I’ve had two people ask me this in the past month, so I thought I’d gather my thoughts about what I’ve learned in the past 2 years of maintaining a BJJ blog. I’ll also share some mistakes I made along the way – hopefully you will find this useful!
Ah you may also find this page useful: Tell about YOUR BJJ blog!
I think blogging comes down to these elements: aim/audience, consistency, material/perspective, and marketing.
In general, my advice is: figure out why you’re doing it, who your intended audience is, and most importantly be consistent and put up content. After that, build an audience.
Know Your Audience/Aim
If you’ve already decided to write about BJJ then you have made the first step. I specifically write in a way that can appeal to non-BJJ people. Yes, there is some BJJ specific content out there, but I try to write in a way that would be interesting and entertaining to my friends and family who are not into BJJ.
Anyone could be reading! Unless you are working hard to be anonymous (I’m looking at you, Shark Girl!), people will find your blog. I recommend to you that you write as though your coach, most hated enemy, favorite teammate and your parents were all reading. Honestly, that’s why I started putting my full body shots behind cuts – I realized that if I directed my teammates to my blog, there I was in my skivvies! Ack!
If you can figure out why you are blogging, it will help you find your voice. Is your blog meant to be a public record of what you’ve been learning, is it meant to teach people about something, or to encourage others? One of the aims of my blog is to be an ambassador for BJJ in Korea, and especially for women. But more than that, think of who is reading – are they experts in BJJ? Are they newbies? That will affect your vocabulary, register, content, etc.
It can help if you ask yourself–what unique perspective can I share? I come at mine from a teacher trainer/ESL background and also as a former fat girl, and an ex-pat in Korea. Blogs that have a perspective are more interesting than ones that don’t, and will give you the hook that will make people want to read yours – even if you’re a beginner white belt.
Make sure you introduce yourself so that people can easily find – who the heck is this? So please have some kind of “who am I” page. If you have authority – make it clear to people.
As a white belt, I knew I didn’t have any sort of authority to remark on effectiveness of techniques, on training methods, etc. What I COULD talk about, however, was the teaching methodology. I could compare BJJ with language teaching, and come at it from that perspective. I may not know a berimbolo from a flying butterfly choke (possible I made up that last thing), but I can comment on how the teacher is interacting with students, what their teaching methodology is, how they structure their classes, etc.
The biggest mistake I made when I started blogging was being inconsistent. When I started in July 2010, I had 462 readers – not bad for a brand new white belt. Next two months my numbers were 2,131 and then 2,425, then it dropped down to less than 800 – why? Because I stopped publishing content for a bit. I was inconsistent.
Consistency is better than rare moments of greatness.
I think overall it’s a good idea to publish 1-2 times per week. When I do that, consistently, my readership is higher. In order to to that, sometimes I save up articles. For example, let’s say that today I wrote 5 articles – rather than publish them all, I’d much rather publish one today, then schedule the others to be published later. I don’t always do that, but I do on occasion. Again, WordPress is great for that – there’s a Publish Immediately vs future dates. Or write them and have them ready to go – save them up for when you can’t blog or when blogging feels as enjoyable as eating wet dog food.
Similarly, audiences don’t usually care WHY you’re not writing – they’re there for the content, that’s it. I may want to believe that all my readers care for me and want to pet me and hold me and lovingly wipe away my tears with a unicorn pillow, but that’s not so much the case.I have some people who I care about whose blogs I don’t read, and vice versa. Your audience will stay if they like what you’re reading and you keep publishing.
To help me be more consistent, I keep a notebook with me full of blog article ideas. I also have a gmail draft open with links to articles I want to write about. Now to sit down and write them all!
Have something to add: If your blog is so generalized and full of oft-quoted platitudes or truisms, take this to heart when I say it’s boring. However, take that general truth, that truism, and then give your perspective on it – what it means to you. I did that with my “leave your ego at the door” article. In other words, give things your unique perspective, or what that specifically meant to you, or hell – do what I did and collect EVERYONE’S opinion on a subject and sum them up!
Make it memorable: Is your blog interesting to you? Would you want to read it? Did your readers leave entertained/more knowledgeable? Did you correct some misunderstanding or widen their perspective? Or are you simply saying exactly what every other person said? Please add to the body of knowledge out there. And finally – is your blog memorable? Ask someone to read your post, then a week or two later ask them something about it. Do they remember ANY of it? Vague generalities? Nothing?
Be consistent: I’m not suggesting never deviate from writing about BJJ, but do so wisely. I don’t share things like family drama, what I eat on a daily basis, the tv shows I’m watching, etc. I recognize that my readers are HERE FOR THE BJJ and if it deviates too much they’ll leave. As a reader, if I like a subject/style of writing, I will stay with a site if it continues to please me. If not, I will leave. My feeling: this is my BJJ blog that I write in order to be interesting to other people, not my personal life blog that I write for myself.
So you have an awesome BJJ blog – now what do you do? Pimp out your blog!
Leave Comments: Be part of the community! Read what people are writing about and comment on their articles! I’ve discovered my fair share of bloggers simply by clicking on their links because they left an interesting comment. I know several people have found my blog that way as well. Your audience is generally going to be people who read BJJ blogs.
Write response articles: If your comment is really long, don’t just leave a comment – write your own perspective on it! I recently read Georgette’s article called “Whose responsibility is it?” and in this article she referred to another blogger’s article: “I’m a BJJ Practitioner…and I’m a Girl.“A few things happened – first, I discovered that woman’s article, which I may not have otherwise. Second, I got inspired (sadly, you wouldn’t know it, but I’m planning my own article). When I do sit down to write the article, I’ll put down my thoughts on this, as well as link to both of those. Blogs have these wonderful things called “pingbacks” and often if you link to someone’s article, your article will show underneath as a link. So by linking to other blogs, you often give yourself more exposure.
Put up links – to yourself and others – blogging is a medium that allows for linking easily. I’d recommend if you have the option (and all WordPress people do) – click the button that says “open in new window” so that if people click your links they don’t leave your article.
Word of mouth: Get some word of mouth going – you can post links on Reddit or Sherdog (or have friends do it!). Those bring in loads of viewers! My two biggest sources of readers: Facebook and BJJNews.com.
Cross contaminate the writing pool! Write guest articles for other people’s blogs, or write your own article for someone else’s blog! I know I’m happy to host something written by someone else! You can write for jiu jitsu magazines and mention your blog in there, etc.
To sum up:
Start writing, consistently publish materials, be interesting rather than generic, and get involved in the blogging community .
What are your thoughts about BJJ blogging? Any tips you have to share? And don’t forget – if you haven’t done so yet, Tell about YOUR BJJ blog!