Monday, December 29, 2008

There's More to Life Than Paragraphs

This article by Alisa Bowman at is a great instruction for learning to write fast. What are the main benefits from the article in my estimation, you ask? They are as follows:
  • Decide on the blog post format or article format before you begin writing. Will it be a Q&A, list, tips, or paragraph form?
  • Remember, there are other things besides your standard multi-paragraph article, see above, especially when writing for the time-starved Web audience.

It's a great article and will help you accomplish more.

Note: If you'll notice, I cleverly disguised a bulleted list in this post.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Product Reviews on Your Blog

I recently wrote a review of a set of Mizuno golf irons for another site. To be brief, I loved the irons, which were made for low-handicappers. The only, I mean the one and only, thing I could find wrong with them was that they won't work for high-handicap golfers.

The editor reviewing the article asked me if I was receiving anything from Mizuno for writing what amounted to an advertisement.

I certainly hadn't received anything for writing the piece, but it is a good illustration of the dangers inherent in writing product reviews. Certainly, we need to be honest in our assessments, and usually the final product is fair for everyone; consumer and manufacturer. Occassionally, you will review a product that is either clearly superior or inferior. No matter the side you come down on, you will get some negative feedback from anyone who disagrees. Be prepared!

In my case, I understand the editor's point of view. He wants ensure consumers get their money's worth from the product after reading my review. My task is to now re-write the piece so that it "sounds" better for all involved.

Product reviews are fun to do. You often get free stuff to use and keep, get to use the stuff at your leisure, tell everyone your opinion and generally get paid for your article. But, as I have learned after doing several reviews, you have to maintain the appearance of objectivity, even if you become a lifelong fan, or hater, of the product.

Monday, December 22, 2008

How To Get An Assignment Without A Query Letter

It's tough enough to write every day, especially if you are maintaining a blog. That makes even the thought of writing a query letter so very unappealing. Not only does the query letter have to be perfect, it has to be powerful, moving, funny, and on and on.

Yes, there are times you must write a query letter, but, as Jennie Cromie explains in this article, How To Land Assignments Without Writing Queries, there's another way!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wicked Awesome Content

The ultimate goal for any blog is to have readers, lots of readers. Your blog might not seek monetary gain, but it does seek readers. There are a few blogs being faithfully posted to every day or every week without any attempt to reach anyone. They exist only to please the writer.

Not that there’s anything wrong with maintaining a blog as personal therapy of some sort, but most of those will reach the point of “What’s the point?”

Sports blogs are no different than any other blog; they need readers, viewers, subscribers, to survive, they need great content. Despite what some may say about what you can do with all the advice you receive, if you try to grow a blog without awesome content, make that wicked awesome content, you won’t have a blog for long.

New Blogs Face a Daily Battle

You’re reading a new blog, one that is fighting every other blog on the Net to gain attention and readers. If I don’t separate Sports Writer HQ from the pack, if I don’t make an impact among sports writers and sports bloggers, I’ll be writing about something else a year from now. I’ve done what every person who wants to reach people through a blog should do; I’ve found a group (sports writers and bloggers) that is under-served, and found that there is an audience. Now, the next logical step for me is to get people to trust this blog through great content, information they can use, information that will make a positive impact on their readership and their bank accounts.

Develop Trust

Yes, your readers need to trust you. If they come to your site and find validity in what you’re saying, if they find value in the resources you provide, and if they see the same results day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month, you have gained trust. The ONLY way you can start building a relationship with readers is to provide them with what they need, Wicked Awesome Content.

Wicked Awesome Case Studies - Here’s a golf blog that doesn’t give you scores and recaps of Tiger’s latest round. Armchair knows that any golf fan can turn on the Golf Channel or and find the same thing and much more quickly. What it does provide is timely and relevant commentary on golf news, but in a way that appeals to avid golf fans. In my opinion, Armchair's appeal lies in it’s common sense, humanity and the dry humor it applies to the golf world. Take a look at these three recent posts and you’ll have a great sense of why it attracts readers and participation through comments.

Bob Thomas: Golf Saved His Life
Harrington Gets Tiger’s Player of the Year Vote
Bad Bet for Freddie Couples

Armchair sets itself apart from many other sites by giving readers consistent posts, virtually every day. People hate to return to a blog only to see that it hasn’t been updated in weeks or even days. If they know they’re going to get fresh posts, they’re more likely to return. There are lots of blogs that do the same thing as Armchair, but not as consistently, which is a clear reason it remains successful. - Simply put, one of the most successful blogs today, yesterday, and, because blog creator Darren Rowse loves and knows what he’s doing, in the future.

