How to Quickly Establish Yourself as an Episodic Blogger

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Foreword by ghostlightning

Impz did three things well: establish a damn successful episodic blog operation, put together a still-thriving multiple author site, and catch too many people with his trap charms.

Today he will talk about the first success and those who want to take a plunge in this anime blogging hobby. The majority of the readers still enjoy blog posts on individual episodes of ongoing anime, and many new bloggers start with this format first, very few last. If you can learn the things Impz talks about here, you won’t fall into the trap of blogging into an abyss of no readers and no conversation. You’ll fall into a different trap altogether.

Introduction

I had an old article previously about how to be popular in the anime blogosphere, and found myself being overly “politically correct.” The truth is that it is not as simple as that, and there are things that are more “unethical” or perhaps more deliberate than simply writing and praying for readers to flow in. It doesn’t work that way on the Internet, a capricious place for new bloggers to settle.

In all honestly, one has to understand that the hardest thing to do in order to climb the blogging ladder is to break through the ceiling to reach the critical mass of readers. Usually, most blogs don’t reach this critical mass. Rather than giving you a rehash of what I wrote (you can read it yourself), I rather mention what you need to do in the early days of the blog. I hope it will be useful, and there will be things that might turn some bloggers off. If you do, I apologize ahead of time. I will only discuss pertaining to Episodic blogs, because that is what THAT essentially is, and is my domain of expertise. I will leave the editorial part to Ghostlightning. This is hence a chronological list of things I will do before thinking about any blogging fame or even write anything.

DON’T go into episodic blogging without research

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In an anime blogosphere where it is pretty much growing as we speak, it only makes sense for you to search out what are the top and most commented/frequent blogs out there. No one charges straight into a business without knowing their market, and it is the same as a blogger. You need to identify the strengths and niche of the episode summary blogs out there, and find out what is different from the top blogs and the ones that are not. What do they cover? What are they doing to make themselves relevant all the time? What are the features beyond the writing? What are the blog designs? How is the interaction between the reader and the blogger? If you never thought about all these things and went headstrong into it, you will most likely end up disappointed that your blog is not being frequently accessed despite all your efforts.

DON’T be a social recluse

Blog aggregators such as Ab.net’s personal antenna and Animenano are all good and dainty, but the truth is that you got to make yourself known to your target audience. No matter how you position yourself, you can always use some advertising and a hell lot if you are writing. I will say something first: I don’t believe anyone who is writing an anime blog can say that they don’t care about their readers. Everyone does; you can go write in your personal diary if you don’t. You got to build a personal relationship with the established bloggers, either through comments or even better through collaborations in order for people to know who you are or the esteemed blogroll. Twitter or MAL are also good ways of expanding your network.

That will, by the way, push you higher when people google search for certain anime. Do SEO as well, as your primary audience are not likely to be bloggers, but semi-casual anime viewers who find you through google or some other search engines. Learn to use proper keywords that will bring your readers to you and read what are the likely factors to push your blog up the search engine. Some bloggers consider this a sell-out. I say, do whatever you can, and let the writing be the determining factor and not because you didn’t do enough to tell people that your blog is existent in this world wide web.

I will say something that might not go well with some anime bloggers out there. There are many good writers there, way better than me. That is clearly without any doubt. However, there are very few good administrators who know how to take care of the technical and PR side of things. That is the missing link toward success and failure.

I am not advocating that you should orientate yourself toward a “numbers first” strategy. That is definitely the best way to screw up your blog, because you become a writer without a distinct voice. I am simply telling you to lay down the foundation that will facilitate the maximum number of visitors to your blog, so that your writing can take the hull. Without good writing, nothing works. However, without a solid foundation, an episodic blog will die off.

DON’T be the same 3356th episodic blogger

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It’s always good to alert yourself or leech yourself onto certain blogs, and deliberately discuss something different from the established bloggers. All in all, you have to distinguish yourself. However, I will admit that only a small number of episodic blogs will succeed, simply because there are only a few permutations you can go about while writing a summary and your impressions every episode. Hence, this process of whoring becomes increasingly important simply because it will take some time, coupled with impressive writings and insights, for you to hit the critical mass. That is because episodic blogs in nature do not elicit many comments, and you usually see a big fat zero.

