Help Your Client Overcome Their MONSTER (story telling for fitness business marketing)

April 3, 2018

You already know that your content needs to engage people on an emotional level – and that doesn’t mean steering clear of negative emotions. Yes, joy, wonder, and curiosity are valuable. But so are fear, frustration, and disappointment.

In my previous post, I talked about “types” of story you can use in your copy.

It’s widely accepted (thanks to Christopher Booker’s 2004 book “Why We Tell Stories“) that every story ever told falls into one of seven categories: Comedy, Tragedy, Voyage and Return, Rebirth, Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches and The Quest. Fun fact: he worked on the book for over 30 years.

The book looks at why humans are psychologically programmed to imagine stories this way – and why we react so strongly to them.

I want to talk to you about three of them – the three I think are most useful for fitness businesses and brands.

Up first – “Overcoming The Monster”

What barrier is your reader facing? What stands in the way of where they are, and where they want to be (or what they know, and what they want to know)?

And how can you provide the solution – get them from A-B?

Your client is the underdog of this story – and they need to “win”. Your job is to make them the hero.

In OCM stories, our hero sets out to challenge and destroy an antagonist. It can be an individual or a force, but it’s usually bigger or seemingly greater than them, and it threatens him/her, the family, the community, or the entire future.

It will take a lot of courage and strength for the protagonist to Overcome The Monster – they will often face difficult choices, decisions, losses, and will experience painful growth along the way.

They are never the same at the end of the story.

>> Think Star Wars, Terminator, most Westerns, Rocky (and most boxing films) David (of defeating Goliath fame), and – if you remember your mythology – Perseus and Theseus.

= For your purposes, the “monster” is unlikely to be a physical creature looming into town. It’s going to be your client’s fears, anxieties, biggest dread, self-doubt, self-sabotage, or perhaps the words of someone who has told them not to bother, or that they will never be sporty or that “everyone in this family is fat” =

>> Some examples to Overcoming The Monster in fitness advertising: Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign…. and pretty much anything Nike has ever done since they created the “Just Do It” call to arms in 1988.

There are five stages to an OTM type story – and you can use these to structure your copy…

1. Anticipation and Call
What is the monster? Why does it seem powerful? What type of threat does it pose? This is where your hero needs to accept the challenge.
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2. Dream
Your hero prepares to battle whilst they are still some distance away (think about all those training montages set to music!)
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3. Frustration
The monster shows itself, and its power is revealed. Has our hero bitten off more than they can chew? It all hangs in the balance.
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4. Nightmare
The battle is on. At first, our hero seems to be getting crushed by the monster. It looks bleak. But there’s no giving up. It looks like it’s all over for the hero…. but hang on, what’s this? The battle is about to take a turn.
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5. Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster.
Hooray! Our hero wins (of course). Monster is defeated, hero is victorious, and he/she gets presented with riches or some kind of reward and returns home the conquering hero.

==

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

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My SBS Radio podcast interview: Vegan Month revisited

January 28, 2018

Just a quick one to say that I’m on the Shredded By Science podcast – SBS Radio.

Lawrence Judd invited me on as part of their “Vegan January” focus, to talk about the Vegan Month I did last year. Have a listen – it’s on iTunes or Spotify at this link.

The episode after mine features Melody Schoenfeld – an actual real proper vegan! – who’s been vegan for 20+ years, trains, and does various strength sports. So if you’re interested in Veganism and strength/hypertrophy, give her interview a listen too.

Thanks Shredded By Science for having me on the podcast!

Don’t forget you can find all of my Vegan Month posts here and find me on Instagram here.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


#6 – 7 Ways Copywriting Is Crucial For Your Fitness Business (About Me profiles)

October 26, 2017
Today: writing your About Me page (or any kind of profile/bio).
(Check out the posts about videos and video scripts, emails and email marketing, blog posts, website copy and ebooks.

Isn’t Writing “About Me” Easy? I Just Talk About…. Me…. No?

Do you want to bore your readers straight off the page and leave them with absolutely no idea of what life would be like working with you?

Then no, ideally not.

Yes, if you run a business, you do need to tell people about yourself (especially if you are the face of the brand). You might do this on your website, in your social media bios, within sales pages, and as an author bio when you write guest blog posts.

But how much thought do you put into those little “about me” profiles?

“About Me” Is A Marketing Tool Too

Stop thinking of about me/profiles as a footnote and start thinking of them as a key part of your marketing and brand awareness.

