Looking up how to become a fitness writer, but struggling to find a guide that takes you through everything you need to know step-by-step? If so, you’ll be glad to know that you’re in safe hands.
We know exactly what it’s like to be faced with a whole heap of unstructured information when all you want to do is have a clear path laid out in front of you…
That’s why we’ve put together a no-nonsense guide that will provide you with everything that you need to know about becoming a health and fitness writer, as well as helping you to take immediate action on your goal.
Before we jump straight in, be sure to take a look at the Personal Trainer Courses & Packages that we offer, as they could help to supplement your fitness writing career, especially since being qualified in fitness can help to boost your personal blog when it comes to Google ranking factors. OR, download our free course prospectus to find out more on the range of courses that we offer!
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Step #1 - Do your research
When it comes to writing for some of the biggest websites in the fitness industry, the most logical place to start is with the people who are currently doing so.
It’s easy to feel intimidated at the prospect of writing for top fitness magazines. It may take some time to climb up to this level, but performing this initial research will ensure that you have a clear plan ahead of you.
Do you aspire to be as successful as those that you’re researching? If so, it’s clear that you can only expect to do this once you understand how they got to the position that they’re in.
So, let’s jump right into what this kind of research looks like, and how easy it is for you to gain a good understanding of how other fitness writers got to where they are today. It isn’t as difficult as you may think!
Head onto your favourite fitness website, and find their writers!
We chose Bodybuilding.com since it’s one of the most popular fitness sites out there. We picked an article at random, the ‘5 Ways Resistance Bands Work For You’ to be precise, and saw that the author was Heather Eastman (you can view her Bodybuilding.com author page here).
Most websites will list the author of the blog post in question, but if you’d rather see all of the writers in one place for a quicker research session, there is usually also a designated blog author page.
If you can’t find this, try searching for it in Google; if you type in ‘Bodybuilding.com writers’, for example, their author listing page appears in the search results.
Research them, FBI style…
According to the background info that is provided on Heather Eastman, she is a qualified PT and group exercise instructor. She also appears to have 12 years of experience working within the fitness industry.
While it isn’t necessary to be qualified within a certain niche to become an expert in that area, it can certainly give you a boost in becoming a fitness writer, especially when you’re submitting work to popular fitness websites.
We’ll talk more about this later, but it’s good to know that a vocational qualification like OriGym’s Personal Training Diploma can boost your health and fitness writer profile, even if you choose not to physically work in the field!
After checking out her profile on Bodybuilding.com, we ran Heather’s name through Google to see what we could find. Turns out she doesn’t actually write for her own fitness blog, but she does contribute to the Bodybuilding.com blog on a regular basis.
If this is the route that you want to go down, then we would suggest doing what Heather and the other writers have done; getting some form of qualification in your field (if you haven’t already), and learning as much as you can on the topics that you want to write about.
While this obviously takes some work, it’s definitely all down to common sense. After all, if it worked for them, then why won’t it work for you?
You don’t need to emulate exactly what they have done, as you will have your own niche and topics that you’re looking to become an ‘expert’ in, but the basic formula for success that you follow should always be similar.
Once you’ve completed your initial research, it’s time to…
Step #2 - Establish your niche
There’s no way for us to tell whether you’re already qualified in fitness, or whether you’re an absolute beginner. You may even be an experienced athlete or regular competitive sports player with no formal qualifications.
Whatever your experience within the industry, you’re evidently here for a reason; fitness is something that you’re passionate about. You’re so passionate about this topic that you’re planning on dedicating a good portion of your time to writing about it!
The thing is, if you select one area of fitness as your focal point, you’ll find much better success than you would if you tried to cover it holistically.
This is because it will be easier to rank for and dominate Google keywords that are related to a specific niche. If you tried to rank for ‘fitness blog’ when just starting out, for example, you would have zero chance.
If you tried to rank for ‘bodyweight training blogs’ or ‘vegan bodybuilding blogs’ however, you would not only find it much easier to gain traction, but you would also appear to be more of an expert in the niche that you’re targeting.
This is an extremely valuable piece of info to tap into when creating your own blog, and when deciding on the ideas that you want to pitch to bigger websites.
It also applies to those who aren’t set on creating their own blog, but are perhaps looking to build a platform on social media to gain recognition alongside the fitness guest blogs and articles that they submit.
