Friday, February 15, 2013

The Fitness Blogging Fun Has Moved!

Thanks for stopping by my blog about fitness writing and marketing.

I've moved all the blogging action to two new locations: 

1) You can check out more about fitness writing, marketing and social media at

2) And read my "test-drive" reviews of the latest health/fitness gadgets and gear at 

See you there!

- Amanda Vogel

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Has Your Blog Done for You Lately?

When it comes to writing magazine articles, I'm pretty motivated to get the job done - there are deadlines, editors' expectations, readers' expectations and, yes, a paycheck waiting in the wings.

When it comes to blogging, however, motivation is sometimes harder to come by. There are no deadlines (unless self-imposed), no expectations from editors and no paycheck.

But there are expectations from readers, and that's a huge incentive. When you receive comments, Facebook likes and interaction on a post you've written, doesn't it spur you on to blog more? And when you pick up a client or career opp from your blog, it's a nice confirmation that, hey, this blogging thing might be working out.    

Trouble is, it takes time to get on a roll. I've been posting to for years, but I've also launched a newer blog called, where I try out and blog about fitness equipment, gear, DVDs and apps.

Fitness Test Drive reminds me what it's like to be the new kid on the blogosphere block.

It's tough out there, folks - you've got to build up a readership, outright ask people to tweet your post and push for comments. I get why blogging newbies lose motivation quickly, and I won't deny that my interest has waned on occasion, too.

During one of those times, the strangest thing happened.

One day, I pondered about how to boost my blogging motivation. The next day, I got news that Fitness Test Drive was a finalist in the Best Health Magazine Blog Awards. (Want to vote? Fitness Test Drive is under the "Get Healthy" category.)

Bam! I was back in the game.

I realize that an award nomination is not the most typical way to muster motivation. But it does reinforce what I've always said about blogging: You've got to have a blog to benefit from it. And, most importantly, your readers will benefit from it.

Blogging does open the door to a myriad of opportunities and connections for you and your readers - do you agree? Has it happened to you?

In closing....I'm not going to beg or anything, but would you please, please, please vote in the Best Health Blog Awards (and preferably for my blog). You'll find my blog Fitness Test Drive in the "Get Healthy" category on the voting page.   

Monday, January 17, 2011

Have You Ever Hesitated to "Like" on Facebook?

I like that Facebook is all about "liking." 

And it's clearly on purpose that there's no "dislike" button, although sometimes I think a word other than "like" might be more appropriate. For example, someone posts bad news ("Wow, my fave trainer just got fired for indecent exposure"), and others respond with a "like" when what they really mean is, "Hey, man, I feel your pain." 

I like "liking" because it's a mini show of support or a virtual smile/laugh. It's Facebook's version of two thumbs up. 

But I always pause before tapping the "like" button - do you?

If you've ever Facebook-liked, you know that it means an inevitable onslaught of off-the-cuff comments and inside jokes from friends of friends about whatever you've liked. 

And I don't like it. I prefer to "like" and be done with it. 

Then again... 

I'll be the first to admit that I beam a little on the inside when I notice the "likes" and comments tallying up on a post I've dropped into Facebook. It's nice to be recognized, even if it's just a fleeting, virtual nod. 

And that's what Facebook is so good at: Shamelessly exposing that we all like to be liked. 

So when I'm at a party listening as non-Facebookers wave away the social network for being a waste of time, I nod with as much understanding as I can muster. You know what, it's not for everyone... 

But I log onto Facebook as part of my job. It gives me instant access to a network where I can cheer on a colleague or friend, encourage professional recognition and motivate fitness participants to exercise - all with that ubiquitous "like" link.

And if I can make someone feel appreciated with a little "like" here and there, my time has been well spent. (Even with the thread of Facebook messages that's sure to follow.)  

What's the motivating force behind why you "like" stuff on Facebook and around the web? Or do you dislike "liking"?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fitness Blogger Boot Camp

Between baking sugar cookies for my kid's kindergarten class, slapping together tonight's dinner (tuna sandwiches) and finishing off a client's bio, I blog. 

Honestly, right now I'd rather be flaked out on the couch like that guy in the photo above. 

But I'm blogging because I said I would. 

It was one of the last things I talked about in my session on fitness blogging at the Can-Fit-Pro conference in Vancouver. 

I said something like, hey, let's all sign up for a blog or post to our existing ones THIS WEEK! It'll help set the stage for a lifetime of happy, healthy fitness blogging.

So here I am. And, yes, this post does have a point. 

My "let's all blog!" declaration reminded me how much it helps productivity to have someone relying on you for something specific. That's how I get my fitness articles written - I've got editors expecting them from me by a certain date. 

If you're really stuck at the point of perpetually intending to blog without ever doing it, try this: Tell your most valued fitness clients that you're about to blog on X topic and you'd love their opinions on whatever you write about. 

There. Now you have a reason to blog. 

A deadline. 

And a pre-established audience. 

That should whip you into blogging shape.   

Point made. Can I go lie around now? 

P.S. Kudos to Mia Sutherland and Josh Neumann (both in my Can-Fit-Pro fitness blogging session) for following through so fast on that "blog this week" pact. Inspiring! If you blogged in the past week, let me know with a comment here and I'll comment back on your blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

That's Not a Blog Post!

The photo above cracks me up. I imagine a bunch of people without a lot of exercise experience saying, "Hey everyone, let's take some fun fitness-y shots now!" And what we get are silly pink mini-weights (the kind known to set me off on a rant), leg warmers (and are those wrist warmers?) and fake fitness poses that don't resemble actual exercises.  