More importantly, you have to note what is missing that you can provide. I can give you three key points, “Speed”, “Niche” and “Engagement.” It’s either you write fast with the ability to watch raws so that those impatient viewers who want to know everything will visit your blog immediately. You really have to blog fast, quick and have great screen capture skills. Usually, it burns out 90% of raw watchers within a month. You can also identify a niche that you can position yourself, that you might find missing in the current episodic blogs.

Lastly, remember that you have to write with a personality. No one cares about writing professionally. I am not saying that you screw all resemblance of grammar. I am simply saying your writing must reflect a personality that allows people to join you in a conversation. I am not asking you to be a douchebag and force your views down your throat [might work in editorials though!]. This is a blog, not an essay writing contest. No one cares if you use superfluous English, but they do care about your views… in an engaging and simple way.

DON’T burn out.

Will you visit a blog daily that updates once per day or a blog that visits once per week? The answer is clear. That said, pace yourself. If you think you can afford the time to write 1 post per day, make it 1 post per 2 days. Usually, you have a healthy balance of things to write, and not suffering from burn out.

The activeness can be reduced when you get a good amount of viewership, which is particularly important for a blog which is solely focused on episodic entries. Editorial blogs have more leeway when it comes to posting frequencies. Also, don’t give 8 paragraphs of summary and 1 paragraph of thought. Remember what I said earlier, you have to think why people are likely to visit your blog. I doubt they are there to read your summary unless you are a raw viewer. If you can’t handle the momentum, recruit others, particularly those with a differing view.

DON’T be TL;DR

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One of the major issues I find is the huge text dump by many writers without nice formatting in between. This is not an editorial blog where you can just keep writing and discussing everything without any concern for the formatting of the post. People come into episodic blogs with the likely expectation of a quick fix. I want to know what happens, I perhaps want to hear something I missed, and a lot of images to refresh my mind. I am not in here to read long discussions of stuff. That’s what editorial blogs do.

Ending thoughts

ghostlightning: How important are images in episodic posts? I find that the massive dumps provided by almost every blog superfluous, and at worst (as in the case of THAT) ruinous. It makes the blog posts here nigh unreadable to me. Is this really how you intended it?

I will say that it is not a game breaker whether to have massive image dumps or not for an episodic summary blog. At least I don’t think so, because it is up to each individual’s blogging style. Don’t be too shy about whoring yourself for readers. All in all, if I need to conclude with just one statement that will benefit you: In a blogging world where readers don’t stay long, it does not hurt to do some advertising around. However, you should never let the numbers bear you down, because episodic summary blogs can be a very lonely experience at times.

Good luck!

P/s: If you have a question for me on blogging, don’t hesitate to comment or email me!

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34 Comments

  1. Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    … Why am I worried that I’ve seen all these pics somewhere?

    Here’s a hint why: I play eroge.

    • Posted June 8, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      I’m betting that the setting is a workplace… with a lot of computers.

  2. Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    The hardest part is be unique, I suppose. One can not be unique or find his own voice right away from the beginning, at least in my experience. It takes time to learn, to grow, to evolve. Thus, new blogger has to be very patient and be ready for initial difficult situation especially those who start his/her own blog. (speaking as if I am so great in all this, which I’m not :P)

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Honestly speaking, I wrote that point down as a piece of advice, but I find that it is impossible. I think finding your own voice is not right at the spot, but the writing has to show some potential. I will say that basic writing and essays (through education) clearly provides the skills and opportunities for people to develop a personality while they write. The only change they have to make is to make their essays become blog entries (there’s a difference). So, I will say that the personality should come through very quickly, and should immediately appear, while refinements are made on adjusting to blogging style of writing. That’s what I think anyway.

      A new blogger definitely has to be very patient, simply because it will be so ronery~

  3. Posted June 7, 2010 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Originality is overrated with episodic blogging, much like how it’s overrated with anime in general. Generally the popular episodic blogs have their format they use because it works. So long as you aren’t a direct copy of an already established blog and have your own personality, then taking aspects from other episodic blogs that you like is actually more beneficial.

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think originality is over-rated. I will say finding something completely unique and different is over-rated, but finding a new personality is originality. Finding a new focus in writing ( concentrating on the performance of the seiyuu, or whatever, I ain’t creative) is originality. I don’t deny that formats and the likes are somewhat standard issue, but I will NOT be surprised if someone suddenly comes up with a very good structure, that might force me to a re-think.

