Monday, June 25, 2007

Keep Readers Interested

Writing an Article? Think Packaging.

Here's a tip for anyone who has written or wants to write a fitness article.

Have you ever racked your brain trying to impress an editor with a revolutionary new idea? Or maybe you just want to write a web article that stands out from what you’ve read a million times.

With fitness, it seems as if almost everything has already been covered. Luckily, there’s no need to stress about reinventing the wheel. If you want to write about core training, boot camps or exercise motivation (all recurring themes), go for it.

But set yourself apart by focusing on how you “package” your article. Packaging is magazine lingo for how the article will be presented or organized, including possible sidebars, quizzes and lists.

Take fitness walking. With a little creative packaging, you could write about that topic in numerous ways, even if much of the material and suggestions are similar. For example:
  • Walking plans for beginner, intermediate and advanced exercisers.
  • 10 ways to burn an extra 100 calories per walking workout.
  • 3 women share how they walked off 10, 20 or 30 pounds.
So you see, you can constantly reorganize one general theme to keep editors happy and your prospects/clients interested. More on how to get your articles published.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Be a Fitness Presenter

Insider Secrets to Making a Name for Yourself as a Fitness Presenter

If you’ve ever been to a fitness convention (and I hope you have), you know the exhilaration of participating in sessions that’ll help grow your fitness career by leaps and bounds. Well, I can tell you from experience that presenting at such an event magnifies that feeling of exhilaration 10 times over!

It’s exciting to stand up there, educating your colleagues about how to train better, teach better and/or ensure a more successful fitness business.

If your target market includes other fitness pros, you attract plenty of new customers. (I always do.) And imagine how impressed your training clients or class participants will be when they hear you’re heading to New York, Toronto or Sydney to train other industry leaders!

Being a presenter instantly elevates your status as a fitness pro. The question is, do you have what it takes to be a successful presenter?

There’s no better person to learn from on this subject than my friend Sharon Donaldson of Fitness Resume
. She’s been the Convention & Special Events Director for Can-Fit-Pro and a member of IDEA’s presenter selection committee.

This woman is on the INSIDE of what it takes to be a sought-after fitness presenter.

I credit Sharon with helping me break into presenting at Can-Fit-Pro Toronto, a world-class conference that attracts thousands of delegates and plenty of competition for presenting spots.

Now you can get the same inside advice I received from Sharon in her new product, Presenter Insider Package: The tips and tools you need to become a fitness presenter this year.

Read this recent exchange between Sharon and me about the application process and financial payoff of being a presenter.
Amanda Vogel (AV): So, I’m curious, what's the single most important thing to include in a conference application that most aspiring presenters either don't think of or don't put proper care into?

Sharon Donaldson (SD): I’d say it’s the quality of the application itself. If you can't get them to like you on paper, you'll never get them to love you in person. It doesn't matter how great an educator you are and how talented you are on stage.

AV: It’s similar to the image you portray when marketing to fitness clients, right?

SD: Exactly. If your application is sloppy, contains typos or poor grammar, or is just poorly written, you'll never get your chance. You are competing with hundreds of other applicants. If you come across as ill-educated or unprofessional, your application will go right into the "no" pile.

So take time to write a proper cover letter. Put care into crafting
clever session titles and engaging descriptions. Ensure you've got your contact info in multiple places in your package and make it easy to do business with you!

AV: You must get a lot of people asking about the financial payoff of being a fitness presenter. Like anything, you have to work up to the big bucks, but what do you tell fitness pros who want to make money at this?

SD: Presenting at the big conferences adds instant credibility to your resume. There are endless income streams, including being a master trainer for an educational program, writing articles, endorsing fitness products, or becoming a sponsored athlete.

Presenting on the national stage really opens doors for you with the media, and you can gain more exposure for your facility or fitness program back home.

AV: True. I often go to conferences on a Press Pass looking for story ideas and presenters to interview for my articles.

SD: And if you produce your own training materials or workout videos, presenting at conferences is a must for marketing yourself as an expert.

In fact, many presenters tell me they make more from selling their wares at conferences than they do in presenting fees!

