12 Years In Business (Part 2)

June 3, 2016

Sorry for the cliffhanger!

1st June 2004 was when I set up in business as a freelance copywriter. So, 2 days ago, I wrote a quick blog post about how I got to that point in my life and career.

Recap here if you need to catch up.

So there I was, in 2003. I’d just been made redundant from my Conference Production job. And I was ready to move out of London.

I made my way to Southampton (long story involving a man, which is another story for another day, preferably over a gin & tonic please… although you could read this if you can bear it!)

Once there, I took a role via a recruitment agency. Trouble is, their geographical knowledge of the south coast wasn’t great. And my knowledge about the A-road system in that part of the world was nonexistent. As a result, my new job turned out to be a couple of hours away. My heart wasn’t in it from the start. Quite honestly, I was terrible, and I made no effort to be better. I sometimes wonder if I wanted to be sacked? Anyway, I was.

In hindsight, I should never have taken another “real job”.

I should have made the leap right away.

But I guess I needed to be certain….

I’d always wanted to write as a career. As a kid, I wrote (terrible) short stories, meticulously hand-written in A4 hardcover notebooks. One of my clearest memories of primary school is when a local author came in to give us a talk. I studied English and critical writing for both my BA and Masters degrees. And my 32-year streak of keeping a journal recently made it onto BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour.

At the time, I was training to swim the English Channel. I thought to myself, look, if I can’t get a foot in the door as a sport and fitness journalist with a first-person feature story about swimming the bloody English Channel, then I clearly can’t pitch, can’t sell, and can’t spot a good story. I’ll give it a go.

And that’s what started it all.

From that initial feature, I struck up good relationships with the Editorial teams at various sport and fitness magazines. Over the years, my journalism career grew, and I’ve now written for consumer magazines, trade journals, the membership magazines of NGBs, the Washington Post, and books published by The Observer and by Weider/Muscle and Fitness.
nicola joyce journalist
Early on, I realised that I would struggle to build a business on journalism alone. I wanted to be more commercial, to deal with clients, to have a scalable business, and to make more money.
nicola joyce copywriter
So I took on copywriting work for local businesses. My journalism skills and experience were a useful foundation.

I networked relentlessly. I put myself out there at fitness industry events (Paul Mort’s FEB was pivotal for me). I took training courses with industry bodies and with independent copywriting coaches. I studied sales, marketing, advertising. I branded myself, walked the talk, and grafted hard to deliver good work.

And now it’s 2016. I can’t quite tell you how I got here. A strong brand, good quality work, focusing on a nice. Tenacity, consistency, and enjoying what I do.

A lot of exciting things are happening at The Fit Writer towers. Business is changing, and I’ll be rolling out at least one new service soon.

But copywriting for the fitness industry will always be at the core of what I do. I love it.

…I’m so glad I was made redundant in 2003!

See you at:

12 Years In Copywriting Business: Part 2 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

12 years in business! (Or “Why Being Made Redundant Was The One Of The Best Terrible Events In My Life”)

June 1, 2016

nicola joyce freelance copywriter the fit writer

12 years ago today, I officially set up in business as a freelance copywriter.

In 1999, I left Uni after hanging about for an extra year doing a Masters (partly because I wasn’t ready to leave).

I worked in admin for a holiday company in my University’s city (mostly because I wasn’t ready to leave) and then made my way to…where else… London.

I lived in a houseshare in Archway with Uni mates. I shared a house in the wilds of South Woodford with one Uni mate, our very old landlord, and his disgusting German Shepherd dog. I lived in a beautiful house with my new London friends (and – randomly – a friend from secondary school) in Tulse Hill. We said we lived in Dulwich.

I worked in “conference production”, which these days would probably be called Content Development & Offline Marketing For Corporate Events (or something).

The company was owned by a huge publishing brand. My job involved interviewing very high-level execs, extracting research information from them, and writing it up into various formats (including the titles, topics, and structure of the conference, as well as the copy for the conference brochure, promotional web copy, and letters).

This was before email was widely used in marketing. And long before social media was big enough to be a marketing tool.

I went in at the very lowest level, and eventually became a Lead Producer in two different conference departments.

The in-house training was market leading at the time. It set the blueprint for various conference companies which followed it its footsteps.

