Since it’s getting close to Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to ‘show some love’ for new and prospective bloggers out there by gathering some information that might be useful to them. To that end, over the last few weeks I’ve asked several established bloggers to answer a few questions about their experiences as new bloggers, how they developed as authors, and what advice they might have for those just starting or thinking about starting. Several bloggers graciously answered my questions and allowed me to post their answers, seven in total. They are Kabitzin from Sea Slug Team, Scamp from TheCartDriver, Ghostlightning of We Remember Love, NovaJinx from Jinx.fi, RabbitPoets from his self-titled blog, Eternal from Memories of Eternity, and THAT’s own Crusader. From their responses I have gathered a great deal of information and opinions, some of it in agreement and some of it reflecting the different approaches and attitudes of each writer. But from all of it I hope that this post will provide some inspiration, tips, and encouragement for anyone who is looking to get into the anime blogging community.
As someone who is still fairly new at blogging, having started in July, I’ve sometimes thought about how other bloggers got started. When I look at the community I see some figures that have been around for quite a while and it almost seems inconceivable that in the past they started out just like I did, thinking up ideas for their first entry, struggling with technical issues, unaware of much of the wider online anime community, and step by step learning more about each. But everyone in the community did start at some point. They dealt with the same issues that face new and prospective bloggers now: ‘what style of writing should I use?’ ‘Should I start my own site or write for a team?’ ‘Episodic coverage or editorials?’ ‘How many entries per week should I aim for?’ There are so many things to think about and the prospect can be intimidating. But blogging is also very, very rewarding. You can have a lot more fun with the anime you watch, delve deeper into its details, meet fellow anime fans from around the world, and maybe even make a name for yourself as those whom I asked to participate in this project have. There are haters out there who just like to beat down anyone not up to their ‘standards’, but truly the community is about creativity, fresh ideas, love for anime, and camaraderie among fans. It is my hope that this post shares some of that community love and encourages the next generation of bloggers.
Kabitzin – Sea Slug Team Blog.
-Why did you start blogging? I like to talk about anime, and blogging lets me reach a much wider audience.
-What influenced the development of your own blogging style? I enjoy joking around, so this translates into my blogging style, and I keep my posts focused because I want to be able to talk about a lot of series without devoting hours and hours to each post.
-Do you have a personal philosophy, motto, or focus for your blogging? Write something that you yourself would enjoy reading. I actually read my old posts from time to time, and occasionally they’re funnier than I remember them being.
-What would you say is the most important skill for a new blogger to develop? Pace yourself, and learn to be consistent. It’s better to learn gradually and ramp up slowly than to burst onto the scene and flame out in 2 months.
What’s the one thing a new blogger should avoid? Avoid listening to old bloggers who complain about new bloggers. In almost every case those guys are wrong and on their way out of the blogging and/or anime scene anyway. You work that new blog and let those haters talk about the “good ole days.”
-If you could give one sentence of advice to a new blogger, what would it be? Don’t be intimidated about what others are doing. Specifically, never feel afraid to post about a series just because you think everyone else is posting about that series. That would be like speaking in Latin merely because everyone else is speaking in English. Ok, now you are all elite and cool, but who are you going to chat with?
-Char warned us about the ‘mistakes caused by youth.’ What was your biggest newbie mistake? I didn’t follow that previous piece of advice when I first started. I didn’t want to talk about popular series for fear I wouldn’t have anything new to add. Now I know to hop on that bandwagon and cater to the huge demand.
Scamp from The Cart Driver.
-Why did you start blogging? I’m not really sure anymore. My IRL friends were most certainly not the type to watch anime and I had no way else to discuss my newfound addiction. I came across a few anime blogs and thought ‘hey, this looks cool’ and joined a team blog. So I guess the reason I started blogging was to discuss my anime addiction with someone, or at least get my thoughts out there. Not that my original reason for blogging really matters to me anymore.
-What influenced the development of your own blogging style? Reading other anime blogs. Doing my rounds on Animenano (and the Animeblogger Antenna back when it actually had all the aniblogs on it) I gradually learned both what I liked to read and what bored me silly. I stole certain aspects of my favourite bloggers and incorporated them into my posts, such as Jason Miao’s tangential points in episodics which made the post far more entertaining. Actually I’ve copied Jason Miao an awful lot. I’m surprised nobody has noticed it yet.