  4. Posted June 7, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Funny, I was just reading SDS’s post on whether he should start doing episodics, lol. Probably need to cross-pollinate and show him this entry.

  5. Posted June 7, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Its great to read some advice from an established episodic blogger, thanks for putting this together Impz.

    I’ve only been trying my hand at episodics since the Winter season and its been a trial and error process – still trying to find a style that suits me, but getting there slowly!

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Ya, I realize that there are many mock entries but few serious entries pertaining to anime blogging on the whole. If you have to take back anything, I will say that people need to know blogging is not just about writing, administration is very important too. ^^

  6. Posted June 7, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    My good friend Catacyst and myself have recently just entered the blogsphere and this article has hit home with the don’t burn out section. I had previously attempted to start an anime blog before and got like maybe 5 posts in before I burned out. The biggest problem I see for myself as an aspiring blogger is deciding what style I want to adopt. The many debates over Episodic vs Editorial have created a debate within myself. What is suggested for an blogger first spreading his fingers for the first time?

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      My answer? Write whatever the hell you want first, while being informed about what is already out there that is popular. I never think editorials and episodic summary or any genre is inherently superior. Anyone who says that is talking out of their arse. That is perhaps why I am very turned off (even though most didn’t intend to do so) who seems to have a quite high minded view that episodic blogs are inherently crap compared to editorial blogs. It’s not. The argument should be: episodic blog authors are inherently boring and lacking in good writing compared to editorial blogs. That, I think has room for arguments.

      The only commonality and the only thing you should care about is good writing and a writing that shows your personality. Focus on that, then you focus on what kind of preparation you need to do (read #1 and #2). So ya. :>

  7. Posted June 7, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I think the best advice I can add to this is the following:

    If you have an idea, go with it.

    It’s your blog, so who cares if it turns out to be a bad idea? For me it proved to be the key in setting my blog apart from the other episodics.

    It doesn’t really matter what kind of crazy idea you may have. A few years ago there was this guy who came up with an “anime stock exchange”, which presented the author’s opinions in the format of a strange stock market. It’s a shame he lost his interest here.

  8. Posted June 7, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    The post with Rider pics was more convincing.

    By the way, AB.net Antenna is evil. I got rejected for not being “family friendly.” Then they added Sankaku Complex.

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      But you are not. Raptors don’t encourage breeding (other than raping, which is clearly not family friendly). Sankaku Complex, on the other hand, keeps the idiots at bay from normal people. I say it is a good call. :)

  9. Posted June 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Lots of great information and advice, a great read I have found myself trying out different posting styles over the last month or so. Ranging from more detailed posts with less pictures to shorter quicker posts and more pictures, still looking for a great medium between the two, I just fail at personality in posts something I have to work on. But like everyone says no one really starts out amazing or great at the start, I still am sort of new maybe only two months of actual blogging.

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      If you think your personality has an issue, you need to find it. How do you think you are in real life? Are you funny? sarcastic? witty? girly? Cute? Energetic and genki (me?)? Don’t try to create a personality on your own. Let your real life personality be reflected in your writing. That makes it easier. If in the future, you wish to manufacture a personality, you could try. I will say you should make some self-reflection on who you really are. ^^

  10. Posted June 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    No one cares about writing professionally. […] No one cares if you use superfluous English, but they do care about your views… in an engaging and simple way.

    I think this and the tl;dr part are my biggest problems as a blogger (not to mention punctuality, which seems to be a horrendous problem for me). I’ve always approached blogging in an essay-like manner, especially with Yojo-han Shinwa Taikei (Tatami Galaxy). Though I do like writing with such style, I guess it’s not suited for episodic blogging, where a simple reaction, prediction, and perhaps a ideas are exchanged–nothing more, nothing less.

    Thanks for the insight, Impz. You’re really helping out a novice here. ^.^

    • Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Wow my grammar is atrocious. “perhaps a ideas” is so wrong. XD

      • Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        I will use this against you in Round 4.

      • Impz
        Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Wow, Baka-raptor’s trash talking has started.

        Your mama so bad at grammar, she spells idioms as idiots~….