It taught me…

** to think VERY quickly and commercially.

** to come up with themes, topics, and titles against tight deadlines, and to write them in the most compelling way. Our events lived and died by delegate bookings. Not enough sales? Your event would be cancelled, and you lost money (for the firm, and for yourself).

** to be fearless about picking up the phone and asking strangers to give me their thoughts about industry trends.

** how to write for the web, for email, for direct mail, for marketing and sales, for post-sales.

** how to use my curious mind to learn just enough about a lot of topics in a very short amount of time.

Then I was made redundant.

But it was OK. Around that time, I’d met the guy who would be my husband (then my ex-husband), and I was training to swim the English Channel. I was growing, and I’d outgrown the conference world. Truth be told, my mind was already out of there.

You might think that’s when I set up “thefitwriter” and went freelance.

You’d be wrong. I had one more lesson to learn…

Keep up with me on social media

12 years in business! (Or “Why Being Made Redundant Was The One Of The Best Terrible Events In My Life”) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Blog post for the Fitness Writers’ Association

June 19, 2013

Just a quick one to say that I have a guest blog on the news page of the Fitness Writers’ Association today.
I joined the FWA last July when it was launched and am still a proud member of this industry group, which champions the work of fitness writers and runs various networking events to bring us together (and to give us access to key names from across sport, fitness, health and wellness).

My blog post is on the topic of working on location as a freelance magazine journalist.

Here is my original post about the launch night and joining the Fitness Writers’ Association last year.

Thank you to Cheryl (one of the team behind the FWA) for inviting me to guest blog – and for setting up the FWA!

You can like the Fitness Writers’ Association on Facebook, follow the Fitness Writers’ Association on Twitter or check out the website for more info (or to join!)

Blog post for the Fitness Writers’ Association is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

The Games are coming…

July 26, 2012

On my way home from the gym (which is in Windsor) today, I noticed how many little details have sprung up around the London 2012 Olympic Games. Here are some photos from my journey home….

The Games are nearly here!

I wonder what snapshots of “journeys home from the gym” would look like for people actually living in London? (I’m about 20 miles West – near Dorney, where the rowing, canoe and kayak, and paralympic rowing will be held).

Do you live near an Olympic venue? What Olympic-sights can you see from your home, gym or office?

dorney rowing lake london 2012 games

The Games are coming… is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Joining the Fitness Writers’ Association

July 19, 2012

Last night, I was at the launch of the Fitness Writers’ Association, a new industry membership group here in the UK which aims to unify the communications arm of the fitness industry, bringing together those of us who write about it and those of them who supply it, lobby for it, train people in it and otherwise contribute to the products, services, ideas, campaigns and trends which make up the sport and fitness industry.

What a great idea! I don’t quite know why nobody’s thought to put something like this together for us before now (similar things exist for the health industry, for example). Three cheers for the lovely Cheryl at Action PR and Fiona at The Running Bug (and a few other hard-working ladies) for coming up with the idea and driving it forward. The result of their efforts was unveiled last night, at the rather swish Dolphin Club in London.

We were treated to canapes and champagne (of which I had none 😦 being 7 weeks out from my comp 🙂 ) before the first of the speakers took to the floor. Fiona and Cheryl introduced the Fitness Writers’ Association, explaining why it had come about, why it’s needed and what it will develop into (events, education, training, contacts, a network of experts us writers can go to for information/ideas/leads/comment, as well as fantastic links with the FIA).

Then we heard from the Dolphin Square Fitness Club, who gave a thought-provoking talk about the legacy the 2012 Games will leave behind… and why it might not have the impact we’d like to think it will. Is the Olympics actually inspiring us to become fitter? Do the Games significantly encourage uptake in sport? What social/cultural shifts do we need to see in Britain to turn us from a nation of spectators (bums on seats) to participators (bums off seats!) The emphasis was on how we, as the writers serving the sport and fitness sector, can help make the legacy of the Games a lasting and positive one.

Then David Stalker, CEO of the Fitness Industry Association, talked about how we absolutely must link this fantastic opportunity – our Olympic Games – with much wider health and fitness goals and programmes in this country. The time is now, he said. We have to get it right. Dave is a passionate speaker and advocate of getting the entire population healthier through activity, exercise and fitness. He and the FIA have strong, respected links with Government, Public Affairs and Policy, huge corporates, the medical industry and the education sector. I have heard him speak in small settings like this many times now and, each time, I feel very honoured: this is a man who has direct links into, and is helping to drive, some of the most important health/wellness/fitness campaigns in Britain and here he is sharing it with us. Thank you David.

