Author: Sebastian Scheplitz
Everyone deserves to follow their dreams doing what they love for a living. Maybe you’ve taken the first step into following yours.
And, if you’re passionate about sports, starting a sports blog can be a fun and extremely rewarding way to do just that.
And yes, you can become a successful sports blogger, too.
You don’t need to be Bill Simmons or Jamie Carragher to have something valuable to say about something you’re passionate about.
We already know you’re willing to put great effort into your content. We know you have something unique to say. You’ve got your hot takes, and your voice deserves to be heard.
And you know what? It’s time to let the world know about it.
Let’s start diving into this topic with our summary video:
Now, it’s time to get a piece of the action. It’s time to learn how to start a sports blog – the right way.
Without further ado, here is our definitive guide to starting a sports blog as well as some expert tips on creating sports content in 2021.
1. Decide On Your Sports Blog’s Focus
You don’t become a top sports blog with millions in readership overnight. That’s just not being realistic.
Rather, consider biting off a little chunk of a sports-related topic that you are ideally knowledgeable in – to make it better than any other blog operating on the same subject.
Therefore, you should consider focusing on a particular sport in a particular geographic location, maybe even only one particular team, or one topic that clearly sets you apart from others already operating in the same crowded space.
Like focusing only on football teams from London, including all rivalries. Or only focus on West Ham, if you want to go really narrow. As an example from another sports, you could highlight the basketball scene in New York, which is not just about the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, but also the streetball scene that draws huge crowds and has its own status among enthusiasts.
That’s what’s going to give you the advantage when creating content that engages and gets your readers coming back for more.
2. Research the Competition
Once you’ve figured out what niche to pursue, it would be beneficial to assess the competition.
And you don’t need any of those paid “fancy tools” to do that. Google, Bing, and other search engines are your friend.
In fact, we’ve already put together a list of the best free keyword research tools you can use for this purpose. Try searching for words or phrases related to your niche and see what other blogs are currently out there.
- Did you find someone with the exact same thing in mind?
- Did you find very little content about your chosen topic?
- How can you make your sports blog better than your competition?
These are the questions that will help you determine if your niche is feasible or if you should consider going back to the drawing board.
These will all be helpful once you’ve progressed to creating your blog from scratch. (Here is another article completely dedicated to different things that you can learn from your competitors: 9 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About Content Marketing)
3. Give Your Blog a Memorable Domain Name
If you’ve never had to decide on what URL to choose for your site, then it is important to understand that finding the perfect domain name for your blog can be a herculean task.
The internet has been around for quite a while now. With practically trillions of websites already out there, you can expect to find some competition for the namespace.
Truth is, the most well-known names and phrases have already been taken and you may never get your first choice for your domain name. In fact, you might not even get a domain name that ranks within your top five.
Your solution is to come up with a list of domain name ideas for your blog, keeping in mind a variety of options in case your preferred one is already taken.
The competition is tight out there, so get your creative juices flowing.
Domain Name Tips for Your Sports Blog
- Stick to a domain name ending in .com. Why? Because everyone is used to them. Other domain name endings may be harder to remember for most.
- Refrain from using dashes or hyphens. Doing so would make your domain name sound like it’s fresh from the mid-90’s – think www.lacrosse-news-today.com or something. Doesn’t roll off the tongue, does it?
- It’s hard to be taken seriously using a free domain. While they are great to start off on, eventually, you would need to get yourself a proper domain name.
- Simplicity is a virtue. What do people think when they see your domain name? Do they instantly know what your blog is all about, or do you have to make them guess?
- Shorter URLs are always better – and harder to come by. The shorter your blog’s URL is, the likelier it is to be remembered.
- How does your URL sound? Do you think there is a chance it could be misspelled? Does the URL look good when you write it down without spaces? Consider asking for some honest feedback.
4. Choose a Hosting Platform
Hosting is basically a fee you pay for storing your sports blog on a server. Think of it as the rent on the storage you occupy.
Using a hosting service will have you pay a monthly fee, but it gives you the benefit of actually owning your domain, apart from giving you more control than going the free route.
Granted, free web hosting sites may be sufficient, to begin with, but do keep in mind that free web hosting plans severely restrict your sports blog’s growth and your opportunities to monetize.
Self-hosting your blog through a paid hosting provider will help you generate ad revenue with a wide array of options to optimize your sports blog’s monetization. Plus, it makes your sports blog much more “professional”.
If you’re the least bit serious about sports blogging, you would know that first impressions count. Not a lot of top sports blogs in the game are on free web hosting plans.
5. Prepare Your First Blog Entry
Ready to make your first blog post? Make sure you plan how often you intend to post a new entry. Especially more so if you’ve only just begun.
That’s because frequent blog posts are critical to building a crescendo of quality content that helps engage and foster a relationship with a new audience.
Ideally, each blog entry would have at least 300 words. Long-form content is awesome. However, there may be some exceptions to the norm. Search engine optimization is crucial, but content is always king. More on this later.
Lastly, one of the best tools you should consider using is an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars are a key component that help content creators plan their output way in advance.
6. Tighten Up Your Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar will help you get on top of your work and execute your plan.
