David McGraw asked me to write about the Cleveland Indians actually making a run for the pennant this year. Now, at the time, the Indians were reigning supreme in the American League central, ahead of Detroit and everybody else. Of course, now we are biting at the Tigers’ heels, but we are in second place. Every game seems to go right down the last strike, and we don’t seem to be playing particularly well.
In other words, this season is making me a nervous wreck!
Because of the fragile state of my nerves, I can’t think too much about whether the Indians will actually end up making a real run for the pennant. We still have 10 games against the Tigers and Chicago may well give us a run for our money. However, in thinking about this baseball season, I realized a lot can be learned from the Cleveland Indians if you are a blogger. Here is what I came up with.
1. At some point, you need to stop rebuilding and just play
For several years now, the Indians have told us fans that they’ve been in a rebuilding phase. This doesn’t really play very well with loyal fans. We don’t want to sit around and let a whole season go by just because you’re “rebuilding.”
Similarly, as a blogger it’s easy to focus on the building (or rebuilding) of your site. You can get carried away with things like the design of your site, what your URL will be, how you will help people share your content…there’s a lot to think about. But at some point, you need to just start blogging. You need to jump right in there and see what you can do.
2. Don’t worry about being the little guy
Even when Cleveland teams are at their peak, we tend to get overlooked because we aren’t in Chicago, California, or New York. There are some downsides to this, of course. We don’t have a Yankee-like payroll, for example, and the national press doesn’t like us too much because we’re a small market. But the nice thing about being a little guy is that you can work on doing great things and can really catch people by surprise.
As a blogger, it’s tempting to jump in and say, “I want to be the next CopyBlogger or ProBlogger.” But I think it’s kind of fun to sit back as a little guy, do your best quality work, forge strong relationships, and start to take people by surprise. You don’t have to do anything grandiose except to succeed at whatever you’re trying to do.
3. You don’t need to leave as soon as you get good
Cleveland teams have a little problem. We tend to lose our best players (either through a decision on the player’s part or through a trade) and those players tend to go to teams like the Yankees or the White Sox. Many players reach the height of their careers just a year after they leave Cleveland. This is not restricted to people in other sports who may be named LeBron James. The logic is pretty clear for the player’s part. They are good enough that they can get more money and have a better chance of winning the World Series.
A lot of bloggers feel that they should put their best content on a big site. That is where the content will get the most exposure and the blogger will start to gain more credibility. There’s certainly logic to that, too. But here’s the thing about bloggers. If you keep sending your best content away to other sites, how will your own site ever grow? I always do the best I can to provide top content for anyone who invites me to post on their site, but that doesn’t mean I post any less passionately here at my home base. How would that help me? More importantly, what does that say about how bloggers feel about their loyal readers?
There’s a reason LeBron is so unpopular (still) in Northeast Ohio. He went on to build an already big team rather than sticking around to grow a dynasty in a smaller market. Why should we do that to our readers?
4. The fundamentals are ALWAYS the key to success
The Indians are hanging on in the Central division, but for the last month or two, every game has been a nailbiter, and we’ve lost a lot of games that we probably should have won. This happens because, quite frankly, sometimes our players look like they forget how to play the game. Really dumb, completely avoidable errors when you’re pushing for success are just hard to bear.
For a blogger, the fundamentals have very little to do with base running and catching pop-ups (really!!). But there are other fundamentals. Not spamming your community. Not treating your readers badly. Doing best to make sure your grammar and spelling are top-notch. These are all details, but they are oh so important. As you work to build up your blog site, missing on these kinds of fundamental aspects of blogging can end up doing you a lot of damage (I hope you’re listening, Indians).
5. Every game is new and every game matters
The Indians have played some games that have just been nauseating during this stretch. Chris Perez, our closer, has blown many more games than we here in NE Ohio like to think about. On the other hand, we’ve also seen great things, like the young Jason Kipnis going 5 for 5 in a game. When you’re in a pennant race, every game matters, but only during the span of that actual game. The next day, whether you win or lose, you have to start all over again.
As a blogger, the exact same logic applies. It doesn’t matter that your last post went viral. It also doesn’t matter if your post got exactly 0 comments. You need to set out your next blog and completely start from scratch. You might get a carry-over of momentum, but that’s it. It’s a blank slate.
So there you have it. That’s what my poor little baseball team has reminded me about when it comes to blogging. How is your team doing? And what did I miss?