Looking to turn your hobby into a side hustle? You can earn passive income from blogging. Here’s how to start a fitness blog of your own.
People tend to take their health more seriously as they age, and that means they’re willing to spend money on self-care. For that reason, you might be exploring business ideas in the health and wellness sector. Additionally, if you’re over the age of fifty, you might be wondering if you can earn extra, passive income from blogging in order to pad your retirement savings. Below, I share the pros and cons of how to start a fitness blog.
I begin with a brutally honest description of the challenges faced by many of today’s health and wellness bloggers. I conclude with a list of exactly how you can start a fitness blog.
Fitness Lifestyle Confession: Day in the Life of a Full-time Health Blogger
Living a fitness lifestyle isn’t always as easy as it might appear. Here is my full confession – a typical day from my life as a full-time health blogger.
I’ve been blogging for over 12 years. It’s how I earn my living. The good news is that I enjoy it deeply. However, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It can be astoundingly hard work. Here’s the unvarnished truth.
Confession 1 on How to Start a Fitness Blog: Goodbye Hobby, Hello Job
I have a peculiar career within the fitness industry.
I write articles, film videos, and record podcasts about how to get healthier.
The good thing about this job is that it forces me to stay in shape since it’s important for me to practice the fitness lifestyle that I promote on my blog.
However, this also means that what was once a fun hobby – my workouts – are now an integral part of my job.
I still enjoy my fitness lifestyle, but I caution you to be careful about turning your hobby into your career. Sometimes, it’s more joyful to simply keep your hobby a hobby.
Confession 2: The Pressure to Sleep
As I mentioned above, if you’re going to start a fitness blog, you need to be in shape. That means hard workouts. And hard workouts require deep sleep in order to recover.
If you do a light workout three times a week, your sleep habits probably don’t have to change much.
But if you train like an athlete, ample sleep is no longer optional – it’s mandatory.
I’m a light sleeper. (It takes me 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep each night, plus, there are brief periods in the middle of the night in which I am awake – about 30 to 60 minutes, in total. My body requires at least 8.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night to recover from strenuous workouts. This basically means I have to be in bed 10 hours each night in order to get 9 hours sleep.)
10 hours in bed sounds luxurious, right?
Well, it is luxurious. But it can also be a drag. I’d sometimes rather have a longer awake time to get more done – or to visit with friends, watch comedy, or read novels.
Confession 3: Vegetables for Breakfast
If you’re going to start a fitness blog, you’re going to have to be trim. And that means eating a healthy diet.
I enjoy having a green smoothie in the morning.
As part of my fitness lifestyle, I eat an anti-inflammatory diet that includes up to 9 loose cups of vegetables a day (3 cups of dark leafy greens, 3 cups of cruciferous, and 3 cups rainbow colors) for their phytonutrients and cofactors.
Green smoothies make it much easier to hit that 9-cup target.
Plus, vegetables in the morning are alkalinizing. You really feel like a nutritional winner when you’ve had vegetables before 10 am.
But the challenging part of greens smoothies isn’t drinking them. It’s making them.
Twice a week, I meal-prep my smoothies – making a huge batch and storing them in covered glasses in the refrigerator.
I clean all the vegetables carefully before they go in the blender.
It takes a while.
(Fortunately, I’ve figured out that if I save up my favorite podcast episodes for meal-prep day, it makes this chore more enjoyable.)
Confession 4 on How to Start a Fitness Blog: Swimming Upstream
I was a fitness trainer back before fitness was mainstream.
There were relatively few gyms back then – just a dusty weight room at your neighborhood YMCA; or, if you were fancy, the country club with its golf and tennis.
Back then, training clients was a dream because civilians didn’t know about weight training. They didn’t even know what “sets” or “reps” were.
This actually was a good thing because it meant that clients showed up for sessions with an open attitude, a sense of wonder, and an eagerness to learn.
Jump forward to today, when civilians are much more knowledgable about fitness (indeed, many people consider themselves experts in the topic) and yet, paradoxically, the general population has never been more unfit:
- 81 million people in the US aged six and older are physically inactive.
- Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen.
- Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
- More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities (and those guidelines are minimal).
- The average US diet exceeds recommended intake levels of added sugars and refined grains – while simultaneously under-consuming the recommended amount of vegetables.
- Over 80 million U.S. adults are obese, and in ten years it’s predicted that half of all adults (115 million) will be obese.
Today, most people think of themselves as healthier than average – even though they’re more sedentary than they realize and their diet is less nutritious than they believe it is.
