I have nothing else to say other than writing sports is a small world. You can also be a nobody, write in your underwear, and still land on big time websites as a credible source. Just keep writing and put your best work out there.
A lot of places will advise you rather than write about everything sports-related or sticking with one of the leagues you should focus on a niche for your particular website or blog. Definitely good advice, this can become discouraging and waste your talent.
I’ll use me as an example for the discouragement part. You can be the judge for the latter.
I’m a Philadelphia Phillies fan. I honestly can’t write about them as often as I’d like to because of how incredibly boring they are right now. Sure, there are stories out there. I could continue to analyze Darin Ruf until I know everything about him from how well he hits against lefties to what we can project him to eat for breakfast in May. Instead of focusing on one team, since I pay attention to the MLB entirely, I chose to write about general baseball news on Innings Eaters. I also noticed how well fantasy baseball posts did and rather than start a new blog I made it a feature there. It’s not ideal, but definitely boosts my viewership.
As much as I would love to cover a team, I find it limiting to sit back and dig for ideas when there are plenty out there already that interest me. You’ll see blogs focusing on bad teams tend to run uninteresting pieces after continual losing because of how demoralizing the task can be to find something nice to say.
Instead of writing for a niche audience about a specific topic I find some people can benefit from writing for the sake of finding their voice. Make their style the niche whether it be having great analytical skills, a strong rant-style opinion, or humor.
An extreme example, let’s use Quentin Tarantino. He no longer makes gangster movies. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown were all films that could have easily taken place in the same universe. Furthermore, so could his more recent films deviating from the crime plots. However, the point is Tarantino found his voice. He has a style. He has a personality. You can watch a film and identify it immediately. This should be a goal in writing. Tarantino has achieved this through everything he does as a filmmaker. People see the movies because they know what they’ll get with him. People should read your work because they know what they will get.
While I acknowledge the importance of writing for a certain audience I think many suggestions to new writers are ill-explained. I see lots of writers who begin with a focus on one topic often trail off. Even if it ends up looking silly because of the blog name it doesn’t really matter as long as they’re writing and doing it well. If you’re successful writing about the Phillies then that’s great. But don’t continue with something if your heart isn’t in it.
Niches Shouldn’t Back You into a Corner
Your niche doesn’t have to be about a particular topic. I’ll encourage you to get very knowledge about one thing, but for the sake of not wasting your time on something nobody else really cares about, diversify yourself. Work at making your opinion what attracts the readers, not the specific topic. You’re trying to market yourself as a writer. You are what matters. Let your talents connect and shine through your writing.
I feel like an idiot sometimes when I think of the years I wasted not writing about sports. I’ve followed them religiously at times in my life without putting together the idea I could make a living writing about them. Instead, as an outcast in high school, I focused my attention on trying to become a standup comedian. If you thought breaking into sports journalism was tough try making a table full of five German-speaking tourists laugh on a cold Tuesday night in February in an otherwise empty room. Oh and you can’t swear because one of them is 8-years-old.
Writing about sports never occurred to me until after I joined the new defunct Yahoo Voices. I can’t even tell you what my first sports article was. When it earned me a couple of bucks I began writing about them more frequently. Eventually I was writing daily beats for the Philadelphia Phillies on Yahoo Sports until they shut that program down only about two months later. The decision had nothing to do with my abilities, but I can’t help to feel the universe was against me. The exposure was great and I even heard one of my articles mentioned on the radio in Philadelphia then discussed. Regularly, they’d pop up on the front page of Yahoo too and get tens of thousands of views.
Rather than bore you further with my personal journey let me skip right to the point. How does someone get paid to write about sports if they’ve never done it before?
First you need to know how to read. Then you need to know how to write. Then you do it. Then you struggle for years trying to find purpose.
A less cynical answer involves a combination of writing for free and writing somewhere that pays you a few pennies. Plenty of places do offer monetary compensation and almost all do or should require you to have been published elsewhere. This could even be on a personal blog. I’m not sure anyone ever became a writer without doing it for the sheer enjoyment first and this is the step you must take before anyone wants to read your work.
There are plenty of places where you can grab a free blog. Blogspot and WordPress are the best and I’d rank them in reverse order. Blogspot looks like a blog whereas WordPress can actually become a true website with more options. You should familiarize yourself with whichever you choose and take advantage of the features to make your site easy to navigate, unique, and beautiful on the eyes. I feel people who use Blogspot are usually already established in some sort of industry whereas WordPress is for those trying to capture more of your senses. With WordPress you won’t make money unless you buy the domain and are accepted into WordAds. This is simple, but does take some time. Blogspot supposedly does pay. You’d have to Google for information on that as I’ve never had the patience to stick with it to the point where I could earn anything from them.
