How to Start a BJJ Blog: Content Creation
What is the goal of your content?
Before you start just randomly writing, make sure that your content achieves a certain goal. What is it that you are aiming to do for people? Are you helping? Empowering people? Diminishing some of their fears?
My goal with Learning BJJ is to diminish fear for women starting in jiu jitsu. Now, yes, you might be accomplishing more than one outcome with your content, but focus on one, because your messaging will be too confusing if you're doing more than that.
Some people, like Stephan Kesting, I would argue, are more of the helping kind, instead of diminishing fear. He'll troubleshoot a lot of problems that people write into him with, and shoot really excellent technique videos.
Would your ideal audience find value in what you are creating?
Whether it's an article, video, podcast, or an image on Instagram, before you hit publish, ask yourself if your ideal reader would actually find value in what you have created? If you're not sure, you need to ask how your audience would get more value out of your content.
I'm always asking what my ideal reader needs to hear right now, and which message would be the most useful to her. I'm going to ask myself stuff like, Would she find this article helpful? What kind of troubleshooting do I need to do for her specifically?
If you haven't created your ideal reader profile yet from the first post in this series, make sure to head back and do that now!
What channels will you be present on?
Don't get overwhelmed here and think you need to do everything. Pick the content formats that best suit your reader.
If you're doing video, consider whether or not you need to make an accompanying Instagram image for it. If you're doing a podcast, do you need to create a short blog to go with it?
Only direct your energies to those platforms where your ideal reader is actually spending time (especially when you're starting off). If the person you're writing for isn't on Instagram, for instance, don't do Instagram! If your ideal audience isn't going to take the time to read a blog post after watching your video, then don't write it.
What do I do if I run out of topic ideas?
This is where I want you to ask yourself if blogging is the right medium for you. You might be better off as an excellent contributor to a blog. Maybe give guest posting a try first if you're not sure if this is right for you. There are tons of jiu jitsu blogs that would love to have you contribute, even if just once. Here's a link to the Learning BJJ Contributor portal if you want to chat with me about having something up on the blog.
Creativity begets creativity. A lot of people get into this stuff worried they're going to run out of ideas. I was the same way. Sometimes I feel like it's a bit of desert, and I'll think, Everything has already been written. This is so not true. The more I write, the more comes to mind.
You really will find that the more you do it, the more ideas you will have. Try carving out time regularly for you to work on this, because it is a craft. Some people like writing twenty minutes per day. For me, I have a regular weekly rhythm of when I'm writing and shooting, so I get conditioned for content creation. There's just something that happens when you're creating regularly; you get in the zone, you get in the flow of it. If you feel like you don't know what to write, just start and it will come.
If you are really feeling stuck for ideas, I would suggest looking at the calendar. In December I made a jiu jitsu gift guide. It was the holidays, and I wanted to write something that was relevant to people for the season.
Or, perhaps there is something relevant that happened, such as the whole Metamoris and Ralek Gracie female controversy thing. There are a bunch of current events that you can comment on if you like.
Try looking at other sports as well, and blogs from outside of jiu jitsu.
If you can't think of topics from within yourself, you can always look outside of yourself for inspiration.
How do I make the content creation process efficient and not overwhelming?
Here is my process:
- I shoot a video or record audio (way faster than writing; if you feel like you get stuck in writing, take out your phone, and download one of the many free voice recorder apps.
- I transcribe it (listen to it in half time) and turn it into a readable blog post
- Make images for the post and for Instagram
All of a sudden, I have content for three different platforms! YouTube, blog, Instagram.
This is an efficient process that a lot of people do. It's an easy way to systematize and not feel overwhelmed. It is a hierarchy that can give you content for quite a while if you do it properly.
Having people guest post is also a nice way to have regular content on your blog, and takes a bit of the load off of you. Once your blog gains some popularity, don't be surprised if people start reaching out to you to ask if they can guest post on your blog.
an overlooked aspect: Images
These are really important. Even if you're not on a highly visual platform like Instagram, it's just expected that even if you do a written blog that you have compelling images that people want to look at.
So, what do you do if you don't actually have jiu jitsu photos?
What I did when I started was to reach out to a photographer who I had seen did some really great jiu jitsu photography. I offered to pay him for some photos, and we started a pretty nice relationship. Check him out here.
You can also take your own photos if you are allowed to bring your phone onto the mat, if it's something you're comfortable with.
There are some sites with stock photos, but you'll be lucky if you can find some that are relevant to jiu jitsu. Get creative!
Set up for this will depend on if you are filming technique or if you are doing a face-to-camera type of thing. There are different lighting set ups for various scenarios, and I would recommend using a clip-on mic if you have one available for optimized audio.
The biggest thing with content is to just try it! You're probably going to look back at your first post and think, Oh my God, that's so embarrassing! Just get it over with and do it. Your blog will develop over time, that's just how it goes. You're not going to start out perfectly.
I wish you good luck, and please feel free to contact me with any questions! xo