        Ok, I am very very bad at your mama’s jokes :<

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      the best way to think about it (yet not completely influenced) is to reflect on any piece of your writing after you are done with it. You start to think where as a casual reader, how it is easy for them to pick out some points or perhaps ask them some questions that they can have a discussion with the writer. These two small little tips will not destroy your personality and also allows some engagement with the readers. I don’t deny that there are some kinds of personalities out there that makes it easy to engage with readers (a very good example must be Listless ink, he’s so personable), but you don’t have to imitate someone just to be that. You got to be you, just think of how to engage someone while still being you. It’s perhaps a compromise for some, but an important one. :)

  11. Posted June 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Thanks a lot for the advice! I’m both blessed and cursed by the fact that my blog is actually just a new addition to a relatively well-established site. The blessing is that I’ve already talked to a lot of my commentators in the forums, and written other articles, so some readership was already in place. The curse is that other people blog too, and I feel bad if I get in their way.

    I’ve already taken some of the critique on my submission to heart while writing my episodic blog entries, but this post makes a great addition to that. Thanks again!

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Aye, part of the influence why I decided to write something like this is for future purposes too. We don’t want to let people who are coming in (I pray we don’t suffer from attrition of our bloggers anymore) without any prior knowledge on what we expect them to be competent in. That is why there is a motivation for all writers, to be fairer to everyone and to allow others to enjoy.

      You are pretty lucky to be in a well-established site. :P Not many have that opportunity, definitely gives you a heads up. ^^

  12. Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Good points, all. I’d say point #2 (social recluse) is the most important for someone starting out, and #3 (be unique) the toughest to solve… basically impossible until you’ve been writing for a while. #5 (TL;DR) is interesting though, and something I hadn’t thought of. I think that ties in with what you’re intention is back in point #3. Some episodics are straightforward: image, summary, reaction, while others tend to be a little more nuanced. I don’t think one is better than the other, but obviously you’ll tend to get a different type of audience based on the style.

    • Impz
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      If you notice, there is a mix of everything here in T.H.A.T. It is a deliberate administrative move in order to allow readers who like their straight up reviews, and those with some more nuanced tastes to enjoy equally. ^_^. As I will repeat a thousand times, good writing gets you anywhere with any format.

  13. Posted June 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Getting the critical mass is by far the most important thing, and it can be pretty hard to do. Back before the days of Twitter, I used to advertise my blog all over the anime world (forums, commenting on other blogs, getting on blog rolls) but I never got more than 300 readers/day even though I blogged for years.

    It really does take a certain kind of person to be able to build up critical mass, especially if you’re kind of busy in real life. If you want to see who’s really really good at that just look at DannyChoo and his shameless self-promotion.

    • Impz
      Posted June 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      I have been quite busy with work, ever since I secured my first job. It was actually right at the start of the blogging career that I know that I can’t do it alone. back then, team blogging is not common because people fear that a team blog will dilute their own voices in the blog itself. I see it as contributing and energizing different voices in the same domain, hence creating an unique culture artifact for the anime blogging community. I believe a team blog can be a compensation of busy life, as long as everyone stays reasonably active.

      A certain kind of person? Not really. Just need someone who is committed to the cause (see Crusader).

  14. Posted June 8, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you! Very useful stuff and I’ll defo take your points on board for when I start epi blogging :)

  15. Posted June 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    How do I get on AB’s antenna? I’ve tried and tried and tried…

  16. Posted June 20, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    This would have been really useful to read before we started our blog. Our main problem, I think, is that we didn’t do any outreach to the wider blog community before we started writing–in part because the entire focus of the blog was explaining anime to those outside of traditional fandom, but still it left us without a regular reader base. I think getting regular comments and feedback is an important part of keeping energized as a blogger.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

  17. Posted March 20, 2011 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    I agree with pretty much everything here. In order to get your name out, networking is essential. With the advent of twitter, it’s much easier nowadays to socialize than it was before but making connections with others is key to getting word out.

    I kinda wish I read this when I first started out, but I have hit all the milestones listed here so far. As far as I’m concerned, this is gospel.

  18. Posted May 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    The next time I just read a weblog, Hopefully which it doesnt disappoint me approximately that one. After all, It was my method to read, but I just thought youd have some thing fascinating to mention. All I hear can be a few whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy seeking attention.

  19. Posted September 14, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    11. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

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