We all want to make money doing what we love. Despite more people than ever before earning a full time income from online businesses, many still believe that it is not possible. If you follow the right steps though, you too could be making a full-time living out of your passion for sports, health and fitness. This guide will show you exactly how to start a sports blog and make money online.
Yes, it is true that you can start your sports blog in 4 easy steps.
How long each step takes will depend on your current skills, how tech savvy you are and the amount of work that you put in.
Even if you aren’t so hands on, don’t worry. There are content management systems (CMS) like WordPress which can help you have your professional, beautiful blog up and running within hours. From there it really is just continuing to add quality content to your website, effectively monetising it and getting people reading your blog. We will break down each of these steps in great detail below.
*Please Note: If you are interested in selling fitness apparel our guide on how to start a fitness clothing line might be more suitable.
My Sports Blogging Journey
When I first started out, I spent about 3 months (yes..really) biting my nails and stressing about what topic my blog would be about. I am interested in weight lifting, jogging, boxing and yoga so I just couldn’t decide what to write about. In the end, I was sick of stressing about it and figured that I was better off picking anything than just worrying about it and doing nothing. I went with boxing as this is the sport that I am practising the most these days.
Within 5 months, I built a boxing blog that generates anywhere between $150 and $1000 a month (even with the COVID-19 situation slowing down consumer spending a bit). Not bad considering I spent about 4 hours a month on the site (beside the first month where I went all in on creating lengthy, informative blog posts).
Since then, I have got pretty bored writing about just combat sports so I have since switched gears and started writing about how I got to this point. I have published a few sample buyers guides here as an example of the types of content I produce to earn income each and every month from my sports blog.
If you have any questions at the end, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you.
Step 1: Choose Your Niche
Some might find this first step easier than others. If you already know what niche your blog will fit in, proceed to the next step. If not, let’s look at the different ways you can find a niche that your are interested in which can actually make you some decent money.
*Please note: Sports in general is a niche. If you happen to be interested in all sports (or a specific area which applies to all sports), that is great. Keeping your niche open and broader is always an option and if that applies to you, you can also go on to the next step.
This is an area I personally struggled with for a long time. Maybe you are interested in or good at 10 different sports or maybe you wouldn’t say you are particularly passionate about any of them. Keep things simple and go with your gut. Simply ask yourself, “what can I see myself writing about for the next year, 2 years even 5 years if it goes well?“.
When it comes to sports, it really is possible to make money with virtually all of them. There is guaranteed to be tens of thousands of people just as passionate about that sport as you are. Some additional questions which have really helped me commit to a niche are:
- Would I feel confident and comfortable telling my mum/dad/friend/partner that I am making money writing about this?
- Do I have any unique insight or experiences in this niche?
- Do I watch, play and/or think about this sport in my free time?
Now, you will face competition no matter which sport you choose and that is completely okay. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can remove any self doubt as to if this is the right niche for you.
Realistically, we want to be generating income from our site within months (if not weeks) BUT it will help greatly if we know we could consistently write about our chosen topic for years to come.
Broader niches will be something like a generic football blog where as a more targeted one would be a blog for 60+ tennis players.
Do not spend too much time on selecting a niche as it is very easy to get stuck in what is known as ‘analysis paralysis’. You spend so much time thinking about what niche is right for you that you never actually start your blog.
Remember, if in 6 months time you change your mind and wanted to write about something else you could:
- Sell your blog for a profit and use the proceeds to invest in your next project.
- Pivot the topic of the blog to focus on a broader or multiple niches.
- Leave your profitable blog running and start a completely new one.
To conclude, pick a niche that you are genuinely interested in and get started. You can always switch up what you write about later on like I did.
Step 2: Setting up Your Blog
If you have never published your own blog before, you will be surprised by how easy it is to create one. I recommend sticking with WordPress because of how quickly you can get up and running. The platform also features pre-built plugins and themes to help you customise your blog as you see fit.
Buy Your Domain Name
The first step in setting up your sports blog is picking a domain name, checking that it is available and then purchasing it.
It is likely that the domain will be relevant to your niche however this is not always the case. For example, as this site is about general health, fitness and sports information I went with a the broader name Sportarly.
Do not spend too long picking the “perfect” domain name as you can always change it later if you need to. Here are some tips to help get the ball rolling:
- Avoid hyphens as they can be tricky to remember and don’t look as professional (e.g. www.an-example-domain.com doesn’t seem as professional as www.anexampledomain.com).
