Thursday, April 28, 2011

ESPN's Bill Simmons to Launch Grantland

Today on ESPN's PR site, MediaZoneGrantland.com -- Conceived by ESPN's Bill Simmons -- to Launch in June.


You can read more about the announcement via the first link above.


To sum up what this means for the sports blogging world: this is the equivalent of Batman, Superman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman as college undergrads -- after lots of drinking, partying and watching crappy reality TV --  finally launching Super Friends on graduation day. No one knows what to expect or where this will go, but the excitement is palpable and forces everyone to pay attention.


What do you expect from Grantland?

Interview with a Sports Blogger: Jed, Sports-Glutton.com

Whenever possible, I'll be posting Q&A with sports bloggers. The goal is to get to know the players in the industry and celebrate those dominating their niche online. Interested? Email or @ mention me.



Jed runs both sports-glutton.com and golf-glutton.com, and if the name isn't a dead giveaway, he gorges himself on sports, food and "adult libation" tips, as he might say. You can reach him directly on Twitter or via email.


Sports blogging is the main course, and the meal starts now. Let's dig in...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Your Blog Sucks (via ProBlogger.net & Matthew Kepnes)





Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt's Travel Site offers the blog equivalent of a "drop and give me 50!" command on ProBlogger.net this week. So if you're looking for some midweek inspiration (more like roundhouse kick to the face) check out Matthew's guest post, Why Your Blog Sucks.


My favorite quote from the ProBlogger post:


Blogging, like it or not, is a business. (Sure, you can write a blog just for mom and dad but I suspect most people reading this article want to make a serious business out of their blog.) Blogging is like any other profession. You don’t get better unless you improve yourself. But if you already view yourself as the best, you limit your ability to become great, because you make yourself blind to your limitations.


Rock on, Matthew!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tips for Live Blogging Sports

Over the past week, I've been discussing the merits of live blogging a sporting event. My first post on the subject covered some of the basics and outlined why I'm a believer in avoiding in-game live blogging.

But there are absolutely a few instances to use live blogging to convey information.

Before we dive into them, a bit of a disclaimer: this is just my opinion, and I encourage you to agree, disagree or add more color to my views in the comments section or on Twitter. My goal here is to expose just a few valuable approaches to live blogging as a sports blogger.

Additionally, if you're looking for generic blog tips or an overview of live blogging, I'd recommend more overarching sites like ProBlogger.net or longer examinations such as Colin O'Keefe's post on Past the Press Box. And here's a great ode to live blogging as well.

Above all else, no matter how you convey info and express yourself online, remember that your words must provide value to someone if you plan on blogging for an audience.

Now, onto the rundown!

Live Blogging Use Case #1: Exclusive Events

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Live Blogging Sporting Events

If print media answers the question, "What happened?", then live blogging, if used correctly, answers, "What's happening?" But too often, live blogging sporting events is abused and misused. 

(If you're new to the concept, live blogging means dynamically updating your blog posts as an event unfolds and/or using a real-time conversation widget to share information and potentially reader questions during an event.)

The next few posts to BDL will examine live blogging in the sports blogosphere. In particular, we'll discuss the pros and cons to continually updating your blog while watching a game -- or, as I like to call it, the "Already Watching This" Syndrome. (I explain below.) 

Already Watching This Syndrome, Explained (told you)

Kevin James describes the syndrome pretty nicely in the first 60 seconds:


When you live blog a sporting event, chances are high that your would-be readers are already watching the very same event. (If you're a Knicks blogger, your readers are Knicks fans and -- you guessed it -- they watch Knicks games! You're sharp. You're a sports blogger. So you already knew this. But stay with me...)


Should your fans log onto the blog during the big game, your live blog merely acts as the girlfriend pulling their collective arm and pointing to the TV. "Watch this part! I mean really watch!"


We get it. You're handing us a text rundown of the action we can see already...in video.


