It’s been said that sports mimic life. The process of building a presence in the blogosphere mimics growing in life. If you remember the transitive property from algebra, then you could see that blogging and sports have many parallels. In this post, I break down various sport-blogging comparisons as it relates to growing your blog’s following.
Pick the Right Game
Are you playing the right game? Do you have the proper tools to be successful in a given niche? You wouldn’t show up to the golf course with a hockey stick, right? Put your strengths and interests to work by focusing on creating content that’s related to them. Doing this will make blogging more fun, increasing your productivity in the process. I spent years blogging about random topics before finally settling in on blogging about sports and entertainment marketing. Find your voice, develop it, and own it.
Coaching & Guidance
I would have been writing aimlessly if it weren’t for Mark Schaefer, my awesome blogging mentor. I’d probably still trying to keep up creating content for three (yes, three!) separate blogs. Find an experienced coach who will point you in a right direction and give you honest critiques of your work. You can save yourself years of trial-and-error by doing this.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Yes, like anything that you want to be good at in life, it takes practice. Michael Jordan didn’t win six championships without intense practice. Practice in the blogging sense includes reading the work of other successful bloggers, researching and implementing best practices, and writing like there’s no tomorrow. Practice yields rhythm and rhythm leads to results.
Singles Before Homeruns, Layups Before Slam Dunks
You can’t expect your blogging efforts to result in instant fame when you’re first starting out. Sure, things can seem lonely at times if you blogging your heart out without much evidence of people actually reading. You can’t get discouraged though. Celebrate the small wins. Each quality post that you publish is a win. The eventual cumulative effect of building up your library of content can be an even bigger win (like a book deal), but you must realize that the elements of big success are your individual content offerings.
Build a Team
Every blogger needs support. Your team or tribe is comprised of individuals who will jumpstart the sharing and commenting of/on your content. These people can be family members, friends, co-workers, brand advocates, or fellow up-and-coming bloggers. The key here is to make it easy for your team to support your content. A couple ways you can help the process is by having all the important social media sharing buttons (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+) in place and by having your Twitter handle automatically included at the end of the shared tweets. Lastly, be a good teammate by reciprocating your team members’ support of you by supporting their projects.
There’s nothing wrong with utilizing legal and ethical tools and practices to make updating your blog more efficient. Some enhancers may even stimulate the growth of your blog. First on my shortlist of suggested tools to use on your blog is Zemanta for easy access to royalty-free stock images. Next, I suggest using LinkWithin for the automatic populating of suggested articles from your blog below all your blog posts. The third tool on my shortlist is Yoast SEO for simple yet powerful post tagging and other crucial SEO attributes. There are a ton of tools out there to help your blog grow and easier to manage. I suggest being careful and avoiding any tactics that could result in your site/blog being penalized by Google or any other search engine.
And the Crowd Goes Wild
But not so fast… It takes times to build up your blog’s community of commenters. You can’t expect a crowd to flock when you first start playing a game in a new city. That’s why it’s important to build relationships with other up-and-coming bloggers and leverage your close network of supporters to help you build share content and build momentum. With a nice volume of quality content, consistent presence on social networks, and a semblance of social proof in place, your blog’s community will eventually grow and become more active.
Most serious bloggers get a kick out of analytics. You can and should track social shares, visits and referrals on Google Analytics, and you email subscriber count. Seasoned blogs can consider tracking the number of comments for a blog post as a metric. Warning: These stats don’t always speak to the quality of your content. If you’re confident that your content is quality, properly aimed at your targeted crowd, and you still don’t have the traction you desire, then you might be just starting out, don’t have the proper team support, have a broken blog feature or plugin, or suffering from some other general issue with your promotion. Discover the issue, fix it, keep writing, and keep tracking.
A pinch hitter is a baseball player who replaces a teammate in the batting lineup and hits in their place. In blogging this is called guest blogging. Guest blogging is a great way to learn how to write for a new setting, introduce your brand to a new community, and increase the reach of your blogging talent. Hey, look at me practicing what I’m preaching! Some of your favorite bloggers need a break from time to time. If your “stuff is up to snuff,” then why can’t you be the writer to give them an occasional breather?
It’s time for action. Suit up and enter the game!
Christopher Craft is the author of O.P.E.N. Routine: Four Componets to Personal Branding Excellence. He’s also the Chief Visionary at Nao Media and Consulting, a digital agency for the sports and entertainment industries. You can follow Chris on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, and circle him on Google+.