-Do you have a personal philosophy, motto, or focus for your blogging? Encourage a response from the reader. This doesn’t necessarily mean a comment, although that would be the ideal response. Make them think, challenge their views and come up with their own opinions. Actually I have a few mottos. One of the most important one that many other bloggers seem to forget is that you’re not writing just for other anime bloggers. Remember the random lurkers and turn them into regular commenters. Basically, make those lurkers respond, which rounds off this answer rather nicely.
-What would you say is the most important skill for a new blogger to develop? Experience I guess. That sounds awfully silly because that’s the one thing you can’t possibly have when you start but I’m talking more about reading other anime blogs and, more importantly, watch more of the bloody thing you’re talking about. Arm yourself with the knowledge of your medium and you’re posts will automatically improve. Seriously, don’t ever slow to a crawl watching anime and still be blogging. Unless you’re properly enthusiastic about your medium then nobody will want to read you.
What’s the one thing a new blogger should avoid? Grammar? No really, nobody wants to read a half-arsed post. Just because you’re out of the education system and out of work doesn’t mean you can erase legibility. When I visit a new blogger and I see sentence structure all over the place I instantly click that x button. Stop writing for your own amusement. Write for other people’s amusement.
-If you could give one sentence of advice to a new blogger, what would it be? Watch more bloody anime!
-Char warned us about the ‘mistakes caused by youth.’ What was your biggest newbie mistake? I got trolled by Dattebayo. I honestly thought they had dropped Naruto and, in what was probably the third post I ever did, talked about it. I got a stream of comments saying YHBT. I felt really really silly that day. Arm yourself with knowledge kids and you won’t make these mistakes!
Always remember your love for what you watch.
-Why did you start blogging? I started blogging because I have a strong desire to talk about anime and manga with others; to promote Macross and build a shrine for it with my own hands, and I found the structure of forums and image boards too limiting to what I felt I could do in terms of post formats and templates.
-What influenced the development of your own blogging style? The Animanachronism at first; Iknight is still my hero. Over time however, I’ve been profoundly influenced by the design thinking of otou-san of Shameful Otaku Secret; and then by the intellectual playfulness of animekritik who runs Kritik der Animationskraft. These two know how to have fun in a post. My fanboying approach is all my own I think (albeit profoundly enabled by one post: It Takes a Fanboy).
-Do you have a personal philosophy, motto, or focus for your blogging? “Remember Love.” It’s an aesthetic I appreciate in shows and manga: a kind of fanservice built on referencing and intertextuality. In practical terms, I don’t review, period. My posts are for fun speculation and discussion, and not for evaluation or appraisal of the quality of the subjects.
-What would you say is the most important skill for a new blogger to develop? I think the most important skill is pacing oneself. New bloggers are filled with a lot of energy that can (and will) evaporate especially in the face of less-than-stellar feedback (views, comments, etc.). Give every post everything you’ve got, but if you must write every day — don’t try to publish every day. Learn to schedule posts at a sustainable pace.
What’s the one thing a new blogger should avoid? New bloggers should try to avoid thinking that if they post something, it automatically means something to someone. Don’t forget that readers read blogs for mostly entertainment. Always try to add value.
-If you could give one sentence of advice to a new blogger, what would it be? Keep it fun for yourself. If you’re not enjoying yourself, you reduce the chances of your readers enjoying.
-Char warned us about the ‘mistakes caused by youth.’ What was your biggest newbie mistake? My biggest mistake would probably be trying to publish every day. I kind of burned myself out — though it only showed in the quality of the posts (rushed and/or lazy ideas and writing).
RabbitPoets – RabbitPoets.com
-Why did you start blogging? I started blogging because I wanted to talk about anime, but didn’t have IRL friends who were into it. Forums were ok, but I felt they were too impersonal. It’s tough to make connections. But with blogging, people have “faces” and you can connect on a more lasting and personal level.
-What influenced the development of your own blogging style? Experimentation. I tried to keep the first anime blogs that I’d started reading in mind as a template, but once I got to actually writing, it was all trial and error. It takes time… and a lot of posts. Even though my basic format hasn’t changed much since I started, I feel like it took me a good 9 or 10 months until I felt like I really figured out my “voice” and had a good handle on writing each post the way I wanted to.