Even if you haven’t given it much thought, there will always be a niche that suits your interests. Not just this, but a niche that you can dominate with the help of a few factors like SEO and careful planning (which we’ll delve into in step #4).
- What areas of fitness am I most experienced in?
- Are there any areas of fitness that I would like to learn more about?
After a quick brainstorming session, you’ll soon highlight a few possible directions that you could steer your content towards.
This process isn’t as intimidating as it seems, and it’s certainly worthwhile when you look at the bigger picture; if you become a well-known expert in your field then all of the biggest publications will be happy for you to contribute to their content on this topic!
Step #3 - Become an expert in your niche
One actionable way for you to start climbing the hill of reaching ‘expert status’ is to invest time in your professional development. We have a full guide on professional development for personal trainers, but the advice is applicable to most of those looking to further their knowledge on fitness.
In case you didn’t already know, professional development includes things as simple as reading, researching successful individuals in your niche, participating in online webinars, and attending fitness classes. It’s essentially anything that will aid you in building on your knowledge and experience in your chosen field.
It’s a great idea to spend some time discovering what you’re truly passionate about before becoming a fitness writer, especially if you’re considering creating your own online platform. This way, if you did want to get qualified in something, you wouldn’t be doing it on a whim.
You can never go wrong by adding to your professional development, and it’s a great alternative to forking out for qualifications if you don’t necessarily need them.
One thing to note when looking to become an expert in your niche is that thanks to the recent Google E-A-T update that focuses on ‘expertise’, ‘authoritativeness’, and ‘trustworthiness’, it’s true that many websites tend to favor those that are qualified or have significant experience within their field.
This hit the fitness sector harder than others, which is pretty understandable as these ‘experts’ are literally advising people on their health.
Rather than running to study towards a master’s degree or PhD if you’re going to be advising people on exercise and nutrition, a quicker and much more affordable way of gaining authority online is to grab some vocational qualifications.
Want to advertise yourself as a nutrition expert, for example? If so, you don’t need a degree to do so. You can use the title ‘qualified nutritionist’ through gaining a vocational qualification.
The only term you wouldn’t be able to use within the nutrition niche in this case would be ‘dietician’. If you’re looking to find out more on this, check out our guide on how to become a nutritionist: degree & no degree.
In a nutshell, gaining some form of qualification and citing it on your blog will certainly help you to rank on Google, and it could even make the difference between a website accepting or rejecting your proposal.
However, you don’t necessarily need to be qualified, and if you spend enough time learning everything there is to know about your chosen topic, there’s nothing to say that you can’t become a fitness writer within that niche.
If you build up a profile for yourself and begin to get cited as an ‘expert’ in your niche across the web, this can still make a good impact on your overall progress. This is especially true if you have years of experience in a chosen area of sport, for example!
Step #4 - Start your own blog
Here’s the fun part!
Once you’ve decided on the niche that you want to target and you have a plan of how to ensure that you have a level of authority within it, it’s time to set up your own blog. This is a vital step in marketing your fitness writing services.
We have a full guide on how to start a fitness blog here that delves into the more technical side of things like selecting the right web hosting provider, etc. but for now we’re going to focus on how creating your own blog is an essential part of becoming a successful fitness writer.
Not only will your blog act as a portfolio of your work and help you to surpass the success of others within your niche, but it will even prompt fitness magazines to reach out to you!
We don’t even need to stress how helpful this could be, especially since outreach can be one of the most gruelling parts of the process.
To prove that what we’re saying is true, let’s take a look at an example of an existing fitness writer blog that has become pretty successful in marketing the author’s services.
Luke Jones, Freelance Fitness Writer
We actually stumbled upon Luke’s blog after searching for the keyword ‘freelance fitness writer’ on Google. His blog actually ranks on the first page, which is impressive considering the fact that this is what the bigger websites will be searching when looking for contributors!
There are no other freelance writers ranking above him on the first page, which means that he has used the SEO (search engine optimization) best practices surrounding this keyword. We would advise you to take an in-depth look at his website and analyse what he’s doing right.
From what we can see, the keyword ‘freelance fitness writer’ is included four separate times on his homepage, which is about the right amount.
Want to overtake him, and climb even higher in the rankings for this keyword? If so, analyse his site, make yours better, and include that keyword across your website!
One thing that Luke could improve on regarding his blog would be to create blog content that is separate to the content that he creates for external sources.