Live blogging in this particular vein adds little value to a fan's experience of a game (unless you're in the press box or in the stands, where you have access to info and activities the typical fan wouldn't notice on TV)


As I mentioned here, I'm a big advocate for ensuring you're adding value in some way when you publicize your thoughts and words, especially during games.


So how do you live blog and still add value? For starters, don't live blog that often during games, if at all.


Now this isn't to suggest that live blogging doesn't add value, period. If used during a conference or exclusive gathering, you can offer a wealth of information to your readers and create digital "attendees" that can even interact with actual event participants. MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference comes to mind as the perfect place for sports bloggers to live blog. Think of the benefits to readers:
  • You provide instant analysis, key quotes and a digestible summary of an event that, without your blog, your readers would miss until after the conference ended.
  • You offer a means for readers to pose questions sent through your blog to the event's speakers, given the right type of event.
  • Speakers are held more accountable, as readers with the time and technology on hand can immediately check facts and figures.
Posting live during this kind of event busts open otherwise closed doors. That is unbelievably valuable (not to mention an incredibly cool feat for you to accomplish). Platforms such as CoveritLive are also available for bridging the gap between current events and digital audiences.


But remember: should you choose to live blog, keep the in-game summaries to a minimum. Don't be that annoying girlfriend (or boyfriend). Otherwise, prepare to watch some of your readers get cozy with another blog.

During the next few posts, I'll look at a few positive use cases for live blogging sports, as well as the best practices for live blogging in ways that adds true value to readers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Defense Of Sports Bloggers, from AaronTorres-Sports.com

In Defense Of Sports Bloggers - a well-written, poignant and refreshing post by Aaron Torres - could easily be the Blog Don't Lie slogan.

I won't re-invent the wheel (or in this case, the blog post) by providing my own rant on how sports bloggers can be legitimate, even if print media may still not see it. Instead, I highly recommend checking out Aaron's blog, particularly this post in which he stands up for you, for me and for any legitimate, thoughtful and passionate fan blogger.

(You can follow Aaron on Twitter for more discussion, or even download his mobile app. Now that's a passionate fan blogger!)



A few key quotes to whet your appetite for debate and for being fanatical about your industry, sports blogging:

Believe me, I’ve dealt with negative, mean-spirited idiots here before. Hell, just last night I had to block someone on Twitter that made a couple of really nasty comments. It happens. It’s what I signed up for. When your job (or hobby) includes putting your thoughts and opinions out in a public forum, you’re opening up yourself for criticism. Fair or not, that’s life. If you don’t have thick skin, find something else to do.

--

[...] blogging isn’t a bunch of guys in their underwear sitting in a dark basement (As a matter of fact, I’m wearing pants as we speak). What blogging is, is the ultimate meritocracy. Yes anyone can start a blog, but if you don’t have anything fun, clever, interesting or unique to say, people aren’t going to read your work, or come back to visit your site.

--

To me, there’s a difference between unearthing good information and ruining lives. And Deadspin certainly toes the line between the two.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Top Sports Bloggers

Sports bloggers haven't always mixed well with traditional media (just see the first paragraph in the link below). If you're looking for disruptive and insightful people to follow, regardless of their connection to traditional media or their disdain for it, I'd recommend this Sportsgrid post (Sportsgrid is the sports arm of Mediaite): Top Sports Bloggers

Examined in this list are the big guns stirring the pot in the industry, the top tweeters and the bloggers flying under the radar.

Shock value: one of the most influential Twitter handles to follow...belongs to an octogenarian.

No shock here: the biggest, baddest, Boston-est blogger on the block...is Bill Simmons.

Friday, April 15, 2011

In-Game Tweeting by Sports Bloggers

I follow a lot of sports journalists, sports bloggers and sports fans on Twitter. I'm amazed at all the great analysis and all the passion that I see in my feed daily. That insightful look at sports trickles over to blogs as well. The availability of information in multiple media (text, infographics, video, etc.) has vastly improved blog quality (at least when the blogger chooses to create original content rather than repurpose it).