That’s because our brains are soaking up information faster than we can act upon it.
It’s not what you know that makes the difference, it’s what you do habitually.
Your habits are your life.
Consequently, my job has changed over the years.
Now when I write an article, my primary intention is no longer to educate (though that is my secondary intention). My chief aim is to inspire.
Inspiration is the missing ingredient in most people’s days.
Each morning when I arrive at my standing desk, I ask myself “How can I get their attention and help motivate them?”
Confession 5: Reaching a Post-Epiphany Audience
I’m 56 today, and I first got the idea for launching this website way back when I was 39.
I had started experiencing symptoms associated with accelerated aging, and so I went online to find motivating resources that could help me make the second half of my lifespan even healthier than the first half.
Know what I found?
That’s right, back then there was nothing available (just muscle magazines with cover models in their 20s).
Today, thankfully, there are many resources available online.
But I seek to serve a specific segment of the population.
The people I am most able to help are those that are just beginning to realize that health is what matters most.
Excellent health is the foundation upon which a purposeful and fulfilling life is built:
- Want to make a positive difference in the lives of your loved-ones?
- Want to make your mark on the world?
- Want a thriving relationship with your grandchildren?
No matter what positive thing you want to achieve or experience, vibrant physical health and energy will augment it.
No matter what I’m doing at my desk – editing photos, writing a new article, or posting an exercise-for-the-day on social media, I visualize my message reaching someone over the age of 50 who is beginning to understand – on a whole new level – that improving their own health is their biggest current priority.
Confession 6: Leveling-Up the Grooming Regimen
Many of us prefer to appear fresh, eager, and energized – and so we groom.
But when you’re being photographed almost every day for work, it’s a whole other level of grooming. Everything has to be scrubbed, moisturized, and trimmed.
If having to appear camera-ready every day sounds glamorous to you, become a health blogger. I must caution you, though, it requires more time and energy than standard grooming, probably more than you would be expecting.
Confession 7 on How to Start a Fitness Blog: Lunch-Hour Workouts
A lot of writers do their best work in the early morning.
It’s the same for me.
This means that I save my workouts for my lunch hour.
To achieve this, I usually work 7 days a week, about 6 to 7 hours each day.
I wake up early, get right to my desk to begin work, and after about four hours, I stop, put on sunscreen, and take a 2.5-hour break to workout.
Because I’ve been indoors at my desk all morning, I try to do my workouts outdoors whenever possible.
The fresh air and sunlight revive me and help me feel like I’m winning the day.
Furthermore, my lunch hour is my only chance to spend time with humans other than my spouse. So if a friend wants to meet up over coffee, I suggest instead that they join me on one of my lunch-hour workouts.
3 or 4 days a week, my workouts are heavy – running, sprinting, and/or weight-training.
When my body reaches a certain level of muscular soreness, then that’s when I take a Rest Day (no exercise whatsoever), usually one day (sometimes two) each week. It’s a good time for me to prepare my meals and smoothies and store them in the refrigerator for the days ahead.
Confession 8: Nothing Left in the Tank
I’m a morning person and, like most morning people, my energy level drops significantly in the evening.
Because I don’t use caffeine or sugar to create extra “artificial” energy, I have to be even more strategic with how I use my time after 1:30 pm, because there isn’t any extra to waste.
After my “lunch-hour” workout, it’s back to my standing desk to work more on the website. And then, I move from the home office into my kitchen:
- I begin preparing dinner for myself and the spouse around 4:30pm.
- Around 5:00, we eat dinner while we watch a 20-minute streaming comedy on tv.
- Then, I work for another 30 minutes.
- Around 6:00, we have a “fitness dessert,” and watch another 20-minutes of comedy.
- Then, I work for another 30 minutes.
- I finish off each day with a Spanish lesson either on DuoLingo or Rosetta Stone. No matter how tired I am, I try to always finish the day with a Spanish lesson.
- Sometime after 7:00 p.m., I become too tired to even speak – my spouse understands this about me, for which I am grateful – and so I retire to bed with a book and commence to read until I fall asleep.
Confession 9: Unexpected Frustrations
Though I left out a lot of minutiae (yes, I floss twice each day), I’ve just shared with you a typical day in the life of a full-time health blogger.
But no confession would be complete without revealing some of the more unexpected frustrations faced by bloggers lately:
The workouts and diet plans outlined on this website are meant to be modified to accommodate each person’s unique circumstances and fitness level, and so they are appropriate for both men and women.