He doesn’t necessarily target a niche through his blog, meaning that his website doesn’t rank for a variety of niche-specific keywords across Google. Doing so would increase the visibility of his website and freelance services tenfold.
To show you what we mean by this, let’s take a look at a fitness blog that gets this side of things right.
Deliciously Ella, Plant-Based Diet Blog
While Deliciously Ella is now a hugely popular blog and online store that is geared towards the plant-based lifestyle niche, it started out as Ella Woodward’s personal blog back in 2012. This means that like many aspiring fitness writers and bloggers, it began as a dream that would only be achieved through hard work and thorough research.
The success of the blog, which is centred around plant-based recipes, is hugely down to the fact that it belongs to a niche. It isn’t simply a ‘nutrition’ blog, but it has an incredibly focused target reader in mind.
It ranks consistently across Google for many plant-based food keywords. This means that it pulls in a huge amount of traffic each month, as well as accumulating a steady backlink profile and increasing Ella Woodward’s brand awareness simultaneously.
The greatest lesson to learn from analysing both of these blogs in particular is that it’s important to take the two main factors into account if you want to see an insane amount of growth in your first few years.
You should aim to:
- Rank for keywords that magazine editors use to search for you, e.g. ‘freelance fitness writer’
- Rank for keywords that will build your profile within your niche
It takes a lot of hard work and patience, but it really is that simple when you break it down.
We’ll talk more about conducting a successful outreach strategy in our final section, as this is a huge part of learning how to become a fitness writer for major websites.
However, it’s great to know how to pick up traction and opportunities to write for major fitness publications organically. After all, this is the ultimate guide on how to become a fitness writer!
Step #5 - Market yourself through social media
You can check out our guide on how to start a fitness Instagram for a step-by-step approach on setting up your profile, all the way through to growing your account. However, we thought it would be a crime not to cover the importance of marketing yourself through social media when you’re pursuing a career as a health and fitness writer.
We’ll direct our attention to Instagram, since it’s definitely the best platform to be on when it comes to the fitness industry. Twitter is still worth a try, but the Instagram algorithm is more geared towards helping users gain solid and consistent engagement, which is key to growth!
The main reason that we’re listing social media as a step within our guide is the fact that it is a second platform away from your blog that can capture the attention of those you’re looking to work with.
It does take some time and effort to grow your account, but it isn’t as time consuming as blogging, and it can really help to boost your online presence.
Before we list how to do this properly, let’s take a look at an example. We’ll use the account of The Lean Green Bean, a popular nutrition blog.
As you can see, Lindsay has 42k+ followers on Instagram, and a nice theme going on across her page. She also gets a good amount of engagement with 1k+ likes on some of her photos.
It’s easy to see the value of creating this extra platform to supplement your blog, especially since you can advertise your blog posts through Instagram stories and link to them once you have over 10k followers!
Not only is it great for marketing your personal blog and the services that you provide, but it’s also a good way to increase your visibility online, and actually contributes to that thing called SEO that we were talking about earlier.
If you connect your social channels to your website, and you happen to gain a significant following and you’re frequently mentioned across different platforms on the web, then your website will get even more of a boost in Google rankings. Nice to know, right?
To keep things concise, here’s a few Q&A questions that hopefully answer any of the main questions that you have about navigating Instagram.
Q: What should I post?
This really depends on the niche that you’re targeting, and on the amount of time that you have to put into your Instagram account.
The best way to find out what sort of content you should be posting is to find relevant hashtags, and browse the ‘top posts’ section. That way, you’re getting ideas from the strongest accounts within your niche, and if you create your content equal to theirs (while using similar hashtags, of course) there’s nothing to say that it can’t gain just as much traction, if not more!
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Q: How often should I post?
No more than once per day, otherwise you won’t see as much engagement.
You can check out Sprout Social’s guide on the best times to post on Instagram here, but you may want to adjust your schedule later on depending on the times that your target demographic/existing follower base are most active.
Once you’ve been posting for a few weeks, you can jump onto your ‘insights’ section (available to business accounts, that are FREE), and view these times.
Also, Instagram likes users to post at the same time each week, so keep this in mind if you want to drive as much engagement to your posts as possible.
Your schedule could be: Monday 12pm, Tuesday 1pm, Wednesday 12pm, Thursday 11am, Friday 12pm, Saturday 10am, and Sunday 2pm, for example. Once you find a good schedule, stick to it and watch your engagement soar!
