A Year Of Blogging

Pen & Paper
I have been blogging for over a year now, and BlogF1 has been going for nine months. While this ‘ere site has floundered many times and been ignored for weeks at a time, BF1 has been pretty regularly updated and minutely tweaked ever since its launch last March. So have I learned anything more about blogging with this site, or am I still in the dark, fumbling around looking for the light switch?

Well, when I started BF1, I didn’t really think too much about the future, I just wanted to talk about Formula One. At the time, there weren’t too many F1-related blogs around, and what was available was either totally professional or completely amateurish. I felt there should be some middle ground available for my site to slide comfortably in. But as I said, I didn’t think too much about the future.

Shortly after BF1 launched, a flurry of other Formula One sites started up, ranging from the regular news ‘blogs’, to the F1 employees and journalists expressing themselves to a wider audience. This made me feel a little awkward initially, but I managed to get a handful of regular readers onboard almost immediately, and so I found some confidence from somewhere and continued. I guess the increase in F1 blogs comes from the increase in F1 followers, 2005 being a year that a certain Mr Schumacher didn’t win the championship.

Some of the blogs that started last March have already fallen by the wayside and haven’t seen fresh content in months. In fact, one site has just two posts in the last year, the first one being the usual WordPress welcome post. But I persisted with BF1, and made a point of engaging with the community, responding to emails and leaving the odd comment elsewhere. I pointed a few readers to some other sites, and eventually they pointed some readers back in return. Slowly, BF1s readership began to grow.

Another area I didn’t think too much about was the regularity of posting. The F1 season started in March, so content came in thick and fast. At times, I was struggling to keep up – Michael Schumacher’s parking incident at Monaco being one memorable evening spent in front of the laptop refreshing the pages on a continual loop. But when the season ended, and after the hype had cooled, I found myself staring at the screen asking myself, “What now?”

After an initial lack of inspiration I realised that actually I had plenty to say. Many things go amiss in the general foray that is the in-season blogging, and I have really enjoyed typing up some of the more recent posts, like the one about numbers, and the one about belts. The only concern I am now having is what I’m going to do next year?

But the real reason why this post was created is because of the stark differences sports bloggers face over regular bloggers. Sports tend to occur in seasons, and thus there is usually an off-season. A time where it may not be so easy to find content, or even news. Another point should be raised here about the tendency of regular blogs peaking with visitors on Wednesdays. In the sport world, you peak either side of the happening event – in my case it’s a Friday and Monday. Any budding sports blogger needs to seriously think about this point before starting. Do you have the time to post at these key times? How long is the off-season and is there enough to fill the void? Is your sport growing in popularity, or is soon to be made extinct as another bigger and better organised series takes it over?

Sports teams also come and go, so focussing a blog on one team within a sport can prove risky should the team sell up or fold. But one of the most enjoyable pluses that comes from blogging about sports is talking about something that I am passionate about. And that is not restricted to just me. Anyone who really enjoys sports tends to be quite passionate, and that comes through in some of the comments and suggestions. To talk to someone who – while they may not agree with me – is so adamant that Button will eventually win was inspiring. Especially so as he actually proved me wrong and bloody won last year!

So what has blogging over at BlogF1 taught me?
– Don’t be afraid to involve yourself in communities or groups.
– Be more opinionated – I’m still working on that one.
– The biggest drivers attract the biggest attention, even if you think Fisichella is a really fast racer.
– The biggest driver may not be the biggest attraction, and the sport itself could be second to something else in terms of Google. Talk about anything to do with the sport, including the television coverage. (Erm, think outside the cubicle…)
– There is some money to be made, but you really need to do it full time for the big bucks.
– Never link to the big pro sites, instead link to the mid to small sites and praise them glowingly. Big sites are just there to be slagged off.
– Diversify, dude.
– Have fun, even when you make mistakes.