Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BlogWorld and New Media Expo

I'm at the Expo over the next couple days! Look for some updates that will summarize to a degree but mainly advise you on how to make your blog and your digital approach better each day.

For now:
Site: http://www.blogworldexpo.com/
Expo Twitter tag: #BWENY
Blog: http://www.blogworldexpo.com/2011-nyc/blog/

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In "Online Pickup", Bloggers Need to Separate Selves

Few things in life give a basketball player more of a release and more joy than pickup basketball. But for every great run and competitive game, another is ruined by that guy in jeans and boots who thinks his crossover is God's gift to hoops. (If you don't know that guy...you are that guy, and I invite you on behalf of all players in the world to twist an ankle.)

I recently used this argument to defend the industry I know and love. When a couple friends who know BDL well believe, sports bloggers are often brushed aside or viewed as "trashy" compared to more mainstream media. I quickly pointed out that "mainstream" now includes bloggers in a big way, but their objection to sports bloggers remained, drawn from some irrational beliefs:

"Sports bloggers are all terrible writers."

"Sports bloggers just repurpose news from ESPN."

"Sports bloggers rant and rave but have no real points to make."

My response was this: it's unfair to write off a basketball court for pickup because of one or two garbage players.

Don't misunderstand: I realize it's very easy for those on the sidelines to take the stance of my friends. Pickup lets amateurs participate in a game otherwise reserved for organized teams or professionals. Unwritten rules created by the players preserve some semblance of order, while each individual plays under an honor system, responsible for calling foul when he or she thinks it appropriate. 

And that doesn't always work out so well. As soon as one loud, obnoxious, over-confident bozo wearing jeans and boots tries to call next, many people walk away.

It's those "jeans and boots" bloggers that tarnish the credibility of the bloggers that take time to work on their craft, lace up some fresh new posts and actually do justice to their industry.

It's those very same "jeans and boots" bloggers that are terrible writers, repurpose ESPN, and rant and rave without any real points to make.

As a basketball fan and former player, I've walked into enough pickup games to know that the players jacking shots off the side of the backboard or bragging about a cross-over would break The Answer are hard to tolerate.

But there's plenty of great basketball being played, and plenty of great blogging being done every day. 
In this giant, online pickup game, I argued to my friends, it's tempting but ultimately incorrect to let the jeans and boots distract you from the more talented players.

I therefore challenge readers to look beyond them and bloggers to not tolerate those "jeans and boots" blogs in this, our beautiful game, our beautiful industry of sports blogging.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Interview with a Sports Blogger: Kate Conroy (Lady Loves Pinstripes)

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.

Kate Conroy finds the competition inherent in her industry downright sexy. She runs the Yankees fan blog, Lady Loves Pinstripes, and if the name isn't a dead giveaway, she (clearly) loves one team above all others: the Camden Riversharks.

In truth, this lady loves her some New York Yankees and blogging about the boys from the Bronx. (But in an ironic twist, she doesn't love writing! Read below to find out more on that.)

Kate can be reached via email or on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Growth of Sports Bloggers, A Visual

Few things speak to the truth better than data. As a sports fan, you're likely experiencing this more than ever with advanced statistics. (Sabermetrics and MIT Sloan's Sports Analytics Conference both come to mind.)

Personally, I'm a qualitative person over quantitative. I prefer stories to numbers. But working at Google, it's hard to ignore data in a place so in love with it. One thing I've learned here: data can be your friend if used properly, helping you tell a story and prove a point.

Here's some data that should make you feel great about the direction of the sports blogosphere, courtesy of Google's Insights for Search. (For those new to digital media and Search as an industry, very little is static or consistent, and the important things to examine are trends rather than consistent directions or data points.)

Search is an indicator of demand and interest. Someone searching for "shoes" likely wants to buy or at very least learn about shoes. More searches year-to-year on "coupons" shows a growing interest in saving money. The climbing number of searches for "sports blog" indicates that the industry has grown in recognition, media coverage and value to online readers.

