I’ve had some form of outdoor blog since 2010, I believe. It all started with The Average Outdoors. Then it transitioned to The Eastern Fly, The FlyFishing Bowhunter, Troutalope, The Silent Pursuit, and now I have landed AND plan on sticking with The Steven Lee. Along the way I have learned a lot about many different things, from editing programs, to fly fishing techniques, to photography equipment. But I have never really mastered any of it. Blogging has presented me with a platform to meet some awesome people and allow what little voice I have to be heard by others.
I want to say upfront that I am no master when it comes to blogging. There are a million other blogs that do it bigger and better than what I do here. I have only had thestevenlee.co running for a few months. Since then, however, I feel like have I grown and learned some important things along the way towards running an outdoor blog. I thought that I would share some of these with you, in case you’ve ever had the thought cross your mind of starting and outdoor blog, or are looking for a few pointers for one you are already in the middle of running.
This is the first thing that I have learned over the course of running a few different outdoor blogs. Simply be yourself. It can be easy to get caught up trying to be like another blog or person when they are getting the audience numbers that you want. It is a trap that I have fallen into, and I see others fall into. Be genuine and people will gravitate towards that. People want to hear your spin on things, or your experience with a product ,not someone else who you think they want to hear. I will say that it can be scary being yourself because when someone rejects something you poured your heart into, it can be tough at first. It is easier when they reject you being somebody else…but I urge you to be you! This is why I have switched from a fly fishing only blog to a blog that is focused on me, who I am, and the various outdoor activities that I love. If you are not you, then you will quit like I did on all those other blogs.
Best Foot Forward!
This is something that I still don’t do all the time. I will throw up a post for the sake of throwing up a post, even when I feel that it is not that good. I do it just to do it. My goal for 2017 is to put my best work on the blog and only my best work. Don’t just throw something on the blog that required minimal effort on your part. People don’t just want content, but they want good content – so what if that means posting one article a month. Make it the best article it can be, and people will notice that. There is so much garbage out on the internet, that a well written article will find its way to the top!
Something else I am trying to work on is my photography. And when I say trying to work on it, I mean not posting a thousand photos for one article or review, but selecting the best three to five to show…sometimes it may only be one. The same can go for videos (this is where I really have to work). For example, take any of the videos on my vimeo channel – none of those videos took longer than thirty minutes to edit. I want to put more time into my videos, and that may mean that I make less through the year, but I want the ones that I do make, to be the best that they could be. Put your best foot forward.
This has honestly been the best part of running a blog. I have loved getting to know people in the industry and other bloggers. You may never meet some of these people in person, but the relationships you build with them are great. Plus, it helps with promotion. They share your stuff, you share their stuff, and hopefully a few of their readers decide to come back to read what you have to say as well. I have found that many people start a blog in hopes to get free stuff from companies. That was never my goal, but I would be lying if I said I never sent an email to a company hoping to get free gear to review when my own content was slow. Sometimes it has panned out. Most times it gets me nowhere (probably put me on some blacklist for companies). Instead of just asking for free stuff, I try to do a little research on what type of content that they like to post, what style they are looking for, and if I have something that I think would be beneficial. I also try meet as many of them in person as I can through the Fly Fishing Show, etc. Don’t be afraid to reach out and introduce yourself, allowing them to know what you and your blog are about. Building relationships goes hand in hand with the previous point of being yourself!
Stick With It!
This may be the most important point that I have to give. Stick with it. When it gets tough…stick with it! You will face times when content creation will be like a dried up stream in summer. Other times content will be flowing like a raging rapid. It is important that you are able to get through the slow times. It is also very easy to get frustrated when views and comments are not coming at the rate you thought they would. It takes time to build a viewer base.
Not only is sticking with it important, but learn from me switching from a million blogs…stick with one! I worked for followers for each of those blogs, and I feel like I lost most of them when I switched. Stick with one and go with it.
Write out goals and chase after them. Don’t just aimlessly post without heading in a specific direction. Figure out short term and long term goals that you want for your blog. Make a goal when it comes to post frequency, or certain types of post. Make a goal when it comes to the performance of your blog. You can come up with all kinds of goals. Goals keep you focused and give you something to reach for. Once you make your goals, write down achievable steps to help you reach them. Many times we just come up with huge goals that we will never meet because we never come up with a plan of attack on actually obtaining them.
There are many aspects to running a blog. These are just a few that can hopefully get your brain thinking about the blog that you are going to create, or the one that you have started and don’t know where to go with it. Blogging is a great outlet and a great place to write down and store all your outdoor adventures. I love looking back through previous posts that I have made and read about some of the adventures that I have been on. Blogging is not just about gaining followers, but it is about having a good time and enjoying it. Blog for yourself. The followers, and companies are just an added bonus if you are enjoying yourself and having a good time.