Nicola Joyce

Nicola Joyce - The Fit Writer

July 19, 2023
minute read
What do you think of when we say fitness industry? We bet it isn't copywriting. Find out about the life of the fittest copywriter we know.
Nicola Joyce - The Fit Writer

Nicola Joyce went from writing financial and telecom brochures to copywriting for big names in the fitness industry. All whilst swimming the English Channel, running multiple marathons, completing triathlons and scooping up amateur bodybuilding world titles.

Issy Striive: Welcome Nicola, fitness copywriter extraordinaire. Thank you very much for being interviewed today, I’m excited to chat. Let’s jump straight into it. You have a rich background in both fitness and writing. Which one came first?

Nic: I think they started at about the same time because, fun fact, I've kept a daily journal almost every day since I was 8. They even got a mention on Radio4 Women’s Hour. I started swimming when I was about 8 too, and that was the first sport I did.

Issy Striive: How special to have those journals! I bet they make you laugh when you read them back.

Nic: It does make me laugh, it's also really nostalgic. Sometimes when you're doubting yourself, you're like, did that happen? Am I going mad? No, it's there. It's funny to read stuff you've completely forgotten about from school days.

Issy Striive: Fantastic. So fitness and writing are long-standing loves in your life, when did the two intertwine?

Nic: It was 2004, when I went freelance and also swam the English Channel for the first time. Before that, I was working in London as a conference producer in telecoms and finance, which I have never considered my specialities! I had to ring industry people up to get ideas for the next conference then write all the material around it. I was a 22 year old ringing up the head of risk at Barclays Bank and going 'Hi, got 30 mins to chat about industry topics that are really bothering you?’ Anyway - long story short - I was made redundant from that job, but knew I wanted a career around writing.

if I can't sell a first-person magazine feature about swimming the Channel to a sports magazine, I'm not ever gonna make it.

Issy Striive: Sorry to hear of the redundancy but I guess that was what got the ball rolling on writing about subjects you have more passion for.

Nic: Yeah it was in a way. When I left there I thought I’d build a career in journalism. But I’d been doing what I now know is copywriting during that conference production job. At the time of the redundancy, I was about to swim the English Channel. I thought if I can't sell a first-person magazine feature about swimming the Channel to a sports magazine, I'm not ever gonna make it. But I sold that story to some triathlon type magazines, and that's really where it went from.

Issy Striive: Was selling a piece to a triathlon magazine what spurred you to do a triathlon yourself?

Nic: No, I’d already done a few triathlons prior to focusing all-in on endurance swimming for the English Channel swim. Triathlon was really big at the time, I think it was the fastest growing sport in the UK.

Issy Striive: Would you say that your first fitness piece being about yourself made the transition into writing about fitness easier?

Nic: Definitely. The writing I was doing as a conference producer wasn't editorial by any means. Technically you'd consider it copywriting but I wasn't aware that’s what I was doing. We did a little bit of email marketing, some web copy, and of course the copy of the conference brochure. But mostly I didn't know what the hell I was talking about! I would be given some words and had to rewrite them in a way that makes people want to come to the conference.

Issy Striive: That sounds simple, but is such a skill. So the triathlon magazine commissioned your first fitness editorial. Did you write purely fitness content from then on? What was the evolution like?

Nic: It was pretty much just fitness from then on! I started out doing journalism for fitness magazines. I also wrote fitness-type features for other magazines that aren’t fitness focused but want to feature it, so they need someone who knew about it. I had bylines in Good Housekeeping and the Washington Post. After a couple of years I moved away from magazine journalism and into copywriting.

Issy Striive: What was that transition like?

Nic: I wanted to just do fitness copywriting but, at the time, my network wasn't big enough. So I had to accept that I would need to do some copywriting that wasn't fitness related to get things going. I started off doing things like the website for the local plumber, and brochures for a local holistic therapist. As time went on and my portfolio grew I began to decline projects that weren’t fitness based. I focused on building my fitness client network by going to BodyPower and other expos and getting my name out there.

Issy Striive: I can imagine that it's easier to write about something you know about - and by easier I definitely don't mean just easy!

Nic: That's my argument for having a niche. I can understand why some don't, there's probably more copywriters without a niche than with. But for me, yes, it's easier. It's also just more enjoyable because I genuinely love my clients and this industry. By doing what I do, I can help people educate themselves about health and fitness, and as a result hopefully lead a happier, healthier and longer life.

I like that the health and physical activity sector has the potential to influence everybody if we do our jobs right. I don't know that there's many other sectors that could say that.

Issy Striive: Absolutely. That leads me very nicely into my next question, do you have a favourite and least favourite subject to write about within fitness?

Nic: Hmm, there are some things that I feel that I could write in my sleep, which is nice and easy but not very challenging. Like a blog post called 10 reasons why everybody should be taking creatine, or what's the difference between whey protein concentrate, and whey protein isolate. But the end user does still need to know, so I am ready and willing to write about it. It just doesn't challenge me. So if I was going to choose a least favourite, it would be content of that nature. The stuff I really enjoy is when a client comes to me with a new product or service that the fitness industry hasn't really seen before, or something the way the customer uses it is different. Consumers are always changing and so is how they want to engage in health and fitness. So that's always a challenge, but an enjoyable one.

Issy Striive: Totally understandable, I imagine a lot of people out there feel the same. So, Nic, my final question for you. Please could you tell us something you enjoy about the wider health and fitness industry and something that you wish was different about it?

Nic: Well, I truly have a deep respect for this industry, and that's not me sucking up to new clients! You guys are changing people's bodies, and that can determine the quality and length of their lives. This is serious business. I like that the health and physical activity sector has the potential to influence everybody if we do our jobs right. I don't know that there's many other sectors that could say that.

Issy Striive: It's very powerful to be able to directly or indirectly influence the quality of someone's life.

Nic: As I say, serious business! So something I wish was different is the jargon. It sometimes feels like wilful misguidance by some brands and businesses who should know better. You're messing with people's bodies, and I suppose their minds too, in terms of their long-term health, relationship with food, body image. It makes me angry to see brands or individuals purposely misleading people for commercial gain. It happens in all industries but we're dealing with people's bodies and lives here.

Issy Striive: I love that you said that it is really serious business. I think when people look at careers in health and fitness, generally people don't think it's that serious. A lot of people think it's easy to be a PT. Well, a good PT, it isn't!

Nic: I don't want to say there's a low barrier to entry, but certainly a lower barrier to entry than being a rocket scientist or heart surgeon, shall we say? I think that's what leads people to sometimes not take it that seriously. But a really good PT or coach could be the most important investment that a person ever makes in their lives.

Issy Striive: Agreed 100%. Nic, thank you very much for joining us, this has been great. Where can people find you if they would like to make use of your fabulous copywriting services?

Nic: If they would like to make use of my fabulous copywriting services, or if they would just like to be in touch (because I genuinely love chatting as you can tell), the best place to find me is Insta which is @thefitwriter or you can google Nicola Joyce copywriter and head to my website. There’s a freebie of 21 content writing tips which you’re welcome to download.

Issy Striive: We also have to plug the gorgeous Sammy the dog’s Instagram. Where can people find photos of Samantha to brighten their day?

Nic: Samantha the bulldog's Instagram is @samantha.the.old.tyme.bulldog - come and say hi!

Share this

Try us free for 14 days

Explore all our features risk free.