Nicola Joyce is a leading copywriter in the fitness industry. She has worked with some of the industry’s most respected brands, such as Speedo, Berghaus, Bulk Powders, Escape Fitness and Holland & Barrett, as well as writing for large media publications like the Washington Post, Sports Management, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Running.
We met with Nicola to learn about her approach to copywriting within the fitness sector. We asked how she ensures her content achieves its goals for the client, adding value whilst being engaging and staying on brand.
1. Ensure there is a clear brief
The days of creating content for content’s sake are thankfully over. For your copy to achieve something of value, a copywriting will need a clear and well structured brief from the client. Nicola starts by asking that a brief includes:
- Brand guidelines – if you have a brand book, send it to the copywriter. Tell them what makes your business unique, how it differs from competitors. What is your brand’s personality, style, and tone of voice? How do you (and do you not) communicate as a brand?
- Customer avatar – who is your ideal customer? Your copywriter will need to understand your avatar’s background, pain, desires, routines, lifestyle, dreams, and goals. So be as specific as possible. If you don’t have a clear avatar profile, ask if your copywriter offers a research and avatar profile service. This is a valuable extra for my clients.
- Channel – what platform is the copywriter creating this content for? Be very clear: is this for evergreen email, an autoresponder sequence, a blog post, a sales letter, social media, your website, or offline copy such as a brochure?
- Objective – what is the goal of the content? Every piece of copy will have a CTA (call to action) of sorts. What exactly do you want the reader to do, what action do you want them to take? And how will success defined/measured?
2. Expect a period of research
Even with the best brief in the world, your copywriter will need to conduct research. If a copywriter doesn’t mention (or ask about) research, warning bells should start to ring. By immersing yourself in the world of your business and target audience, the copywriter will be able to write the kind of messaging that will resonate.
Analyse the activity of competitors and pass this data on to your research. Sign up to other newsletters, email lists, and product alerts in your industry, create a swipe file, and get inspiration for your own content.
Most experienced and senior copywriters will specialise in one or two niche markets. Choose a copywriter who writes for your industry or for your target market, and they will already have a serious amount of knowledge. You should still expect them to carry out research, but they will be able to hit the ground running with a convincing understanding of your world.
“If a copywriter doesn’t mention (or ask about) research, warning bells should start to ring”
3. Copywriters should obsess over headlines
Headlines are so important that I’ll generally create between 10-20 (more if I’ve had a lot of coffee!)” says Nicola. “There are several accepted formula that headlines can follow. A good headline must be intriguing enough to convince your reader to open the email, scroll down, or stay on the page. But it should’t be so obscure that the reader doesn’t know what you’re offering. Tap into their pain points – get emotional.”
“Headlines are so important that I’ll generally create between 10-20”
4. Editing is everything
Editing is another step that’s hugely undervalued, and can often be difficult if you are writing your own copy. Everyone’s first draft will almost always be too long and include extraneous waffle. Once I’ve written a first draft, I’ll do something to clear my mind. I’ll get away from my desk completely by taking the dog for a stroll or hitting the gym, and when I return I’ll ruthlessly edit away anything that doesn’t add value.
5. A copywriter is hyper critical of their work
As I review my work I’ll constantly ask “so what?”. If there isn’t a clear point behind a word, sentence or paragraph, it gets deleted or edited.
6. Use lists (but not too often!)
Listicles continue to be a popular style of content, and for good reason. Lists, “top 10s”, and A-Zs give clear structure to an article, set expectations for the reader and make the reading process intuitive and digestible. But don’t get entirely dependent on the list format for blog posts. Use them too often, and they can make the reader’s experience dull and one dimensional. A good content specialist should have plenty of other tools.
7. Create a content calendar
Do you struggle with putting out business content on a consistent basis? You’re not alone. On busy days when you’ve got a lot of other things on, the idea of writing content can get overwhelming. For many business owners, content becomes a priority. I encourage people to create a calendar that gives them a foundation of content. If you write your own content, this gives you peace of mind and helps streamline the process. And if you outsource to a copywriter, it will help them work with you to create better content more quickly. You can still create ad hoc, reactive content on top of your planned content, but a calendar reassures you that will be a steady stream ready to go live, even on busy days.
“I encourage people to create a calendar that gives them a foundation of content.”