Interview with Wendy Watkins, blogger at Gym Class Dropout

BDN Blogs - Maine on the Blogs

BDN Blogs – Maine on the Blogs

Here at Maine on the Blogs we talk a lot about how to run a successful blog. Through sharing tips, tutorials, answering reader questions, and reaching out to our blogger friends we have created a wonderful community of more than 150 unique voices that each give life to the Maine experience. We think you might like to meet some of the writers who create excellent blogs in our network.

You can find Maine on the Blogs on Facebook and Twitter where we like to highlight recent posts from Maine on the Blogs and also from our blogger friends who are creating marvelous work! Remember, if you have a great idea for a blog then we want to hear about it! You can pitch us here.

This week we talk to the impressive Wendy Watkins who runs the popular blog, Gym Class Dropout. We asked her about her blogging process and she had quite a bit to share.

Can you give us a quick introduction to who you are and what your blog is about?

I’m a personal trainer/fitness& lifestyle coach. My blog is all about … you guessed it … finding/building/maintaining a fitness lifestyle (working out, eating relatively healthfully, etc.)

Wendy Watkins - Bodybuilding

Wendy Watkins – Bodybuilding

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You seem to have an engaged audience. What strategies do you use to keep your readers coming back to your blog?

I try to ask questions on social media about questions or issues people might have, and address them. I also figured out that my blog is not about me but about my readers (LOL!) and giving them helpful, entertaining information is the key.

People don’t comment on my blog no matter how much I beg them to — but I do know they read because they send me messages on social media or they mention it to me when I see them in “real” life. I also get feedback via Facebook.

What would you say is the single most popular post on your blog, and why do you think readers responded so strongly to it?

I started out as a print journalist and my most popular blog posts are written in the style of newspaper/magazine stories — success stories/interviews/overcoming stories about regular everyday people.

I think they are popular because those kinds of stories give readers hope. We like to read about people who overcome something hard (like a stroke) and go on to compete in an athletic event  (that’s my top post); or who lose 80-100 pounds, or who battle body dysmorphic disorder or cancer.

Have you experimented with social media platforms like Periscope, Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter to promote your blog? Which one has been the most successful for you?

I use all kinds of social media. I use a social media scheduling app to keep track of all that for me.

On tap for the next few months are working to coordinate all my content (God do I ever hate that word!!!) so I can write a blog, make a Periscope to go with it, upload the video, add the video to the blog, publish the blog, and then use bits and pieces of the video to promote on Facebook/Twitter because at this moment, all the latest gurus say Facebook/Twitter/Instagram love video and you’re more apt to get views if you use it.

I use Canva to create graphics for my blog posts and sometimes put them on Pinterest — especially if I create a workout or recipe graphic. I try to use Instagram, too, and am learning about effective use of hashtags to bring people to my blogs.

But for me, it all starts with writing the bones of the blog post and then creating other promotional stuff comes after.



What advice do you have for folks who are thinking about pitching the BDN with a blog idea?

Only write a blog about a topic that you are passionate about because starting out can be daunting. Also, know that if you are thinking about a topic, someone else is thinking about it too, so don’t be afraid to explore that.

Sometimes it will feel as if you are writing into a vacuum, and it’ll feel lonely and you’ll be tempted to quit, but then you’ll see someone in the grocery store who will mention a particular post to you, or you’ll get a message telling you that your words turned their day/week/month around, and it’ll all be worth it.

How would you describe your experience in the BDN Maine blog network?

Because of the hands-on nature of my fitness business, I’m away from my computer a lot so I blog more sporadically than I wish I did. But it’s been great for my business and it’s amazing to be able to touch more people’s lives online.

Can you give us some teasers about future posts that we can look forward to?

I’m taking my normally quiet December time in my fitness business to put together an actual blogging plan! I am planning more healthy recipes, more workout tips, more workout challenges AND what I call my “epic” posts about motivation and building a healthy lifestyle.

Oh, and since everyone wants to know about getting a better butt, I’m working on a piece right now outlining 3 moves you must do BEFORE your workout to make that happen. 🙂

Here is a fantastic workout that Wendy created for her readers. Give it a try then leave her a comment and let her know how you liked it!

Wendy Watkins' Spooktacular Workout

Wendy Watkins’ Spooktacular Workout

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.