But in-game comments by fans and media members without credentials to that event is now easier than ever to access. We're walking a fine line between excellent, immediate info and mountains of meaningless comments and noise to filter in order to find quality. 

Over the next few posts, I'll explore this phenomenon of instantly available sports info and instant analysis and commentary.

But it's Friday, and you need to get out of the office or out onto the quad (if you're doing the latter, take me with you?). So let's keep this short and sweet:

In-Game Coverage: To Tweet, or Not to Tweet?
Trick question!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jim Murray, Hall of Famer, Keeps Inspiring Sports Journalists

In this post:
  • An organization doing amazing things for aspiring sports writers and sports bloggers.
In 2006, I was fortunate enough to win the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation scholarship for aspiring sports journalists.

If you're in school and have any inkling that sports journalism in whatever form is for you, this is an organization worthy of attention. Each year, the foundation awards about seven scholarships to college students across the nation who participate in their essay contest (always sports-focused).

The late Jim Murray, for those of you who may be new to the name, was nothing short of an extraordinary writer: a Baseball Hall of Famer, he was a founding writer of Sports Illustrated and wrote for both the LA Times and Time magazine.






As a junior at Trinity College in Hartford, I discovered the scholarship on a newsletter lying around the English department. I quickly learned the Murray was a graduate of Trinity and immediately submitted my application.

The topic every year is sports-related (mine was to discuss a strategy around a one-on-one interview with the president of your Division I university following a nationally publicized football scandal).

At the scholarship reception, I was able to meet some former athletes (Steve Garvey and I had dinner together) and make some connections at places like ESPN (which led to my working there). It was an incredible experience for me and my family, and one for which I can't thank the scholarship and the founder, Linda McCoy-Murray, enough.

So check out the JMMF -- and give me a shout if you win it.  ;)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sports Blogging Panel: New Media means "the Renaissance of Journalism"

Back on Thursday, March 10, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland held an event entitled "New Wave Meets Old School", a panel of leading sports bloggers who discussed changes in sports journalism and the blogosphere.

The night's main goal was to surface and discuss the challenges facing sports journalists in the face of new media (the focus was squarely on blogging and Twitter). Below, I'll pull out some of the more revealing or insightful comments by the panel, a group that included:


Friday, April 8, 2011

How to Get Started Sports Blogging



I've read a lot of social media gurus' advice for aspiring bloggers lately on how to launch, how to find your voice, how to start connecting via social networks, etc. My single greatest takeaway from all this reading: everyone's got an opinion.

Here's mine:
EXPRESS YOURSELF!

If you are thinking of blogging, then blog! And blog for you.

I've had several job interviews during which one of my older blogs became a 5-10 minute conversation (whenever I blog, it goes on my resume). It's an easy way to prove to potential employers a number of things about yourself that would otherwise be hard to convey in a 30 minute interview. 

I remember one conversation I had while interviewing with a large sports media outlet for a PR role, about 6 things came out of one simple question I received: "So tell me about this blog of yours."

  1. I explained my interest in the topic the blog discussed...
  2. my background in writing...
  3. and journalism...
  4. my interest in social media...
  5. my ability to promote and optimize the site...
  6. and my ability to put my writing and face in the public eye a la PR jobs.
Your blog can convey similar things, as well as your creativity, initiative and responsibility (obviously, if you haven't updated in 4 months, it may not be worth putting the site on your resume).

The kicker: I didn't get the job offer (they kept it in-house)! But the conversation I had helped me create a strong tie that I still maintain today, which will help me with future opportunities. (I'll admit -- I'm young in my career; it's not like I've had dozens of interviews to this point.)

So if you're thinking of blogging, just blog! Write what's in your heart and on your mind. Be passionate! It's okay to launch a blog that's for you and you alone. In fact, without that self-interest, the blog will stall and flop.

