Turn your interest into a hobby, and maybe that hobby will turn into a supplementary income! Almost everyone has a sport they either love watching or playing (or both). However not everyone has the drive and patience to blog about it. If you think you’ve got what it takes to become a successful sports blogger, then make sure you keep in mind the following tips…
Find the perfect (and unique) angle
So you’re a football fanatic? So is half the world’s population, and many fans take to blogging as a means of channeling their love for the game. If you create a generic football blog, then you’re going to be competing against well-established sites with millions of visitors. In other words, you’ll need to specialize in a particular aspect of the sport to cover – or at least offer a totally unique angle, format or editorial style – if you’re ever going to stand out amongst the countless football blogs. Don’t worry about letting your personality shine through – posts with an opinionated flair are more likely to spark debate and engagement in the comments section.
Keep it entertaining
You might be able to write at length on your analysis of a recent sporting event, but a big block of text is not going to lure readers in. As with any website, pay attention to the aesthetics and layout, so that your blog is both visually pleasing and easy to navigate. You might want to mix up the format, incorporating podcasts, images and videos as well as written content. Maybe offer something else of interest to visitors – some quizzes, polls or gallery slideshows, for example. You want your readers to stay hooked without having to stray off topic. The more entertaining they find their first time on your blog, the higher the chance that they visit again or share your blog with others.
Know your subject…
Finding a great niche or angle is all very good, but not much use if you don’t write with confidence, or if you are unable to offer relevant and comprehensive information. The best sports blogs are run by people with not just a passion for the game, but also with experience in that particular sport and its industry. For example, a rugby coach is more likely to offer interesting and informed insight into industry news than someone who is not directly involved in the sport. Why would people trust your commentary on a match if you don’t have enough experience and involvement to know exactly what you’re talking about?
…and keep expanding your knowledge
Stay on top of industry news, emerging trends, rising stars and gossip in your field. Understandably, you won’t have the same resources or contacts as a major publication – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take measures to ensure you are amongst the first to know about breaking news or rumours. Use Google alerts, read other websites and sign up to Facebook groups and forums to ensure you’re never the last to write about trending stories.
Decide on how frequently you want to update your blog – and be consistent in sticking with this schedule. That will require you to be disciplined and set aside sufficient time for your blog each week. Four posts per month is around the minimum you should be writing if you want a regular flow of traffic. Depending on what publishing tools you use, you may be able to ‘queue’ your posts so that they are staggered over a set period of time (only do this if your posts are not time-sensitive.) Everytime you update your blog, be sure to share the post on social media.
Be proactive – do interviews!
The best way to ensure you’re the first to write on a particular topic is to go out there in search for your own stories. For example, if you’re writing about hockey, go to a hockey match and talk to the fans. Reach out to players or athletes on social media. Make local contacts that can provide you with quotes, figures and news. If you’re writing about poker, sign up to the best online poker sites or visit poker forums where you can get in touch with players and interview them. Has there been a scandal in your sport’s field? Do your own investigative work! The best sports bloggers approach their hobby as if they were serious journalists, investing time into finding the best places and most interesting people to inspire their content.
Promote your blog
Before your blog gets popular and gains traction, you can’t really expect the traffic to just come pouring in. You will have to take some steps to gain exposure, without ever resorting to spammy or dishonest techniques. This isn’t hard – but it can take some time. If you are, for example, running a blog about horse riding, then make a list of all the online chats and forums where users might be interested in what your blog offers. Introduce yourself and post your blog’s link together with a description of what they can find there. You might also want to reach out to other horse bloggers or online magazines and ask for some exposure. If your blog is relevant and of good quality, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to give you some free promotion.
Monetize – the right way
There are plenty of ways you can earn some extra cash through your blog. The most common two methods bloggers employ include pay-per-click ads and affiliate links. Keep in mind that you should only advertise products which are relevant and which you can personally vouch for. If you write dishonest reviews or publish deceptive ads then you’ll eventually lose the trust of your audience. The moment you start seeing your blog solely as a money-making machine is the moment your blog loses any form of authority within its niche. People appreciate a blogger who writes out of passion, and not just for profit.
That’s it! Well, actually, there’s a lot more that goes into running a successful sports blog, but the above points should offer a good starting point. Above all – have fun with it, and don’t expect to succeed in creating the next ‘Deadspin’ overnight.