Review of top blogs in the boating and marine industry – from design to content, why these blogs stand out above all
Part 1 of a 2 part series on Best Practices for Blogs in the Boating Industry
Company blogs continue to grow in popularity as a way for businesses to communicate, generate more website traffic, funnel content to social media outlets and showcase what makes their company great.
In Part 1 of my posts on best practices for blogs in the boating industry, you’ll see some of the top blogs run by boating or marine related businesses. Whether you are thinking about starting a blog for your marine business, or looking for ideas to give your existing blog a refresh, examining some of the top blogs out there today is a good way to pick up some ideas and best practices to follow.
In the boating industry, there’s a wide range of blogs – from blogs featuring experts offering informational posts to brands that are showcasing engaging lifestyle content.
This selection of top boating blogs will showcase different blogging techniques and styles that stand out to me. While not one blog may be considered “perfect”, each one highlights marine marketing best practices with blogging they make them notable.
Sea Ray Launch Pad
Sea Ray calls their company blog their “LaunchPad” (as opposed to using the word blog). When you mouse over the orange LAUNCHPAD word in their main website navigation a preview window opens with a description of what to expect: “LaunchPad is your dedicated source for the latest Sea Ray news, engaging lifestyle content, helpful how-tos and rewarding special offers.”
The Sea Ray LaunchPad is high on design with a pleasing color scheme and generous use of photos – with a particular focus on images of people enjoying the boating lifestyle (not just their boats – although there are easy quick links to their models in the footer). The navigation is very simple with topics like Boat Ownership, Sport & Lifestyle, Destinations and Technology.
Cannon’s Marina Blog
The Cannon’s Marina blog offers a variety of articles and content of interest to boaters in the Florida region… and its one of the best marina/dealer blogs I have seen. They sprinkle in info about the boats they sell but they also have a lot of interesting content like dog-friendly beaches and fishing advice for the area.
The design of the blog is very clean and easy to read (important for a good blog). It is well integrated into the site with a link from the main navigation and recent posts listed in the footer. I suspect that they may be using WordPress for their entire site (which makes integrating a blog super easy).
The blogs on Boating Magazine stand out because they really do a good job of showcasing all of their technical experts, editors and writers. Each one has a designated topic that they typically cover on the blog, so there’s a lot of variety. My main negative critique is that the site uses a lot of ads like pop-ups and text ads can be a little intrusive. Yes advertising pays the bills for publishers, but these particular ads can be distracting from the great content.
Boating Industry magazine showcases their editorial talent along with guest blog posters throughout their BoatingIndustry.com blog posts. They publish multiple times a week (which is expected from a publisher) and cover a variety of marine business topics. The blog is well integrated in the site (they appear to use WordPress for all their website content, which makes adding blog functionality easier). Their use of guest blog posts expands blog content to include topics like social media, marketing and sales.
Soundings TradeOnly may not score big points for their blog design in terms of look and feel, but how they position two editorial experts with their two blog series – Dealer Outlook blog by Norm Schultz and Trade Talk blog by Bill Sisson – scores them high in terms of the valuable perspective they offer the marine industry.
Notably, their blog posts tend to draw a lot of comments – which shows they are well-read and the content is valuable to their target audience of marine industry professionals. The topics covered are also usually very timely with what is currently hot in the marine industry.
MarineMax is certainly known for their marketing in the marine industry – with their numerous locations and featured boat brands they seem to be everywhere. The MarineMax blog is really more of a collection of articles and content that is segmented into different lifestyle topics on their blogs. While I think their newly designed website is a bit flashy for my taste (hard to follow the twists and turns of the navigation), I do like how they incorporate content and interest articles throughout the site. Like Sea Ray, they also have a lot of bold photography featuring lifestyle imagery that draws you in.
Boat Trader’s WaterBlogged is a very simple blog in terms of design and structure, but it is full of good content and well organized by topics that matter to boaters (particularly boaters that may be in the market to buy or sell on their site). Topics include tips for buyers, tips for sellers, maintenance and upgrades and lots of how-to articles.
In addition to the pleasing blue colors and easy to read template, I also just love the name they came up with for their blog – it’s very clever!
DailyBoater.com is the blog for FirstBoat.com, a site devoted to boating basics. What makes the DailyBoater blog stand out is the fact that it covers a lot of everyday boating news like local boat shows and it features a variety of contributing guest posts to offer a broader range of topics covered. The blog has also been around for years, so there’s a great archive of articles that no doubt create good traffic flow to other websites in its network.
Action Water Sports
Action Water Sports is a boat dealer with several locations in Michigan. The Action Water Sports blog is well integrated into their website with a link in their main website navigation and a showcase of latest posts on their home page (again, this makes me suspect they are using WordPress for their website and blog). Their varied content includes special buying guides, videos, sales specials, water sports events news, local features and more.
Galati Yacht Sales
The Galati Yacht Sales “On the Water” section of their website that is devoted to their blog and articles. Although it is a bit hidden if you are searching for a “blog”, their On the Water section is offered as part of their “customer tools”. They do a great job of incorporating a lot of video to showcase new boat models and events. Embedding video (really easy to do with YouTube) is a nice addition to blogs to make it more interactive.
The SureShade blog is designed to show boaters, builders and dealers how they can “Experience the Shady Side of Boating”. (Full disclosure – I manage, maintain and write most of the content for the blog so I am a bit biased on it being a best practice!) The design uses the SureShade brand colors and has a similar look and feel as the main website, yet a more informal tone. Posts feature big, impactful images to really showcase boats with the retractable shades. The content features new boat debuts, customer testimonials, product updates, dealer/builder profiles and more. It has become a great traffic generator for boaters researching shade options for their boats.
And one last shameless plug…
My own personal blog, BoaterLifeOnline, is focused on the boating lifestyle. It covers boat gear, boating tips, and my personal favorite topic… family boating. The site also features occasional guest posts on a variety of boating topics. Although there are many large brands in the marine industry that are showcasing the boating lifestyle, my blog hopes to highlight the lifestyle from a boater perspective.
Got More Boating Blogs? Please Share!
Tell us in the comments below what blogs we may be missing from this list (because I’m sure there are many more good ones)… and why it is a marine marketing best practice in blogging! (share a link please)
More Tips for Starting or Redesigning a Blog
In Part Two of Best Practices for Blogs in the Boating Industry: Starting a Blog I will summarize some of the key features and actions to take when starting (or redesigning) a top blog for the boating industry.
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Thanks for links to these great blogs! Also make sure to visit ABYC Educational Director Ed Sherman’s Boat Tips blog http://edsboattips.com/ . The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) was created in 1954 as a non-profit organization to develop safety standards for the design, construction, equipage, repair and maintenance of boats. The mission of ABYC is to improve boating safety and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities. Learn more about ABYC at http://www.abycinc.org
Glad you found the list useful! Thanks for sharing the link to Ed Sherman’s blog too – he is a great resource for the boating industry… we personally own several of his books. And sharing your valuable in-house expertise on your blog is definitely a best practice!
Diane, we have two long standing and popular boating blogs:
Take a look, we think you’ll like what you see.
Lisa and Jim Favors
Take a look at blog.slidemoor.com for your 2014 edition of this!
Nice blog James! Very clean layout, nice use of images and great variety of topics!
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