An interview with Joel Snape, associate editor of Men’s Fitness and author of the health and lifestyle blog, Live Hard. Joel spoke to us about self-improvement and inspiring people to lead better lives through his blog, working with PRs and being a “nicer person” this year.
Why should people read your blog? What makes it different?
There are plenty of sites that talk about training – and plenty that talk about working, or partying. Live Hard is about the overlap between all three – it’s about how getting a respectable deadlift will help you become more efficient in the office, how gymnastics can make you more creative and how being a nicer person will benefit you in every area of your life. It’s about rebelling against always-on connectivity and multitasking, and tackling every aspect of your life as aggressively as you possibly can. When you work, you work. When you train, you train. And when you party, you party. *Hard.*
How do you measure the success of your blog?
Firstly (and most obviously), clicks. WordPress’s built-in stats does a respectable number of daily uniques simply from people typing the URL in, which I’m very proud of. I think there are basically two ways to run a website: you either work like the Angus Steakhouse – and try to trick everyone in the world into visiting *once* but don’t care if they ever come back – or you operate like the Hawksmoor, and simply make everything as good as you can and rely on customer satisfaction to do the rest. I’m trying to do the latter, although I might never do anything that’s as good as the Hawksmoor’s sirloin.
What’s your favourite blog and why?
There are loads, but one I think that doesn’t get enough love is Vodilated, written by W10 Performance coach Pieter Vodden. He’s one of the few fully certified coaches under Gym Jones (the guys who got the 300 crew and Superman into shape for their respective films) and he’s very thoughtful in the way he approaches training.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog?
The same advice I’d give to anyone who wants to start getting fit, or writing a book, or learning the guitar: just start. Don’t worry about what wordpress themes to use, or what your ‘voice’ should be: you can change all that after you get things rolling. Start it now, fix it later. (I’ve written a blog about this, obviously.
Who do you work with in marketing? PRs? SEOs? And how do you work with them?
PRs, mainly. A few people have been kind enough to send me products unsolicited – I haven’t actually done any reviews on the site yet, but I’ll be fixing that with a few of my favourites soon. I also get invited to a lot of events, but it can be tough to avoid them overlapping with my full-time job as Associate Editor on Men’s Fitness magazine. To be honest, the one thing I *don’t* get sent enough of is books: I read a huge amount, and have a (not very regular) slot on the blog called Read Hard. Recent things I’ve loved include Michael Hutchinson’s Faster and Steven Kotler’s The Rise Of Superman, if that helps anyone decide what to send me.
What can marketers do better in liaising with you?
Show that they’ve read at least a tiny bit of the site. I get a huge amount of emails that go ‘I really respect what you’re doing with your blog’ in a way that suggests they haven’t even looked beyond the contact page. I delete all of them, because I assume they’re not really that interested in working with me.
What was your blogging highlight of 2013?
Well, another way I measure success in how many people write to me to tell me something I’ve written has changed their life/perspective/training/whatever. That happened a lot in 2013 – and at Christmas, a guy came up to me in a pub to tell me he’d lost 4 stone and become a lot more confident thanks to Live Hard – that’s worth a lot more than clicks to me.
What will be big in your blogosphere in 2014?
I’m trying to be a nicer person. I think that’s the one piece of the puzzle that a lot of otherwise switched-on people are missing. Another book I loved at the end of last year was Scarcity – between reading that and watching this TED talk on empathy, I’ve started to apply a lot of new principles to my own life. Two reasons for that: firstly, if you want to help people change their lives, you need to understand why they feel, think and act the way they do, and why telling them to harden up isn’t necessarily the best solution. Secondly: being more empathic calms me down, and there’s no point in being angry all the time. Life’s too short.