Make your sports blog more personal

This shouldn’t even be an issue. As far as topics to cover on a blog, sports are as personal and emotional as they come. Anyone who’s sat down to write immediately following one of those losses that not only sucks all sense of joy or optimism from your body, but prevents you from watching SportsCenter for a week knows what I’m talking about. Still, you’ll see it, a sports blog spitting out quotes, some bland analysis and possibly even remaining anonymous. Definitely not a good approach.

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger had a couple posts (somewhat) recently on the prospect of making one’s blog more personal. He listed a few things he does on his own blog to assure readers that, yes, there’s actually a person behind this thing.

  • I use my real name

The days of anonymous sports blogs should be long gone. There’s no need for it now. If you’re looking to use your blog as a step towards anything in the future, it’s essential that you put your name on it. It builds credibility and trust. If you write under a pseudonym, no one has any more reason to trust in what you have to say than a commenter. You just happen to write the blog. You’re not just the blogger, you’re the author. Put your name out there and lend a sense of both credibility and accountability to your writing.

  • I share images of myself from time to time in posts and on key pages

This isn’t as essential on sports blogs, where the subject matter is the most important, and not necessarily the author. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include it on an ‘About’ page. Sure, no one cares whether you look good or not, readers just want to see who you are.

  • I share videos where people can see my face and hear my voice

Remember the first time you heard Bill Simmons’ voice? Bizzare, right? Hearing someone’s voice for the first time after reading their content forever can be a little startling but it’s a big step. The next time you read their content you get a completely new perspective and feel like there’s much more of a connection. I’ve been following NBA blogger J.E. Skeets on Twitter for months and reading his writing just about as long but just listened to his ‘The Basketball Jones’ podcast for the first time today. That makes a recent tweet on an NBA blog with recipes for key games a little funnier.

The point is, if you’ve been considering adding audio or video content to your blog, do it.

Alright, there’s a few that are a bit repetitive. Combined here:

  • I include details of what’s happening in my life and family (usually in passing and by way of illustrating something)
  • I tell stories about my experiences as they relate to my topic
  • I use personal examples where I can to illustrate what I’m saying

This can be a blurry. Coming to OKC Thunder blog and seeing a post on the blog’s author picking out a new puppy would be a bit off-putting. But if it was a hideous bulldog that somehow looked like Clay Bennett? May have something there.

It’s all about discretion. In most cases, you should only use a personal experience as a highlight to a post, not the foundation of the post. For example, Notre Dame and NBC recently released an iPhone application allowing Fighting Irish fans to watch football games anywhere AT&T’s shoddy network allowed. If I had a Notre Dame blog I could write a basic review of the app, only going over the video quality and the amount of buffering I experienced. Or I could take a different approach. I was using the application to watch Notre Dame/Boston College while attending the Washington/Oregon game at Husky Stadium. It worked perfect at halftime, better than expected but during other parts of the game, not as well. It’s adding something as simple as that, which is probably more natural than a basic shallow review. Of course, telling a story should always add to was originally intended with the post, not take something away.

  • I try to use personal language (I blog in the first person most of the time)
  • I write in a style that is similar to the way I would speak to a person face to face

This shouldn’t be that difficult, it’s more of a choice than something one would actually need to try at. At all times, one should be professional and write well. If you have an ‘LOL’ in one of your posts, and it’s not a joke, you could probably just shut the whole site down. Write professionally but conversationally. There’s no sense in trying to sound stuffy just to present the illusion of intelligence or writing unprofessionally because you think it’s funny.

When you hit a total block and absolutely cannot figure out how to word a sentence or describe a situation, just stop for a second and think about how you’d phrase it to a buddy after a beer or two (not four or five).

  • I’ve done live streaming question and answer sessions via video

This may not be realistic for every sports blog, whether it’s finding time, equipment or people to watch, but the key isn’t necessarily streaming video interviews, it’s interacting. Respond when you get a comment, reply to all the emails, get out there on Twitter. The last, when used effectively, can be the most important. As with a lot of this, there’s a need for balance on Twitter. Don’t be a robot, only sharing links to your own blog posts and a few other stories; let people know things like what game you’re watching, discuss it, share pictures if you’re there, etc. Of course, if you go so far as to updating people every five minutes with minor items like whether your office feels warm or cold today, you’ll defeat the purpose because no one is going to be following you when you do have something insightful to say.

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