Lastly Dr Jess Leitch of Run3D in Oxford talked to us about the latest in high tech gait analysis and how this is helping our Olympic athletes – and those of the future – train, compete and continue on with their sport with as little injury as possible.

Then it was time to chat with the other writers, Editors, freelancers and inhouse people who’d been invited to this inaugural FWA event. I decided I definitely wanted to join – I get asked to join quite a lot of networking things, memberships groups and industry bodies, but the FWA is the only one of its kind and I think it will be very important to our industry.

Thank you to Cheryl and Fiona for organising, to Ruth, Dawn and all the others who helped make the night a success, and to Richard, Mark, David and Jessica for speaking.

You can follow the Fitness Writers’ Association on Facebook and contact join@fitnesswritersassociation.com if you’d like to ask about joining.

Joining the Fitness Writers’ Association is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Byline in The Washington Post (and “Swim: Why We Love The Water” giveaway)

June 27, 2012

I don’t just train. I do a bit of work, too 😉 I work as a freelance writer, doing both editorial work (features in consumer magazines, mostly, but some trade/industry publications, too) and commercial work as a copywriter (content for B2B clients, B2C clients and agencies).

I don’t often blog about work (I probably should do so more often), in fact there are only a handful of work-related posts on this blog:

Where you could have found my byline back in May 2010
How to engage with fitness journalists and bloggers
How I became a freelance writer (and other FAQs)
More bylines
My favourite commissions (at that point!)
A few fitness copywriting examples
– And a few more here.
The importance of quality content for fitness professionals

You can also check out some of my clients on my Pinterest board “my lovely clients” (cos they are all lovely – one of the benefits of being freelance is that you don’t have to work with the non-lovely ones).

On the whole, I am excited by everything I write. Every new commission still gives me a thrill, even after eight years. However, this one’s a bit special and I’d really like to shout about it. Indulge me, please. I promise we’ll be back to photos of my weightlifting belt and reviews of protein powders soon 😉

In March, I was contacted by someone who purported to be a commissioning Editor at The Washington Post. Yeah right, I thought. Ha ha! But… it’s not quite 1st April. So maybe this isn’t an April Fool. Sure enough, it was real. The Washington Post had been looking for a book reviewer for the book “Swim: Why We Love The Water” and had found me. (For those of you who have only known me, or this blog, since I took up bodybuilding, you need to know that I come from a swimming background and have swum the English Channel twice). The Editor had read a few of my articles, blog posts and online features about swimming and decided to approach me.

I was very excited. I mean, come on. The Washington Post?

The review came out and is still online here.

Would you like to win a copy of Lynn Sherr’s book, “Swim: Why We Love The Water”? Because you can. I have a spare copy here (not the review copy with my bits of paper stuck all over it).

To win, please:
1) “Like” “Swim: Why We Love The Water” Facebook page
2) Tweet a link to this blog post, including my Twitter name (@thefitwriter) and Lynn’s (@LynnSherr) and include the hashtag #SWIM in your Tweet
3) Come and leave a comment on this blog post to let me know you’ve done those two things… and then tell me your most memorable swimming experience. I’d love to hear about it, no matter where or when it was. Pool, sea, lake or lido… tell me 🙂

Byline in The Washington Post (and “Swim: Why We Love The Water” giveaway) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Fitpros: how much quality written content are you producing?

May 25, 2011

When was the last time you created a quality bit of content which shows your passion and expertise?

I was at the Fitness Entrepreneur Bootcamp last weekend – a business conference for the fitness industry. One of my favourite speakers from last year’s event was back again: Nick Nanton of Celebrity Press, a branding guru based in the States. He really knows his stuff when it comes to identifying your positioning, building credibility and using your community. Important stuff for any individual, brand or business in the sport and fitness world.

I worked with Nick last year on a book project, helping some of his authors by ghostwriting their chapters. The book – “Total Body Breakthroughs” – became a number one best-seller on Amazon. Nick kindly offered to give a video testimonial for me and here it is

Thanks Nick!

What I really wanted from Nick was the best advice he could give my fitpro readers when it comes to writing content. Check out this very short video.