It can be challenging to get all the key points into an “about me” section, especially on social media, but that’s good practice. Make your bio sharp and succinct, interesting, and on brand.

9 Things To Remember

If you’re struggling to write an engaging profile/bio/about me section that doesn’t bore people to death, bear these points in mind:

  1. know who you’re talking to. The messaging, tone, and language of your bio should change according to your audience, just like any other bit of copy should.
  2. don’t just include facts and boring info (tip: nobody cares about you, they care about what you can do for them)
  3. make your about me/profile be about the reader. I know, sounds weird. But it needs to be about you in the context of what you do for other people.
  4. share your values, character, and what makes you different. Why should the reader work with you?
  5. tell the story of your professional journey. People love stories, and this is the best way to get all that boring info in without just listing a load of facts.
  6. show how you’ve provided solutions in the past, and how you can help the reader now. This is another creative way of getting those boring facts in, but in story form.
  7. give a sense of what it’s like to work with you. Do this through stories, language, and tone.
  8. build a sense of connection, familiarity, and trust
  9. add a call to action or at the very least a way to contact you

Here are a few examples of About Me/profiles I’ve written

Kirk Miller About Me page

Boldanic (supplements) About Us/company story page

Tony Cottenden Top Condition PT About Me page

Adam Cam About Me page

For more fitness industry copywriting chat, join me on Facebook– and stay tuned here for the final post in the series.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who has been writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry since 2004. Get in touch via Facebook, or by sending a message here.

 


A New Sport Every Month: Roller Derby

September 29, 2017

What’s got 8 wheels, a gum shield, and a witty pseudonym?
A Roller Derby athlete!

Yep, I did Roller Derby.

I’ve decided to try one new sporty thing every month. Partly to stop my training from getting stale, partly to meet new folk, and partly for the LOL factor.

Because we all know I’m no good with:

– falling down (or prospect thereof)
– jumping/moving both feet off the ground at the same time
– any form of agility

September’s A New Sport Every Month was pretty funny (…mostly for the instructors…)

What Is Roller Derby?

Just about the further thing from my comfort zone that you can imagine.

No But Really, What IS Roller Derby?

Roller Derby is a contact team sport on roller skates. Two teams of five players skate counter-clockwise around a track, during “jams” (point-scoring bouts) that last up to 2 minutes.

One of each team’s five players is the “jammer” who can score points. The other four are “blockers” – defensive/offensive players whose role is to block the other team’s jammer, and to protect their own jammer so she can lap the other team to score.

Two things really appealed to me about Roller Derby.

1) It originated as a female-only sport, and men’s teams are a much more recent thing. Roller Derby is closely tied up with themes of feminism and body positivity and, at entry level, it’s an amazingly encouraging, empowering sport for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels.

2) The names. I mean, come on. At my trial session I met Demi Lition, Hellen Degenerate, and Brute 66. In teams around the world, you’ll find Brazilian Whacks, Tess of the Derbywheels, and Nancy Raygun.

Roller Derby has been around since the 1940s, but fell off the radar until recent years. It’s enjoying a massive surge in interest now, so when I realised we have a local team, I signed up for the Open Day.

I didn’t get to actually play (that would have been asking way too much of my first hour on skates!) But I learned some of the basic skills: how to fall (various ways!), stop, speed up, and turn. We got to watch the Rec League in training, and then saw the main competitive team practising.

I asked Demi Lition, Founder of Kent Roller Girls, to tell you more. about Roller Derby.

Who is Roller Derby suitable for?

Pretty much everyone. You don’t need any experience or fitness level to start, and there’s no particular shape or size of person it suits best. You just need to be prepared to fall over a lot!

What does basic, entry-level Roller Derby consist of?

Most teams run a variation of beginners sessions. These can be a course over a set number of weeks, or continual drop-in sessions. My team – Kent Roller Girls – runs a recreational league. Skaters can join at any time with any level of experience, and we will teach you everything you need to know. You can take as long as you want/need to learn the skills, before getting to the level of playing games. Our rec league needs absolutely no experience whatsoever to join! Just the willingness to learn something completely new

Can you do Roller Derby as exercise/training and never compete (if you want)?

You can indeed! Recreational teams are great for this. There’s no pressure on skaters to compete, and you can focus on the fun side of the sport and of skating. There’s a place for everyone in the sport.

What does Roller Derby do for a body?

