Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Scott Goodacre, Founder & Editor of The Online Rule!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hello I’m Scott Goodacre! The role that I have that’s probably most relevant to people reading is as the founder and editor of The Online Rule. I started the site with a friend at the end of 2013 as a bit of a hobby project. He had recently completed a Masters in PR and the site was his idea – he was working in sport, and I just happened to be interested in writing and building websites. The first iteration of the website was born, and a lot of the initial articles came from his university work.
We’d met during our undergraduate degrees in journalism, where I’d built and grown a music magazine website which I sold after completing my degree. From there I went on to train as a teacher before getting a job at a college. I eventually became Marketing Manager for the college and have worked in marketing ever since – either as a marketing trainer or in a senior marketing role. I’ve always enjoyed having a side project, and The Online Rule combines two of my loves: marketing and football.
My friend stepped back from the website about a year or so after we started it, and I’ve looked after everything myself ever since. I recently set up as self-employed in March this year (what pandemic?), and one of my plans is to make more of the site and start growing it.
I love running the website, and I’ve met a lot of incredible and generous people in the industry through it. The goal of the site hasn’t changed: to champion and celebrate best practice in the sports marketing industry. I like helping people learn and grow, and if I can share something that inspires someone I see that as a job well done. I don’t like to criticise as I’m aware of the pressures of the job, and there are enough people online who do that!
What do you do in your current role?
I look after everything for The Online Rule. This includes keeping the site running, checking and uploading new articles, and sharing examples on Twitter.
Outside of that, my own business sees me build websites, run social media accounts, write articles and blog posts, help people with their marketing strategies, and run digital marketing training sessions.
What does a normal week look like for you?
With The Online Rule it mainly involves keeping an eye on social media to see what teams are up to. There are loads of creative and brilliant people working in the industry, and I have several Twitter lists with them in that I regularly mine for good content to share.
There are some accounts I check more regularly – Southampton, Man City, Exeter City – for inspiration. I also get a lot of people sending me DMs asking my opinions on things, which I use to generate discussion points.
The rest of the time is spent building websites, speaking to clients, and generally keeping plates spinning!
🆕 March to a million: How Borussia Dortmund's English Instagram account went from 0 to 1m followers this year
— The Online Rule ⚽️ (@OnlineRule) November 22, 2020
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve always wanted to do something under my own banner. I have a feeling that I’m not a very good employee, so putting my own name above the door and taking responsibility for things was the way I’ve been heading for a few years now.
The Online Rule is a passion project, but one that I think is genuinely appreciated by people in the industry. Everything I do is about helping people learn and develop, and the reaction to the things I share is usually positive.
Sport is such an exciting and innovative industry that it’s impossible not to fall in love with it.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
It’s probably a strange thing to get excited about, but the change in viewing habits following the events of this year is making things interesting. I think a lot of clubs have started to embrace their communities a bit more, which I’ve shouted about for ages.
Before the lockdowns and games being played without fans, clubs were in broadcast mode a lot more. Especially in the Premier League. Now they’ve realised how important the fans are to the whole experience, and it’s led to some changes in how teams do their communications. And some nice ‘feel good’ videos and content where they’ve championed the local community.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Learn what is and isn’t possible on your channels. And have a different strategy for each one. Especially at lower levels where you’re the only one looking after everything – think about how to present your highlights in formats that make sense for each channel, for example.
If you’re looking to break into the industry, you need to start working on your own profiles by way of building a portfolio. Start a fan account, begin covering and reporting on something you’re interested in, and start showing prospective employers that you understand how to work online.
For example, one of my plans for 2021 is to grow the team of writers on the website. I’m in a fortunate position where I’ve also got a small budget for it as I hate asking people to do anything for free. I’d love to help give someone their first opportunity to get paid work in the industry.
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