- The most common names and ideas will already be taken so get creative. Try combining relevant (or even irrelevant if it sounds catchy enough!) words to come up with a unique, memorable brand name.
- Look at popular sports and fitness sites to get some initial ideas and inspiration.
We will going into more detail on domain hosting below but just so you know, you can pick up a great offer from Blue Host. You can pick up a free domain name (which you will need to renew after 1 year although this is the case no matter where you register your name) alongside web hosting for just $3 a month.
*Note: You might be wondering why not go with a free domain and hosting option (like the sites you see domainname.wordpress.com). Well, these just aren’t practical for building a sports blog which generates an income.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t impossible to build an income even on such a set up. It is just a lot harder and isn’t really committing to the long term. A professional, unique domain name and high-quality hosting can cost about as much as a cup of coffee each month. Why skip it and risk never actually making money writing about your passion?
Select Your Blogs Hosting
As mentioned above, there are free hosting options but they risk making your blog seem unprofessional. They also make it significantly harder to make a good income from your content. I recommend going with Blue Host for a good shared hosting package to get your first sports blog up and running.
Once your blog is receiving more traffic and you want to look at further optimising it for things like page speed and performance, you can look at upgrading to a dedicated sever or virtual machine. By this point you should also be earning enough to hire someone to carry out the migration for you if you aren’t so confident when it comes to server set up.
Going with a shared hosting option is a good idea as it will likely give you access to a cPanel (or Control Panel). Blue Host features a quick installation option which will install WordPress on your site for you. This will only take a few minutes and once it is complete, you will have the logins to start publishing blog posts and articles.
Choose Your Theme
The theme you select for your blog will control how it looks and functions (for the most part, below you can find details on using popular plugins to expand the functionality of your blog).
WordPress has thousands of themes (both free and paid) available. Pre-made themes allow even those who have never made a website to have a professional, beautiful blog up and running within hours!
Themes can always be changed. At first, I recommend quickly finding a premium one (premium designs are often more customisable and professional) from Theme Forest which matches the look and feel you want for your blog.
Create Your Key Pages
I recommend throwing up a few pages when you first create your blog. You want to make your site appear more professional and want to offer some content surrounding why you started it, who you are and why you are qualified to offer any advice that you might be offering. I would start by creating the following pages:
- About Us
- Terms & Conditions
There is no need to spend too long on each of these as you can always update them as your blog grows and starts attracting more readers.
Publish Your First Blog Post
The first post is always the hardest. Try not to spend too long worrying about what to write about or how to structure it. The main thing is to just get that first post published. By default your WordPress site will have a post titled “Hello World”. You can even just develop that an offer an introduction to your blog and the topics it will cover.
Step 3: Making Money with Your Blog
At this point you might be wondering how you will be making money with your sports blog. Well, there are a few different options. This step is known as “monetisation” and looks at the various ways you can convert readers of your posts into paying customers. You can even make a significant income from your sports blog if you have nothing to sell! Some of the monetisation methods for a sports blog include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Google Adsense/display advertising
- Selling fitness apparel, sports clothing and/or merchandise
- Creating an information product (info-product)/online course
- Offering online personal training or coaching
- Creating members only or exclusive content for readers who pay to access it
- Sponsored posts
I have added a brief overview of the various monetisation methods below so you can better decide which one might be right for you.
Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest monetisation methods for a sports blog and a great option for beginners. You can earn a significant amount if you have enough readers and this is one of the most passive income streams that you will find.
This method involves promoting other peoples products or services and getting a share of the sale if your audiences decides to make a purchase. The fact that you don’t have to have any products (psychical, digital or in between) or worry about follow up customer service, refunds or logistics makes this one of the most appealing business models.
The quickness and convenience of this model does however mean that you will earn significantly less than if you were selling your own products or services. It is a great monetisation method to get your sports blog off the ground.
As mentioned above, you can grow your business with this method to generate hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month (I have!). With affiliate marketing, you can partner even a small blog with huge brands like Amazon, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nike and more.
Google Adsense/Display Advertising
So, technically speaking this is the most hands off monetisation method out there. By placing Google Adsense or display ads on your sports blog, you could start earning every time someone clicks on one of them. This way you only have to worry about creating new content and engaging with your growing online community.
