Blogging. It’s something that tons of people do but very few are successful at. It’s the ones who can reach their audience, engage them with interesting content, and drive traffic to their sites who do well with their digital ventures.
Mike Sullivan is one of those people.
Mike operates a blog called The Kick Is Good where he presents a his unique, witty point of view on the Buffalo Bills. The site isn’t one for game recaps or statistic breakdowns, but instead focuses on more personal, fan-based aspects of the Bills. Because of Mike’s blogging strategy and consistency, he has gained a reputation as a prominent football blogger.
Having some success in the blogging community, we thought Mike would be a good guy to talk strategy with. We got the opportunity to speak to him about his blog and the ways that he keeps people coming back for more.
The Bona Wire: So what exactly is The Kick is Good?
Mike Sullivan: I started the site around 2009. It kind of started as a side project. I was bored and I wanted to write about football. I started to write about it and put it out there. My wife read it, and that was probably the only person for about a year. But she was like “This is really good. You should do something with it.” And it’s kind of taken off. I’ve really tried to frame it up as the fans’ voice. I am not an analyst, I don’t know the x’s and o’s. I know about the top 15 guys that get drafted and nothing beyond that. I feel like I can kind of encapsulate what the fans are feeling. I can give them a different taste on the Bills they’re not getting anywhere else. I think that’s what’s made it work.
There’s quite a bit of written content on your site. Have you always been a writer?
Not really. Not really at all. I’ve always been a blast to watch football games with because I always have little insightful, witty comments, which is why I think I love Twitter so much. I never really put it into long-form. The website Dead Spin and Drew Magary who writes for that site writes very funny NFL columns every Thursday. I started reading that thinking “Wow, this is really funny. I could do this, too.” So I gave it a shot, and that’s how it all got started.
How do you drive so much traffic to your site?
The most important thing is consistency. So, over the last couple years, I’ve really noticed that when you can be consistent and when you consistently put out content, people will come. If I do something one month, then take three months off, then try something else, no one seems to care. I’ve done two things to help that.
The first one was a countdown series that I did about two years ago. It was one hundred days before the season. Every day I counted down and did a profile on the player that wore that number. Number 97 on day 97, number 34 on day 34, and so on. And that really got a lot of interest because it was a consistent thing and you could talk about it and then the next day there was something new up there. That really worked out well. I did it again last year and that really helped. Consistency has been important. This year, I’ve put together my 2014 goals. I want to put out one piece of original content a week. That’s my plan. I have to write something.
The second thing is that I’ve made a ton of great engagements and relationships, and I really strive to not let any tweet or comment go unanswered. Early on I really tried message boards, and that’s kind of hit and miss. Facebook I’ve had a hard time with, too. I probably have about 1,700 Twitter followers now, and there are about 300 likes on my Facebook page. I can put the same content on both platforms and Twitter will get 50 engagements and Facebook might get two. I just think people who read my stuff are more of the generation that’s done with Facebook. It’s really about being consistent and getting some good breaks along the way.
So what’s your favorite part about running The Kick Is Good?
The interesting thing that’s becoming my favorite part, like in the last month or two, is that people are now coming to me with strange Bills things that they see.
So, for a while, I haven’t been a normal Bills blog. I’m not talking about the game on Sunday or analyzing plays. I’m kind of a humorous, different slant on the whole team and everything in general. People will come to me and be like “Hey did you see that?” Like this one person who told me about this very creepy Buffalo Bills mannequin on Ebay. There was also a video of this high school kid who got his wisdom teeth out and was clearly under the influence of laughing gas. He was really crying in the backseat of the car about how bad the Bills are and about how they never won a Superbowl. I really find interesting that people are coming to me as some expert on weird Bills stuff. It’s fun. There’s just more stuff to come. It’s cool. I love the Bills. It’s a passion of mine.
So you’re not a full-time blogger. You have another full-time job. Is it hard to maintain your blog with everything else going on?
It’s not easy. I’ll tell you that. But Gary Vaynerchuk has three books, and I really love the guy. A friend of mine told me to read Crush It, and that’s really where I started the blog. He said, “If there’s something you love, write down a hundred things that you could write about that subject.” I did it right away. I had a hundred no problem at all. But he says that if you have a family, if you have a job, there are plenty of hours between 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. to get done what you’ve got to do. And those are really my hours. I come home from my regular job, have dinner with the family, get the kids to softball or wherever we need to go. But then between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, on many, many nights, I’m writing stuff, putting stuff up, and interacting. I’m putting in a lot of hours in expense of my own sleep, I would say. But, it’s fun and I love it. I could be sitting there watching Lost or playing Xbox, but this is what I choose to do with my time. It’s more rewarding for sure.
What advice do you have for people who are new to blogging?
Read that book Crush It that I mentioned. The overall principle is that if there’s something that you really love, something that you could write a hundred different things about, just do it. Put in the time. Be consistent. Really be authentic. Don’t try to write what you think people want. Write what’s in your head. One of the things he says is, “If you love the smurfs, smurf it up. Be the foremost expert in smurf culture and smurf knowledge. There’s a high likelihood that there are other people who love the smurfs as much as you do and will come and interact.” It seems like the more specialized you are, the better chance you have because you’re only about that one topic. Be specialized, write about something that you don’t really have to think about and that you’re really passionate about.
If you want to find out more about Mike, you can visit his blog, thekickisgood.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Make sure to check out Mike’s work, and stay tuned for more great features in the future.
If you want to hear the full interview with Mike, click the play button below.