10 Blogging Tips I Learned From “The Wrestler”

By Daniel Scocco

This is a guest post by Brandon Mendelson. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

“The Wrestler” is the ultimate back stage pass to the world of professional wrestling. A world of big characters and more mayhem than we can ever hope to encounter in our lives. But the world of professional wrestling also holds the greatest marketing lessons, all of which can be applied to your blog.

1. Don’t live in the past.

Randy “The Ram” Robinson’s entire existence is stuck in the 80’s. Past success is not, on its own, an indicator of future success. Do not get lazy relying on past success to benefit your blog in the future.

2. Use what you have.

“The Wrestler” was produced for under six million dollars and shot, in part, on a hand-held camera by director Darren Aronofsky. Sometimes, you don’t have resources beyond what is in front of you. Make the most out of everything you have and find free alternatives when possible.

Example: Why buy Adobe Photoshop for $700 when you can download GIMP and learn how to use it for free?

Remember: There are no longer any excuses for mediocrity. If you can’t do something well, learn to use what you have and use these tools better than anyone else.

3. Don’t spend money on your blog until you make money.

Randy does not make a lot of money, but he spends what he has on drugs and strippers. His finances are so bad, when we’re first introduced to him we find Randy locked out of his trailer due to late rent. Save your money and don’t spend any of it until you start to make some.

Starting a blog should only cost you $20 for a domain registration for two years and nothing more until you prove you are generating a profit and have a sizable audience. Only then should you make the upgrade.

Use Google Adsense until you have enough traffic and data to charge for advertising. It’s free.

Use Amazon Affiliate links gently, and only for products you would recommend to generate additional income. It is also free.

If you are not making money on your blog using these tools in a year, see #6

4. If people believe in you, they will work with you.

Bruce Springsteen, Axel Rose, and Mickey Rourke reportedly did not receive any compensation for the film. They loved the script, they understood the limitations the production had and they still contributed.

If you have a great product or blog people believe in, they will work with you. So don’t be afraid to ask everyone, in a careful fashion, to participate in your project. The worst anyone can tell you is no (or ignore you).

5. Don’t wait for a break. Make one.

The Ram works his butt off every weekend at lightly packed gymnasiums in the hope of a return to glory. By punishing himself and not playing the politics, Randy barely creates an opportunity for there to be a break. Your break won’t just happen. You must create opportunity to generate and seize the break when you see it.

Reminder: Play the politics, but play it your way. If you don’t like a product, person, or news outlet, be constructive in your criticism and not present it as an attack. Online, you can’t afford to be the one burning bridges.

6. Know your limits.

The Ram knows he is physically breaking down and continues to wrestle. If your project begins to degenerate with little measurable return over time, cut it, and start a new one.

The average success cycle for a blog is one year to generate revenue, not necessarily profit, and two years to become reputable and profitable.

7. Some products don’t go stale …

Although “The Wrestler” never touches on this trend, the past several years in professional wrestling have seen older wrestlers appear prominently on current wrestling shows.

While you cannot live in the past, value can still be found in older products. The WWE itself is a a great example of an old product that continues to operate successfully and improve with time.

The trick is to follow Mel Brook’s advice and always tweak your project. As Malcom Gladwell mentions in “The Tipping Point”, sometimes the smallest change leads to the biggest results.

8. … Other products do.

You can only go to the well so often without tweaking. An aging wrestler past his prime, who has not changed his “gimmick” (product marketing), will grow boring. “The Ram” puts on the same show that he has for twenty years. No changes.

Sometimes a product or project needs to go away for to be missed enough to demand it again (see: Hulk Hogan), other times the product / project simply belonged in the previous era and does not fit in the new one.

Just ask one of my favorite wrestlers, Bob Backlund.

9. Know your material.

Rourke is believable in his portrayal as a wrestler and the movie provides an accurate look at the behind the scenes activity of pro wrestling. If you are going to create a project in a field with established norms, literature, or other source material, learn and master the material before jumping in.

Remember: As Seth Godin pointed out after a meeting at Wal-Mart headquarters: You Can’t Out-Amazon Amazon”

10. You don’t need the best to tell the best story. No more excuses.

There’s always an excuse.Don’t make one. In The Wrestler’s case, Nicholas Cage was the studio’s pick for the role.

Cage is one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors. Darren Afronsky wanted Mickey Rourke, who has not had a hit for many years, and the studio was so wary of his casting that they reduced the budget of the film.

Although who (or what product) is better can be subjective, the point is you don’t need what others consider better to get the job done and done well.

With unlimited (and mostly) free resources available to you, there are no more excuses for a bad blog.

Brandon Mendelson is one of the most followed people on Twitter, @BJMendelson, and is the project manager for A Million High Fives. This Summer, he will set out to high five one million Twitter users and volunteer with them at their local homeless shelters. Details on A Million High Fives can be found here.



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23 Responses to “10 Blogging Tips I Learned From “The Wrestler””

  • Dennis

    What a great post 🙂 it is a shame to see so many people starting blogs only to make money…I think blogging should be a joy and something you would continue doing whether you make money or not.

