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