Back from Puerto Vallarta

June 17, 2008

[Comments turned back on…I’m ready to roll!] Wow…Fitness Black Book is exactly one year old! Well actually June 8th, was the “official” birthday. My modest little site has achieved some amazing milestones, thanks to you guys. I’ll talk about that in a minute, but I wanted to thank each and every person who visits on a regular basis. It is a lot of work to run this site, but knowing people are “getting something out of it” makes it all worth it.
puerto vallarta sunset
[Puerto Vallarta is suppose to have some of the most beautiful sunsets on the planet. I can’t wait!]

Why I’m Going to Puerto Vallarta

I don’t talk about this much, but I actually manage a high traffic suit store in the Seattle area. I run this site in my spare time (the little I have, since I work 55-60 hours per week). My company awarded me ($3,500) to use towards any trip in the world. They chose 6 people in the company to give this award out to, so I feel honored. I chose Puerto Vallarta, because I have only been to Cancun, Cozumel, Belize, and Playa Del Carmen…the Gulf of Mexico where the water in baby blue and the sand is pure white. I wanted to go to Puerto Vallarta which is located on the Pacific Ocean…right where the jungle meets the beach. I am staying in a high end “all inclusive” resort with my girlfriend. We leave in 8 hours and are pumped!

The Decision to Do Something Worthwhile in My Spare Time

About a little over a year ago, I decided it was time to give up TV. I still have a nice LCD TV set, but I don’t habitually watch TV anymore. I’ll watch DVD with my girlfriend a couple of times a week, but I don’t just flip on the TV out of habit anymore. I will certainly watch the summer Olympics, because I LOVE the Olympics! Breaking the TV habit, was the best thing I have ever done. Again…I’m not 100% against it, but please don’t waist your limited time on this earth in front of a TV screen.

The Short History of “Fitness Black Book”

In January 2007, I decided it was time to build a fitness site. I didn’t like the creepy vibes that most fitness sites had going for them. I thought to myself…

1) Why are the majority of fitness sites filled with no-neck meat-heads who live in sweat pants
2) If I see another “lat spread” or “most muscular” pose I’m going to puke! Normal people laugh at this stupid behavior…so why on earth is the Internet filled with this nonsense?
3) Why do most sites and diets take the “all or nothing” approach? Yes…you can drink beer, wine, eat your grandma’s blackberry cobbler and still be healthy and fit!
4) Why are so many people scared to give their true opinions?

On May 2007, I Began the Site Building Process

I joined a private high end coaching company to teach me the “ins and outs” of blogging and getting known on the Internet. This coaching is still open to members, but it isn’t cheap (best blogging coaching program on the Internet by far). Anyway, a month later they helped me get my blog online. On June 2007, Fitness Black Book was born. Just like every new site, I made my first post. Then another…no visitors! It was tough at first putting in 1-2 hours per post and getting maybe 5 visitors per day! I was working 20 hours per week to get a total of 1-2 comments per week. I didn’t want to slack off, because I was investing good money on coaching each month.

Month Two is When I Started Getting Visitors

My first month was rough. I had a large traffic spike one day when a large blog picked up my story but I was getting 10 visitors per day on most days. I was kind of bummed, because I was writing my heart out with “my best stuff”…and only 10 people per day were seeing this! I knew that I had some great tips that would help people reach their goals…I just wished for more readers. Towards the end of month two thing really picked up! I was getting over 200 visitors per day and at least 1-2 comments per day.

Going from 0-100 Visitors Was Tougher Than 100-1,000

At 100 visitors per day, you will begin building a “viral” effect. If your site is good, people will tell others. If you piss someone off, they will tell others. If someone gets good results with a tip, they will tell others. I have done all of the above (to be honest…a lot of my early traffic spikes were due to pissing off the bodybuilding crowd). Good or Bad publicity helps a site grow in the eyes of Google. To be honest, the bad publicity has helped the most due to the high link value of these massive bodybuilding sites.

1,500 Daily Visitors and You “Couldn’t Stop it if You Wanted To”

I reached this milestone a few months ago and now this thing is growing on its own. I don’t know what the magic number is to have a site grow out of control, but I’m thinking it is around 1,000-1,500 Unique Daily visitors. This is the point where the big players in the industry begin to take notice. This is also the point where sites begin to link to you like crazy, reference your material, etc.