As you heard in that video, Nick says credibility is key for any brand, business or individual. And you build credibility through content – lots and lots of strong content. The more content you have, the more people know you know, he says. Remember, your target market aren’t mind-readers, you need to show them you’re an expert. Put your content out there so it can physically stack up to prove your expertise.

Nick advises you to create:
– blogs
– articles
– e-zines
– magazines
– newsletters
– press releases
– books
– seminars
– webinars

Online, offline, written, recorded, audio… it’s all relevant.

Nick says (and of course I’d agree) that you do need to make sure it’s well-written and edited (and he kindly says that, if you can’t do that or don’t have time, find someone like me who can do it for you).

Fitpros: how much quality written content are you producing? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

BodPod and fitness industry talk

March 3, 2011

On Monday, I was up in London. My day started with a BodPod assessment – the good folk at Ki Performance on Margaret Street heard about my contest prep and invited me along to have a body composition analysis in the BodPod (thank you, guys!)

Have you heard of the BodPod? It’s generally recognised to be one of the most accurate ways of analysing body composition (fat % and lean %), short of having a DEXA scan (or an autopsy!) I’m a bit of a numbers geek, and in the midst of a body recomposition challenge, so I jumped at the chance of having my mass analysed by BodPod.

Here’s the blurb (there’s plenty more – including published research – on the website if you’re interested):

The BodPod uses densitometry to assess body density. It measures body mass and divides this figure by body volume to calculate body density. Body volume is measured using air displacement plethysmography; a technique that uses changes in air pressure to work out the volume of an object.

Based on population specific equations, the BodPod system then calculates the percentage of fat and lean mass for the individual.

In addition to the general volume calculation, the BodPod system also adjusts the volume measurements to take into account the slight differences in air pressure where the air is in close proximity to the skin and is therefore warmer than the air around it.

BodPod is suitable for nearly everyone. It’s a really easy test to administer and doesn’t require the subject to do anything difficult. The BodPod chamber also accommodates a wide range of body shapes so really obese individuals can be tested with ease.

You need to be BodPodded in a fasted state. So I couldn’t eat from 10pm Sunday night until after my test – the horror! I also had to minimise liquids and just had a couple of sips of water that morning. I packed plenty of food in my bag to devour ASAP after the test! You have to wear minimal clothing and what you do wear has to be thin and tight – a swimsuit is ideal (I have a few of those 😉 ) You also need to don a simply beautiful swimcap type hat (not pictured!) Here is me in the pod

And fooling around before my test.

Anna Holder, BodPod’s Senior Performance Manager, weighed me and explained the test before shutting me in the pod and setting the thing going. I felt a little bit like I was going into space, enclosed in a futuristic capsule, sitting on a little seat with a series of lit-up buttons in front of me. A few seconds later, the door opened but it wasn’t ET’s face peering in at me, just Anna. “Two more tests to go,” she said (BodPod runs three tests, each about 30 seconds long). All I had to do was sit there, try not to move, and breathe normally. There were a series of pops and hisses as pressurised air was pumped in around me, but it was all completely painless.

Off I went to get changed and I was just stuffing my breakfast in my mouth (not the first time I’ve been in a sports changing room eating food from a tupperware, and I’m sure it won’t be the last) when Anna knocked on the door. “Erm, I’m really sorry but can I run the test again?” she asked. “The reading seems very low and I think I might have put your data in wrong.” Poor Anna looked so concerned that I told her the results of other recent body composition tests (bio impedence and hand-held unit) and she relaxed a bit and said they were along the same lines as the BodPod‘s readings.

So we did the test again and I returned to the changing room to finish my tupperware breakfast, before joining Anna in the meeting room where she asked me a few more questions and promised to get my results to me ASAP.

From there, I jumped on the tube to head up to Premier Training in Finsbury Park where the FIA (Fitness Industry Association) were hosting their monthly Communications Forum. I’d been asked to attend as a guest speaker and talk on the topic of “how to engage with freelance fitness journalists and bloggers”. I think my talk went down well! It was great to meet so many people involved in the marketing, PR and development of various sport and fitness brands. Would anyone like me to post the notes from my talk? If so, I will do. Basically though it covered:

– my background and who I’ve written for
– my niche and my personal approach to sport and fitness
– what’s the process behind a magazine commission? (pitched/commissioned)
– who does a freelance journalist work with? (Editors, PRs, marketeers, owners and entrepreneurs)
– how can you make the most of freelance journalists? (a few dos and don’ts)
– the importance of relationships
– what makes a good press release?
– what kind of news interests us?
– what do we need from PRs/marketeers?
– how to find a journalist or commission

On my train home, Anna’s email came through with my BodPod results – 12.2% body fat. I find that hard to believe but I suppose it’s always difficult to assess yourself objectively, and I guess that’s the point of having a BodPod test done!

