On Blogging – My Thoughts After 33 Months
In the next few months I will reach the point where I’ve regularly blogged anime and manga for three years. I’m also getting close to 500 posts (400 here, 100 on Sea Slugs). That’s a lot of blogging!
That’s a… loooooooooooot of hours.
Well, I thought I’d write some of my thoughts on blogging. Every blogger’s favorite subject!
A Brief History of My Blogging Experience
May 2010 was when I started blogging about anime and manga on a regular basis. I ran a fiction writing and book review blog for a good while before that, but I eventually set that aside so I could narrow my focus a bit more. (I’ve long been a fan of novels and storytelling in general, and I’ve written about eight books of my own over the past several years.)
August 2011 was about when I stopped blogging about anything that wasn’t anime or manga related, and was when I started blogging for YumeState (in addition to this blog). I continued to post editorials there until July 2012, when the site went on hiatus. (I’ve since added my posts from there to this blog as backup.)
December 2011 was when I began blogging for Sea Slugs, which generally entails one or two episodic posts a week. I’ve helped blog Another, Tsuritama, Kokoro Connect, and Humanity Has Declined, and am currently helping with From the New World and Zetsuen no Tempest. Lots of great shows!
And I’m still blogging here in the meantime, of course. But how much longer will that last??? Doesn’t the average blog just last a year or two? I suppose you can never predict what will happen in your life.
Quantity vs Quality?
I’ve experimented with my blogging style over the months and years. I’ve tried short posts and long posts, comprehensive reviews and in-depth editorials, lists and arguments, comparisons and analyses, posts that focus on topics for specific stories and others that focus on more general themes shared by many stories, and serious posts and lighthearted posts. I’ve tried posting based on volumes of manga, episodes of anime, chapters of manga, seasons of anime, entire manga, entire anime, light novels, video games, and other things. Every style is fun in its own way.
Is it better to focus on posting as often as possible, or to make your posts as good as possible? It’s really up to you, because I’ve never noticed a difference in views or comments when changing my focus. I think it’s good to post on a regular basis–at least once every few weeks if you want to maintain a regular readership of any kind–but you obviously want to write posts that are worth reading. It’s good enough to simply share your opinion on an anime or manga–that’s kind of the point of a blog–but I also suggest trying to come up with blog posts that haven’t been done as much before. It’s fine to write about “Hyouka Episode 05″ of course, but it may be worth your time to try finding something new and more specific to write about for the series. Or perhaps some specific element of the series can give you an idea of a topic to focus on? I think it’s good for bloggers to be willing to experiment, or to at least shake things up a bit from time to time.
Random suggestions: An interesting title and opening picture can go a long ways to getting people’s attention! (Well, at least it should!) I also personally like it when a blogger has found a unique voice, and has a new perspective of some kind to bring to the aniblogsphere discussion table. I also think it’s great when a blogger is really enthusiastic about a topic, and is able to craft engaging posts for both series she likes and those she dislikes. It’s fine to just say you like or dislike something, but be sure to give reasons why if you can. Also, while it’s fine to blog the most popular series everyone is watching, I think it’s nice to see people take on lesser-viewed series as well. More posts for manga and light novels would probably be nice to see too, or even older anime in general. Also, see if you can do collaborations with other bloggers! I think this is something that everyone can try to do more, and is something I’d like to get back to doing more regularly soon.
Episodics and Editorials
This topic comes up a lot in the aniblogsphere, and I’m not sure why it’s often seen as a debate. There are obvious positive points to both styles of blogging, and there’s no rule that anyone has to settle for just one or the other. It’s worth your time to try both, I believe. Try blogging an anime episode by episode. See if you can find something more to talk about other than just your general reaction to it. Look for what aspects of the series interest you the most, and see if you can come up with some editorials. These posts don’t have to be any more difficult than an episodic post. It can be “What’s With Those Crazy Hairstyles in Shiki”, and your resulting thoughts on said subject. I think some bloggers get the impression that they need to spend months working on a single editorial-style posts, but unless you intend to go for something really intricate and scholarly, you don’t need to worry so much about it. Deep and educational posts are great too though, so if you have actual background knowledge on a subject and can relate it to an anime or manga, that’s just splendid. A little research can go a long way, so feel free to look into some of the subjects the story brings up (e.g. there’s a lot you can read up on Japanese culture and history, which can provide greater insight on the anime and manga you blog).
I’d keep in mind though that there is no correlation between number of hours you spend on a blog post and the number of views or comments you will get in return. Blogging just doesn’t work that way! There is a lot of luck involved, and you may just not get any attention regardless of how hard you work on a post.
What is the Point of Blogging, Anyways?
A good question! If your intention is to become a well-known anime reviewer of some sort, you’re in for a LONG HAUL. Unless you’re just that good, I suppose. But chances are you won’t get noticed much at all for at least a year (or more). There’s a lot you can try to do to bring in more readers, but even the most extensive of measures will not necessarily make any significant difference. The internet’s a huge place, and there are tons of anime and manga blogs out there! People don’t have time to read fifty blog posts a day.