Some Crazy Google Rankings…

First of all, I have no business being so high for many big-time phrases in Google. There are well-established sites with 10 times the amount of links that I’m outranking. My guess is that Google is actually now taking into account things like how much time people spend on a site, user comments, page views per visit, etc. Here are some of my favorite rankings…

#3 in Google for the term…fitness book….out of 4,700,000 results (right behind a little known company called Amazon.com)
#6 in Google for the term…fitness tips…out of 3,700,000 results (was number one, I dropped a little)
#59 in Google for the term…fitness…out of 500,000,000 results (not much traffic being on page 6, but insane traffic once I reach the first page)
#1 in Google Blog Search for…fitness…out of 62,000,000 results (ahead of a little known fitness magazine called Men’s Fitness)

Not Trying to Brag or Anything Like That!

I am showing these stats to you, because many of you have helped me build this site. I have people that tell me that they learn more from the comments than they do the posts. This is exactly what I was aiming for. The post is to just get the conversation started. Another big reason I’m showing you guys these stats is for people who are interested in creating their own blog. If you treat people well and enjoy the topic you write about, you can compete with the big companies!

Some Tweaks I Need To Make to the Site

In 10 days when I get back, I need to update the theme of the site a bit. The main thing I need to do is widen this whole theme. The reason for that is that I need more room on the right hand side of the site for things like opt-in boxes for free reports, archive links, etc. My site needs to “grow up” a little. The thing I don’t want is too many distractions from the posts and comments. I HATE sites that are too “busy” and have too many bells and whistles. I just get too distracted. I will probably remove the butt shot on the left hand side of the header. It makes me laugh, but isn’t quite the “vibe” I’m after.

I’m back now and more excited than ever to help you guys!

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

NancyJ June 25, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Welcome back, Rusty!
Interesting statistics on your site, but I am not surprised at all that you are doing so well. It just goes to show that there are many of us out there who want to become lean, fit, and very, very toned, without looking beefy and over-built.
Most of the other “fitness” sites concentrate on teaching people how to become “big” — huge, even! But, the fact is many of us don’t really want to develop huge grotesque muscles! That is actually what attracted me to your site…suggestions on how to develop good muscle tone and leanness, without ending up with a weird-looking over-developed body. I really enjoy hearing your point of view and learning about all the great tips you are willing to share with your readers — several have them have helped me quite a bit already. Also, it is interesting to learn what other like-minded readers of yours are experiencing. So, keep up the good work!

Genaro June 25, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Hey congrats on all of the success you’ve had with your site in a little over a year. I’ve just recently discovered (and subsequently bookmarked) this site. I like the way that present your views on fitness without completely denigrating other’s approach to fitness and health. While I agree with you personally that a lean, tone and fit body is the sexiest (and most realistic to attain) body type, you’re not constantly down on bodybuilders…heck, you even let them have equal time to defend their approach! Your site has quickly become one of my favorite fitness blogs, and I’d love to see it expand even more. Have you ever considered taking on guest authors or special submissions?

Sandy June 25, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Welcome Back, Rusty! First of all, how was your trip???? Hope you had lots of fun. Your site is the best site Ive found online. Congrats on all of your hardwork and dedication to your site and to us! Im getting in the best shape of my life thanks to you and all of your tips!

BurritoKid June 25, 2008 at 11:41 pm

heya rusty,

became a fan while you were gone. Excited you are back! Your site is amazing and the dedication you have to each person is awesome. Cant wait to read more of your thoughts and ideas.

Chris June 26, 2008 at 1:01 am

The internet, in its very best and truest form, is a tool that is used to share unlimited information with others for the benefit of humanity. This site achieves that goal one thousand times over. Please continue to build the site with the same passion that got you started, and never EVER sell out (unless they offer you a ridiculous some of money, or a clone of Jessica Biel or something.) Stupid humor and sarcastic cynicism aside, I’ve read all of those unfocused fitness mags and scoured the web to find any bit of advice for the average dude who wants to look like Robert Downey Jr. (heck of a comeback, btw.) Your blog has truly has become, in a very short time, THEE authority for sensible fitness knowledge. AND you manage to keep it entertaining. They need to make you editor-in-chief of Men’s Fitness so I have something useful to read on the toilet. All right, too much info! Keep it up, wish you the best!