In a recent interview, Rowse admitted that when he started his first blog in 2002, he had virtually no blogging or coding skills. As he stated, “I often joke about a time I had to ask another blogger how to make text bold - my understanding of html, coding, design was pretty much non existent.” How far away 2002 must seem to him.

What started as a desire to write a personal blog soon developed into a way to make some extra money, then into a part-time living, then into a full-time living, then into mega-success.

He achieved success through finding what his readers wanted, focusing on that niche (initially it was cameras) and writing killer content. Because advertisers wanted a tightly focused blog and readers who were interested in exactly what they had to sell, monetary success came. continues to deliver consistent and powerful content that bloggers want. It’s also content that aides in their success, which, for most blogs, is the bottom line.

Remember, shoot for wicked awesome content, and don’t fall short.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Every Blog Niche Is Created Equal

I, for one, believe that sports blogs are just as relevant to daily life as the next niche. Tech blogs, writing blogs, sports blogs, dust bunny blogs? All relevant and useful. The thing that sports blogs have to guard against is the perception that all they have to say is something like, "Dude, the Patriots were wicked awesome last night." That may be the case for some sports blogs. If so, it may be what its readers are searching for.

If you have readers, your blog means something to someone. Judging from the number of sports blogs, they mean a great deal to lots of people. Just as in the Great Depression (today's economy doesn't quite get us there, yet), sports, movies, music, all served as an escape from the pain and toil of daily life. You're blog may be doing just fine talking about the Wicked Awesome Patriots. That may be what brings in your target audience and keeps them around.

You may have lots of fans and readers, but keep in mind that you are filling a need. Listening to what they want is critical to maintaining your readership and relevance.

If your blog is struggling, losing readers and subscribers, or failing to gain a foothold, try some new things. Expand from box scores and game recaps, after all, readers can get that from ESPN or other well-known outlets. They may want something more from you; something on which they can agree, something with which they disagree, something controversial. It's your job to find what that "something" is.

You may have a blog for your own personal gratification, but if you have readers, you have a responsibility to them. When times are tough for many, like today, a sports blog, tech blog, dust bunny blog, or whatever niche your blog serves, becomes more important to its readers. Unless, of course, you have no interest in how many people see your blog.

Fill the needs with wicked awesome content and your blog will begin to thrive.

The Sports Blogger Marketer

If you plan to earn a good income from your sports blog, you had better learn some marketing skills, too. At least that's what David Risley, guest poster at proposes in this post: How a Blogger Creates a REAL Full-Time Income.

I must say, I tend to agree

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Non-Conformity in a Sports Blog?


I was just reading a non-sports related blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, which was recommended by a follower on Twitter. More specifically, I was reading how the writer/editor of the blog, Chris Guillebeau, defines non-conformity; “a lack of orthodoxy in thoughts or beliefs” or “the refusal to accept established customs, attitudes, or ideas.”

Certainly, a reckless application of non-conformity often results in black lipstick and a chain running from nose to earlobe, not that there's anything wrong with that. Let's just say it can lead to misunderstanding. Misunderstanding, when you're trying to establish a successful blog, or any business, can lead to very few readers (customers).

Wise use of non-conformity can lead to your blog emerging from the pack and forging ahead of everyone else.

It's usually the first mover in any field that enjoys the most prosperity and name recognition. Who was the second company in YouTube's corner of the Net? Some technology fans may know, but most don't recall and never knew. How about MySpace's competitors? You could say that Facebook and Twitter do the same things as MySpace, but they all fill social networking needs differently.

Facebook and Twitter didn't simply mimic a predecessor, they forged their own identities. As a sports blog editor, you can ensure the look, content, multimedia, posts, guests, name, use of available marketing tools, everything is uniquely yours and recognizable as yours. Your vision and passion for your topic can show through in every part of your blog. That vision and passion is what will set you apart, if used wisely.

Mimicry of a popular site, just because it's popular, can mean certain death for your blog.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Dream Sports Job

Traveling, reviewing golf courses, resorts, spas, great destinations; sounds like a dream job. Have a look at this job posting in the Sports forums.

