There's more than one way to make a living in the fitness business, as freelance copywriter Nicola Joyce told us when we met with her to talk about writing, bodybuilding and two World titles!
The fitness industry is growing rapidly, and there are all sorts of people behind the scenes helping Personal Trainers and fitpros develop their businesses. Nicola Joyce is a freelance copywriter who helps her fitpro clients with content marketing.
But she's also a keen amateur athlete, competing in drug-free bodybuilding competitions in the UK and abroad. Last year, she won her second amateur World title with the WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation). We asked her about her career, her sport and how she got to where she is today.
What exactly do you do?
I'm a freelance copywriter. I write words for my clients to use on their websites, blogs, newsletters, email marketing, e-books and marketing material. That's my full-time day job. I'm not a PT or fitness professional, but my entire life is in the fitness industry in one way or another. If I'm not writing about and for the industry, I'm training or competing!
How did you get to where you are?
I used to work in-house for a publishing and events company. When I was made redundant, I decided to go freelance and give it a go (it's what I'd always wanted to do). That was nearly 11 years ago now - so I really am cutting a very long story short! I did extra training (and still do), made a lot of good contacts, learned to network, and built my business.
What does a typical day involve?
I'm afraid it's really not very exciting. It looks a little something like this:
- Get up, make an espresso, let the dog out for a wee, and then write in my journal.
- Walk the dog (45 minutes power walk).
- Back home, make breakfast. Work (this varies depending on what's on the jobs board - could be writing, research, contacting clients, Skype calls, pitching for work, or good old business admin).
- Lunch break.
- More work in the afternoon.
- Walk the dog.
- Head to the gym.
- Home for dinner and to set up my to-do list for the next day. I'll sometimes work very early or very late if I'm writing for a client in a different time zone.
Have you come across any barriers?
The only barriers I've ever experienced in my freelance business are those I've constructed myself! I do go through periods of self-doubt, but let client feedback and testimonials soothe that particular worry! It's always difficult to balance the peaks and troughs of freelance workflow, but I have good systems in place.
How did you get into competitive bodybuilding?
I've always been sporty - swimming from a young age and later getting into endurance sport like distance running and triathlon. I've even swum the English Channel twice! In 2010, I decided to focus on weight training and nutrition, and my PT recommended I do a bodybuilding competition because my physique was pretty balanced and muscular once I'd dieted down. I did… and was pretty successful in that first year, and the rest is history really! I fell in love with the sport, and with the training, and have now competed for 4 years in a row (I think I've done 15 competitions) including two WNBF Worlds in the USA.
What is your training like?
I'm currently in "off-season" which basically means not dieting, not living in a calorie deficit, and therefore hopefully building muscle to make physique improvements. In off season I tend to keep the same body part split, and do weight training 5 times a week, but I use the time to try other things too (like horse riding, boxing training, getting back out on my triathlon bike) - things I can't really do whilst dieting for a show.
How does your sport/hobby tie in with your work?
I've always been involved in sport, so writing for and about fitness, nutrition, health and sport was the obvious route when I first went freelance. The fact that I train (and compete) definitely helps with credibility, networking and trust. My clients know I speak their language, and their target market's language too. And all that dog walking and gym time helps me balance the insular nature of freelance life!
I'm always happy for other freelancers or aspiring copywriters to reach out to me for help or advice.
Image by Fivos Averkiou Showshoots
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