that people are searching for specific reviews and finding my blog long after I wrote the review.

How did you build a following for your blog?

Organically. What's that expression about the cobbler's children being the worst shod? I spend so much time writing for clients, including writing for their blogs and social media, and advising them on how to build a brand and engage with followers, that I don't give much thought to my own blog. It is still just my personal blog and that will always be its primary function. People do comment on posts, put my blog on their blogroll, share posts, retweet links and send posts to their friends. But I don't have a strategy to encourage any of that, it's just a lovely bonus! I think it helps that the blog is pretty elderly in blogging terms (nearly four years old), and that I have always updated frequently, and (perhaps most importantly) I've always been consistent with themes, style and topics.

Are you a PR friendly blog? Do you accept contributions and content for your blog?

I'm PR friendly in that I always tell PRs and brands when I have reviewed their product, or mentioned a product in a non-review post. As a journalist, I know what PRs need, and am happy to maintain a good symbiotic relationship! I send the blog link, encourage them to use it on Twitter, Facebook, etc, and always tag them when I push the blog post out via social media. I don't accept guest posts. In the unlikely event that I go on a lovely long holiday, I would seek out guest bloggers myself, people who would maintain the character and integrity (not to mention the themes!) of my blog. I see no need to feature guest bloggers from businesses and brands and think it would dilute the overall content of my blog. It's always just been me (well, and my dog!) and that is what readers have come to expect, like and trust.

How best do you like to be approached by PRs?

I hide in plain sight! PRs can get hold of me on Twitter, Facebook (thefitwriter on both), via email (email address is easily found on my blog and on my business website or by phone. Most of them know where I am already. I'm a member of various industry bodies (Fitness Writers' Association, UK Active) and on lots of databases of journalists.

What’s in store for your blog in 2014?

I don't know! And that's just how I like it. I do keep a section of my work whiteboard for blog post ideas, but I don't stick to an editorial schedule. I blog as frequently as I can, when I'm able to, and often about something which just popped into my head. All of that is probably terrible advice from someone who makes a full-time living writing content for other people. Let's just say that I give all my best ideas, strategies and hours of the day to clients. My blog is the product of whatever's left!

Nicola can be found tweeting @thefitwriter.

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