Starting a sports blog and getting it off the ground doesn’t happen overnight. However, if you want to at least be able to call yourself the sole owner of your very own sports blog, well, that can happen in about 30-60 minutes depending on how much thought you’ve already put into the idea.
Part of what I talk about in my book and online class is that elevating yourself as a sports blogger (depending on what your end goal is) takes time. People talk constantly about how easy it is to start a blog and make a side income, but it’s actually pretty hard.
And the hardest part? Getting started and keeping that momentum going. The biggest problem I have with all those “X Ways To Make Extra Money” articles that live on the interwebs is that starting a blog is typically the first thing mentioned, and they make it sound like anybody can do it without much effort. It’s just not true, and it’s not fair to make it sound that way.
Yes, there are plenty of people either making a living or enjoying a nice side income with a sports blog (or any kind of blog, for that matter). It doesn’t just happen, though — it takes effort and determination to keep going when it feels like progress has plateaued at any particular time.
The most important step, though, is the first one, which is why I always think of this quote, which is one of my favorites:
It’s really true! If you genuinely want to start on this journey, whether it’s to eventually have a complete career change, make some money as a side gig, or just do it because you love being part of the community, you can do it. I’m proof of that. Getting your blog set up won’t take very long — which you’ll see in a minute — it’s everything after that will determine how this journey progresses.
With all that being said, you can follow the following five steps and become a sports blog owner in short order.
- Becoming a Sports Blogger Book
- How to Start a Sports Blog Online Course
- Why Do You Want to Be a Sports Blogger?
Commit to a Blogging Platform
There are tons of blogging platforms out there to choose from, and it’s important to go with what’s most comfortable for you. Some platforms include Gator, Wix, Blogger, Medium, Squarespace, and Weebly, but my personal favorite is WordPress.
I’m a huge fan of WordPress because it provides the most options with regard to themes, plugins, and customization. Plus, it’s also helpful to have options within the options, which is WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
So what exactly is the difference? To put it simply, WordPress.com is a completely free blogging platform, but since it doesn’t cost any money, it comes with quite a number of limitations. Your site’s URL will look like the following: https:// [your blog name] .wordpress.com, which will ultimately hurt your SEO rankings. The .com version of WordPress does allow bloggers to customize their site, but there are also no plugins available — unless you upgrade, of course.
For beginning sports bloggers just setting out on their respective journeys, there’s nothing wrong with starting on WordPress.com while you get your bearings. Upgrading isn’t too hard these days.
The benefit of going toward WordPress.org is that you have full ownership of your content, along with getting the software needed to start a sports blog. That includes web hosting, which you can read a little more about here. I’ve never had a bad experience with Bluehost, which is why that would be my go-to recommendation.
Getting a personalized domain will get the “WordPress” out of your URL, meaning it would look like something to the effect of https:// [your blog name] .com.
Lock in Your Sports Blog’s Name and Niche
These two things are very important on their own, but they kind of go hand-in-hand, too. You’ve gone through the necessary steps on the platform of your choice and you’re on the verge of officially becoming the owner of a sports blog.
But what should you name the blog? It’s good to make sure that it’s not only related to your niche, but you also can’t find a similar one easily out on the interwebs.
So before coming up with a name, it’ll be important to settle on a targeted niche. That sounds like a long and laborious process, but it actually won’t take long. Here are three steps to take if you need help narrowing down to a specific topic:
Step 1: List all the sports and teams you love and follow (from most to least).
Step 2: Write down the websites you frequent to consume content about these sports/teams.
Step 3: In a few words, explain why these sites are your “go-to” for sports information.
I always find it better to have things like this written down instead of just thinking about them — this helps in the decision-making process. And while I know you probably want to write about everything, pick just one sport or team to focus on at the very beginning. Sports blogging is a grind, and if you put too much pressure/work on yourself at the very beginning, there’s a good chance you’ll burn out quickly and never see the fruit of your labor.
An example I use in my Sports Blogging 101 book is Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. He literally spent years perfecting MLBTR before even thinking about expanding to another sport. Once he extended the Trade Rumors brand to basketball, it was then another number of years before diving into football and hockey.
