This is a post inspired by thoughts on what people have been asking me ever since I’ve been “published” by several big name sites and authors.
My Beginning As a Professional “Writer”
My background with writing involved staying up for hours writing answers on a Question and Answer type of website called quora.com, in which everyday people would ask relatively simple (and some in-depth) questions about everything. I don’t know where I heard it, but I think someone smarter than me said if you hustle enough, people will notice. So, I hustled to the tune of essentially 50 answers (long enough to be blog posts) in less than 6 months – and I had no idea if people would listen to what I was saying. I was just some guy writing answers to fitness questions on his laptop at 12midnight after working in a commercial gym in late 2011, early 2012.
Afterwards, I was contacted by a start-up website that wanted some fitness writers for their website – and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would begin writing online and get paid to do it.
This is the start of my “professional” writing career – I was getting paid to write about the things that interested me and what I loved.
Shortly after did I realize that I could take my writing skills elsewhere – I didn’t know that I could write for other people’s websites. It just takes a little footwork to find out who the person to contact would be. On top of this, it helps to meet people in person to give them a face to associate an email with. So I did just that.
Anyways, this has the potential for going on a very long winded discussion about my background, and perhaps I will go more in-depth later on, but I wanted to talk about some guidelines for upcoming writers and bloggers.
Guidelines for Upcoming Writers
Just. start. writing.
I’ve gotten multiple questions from people online asking, “How did you get started in writing online?” and “I love reading your blog, what do you think I should write about to get started?”
I started writing on my blog by tracking my workouts. That’s
write right, there was no fitocracy.com, no WeightTraining.com, or any website that could track anything. It was just as good as pen and paper, and since I saw some “successful” people doing it (mainly Mike Robertson from RobertsonTrainingSystems.com), I did what I knew best – I copied them.
It didn’t matter that no one read it. It was simply to gain momentum on how to structure my thoughts on writing and to “break the ice” with regards to being a “newbie” in the writing world.
Now I get a couple thousand hits per month. Nothing spectacular, but I know a little more than when I first started.
Don’t use cliche statements.
I don’t know if it is just me, but I never appreciated whenever someone always responded to me in person with some type of cliche statement about a situation.
“The grass is greener on the other side!”
“There is a silver lining in everything!”
These just show a lack of individual thought, a lack of awareness, and a lack of being present in the moment.
This translates to writing as well. Yes, there are obviously only so many ways you can put specific stories and analogies, but put your own spin on things, and show you are actually thinking about the person you are talking to. Writing online does not have to be so formal, so toss the cliche statements and you can begin to develop your own voice, with which people can resonate with better as well.
Utilize an Inverted Pyramid
When I was in high school, I remember being taught how to structure a story within an essay. Essentially, it came down to understanding how to utilize an inverted pyramid.
Utilizing this structure provided me with enough of a foundation with which I can organize my thoughts in a coherent manner that my readers and audience will be able to understand it. If I have a large mass of text in one sitting of information, how digestible will that information be to others?
This is one that has been recently brought to my attention. Since reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, it is obvious that the online world is regulated by video and images – essentially the visual aspect of capturing attention.
And since people are becoming more and more “busy”, who wants to read a big BLOCK of text? Gone are the days of Eric Cressey’s Neanderthal No More, it would [hypothetically] never live to see the light of a Top 10 List (since those are all the rage these days) due to its big block of text (or at the very least, some people would fall asleep reading it).
There Are No Rules
Listen, if you know your audience, and you know your true voice, then let creativity flow.
There are no rules when it comes to capturing an audience’s attention, just trends that allow people to digest information at a more rapid rate. Yes, sexy sells, and yes those BuzzFeed videos are fun to watch. But for the sake of disseminating fitness and strength and conditioning information that matters, what will you write about, and how will you write it?
Answer those questions, and let your creativity flow.
You Will Get Rejected
One of the things that have always guided me was the concept of not allowing others to dictate whether or not I am successful. If one publication decided to not accept my writing, I gathered myself, and moved on…
I know that I can write elsewhere.
Or, perhaps my writing wasn’t the best it could have been.
Or even better, my writing wasn’t good for that audience.
It’s a matter of perspective, and having the ability to shift this perspective is what has allowed me to keep on going despite many people saying “NO” to me.
Hopefully these tips have helped you to overcome some of your internal obstacles to writing.
Keep it funky.