How to turn a hobby into a slam dunk: a success story

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Recently, one of my good friends, Nolan, graduated with a very unusual degree.

He studied with me at Dalhousie University and got his BA in political science. After finishing school and realizing that he still did not know exactly what he wanted to do he decided to follow his passion for sports, specifically golf, and go to a golf school/management program. Following his graduation he returned to Toronto as a golf professional with a lot of time on his hands.

After sitting in my living room for a couple nights and listening to him complain about his epic level of boredom, I thought I might as well give him some career tips…it is what I do.

flagrantfoulsdotcom
"Flagrantfouls.com now attracts almost 1000 people a day"

Since I’ve known him, Nolan has been obsessed with sports. He is not a casual fan. His specialty is college basketball. He knows every player that ever steps foot on the hardwood and has most likely followed their high school career too. He knows his stuff and he loves talking about it.

For a guy who would ideally be working in the sports arena, I suggested he start a sports blog. I told him it would be an asset when the time came to find a job. His reply: “What is a blog?”

Once I stopped laughing at him in my head for his lack of Web 2.0 prowess I showed him a few examples of what a blog looked like and how it worked, and he seemed to get really into the idea.

I adapted a free WordPress theme, paid a visit to GoDaddy.com and he was on his way to blogging glory. Flagrantfouls.com was born.

I gave him two simple rules to follow:

1. Content is king – Do not try to make money with your blog. You will probably fail. Keep putting up quality content and the rest will fall into place.

2. Write opinion, not news – He will probably never “break” a story, but his take on them is unique, interesting and funny. That is what will keep people coming to the site.

Fast forward a couple months and he is a web guru compared to the man he was when he started. He’s using words like “stickiness” (referring to pages/visit) and “uniques” (unique visitors to a site). He’s adding paid advertisements and making tweaks in the HTML.

He is constantly writing articles and analysis and has even hired some interns to write their own columns. To say I was impressed with his dedication and skills would be a drastic understatement.

Flagrantfouls.com now attracts almost 1000 people a day – an impressive feat considering the short time frame.

He has also been offered a job as a columnist on another sports website where he would be sharing space with some very well-respected writers.

For a site that was started with the intention of being a resume-type tool in the future, it has grown beyond both of our expectations. It just goes to show that sometimes when you put the drive, passion and dedication into something you love someone, somewhere will notice.

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