Editor’s Note: This week is Women’s Week at BallHyped, and we’re reaching out to some of our favorite female bloggers to get their take on the state of the blogosphere, tips on creating a successful blog, how their sites are doing and where they see this blogginess going one, two, five years from now.
Our first Q&A is with Blythe Brumleve, founder of GuysGirl.com and the 2010 Bloguin Blogger of the Year:
BallHyped.com: Well, it’s been a big year for GuysGirl.com and you personally, Bloguin Blogger of the Year and all. Seems like you’re handling the publicity well, and haven’t let the fame go to your head. How fun has 2010 been, and how has GuysGirl grown over the past year?
Blythe: I must confess that though I personally voted on about 17 different computers, I was amazed, shocked and humbled others thought enough of GuysGirl.com and myself to actually place votes for us. With the awards also come certain expectations, and it has certainly made me more focused on how to continue to grind and always try to continue to take the site to the next level. It might sound like work to some, but I love everything about what we do at the site and am so grateful that visitors find the site entertaining.
Since launching with Bloguin, we've added 3 additional writers and written close to 1,000 articles on everything from all the major sports, video games, geek culture and how women can fit their heels and makeup into this male-dominated world.
Tell us a little bit about GuysGirl. What’s behind the name of the blog? How long have you been writing for it? What drove you to create GuysGirl?
Many people do not know that when I originally started the site in 2008, I wanted a hub where everyone, men and women, could gather and talk about sports and gaming but also put a strong focus on helping women to understand these industries without feeling intimidated. Problem was, I didn't know what I doing, signed up with a garbage web company where I was wrapped into a 12-month contract for a 10-page template site. The site stunk. After a while, I got so fed up with the web company, I created a blogspot site where I posted all of my opinionated pieces and when my contract was close to expiring, I reached out to Bloguin thinking it was the perfect solution for me. It was the best decision I have ever made.
What were your favorite posts, stories of 2010?
Oh gosh, there really are a lot to choose from! Being a huge baseball fan, I really enjoyed taking a look at the history and traditions of the game throughout the year such as where the singing of Take Me Out To the Ball Game came from, how the The Ceremonial First Pitch was first started.
If I were to pick the article that was the most fun, it has to be Little Giants In Real Life where I took current players/nfl personalities and compared them to the movie "The Little Giants." This article eventually got picked up by SI's Hot Clicks and led to the 2nd biggest traffic spike in our history.
On a more personal note, it has been an honor to use my site as a voice for my hometown Jacksonville Jaguars. For years, we have been the butt of national media jokes and to be able to report the real passion of our fan base is something I will be proud of for many years to come. The article I wrote in 2009 about the status of the Jaguars franchise, Give the Jacksonville Jaguars a Chance, has slowly and surely convinced one reader at a time that we do care about our team. All is not what it seems at the national level, and we will fight to keep our team here.
Being a woman in a largely anonymous, male-dominated sports blogosphere can’t always been easy, although you’re obviously holding your own with the blogger awards and other recognition. What are the challenges women are faced with in the sports segment of the blogosphere, and how have you handled them?
Sticks and stones my friend. I think there is always an issue online as well in person when a male (and sometimes other females) finds out you're a sports fan. You have to prove yourself first before you are actually taken seriously. You have to talk the talk and until you do (or until they read it) you won't be taken seriously. It used to bug me in the past, but there are so many female sports fans now who can tell you what a 3-4 defense or a OB% is, so I strongly believe it’s only a matter of time until it’s considered the norm.
It hasn’t been an easy couple of years for women reporting on sports. What are your thoughts on the animal-house tone of some of the blogs out there, the hotties of the day, lingerie football, extended coverage of sideline reporters?
It’s to be expected. Sex sells and when you get a male-dominated industry, sports, drinks and hot women will always be a topic of discussion. It doesn't bother me though, on GuysGirl we feature our own segment called "Love a Man in Uniform" and it talks about the same things the boys do. What does bother me is when some sites overload their posts with cuss words. I'm all for a occasional F-bomb but when half your paragraph would have to be bleeped on TV, it's just not fun to read. But that's the beauty of the internet, if you don't like it, don't read it, and when I find a site that is just a little too much skin and not substance, I don't visit again.