-Do you have a personal philosophy, motto, or focus for your blogging? I wish I had a snappy tagline, but basically, writing has to be entertaining. If the process is fun, the product will be good. If I’m not enjoying what I’m writing or what I’m writing about, then obviously no one else is going to enjoy reading it.
-What would you say is the most important skill for a new blogger to develop? You do need to be passionate, not just about anime, but writing about anime, because blogging does take a lot of time. But beyond that, I’d say that it’s important to learn to write well and with personality. The personality comes on its own, but at the very least, you don’t want to sound like an illiterate 3rd grader. I know it might sound like overkill, but reading a book about writing never hurt for blogging – or life for that matter.
What’s the one thing a new blogger should avoid? Don’t worry about web traffic. I know it can be a little demoralizing when you spend a couple hours writing an opus and then you find that only 12 people have read it and the one comment you have is actually from a Russian dude selling V1@gr@, but that happens. You never know what’ll strike a chord with people. I still get that wrong all the time. But if you can consistently write good stuff, people will definitely find you.
-If you could give one sentence of advice to a new blogger, what would it be? Isn’t it amazing that there’s a bunch of people all over the world that like the same things you do? So have fun with it!
-Char warned us about the ‘mistakes caused by youth.’ What was your biggest newbie mistake? My biggest noob mistake was probably thinking Kurokami was a show worth writing about for as long as I did. So much of my life wasted on that piece of crap! Every once in a while I go back and lower my rating for it just out of spite.
Thankfully the interviewees didn’t charge me for it…but I still had to sing the group song.
NovaJinx – Jinx.fi
-Why did you start blogging? Setting up a blog had been on my mind for various reasons in early 2007 but it was my first encounter with anime blogs that encouraged me to go for it. In the beginning I didn’t set out to blog solely about anime though – at first it was more like a diary about various happenings with anime thrown in here and there. I also wanted to somehow improve my English writing for an exchange term in the United States.
-What influenced the development of your own blogging style? Although it was bj0rN’s anime blog that I first stumbled upon, I was mainly inspired by RIUVA‘s tj_han and THAT‘s Lupus-sol. I loved their rants and snarky style. I might also mention tsubasa from Otakunvirka, the Author from Ani-Nouto and Maddox as some other notable sources of inspiration.
-Do you have a personal philosophy, motto, or focus for your blogging? I suppose it would be to only write out of inspiration and never try to force oneself. Aside from that I keep my options open, I can do both episodic posts and big walls of text depending on the inspiration. The way I see it, the most important thing is to find whatever gives you the kicks. Everything else is secondary.
-What would you say is the most important skill for a new blogger to develop? That’s a tough one. For us non-native English bloggers language skills are essential but time and experience should take care of that. I think being able to enjoy of what you do and socializing with other bloggers are very important.
-What’s the one thing a new blogger should avoid? Being a hermit. I think it’s extremely important to get to know your colleagues and the ‘sphere at least a bit. It can help a whole lot with maintaining motivation and getting inspiration for good posts. I know the veteran bloggers can seem nasty and many behave like jerks until you get to know them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. There are nice people around too.
-If you could give one sentence of advice to a new blogger, what would it be? Always enjoy of what you do and ask around if you need help.
-Char warned us about the ‘mistakes caused by youth.’ What was your biggest newbie mistake? Hmm…I’ve made so many that it’s hard to choose. I’d say writing argumentatively about something I didn’t actually know much about.
-Why did you start blogging? I wanted to learn more about anime. Pretty simple. The decision to start was daunting because I was clumsy with programming and web design (which I still am), and I had never written non-fiction before, but I stuck with it because it seemed like the right thing to do. Watching anime is great, but I started to feel like I was missing out on something by alternating between watching new shows and chatting about them with my friends at school. In retrospect, that feeling was right.
-What influenced the development of your own blogging style? At first, almost all of my influences came from other bloggers. Aside from a few specific writers who influenced me all the way, I started out by latching on to a few beginner-level bloggers who wrote casual episodic impressions and merchandise posts. As I gained more experience, I expanded my reading list, and I eventually inherited my interest in editorial blogging from some of the bigger writers in the sphere. However, even after I decided on a focus (which took a few months), it still took a while for me to find my own strengths and limitations. The development of my style after that came from introspection: figuring out what I can do, what I can’t do, and how to make what I do better.