Roller Derby is all about the bum and thighs! (Nic: I concur! I “do legs” twice a week but the day after trying Roller Derby, my adductors, abductors, and glutes were sore!) You spend the majority of your skating time in a stance known as “Derby stance” – a slight squat position – which you definitely feel when you start skating! You build a lot of power in your legs to get yourself around that track. And as you make your way towards actually competing you need to be able to skate at a certain speed for a length of time which really helps with improving cardio.

Roller Derby has done more for my body confidence than anything else ever has. And a lot of people will say the same. It’s a sport for everyone, no matter what body shape, and we’re all as valuable to the team as each other. We all have our strengths based on our sizes and we all learn how to use them to our advantage. I’ve gone from hiding in baggy shirts and tracksuit bottoms, to wearing shorts in front of crowds of people. I hadn’t worn shorts in public for 15 years!

Thanks, Demi! :)

Go and visit Kent Roller Girls’s website or KRG on Facebook. Where is your local Roller Derby team? Why not look out for an open day, or pop along to their Rec League to give it a go.

Do you do Roller Derby? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks to Kent Roller Girls for the open day 🙂

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


Stealth Cardio Tactics (No Treadmill Required)

June 23, 2016

Cardio doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It’s been a long time since I was involved in endurance sport, but I still enjoy cardio*. However, I don’t often fancy the idea of plodding on a cross trainer for half an hour.

(*I realise that i might be kicked out of the bodybuilding “fam” for admitting this.)

So I employ Stealth Cardio tactics.

If you enjoy working up a sweat, but don’t want to do “traditional” gym indoor cardio, here are my 4 current favourites.

nicola joyce on a bike
Cardio disguised as commuting
I’ve been riding my bike to the gym (and back, obvi) a couple of times a week. Only when it’s sunny, mind. It’s not far – maybe 4 miles each way – but it involves a steep hill whichever way I go. (The gym is in the “East Cliff” part of town which should tell you something). So there’s 30+ minutes of cardio right there.

Only it doesn’t feel like cardio because 1) I like riding my bike, 2) it’s serving a purpose to get me to the gym and back again and 3) there’s plenty to see.

PS That photo is not recent. But it makes me laugh because it’s me, riding my bike, apparently to swimming club (note the 80s towelling swimming bag).

dog in a kayak
Cardio that’s funny
If you only need to do cardio for general activity levels, then the best kind is the funny kind IMO. Frankie thefitdog would agree. Here we are, attempting to paddle about together in a sea kayak. Quite possibly I found that funnier than he did. But you get my point. Challenge your kids to some sprints around the local playing field. Go and play badminton (or whatever sport you used to love) with a mate. Cardio can be fun, honest.

tabata on concept2
Cardio that’s so tough you can’t think about it til later
When I do cardio at the gym, my new favourite is the rowing machine. I’ve had some great advice from my fellow writer friend Patricia Carswell of Girl On The River, who’s a Proper Rower. I don’t know why I love the Concept2 so much, but I do! I think it’s because it’s proper hard cardio which makes me sweat buckets and feel like I might die a bit. (Don’t forget, I come from a very “ultra distance” endurance sport background).

I’ve mainly being doing “a href=”https://www.tabataofficial.com”>tabata on the rowing machine. If you’re not sure what tabata is, it’s a structured form of intense interval training. One “tabata” is 8 rounds of 20 seconds HARD work/10 seconds recovery (4 minutes). I do 2 Tabatas – 16 rounds, for a total of 8 minutes.

I’ve also done a couple of 5000m rows, and a 2000m row just to see how long it would take me. Point being, if you choose a form of cardio that’s so challenging that you can’t zone out or get distracted, you might actually feel more inclined to do it. Maybe. If you’re weird like me!

Cardio that’s so short you don’t notice it til later
Finally, this is something I’ve been doing once a week: adding 1-minute bursts of cardio in to my weights workout (as giant sets). At first I wasn’t sure if this would actually feel effective. Erm… I can report that it definitely does.

The idea of course is to make the 1-minute bursts hard, so your heart rate stays high and you break a sweat. You could do this by hopping on a piece of cardio equipment, or by using a skipping rope, or doing any kind of bodyweight move like burpees. If your gym has conditioning kit (battle ropes, sled, prowler) or strongman events equipment (farmers walk handles, tyres to flip) then that would work, too. You can easily add 20 minutes of cardio to your day by doing it this way. 20 x 1-minute feels more manageable – and more fun – than 20 minutes of zombie mode on the cross trainer.

Do you do any cardio at all? What’s your favourite approach?

Stealth Cardio Tactics (No Treadmill Required) 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 (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:
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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
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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.