But whatever. At least they make fitness look oh-so-carefree.

The "fake fitness" photo reminds me of how fitness pros might view blogging at the onset.

With the benefits and popularity of social media, a lot of marketing experts and fitness pros insist that you've got to have a blog. But that kind of advice tends to drive me crazy because the result is fitness pros--and, yes, major fitness companies--rattling around online with a blog that, frankly, doesn't feel or look very "blogg-y" at all. Its posts are as "fake" as the cheesy poses in that photo above.

Take the several fitness companies I can think of off the top of my head whose idea of a blog is to drop previously published articles into a post and call it blogging. ("Hey everyone, we've got a blog up and running! That wasn't so hard.")

Is it so wrong of them?

Maybe not. But when the article is written in boring academic language and appears as one 1,500-word block of text, then, yeah, it's veering away from the essence of blogging.

I can't authoritatively say all that a blog is, but I know what it probably shouldn't be: impersonal, dry, a copy/paste job from another publication, longer than my Master's thesis...

That's why when someone suggests that people who don't get around to blogging are just plain lazy (as did a commenter in my previous post), I get to thinking about blogging as an exercise in being thoughtful and informed, not just prolific. 

Without considering the craft involved, blogging becomes about as effective as flailing around a couple of one-pound hand-weights and calling it a workout.  

Don't you think?   

FOR MORE ON FITNESS BLOGGING AND HOW TO DO IT: Come to my session, Sunday, November 21, at canfitpro Vancouver, Session 3211 (10:30am-12:00pm), Blog Your Way to Fitness Business Success.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fitness Blogging: Time Well Spent

Why You Do Have Time for a Fitness Blog

When it comes to fitness blogging, I hear a lot of excuses from fitness pros about why they don't do it.

The primary reason?

"I'm too busy. I don't have time to blog."

I heard it back in September at the BCFIT '10 conference in my session on fitness marketing with social media.

I'll probably hear it again in November, when I present on fitness blogging at canfitpro's Vancouver conference.

It's just an excuse, though, and here's how I know: I have the same problem. I don't blog every week (or even every month sometimes--oops).

And why not? Uh, I don't have time? 

Meaning: When I'm not on deadline with an article or writing/editing project, I manage to find other things to do instead.  

Like Facebooking. Or chatting with a colleague on the phone. Or catching a movie (last night it was Canada's own FUBAR II). 

Isn't it the same excuse people use for not exercising?

No time. Meaning: They don't feel like using the spare time they do have for working out.    

As for blogging, here's why it makes sense to at least set up a blog so it's there when you can get to it.

Blogging and other online pursuits (Facebook!) are part of the new way to market fitness. The old way is setting up a brochure-style website then ignoring your online presence.

If you're a fitness pro, what do you tell clients about how to carve out time for exercise? Could any or all of those strategies work for your own blogging pursuits? Whether you blog or not, share your tips and ideas here! 

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to Facebook.

For more on jump-starting your fitness blog, come see me on Sunday, November 21, at canfitpro Vancouver, Session 3211 (10:30am-12:00pm), Blog Your Way to Fitness Business Success.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Writing Web Exclusive Articles for Popular Magazines (Part 3 of 3)

At last! Here's the final post in a 3-part series on how setting your sights on a magazine's website instead of the magazine itself can help you succeed with writing articles - fitness-related or otherwise.

To get answers about what web exclusives mean to writers, I turned to in-the-know web editors from three major Canadian women's magazines: Best Health, Chatelaine and Homemakers.   

They weigh in on my third question below. Or, you can head on over to Part 1 of this series here, and Part 2 here.

Is it easier or harder to break into writing web exclusive pieces for top women’s magazines?

KAT TANCOCK, senior web editor at Reader's Digest, former web editor at Best Health and Canadian Living and blogger at Magazines Online.

KT: Just like with print, web editors often already have a stable of writers that they are used to working with - and you need great ideas to break in. And web editors have a lot less editing and fact-checking resources and therefore are pickier about receiving publishing-ready copy.

However, because the pay tends to be lower, web editors are often more likely to take risks with new writers. And remember, a lot of established print magazine writers have few to no web skills, so if you're a new writer that excels at web writing, that will give you a leg up.

VANESSA MILNE, editor of Chatelaine Walks and former assistant editor at MochaSofa.

VM: I believe it’s easier to break into writing for the web; the pay is worse (although, in my opinion, fair, since there’s often not a second draft, the stories are shorter, and the pieces aren’t fact-checked) and there’s less competition.

That said, like print, most people have a roster of reliable writers they use. Good pitches are the key, I think – tailored pitches, to the magazine’s readership - as well as persistence in following them up. (Asking the editor which sections need articles never hurts, either.)

And good writers are hard to find: People who submit well-researched, clean copy that reflects the assignment letter, on time, and do second drafts and answer questions nicely and quickly, will inevitably be used again.

JENNIFER MELO, web editor at Homemakers.

JM: It can be easier to break into web writing because it’s still a relatively new market — that means many established writers haven’t saturated the online writing market. They’ve built up their contacts in other traditional media and may tend to stick to the contacts they’ve made rather than querying new online publications.

On the flipside, it can be difficult to break into web writing because the online market is still proving itself as revenue-generating medium — that means editorial budgets for web content can be tight and online editors have a limited number of assignments to go around.

Futhermore, online editors aren’t typically working with a large team of staff and may be especially selective about assigning to writers who can be counted on to turn in publish-ready web content.

What's your take? Do you write web exclusives, or want to give it a shot? What do you see as the pros and cons of this new avenue for magazine writing?