Chris

Helder June 26, 2008 at 7:04 am

Welcome back Rusty, i hope the holidays were fantastic, and congratulations for one excellent year of Fitness Black Book. I hope, and i know i’m not alone on this one, that this year is the first of many to come. Keep it up Rusty

Nkem June 26, 2008 at 11:05 am

Welcome back Rusty. Now where are the pictures?

Tesa June 26, 2008 at 2:05 pm

I’m glad that you didn’t give up when things were going slowly; I don’t know where I would be without your fitness advice! Thanks so much for putting in all the hard work!

Gators June 26, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Welcome back mate…i’ve been recruiting lots of new fans for you while you were living it up!!!

admin June 26, 2008 at 5:18 pm

NancyJ,

Thanks for the compliments. Yeah…it really seems that the “naturally fit” look is catching on. It just doesn’t create an attractive look when it looks as if someone lives in a gym. Slim and defined muscles look great with or without clothes on…excessive muscle always looks like someone is trying too hard and gives off the wrong vibe. I’m certainly not the first person to think this, but I’m one of the first people with a blog devoted 100% to tackling this subject. I really enjoy doing this…it doesn’t feel like work at all. Thanks for being a reader and contributor.

Genaro,

I’m working on a few things “behind the scenes” with a few like-minded fitness authors. You will see some big things happen over the next 12 months. As far as bodybuilders go, I have a fun time messing with them a bit on my blog. I allow a decent percentage of their comments through, but not all. I don’t mind it if people disagree with me. It makes for better reading.

Sandy,

Thanks for asking about my trip. It was incredible. If anyone ever wants to go to Mexico and experience the true culture of Mexico, they should go to Puerto Vallarta. Cancun and other parts of Mexico are incredible, but Puerto Vallarta has an old downtown area that has been preserved…they don’t let any chain retailers put a store in this part of downtown…all of the buildings are painted white. It is outstanding! It has less of a tourist feel to it compared to other parts of Mexico I have visited. Obviously it is a huge tourist location, but they have done a great job preserving a lot of what makes Mexico such a unique and wonderful place.

I’m pumped that you are getting great results with the advice you have found here. It makes this really fun and rewarding for me to know that.

BurritoKid,

Your name is killing me! Any story behind the nickname? Glad you enjoy the site. I’ll try to post more over the next few weeks to makeup for being gone.

Chris,

Thanks buddy. I don’t think I have the right type of site that a corporation would want to purchase. I wouldn’t want to sell it anyway. I have too much fun doing this.

You know what is funny about Men’s Fitness is looking at the pictures of a lot of the authors. Obviously some of the guys are fit, but most are not. Also…they show weird pictures of guys wearing spandex biker shorts doing things like squats and lunges. I wouldn’t be a good editor-in-chief, because I would have a guilty conscience selling advertising to all of the supplement companies with bogus claims.

I see that you have a DJ’ing website. Very cool! I used to spin a bit of dark-wave, industrial, and early techno back in the late 80’s and ealy 90’s on a couple of Technics turntables. Love that stuff!

Helder,

Thanks a bunch. I’m just getting started. You will get there with your site as well…just keep pushing.

Nkem,

We haven’t developed the pictures. We mainly took photos of the beautiful scenery…I didn’t want to get in the way of how pretty that place is!

Tesa,

I know a lot of bloggers and site owners read my blog, so I mainly just told my story to let them know what to expect. “Getting over the hump” and building a site to critical mass is tough work, but completely worth the effort. It feels good to spread around a message you feel passionate about. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Gators,

Great to hear from ya! I still plan on visiting “Down Under” as soon as I save up enough money. Gotta see “Bondi Beach”! Thanks for the referrals. I get along well with the Aussie’s.

Rusty

PS: If you guys enjoy the site, please consider “subscribing” to the blog. It is free and you just enter your e-mail address (in the upper right hand corner of the site). All this does is send you an e-mail every time I make a new post (2-3 per week). Site owners just like the idea of knowing that people will read their newest posts…that is why we like a large subscriber base.

