The Big Six
Today marks the 6th anniversary of the first post on the Stick Chick Blog.
Wow. I've been blathering on and on and on and on about the martial arts on the Internet for SIX FREAKING YEARS.
As I noted last year, lots of martial arts stuff has happened to me and those around me since I started this blog on December 6, 2013. To update that list, this year I was recognized as Dayang Dalawa in Presas Arnis under the Datu Tim Hartman in the World Modern Arnis Alliance, and I started teaching Presas Arnis at Elite Dragon Martial Arts out in Blue Springs, MO.
I actually started blogging to learn how to blog and to teach myself social media marketing (I'm a marketer in my real job). The standard advice on starting blogging is to write in a niche you know a lot about, and while we can debate the extent of my knowledge in the martial arts, apparently I know enough to fill six years of content about it (and counting) and not have you guys searching for me with pitchforks and torches.
Speaking of social media, social media channels have come and gone (Hello, MeWe! I still miss you, Google+!) since I started blogging, and last year I changed from being hosted on Blogger (still a great platform if you're new to this) to Wix (which wasn't quite ready for prime-time for my needs last year but is getting a lot better today).
I published 738 posts on the old Blogger platform, and here on Wix I have published thus far 260 posts, including this one, since last October when I moved servers.
Yes, I've been recycling old content from the Blogger platform, updating those old posts that seem worthwhile to update. While I'm very proud of a lof of those posts, plenty of the 738 will never be re-published for a lot of reasons. I still have a few that will be revived and republished here in the future, so the old blog isn't completely mined out yet.
I've been asked by other aspiring martial arts bloggers for advice, so here it is:
Write in Your Own Voice
Write about what YOU know, in a way that is comfortable FOR YOU. Look, we all train in a billion different styles, but a lot of what you experience training is nearly universal, and people in styles FAR removed from what you do will still relate to your experiences.
This blog is written literally how I talk. It's not 100% standard American English (I'm a Missourian; we talk funny), and I'm sure there's a lot of language nerds out there who cringe over some of my posts. But it's authentic and true, and readers can tell, and I think that's one reason all y'all come back and read the stuff I post.
Don't be afraid to try humor. Usually those posts do really well for me, and I always try to inject some in almost every blog post. Sometimes it'll fall flat - and that's okay, not everything is funny to everybody. Heck, I'll post a funny one and it'll fall flat, I'll re-post it later and then people will go nuts for it. Beats the hell out of me why.
Have a Plan and Be Consistent
This is THE most important thing in blogging, in my opinion. Have a plan - a general idea of what you want to post when - and STICK TO IT. Make it regular and dependable. People will forget about your blog if you sporadically post when you feel like it.
Me, I post something blog-related almost every day on my main social media channel (Facebook - that's where my audience is) but all my channels and the blog itself get fresh content several times a week except when I'm really sick, on vacation, or if my stupid computer is being a jackass and not working properly.
My blogging platform (now) allows me to schedule posts so I write often when I have downtime (slow periods on the weekends, holidays, when I'm having insomnia and I wake up super-early) and schedule the posts to run later (I did NOT write this post you are reading right now on December 6, 2019 😊).
Having a plan allows you to do that sort of thing.
Social Media and Metrics
I could write a ginormous post on this topic but I won't.
My advice is to pick one or two social media channels based on your target audience (what males 18-30 in combat sports want versus women over 40 doing martial arts for health want are different), post your own content AND share content from other creators (blogs, videos, memes, news articles etc) you think your audience will enjoy. It can't be all about you; share stuff from other sources too. This is one way to grow your audience and other content creators will share YOUR stuff too.
Make your social media feed consistent. I post something daily on Facebook (my main channel now), and if I run across something cool, sometimes many times a day. It is viewed positively in social media algorithms and will get some delivery without buying ad space (I don't - I do everything on the cheap).
As for metrics - don't get too obsessive about it. I was when I first started but now I only pay attention to my social media engagement, not the likes/views/comments on the blog itself. Monitoring metrics and tweaking content can be a full-time job and I'm guessing you already have at least one (and you better not cut training time for blogging time).
I also keep a log of every blog post (in Google Sheets) and when I post it.
Yep, it goes back to December 6, 2013. What did I publish or share as a blog post on... oh... July 27, 2015? Nothing, that was an off day. But on Tuesday, July 28, 2015 I posted "Stopping the Good Man". So there.
When you get a lot of posts published, you can re-share old posts in social media versus having to write new blog posts all the time, and it's useful to know what you've written and when you published it and shared it before (I try to space them out).
Ultimately, though, my advice to those of you wanting to write about the martial arts is to JUST DO IT. Get a free blogging platform, get some free tools, and JUST DO IT.
Literally, you can do it by next week if you want to and it won't cost you anything but your time.
It's just like stepping on a mat for the first time. Don't over think it, don't worry too much about doing it right. You'll screw up along the way but you'll get better by just doing it.
I did, and here I am, six years later. We could be reading YOUR sixth anniversary post in 2025.
Thanks for reading this blog and this post, thanks for interacting with me on all the social media channels I unwisely chose to participate in back in the day and I just can't bring myself to quit so I make way more work for myself than strictly necessary.
See you in year 7.