If you change your goals, you can get there too with a little extra hard work.

And if your passion is sports, well, I don't remember the last time you needed to pass any test or receive any certification to express yourself as a fan.

You don't ever need help
From nobody else
All you got to do now:
Express yourself
- Charles Wright

Happy Friday, everybody. Feel free to express yourself if you agree, disagree, or just plain want to chat about sports and sports blogging.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sports Bloggers: Few in Number, Loud in Voice

To help sports bloggers better understand their industry, I've been diving into Technorati's State of the Blogosphere this week. I first introduced you to this annual study before summarizing the colossal shift in the industry over the past year or so.

Today, I want to answer two questions:

1. What's the DNA of the blogosphere? (Demographics, types of bloggers, motivations, influences, interests, etc.)
2. Where do sports fit in the blogosphere? (Prepare to be humbled.)




BLOGOSPHERE DNA

Bloggers can be divided into four distinct types, each with their own set of goals and purpose when they write or record their posts. The quick and dirty:

Hobbyists (64% of all blogs): The backbone of the blogosphere. If you're reading this blog, or you write a sports blog as a fan, chances are this is you. You blog for fun to express your opinions and typically don't expect an income. You measure success by personal satisfaction over all else.

Self-Employeds (21%): The second largest group, over half own companies and blog about their businesses, while 1 in 5 say the blog IS their business. They're driven by gaining greater visibility via their blogs (though they do so alone - 66% said they run the site as the lone writer/contributor).

Part-Timers (13%): These bloggers find supplemental income through their blogs, or else blog as part of their day jobs. Success for them is a mix of personal satisfaction and unique views.

Corporates (1%): Many corporate bloggers arrive on the digital scene with traditional media backgrounds. Over half blog to share know-how in the industry, while 39% say they blog to be featured in traditional media.


DEMOGRAPHICS
  • 66% Male
  • 65% ages 18-44
  • affluent/education:
    • 79% have college degree (43% grad degree)
    • 33% Household Income $75K+
  • 81% blogging for more than 2 yrs
  • Professionals average 3.5 blogs, 10+ hrs/week
  • 11% use it as primary income source
  • 33% used to work in traditional media
  • Evenly distributed by region
    • Top 5 states with most blogs (in order): CA, NY, TX, FL, IL

SPORTS BLOGGING

Sports creates arguably the best excuse to blog: everyone has an opinion, you brand yourself with your team's logo and loudly express your opinions for the public to hear in reality…why not do that digitally?

However, despite the millions of sports fans globally, sports comprises a very small percent of the overall blogosphere. Just one percent of all blogs (and one percent of Hobbyist bloggers) focus on sports as the primary topic. To compare to other common topics: five percent of blogs focus on business; eight percent focus on politics; 10 percent tech; and 18 percent personal musings (the largest primary topic in the blogosphere).

There is some nuance to this number, however, as this discusses just the primary topic. Ten percent of all blogs at least touch on sports, which is significant considering the breadth of topics available.

Additionally, major sporting events tend to dominate the space seasonally: in 2010, the World Cup was the fourth "most blogged" topic and seventh "most read"; the Winter Olympics were ninth and 10th, respectively.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU

The number of true sports bloggers is small in comparison to other topics. This promotes exactly what Blog Don't Lie seeks: a tight community of passionate, identifiable sports bloggers who create compelling content online across multiple types of media.

Over the next five years, I expect the blogger community to find new channels, new technologies or adaptations of existing technology to locate each other and engage.

The result will be epic: fans thrust into the spotlight and given credibility like never before.

Other thoughts? Where is the blogosphere heading in your opinion, and where does sports fit? Leave a comment or @ me on Twitter!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sports Bloggers and the Rise of the Blogosphere

In this post:

  • Summary of Technorati's State of the Blogosphere 2010

Yesterday, I introduced you to the Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2010, a study based on 7,200 bloggers polled from 24 countries. It is an absolute must-read for any blogger. (I'd highly recommend the intro and conclusion and browse the middle sections at your leisure, since they're so data heavy.)