Seriously, it sounds like a great job and it's for, one of the biggest and best golf sites.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tremendous Video from New Media Expo Keynote

Not a sports writer, though he admittedly loves sports, Gary Vaynerchuck presents a ton of excellent points in his keynote address at the New Media Expo a few months ago. Watch the video below. It's pretty long, but worth the time.

Community and Contact, folks. It's all about community and contact, and content, of course.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great Tip on Twitter

In the tradition of, 140 characters or less(from here on).

TwiTip, Twitter tips blog by Darren Rowse, gives some great advice for people looking to market stuff.

Under 140, told you so.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Interview with Sports Anchor Mary Jo Perino

What is the secret to getting a big interview? Most of the time, it’s simply asking for it. What you do with it from there is the real key.

Recently, I asked Mary Jo Perino, former CNN sports anchor and presently one of the most popular sports anchors in the Lexington, Kentucky market, for a brief interview. Her obvious love of her profession shows through in her broadcasts on NBC affiliate WLEX-Channel 18, and in the relationship she has with sports figures in Central Kentucky and the nation. What she brings to her profession, and to interviewing, made her a natural choice for someone to illustrate the topic of interviewing skills. She graciously agreed to my request and below are the results.

HQ: For some writers, interviewing isn’t something they like. Is it something you enjoy doing?

MJP: Besides going to the sporting events, doing interviews is the best part of my job. I love talking to people and that’s exactly what I think makes the best interview, when your just having a conversation. I’ve gotten to meet so many people through this job because of interviews so yes, I love it!

HQ: What is the most difficult thing about interviewing for you?

MJP: The most difficult thing is not having enough time. In the television business, you are on a tight deadline. A lot of times you have to get your three questions in and get out. There are so many interesting stories to tell and we just don’t always get the time to find out what those stories are.

HQ: What was your worst moment during an interview or what made your worst interview "the worst interview"?

MJP: Luckily I don’t really have any horror stories (at least not yet). When I got the chance to interview Mike Tyson, it was not long after he had made some pretty ugly comments to another female reporter, so I must admit I was a bit timid with that one and probably should have done a better job asking questions. When I worked for CNN, I had the opportunity to interview some big time athletes, but once again only had three questions to ask. With some of those, one of the questions had to be about something the athlete was pushing. For example, I had three questions with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart and one of them had to be about his new Sprint ringtone. Same thing with John McEnroe, only that was about his partnership with Direct TV. For obvious reasons (wink, wink) it was a little off-putting the first time I did a lockeroom interview. Being in a room full of naked men isn’t conducive to maintaining concentration the first time out!

HQ: Who has been your best interview and what made it so?

MJP: I’ve gotten to interview some wonderful people. Tayshaun Prince has always been very kind and has never rushed me in an interview. Ramel Bradley always told you what was on his mind, I love that. Rich Brooks is also very warm and easy-going. I can’t recall specific interviews that were the best, but I remember the stories. The former softball coach at UK has a daughter with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and I have been to their home twice for interviews and been inspired both times.

HQ: In your position, do you get to adequately prepare for your interviews?

MJP: In short, the answer is sometimes. Most of the interviews I do now are immediately following a game, so you have to be thinking of questions to ask while the game is going on, and then be quick on your feet afterwards.

HQ: If you could only do one thing in preparation for an interview, what would that be?

MJP: It’s unrealistic, but I’d like to talk to the person’s mother before the interview. Get the real story!

HQ: What makes the Vikings the greatest NFL franchise ever? (She’s a transplanted Minnesotan in Big Blue Country)

MJP: That’s a great question! I wish it were true! While I love the Vikings with all my heart, I can’t call them the greatest franchise because they’ve never won a Super Bowl! We, and yes I say we, had our chances in the 70’s with the Purple People Eaters, but it never happened. Lately, we’ve had the Love Boat scandal and a decade of mediocrity. BUT… someday, I hope I can answer that questions with SEVERAL reasons why the Vikings are the greatest franchise!

So, regardless of whether you’re a broadcast journalist or a writer, time is always of the essence. Mary Jo enjoys the gift of being able to have a conversation with her interviewees while extracting the information she wants and needs. The skill of engaging an interviewee in conversation can be a great tool for putting them at ease and having a candid interview. It’s also a skill that, for most, takes a lot of practice.

