I joined a gym. Don’t congratulate me. I’ve done it before — many times. Yes, I’m a recovering loafer. I enjoy nothing more than non-physical pursuits, like watching T.V., reading — daydreaming about being a real “go-getter”.

I feel bad about it. So, around every two years I join a gym. My last “self-intervention” was two weeks ago. And, as always, I feel good as a result: physically and mentally.

As a content writer, it’s fun to make comparisons to illustrate a point. A couple of years ago I compared blogging to fishing. Yesterday at the gym, while balancing on a stability ball, I thought of another: content writers are like gym junkies.

Think about it. What does it take to achieve your fitness goals? I reckon it takes persistence, planning and a commitment to doing things well — the same qualities required for successful content writing.

Feel the pain

If you quit the gym after a couple of months, little reward comes your way. That’s no surprise. The thing is that we know exercise is good for us, but it’s time consuming, sometimes monotonous … and it hurts!

So we quit.

But here’s the thing: Content writing isn’t always fun, either. Sometimes finding the right words is like looking for ice in the desert. But “There is no gain without pain”, as they say.

You’ve got to stick it out.

Content writing: there's no gain without painClick To Tweet

What is content?

For the uninitiated, here are some examples of content:

  • blog posts
  • case studies
  • white papers
  • newsletters
  • videos
  • infographics.

As you’d expect, as a content writer, I create written content — blog posts and case studies, etc.

So, let’s look at some of the qualities required for successful content writing.

Persistence

Visiting the gym a few times a year won’t achieve much — just some awfully sore muscles when you finally show up. So, write regularly. You will strengthen your “writing muscles,” develop a routine and hone your craft. There will be less pain.

From a business perspective, most content writers believe the more often you publish the better. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • SEO — a major factor determining how Google judges a website’s authority is the freshness of its content. Whether fair or not, old content is viewed as likely to be less relevant.
  • Your clients & prospects — producing regular content shows you’re active. You get the opportunity to educate your clients/prospects and demonstrate your expertise. A prospect is far more likely to become a client if they have read (and benefited from) your content before they get in touch.

Planning

Don’t write for the sake of it; set goals and have a plan. At the beginning of my latest gym excursion, my personal trainer asked what I wanted to achieve. Like most guys my age, who are bound to a desk, I’d like to tone up. So, after getting weighed and measured, we set a goal.

Do you want brand awareness? Do you want more sales? How will you promote your content — through social media, a newsletter? How will you know if you’re succeeding?

Create a content calendar listing topics you want to cover and when. This will help you create content that’s timely (taking holidays, events, etc. into consideration). A content calendar will also stop you wasting time trying to figure out what to write about when content is due.

Doing it well

Favouring one exercise machine at the expense of others because it’s easier won’t help you get fit.

Likewise, make sure your content is of a high quality. Grammar and spelling is important; that’s a given. There is much more to high-quality content than that, though. Your content must be relevant to your audience. It must add value by educating or informing. It must support your goals.

Many businesses write content based on what they think Google wants. They just want new words on their websites; they give little consideration of value. Your audience must come first. And, thankfully, Google agrees, which is why they upgrade their algorithm continually to ensure users find good-quality content.

So, do you agree? Are there parallels between content writing and working out? Now that I’ve got this off my chest, I think I’ll head for the gym. Wish me luck.

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