The reason I put this below affiliate marketing is because it earns considerably less. It might make sense to take a mixed approach. These days, unless you generate a huge amount of traffic, you are unlikely to earn a full time living using this method.
Selling Your Own Fitness/Sports Apparel
Creating your own sports clothing line is a great option if you learn how to do it properly. Also, with modern technology, doing so is easier than ever. You don’t even need to invest in stock or expensive equipment if you follow the right strategy.
To explore this in more detail, I recommend that you read our guide on how to start a fitness clothing line.
Creating a Sports Information Product or Online Course
Information products are another great monetisation method because they have very low over heads/start up costs. The downside is that you need to know clearly what information you could package up and sell.
The good news is that sports lends itself perfectly to information products and online courses. If you have a new, unique or insightful idea surrounding how to improve or practise your chosen sport or how to lose weight/build muscle, the sky is the limit.
You can use a turn key solution like Udemy to create your course or self host it.
Online Personal Training/Coaching
When people think about creating a fitness blog, one of the most popular monetisation methods that comes to mind is online personal training or coaching.
Many people looking to start a sports blog are experts in their field. If you can convey your knowledge and experience through your blog, you could start signing up online personal training clients. By positioning yourself as an expert, you should be able to charge a significant hourly rate for your coaching services.
Many people have successfully turned their sports blog into lead generation machines for their personal training services. If you generate enough traffic, leads and clients you could easily replace your full time income with this side hustle.
Members Only/Exclusive Sports Content
As a sports blog owner, you will no doubt develop your writing style and provide insightful, valuable information to your readers. Many sports bloggers make a good living by offering members only or exclusive content. This could be cheat sheets, tutorials or follow-along practise sessions.
Sponsored blog posts are another popular method from making money from a sports blog. I would not recommend this one though because of the potential damage it could do to your marketing efforts.
Without going in to too much detail, sponsored posts fall outside of Google’s webmaster guidelines. People often use them in an attempt to manipulate the search results. Google has publicly stated that they those caught participating in such link schemes can face penalties which can restrict the amount of organic traffic they receive.
For this reason, I suggest that you stay away from this monetisation method.
Step 4: Marketing Your Sports Blog
The final step in how you can create a sports blog and make money is the marketing. This involves actually getting people to your blog. Some of the methods you will need to use are:
- Social Media Marketing
- Paid Ads
If you are new to blogging and online business, I suggest you start by looking into search engine optimisation (SEO).
Basics of SEO for Your Sports Blog
SEO is the process of creating high-quality content and encouraging it to rank high in the Google search results. Now, be warned, you will come across thousands of online courses by digital marketing and SEO “gurus” promising to show you how to get top rankings easy. Avoid them all. You do not need any fancy techniques, new strategies or gimmicks to rank. Instead keep it crazy simple and focus on:
- Learning the basics of on-site optimisation (e.g. know what your target keywords are and keep them in mind when writing your blog posts, internally link to your other relevant posts when the opportunity naturally arises, assign the relevant alternative text or “alt” tags to images that you use in your post etc.).
- Create high-quality content which other people will actually want to share with their own audience (i.e. earning links).
- Let others in your industry know about that great content you just created (please note: this is not offering to pay, exchange or even encouraging them to link to your website).
Once you have got to grips with optimising your site, you should also focus on other marketing opportunities so you are not overly reliant on SEO.
Sports Social Media Marketing
Start building out your social media profiles by creating accounts on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other popular platform. Start genuinely connecting and building relationships with relevant accounts.
As with all aspects of marketing, the best way to find success is to be unique, original and interesting. If you build creativity in to your blog from the ground up, you will rarely struggle to find marketing opportunities.
Another great way to start building up your social platforms is to provide a huge amount of value for free. Offer tips, tricks and helpful advice and you should soon find more popular accounts sharing your content. If you do this enough, relevant influencers can even start approaching you to work with them.
Paid advertising is another great way to start getting people reading your blog. There are multiple ways you can run paid ads like:
- Google AdWords
- Facebook or Instagram Ads
- Display Advertising
- Influencer Marketing
I would spend a lot of time researching how to run an effective advertising campaign as you don’t want to waste money. I prefer to recommend that beginners focus on organic traffic generation methods in the initial months of running their blog. This way, you can start generating some income which can cover the cost of learning how to run paid ads.