How to Start a Sports Blog: a Complete Guide
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Are you a big sports fan? Do you dream of becoming a sports writer? Dream no more, because you can do that from your own home by starting your own sports blog. Whether you want to document the progress of your favorite football team, create a resource for basketball fans, or start a new multi-sports community, a blog can help you achieve that and more.
In this article we’ll take you through the steps to create your sports blog from scratch, including:
The first stage in starting your sports blog involves planning, making decisions, and researching to create a brand and identity for your blog. This planning stage will help you decide on a niche, find the right name for your blog, and build a brand to represent you online.
Find Your Niche
With so many sports bloggers out there, it’s important to make yours stand out. To do this, find your niche — the thing that makes your blog different and makes it appeal to a focused group of people.
For example, a wide sports blog niche might be a blog dedicated to covering U.S. basketball. You could narrow your focus down further to a certain team, a certain aspect of the sport (e.g. workouts for basketball players), or a specific style of blogging — like interviews with sports players or blogs that feature fan commentary. We encourage you to start a blog in a small, defined niche. The smaller the niche, the easier it is to attract your ideal audience.
If you’re struggling to find your niche, start broad and then narrow in from there. According to Entrepreneur, you can start by identifying a broad area of interest like rock climbing. Then narrow your niche down further to find a smaller, more profitable audience to target your blog towards — like rock climbing for beginners.
Once you’ve found your niche and identified what makes your blog unique, you’re ready to move on to the next step — naming your blog.
Choose the Right Name For Your Sports Blog
Naming your blog is often one of the hardest parts of starting a sports blog. We’ve created a guide to naming your blog that should make this step easier for you.
When researching blog name ideas, it’s important to look at other blogs that already exist. You don’t want a name that’s too similar to another or might be confusing for readers. You’ll also want to check that the name you want to use isn’t trademarked or owned by another brand or entity. Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website to run a trademark search.
It might take time to decide on the right name for your blog, but it’s worth it. You’ll stand out in the blogosphere with a strongly developed identity for your sports blog.
Create a Brand For Your Blog
How do you create a brand identity? In the early days this might be as simple as choosing a typeface or font to write your blog name in, acting as a temporary logo. If you aren’t design savvy, you might want to invest some time or budget in designing a logo and brand identity for your blog.
Either way, start creating a strong visual identity for your sports blog. It needs to match your personality, appeal to your readers, and help you move forward, whether that’s through DIY efforts or paying a graphic designer.
Successful sports blogs are those which know their audience well and design their brand and content around them. Think about ESPN and how recognizable their brand is. College football teams are another example of strong branding, like the USC Trojans.
Now that you have decided on what to call your blog and how it will develop over time, it’s time to get technical.
In this section we’ll cover the technical steps you need to make to take your sports blog from idea to launch.
Buy a Domain Name
As part of the process of deciding on your blog name, you’ll have done some research to check it’s not being used by other bloggers or brands.
Hopefully you’ll have decided on a domain name (the web address for your blog) already, but if not our advice is to choose a .com and keep it short and related to your blog name or brand. For example, if your blog is called “XYZ Sports News” an ideal domain name would be xyzsports.com.
There are lots of websites where you can register a domain name, known as domain registrars, but the price should generally be the same — around $13 for a dot com domain name per year. Your web host may also offer a free domain name with a hosting plan.
We recommend Bluehost as they provide a great service and are competitive on price.
Choose a Hosting Provider
Once you’ve chosen a domain name, the next step in getting your blog online is to buy hosting from a web hosting service provider. This is where you pay a small monthly fee for space on a server to “host” or store your blog and its content, so that readers can find and enjoy it.
There are lots of different hosting companies, with plans and packages ranging from very affordable plans for beginners right through to dedicated solutions aimed at growing blogs with lots of traffic. Take a look at our comparison guide for Hostgator vs. GoDaddy to compare two popular hosting sites.
Our recommended hosting company is Bluehost. For only $3.95 per month you can have your new sports blog up and running quickly.
If you decide that you don’t want to invest in hosting and a self-hosted WordPress install at this time, you might want to skip to Stage 3 and check out our guide to the best free blogging sites in 2018.
After you buy your domain name, invest in web hosting, and link the two together, the next step is to install a content management platform. This allows you to create, upload, store, and publish your blog posts and other content.
Our recommended solution for bloggers is WordPress, an industry favorite that’s open source — meaning it’s free to install, and is supported by a large community of developers and experts. It’s a great choice if you want to develop your blog into a community resource, with guest sports writers, forums, or live sports event listings.
The majority of hosting providers make it easy to install WordPress, with a “one click” installation system. Bluehost also offers a managed WordPress hosting plan, with automatic installation included.
Although WordPress is very easy for new users to learn, you can also find a wealth of free help and support on the official WordPress website.
For step-by-step directions on setting up WordPress, visit our guide on how to start a blog.
Find and Install a Theme
Every fresh WordPress install comes with several free themes to choose from, but we recommend finding a third party theme to install as this helps your blog stand out and look more professional.
Choose a WordPress theme that’s likely to appeal to your target audience and ideal reader, as you want your sports blog to be somewhere that they want to visit over and over again.