Note: I hope McEnroe, Lienert and others who insist at least one question is about the product they're pushing are required to do so by their sponsors. Otherwise, I've lost some love for 'em.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top-10 Independent Sports Blogs of 2008 Contest

Now through December 31, 2008, Sports Writer HQ will be taking nominations for the Top-10 Independent Sports Blogs of 2008.

Lest ye be confused, the contest has nothing to do with the amount of traffic a blog receives each day, week, month, millennium, or age (as in Stone Age or Iron Age). The closest thing to traffic that will be looked at is blog post comments.

The contest is limited to independent blogs, thus the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in the photo. No blogs that are a part of news organizations (CNN, ESPN, Fox, New York Times, etc.) will be considered, even if the blog is written and managed by one person. Also, no blogs supported by other corporate sites.

The only blogs that will be evaluated are those that stand alone among the masses, independent, personal, one-man or one-woman shows, or a group of affiliated bloggers/writers, etc.

Qualities that will be evaluated are content, aesthetics, ease of navigation, multimedia usage, participation from readers, interaction with readers by the publisher(s), evergreen posts (those that have a chance of remaining relevant for years to come), and other intangible things that simply make a great blog.

The winner and each of the top-10 will receive a nice little logo to place on their site. They'll also be mentioned, along with a description/story of their site in the winner announcement post. Winners will be announced January 5, 2009. Sorry, but unless some corporate benefactor steps forward, there will be no further "prize package".

If you would like to nominate a favorite sports-related blog (yes, you may nominate your own), send an email to

No blog with which I am affiliated or actively promote on this site will be eligible to participate in the contest. Winner selection will be selected at the sole discretion of Sports Writer HQ team.

This will be great! I look forward to seeing the nominations.

Click here to get The Blog Profits Blueprint

Monday, December 8, 2008

Multimedia-ing Your Sports Blog

Or, as Frank Caliendo as President Bush might say, "multimedification."

There are lots of great sports sites with tons of interesting information. Many blogs and Web sites are key sources of insider information about the teams and sports they follow. That's all both a blessing and a curse. A blessing if you're a reader, a curse if you're the publisher. Why? Because the competition for readers is stiff.

In order to separate your Web site or blog from the pack, you need to do something special, something memorable that will bring people back to you and have them spread the word.

I know. You have a site full of "some high-quality H2O." You have great blog posts and articles, maybe even info that no one else has. That's great, but what I'm getting at is this - so does everyone else. Plus, what you're increasingly competing against are blogs that have, in addition to superior content, some cool, valuable multimedia components. Keep putting out good content in a text format and you'll see your readers dwindle over time. Add one or two multimedia components and word will spread about you.

Not a sports site, but take a look at, a site ran by Cali Lewis and her husband, Neal Campbell. It's one of the most popular sites of its kind. Text articles are essentially non-existent at, replaced by video. Even though it's full of video content, but it isn't confusing or cluttered (like ESPN's site!), it's one of the cleanest I've ever seen. With its popularity, it's an example of how great multimedia content on the web can help you gain a huge following.

You don't need to go to that extreme, even the GeekBrief blog continues to include text posts alongside video and some other applications.

The nice thing about video, if the content of your video is as good as the quality of your text content (which is excellent), is that your stuff will be much more likely to hit YouTube, Facebook, gain a following on Twitter, etc. The social networking sites have the potential effect of innundating you with traffic.

I'm in the process of implementing some new multimedia blog features here; a whole new look and location, too. My newsletter is capturing an initial core group and multimedia will bring in the second wave.

If you've followed this blog, you'll know I am no techie, to the contrary. But, you don't need to be a guru to start putting up some original video content.

Neither is it expensive. You already have a computer and Internet connection. All you need now is a web cam, a mic, and video editing software. I haven't seen it, but is reportedly a great place to go to get your video online (thus the name of their website).

Just this one new addition to your site, combined with participation in forums and social networking sites, will get your site rolling.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Season Word of Thanks

As many of you know, I published my ebook The One-Minute Golf Writer: Golf Writing for Fun and Profit (Mostly Profit), a couple of months ago. Since this is the holiday season, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has purchased it.

I wish there was a more personal way of saying thanks, because I put a lot of work into the book and it feels good when people buy and like it.

It's my sincere hope that OMGW gets you started toward a new career, revenue stream, business, or new life. It was certainly meant to do so.

Thanks for reading the ebook and thanks for reading this blog. Happy Holidays!

Click here to watch The Conversion Blogging Video