Today, I wanted to help you understand the shift the blogosphere has endured recently and the void that's left for bloggers. (Unfortunately, if you're a Mets blogger, that void has little to do with technology…)

If the blogosphere were an indie band, it essentially sold out in 2010. It was "an industry of transition" that finally went mainstream. No longer an upstart community, it faced the repercussions of popularity: clutter, noise, big companies misusing blogs, big publications mislabeling their columns "blogs", and more.

However, as an established medium, blogs entered 2011 still searching for that next way forward (my opinion: video is that way forward). As the lines between blogs, microblogs and social networks began disappearing last year, new blog personalities began finding success through a combination of these outlets (and blogs themselves were not always a part of that decision).

One unbelievably positive finding by Technorati in light of this mainstream blogosphere: half the people polled believe news and entertainment will come from blogs rather than traditional media over the next five years.

That stat is worth revisiting: a medium which when I first launched a blog in 2005 was being viewed as a glorified diary written by preteens…will eventually outpace TV, radio and print as a source of news and entertainment?

Remarkable just how far this medium has come.

Tomorrow, we'll look at some key stats to help identify the blogosphere demographic…and answer the question of where sports bloggers fit (the answer will surprise you).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Identifying Bloggers: Technorati's State of the Blogosphere

In this post:

  • Bad jokes
  • A must-see link
  • A problem this link tries to solve

They read their sports pages, know their statistics and either root like hell or boo our butts off. I love it. Give me vocal fans, pro or con, over the tourist types who show up in Houston or Montreal and just sit there. - Mike Schmidt

People love to compartmentalize, analyze and summarize. I guess you can say the "-ize" have it (thank you, thank you…). When we try to -ize something, we like to know two things: the definition of the category (what is it?) and the members of that category (who is it?).

Blogs and "the blogosphere", however, are about as nebulous a category as you'll find online, and the members are scattered across a myriad of topics, technologies, networks and media.

In my last post, I shared my favorite links from BallHyped, a network used to vote up and promote sports blog posts. If you take nothing from that post, take a look at the pages listing the top one thousand sports bloggers on Twitter and the BallHyped Leaderboard (bloggers posting the most content to BallHyped). These come as close to identifying the participants in the sports blogosphere as I've seen.

But perhaps the best resource for understanding the blogosphere is Technorati's annual State of the Blogosphere.




This study is lengthy and packed with charts, graphs, percentage breakdowns and survey responses -- but it's also worth a read. The methodology is fairly straightforward: Technorati polled 7,200 bloggers from 24 countries about anything and everything involving the blogosphere.

So why is this so valuable?

Like I said, it's tough to put a finger on the blogosphere and understand it. First, there's the definition of the category. A blog is a web log. A sports blog is a web log about sports. How helpful can that really be? What's a log, anyway? Do we count text, image, video, live chat, podcasts and finger paints?

Sports blogs in 2011 can be anything from a running diary of incoherence (what most people assumed I was launching in 2005 with my first blog) to a major site with thousands of unique views, sponsorships and a staff of writers. And this is completely ignoring the big publications who see the trend and slap "blog" on their columnists online articles.

Then, there's the issue of identification. Who is sports blogging or podcasting or video blogging? Who is a true fan blog and who is a blog backed by a local or national publication? Where are they, and how do we find them?

Blog networks help, but there are countless out there (SB Nation, ESPN TrueHoop, Bloguin, FanSided, ProSportsBlogging…the list goes on). Blogrolls help, but a single blogger can't have an exhaustive list of everyone out there on his or her site. Search.Twitter.com helps, but bloggers don't consistently tweet phrases like "sports blog", so they're hard to find (and searching for content-driven phrases like "sports" or "Knicks" produces a list too full of non-bloggers to be useful.