AV: Yep – the last batch of products I brought to a large conference sold out in the trade show on the first day!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Previewing Articles

Tip for Fitness Writers and Publicity Seekers

Whether you write magazine and newspaper articles or get quoted as an expert source in them (or aspire to do either one, or both), the info below will save you from making a common mistake that could sour your relationship with some writers or editors.

The must-know info: It is NOT common practice for sources (people who are quoted in articles) to preview the piece before it goes to print. In fact, it's highly discouraged. This is because sources and PR people should not be able to control editorial content.

What does this mean for you?

If you write a magazine or newspaper article:

Remember that showing the pre-published article to sources could annoy your editor. Find out the magazine's policy before doing this to stay on good terms with editors.

If you are quoted in an article:

Don't tell a writer or editor that you want to preview the article before you see it in print. Keep in mind that a fact-checker from the publication may contact you to review your quotes or other information before the article is published. This is your chance to ensure accuracy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Customer Service Through Writing

Better Writing = Better Customer Service

I like to think of decent writing as more than the ability to persuade prospects to hire you with compelling sales copy or a necessity for projecting an overall professional image.

The way you communicate in writing to your clients is a matter of customer service.

An inability to communicate important concepts - in everything from assessment forms to exercise descriptions to web articles - means you fall short of providing outstanding customer service.

Here are three no-cost ways to impress your clients with better writing.

  1. Ask for feedback. Consider trading services with a word-savvy client who can edit and proofread your writing for you. Or offer constructive feedback on a colleague's writing in exchange for him or her doing the same for you.

  2. Become aware of the common writing roadblocks fitness pros face. It's easier to detect and correct errors when you know what to look for. Receive your free copy of 51 Need-to-Know Writing & Marketing Tips for Fitness Pros.

  3. When writing educational or instructional tips for your clients, use a simple two- or three-sentence formula. This helps you get your message across with clarity and precision. Begin the first sentence with a positive verb; use the next one or two sentences to explain the "why" or "how." This foolproof formula comes from Paulette Ensign of Tips Products International.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Expert Sources

Promising to Quote Experts in Your Queries: Is It Necessary?

Below is a great question from one of my clients about approaching editors with a story idea (i.e., a query).

Q: Do you have to have an "expert" for every article you query?

A: Nope. You don't even have to use an expert in the article if your own fitness expertise can back up your points. But if you are writing on a topic you don't know much about, then letting the editor know in your query that you plan to use one or more experts helps give the proposed piece more credibility.

For example, I just finished a piece on fitness bootcamps for a women's magazine. Although I teach many of the moves mentioned in the article in my traditional group exercise classes, I also interviewed and quoted a personal trainer who has actual experience organizing and leading bootcamp workouts.

In general, editors at bigger magazines usually want me to cite an expert even if the fitness info I am writing about is stuff I know because of my fitness background. An exception to this would be if an editor assigns a piece to you specifically to highlight your own fitness expertise and exercise suggestions.

If you feel that your piece doesn't need an expert, there's no reason to promise one when you query. If the editor likes your idea but feels you need to quote one or more experts, he or
she will ask you to do so when assigning the piece.

Learn more about the art and science of selling your article ideas to editors:
How to Write Winning Queries online workshop.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Get Published

Your 30-Second Shot at Getting Published This Year

Thirty seconds. That’s the average time editors spend reading a query (i.e., article pitch).

How can an editor tell in half a minute or less if your big idea is worth publishing? Sometimes they can’t. It’s how you present your idea that makes the difference.

The more expertly “packaged” your idea is, the better your chance of stretching those first 30 seconds into 60 seconds, then 90 seconds, then several minutes or more. The longer an editor spends with your query, the greater your chance of turning that article idea into a published piece – and a paycheck.

So think about a query you’ve written recently (or want to write). What would reading it for 30 seconds project about you and your idea?

Would an editor be impressed because you nailed the voice and style of the magazine? Bored by your writing? Excited that your idea is so unique? Confused because your proposal is sparse on details?

Learn more about how to make the most of your 30-second shot at getting published this year (for the first time or more frequently) with my How to Write Winning Queries online workshop.