All the recent talk locally about proper link attribution prompted me to finish a post I started a while back about blogging and baseball. “Everything I need to know about blogging I learned from watching baseball”? Eh, don’t really like that title too much. Plus it sounds like link bait, and I’d never do that. 😉
But I do like the notion of “playing the game the right way”. To me, that’s just about the highest honor you can give a baseball player. In a lot of ways, the same things relate to blogging:
Persistence pays off–show up every day
If you go by the numbers, Cal Ripken Jr may not look like a Hall of Famer. His batting average isn’t spectacular(.276), he didn’t hit an incredible amount of home runs (431) given the number of games he played (3001). Ripken instead sealed his legacy by being a great shortstop and showing up to play every day for a very long time (2131 consecutive games). Some days it was miserably cold, and he played. Some days it was miserably hot, and he played. Some days he was injured, and he played. A lot of days he was just plain old, and he played. While Cal’s numbers may not be all that impressive, the fact that he was so reliable is.
Be consistent and reliable for your readers. Show up every day (or week, or whatever your posting frequency is), and bring the best game you’ve got. You may only be able to outsmart, outwrite, and out search engine optimize half of the bloggers out there. The other half you will have to outwork!
Try to be the best at what you do, and the rest will take care of itself
For position players, Hall of Fame credentials are usually decided by offensive numbers. Ozzie Smith is a rare exception. Why? Because his defense (13 Gold Gloves) was exceptional. With his unreal abilities at the shortstop position, there’s no telling how many runs Ozzie was able to save for his team on defense. The fact that he wasn’t always an exceptional producer on offense is overshadowed by the fact that he is the all time best on defense.
Very few bloggers are good at all aspects of the game. Concentrate on what you do best. If you are a great writer, write. If you are a great layout designer, design. If you are a great programmer, program. If you are even average at your deficiencies you can be successful. If you are excellent at your strengths, you’ll have no problem finding experts in other fields who recognize your greatness and want to be associated with you.
Cheating may get you there, but there’s a price to pay in the long run
He-who’s-name-will-not-be-mentioned-here hit an awful lot of home runs. Very few people I know think his record is legitimate. Even fewer think very highly of him as a person. He’s basically ruined his own legacy by cheating to create it.
Don’t cheat. Learn the ropes. Hell, even learn a few tricks. But don’t cheat. Any short term gains you get won’t be worth the price you’ll have to pay in the long run. As a blogger, you need to be trusted, even if “trusted” means that people know for certain they will find nothing at your blog but a hilarious curse word laced story. Don’t spam for links. Don’t promise something that you can’t deliver. And by all means don’t steal content.
When it’s not working out, you have options
I can’t tell Rick Ankiel’s story better than John Hutcheson. Short story–Rick Ankiel was a big league pitcher. He lost his stuff. He tried to get it back. He failed. Repeatedly. He went back to the minors and learned to play the outfield. He returned to the big leagues in 2007 as a Cardinals outfielder.
When something isn’t working out for you as a blogger, don’t be afraid to try something new. You’ll have to work at it, and you’ll have to learn something new. But since when are those bad things? And you’ll still be in the game.
By the way, Ankiel hit a three run homer in his first game as an outfielder.
When the someone comes after you, be ready!
In 1980, Dave Winfield charged the mound on Nolan Ryan and gave him a beat down. No one tested Ryan’s skills at the sweet science again until 1993. There was no reason to–the guy throws 100 mph. If he wanted to hurt you, you’d already be hurt. But in Nolan Ryan’s final season, he hit Robin Ventura in the arm, and Ventura came after him. This time, Ryan was ready, and the insuing butt-kicking Ventura received let everyone know that Nolan Ryan is not a guy you want to mess with.
If you establish any kind of success as a blogger, someone is bound to come after you. While you can’t get them in a headlock and pummel them six times until Pudge Rodriguez comes out to rescue them, if you pay for hosting for you own domain, you need to make sure that your site is secure and your data is backed up from day one. Also, monitor your incoming links to make sure they are on the up and up. Don’t let someone else make you look spammy.
By the way, Ventura was ejected and Nolan Ryan completed the game without giving up another hit.
Conditions will change, and fame can come from anywhere
In 1922, the St. Louis Cardinals traded Cliff Heathcote to the Chicago Cubs in between games of a double header with the Cubs! If not for this fact, who would ever remember Heathcote?
Things change very quickly online. Who knew anything about social networking three years ago and the way it would change things? If you’ve produced quality content before the change, the same content will be just as valuable after the change. Keep doing what you do and continue to learn about how that fits in with the current environment. You’ll be surprised to find that some of what you consider to be your most unremarkable stuff is what people end up knowing you for.
By the way, Heathcote went 2-4 in the second game.
Last but not least…
Give credit to your teammates
In post game interviews with pitchers who have just thrown a perfect games or no-hitters, they generally thank two people–“God and my teammates”. This isn’t just lip service. These guys know they would not have been able to reach this achievement without a lot of support from other people (and elsewhere). The best even call out their teammates by name. Even that guy-who’s-name-I-won’t-type was big enough to thank the teammates he’d had throughout the years, and this was the closest he’s come to speaking to some of them.
Make sure you site your resources. Most of the time they will be people just like you scraping to get their blog seen and read. Know that you can help them most by giving them relevant anchor text in the link.
Can you tell I
am was a Cardinals fan?