|Posted by Connor Huchton on May 29, 2011 at 3:50 AM|
We live in a harsh, cold, judgmental Internet world. It's a frustrating place, a place where blogs are born and then die in an instant. The progression of a blogger is often consistent in its beginnings, but its end varies infinitely and unavoidably. Finding a niche that hasn't yet been completely fleshed out by an older, wiser blogger can seem like an impossible task. Even when you believe you have a "fresh take" on a story or subject, you probably don't.
The difficulty that exists in creating a self-sustaining, interesting blog isn't entirely impossible to overcome. The key to creating something that is both high-quality and widely read is creating a viewpoint that is different (to even the slightest extent) from the other writers in your field.
A clear example of mass content lies in the ever-growing world of sports blogging. Every tweeter and their mother (Well, not always their mother) has their own WordPress blog or Tumblr. The number of opinions that exist during any given significant moment in sports is incalculably large. The same "news" is reported on hundreds of blogs at once. The formulaic nature of these stories blocks many smaller, non-established blogs from creating any kind of interest in the sports blogging community.
When you glance at the sports "blogosphere" (I really wish that wasn't a term), only a few blogs exist that are fully established as news-reporting sites. A key component of these blogs is the presence of numerous (or at least multiple) writers. For many of these blogs (*cough Big Lead *cough), the production of copious amounts of content seems to be the primary goal. More content, more link clicks, more page views, more advertising, more money, and so on.
A different path taken to garner interest in the sports blogging community is the use of a nuanced, unique, and usually "edgy" view. Prime examples of this method include the sports blogs Kissing Suzy Kolber and Deadspin. Sites like these aren't scared to use "fuck" in a sentence, or post alleged pictures of a veteran quarterback's genitalia. KSK (as Kissing Suzy Kolber is referred to) is a clever, funny site, but its uniqueness often stems from its ability to delve into issues (and speak directly about them) in a way that a more corporate blog like ESPN couldn't.
If I completely understood what makes a blog ultimately achieve success, I wouldn't tell you. I can say that I'm not doing it right. In fact, my blog may be a prime example of one poorly constructed to achieve success.
My lack of success doesn't necessarily stem from the quality or humor of my writing, though that may be part of it. My lack of success largely stems from my inability to fully commit to developing the site to be a source of frequent opinion. Occasionally I might post a blog that's slightly funny or a podcast that's somewhat decent, but my lack of frequency or multiple viewpoints dooms me. I may have nailed the "nuance" part of blog success, but I've completely failed to explore it to its full degree. Two blog posts a week will not pique the interest of the common reader. In order for a blog to reach its full potential (based on the quality of its insight), multiple, rapid viewpoints have to exist, and possess the capacity to react at any moment.
It's also important for a sports blog to have a consistent tone, even if many writers with differing writing styles are featured on the site. A cohesive collective must exist. When I visit Deadspin, I expect the latest "dirt" (I hate describing it that way, but that seems like the most applicable term) about athletes, ESPN, or the tactics of the key policy makers in the sports world. When I go to KSK, I expect to read an article disparaging a Peter King column in a (frequently hilarious) vulgar way. When I visit ESPN, I expect to read a high-profile writer's take or a generic news report. When I visit SB Nation, I expect to read about a specific team from a fellow intelligent, knowledgeable fan or expert. When I read Bleacher Report, I expect to cry.
The key to creating a following that continues to return to your content is to make them expect your specific brand of content to always be delivered, and delivered with frequency. If I visited Deadspin and read three bland news reports about "LeBron's great 32 point game!", the site would lose its relevancy to me. If I visited Deadspin and read the headline "Delonte West visits home of Lebron!", I would feel unsurprised and satisfied with the direction that the site had chosen to take.
What ultimately interests me about the rise and fall of countless sports blogs is that the quality of content is not the most important factor in producing popularity. Methodology wins out, as it always does.
When the formula to success of sports blogs is perceived from a distance, it appears to be almost too simple. Get a couple of like-minded writers together, produce content at a constant rate, and hope for the best . However, that simplistic view leaves out a key component to maximizing the previously mentioned factors: Appeal. And this appeal lies in the creation of a nuance or style that interests a demographic consistently.
The Big Lead, Deadspin, SB Nation, KSK, and any other successful sports blog do have one thing in common: They can only be created and achieve success in their unique manner once. Though new successful sites often springboard from a facet of a previously existing site, their success only continues to a large degree if their content is delivered in a different way. Only so many sites can succeed in the fashion of the SB Nation or Fan Sided blog network-style, unless they are delivered from a different perspective.
So, in my inexperienced view, how can a sports blog find success?
The most problematic issue with combining these factors together is the commitment of time, and often money. Overcoming the above problems is only doable if you spend time consistently creating content and establishing a blog. It may take months or years to create a large following, but it's entirely possible if you're able to be undaunted by the problems that come with searching for success with a sports blog.