Find Your Own Seat on MMA Media Row

Photo credit: Shannon Newton

If you’re interested in joining the ranks of MMA journalism, a laptop, a solid Wi-Fi connection, and a plethora of accounts to log-in to are all you really need.

For those without a clue as to how to begin their influence on MMA’s sphere as a member of the media, a simple Google search for sites seeking a scribe is a great square to start in; that’s what I did. The concept of building a website, managing social media, and generating content out of thin air were all foreign languages. Whether your face is fresh or even a little more familiar in the game, a tremendous contribution to mixed martial arts, in my opinion, would be for the herds of sheep, otherwise known as “contributors,” to fertilize their own Internet pastures with information.

To be honest, I’m a self-taught web designer, journalist, and technical engineer. Scores of experts could guide you down a much deeper rabbit hole of knowledge than I ever could in these departments, but I established norcalmixedmartialarts.com (November 2016), was soon recognized as my own brand of media—receiving press credentials from Bellator to every promotion throughout Northern California and the Central Valley, and stumbled over a sea of hurdles along the way. More often than not, smaller outlets within the industry—important but on the periphery of MMA’s already niche subculture—are regularly regurgitating the headlines from those of primary sources. If playing the role of a copy machine holds your interest, there is only a series of several clicks separating you from a link to submit an application somewhere. Certainly, you can bring a little more vibrance to the violence, so why not go paint your passion across a canvas that is all your own?

A Website

The site I’m most familiar with, wordpress.com, offers templates galore, the dashboard is easy to navigate, their customer service has always been top-notch, and it’s where you’re at—right now—hopefully getting an itch to scratch your own unique domain into cyberspace.

A blog from WordPress doesn’t have to break the bank; in fact, there are several template styles that are free of charge—such as this one. After dabbling with what’s available, you may decide to upgrade for an even greater yield of functionality. If WordPress doesn’t meet your demands, other companies, such as Squarespace, GoDaddy, or Wix, are available to assist your venture into the art of accumulating views. 

Instead of becoming a carbon-copy cog in MMA’s daily news cycle, fill any vacancies you observe with your own blend of charisma and elbow-grease. All in all, your site should open portals into the sport through your prism.

Social Media

Now, you need to share all this content, and social media is the perfect, and for the most part free, delivery system.

The list of social media platforms at your disposal unfurl like parchment before a king and determining which one is best suited to your needs can be a royal pain in the neck. Amongst the media space I commanded under the norcalmixedmartialarts.com banner, articles, podcasts, live events, and moments of historical importance in the region were peddled via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google-Plus, SoundCloud, and YouTube. Aside from SoundCloud, the other products don’t cost a penny, nor is it a necessary tool; I had determined it was the best fit for me when publishing episodes of the @norcalfightmma Podcast in an audio-only format. Regardless of which social media platform(s) seem prime for your picking, their functionality rests upon how you fashion their use.

Many of the social medias allow an intermingling of posts; for instance, a post on Instagram can also be shared to Facebook and Twitter, except a post on Twitter can’t be dispersed to the other two in a similar manner. Additionally, apps are available, such as Hootsuite or Loomly, that configure a single click of the mouse to disseminate the latest, breaking topic everywhere at once—though I never found the need for such technology, I could imagine its benefit.

Finally, you don’t want potential followers to have to dig for your treasure; therefore, a tag name coinciding with your brand—the same name used across all platforms, if possible—is ideal. I wanted @norcalmma as the username associated with norcalmixedmartialarts.com‘s social media, only it had already been claimed. There’s nothing wrong with underscores or clever spellings, but I didn’t want any confusion; moreover, I was covering many aspects of the region’s fight game—MMA, grappling, and Muay Thai, so @norcalfightmma spoke to my vision.

Podcasting

Photo credit: Shannon Newton

Alex “The Executioner” Reyes, who at the time held two titles for King of the Cage, was the first mixed martial artist I ever interviewed. How I came to interviewing fighters and connecting with Reyes is for a different blog, but I do wish I had the wherewithal back then to archive our conversation on a podcast, rather than holding a portable recorder close to he phone’s speaker.

MMAGOLD Podcast

The thought of hosting my own podcast hadn’t even registered until over a year into my wandering around as a “contributor” myself. Since the nasally pitch of my voice is reminiscent of bagpipes suffering with severe congestion, I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to listen, let alone returning each week for another episode. While working alongside MMAGOLD for about a year, beginning in May 2016, members of the team were willing to join my assault of the airwaves, so the MMAGOLD Podcast was born.

Photo credit: Tribal Photography

Although I recorded approximately sixty episodes with various athletes from MMAGOLD, only twenty-six were released because of technical issue; there were many sleepless nights trying to correct these problems—often to no avail. Anyone who claims to have the one-size-fits-all method to sprout a podcast from a seed idea and properly tend to it until it’s ready for others to harvest into their earbuds isn’t the blueprint you should follow. Truth is, there are an infinite number of ways to collect, enhance, and distribute video and/or audio. Whether you pinch pennies or crack open the bedside piggy as a means of turning the key to your podcast’s ignition, you must have a degree of consistency, or you won’t hold an audience’s attention.

NorCal MMA Podcast

To be completely transparent, I have attempted at least a dozen NorCal MMA podcasts in varying forms, each having their own set of failures and successes. My current format, which streams live on NorCal MMA’s Facebook page once or twice a week (link here), opens the lines of communication to Northern California’s combat community with a show, entitled Check-In with NorCal MMA, that’s designed to be interactive and inviting to all. If a live broadcast isn’t for you, there’s an entire ethos of options for editing to enter and become lost in.

However you choose to breathe life into your particular corner of MMA, a podcast allows the audience to appreciate every sigh of relief or shriek of excitement in its truest state.

Conclusion

Photo credit: Shannon Newton

As an avid MMA fan, the cookie-cutter approach to coverage has grown stale. When news of a particular match-up, injury, or any other eye-grabbing tidbit crawls into my feed, I brace for every other “news” outlet to fetch one of their contributing minions to season the exact same story with their own special flavorings; unfortunately, it tastes the same, but it’s considerably less filling. 

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