On a side note, as cliche' as the Lingerie football league may seem, those girls are TOUGH and can really play some ball.
That said you’ve been able to grow “organically,” to steal a word from the Web 2.0 buzz word app, thanks to blogging best practices such as quality content, networking and frequent posts. In your eyes, what are some of the key reasons behind the success of GuysGirl?
Besides the enormous help from the Bloguin family, some of the main reasons for the growth of GuysGirl is communication, trust and networking. Because I still have full-time job and work on the site at night, I place a HUGE importance on people-to-people interactions. If someone takes the time to comment, you respond back. If someone sends you a message on Twitter, you respond back. I cannot say how grateful I am for each and every reader of the site and once you come, I want you to keep coming back and tell your friends all about us. If it takes building a relationship one reader at a time so they visit often, then that's what I'll continue to do.
Where do you see GuysGirl a year from now, and what are your long-term goals for the site?
In the next year, I am placing a huge emphasis on adding more female voices to the site. While the guys we have do a fabulous job at writing for us, I believe it's important to have the voices of both genders on the site. In August of 2010, I wrote a book on a Girl's Guide to Football Fanaticism, and I hope to add additional content to this book within the next year and write books on other sports in the future.
In the long term, I am determined to grow GuysGirl into a central news and entertainment hub for women and men alike where you can fight with us about our opinions, laugh at the crazy web videos we find and share stories that inspire us all. With expansions into print, radio, products and possibly video, the future is very bright for GuysGirl.
Have you been able to monetize the site much, or is this more of a hobby for the time being? It seems GuysGirl has helped allow you to write about some cool topics, including the A Girl’s Guide to Football Fanaticism. How is the book doing, and are there more books in your future?
Monetizing the site is tricky in web world, but I feel the key is providing daily content that makes people want to visit your site first and then diversifying the income streams on the site with products and advertisements. I never want to portray that its "all about the money" with running GuysGirl, but it's much more than a hobby, it's a passion and dedication. Going into business for yourself has always been a dream of mine, and I won't stop until this site is successful. But at the same time, I will not have my website so loaded down with ads that its unbearable to read. If I hate an ad on another site, better believe I will not have it on my site no matter how much it pays.
Writing a book was one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have ever done. Because it was my first book, I learned a lot of new ways to market which I plan to put well in place before the 2nd edition is released next year. The only thing I would change is to hire someone to format the damn thing. I think I spent more time editing and formatting the book than actually writing it! In the future, be on the lookout for books on baseball, college football and possibly one day golf.
How much time to you spend on the content development – writing, editing, commenting – versus the time you spend on marketing, networking and getting the word out about the site and your posts?
I would say I never spend as much time as I would like just writing. I have a folder with dozens and dozens of article ideas and an RSS reader with over 1,000 starred items that I would like to write on in the future but just simply do not have the time at the moment. Compared to all the other aspects of running a site, I probably spend about a 1/3 of my time actually writing and other 2/3 is communication, analytics, marketing, research, back-end site maintenance etc... This past Saturday, while all of my friends were out watching college football games, I was rearranging my categories on the site and that took over 9 hours. I didn't get to bed until 3 am and I had no good stories to tell. Ahhhhh such is the life of a blogger I guess.
How important is the networking and marketing side of producing a successful blog, during a day where there’s literally millions of sports blogs saturating the ’sphere each day?
For a small budget website as my own, NOTHING is more important than the marketing, using the free tools that Facebook and Twitter provide. But it’s a tricky bunch, you can't just link dump on these sites, you have to communicate and get the conversation started. Social network aren't Spider Bots and certainly won't crawl your site unless there is something in it for them.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add, or advice you’d like to share with other bloggers in your niche?
Just keep grinding! Running a website is not easy and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. You have to be serious and truly passionate about what you're writing about. Passion shows in your writing, but it’s just as important to be knowledgeable/factual in your posts. Never EVER break your readers' trust. And when you do all of this, keep doing it over and over again.
Nothing is instant. You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. Be patient, stay focused and determined.
And yes, it’s well worth it. Nothing compares to being able to do what you love and actually get paid for it.
Other Q&As from Women's Week on BallHyped:
Day 1: Q&A with Guys Girl Blythe Brumleve