In every one of my seminars and consulting engagements, I preach the value of blogging and inbound marketing. The reason: It's an amazing tool for growing revenue.
You choose a tangible goal, write a compelling blog entry, send people to the blog, serve a call-to-action, capture their information, and poof: you're well on you way to new clients, growing your client base and succeeding as a gym owner.
If you can master the inbound cycle, you'll spend a lot less time wondering why you're not growing and a lot more time wondering how to handle scores of trial clients. Therefore, I harp on it like crazy.
Bonus reading: Inbound Marketing for CrossFit Gyms: 5 Steps to More Clients
Still, no matter how much I preach, the advice to engage in inbound is useless unless you're actually able to create content. It's the lynchpin of the effort, and two critical parts of the inbound marketing cycle depend on it: creating blog posts and writing newsletters. In this step-by-step guide, we'll concentrate on the first, and I'll show you how to use your blog output to create the second.
Step 1: Creating Blog Topics
The first stumbling block my consulting clients inevitably confront: finding something to write about. Without a major topic, they stall out. Here's how I imagine the internal dialogue goes:
"Gilson says I should blog. What should I write about? Can I even write? I bet everyone already knows everything about health and fitness. I don't have anything original to contribute. If this isn't awesome, people are going to know how little I actually know. Forget it. I'm going to go do something else and pretend its more important."
I know that demon, that feeling that your post needs to be an earth-shattering manifesto on your profession, a treatise that will live through the ages. Let me disabuse you of the notion. First, look at all the crap scrolling down your Facebook feed. It's a parade of "Listicles": five ways to use resistance bands to improve your paleo cooking, ten ways kipping will ruin your relationship with your spouse. If that passes for blog content (and it does), know that you can do better, and realize the bar is set much lower than your inner demon professes.
Begin with your clients' goals. These are your blog topics. Are they looking to lose fat? Yep. Do they want a heavier one-rep max back squat? Yep. Do they want their first sub-9:00 mile. You better believe it. Take each one of those goals, and create a simple list:
Blog Topic #1: How to Lose Fat
Blog Topic #2: Increasing your Back Squat
Blog Topic #3: Running a Faster Mile
These are now your writing fodder (and most likely, your blog title as well). You've silenced the demon and you've got pure gold in the eyes of your clients. By focusing your topics on their goals, you're providing valuable, knowledge-based articles that keep them hooked on your writing, reinforcing your expertise and putting some serious kick into your word-of-mouth efforts. Once your clients actually use your advice and succeed at their goals, you'll have a hard time getting them to shut up about how awesome you are, which only means one thing: more clients.
Step 2: Creating Outlines
The next step to blogging mastery: pick two or three Sub-Topics, thereby creating an outline for your blog post.
For our fat loss topic above, we might choose food choice, activity level, and muscle mass, knowing that each has a profound influence on overall body composition. Note how simple this is. We're merely choosing a goal, turning it into our main topic, and then talking about the things it takes to achieve it.
Blog Topic #1: How to Lose Fat
Sub-topic #1: Food Choice
Sub-topic #2: Activity Level
Sub-topic #3: Muscle Mass
Now we've got a partial outline, and it's time to write the full framework. At this stage, make sure you don't freak out; you already know all about each one of your sub-topics, because you're a coach and you do this for a living.
Step 3: Creating the Full Framework
Now, answer two questions about each of your sub-topics: what should I do and why should I do it? Once you've completed this step, your blog entry has nearly written itself. Let's walk through it:
Our first sub-topic is food choice. What do you tell your clients? Avoid sugar and excessive starch. Eat vegetables and lean meat. Limit alcohol consumption.
Why do you tell them that? Excess sugar and starch is stored as body fat. Vegetables and lean meat promote low blood sugar and preservation of lean mass. Alcohol is inflammatory and slows fat loss. Note the simple language. We're not trying to be technical gurus, and we're not writing for other experts in the field. We're writing for beginners.
Now you've got paragraphs of good information. Repeat this process for each sub-topic.
Our second sub-topic is activity level. What do you tell your clients? Attend class consistently. When you're outside the gym, walk whenever possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Be careful not to workout too much.
Why do you tell them that? With regular attendance, your activity level rises, and you lose body fat. Walking and taking the stairs keeps you moving throughout the day, consuming more energy than the alternatives and causing you to lose body fat. Don't over-do it on the workouts because your body can only handle so much. If you injure yourself or go too hard too often, you won't be able to recover, so you won't be able to workout at the next scheduled time.