There may not be a "solution", but Technorati has managed to capture the essence of the space year after year.

Over the next few posts, we'll dive into the valuable information from the study and help you make sense of the 2010 State of the Blogosphere.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

BallHyped: A Social Voting Site Hyping Sports Bloggers

Blogging on sports blogging.


That's incredibly niche, don't you think?


Sure, it's not exactly like I'm writing about the strategies and recipes on cooking with pineapple, but examining the act of blogging via a blog is a bit nuanced. There aren't too many sites that are similar (which I see as a positive thing, as I hope to fill a need). So you can imagine I was excited to find BallHyped.com, a social voting site hyping sports bloggers and sports blog posts.


Looking into their mission and approach, they're a great resource for sports bloggers that I'd highly recommend. By signing up, you gain an easy way to get your posts out there and see what the community thinks via their voting option. (They've apparently been experiencing a lot of spam lately, and as a result the sign-up requires you to email them the details of your site with your email address in order to receive a log-in and password from the BallHyped admins.)


Some of the more relevant and useful content on BallHyped:
  • BallHyped.com Best Sports Blog Book: a yearly publication pulling from popular posts.
  • Badges: post these on your site to link to BallHyped. In their words: BallHyped.com not only links to your blog when you send article posters our way, but we'll promote all new entires as recent blog submissions, and the best sports blogs and stories of the day will be promoted on our homepage.
  • Sports Blogger Resources: a list of tactics, articles, events and more for sports bloggers.
  • Top 1,000 Sports Bloggers on Twitter and BallHyped Leaderboard: the most-followed sports blogger Twitter handles and the most active bloggers on BallHyped, respectively. These are amazing finds! They're all excellent people to connect with if you're trying to expand your influence online, as they're all actively engaging others via Twitter and consistently posting online and promoting their sites.
Share BallHyped.com - Voting up best sports stories, blogs of the day

Finding Useful Sports Blog Content

One of the best ways I've found to receive daily information on a niche is to set up a Google Alert (shameless plug No. 2 for my employer's products on this blog -- the other being how the +1 button can help sports bloggers -- but these things are genuinely useful).

I receive daily alerts on the sports blogosphere, which helps me learn more about the community and keep up with the latest news and trends.

What are some other ways you find useful resources and learn about your niche? Do you use BallHyped? What do you think?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bill Simmons, Godfather of Sports Blogging, Gets His Own Site

The Godfather of sports blogging, ESPN's Bill Simmons, is about to be the Father of the ultimate sports blog.


Earlier this year, Simmons was given the mothership's blessing to launch his own sports and pop culture hub. The content will be written primarily by his established connections (writers and BS Report regulars like Chuck Klosterman) and will include a mix of columns, podcasts and other media.

As any self-respecting (and probably many self-loathing) sports fans and bloggers know, Simmons' writing tone (comedic, scathing, irreverent but still insightful) has molded much of the sports blogosphere.

There's even a site called Sons of Simmons.

His path from Boston sports nut to Boston sports blogger to ESPN's the Sports Guy are admired by many. Who wouldn't want to write and talk about sports, attend games and summits, and pull in your friends for your job...all with the national backing of ESPN's audiences? 

It's clear: Simmons is worth a deeper look, which we'll do soon.

For now, get excited about the potential he describes for his forthcoming site.

Not excited by the site itself? Here's an idea that might be of particular interest: the next writer on this site could be YOU:

You're looking for up-and-coming talent?
When people launch sites they make the mistake of spending big dollars on people who've already kind of peaked. They don't look at the young and hungry people. Especially the people 32 and under. Those are the people that end up carrying projects like this. For me, ten years ago when ESPN.com was founded, I was a nobody. I was 30 years old. I was writing on a site with Hunter Thompson and David Halberstam and Ralph Wiley and all these great people. But I was the one who ended up writing three columns a week and carrying a lot of traffic. I just think those people are out there. If we don't find them, then we've failed.