Q: What hashtags should I use, and how many?
Only those that are relevant to the content that you’re posting. We have a complete list of fitness hashtags that are great for holistic use, but you can add to this once you discover those that are super relevant to your niche (and therefore easier to dominate). They actually work in an incredibly similar way to using keywords in SEO, so do bear that in mind!
NOTE: It’s good to use a variety of hashtags to boost your profile, and to avoid appearing spammy to Instagram itself - make sure that you’re not constantly using the same combination.
Step #6 - Prepare to persevere
We covered a lot on growing your platform in the previous section, and while it’s certainly exciting to know that ranking on Google and getting published in top fitness magazines is an achievable feat, it’s also important to realise that it takes a lot of time and patience.
This is why most people give up before they reach success. While it’s sad to see, it’s actually fortunate in some ways; when other people quit, they leave the door open for you. This means that there is less competition, and an easier route to your goal!
Putting an accurate timescale on how long it will take you to become a successful fitness content writer is pretty impossible, as it does vary from person to person. It depends on your other commitments, and how much time you have to put into growing your platform and reaching out to others that you wish to contribute to.
It also depends on how prepared you are when it comes to dealing with rejection.
Want to learn how to become a fitness writer that lands a regular spot on top fitness sites, and is wildly successful in other areas too? If so, rejection is something that you’ll have to learn how to handle, and fast.
If you pitch your first idea to a major fitness website such as Men's Health or TNation and they reject you, don’t quit.
If you go ahead and read the stories of other successful fitness content writers out there, you’ll soon see that many of them only got a breakthrough after multiple attempts at pitching their ideas to various fitness sites.
Their willingness to persevere was the reason for their success. They envisioned that their dream would become a reality, and it did because they put in the hard work, and didn’t quit prematurely. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true!
The better the plan you have in place, the easier you’ll find the process of scaling your and gaining recognition within your niche. This links back to what we talked about in step #1, and highlights the importance of performing as much research as you can prior to starting your outreach process and blog.
Step #7 - Connect with others in your niche
Once you’ve set up your blog and social channels and you’ve posted some top-quality content, it’s time to start making a name for yourself within the inner circles of fitness content writers.
This doesn’t mean that you should go out and spam your way into their feeds, as this will help no one and often result in them blocking you.
However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with interacting with the current writers of top fitness websites in a genuine and natural-looking way. If you engage with them in a way that benefits them, and results in them getting some kind of boost, then this is even better!
- Consistently like and comment on their posts (but sincerely, and not in a spammy way)
- Share the content that they write on your own social media platforms
- Buy and review their products on your personal blog, and post about them on social media (tagging them, of course!)
By doing these things, not only are you adding value for them, but you’re also putting yourself under the spotlight of the editors, especially when you’re looking for writers to outreach to themselves.
Who knows, you might even get a writing gig through word of mouth if one of the writers shares your work in return. This is pretty likely if you do everything sincerely and organically!
The truth is, if you want to grow your personal profile as an ‘expert’ in your niche, it’s impossible to do so without connecting with others. You should be sure to follow the above steps with the big shots within your niche, as well as those that are writing for the top fitness sites.
It really is similar to taking a ‘law of attraction’ approach. You see their blog posts and their growing following on social media, you envision yourself in their position, and you follow the exact same steps that they themselves have taken to get there.
Guess what? One of the main steps that these writers have taken is to get involved and interact with others in their niche!
Getting Published in Popular Fitness Publications: The Process
So far, we’ve talked about the benefits of building your own online platforms to boost your profile as a health and fitness writer, and ultimately land more work.
While these benefits are incredibly valid and reachable through hard work and determination, we realise that some people may simply want to write for popular publications over writing for themselves.
With this in mind, we’re now going to take a look at the process involved in submitting work to these publications, from tracking down their submission pages to overshadowing the competition and having your work published!
#1 - Research the publications you wish to write for
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s true that you should do a little research before submitting to the first major websites that you stumble upon.
You want to ensure that you’re pitching or submitting work to sites that are relevant, even if you’re planning on writing about fitness holistically instead of sticking to one niche. If you’re looking to write a list-based article or product review for example, and the site in question doesn’t publish these, then you’re probably barking up the wrong tree.
As well as this, you also want to have a little background info on each site before you outreach to them, so that you can make your initial email appear both personalised and sincere.
