One of the easiest niches to get into is sports â€“ itâ€™s a market with the perfect ingredients for a blog. You have:
- Fanatic demand (sports fans are crazy, emotional, opinionated and active community members).
- Low competition (most fan blogs are â€“ in my view, crap. The sports industry as a whole is crying out for quality fan-produced content, and thatâ€™s where you come in. To add to that, there is very little being done in the search marketing space with sports blogs â€“ I know this from personal experience).
- You have a lot of opportunities to earn money from this niche, provided that you are creative (selling affiliate goods directly will not work for example, as sports fans are exactly floating in money all the time).
So, with one eye on the 2006 Fifa World Cup (thatâ€™s soccer to you Americans), letâ€™s talk about what you need to in order to blog about a sporting event.
Create a Timeline
Obvious as it may seem, you can get a lot of benefit out of creating a timeline for the event and breaking it down into distinct sections. Once you have the event divided up into sections in time, you have a much better idea of what stages your coverage will go through. You will also be setting separate goals and objectives for each of these stages, but not yet.
First, you need to find your focus.
>Pick your Theme
Pick a theme for your coverage. Do you have a favorite team (team sports) or a favorite athlete (individual sports)? If it is a multi-sport event, pick your favorite event(s). In simple terms, pick out a few specific, identifiable themes from the event that you are interested in (or barring interest, you think would be the most interesting for your readers).
This will help you find your primary focus for your event coverage. Throughout the sports event, it is going to be very tempting to try to cover all the news â€“ using these themes, you can reorient yourself and focus on only that in which you are truly interested. For the rest, you can setup a daily â€˜linksâ€™ or â€˜briefsâ€™ post in which cover all the interesting news that you did not have time to cover.
Set specific goals for the event, with respect to the following:
- Individual themes
- Each â€˜stageâ€™ of the event
- The â€˜big pictureâ€™ / overview of the event
- On creating interest in your coverage of the event
It is important that you set yourself these goals â€“ they will keep you on track as well as keep you motivated throughout the event. At the very least, this is going to be a heavy period of blogging, so you should also think about your other responsibilities. In my case I have delayed projects and taken time off from most of my other blogs in order to immerse myself fully on covering the World Cup.
Iâ€™ve said this before, and Nick and Chris have said it time and time again:
To be successful, you have to be able to execute on your plans. This meets meeting your goals, not only for each stage of the event but also for the themes you have picked (the focal points for your blog).
If you do something like this, and if you plan on covering it properly (that is, following news and actually providing timely updates instead of putting up a â€œall-links-lumped-togetherâ€ post at the end of each day, then this will take a lot of time and effort. For me, the World Cup has not even begun yet and Iâ€™ve already spent two full days working on my football blog (albeit half of that time was spent redesigning it).
Make the best of your resources to â€œget the job doneâ€. It will pay off in spades by the end.
Make a list of 4 to 5 different things you can do (other than just blogging about the event) that will generate interest in your readers. If you are programming-inclined you could put together a scoreboard widget (like Microsoft did for the World Cup). If you are a designer you could put together a new design for your blog specially in anticipation for the event (something that I did for my football blog).
Thereâ€™s a lot more you can do â€“ podcasts, picture galleries, strong opinionated content and more, but the key here is what I said earlier regarding execution: you have to be able to carry out your plans fully. Itâ€™s no use setting yourself lofty goals if you cannot keep up with them. Work hard, but remember your limits.
It really, really helps if you have a team of bloggers. They can share the blogging load, contribute in different ways (images, programming, etc) and best of all, it always helps to have alternate opinions on a blog.
If youâ€™re going solo, then good luck. Youâ€™ll bloody well need it.
This post is actually inspired by another post I wrote on blogging elsewhere. In it Iâ€™ve shown exactly what goals Iâ€™ve set for myself (and the blog) for the World Cup and how I plan to accomplish them. If you are interested, hereâ€™s the link: blogging about the World Cup.
I see this article is pretty old 2006, but things have changed now. A few things have to be update about your strategy.
Social Networking sites have kicked in, and it’s good traffic if you have linked your blog posts with Twitter for example.
Competition has gone up, so you would have to put some work into SEO for sure and backlinks to get top spots in SERPS.
Google’s sandbox is also something that will delay your “success”. My blog just turned 6 months and it was recently taken out of it. So the real work starts from now.
As for affiliate marketing… a lot of football clubs now are sponsored by bookmakers, so it’s not a bad idea to promote few of them. Most of the sport sites and blogs do that.