Monday was a full and busy day but a really rewarding one. Now I’m playing catch-up after a day out of the office. Thank you to Ki Performance for the BodPod test and to the FIA for inviting me to speak at the Comms Forum.

Have you had a BodPod assessment or any other kind of body composition reading?

Do you have any questions about how to make the maximise contact with freelance journalists, copywriters or bloggers?

BodPod and fitness industry talk is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Recent work for sport and fitness clients

January 21, 2011

I initially intended this blog to be split about 50/50 between posts about my work as a sport and fitness writer, and posts about my own sporty endeavours.

Somewhere along the line, the balance has been lost! So today I’m going to post about a few recent projects I’ve worked on for sport and fitness clients.

Website copy for a personal trainer

I wrote website copy for Mack Parnell of Reboot PT, a personal trainer in North London. He asked me to redo his existing homepage text and write copy for a new FAQ page. He also asked me to write copy for his services pages, including weight loss, nutrition, muscle building and kettlebells. It was right up my street and I turned the project around – from quote to sign-off – in a week.

Mack said: “This all looks great, exactly what I was looking for.”

Press release for local fitness bootcamp

Another recent job was writing (and distributing) a press release for a charity fitness boot-camp held locally. I wrote the press release, including sourcing a quote from the charity which would be benefitting, researched a media list and then sent the release to named individuals at the target publications. The result? Coverage in the main local newspaper (and on the paper’s website) and an interview on local radio. And my client now has a researched media list she can use in the future.

Heidi from Fasttrack-fitcamp said: “Thanks for your help, it got us on the radio and in Wokingham Times which is great as we would like to raise our profile in Wokingham more.”

Content for triathlon wetsuit website

I was contacted by a client looking to create a website devoted to triathlon wetsuits: which to choose, how to get the right fit and tips on caring for the wetsuit. I was the right person to ask, having written a number of triathlon wetsuit kit-test features for triathlon magazines (and worn my own fair share of wetsuits in races!) I researched and wrote the wetsuit reviews and also supplied content for three short articles: a beginner’s guide to triathlon wetsuits, tips for wetsuit care and performance tips (ie how to get the thing on and off!).

Richard Sykes from triathlonwetsuits.co.uk said: “It has has been a pleasure working with a real professional – someone who contributes ideas as well as copy – and delivered at incredible speed.”

Of course, I also still work as a freelance sport and fitness journalist, writing features for consumer magazines. I’m terrible at a) buying the magazines I’m featured in and then b) tearing the pages out and c) scanning them in (even typing that out makes me feel tired!) but here’s one I have got on file. It’s from Body Fit magazine and looks at how to keep your fitness mojo going over these cold, dark months. Since I’m currently shivering in my study, it seems a timely one to share. Enjoy! 🙂

Recent work for sport and fitness clients is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Sport and fitness copywriting

September 16, 2010

Some of my favourite jobs are writing copy for sport and fitness clients. Whether it’s the wording for websites, sales letters, brochures, newsletters or digital marketing, I just love writing commercial copy aimed at sporty customers (because they’re likely to be similar to me, so if I write something which would make me buy/sign up/take action, it’s likely to be a job well done!)

Here are a couple of recent examples of my work as a sport and fitness copywriter.

Shirley Sadler is a PT who works in the Manchester area. I met her at the Fitness Entrepreneur Bootcamp earlier this year. I’ve already written a successful press release for Shirley and so she asked me for help with the biography page on her new website. Here’s how it looks at the moment (we’ve just tweaked it a bit and Shirley will be making v.2 live soon):

British Triathlon launched a new website recently aimed at journalists and other media who need info about the sport, fast. Because I’m a triathlete and a triathlon journalist myself, I understood exactly what they wanted. I wrote a few pages of the new BTF media site, including this one:

Do you know any personal trainers, sports coaches, clubs, gyms, governing bodies or sports brands looking for a clued-up copywriter? Send them my way!

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