What Ryan Lochte Can Teach You About Blogging

If you are like me, you are captivated by the accomplishments of Olympic athletes.

The thought of being the best in the world at something (or even among the elite) is invigorating. As a child, it probably inspired you to imitate your favorite athlete or try a new sport that caught your attention.

As an adult, the Olympics and elite athletes are just as inspiration but in a different sense. Adults know their athletic capabilities are limited but we still want to strive for greatness.

Swimmers are often in the Olympic spotlight because they participate in sport that most of us have at least attempted at a recreational level. We realize the difficulty of their achievements and want to know how they got to such a level. Someone like Ryan Lochte seizes the stage as we all wait to see if he can, even for a moment, be considered the greatest swimmer in the world.

In the world of blogging, some estimates put over 150,000,000 blogs in existence! With that much competition, elite status, just like for Olympians, does not come easy. Instant success is out of the question.

However, deep within you resides the desire to overcome mediocrity and reach the limits of your own writing capabilities. Excellence is exciting and the idea that you could grow your blog to a level that would affirm all of your hard work is motivating.

So what can Ryan Lochte teach you that will help you take your blog to elite status?

Practice, Practice, Practice

The practice time of olympic swimmers is legendary. Lochte estimates that he swims about 20 hours per week totalling about 70,000 meters! When you add in dryland and weight training, the total training time rises to 35 hours.

If you have spent time around competitive swimmers of any age or skill level, practice time is essential. The technical aspects of the sport combined with the need to build endurance require repetitive and consistent training.

It is impossible to improve without practice.

As much as writing ability can be portrayed as a gift, randomly bestowed on a select few, it simply does not emerge without practice. In fact, writing can be boiled down to a simple 10 step practice plan. (See, practice is the key component!)

Fuel For Performance

When a number is so out of the ordinary that it immediately triggers skepticism, you know it is extreme.

12,000 calories a day is one of those numbers.

That’s the caloric intake of Lochte on a typical training day. Four times the daily intake of the average guy in case you were wondering.

As a writer, this doesn’t mean you have to ingest the equivalent of 12,000 calories of information on a daily basis. The point is, you have to fuel yourself for your specific performance goals.

You can’t just write your way to expertise in a particular area. Always seek out the latest research, experts in your field and related fields, and practical examples of success. Remember, you are more detective than writer.

Creative fuel can also come by stepping away from writing and information. Take a walk, rest or seek out beauty in ways that consistently inspire you to be great.

Choose A Specialty

Have you ever noticed that the Olympic swimmers that excel at the 100-meter events are not part of the 1500-meter event?

The difference does not even have to be that extreme. 50-meter sprints are often a specialty  but so are middle distances, endurance races and even unique move like the breaststroke.

Most of Lochte’s Olympic events are in the 200-meter range. He knows where he has the best chance for gold.

It’s impossible to reach everyone so narrow your universe.

Choosing a specialty gives you the ability to be great at one thing (or a few things) rather than mediocre at many. With so many blogs competing for your reader’s attention, it is much easier to stand out by being an expert on a particular topic than a generalist on many.

If your blog is struggling to increase traffic and revenue, choose your specialty.

Love What You Do

So far, we have talked about some decisions that take serious dedication.

Commitment like this difficult without passion. A swimmer’s journey requires a love for the sport or burnout is inevitable.

Prior to the start of the London Olympic Games, Lochte had already committed to the 2016 Games in Brazil. To already commit to another four years of this kind of intensity takes a love for not only the sport but also the process.

Caring about what you are doing is your key to longevity.

You can love blogging, love your readers, love the process or even love the results. You just have to find the thing that you must do during those times of distraction or doubt.

Stars Get The Attention

If you haven’t noticed, a few swimmers seem to get all of the attention.

Plenty of others have put in the same amount of hard work and will produce amazing swims. However, for a variety of reasons, certain swimmers like Ryan Lochte become media darlings and receive disproportionate notoriety.

Like it or not, it’s reality.

As a writer, you’ve seen plenty of great work go unnoticed, including your own. You want to earn respect and page views and know that anonymity doesn’t serve your goals.

So what can you do when you aren’t receiving the attention of a blogging superstar?

  • Keep Writing. Just like the Olympics, there are no overnight success stories. Even those that appear to have just popped onto the scene are backed by years of hard work.
  • Write for a Superstar. Don’t sit around being offended that someone else is getting all of the attention. Tap into the audience of popular blogs by writing a successful guest post for their audience.
  • Shift Your Focus to Service. Instead of caring about being popular, change your focus to being of service. When you serve your audience, you will gain a loyal audience. This is far greater than being popular with the wrong audience.

Have the Olympics Inspired Your Writing?

So have the Olympics inspired any of your content marketing goals (or am I just a sucker for a great story)? What do you think keeps you from elite blogging status or how did you reach the elite level?

Let me know in the comments.

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  1. Great article! Glad to hear someone mentioning the detective work. Being a detective is probably the single most fascinating thing about my job as a copywriter for small business. Every day I get to do research ferreting out information about an array of subjects that might make a non-writer’s head spin. In one day, I wrote a blog about the courage of entrepreneurs, an article about morphogenetic re-patterning, a press release for an organic skin care line, and a blog on access to healthcare. What we do could never be categorized as boring or mundane. Olympic writing as a sport? Perhaps.