A few key news events are highlighted in 2010 above that help shape the trends we're seeing. These might be events directly relating to sports blogging or topics and stories that were widely covered among blogs, causing a spike in searches. It looks like the news items are limited to sources that share this info with Google, but just to call out a few:

A. Dez Bryant Stuck with $54K Dinner Bill

D. LeBron James's Lawyer Labels as "Lies" Sex Scandal Rumors Surrounding Mom; Warns Sports Blog to Knock It Off

E. Lil Wayne Kicks off Sports Blog

What else? What news events have you seen take the blogosphere by storm?

Friday, May 6, 2011

5 Similarities between Sports Bloggers and the Memphis Grizzlies

The Cinderella Story

Unless you live under a rock (which somehow has wifi so you could read this blog), you've seen the Memphis Grizzlies come out of seemingly nowhere to take the NBA Playoffs by storm. And lest you write them off as a feel-good team that just got lucky, I'm here to tell you that there are very real parallels between their story this season and that of sports bloggers early on that you should take to heart:

  • Noticed but brushed aside. No one entirely ignored the Grizzlies during the regular season. They made some noise and fought hard for some big wins (the Rudy Gay buzzer beater over Miami in November; splitting the season series 2-2 with the Lakers). But most of the attention was paid to the established, sexier teams (Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Spurs).
  • The surprise that never should have been. When suddenly the Grizzlies made the playoffs and upset the Spurs, people started paying attention. Had anyone looked hard at the team and its roster all season, they could have seen signs that this was possible.

Crunch Time

Now that we're in the playoffs and bloggers are finally being taken seriously, there are still upsets to pull for both the Grizzlies and all you fans out there hoping to create a niche for your site.

The areas where Memphis excels are the very same that you can focus on to start killing it with your blog:

Athleticism: The Griz are more nimble than others. They out-jumped, out-sprinted and out-defended the Spurs using youthful athleticism and energy. Bloggers are more nimble than lots of print journalists who have yet to embrace new media (though that number is dwindling -- a good sign for new media enthusiasts, since journalists clearly now realize the value).

Online, athleticism means being nimble, flexible and skilled in a diverse way. Tools like Twitter and site analytics let you post quickly and adapt your site based on users navigating to, from and throughout your site, while being able to use multiple media (text, image, video) keeps you a destination site for readers.

Underdog Mentality/Togetherness: Memphis is the 8th seed to outsiders only. To them, they're the best team out there, and they play like it. They use that "us against them" mentality to their advantage, banding together and feeding off each other. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen provide the irrational, slightly unwarranted confidence, but that's greatly needed. Marc Gasol was a throw-in and Mike Conley a role player paid the big bucks to run point, but both are blossoming. And sure, you have the players who think they're better than they actually are (O.J. Mayo), but all in all, the Grizzlies win because of that mentality and togetherness.

Bloggers need each others' links and suggestions, as well as guest posts, retweets and general support. When no one else seems to be reading, rest assured that other fan bloggers are in the same boat. Still others have improved readership and content quality and can teach the rest of the community.

Hustle, Hustle and more Hustle: The Grizzlies flat out play harder than other teams. Lionel Hollins has them busting their butts every night. Similarly, bloggers just need to give a crap. They need to try! They aren't going to be able to post once a month and expect readers, nor can they waltz up to Madison Square Garden and get in by flashing their blog URL. They don't have all the resources or all the benefits of a well-known brand...so they need to out-hustle them.

Who from the NBA do you most associate with your blog and your style?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Interview with a Sports Blogger: Aaron Torres (AaronTorres-Sports.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.

CT's finest, Aaron Torres, pens the general sports blog AaronTorres-Sports.com and hosts his own podcast, where he can be found equating college football to The Departed and Bill Walton to the Most Interesting Man in the World. Guests have included media members from Yahoo!, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated.

He recently defended all sports bloggers -- you should thank him on Twitter!

He reps a pass-through state, but Aaron's here to stay. Let's find out why...