It seems like everybody and their mother these days has outlandish aspirations of becoming a professional blogger. I mean, wouldn’t that be the life? Sitting around in your underwear all day…writing about your lifelong passion…cashing the checks as they roll through the door!
Well, take a deep breath and don’t ring up your boss to voice exactly what you think of her just yet. This article’s not about making money with your fishing blog, it’s about making your fishing blog kick butt.
We’ll look briefly at monetization, but really the goal here is to help you start a fishing blog that people actually want to read. Let’s face it, most of the fishing blogs out there are downright boring, even for certifiable fish-a-holics!
I’m going to get right to the point here.
Call me crazy, but the number one mistake that fishing bloggers make is that they only write about fishing. “Huh?” you say. “It’s a fishing blog. Shouldn’t it be about fishing?” Yeah, mostly. But no more than 80% of your posts should be bona fide fishing articles.
The other 20%? Stuff that fishermen (and fisherwomen) are interested in.
You’re a fisherman, so you ought to have a pretty good idea of what other people just like you are keen to read about. Sports, technology, cars, hunting, travel…the list goes on and on. Add in there your favorite barbecued salmon recipe or hotel recommendations for Key West, Florida, the Mecca of deep sea charter fishing.
Fishing blogs that are nothing more than fishing report after fishing report ad infinitum can boring. Try to make your blog something that any angler would want to read, whether they’ll be fishing in your neck of the woods or not. Remember, readers will eventually tire of fly tying instructions and fish porn. Mix it up a bit.
Don’t be afraid to let it all hang out.
Too many fishing blogs are written in the same monotone droll as a 70’s newscaster. You’ve got a personality. Use it!
You’re not Jerry Seinfeld, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t try to write with a bit of a sense of humor. Regardless of the subject matter, every blog post should meet the following three criteria. It needs to be informative, easy to read, and entertaining.
For a great example of a fishing blog that has personality and covers more than just fishing in Key West, read Captain Craig Eubank’s blog on AbsolutFishingKeyWest.com (above). Captain Craig writes about hot topics, such as Cuban Immigration, and local Key West subjects. He even weaves the tale of the day his boat burned to the waterline. A harrowing tale.
Don’t write for your buddies, but do have your buddies write for you!
When you first launch your fishing blog, 99% of your followers are going to be people that you know. A.K.A.: your buddies. This is OK. You’ve got to start somewhere.
But resist the urge to consistently crack inside jokes that no one outside your inner circle will understand. If you want to expand your readership you’ll need to write for a broader audience. Write for strangers, not for your best mates.
It’s also easy to quickly pigeon-hole yourself into just writing about a handful of topics. After all, you’re not a millionaire and so naturally you’ll be fishing the same spots week in and week out. To help branch out your topic base, ask some friends with a different expertise write a few guest posts for you. Even if they’re awful writers you can clean up their prose and just stick with the meat. Same goes for your readers. Suggest that your followers submit articles for publication. Hey, free content!
Grammar and format matter. They really do.
In all likelihood you won’t be spinning this blogging gig into the publishing of the Great American Novel or ever win the Pulitzer Prize, but that doesn’t mean you can just post willy-nilly like you’re firing off an email.
Every single post needs to be properly edited prior to uploading. And it’s not just about making sure your 7th grade English teacher would approve of your spelling and syntax. Yes, that’s important, but also do a couple re-reads in general to look for opportunities to make your writing even better.
If you make money, great…but don’t plan on it.
I said that we’d talk briefly about making a few bucks on the side with your blog, so here goes. The short story is this: forget about it. If you’re starting your blog with delusions of grandeur, don’t do it. But if you love to write about fishing and don’t care if you make a dime, here are a few tips to cash in a wee bit once you’ve built a solid readership.
Ads and affiliate marketing – these are the old cash cows. With ads you get paid a few cents any time a visitor to your site clicks on an ad. Affiliate marketing works a little differently. You get a bigger cut of the pie, but only if the visitor goes on to actually purchase one of your advertiser’s products. Either way, you’ll need quite a bit of traffic running through your page to actually make real money with ads or affiliate marketing.
Selling information – If you’re such a guru that your insight will actually help people catch more fish, then you might be able to charge a few bucks for your fishing reports or a How To style e-book. But for this to work out, you’d better write an e-book that’s worth paying for.
Funneling – Just as advertisers pay you to drive traffic from your page to theirs, you can funnel your own visitors to a separate page where you can sell other products. Again, this only works if what you’ve got to sell offers real value.
Oh, and one more thing. The selling side of a blog doesn’t happen by magic. If you want to make money off your blog, expect to spend just as much time as you do writing doing marketing and “business” stuff.
But like I said, if the reason you’re thinking about starting your own fishing blog is early retirement, you’ll get rich quicker by cutting back on Starbucks!