That’s because the old adage of “It’s better to be great at one thing instead of OK at a bunch of things,” holds true here. Pick one specific niche and get really good at covering that particular subject. Doing so allows you time to think, plan, and even take a breath during that specific sport’s offseason. Once you feel comfortable enough as a sports blogger and within that particular topic, then think about expanding — especially if you’re the sole contributor to your blog.
Knowing your niche will help make it easier to settle on a blog name, which is totally up to your creative imagination. Just remember, this is going to be the brand you build around (depending on your eventual goal within this 1,000-mile journey) — it’s hard to just change the name over and over again because it becomes hard for readers to follow.
For example, my current blog, Chin Music Baseball, was named this way for a few reasons. First, I was founding this blog to give my unique opinion on current events in the game, and I knew not everyone would agree with me. Chin music is a baseball term for a pitch going up and in on a hitter, which felt like the perfect phrase. Plus, the “music” portion of the name is a nice play on words for my last name.
Design the Look and Feel of Your Sports Blog
This aspect of creating a sports blog can be intimidating when you don’t consider yourself a technological or computer science wizard. Here’s a little secret, though: it doesn’t have to be perfect! And here’s another little secret: this is an aspect of your blog that you can change as many times as you want (within reason, of course).
Blogging platforms like WordPress make it easier by providing a number of webpage themes for bloggers to sift through and try out before committing to one. There are themes you’ll have to pay for, but there are enough free ones available where it’s not something you have to pay for, at least.
Unless you have a personalized theme created, there are only so many different kinds you can choose between. What will help make your blog personal to you is how the top navigation bar, side widget, and footer widget is formatted. What do you want to make visible? How will people know where to follow you on social media? What else do you think is important for them to have easy access to?
Other than an “About me” and “Contact me” page, you have the freedom to do whatever the heck you want, mostly because it’s your site! WordPress doesn’t have a built-in contact form available. For those who sign up for the appropriate blog plan, you can get the WordPress form builder plugin to help make things easier. If you have to stick to a tight budget at first (most of us do), the WPForms Lite plugin makes sense — it’s the free version of the popular paid plugin, and a highly-rated option.
Create a Content Strategy
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love schedules/routines and those who absolutely hate them. It doesn’t feel like there are many people in between these two — they usually live at one extreme or another.
Whether you love routines/schedules or not, having some kind of content strategy is a good idea because it allows you to focus on what’s important: the actual creation of content.
Virtually everyone who starts a sports blog is doing it in addition to their day job, meaning time is of the essence. Depending on what kind of job it actually is, your daily schedule may change from a week-to-week or even day-to-day basis. That was the case for me as a beginning sports blogger with On The Way Home, so I needed to have some kind of structure for myself.
The specific topics changed, but I had mapped out five different themes for blog posts each week, with a number of them focusing on baseball history in some respect. This allowed me to not waste time thinking of a topic to write about when I had the opportunity to sit down and get work done. When I was just starting out, I found this super helpful.
Nobody knows how you work better than yourself, and it’s important to make every aspect of this experience work the best for you. After all, you’re going to be the one writing the content and making a name for yourself.
Start Producing Content and Share it
Well, this is truly the fun part of starting a sports blog — the whole point of getting one up and running is to share your opinion, perspective, and writing style with the rest of the internet. One of the popular sayings in the industry is “Content is king” with regard to promoting your blog and getting its name out there, and that’s not wrong. The more often you write and publish articles provides more opportunities to get it in front of as many eyes as possible.
But how much is too much and how much is too little? That depends on the kind of blog you want to have. If your blog focuses more on quick-hitter type articles that are very social and don’t take very long to produce, publishing 10-plus articles in a week may not be too hard. But what if you’re focused on longer-form, quality content that takes a while to complete? Then 3-4 articles per week (at the maximum) is likely feasible.
When I first started Chin Music Baseball, I was hyper-focused on quality, so I published only two posts per week. That number has changed throughout the years, but it’s currently three articles per week. This is mostly because of my daily schedule and other responsibilities. Quality trumps everything in the long run, so when trying to figure this out, ask yourself how many articles you can produce without sacrificing that.
And once articles are published, push them everywhere you can think of on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram…the list goes on and on.
There’s a lot more that goes into being a successful sports blogger, but if your goal is to get up and running, then this will help you get there in no time. To get more information and guidance on how to continue progressing through this journey, check out my Sports Blogging 101 book or my Sports Blogs 101 Udemy course.