If you can showcase how passionate you are about writing fitness content, as well as why you’re passionate about writing for their website in particular, then you’ve got a much stronger chance of getting published than those who send the same email to every publication.
You should take note of:
- The type of content that they have published in the past
- Their current list of fitness writers (and what they do!)
- Their submission guidelines
#2 - Find and compare their submission processes
It would be great if every major fitness publication followed the same submission process, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. Some websites have a ‘write for us’ page with clear guidelines laid out for all to see, whereas others are vague and only provide an editorial team email address.
To give you a better idea of what we mean, let’s take a look at a quick example. We’ll compare Muscle & Strength and Bodybuilding.com, since they’re two of the most popular fitness websites that publish content from external fitness writers.
The screenshot above shows the ‘Write for Muscle & Strength’ page that features a huge ‘click here to submit’ button, alongside clear information on the type of content that they’re looking for. Submission guidelines can be found below this information as you scroll down the page, and they’re relatively uncomplicated and easy to follow.
A page like this will leave you feeling optimistic since it’s literally inviting you to contribute, and if you follow the steps that we’ve laid out throughout this guide alongside the website’s individual guidelines, you should have no trouble getting published.
However, when we headed over to Bodybuilding.com we struggled to locate a specific ‘write for us’ page, and there were no submission guidelines in sight. All that we could find was a rather vague reference to readers being able to submit their own content, in the form of a prompt to email the editor of the blog.
Want to view this page for yourself? If so, check it out here.
If you encounter the same problem that we did when browsing your favourite fitness publication, then the best advice that we can give you is to avoid feeling disheartened.
It doesn’t mean that your work won’t be considered for publication; it’s just likely that the website in question receives such a high volume of submissions that they don’t actively advertise the fact that they accept them. It’s also likely that they accept content idea pitches over finished pieces of content itself, so this is definitely something to take into consideration.
We would definitely recommend taking extra care in your research when it comes to websites such as these, and note down everything that you can about their content and the people who write it.
You need to fully understand the content that is currently being published in order to know what is missing. If you can figure this out, you can make your pitch something incredibly valuable to the publication!
As well as this, you should cross-reference the submission guidelines from similar websites with your research. That way, you can ensure that the idea that you’re pitching sounds like it will result in a piece of work that is unique and pushes beyond industry standards.
You need to make it a strong pitch considering the fact that you’ve had no real guidance from the publication itself. It should sound like an outline for a killer piece of content that their readers will love and engage with - not just a repetition of stuff they’re already publishing!
It’s evident that comparing submission processes is an essential step to getting featured on major fitness websites. By doing so, you uncover the two main ways of getting published; submitting a full piece of work after following submission guidelines, or pitching a content idea to the editorial team via email.
In our experience it's best not to put all of your eggs in one basket, and to submit to as many fitness websites as possible (while ensuring that they’re still relevant), to increase your chances of getting published.
Linking back to step #6, you should remember to never give up, and that sending multiple pitches/pieces to the same publication is absolutely fine as long as you don’t spam them.
#3 - Outreach!
One of the most crucial steps to get right in the process of becoming a fitness writer is to nail your outreach strategy.
One you’re familiar with the target audience of each individual site that you plan on submitting to, and you’re up to date on their submission guidelines, it’s time to bite the bullet and get your fantastic ideas into their inbox.
While submission guidelines and processes differ, one thing remains the same; all content must be carefully targeted at the reader. In the world of online content, everything reverts back to the end user, and this is the only thing that the publication will care about (especially since it boosts their traffic).
Showing them that you understand their readers inside out will prove to them that you care about their readers, and that you’re not just in this for your own gain.
You should make sure that you’re doing everything that you can to stand apart from the competition, which includes making sure that your outreach emails are concise, sincere, and reflect how awesome your content is.
If you want them to like your content, you need to get them to like your pitch/content submission first. If it’s put together haphazardly with no real thought or care, then you could completely sabotage your relationship with the publication.
With that in mind, here are all of the tips that you need when structuring your submission. You should ensure that:
- Your email is polite, concise, and straight to the point
- Everything is grammatically correct and easy-to-read
- It communicates everything that you need the editor to know about your content
- Your email (as well as the content that you’re submitting) is in line with the submission guidelines - this is your last chance to check!
Before you go!
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our guide on how to become a fitness writer, especially if you were intimidated by the prospect of becoming one before reading this.
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Written by Professional S & C Coaches