-Do you have a personal philosophy, motto, or focus for your blogging? It depends on how you look at it. From my perspective, my philosophy is to write without fear of making mistakes. Some of my posts might be terrible, but as long as I genuinely think it’s good when I hit the publish button, there’s nothing to regret. In a broader sense, the focus of my blogging is to fulfill my original goal of learning more about anime. This means exploring genres and perspectives of viewing that I had never considered and that I might not feel comfortable with. It’s extremely important to keep the “anime” in “anime blogging.”
-What would you say is the most important skill for a new blogger to develop? The ability to assess your own strengths and weaknesses. When you’re blogging about anime, you can use anything and everything to your advantage: life experience, work, academia, or good old media consumption. It’s important to keep an open mind and use your skills to your advantage. After all, some people can’t write; some people aren’t funny; some people have no eye for technical detail. However, chances are there’s something you can do and it’s important to be able to locate and focus on that strength.
What’s the one thing a new blogger should avoid? I know it’s hard to avoid this one, but self-conscious posting (excuses for breaking your schedule, personal introspection on your experience in the community) doesn’t do much for anyone. Pointless meta doesn’t help either: you should think twice before telling us what makes you drop anime and what you like/dislike about the different types of anime blogs, because we’ve probably already thought about that. Of course, I’ve done both of those things, so mistakes are forgivable.
-If you could give one sentence of advice to a new blogger, what would it be? Blogging will occupy your time to watch anime and eat away at your mental energy, but if you don’t come into it half-heartedly, you’ll gain more than you lose.
-Char warned us about the ‘mistakes caused by youth.’ What was your biggest newbie mistake? I should have spent more time lurking before making my own blog. It’s no big deal, but you’ll make a stronger impression on people if you know what you’re talking about right off the bat. For me, my blog will always be older than people think it is because it took me several months to get off the ground, and there are a lot of embarrassing posts in my archive that fit Char’s quote to a T.
Crusader – THAT Anime Blog.
-Why did you start blogging? I got pulled out of school for garrison duty at the time, and I was low ranking to the point where I had free time after work since I couldn’t do much more than grunt work. Impz put out for auditions and I did it on a whim. It was just something to do in between work days and working on my other hobbies.
-What influenced the development of your own blogging style? I try to be like Mystery Science Theater 3000, though I am no where near as funny, as time goes on my profession has started to color my out look when it comes to anime so I am rather unforgiving when it comes to male characters in general.
-Do you have a personal philosophy, motto, or focus for your blogging? I try to be funny with wildly varying degrees of success though I take the view of do what ever suits you. To each his/her own should be the rule instead of dogged insistence on one way or another, since we all come from different walks of life and will have differing view points on most matters. It’s like the Battle of Guadalajara, we can all see the same event but walk away with different conclusions, however there are times when one is more correct than the others even if all have merit.
-What would you say is the most important skill for a new blogger to develop? Tenacity, is what every one needs to have when it comes to everything. Your first couple posts won’t win you any awards and it’s important to realize that a rocky start is the usual and not the exception.
What’s the one thing a new blogger should avoid? Starting with high expectations and then failing to meet those loft goals is a recipe for a quick burnout. Finding a style that suits you is what is important and you should play to your strengths. Editorials aren’t qualitatively superior and if you go down the route of editorial standards and set yourself up to be a sort journalist you better be ready to back it up. Otherwise if you stick to opinions it’s easier and you aren’t going to fool yourself into thinking you are more than what you are. Also being in college doesn’t make you smart, nothing inflates an ego like an ignorant mind armed with a little knowledge. Knowledge is power but it needs to be tempered by experience.
-If you could give one sentence of advice to a new blogger, what would it be? Do what you feel is right.
-Char warned us about the ‘mistakes caused by youth.’ What was your biggest newbie mistake? Letting my hatred for typical shounen heroes cloud my judgment when they fail to meet my high standards of male behavior. I am a repeat offender and because of my insistence that most males are loser harem animu males are worth less than the piano wire required to strangle them I cannot see what little good they possess. It is a mistake of youth to be sure, but on this matter I refuse to grow up or act my age. Also I hate Zekes and the mistakes of youth line is probably in reference to Char’s mom who should have aborted the bastard.