This month marks a year since I started consistently blogging and writing. I’ve learned a ton about myself over the past year. I’ve also learned about the importance of enjoying a journey rather than focusing on the end result. Here are some thoughts I’ve had along the way.
It’s hard to believe that I just started writing a year ago. Over the time, I’ve come to enjoy it so much that I do it every day. Despite working full-time as a personal trainer, I still find time to write, most days at 6AM before my girlfriend gets up and hours before going to work. I’ve come to know some extremely intelligent and motivated individuals along the way. I’ve been fortunate enough to get published on a few different sites across the internet, many of which have come from connections and referrals. It’s been more than gratifying – it’s been unbelievable. The journey is far from over. I still have loads of things I want to accomplish, but I’m proud to say that I’ve enjoyed every single bit of it.
Writing doesn’t come easy. I never took a journalism class throughout my six years of higher ed. I took two English courses at the University of Florida and almost slept through them. Writing seemed boring to me.
For some reason, I decided in 2010 that I wanted to start a blog. It seemed everybody was doing it. I logged on to WordPress and away I went. I didn’t write good material. In fact, my writing style was terrible. I stopped writing for a long time because I figured “Who the hell is going to read this?” It’s nowhere near perfect now, but it’s much better and way more enjoyable to read. It’s taken time to develop. I’ve read books on writing and trashed about the same amount of posts as I have written. I’ve tossed pages away with ideas scribbled on them that were immediately scratched out. The process has taught me far more than just about writing style and how to create material that others find interesting. It’s taught me about enjoying the journey including the challenges and road blocks along the way.
If you love it, keep going.
For anyone that’s ever managed or had their own website, traffic is often king. That’s how bloggers make money – by driving more people to their site. When I started writing in 2010, I maybe had 5-6 views a day (probably all from my mom). It used to really discourage me. Why was I creating all of this content and putting these words onto a page that no one would read?
For quite awhile, I didn’t write a damn thing. I wouldn’t check the stats on my site because I was afraid to see how low they were. Then, one day I started back writing. I didn’t care who read it or how many people logged on. I just wanted to get better. I’ve kept the majority of my old posts on my site even though they aren’t good because it’s fun to read them and laugh.
The key to enjoying any journey – whether it’s business or health related – is pursuing something you’re passionate about. If you love it, you’ll find a way to stay motivated.
Don’t Listen to What Others Say
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss
I still remember the first time that I published a blog post on Facebook. Since I was using WordPress.com, it had a feature that could publish a post to Facebook whenever it went live. I always unchecked that box before publishing because I was afraid of what others would think. I’m not an expert at writing – far from it. In the beginning, I was solely publishing topics about exercise, and I had tons of friends on Facebook that were trainers. Would they agree with me? Did my writing suck?
The first post that ever went on to Facebook in front of others was a short piece about shin splints. You’ll notice it didn’t have any featured image. I had no clue what the hell search engine optimization was, and boy, talk about an alluring caption to intrigue my friends. Amazingly, I had two people “like” it which was about 1,000 more than I ever expected. They probably clicked the “like” button by accident, but I thank them for not retracting their public approval. Despite my fears, no one commented mean things. I didn’t get stoned when I walked out of my apartment. No one pointed and laughed at me when I went to work or class. In fact, I had a couple people that thought it was awesome and subscribed to my RSS feed (not that I knew what that was anyway). After that post, I began writing more and more. Best of all, I posted everything to Facebook, every single article I wrote went up.
Don’t be afraid to try something just because you’re afraid of what others may think. I had a client tell me the other day that some coworkers and friends were jawing him because he had a personal trainer. They were all fit and athletic and thought it was silly to have someone responsible for getting you into shape. I thought that was completely ludicrous. Here he was, changing his life around, and others were poking fun. Luckily, he didn’t mind, and we pressed on. There are always going to be people that knock you down. Ninety percent of the fun is telling those particular people “I told you so” when you do something extraordinary.
Laugh at Yourself
Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained. – John Powell
There are going to be mishaps along the rode. You’re going to fall off the wagon and get sidetracked. Laugh it off and get back on the horse. I’ve written tons of posts only to trash them and move on. I’ve stared at a blank screen for thirty minutes before I started typing something that sounded utterly ridiculous. Approach everything with a sense of humor, not a serious demeanor. If you screw up, laugh at yourself then look at what went wrong so you can avoid those same mistakes in the future.
Recruit Others and Listen
I wouldn’t be writing today without the help of some awesome people. Let’s face it, when I started to blog, I had no idea about writing interesting articles. It still gives me a ton of trouble, but I’m getting better. I largely improved through listening to others and hearing what they had to say. I read articles like Tony Gentilcore’s Six Keys to a Successful Fitness blog (Part 1 and Part 2). I checked out others that I looked up to like Jon-Erik from JKConditioning.com.
The power of being successful is not knowing how to do everything, but rather knowing where to find all of the info you’ll need to accomplish anything. When I originally wanted to start writing for online fitness websites, I reached out to other trainers that had already done it and asked for help.
Try Something Crazy
Don’t be afraid to do something completely outside the box in order to get where you want to go. When I initially wanted to get into some part-time writing, I managed to secure a spot contributing to Greatist.com. That alone was a complete miracle, and I can’t thank the people there enough for giving me a chance. Going forward, I knew I wanted to break into some fitness magazine writing. Now, if you’ve ever tried to connect with an editor of a major publication when you don’t have connections, you’ll understand when I say it’s damn near impossible. So, I forgot about traditional e-mails for awhile and started to work different social media platforms. Eventually, I connected with an editor from Men’s Fitness on Twitter. One day I simply went out on a limb and sent him a message saying I would love to contribute. He immediately messaged me back, and we connected via e-mail. I remember thinking to myself right before I sent that message that this would either work out or be a big mistake. In hindsight, what’s the worst that could have happened? He turned me down? He ignored me? Be willing to take a chance and try something out of the box. Venture out of your comfort zone and you may be surprised by what you find.
Don’t set your sights on the end goal. Enjoy each step along the way or else the end result will seldom be worth it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below regarding enjoying a process or journey you went through! Also, if you haven’t already, connect with me on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t be afraid to “like” this post if you enjoyed it.