One of our favorite places to find blog themes is Themeforest. You can browse by type and section, and the “blogs and magazine” section is a great source of inspiration for sports blog themes.
Create Essential Pages
Now that you’ve installed a custom theme, your sports blog is looking great, but it’s empty. Time to build some essential pages and fill them with content.
Every blog is unique, so the pages you create might differ, but it’s always a good idea to create a strong and inviting “About Me” or “Biography” page. This will help readers connect with you and find out more about your sports blog’s history, purpose, and goals.
You should also create a “Contact” page with an embedded email form or email address, so that readers can get in touch with you if they need to. It’s also a great way to encourage feedback and suggestions from readers.
If you want to start using your blog to make money now or in the future you might also want to create a page for advertisers or brands and how they should contact you with opportunities.
To inspire your pages and menu structure, take a look at some popular sports blogs. Sports Illustrated covers a range of sports, and each category has pages for scores, standings, schedules, stats, and where to buy tickets. The Athletic allows readers to browse content by city or team. The Big Lead has a simpler menu, with category pages for each sport. For inspiration on blogs dedicated to one sport, Basketball Nation covers news, NBA headlines, their podcast, and also topics that attract traffic like details on player salaries and rumors.
When you first start a sports blog, you might be full of ideas on what you’re going to write about. It’s an exciting moment when you start writing content for your new blog, and even better when you publish and receive positive feedback from your readers.
A great way to appeal to your readers and attract more of them is to be consistent. A content plan helps during the launch of your blog and in the months and years that follow.
Why Create a Content Plan?
When you’re launching your sports blogging empire, it can be a busy time. You want to make sure that you have an idea of what you’re going to write about so that you can plan in advance.
Here are five reasons to create a content plan for your sports blog:
- To stay focused on your niche and create great content with your ideal reader in mind
- To be consistent and publish new content regularly
- To help you plan your time around what needs writing, editing, publishing, and promoting
- To identify themes, helping you create useful series, and categorize your content
- To make sure you cover upcoming events and don’t miss key sporting fixtures
How to Create a Content Plan
We all plan and work differently, so when creating a content plan for your sports blog it’s best to work to your strengths. This might mean using a whiteboard in your home office with Post-it notes, a digital planning tool like Trello, or a plugin for your blog like the WordPress Editorial Calendar.
Set aside a day at the start of each month or quarter to write a list of ideas or topics you want to talk about in the next period. You could also do this before a big event or tournament starts, so you can plan weekly or even daily updates for fans.
From there, highlight the ones you are most excited about working on and plan these into your calendar. You’ll also want to account for writing time, taking or sourcing photographs, editing, and promoting your content after it’s published.
To help manage your blog, try a system like Airtable where you can create spreadsheets and records with date fields, text, attachments, and more.
What Could You Blog About?
Your content is unique to you and your passions. If you blog about your love for track and field you could cover the latest news from your favorite athletes, training schedules, and workouts. If you coach a youth football team, share your story and your team’s successes, as well as inspirational content for would-be coaches. If your passion is NFL, you could cover the latest news from each team, upcoming events, and a weekly opinion post.
Stage 4: Launch Your Sports Blog
After lots of research, hard work, and fun you’re now at the stage of launching your new sports blog to the world. This is one of the most exciting parts of starting a blog and a moment that could very well change your future.
Before launching your blog, have a good look through it and make sure it’s all working and ready for people to explore. Be sure to:
- Proofread your content and edit it if necessary
- Check that your website is easy to view on both desktop and mobile devices
- Prepare and schedule your blog content, so there’s something for people to read
- Set up your social media channels, if you haven’t already
- Create a mailing list using a service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or ConvertKit (read our comparison guide for Constant Contact vs. MailChimp)
WPBeginner has a useful checklist to ensure your WordPress blog is ready to launch.
Congratulations, you’re now ready to launch your sports blog!
Launch Your Blog
Launching your blog is a big moment, so be sure to create some buzz around it. This might include telling all your friends about your new sports blog, promoting it on your social media channels, or working on a pitch or press piece for interested media.
Another great way to introduce people to your blog is to share it in online communities that you’re part of. A good place to start is by browsing Facebook Groups to find groups that are full of your target audience, or which support bloggers.
Here are a few examples of sports fan communities on Facebook:
- American Basketball Nation NBA (23K members)
- I Love Track and Field (30K members)
- Mountain Climbing (1.9K members)
- NFL Fans Club (9.4K members)
- WWE Sports (4.2K members)
Some communities have guidelines on self-promotion, so be sure to check before posting. If you can’t promote your blog directly, you could become active within the community — answer questions, share opinions, and talk about your passion for your chosen sport. People are curious, so when they click through to your profile they’ll find your blog if you list it in your bio.
Now that your blog is out there, promote your blog and content. You might want to optimize your content for search engines (SEO), build a following on social media, or guest post on other sports blogs. You could also build your own personal brand and authority, and build references back to your blog, by writing for websites like HuffPost Sports.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t have a large audience at first — it takes time to grow your readership and pageviews. Focus on a few things: Create amazing content, build your audience organically, and learn the best blogging tips from us here at bloggingtips.com.