  • Vickie Mayer

    Brandon, I just ran across this post and though it has been around for awhile, it was still new and fresh to me as a fledgling blogger. There is so much to learn and there is more than enough information to drown in, so it is great to find posts that keep your interest and teach you something at the same time. Thanks, Vickie

  • DailyJobAlert

    Comprehensive and nicely compiled.
    Just wish to add that there is no short cut to blogging success.

  • Simone

    Thanks for this. Numbers 2 and 3 are so true. I’ve tried to convince myself to spend money on Adobe Software to liven up my Blog, but have realize that I’m not a graphic designer, and my free easy-to-use photo editing software is sufficient. The content is what counts. Number 3 is useful advice, too. Thanks!

  • Mike

    Nice post and great tie-in! Being a blogger and having watched the movie it all makes sense. Nice job Brandon

  • Kerenne Jessop

    Indeed, there are many activities in life that seem to be very different from each other, but it’s amazing to see how the underlying principles can be so similar and applicable to either activity. Just as the principles behind wrestling can be applicable to blogging, we can also examine our other activities, aside from blogging, in which we excel. Then we can also grab some effective strategies from those activities in which we excel, and apply them to blogging. Such strategies can bring us success too.

  • BloggerDaily

    I’d inspired by the analogy. Thanks!

    Sometimes there are a lot of ways and lessons in front of our eyes but we can’t realize them.

    Again, thanks!

  • excITingIP.com

    Nice post. But I just wish wrestling was as believable as any other sport cos it loses its charm as one crosses their teen ages. The actual investment in a blog is the time – number of hours one puts in, and there is a huge value to that – much higher than your paid themes, web hosting costs etc. My favourite characters in WWF (The older version of WWE) was The Undertaker, Hitman and Lex Luger.

    excITingIP.com

  • Ben Moreno

    Wow! I just wrote a review about this movie! What a coincidence. http://benmoreno.net/movie-review-the-wrestler/

    I like how you think, and can extract relevant connections from a movie into blogging.

    Great stuff Brandon!

  • Josh

    This was a very encouraging post! Who would’ve thought I could get something out of someone watching “The Wrestler.” I think I might have to watch it now. 🙂

  • Danny Brown

    Nice job, Brandon – these guest posts of yours are becoming quite the read 😉

    Love how you used the analogy of a down-and-out who finds success again. Sometimes you have to see your blog at the bottom of the food chain to make the changes it needs. Successful bloggers can often become stale; you need to keep re-inventing and building on your bases.

    One quick point – it costs slightly more than $20 to get your blog going. You still need a web host to put it on, averaging maybe $8 per month. But I’m just being picky 😉

  • mymashable

    i love “Don’t wait for a break. Make one” inspirational words. I enjoyed reading your post Brandon 🙂

  • Tom Bradshaw

    These are great tips, I’d agree with all of these, although I’m not sure about not spending money – I use Photoshop all he time and the new Flash CS4 is great!

  • GoBusiness101

    I think i would like to become a wrestler. Just kidding. I Love this post. This is what happened to me when I started my site. Learned a lot from this experience.

    Good post!

  • Nickson

    Like christina rightly said, i loved the tip5. The people who wait, they keep waiting. One who tried to make a break, they are far too ahead.

  • Chester

    These are useful tips. Thanks for sharing them.

  • Yves

    Really enjoyed this article.

    As someone who is just starting to really develop a couple of blogs I find inspiration in those points. I love numbers 1,2 and 10.
    😉

  • Ching Ya

    I was planning to watch The Wresler this coming weekend, heard Mickey Rourke was fantastic in it. The trailer looks good, so anticipating for it. Some timely tips in associate with the movie, I wonder will anyone write about 10 Blogging Tips I Learned from Transformers.. well, maybe should get techie a bit? =) We’ll see.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • Christina Crowe

    Great tips!

    I love tip 5: “Don’t wait for a break. Make one.” Often times, I get so wrapped up in my blog and working to build traffic that I forget about myself. Sometimes I’ll be working right when I wake up to 1am in the morning. For now on, I’m going to try to make a few breaks for myself throughout the day. Then, blog work won’t be so stressful.

    Thanks for the info!

  • iGoMogul

    Brandon! Excellent guest post! Really enjoyed the Wrestler comparison as it was useful and entertaining! Looks like you’ve mastered #9.

    Sara @ iGoMogul

  • Mr.Choice

    Yes, it is very important to spend money strategically when managing a fairly new blog. Buying templates when Blogger offers free ones is just unnecessary.

  • Kevin Muldoon

    Good post though I disagree that you should not invest in your blog until it is making money.

    If you have the money you should invest in a new blog. You should invest in a good design, you should invest in some advertising etc. Granted, if you don’t have the cash you shouldn’t spend any more because you would be spending money you don’t have. But most experienced webmasters have a budget when starting a new website and I don’t think that a blog should be any different.

  • Rhys

    As a blogger, internet marketer & somebody involved in pro wrestling, can I just say great post! Was a trip down memory lane and a look at one of my favourite movies.

    I’ll counter your post with 1 reason “The Wrestler” ISN’T like blogging:-

    In wrestling you are constantly appealing to the mainstream (mainly the 18-35 demographic, or families) to be successful. Blogging it’s all about finding your niche.

    But great post 🙂

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