Do this again for your third sub-topic (and any others that remain). What results is the first draft of an awesome, helpful blog entry that your clients will love. Now, we put it all together and get ready to publish.
Step 4: Finalizing the Blog Post
Now your blog entry is 99% done. We just need to write an introductory paragraph, a close, and a call-to-action. We can crib this process straight from the Dale Carnegie school of thought: in the introduction, tell me what you're going to tell me (and why). In the close, tell me what you told me. Add the all-important call-to-action to get me to do something, and we're finished.
To create the introduction, think back to the blog topic. Your clients want to lose fat. Write two or three simple sentences acknowledging that fact and telling them what you're going to tell them:
You want to lose fat. Of course you do. You'll look better and you'll perform better in the gym. Here, I'm going to show you how. We'll talk about making good food choices for fat loss, keeping a high activity level to aid the effort, and how lean muscle mass will keep the fat off.
To create the close, just rewind the record, and remind the reader of the benefit of following your advice. If you're really good, you'll add a call-to-action, a request for the reader to do something else valuable for you. Let's take a look:
The three keys to fat loss: making good food choices, coming to the gym often (and moving when you're not here), and building lean muscle mass through lifting. Do all three, and you'll be amazed at how quickly your body changes for the better.
If you'd like to learn more about losing fat, sign up for our free nutrition seminar this Saturday at 2 p.m at CrossFit Rightnow. Click here to register for this one-hour talk on making good food choices and maximizing your budget at the grocery store. You'll walk away with more great information and a personal plan to get results. The Nutrition Seminar is open to the public; all are welcome.
We've not only finalized our blog post, we're leading the reader deeper into our world, providing them with an opportunity for more information. As a bonus, we've provided a lure for non-clients to contact us.
Before you publish your blog, let it sit for a few hours and return to it for a quick revision. The best way to revise: read your blog entry out loud. Read it top-to-bottom, looking for grammar and punctuation errors as well as any weird word choices that might need altering. Any oddities in voice, flow, and grammar will become immediately evident when you actually read your writing aloud.
Step 5: Amplifying Blog Content
The last step to good blogging is to get people to read it. You'll do this in two ways:
Release your content on major social media channels
Send a newsletter to your list
Social media is the best thing to happen to bloggers since blogging. You can use Facebook and Twitter accounts as broadcast devices, reaching friends, clients, and followers and pushing them to your content. For Facebook, a couple of my favorite methods:
Publish the first two paragraphs of your blog as a Facebook status update and include a link to "continue reading". This method is known as "closing the loop" or "cliffhanging": your reader is baited with your opening, and wants to get the rest of the information, causing them to click your "continue reading" link. For our fat loss blog:
You want to lose fat. Of course you do. You'll look better and you'll perform better in the gym. Here, I'm going to show you how. We'll talk about making good food choices for fat loss, keeping a high activity level to aid the effort, and how lean muscle mass will keep the fat off."
Click here to continue reading "How to Lose Fat": www.crossfitrightnow/blog/how-to-lose-fat
On Facebook or Twitter, create a compelling lead-in question (or statement), and point the reader at your link. This takes some creativity, but with practice, you'll get good. Just think about enticing the potential reader with the promise of knowledge or the implication of ignorance. You can start with simple statements of topic, amplified with the words "new blog":
Want to know the keys to leaning out? Read "How to Lose Fat", the new blog post from CrossFit Rightnow: www.crossfitrightnow/blog/how-to-lose-fat #GetLeanFast
Now, turn your entry into a newsletter and send it to your list. This is simply a modified version of the "close the loop" strategy we employed above. You'll likely need a newsletter mailing service; I suggest either Mail Chimp or Constant Contact if you don't have one yet.
To compose the newsletter, use your blog title as the newsletter subject line ("How to Lose Fat") and put the first two or three paragraphs in the body of the newsletter. Include a call-to-action for the reader to Click Here to Continue Reading, sending them to your blog entry.
Now, you're amplifying content. Your reader comes to your blog via social media or your newsletter link, reads through the entry, and hopefully clicks your call-to-action to attend the nutrition seminar.
Creating good blog entries is not a mystical process. Simply start with your clients' goals, list out what you'd tell them to do to achieve that goal, and write down the why and how of getting it done. You'll end up with an endless stream of good blog content, developed in a step-by-step fashion.
Want additional help attracting new clients? Consider attending an AF Project 2.0 Business Seminar. We'll teach you a host of valuable sales skills (including content marketing) allowing you to attract a parade of interested prospects and giving you the ability to close them consistently. You'll boost your bottom line (and you'll never have to compete on price again).
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