    • Vince Robisch says:

      I couldn’t agree more about the detective work Frederika. Thanks for the comment!

    • Vince Robisch says:

      I couldn’t agree more about the detective work Frederika. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Nikki says:

    A great analogy . . . thoroughly enjoyed this. Thanks, Vince.

    In particular, “You have to fuel yourself for your specific performance goals.”

    It reminded me of Stephen King’s quote: ““If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

    • Vince Robisch says:

      Thanks Nikki. Great quote from Stephen King.

  3. Nice piece!

  4. Vince – great topic & great advise! As Harvey Mackay would say “perfect practice makes perfect.”

    • Proofreading is also a good thing – change “advise” to “advice”

    • Vince Robisch says:

      That is so true although I struggle with the idea of perfection. Perfect practice definitely improves performance.

  5. rob says:

    Lochte is a terrible example and not a role model for anyone. Their is no I in team.

    • Vince Robisch says:

      I’ve wondered the same thing Rob. The point of the post is not to make him a role model but to compare what it takes to get to an elite level. There are many elite athletes that are terrible role models and I’m glad you gave me the chance to clarify.

  6. Hi Vince,

    This is a great post – it’s a real shame it didn’t make it onto Copyblogger, but hopefully lots of people will follow the link they’ve sent out and find it here.

    Your thoughts echo some of my own reflections on the Olympic athletes – like you I’ve been absolutely spellbound by the performances I’ve seen. I’ve sometimes been even more impressed by the ‘losers’ than those who end up with medals round their necks – particularly the competitors in the most gruelling endurance events, like the long cycling road races. It’s awe-inspiring to see them pushing themselves to the limit and giving their all right to the finish line, even when they know they’ve ‘lost’.

    That’s the kind of spirit bloggers need – to keep going even when no-one notices you and there’s no obvious reward. And like you say, to practice, practice, practice. I know commentators sometimes talk about the athletes’ dedication and all the hours of training they put in, but I don’t think we ever really appreciate the largely unseen sacrifices these Olympians make. The tears, the pain, the discomfort, the doubts, the inconvenience, the early morning training sessions in the pouring rain – and all the races they DON’T win.

    Those of us struggling to succeed as bloggers can learn a lot from this year’s Olympic ‘losers’ – if we can find within us even a fraction of their grit and determination, I think we’ll do well. Because many of this year’s also-rans will be gold medallists in Rio.

    As you say – that means long-term commitment, dedication and patient endurance – and really loving what you do!

    I like your ‘performance fuel’ analogy, too – one of my main strategies to improve my own writing is to read much more high quality stuff and watch less rubbish on the TV. I regret feeding my brain with so much ‘junk food’ in the past but I reckon it’s never too late to learn! I’m sure even our little grey cells can get ‘fitter’ with the right kind of diet and exercise.

    Thanks, again, for a very thought-provoking post – and good luck with your own training regime!

    Best wishes,


    • Vince Robisch says:

      Beautiful comment Sue! I feel like it should be a post as well.

      I am convinced that to stick with any athletic or creative endeavor, you have to enjoy the process and manage expectations. Results are so often out of our control.

    • Darlene Schindel says:

      Sue, Vince
      Great post and response. A key point you made Sue – “and really loving what you do” makes the fundamental difference in those that persevere and succeed and those that never get there. The world would be a better place if we all examined what it really is we are passionate about and what our purpose in life is. If we follow our heart, and our purpose rather than what others or the almighty dollar leads us to do, we would all be winners.

      • Vince Robisch says:

        Great point Darlene.

  7. Jungo says:

    I must applaud the author of this piece. It’s a great read and motivating. I do see the point of treating blogging like a training of some sort. After all, practice makes you better. I am still working on my strategies, and let me tell you this is not for weak. It is more harder than working a job.

    • Vince Robisch says:

      Writing is definitely a lifelong process!

  8. Imelda says:

    This is so inspiring! Thank you

    • Vince Robisch says:

      You’re welcome and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  9. Hey Vince
    First time I’ve read anything by you and really enjoyed it. Thank you.

    • Vince Robisch says:

      Thanks Flip! Really appreciate the comment.

  10. It takes time to get to where we want to be, but that is not always the problem.

    May be we work less when success takes time to come our way. This shouldn’t be the rule and most people know it. But then there is all the mystery that surrounds each one of us and everyone has their reasons why they do what they do. And they may be quick to prove to you why something isn’t working or hasn’t worked out yet for them.

    Practice sure helps.

  11. Hi Vince. I’m from the UK and as the host nation, these Olympics have been even more special. Like you I’m in awe of all the elite athletes, their sacrifices and their determination to be the absolute best they can be. I love the analogies you’ve drawn with Ryan Lochte and writing. Not least the dedication and determination that is needed to to well. Writing can be a lonely job and just like those athletes, confidence and self-belief is so important to doing is successfully. In fact, I think without self confidence and the ability to persuade others to know, like and trust you, it can be difficult to get to the top of your game.

    • Vince Robisch says:

      Hi Georgina. Thank you so much for the comment. You are right about both endeavors sometimes being a lonely pursuit. Love your post about Mo Farah as well.


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