Once you’ve blogged for free you’re ready to start getting paid work. Don’t think a few posts will do it either. Make sure you give yourself the time to get better. You probably won’t just jump into writing for a well-known site either straight from Tim’s Cool Baseball Blog. I’d instead recommend Googling yourself to death and finding a place that takes in any stray writer they can find. These sites are great because they let you flourish. Far from popular, they’re a great springboard to something more and typically offer more opportunities. If you’re smart, you can learn a lot from the people who run these sites.
And you can always skip the unpaid blogger and go straight to earning advertising revenue on Sportsblog where I write my blog, Innings Eaters. It’s the place where I’ve consistently put together one of the top viewed MLB blogs on the site since inception back in March. I’ll go over later how to succeed there in another post as I am a huge fan of what they’re doing.
The Abridged Version of Everything You Just Read
Getting paid to write about sports comes down to finding the right already established site to do it. The more experience you have the higher you can aim. Fansided and SB Nation are two sites where you should be able to find a writing gig although newer people won’t get paid. It’s decent exposure and both are two places where you can learn some good habits while networking.
Earning money for your writing should be a goal for everyone as selfish as it may sound. We have a lot more to go over and hopefully you have a little clue as to how you can get started.
I’ve been especially neglectful writing at The Cleat Report and for good reason; I’ve been busy working on Innings Eaters lots. My time at Sportsblog has been fantastic and this week topped any other.
Thanks to Kansas City Royals’ outfielder Alex Gordon, I’m now $105 richer. Gordon, or at least his social media team, reposted an article I wrote for Innings Eaters on his Facebook Page. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking or something I even put significant time into writing. I was just reporting some Gordon news and his camp took notice.
The All-Star outfielder has about 67,000 followers and approximately 4,000 clicked his link. Not only was each click contributing to my bank account, but also helping me move up the a Sportsblog Leaderboards from 16th on June 29th to 12th in 36 hours.
More importantly was my climb into number one on the MLB Leaderboards. Sportsblog has several different places where you can earn bonus leaderboard cash and I took home $55 from the main one for finishing in the dozenth place and another $250 from receiving the most unique visitors from the MLB blogs. This $305 total plus the nearly $80 I made through ads alone made June 2015 my most financially successful month writing as I earned about $385. With this money I can pay half my rent or afford to live in about half of my apartment. Who needs a kitchen anyway?
There’s a major difference between first and second place on the MLB Leaderboards which makes it more exciting. Second place earns $150 with third earning $100. They no longer award blogs further down the list though, which I was able to win some coin from previously in past months.
I had thought second place was inevitable until Gordon’s post launched me ahead in those final hours. I have him to thank for this extra $105, which I should probably spend on memorabilia of his.
To save time, I finally figured out how to add the RSS Feeds of two other sites I have been writing for onto the Widget section of this site. I had already secured Liberty Phanatics, a site about the Philadelphia Phillies, and now have Innings Eaters up there too.
I’m still unsure what type of writing I will do here as both of those sites have me pretty occupied. I’ll likely keep up with some Fantasy Baseball stuff and do plan to write more about my old little league teammates when I get around to it.
I haven’t had much time to write here at The Cleat Report mostly because I’ve agreed to far too many projects. My commitments keep coming and whenever there’s potential for money, power, tigers chained up in the backyard or anything else Tony Montana had I can’t turn it down.
Right now there’s this, Inning Eaters, 365sportsreport, and Fantasy Team Advice. I’m also trying to manage three fantasy baseball teams all while trying to have some semblance of a normal life, or at least what I consider normal.
I’ve been reading a bunch on SEO and other strategies to improve website traffic. As I previously thought, there’s no shortcut. You have to write well, often, and have a big Catholic family that reads every damn word to really see significant increases.
The benefit of writing for sportsblog is that it’s not only free, they also rank pretty well in search engines. The site has a built in following so it’s not up to you to trick internet surfers into reading your latest hot take.
This week, I learned the importance of luck and timing. I wrote a piece about Ichiro Suzuki and only two hours later he was in the news for a controversial play at the plate. Because I had written about him first, even if the topic was different, my blog reaped the benefits. It wasn’t quite as good as the 2,000+ I got from quickly writing about the choice between Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson as the new Atlanta Braves closer, but it was definitely a strategy worth implementing.
Because sportsblog ranks high and goes to google news, writing about players not everyone else is may be the way to go. This weekend everybody is writing about Kris Bryant. Me, I’ll probably write about Omar Infante.