If your blogging from a sports event
I would recommend taping the game so you can go back later that night and clean up anything you might of missed.
If you are blogging live results for a fight you don’t have to write about when nothing is happening in the ring or cage for that matter now.
If you are doing live results just report the major facotrs. You don’t have to right A-Rod swings and misses every time he does (If its the playoffs it could be a lot).
Keep it simple. People are reading it because they want to know a summary about the event. They don’t want a detailed account of the game.
Markus – thanks for the kind words.
If anyone is interested in blogging about the World Cup, get in touch with me asap
Ahmed, extra little gift for you 🙂
Ahmed a PDF calendar is a one way or dead end solution. You don’t have to have a techy audience for it. For your audience you just implement the iframe(s). For your site promotion you use the RSS feeds through FeedBurner or by pinging FB.
Regarding the time consumption … It is only a matter of seconds to add external public calenders. If you want to add your own links to every entry just download basic iCal calendars and add your content and import the data to your calendar.
Oliver – PM me the link to your F1 site. I used to be a big fan, but don’t have time to watch it. Would be great to get something to read about it though (wonders of RSS, eh?)
Raj – I figure you can still blog about the Olympics – just pick a country and a couple of choice events, and blog your head off. One thing though – doing an event specific blog is in some ways harder than doing a sports blog, although you could do a Olympics-only blog – a nice niche for earning AdSense income from the archives.
Frank – think she can blog about it too?
As far as monetization is concerned, I’ve started with AdSense, but I don’t expect that to do me much good. I’m exploring different opportunities here and my objective is to pick up advertising that fits in with the design / feel of the site. Perhaps individual review pages (ref webuildpages.com), text links (TLA) and individual deals with sponsors in the sports merchandise niche.
Markus – Excellent idea about the calendar – I do have a downloadable pdf available for the world cup schedule, but the calendar idea sounds pretty good too. My only possible arguments against it could be time and not having the right techy audience for it. Then again, I’ll definitely try it, although I could use some help with the tech bit (time constraints again).
George – good luck
This is some of the best advice I have seen. My wife and I covered the Winter Olympics and it worked out really well. It took a ton of our time during the Olympics. She did the writing and I did most of the promotion, plus I created weekly olympics trivia quizzes leading up to the olympics.
We started an overall sports blog, but we started it without a clear plan in mind. In order to make it succeed we would need to get a lot more writers for it. I am not sure that we will ever do much with it. It’s much easier to create a more niche sports blog or to cover an event.
As soon as the winter olympics were over, we started up a summer olympics blog and have planned on creating some unique content for the blog. We have a friend from Germany who is going to be working with us.
In other words, the advice in this post matches up with our experiences.
Excellent advice. Now, I am going to add it to my delicious bookmarks…
Just to get the blog rolling I recommend to create one or more public group calendar(s) on i.e. AirSet.com to have public RSS and iCal feeds. Throw in a link to your page/articles (AirSet: location) and the perfect side-kick is born.
You can easily publish your created calendar as iframe (example: calendar on sankt-georg.info).
And best of all to get your new calendar rolling you can subscribe to other public calendars! This way it is easy to have an attractive value for networking in the same niche!
Your post caught my eye because my daughter is an avid soccer player (guess that tells you where I live!) and World Cup is highly anticipated in our house.
I’m curious how you plan to monetize your blog. You mentioned lots of opportunities to earn money, but I didn’t see any mention of specific opportunities.
I recently started my second blog – a Formula One site – in January, prior to the March start of season. And I wish I had Ahmeds post here as a reference before I started.
My blog has different peak times to most – F1 happening at the weekend tends to create spikes in visitor counts on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays – and I guess that is something that needs to be considered when writing for a sports-orientated weblog.
Generally speaking, Ahmed is absolutely correct in saying that it helps if you have more than one opinion being voiced. Something I need to work on…
Thank you Ahmed – a great article.
Frisbee blog, anyone? No, seriously. These are great instructions. I had tentative plans last year to go teach English in China, stay until and through the 2008 Beijing Olympics (blogging live), then go back to Canada for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, etc.
But then I did a reality check. It is really not that easy to sports-blog all by yourself. As Ahmed says, team up with other bloggers. I’d say put together a team of unlike-minded people. That way you don’t have 5 bloggers who all like the same sports team. Someone with a bit of organization skills could really come up with a killer sports blog network that doesn’t smell of big corporate networks.