Mike Iamele is a corporate wellness coach, an Institute of Integrative Nutrition grad, like I am, and a very active blogger. I met him online in my Health and Wellness Bloggers Facebook group and have followed his blog for a couple months now. After I read his “One of My Greatest Fears” post about how he rebounded from a disappointing workshop experience, I knew I had to contact him to say I enjoyed his post and would love to interview him. Mike was more than willing to share his blogging journey and how it fits in with his coaching practice. I’m inspired by Mike’s passion for blogging and the volume of posts he cranks out – all high-quality – and I think you will be, too.
Melanie: You post every day, Mike – wow! That’s amazing. How long does it take you from start to finish on a typical post, and what’s your daily writing routine?
Mike: Thanks, Melanie. It typically takes me about 30 minutes from start to finish for a particular post. I credit that 100% to my morning routine. I wake up at 6:30 a.m., work out for an hour, write my Morning Pages (from The Artist’s Way) for an hour, and then blog for 30 minutes before the workday starts at 9 a.m. The workout lowers my stress and gives me the energy to start my day, and the Morning Pages sharpen my focus and get me clear on what I want to accomplish that day. By the end of working out and writing my Morning Pages, I’ve usually got a clear vision for exactly what topic I’m going to take on. But I always like to keep it a little loose and let it develop as I write. I find that it helps me really develop the idea in my own head and keeps it to a conversational tone.
Share a little about the technology you use on your blog – like, are you a WordPress fan and what are the plug-ins you can’t live without?
I am a WordPress fan. It’s easy to use, especially for blogging, since it is really a blogging platform at heart. I’ll be honest, though, I’m not super-techie in any sense. I certainly love the social media integration, but – beyond that – I’m not really a plug-in king. One thing I promised myself from the get-go was that I wouldn’t get caught up in the glitz and glam of the technology. I’m just not a technical person myself and know that I can get really frustrated trying to build out a high-tech site. Writing is my thing, so I try to keep it simple and stick to just focusing on what I’m good at.
I know you’ve been a health coach for a year now and have been doing coaching full-time for two months. What has blogging every day done for your coaching business and/or your visibility online?
Blogging every weekday has absolutely transformed my coaching business. I’ve been doing it at this level for about seven months now. At first, it was a sort of experiment in focus for myself. But, pretty soon, I had the accountability of readers to keep me going. It’s helped me really connect with my readers and coach more people than I can possibly squeeze into a 40-hour workweek. It’s also helped me get over perfectionism, crystallize my ideas and improve my coaching skills. But, most of all, blogging has really helped me to find my voice. I take pride in having a very strong and clear voice on my blog, and people usually feel like they know me before they walk in my office door. It’s helped me really know what I stand for and helped me attract the right fits into my practice.
I totally agree about the voice aspect, Mike! I feel like I already know you, because your personality really comes through on your blog. Your daily blogging schedule amazes me. Do you ever lose your posting mojo? When that happens, how do you shake it off?
Honestly, blogging is kind of like running. At first, it’s miserable, but you know the end will be worth it. And then, if you do it long enough, you reach this kind of runner’s high. I think that’s where I’m at now. In the early days, I certainly lost my mojo from time-to-time. I felt a lot of pressure about what readers would think about each post and really internalized that. And I certainly made mistakes along the way. But, once I realized I would survive the occasional nasty comment, I started getting riskier and putting myself out there in new and interesting ways. I once wrote a post about how “I don’t know what to say” and turned it into an inspirational message about just owning up when you don’t know. I guess my advice for shaking off the lost mojo is just “do it anyway.” You’ll certainly make mistakes, but the readers worth having will laugh along with you. And you’ll learn so much in the process.
Once you complete a post, how do you share it – via email, on social networks, etc.?
I have a little routine right when my posts go out. Some people subscribe via e-mail, so they get it directly. Next, I write up a little catchy teaser and share it with that on Facebook and LinkedIn. I alter it slightly for more engagement for Twitter. Lastly, after about 10 minutes, I actually post the full text on Facebook as well. Even though I’m getting fewer website clicks, I find that people on Facebook prefer to stay on Facebook and not actually click outside links. So my engagement is a lot higher with the full text post.
Next to your blog, what social network site gets the majority of your time – and why?
Facebook is probably the next most-used social network in my arsenal. Most of my engagement comes from Facebook, and it’s a great way to respond to comments quickly and fuel the conversation. To be honest, I’m just not a Twitter person. I’ve tried so hard, but I’ve never been the type of person to share random tidbits or musings sporadically. And I still haven’t quite mastered LinkedIn in an effective way. So Facebook is my go-to.
We both know many health coaches and wellness pros who want to start a blog. What’s your best advice for a blogging newbie?
My advice is this: First, use your calendar. People think I’m crazy, but every single weekday, my calendar is blocked off from 8 to 9 a.m. I’ll never take a client session or call during that time. Even if I’m sick, I’ll get up and write during that time, then go back to bed. It keeps me honest and gives me a deadline. If I miss my deadline, I’ll be disappointed in myself. Now, I’m not saying people have to write every weekday. I’m just crazy. But find a schedule that’s realistic for you, and mark it in the calendar. Once you build up enough of a following, your readers will keep you accountable.
Second, be patient. People assume that I had a following from the get-go. I remember when I thought anyone besides my mom reading was a big deal. It takes a long time for you to build an audience. Don’t get frustrated. You need to build trust. Also – use that to your advantage. If no one is reading early on, there’s no risk in anything you do. Experiment, try new things, see what works.
Finally, be vulnerable. Really put yourself out there. Just about anybody could write “The Top 10 Ways to Go Gluten-Free.” But not just anyone can share a personal story of the time they were crying in pain because of a gluten sensitivity. I’ve developed so much courage and strength just from sharing my intimate moments with the world. It makes you relatable and really helps to build that trust. Remember that people are reading your blog to get to know you. So don’t be shy about showing them who you are.
On the personal side, how do you keep your energy up to help accomplish everything you do as a health coach, herbalist and active blogger?
Ha, some days I’m not sure I do. But, in all seriousness, a big focus of my work with clients is on designing a lifestyle that lays the foundation for success. So that keeps me honest to practice what I preach. I use my calendar pretty religiously. Anything from client sessions, to admin work, to making herbal remedies, to writing goes on the calendar. I find that I’ll meet deadlines if I really set them for myself.
I’m also a big fan of taking time for me. My readers know that I never write on weekends because that is my time. Similarly, I take the morning to work out and journal and always take a mid-day meditation break. And I never see clients past 5:30 p.m. or have phone calls past 6 p.m. I’ve gotten really clear on the exact boundaries I want for the life I want to live.
My main mantra for my business is that clarity means focus, which means success. And blogging gives me that clarity.
Mike, thanks for the chat and keep up the awesome work on the blog!
Don’t you love Mike’s passion for blogging and his practical advice? I’d like to feature other health coaches and wellness pros (personal trainers, yoga instructors, etc.) who are doing awesome things online – in particular, blogging or using social media effectively. Know anyone? Is it you? Contact me for details about being interviewed for this blog.