Starting any blog can be a frightful proposition. Starting a sports blog from scratch can be especially daunting. How will you get noticed? What can you bring to the table that the blogs already covering your team or sport aren’t doing? Will you ever get more than just a handful of readers?
Sometimes, timing is everything. And I happen to think that right now just might be the best time for anyone to start their own sports blog. So much so I’m offering an online course on starting your own successful sports blog.
Here’s why I think now is the time…
1. The Summer Doldrums
With the exception of MLB and MLS, all of the major pro and college sports are in their off-season. That means that if you want to write about the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA Basketball or NCAA Football, now’s the time to plant your flag in the ground and start building. The off-season is a great time to start writing your pillar articles that will attract first-time readers. Now that they’re coming, it’s also a great time to set the tone. Establish your street cred, talk about how you became and fan, name your favorite games & players and take some playful shots at your rivals. Take this time to let readers know that, once the season starts, they have to come back here to read what you have to say and join in the conversation.
And if you do want to write about MLB & MLS, that’s fine too. Use the upcoming halfway-points of the seasons as jumping -off points with first-half reviews and second-half predictions. Consider the rest of this season as a blog-building exercise with your eye on next season when you really make your mark.
2. The Lockouts Are Your Friends
The NFL and NBA are embroiled in lockouts right now. Usually, the NFL preseason talk would be full steam ahead right now. Instead, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lack of team/player-specific news to discuss. If you’re going to blog about an NFL team, you’ve been given a freebie here. Jump right in and start writing. Write about where the team has been, where it’s going, what to expect once the lockout is over, how fans should cope in the meantime. Whatever you do, create content. Just because they aren’t playing football, doesn’t mean the appetite for NFL news has diminished. Take advantage of it.
The NBA lockout might drag on for a year. Maybe longer. It’s pretty-wide open. So if you’ve got a team or idea in mind, build it now. Use the lack of concrete news as a chance to set your foundation with pillar articles, what-ifs, scenarios and other pageview-grabbing posts. If you can hook fans now, they’ll come back when the lockout eventually ends. And you’ll be there to reap the rewards.
3. Niche, Niche, Niche
I write a Syracuse blog and I’m one of many. What’s great about the Syracuse blogging community is that while there’s over a dozen consistent blogs out there, we all bring something a little different to the table. NunesMagician is humor-focused, Orange Fizz focuses on recruiting, Cuse Country is all about SU basketball, Orange44 is the elder statesman of Cuse blogging and Hoya Suxa is dedicated to hating rival Georgetown. And there’s still a lot of niche’s in-between to be mined. Just because there’s one, two or even five successful blogs out there for the team you love, it doesn’t mean the door is closed to anyone new. Use this time to find out where you fit in, be it with a unique voice or concept, and let readers know what makes your blog different. As many sports blogs scramble to create content in the off-season, it’s your chance to get noticed and break through the clutter.
4. The Rise of the Networks
Blogging in general is growing up. The Wild West mentality is starting to get co-opted by Big Business. We can see this in the rise of ad networks, especially in the sports realm. Networks like SB Nation, Bleacher Report and Bloguin, to name a few, provide bloggers with platforms, tools and advertising revenue to make it easier for them to reach the masses. As someone who belongs to a sports network, I can tell you it has its advantages. Of course, there are disadvantages as well, including a limit on certain kinds of content and advertising-related issues.
An independent blogger just starting out can use this to their advantage. A fresh voice standing out there without corporate partners and fancy platforms can speak to audiences disenfranchised by style over substance. Blogs grew out of an appreciation for free-flowing conversation, tell-it-like-it-is mentalities and unlimited opportunities. Networks and advertisers limit all of those things so a blog unencumbered by them has value, if used wisely.
If you agree that now’s the time to start your own sports blog but you’re not sure how to go about it, check out my upcoming online course, Sports Blogging 101: Start Your Own Successful Sports Blog. This 3-part course will provide you with the basics to get started, the tools to create content, the knowledge to grow an audience and the ways to monetize it all. The first class takes place Wednesday, July 20th at 6pm EDT. Hope to see you there!