That’s just not possible.
First of all, it’s very difficult to find good stock photography of fit men and women over the age of 50.
Secondly, stock photography is expensive, and so I mostly use photos of myself in articles.
This is not the 1920s, and I need to be able to depend on viewers to be evolved enough to see that an article is relevant to them even if it doesn’t include a picture of a person that looks similar to them.
Pin this article to look at again later:
Social is Pay-to-Play
In the early days of social media, traffic was free. Facebook would send you viewers as long as your content was good.
Those days are, sadly, over.
Now, if you want potential new viewers to know that you exist, you mostly have to pay for digital ads.
Large, publicly traded corporations can easily fit these advertising costs within their quarterly marketing budgets. But for solopreneurs and bloggers, it usually isn’t feasible.
That means that a blog’s ability to thrive depends almost entirely on the viewers’ willingness to tell their friends about it or to forward their friends a copy of the blog’s weekly email update.
Step by Step Guide on How to Start a Fitness Blog
Now that I’ve told you the challenges you’ll likely face when you start a fitness blog, do you still want to start one? If so, I encourage you to follow these simple steps toward developing a successful fitness blog:
- First step: decide on revenue verticals. How will your blog earn money? Will you help clients achieve fitness goals as a personal trainer? Will you place ads on your blog posts? Will you teach online courses? Will you be a fitness expert and influencer on social media platforms? Will you place affiliate links within your articles?
- Next step: decide on your target audience. The best fitness bloggers serve a specific fitness niche.
- It’s a good idea to build your blog on WordPress.
- Choose a hosting provider for your new site.
- Choose a provider for your email marketing.
- It’s time to start creating quality content. You choose a particular topic for each article by doing keyword research.
Using My Own Fitness Business As an Example
In my case, I receive traffic to my fitness blog from two search engines – Google and Pinterest.
For Google, I do keyword research before I write new content.
I assign each article a primary keyword (or keyword phrase).
I keep track of all the keywords I’ve used on Google Sheets.
I try to choose a keyword that has a higher volume of searches but has lower competition.
For Pinterest, I have branded myself as a fitness enthusiast by posting new visual content (called Idea Pins) containing great ideas about weight loss and exercising. I follow Pinterest best practices.
I earn revenue by having Mediavine place ads on my site (that’s why you want to use the Trellis WordPress theme so that one day when your fitness website has enough traffic you can easily synch with Mediavine).
I also earn revenue by selling my coursebook.
Finally, companies pay me to promote their products and services on social channels as an influencer.
Your email list is a good way to grow your own fitness business. Take your email list very seriously. Provide value and entertainment to your subscribers.
Be careful of social media. It doesn’t drive much traffic to your site. Instead, spend your time and energy making the search engines happy, by creating a successful blog that solves people’s problems.
80% of your time should be spent writing new, helpful articles!
Parting Thoughts on How to Start a Fitness Blog
In truth, I don’t really like the term “fitness industry.” It’s a bit pretentious. I usually say “fitness business” instead.
Yes, you can earn passive income from blogging. But I don’t like the term “passive income.” Blogging is not passive. I like the term “leveraged income,” which means that you wake up in the morning and check your email inbox to discover that – while you were sleeping peacefully in the night – you sold several coursebooks, Mediavine has deposited ad revenue into your checking account, and a company has contacted you to see if you will collaborate with them on their new product for a showcase on Pinterest.
Health and Wellness Business Ideas
If you want to be an influencer only – or a personal trainer only – then you don’t need a fitness blog. Instead, you can use YouTube, Tic Toc, or Instagram to establish your brand. But if you want to also sell products, online services, and/or Mediavine ads, then you’ll need your own site.
Blogging is not a clock-in, clock-out job. It’s all-consuming. I think about my business practically all day, 7 days a week. My mind is always percolating.
However, blogging can also be deeply rewarding.
Additional Sources and Data:
Confession from the Culture: Statistics from the President’s Council on Nutrition – https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/index.html
Facts about Blogging and Bloggers – https://optinmonster.com/blogging-statistics/
The Cons of Turning Your Passion into a Career – https://yourstory.com/2016/08/turning-passion-into-career
9 Cups of Vegetables a Day – https://www.younghealthandfitness.com/nine-cups-vegetables/
Reducing Inflammation Is Key to Longevity – https://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-08-inflammation-telomere-length-healthy-longevity.html
Grow Dendrites: Learning a New Language is Good for Brain Health – https://unbabel.com/blog/brain-language-learning/