As GMG’s resident sports freak, I often find myself relating real-life situations to those I’ve encountered as an athlete or as a fan (ahem, Redskins). From the preparation before the big game, to the way you portray yourself afterwards at the press conference, being involved in a sport, at any level, takes creativity, leadership and a competitive nature to be successful. Just like blogging.
Here are a few ways to make sure that your blog captures the attention it deserves (from my overly competitive, crazy sports fan point of view).
1. Have a plan. You can’t just step onto the field and expect to win the game without preparation and practice, and the same goes for writing an impactful, relevant blog post. To write something worth reading, you have to know your audience, and therefore know what they find interesting – just as a coach and his or her team would watch films of the competition to get to know who they are and what they (typically) will do on the field. What are your readers, or readers you would like to attract, talking about? What topics and issues are important to them? Without the proper strategic direction and preparation beforehand, your blog may be ‘benched’ sooner than you’d like.
2. Keep it real (and relevant). You’re not a fan because you like hearing about who’s not getting along with their fellow teammates, who ‘deserves’ more money, or who thinks they’re not getting enough playing time. You just want to watch the game. No one wants to read about that stuff, either, so keep the corporate news just that – corporate. Have a personality, yes, but avoid getting too political–or boring. Successful blogs are interesting collections of useful, practical, unique, actionable and sometimes humorous perspectives that demonstrate personality, mojo and know-how. If you want another way to get corporate news out there, create an internal blog or newsletter because, chances are, unless you’re Facebook or one of the other Kings of Silicon Valley, nobody will care about your new office space.
3. Be a leader. One of my favorite sayings is, “to be a thought leader, you have to have thoughts.” Every team needs a leader, and every industry needs thought leaders to direct, comment on, and sometimes predict trends. If you don’t demonstrate your creativity and originality, why would anyone want to read your posts? In the age of social media, social readers and eBooks, your readers are already suffering from major information overload, so they’re looking for a voice they can hear above the white noise.
4. Pick a team, and a ritual, and stick with it. As a D.C.-area sports fan, (and I can’t forget my Baltimore Orioles), I’ve had my fair share of disappointments over the past… well, since I was born. A true fan sticks with their team through the ups and downs, especially a team that consistently “shows up” on game day, as opposed to taking you on an emotional roller coaster all season (I know how you feel!). When you gain followers, you’re asking them to read your thoughts on a regular, consistent basis. While not every blog post will be a gem, demonstrating consistency is the key. Just as unpredictable teams break your heart, if you post four times per week, then not at all for two weeks, you’re breaking the routine, and there’s no guarantee the readers will come back. Dedicate resources to ensure you’re able to submit quality work on a regular basis to keep your ‘fans’ happy.
5. Don’t expect immediate results. Quite often, companies will stop blogging after the first month. Just as I believe that the ‘Skins have had a decade-long “rebuilding” process (yep, that’s right), a blog needs time to cultivate, attract attention and gain followers. Stay the course, and don’t pull resources if you don’t start winning awards for “Best Blog Ever Written” right away. Evaluating the success of your blog after a couple months is like expecting your team to win the Super Bowl with a 2-10 record. Success takes time.
For sports, and blogging, the key is to be prepared (practice), know your audience (fans), and earn loyalty by providing quality material and being a leader (performance). And lastly, while it may be your job, remember, it’s also supposed to be fun.