“I want to start a hunting blog, but I don’t know where to begin.”
“I recently started a blog to share my outdoors adventures, but I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.”
“I’ve had the blog for about a year, but I don’t feel like it’s going anywhere.”
Those are a few statements from dozens of emails that I have received over the past couple of years, all from other passionate hunters that are looking to start (or grow) a blog about the outdoors.
In this post I want to share some of what I’ve learned through starting Sole Adventure. I’m not an expert, but the questions keep getting asked, and I keep sharing my opinions – so I thought I might as well do it publicly in this post.
I’m sure I won’t answer every question, or address every scenario that you might be pondering, so please leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer your specific questions in Part 2.
Motivation, Expectations, and Patience
What’s your motivation for sharing a blog? Is it to document your adventures and capture what you’re learning? Is it to inspire other hunters and sportsmen? Is it to gain an audience so that you can launch another project or product?
Motivation matters, because your motivation is going to be what drives you to keep going. Blogging can be hard. It’s work. And success (whatever your version of “success” looks like) doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re motivated by the passion of the hunt, then don’t get distracted by the statistics (page views, bounce rates, subscribers, etc.) of blogging; just keep sharing your passion. That’s what I do.
Don’t have expectations of receiving a lot of traffic, subscribers, comments, interactions, etc., overnight. It is going to take time for people to find you, and even more time for them to begin following along and interacting. Don’t expect too much too soon. Countless bloggers have started strong, and burned out just as fast, because they their expectations for growth were unrealistic. Patience wins.
Take the time to think about, and maybe even write down, your motivation and expectations. The number one thing that surprises new bloggers is that blogging is more work than they thought, and they don’t meet the expectations they were planning to achieve. The longer you do it, the easier it gets, and the more results you’ll see. Be patient.
Find Your Voice
It’s all been done before. The topics that you want to cover – they’ve been covered. But they haven’t been covered by you. If you want to have a blog that readers will want to follow and interact with, then you have to have a voice – a distinct voice that is only you.
There are a lot of outdoor blogs (and forums, magazines, etc.) out there these days, but there isn’t another YOU out there. Take a stand. Share your opinion and perspective. Write with your own voice. Put yourself out there.
Don’t copy someone else’s path; create your own. If you’re not bringing a unique topic to the table (and chances are, you’re not), then you better be bringing a unique perspective and voice. Otherwise, why should anyone be listening or reading?
It takes time to find your voice in writing. I didn’t feel like I had a voice or writing style for the first couple of years. But over time, trial, and error, I think I have developed somewhat of a distinctive voice and style in my writing.
Content is King
Yes, social media is important. Yes, the look and feel of the site is important. (And we’ll get to those topics.) But the most important thing that is going to make someone want to read your site AND return for more in the future, is content. Good content. Post quality videos. Write about relevant topics. Show passion in all you do.
“If you don’t have content, you don’t have anything.”
Be persistent, consistent, and predictable with your content. Don’t quickly burn through all of your good ideas in the beginning, and then fail to post anything new for 3 months afterwards. You have to be consistent in posting new content. It doesn’t have to be everyday – maybe it’s only once a week, or twice a month.
Find a schedule that works for you, and try to be predictable with the content that you deliver. You may have noticed that I tend to publish new posts on Monday and Wednesday morning. It doesn’t happen every week, but for the past year it’s happened on most weeks, and readers have come to expect it.
Write for Yourself (Sort of…)
This point may not apply to everyone, but it is one of the rules that I follow, and I know it’s one of the reasons that I’ve been able to keep going strong for 3 years.
I only write about what I care about. I only review gear that I’m interested in. I only share ideas that I’m passionate about.
There are a lot of times when I knew that covering a certain topic would get me a lot of attention, or be really good for search rankings, but I don’t have any passion for the topic, so I didn’t do it. Food plots – I don’t have any passion for them. Reviewing expandable broadheads – I don’t care to shoot them. The lists of hunting-related topics that I have little interest in could go on and on. It’s alright to cover things that bring value to your readers, but that you’re not necessarily passionate about – (more on that later) – but don’t make it a habit, or you will burn yourself out.
In the end, it’s my choice to write about what I want. And by only addressing the particular topics or ideas that I’m passionate about, I have been able to keep passion and interest in what I’m doing. I have found that not all hunters connect with what I have to say, but the ones that do connect with my content genuinely appreciate the passion behind it. I would rather have 10 like-minded readers that appreciate my passion, than 10,000 readers who don’t really get it.
Ready for More?
Alright, so that’s Part 1. I have a lot more to cover in Part 2, including more practical/detailed tips. I’ll publish Part 2 next Wednesday, but until then…
Do you have any questions? There’s nothing too big, or too small. Leave me a comment below, or shoot me an email, and I’ll be sure to address your question in the next post.