Making sports blogging pay: 1 for 2 ain't bad

This summer I set a goal for myself of completing and marketing two products for hockey readers, as a step towards turning what has been a longtime hobby into something which might provide at least some kind of significant supplementary income. Well, here we are at the start of the 2011-2012 NHL season, and while I fell short of the goal, I am encouraged by what I did achieve, and the prospects I see going forward.

I think I've finally passed the first milestone, which was to bring in more money from writing about hockey and the Nashville Predators than I would by scrubbing toilets at their games (4 hours per game, minimum wage, 40-50 games a year depending on playoffs... do the math), so that's something.

For the first product, I was able to record a partial success, because while I didn't complete a full commercial product there, I was able to publish a fantasy hockey draft strategy eBook which I made freely available over at HockeyGearHQ.com, asking only that people sign up for the email newsletter there in return. The responses from readers were very positive, and it's something that I plan on revising and fleshing out further for 2012. Rather than attempt to provide insight and analysis on the entire league, the focus of that eBook is a method I've developed which helps ensure that your fantasy hockey cheat sheet is prioritized properly for the scoring categories used in each individual fantasy league. It's something different than what I've seen elsewhere, so I was glad to provide something of value to fantasy hockey managers.

The second product pretty much died on the launch pad, but is something I may want to attempt again in the future, so I'll keep that one under my hat. ;)

What is encouraging, however, is the direction which both On The Forecheck and Hockey Gear HQ are taking this fall. OTF was recently named Writer's Choice for Best Sports Blog in Nashville, a real feather in our cap, and Hockey Gear HQ is experiencing solid growth on a number of important fronts (traffic, newsletter subscribers, revenue, etc.). Oddly enough, even though Hockey Gear HQ was slapped together using my horrifyingly awful design skills, it's actually brought in almost as much revenue in 2011 as OTF. Again, it's about providing real value to readers, with the basic idea being to help people find the best deals on the hockey equipment and accessories that they're interested in. Hockey Gear HQ is very much a learn-on-the-fly endeavor on my part, because the style of writing required to do that type of site is quite different than at OTF, so it's a work in progress - but the sprouts are coming up.

The immediate future is all about covering the Nashville Predators season over at OTF, and getting ready for the holiday season at Hockey Gear HQ. I'm really looking forward to testing out a new Easton Stealth RS composite stick which recently landed on my doorstep, so that will be the next hockey equipment review there. If it's as good or better than the Easton EQ50 I tried last season, that'll be a thrill.