But it’s important not to put the cart before the horse. If you’re just starting (or just barely started), committing to writing posts on a schedule and plotting them on a weekly calendar will already have you making more progress than most novice bloggers.
It’s easy to see why in the context of the sporting/iGaming calendar. For instance, the UEFA has announced that the Champions League final will be held in Istanbul on 29th May this year.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be ideal to write a piece about the history of the Champions League on May 22 (literally a week before the event) since the time left is too short.
To really get ahead of the game, you should consider publishing content well ahead of the schedule when your readers might be looking for more information about it on the internet.
7. Start Blogging
This is the part you’ve probably been waiting for: writing your first post. Now is the time to put pen to paper and establish the tone for your sports blog.
But how to begin? Well, here are some of our expert tips on creating sports content that pops.
See, the top sports blogs in the space prioritize content quality above all through healthy engagement and proper SEO practices to set themselves apart from the pack. (For guidelines, check out our guide to creating SEO-friendly iGaming content).
One expectation most sports blog readers share across the board is their desire for content that they can sink their teeth into; content that is in-depth, analytical, and contextually relevant. Simple enough, but harder to pull off than it sounds.
In essence, a good sports blog should be tailored for readers who are already informed about what has happened in the sporting world.
Apart from the requisite well-thought-out arguments and analysis, the value for readers is in the context. There’s no value in repeating what other outlets have already said – better.
Consider sprinkling valuable tidbits in your content that would satisfy the true sports followers. This includes tactical analyses, little-known facts, and history between two teams, providing sports betting tips and tricks, and using sports-related jargon that enhances their overall experience. THAT’S where the value is.
Another important aspect of planning out your content is to use visuals creatively. Consider embedding a relevant, value-providing video in your content. It’s easy as pie. (Just like our blog posts – we walk the talk, you know?)
Localization and translation are just as essential when writing about sports. Multilingual content that ticks all the content quality boxes we’ve mentioned earlier is a surefire way to expand your readership, build trust, and diversify/improve your SEO.
Now that we’ve breached the topic of SEO, it’s about time we gave you some tips not just on sports blog ideas and creating quality sports content but also how to optimize your content so that more people can read your hot take.
Best Practice: Combine Quality Content With Proper SEO
Combining quality content and proper SEO may seem a daunting task, especially when you’re just starting. That’s why we’ve condensed a common format, as it were, from the most successful blog posts by UK-based authors.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Title. The title provides an overview of what content your readers should expect from your post.
- Introductory summary. This part features a summary of the topic in no more than 1-2 sentences. This information should be found on most, if not all, sports-linked news providers. For instance, this part should explain the outcome of a match or why a team would be interested in loaning out or buying a player.
- Main blog post. This is where your analysis comes in. Your blog might also feature subsections that will require introductory summaries for each.
- Conclusion (optional). Wrap up the blog post with a concluding sentence.
Best Practice: Establish Authority
The best sports blog posts do not simply regurgitate information on sports news websites. Rather, the top blogs focus on why and how something may or may not happen.
Widely-available information regarding a match result, fixture, or game should only very briefly be summarized at the start. The meat of your content should be the much-valued in-depth analysis tailored to the avid sports fan.
Sports readers have very high expectations. They expect feedback from a credible source. That’s because they see themselves above receiving the information they already know about a well-publicized sporting event.
A good strategy for sports bloggers is to position themselves as experts while lowkey acknowledging readers’ sophisticated sporting tastes and sensibilities. The top sports blogs worldwide negotiate this balancing act adeptly by doing the following:
- By omitting background information that sports readers are already expected to know or only briefly mentioning it using synonyms or subordinate clauses.
Example: “Born in Leeds, Erling Braut Haaland might just be Dortmund’s next big thing up front.”
In this example, there is no further information needed for the club nor the player. There is also no need to directly (and maybe condescendingly) explain who Haaland is, thanks to the synonym that allows readers to recognize him from the get-go.
- Sports bloggers demonstrate their authority by analyzing critical moments/data.
Example: “The second half started very ‘chippy,’ but the Polish favorites were left unscathed thanks to the profligate finishing of their Scottish counterparts.”
It’s evident that sports readers turn to blogs for analysis. Therefore, it’s easy to position your readership as knowledgeable of the minutiae of sports but interested in deeper, analytical discussion of said minutiae.
Therefore, striking a balance between quality content, great SEO, and authority is the sweet spot your sports blog audience is craving – and sticking to those tenets is what will take your blog to the top.
In a world hyper-saturated with content, engaging and meeting expectations from an exacting readership isn’t easy.
That said, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find out that the top sports bloggers worldwide wear two hats simultaneously and multitask heavily to deliver top-shelf analytical content while keeping SEO best practices in mind.
A good sports blog, quite simply, is a blog written by sports aficionados, FOR sports aficionados.
Therefore, aspiring sports bloggers should be conscious of how important of a role standards play in meeting content expectations—the difference between a successful sports blog and one that underperforms is by sticking to a proven, winning formula.
Header Image Source: Photo by Md Mahdi on Unsplash
How did you like Sebastian Scheplitz’s blog post “Sports Blogging 101: The Definitive Guide to Writing Compelling Sports Content In 2021”? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for iGaming blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