LOK HON SAN June 30, 2008 at 3:49 am

Hey Rusty,

What is that blogging class/course that you took? Could you forward a link.

cheers,
LOK

Laura June 30, 2008 at 11:29 am

Hi Rusty!

Welcome back and I hope your trip was amazing (post some pictures!!). I’ve been a fan of your site almost since its inception and I’ve posted once or twice before. I have a question and I’m not quite sure the best place to put it, so I’m asking here, but if you want to move me to right spot, that’s fine too!
I’ve done IF on and off for the past few years to great results as far as losing and maintaining weight. I’m starting to get more serious about fitness and implementing strength training in my routine. Right now, I’m about 5’2″ and 109 pounds and around 21% body fat (25 years old). My question is, how do I choose an appropriate goal weight? I’m definitely not fat, but I would like to be both firmer and smaller. You always emphasize that people underestimate how much weight they really need to lose to look achieve the look they want. So, if I want a really tight, lean body (i.e Eva Longoria) what would be an appropriate goal?

~Laura

admin July 1, 2008 at 1:43 am

LOK HON SAN,

Here is the service I use:

Authority Site Center

This is my secret weapon…a “high end” $397 per month service for serious bloggers. I knew there was a need for non-bodybuilding fitness site, but I wanted to insure that I had the best coaching and best platform to publish on. It has certainly exceeded my expectations.

I know this price unfortunately makes it out-of-reach for a lot of people.

Laura,

That is a tough call. It sounds like you are really close to your weight goal already. If you still feel you need to slim down a little, try to lose 5 more pounds and see what that looks like. It is true that people underestimate how much they need to lose, but you sound pretty close. Glad you have been reading…I always enjoy hearing that people have been long-time readers!

Rusty

tony July 1, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Rusty,

I feel really compelled to post this. I’ve tried a few methods of trying to get in shape such as Body for Life and others but nothing ever seemed to work. I think most plans try to control me. For the last 6 months i’ve been following your cardio workouts and diet method (HIIT approx. 3x per week and not eating 4 hours before and 1 hour after and oh man! I started this year at 200 lbs and are now at 177 lbs.

The funny thing is that my diet is not great. I’m trying to cut down on the beer and I bet more pounds will be lost. I can’t thank you enough! I feel like a new man.

admin July 3, 2008 at 3:18 am

Tony,

I’m telling you, if more people followed this advice of not eating 4 hours before working out and 1 hour after…there would be a lot more lean people in the gyms of the world. This is probably the thing I drill the hardest on this site.

The nice thing about this way of working out and eating is that it allows you to live a balanced life, while still staying ripped. You will want to eat healthy most of the time to insure you not just look healthy, but actually are healthy. I need to eat slightly healthier foods as well. It is something I’m trying to improve.

It is a good feeling to know that now you can stay lean year round…isn’t it?

Rusty

Cory July 4, 2008 at 8:39 am

Hey Rusty, Been a while since Ive commented, sounds like you had a great trip. Thought I would give you a little update on my progress. First of all I joined a gym a few months ago, and no longer workout at home. I have seen more impressive gains and have intesified my workouts greatly as the months have went on. If you remember I was really out of shape at Christmas/New Years, 290 lbs. I am now down to 197 lbs!!! and counting!! (93 lbs. in 6 months!!) I truly am in the best shape of my life! If you remember my goal was under 210 well I shattered that and have more of a moving target now. Now its whatever it takes to get my 6 pack uncovered. Which by the way is getting close (upper abs are just starting to show). I figure in around 10 or 15 more pounds If everything goes well I should be there. And if all continues the way it has been I hope to make that goal by the end of July. But there again I will have to wait and see, because truely I am in uncharted waters for me. I am addicted to getting fit and in shape, even with cutting and eating lower calories I have been seeing modest gains in the gym, and my Cardio fitness has improved greatly! I will be fit for the rest of my life and never let myself go back to being out of shape!! When I finally reach my goal I will let you know. I look like a totally different person now and people are starting to take notice!! Your site has helped me so much along the way, Thanks. Keep it up.

admin July 6, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Cory,

You have made amazing progress. You must look and feel like a completely different person! That is outstanding. I’m completely blown away. Seriously…a lot of people who are over weight are just happy being “average”…I love it that you are going all the way to a ripped six-pack.

Awesome!

Rusty

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