Thursday, September 27, 2007

Write Like You ...

Why It Doesn’t Work to Write Like You Talk

Ever heard people say you should write like you talk to create web copy, newsletters and articles that persuade and interest readers?

As a writer, I consider that advice half-baked.

I appreciate the intent behind the write-like-you-talk recommendation. Trust me, I’m not advocating formal writing in the fitness industry. (I mean, I just used the term “half-baked.”) And this isn’t about proper grammar, either!

What “write like you talk” really means is, use a conversational voice that readers can relate to. But a conversational, casual style isn’t the same as writing as if you’re speaking.

The difference is important because the write-like-you-talk approach leads to meanderings, messiness and wordiness. You don’t edit yourself when you speak. Tapping a keyboard in that same mindset convinces writers they don’t need to edit … like it might rob the writing of its casualness.

So the writer spews out an article or web page that’s three times longer than it needs to be – how unpleasant for readers.

Good conversational writing treats readers to deliberate structure and word choices. It flows. It’s enjoyable. And every word is there for a reason. (Skilled ad copy writers do more than just write like they talk. That’s why they charge so much.)

If you write like you talk, deem it your first draft. Then self-edit for the sake of your readers. Cut the words we typically use in conversation but don’t need to write. Check it out:

Instead of “write like you talk”:

As qualified fitness pros, we always do our best to ensure you reach your various fitness goals faster and easier than anything you might have tried in the past.

Try “conversational but edited”:

As qualified fitness pros, we ensure you reach your fitness goals faster and easier than in the past.

Photo credit: Jane M Sawyer

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Self-Employment in the Fitness Industry

Musings from a Self-Employed Fitness Pro

A university student named Brandon Moran emailed me about a fitness business course he’s taking.

“My professor gave me an assignment to interview a fitness professional with interests that parallel my own,” he wrote. “You and your company fit the bill. Would you answer a few quick questions?”

Of course, I replied. Here’s an abridged version of what I told him. I hope my musings help you with your own fitness career – self-employed or otherwise.

What does your typical work day look like?

First thing in the morning, I work for about an hour while my husband hangs out with our toddler. Then I take over with kid duties for the next hour.

After that, I work the rest of the morning, either with developing marketing and writing resources for fitness pros or doing article research in my home office.

If I’m on deadline, I might take my laptop to a local cafĂ© or park (in the summer) to work uninterrupted for about 2-3 hours.

Most afternoons, I walk the dog and take my daughter to the playground or other kid-friendly location [there we are at a petting farm in the photo above!].

If I'm not teaching a fitness class, I usually catch up on emails and surf the Net in the late afternoon and evening.

Is there anything about your current business structure you do not like?

The same thing that makes working from home great, can be one of its challenges: You work and live in the same place.

I have to be diligent about separating work and leisure time as much as possible - but it’s a constant challenge.

I might check and respond to business emails well into the evening. Or I’ll unload the dishwasher and sort laundry when I should be glued to my laptop to meet an article deadline. It’s easy to get sidetracked.

How do you envision the fitness business in the future?

Hopefully, its professional standards will be more obvious to the general public and also to fitness professionals. Self-employed fitness pros who survive in this industry will be the ones taking the job seriously.

I’m talking about seeking out proper education and also recognizing that being successfully self-employed requires business and marketing skills, not just training/teaching skills.