So really, I think you just need to blog if you want to. And if you decide it’s no fun anymore… take a break, at least! In the end it’s not a very big deal, and for most of us blogging should be something that adds to your hobbies and interests, rather than something that overtakes them. Make it work within your schedule. If you get busy for a few months, don’t stress yourself over things that aren’t so important. (Like blogging.) You can’t really expect people to visit your blog and comment on your posts, even if you visit their blogs all the time and comment regularly on their posts. It unfortunately doesn’t work like that in most cases! So just stick with what feels best to you, and participate in the aniblogosphere as much or as little as time allows.
Share your opinion, and don’t worry about it being different from what may be the general consensus of the rest of the aniblogsphere. I feel all opinions are valid, and that the world of anime and manga is so varied that there really is something for everyone–and most every individual series will really connect with at least one person. Maybe you’re like me and really, really enjoy Pandora Hearts… And if so, why not blog about it? Then let me know, because I’m always looking for other Pandora Hearts fans! XD But seriously, half the point of blogging is to connect with others in some way in this vast world wide web, am I right? If you read a post and have something to say, don’t be afraid to comment. And I personally think it’s fine to mention a blog post of your own if it’s pertinent! Some bloggers seem a bit paranoid about that thanks to spammers, but if it’s obvious your commenter cares about what you wrote and genuinely wants to contribute to the discussion in some way, then it really shouldn’t be a big deal.
And honestly, the best thing about blogging is when someone leaves a really good comment that shows he’s actually given your post some serious thought, and has actually taken the time to type up something more than a “yeaah, coool!” I still don’t know how to get these comments though unfortunately, and I’m always a little surprised by how often some bloggers don’t seem to care at all when these sorts of comments actually do show up on their blogs. This is a GODSEND, people! At least respond to these well-thought-out comments! Don’t you want to create an intelligent discussion?!? (/soapbox) I guess I’m just really excited when other people seem to care at least a tiny little bit about what I write, as I have tried a wide variety of ways of encouraging people to leave a comment (typically to no avail). I perhaps should learn to just not worry about it at all, but that’s still difficult for me.
Social Networking in the Aniblogsphere
About a year ago I decided to take my blogging a little more seriously. My thinking was, if I was spending all this time at blogging, I should at least see some sort of progress at some point, right? But even after a couple years I was hardly getting any views, so I thought to try using Twitter. Now a year later, I suppose I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter at the moment.
Positive side: It’s fun. People are always posting something amusing, and it’s interesting to see everyone’s impressions of all the different anime coming out each week. I’ve gotten to know a lot of anibloggers better through Twitter, and have found some great posts from time to time that I would have otherwise missed.
Negative side: Well, people talk about anything and everything–not just anime and manga (shocking, right?). But worse is how often it feels like many people are complaining about everything. I can scroll on and on through my timeline and feel like I’m getting nothing but a constant stream of things I’m not actually interested in. And then when people actually are talking about anime, it’s often continuing this trend of negativity. It’s all a bit too gloomy and sarcastic at times, but I’m never quite able to just give up on it.
And, of course, I haven’t seen any actual increase in views or comments over the past year via Twitter, which makes the original purpose of my joining it kind of moot I guess. XP But the good points still stand, since I do genuinely like interacting with other bloggers in this way. I perhaps just need to learn to not spend as much time on it as I currently do. (The internet in general is rather addicting, isn’t it? It’s so easy to move from one thing to the next, as it always takes little more than a click of the mouse button…)
At the beginning of last year I set some goals for myself with my blogging, and suffice to say I did not achieve them (or at least all the goals regarding viewers, subscribers, comments, etc). Nevertheless, I don’t regret all the time I’ve put into blogging, since I’ve found it an engaging way to unravel what makes the stories of my favorite anime and manga as good as they are. And I’ve certainly made some nice acquaintances along the way–the aniblogsphere in general is a really good bunch of people!
Is all my time spent blogging a productive use of my time? To be honest… well, no. That’s something I more or less accepted from the start though, so it’s not a surprise. I feel my writing has improved to some degree over the past year–or at least I hope it has–so that’s at least one good thing. But in the end there really aren’t that many positive effects that come out of blogging. The only thing that you’re actually likely to gain from the regular publishing of quality posts is your own self-satisfaction in a job well-done. And if you’re lucky, there will be some other people who take an interest in what you’ve written–but again, this isn’t something you should expect. It’s more of a nice bonus, ultimately. :>
Basically, if you create a blog and you like it, then you’ve succeeded. (How fortunate!) Blogging is something that literally anyone can do, so it’s not a surprise there are lots of people taking part in it for some period of time. How long will I stick with this? I don’t have any intention of stopping at the moment, nor do I feel any more tired of blogging than I did a year ago. I particularly like blogging for Sea Slugs, so I at least hope I can keep writing good posts there for a long time. But for my personal blog, it may be time for me to cut down on the number of hours I devote to it every week. I have other things I ought to focus more on in my life, after all.
For example, I’d really like to write more books this year. My novel-writing was something I really slacked on last year, and that’s something I wish to improve on. My “writer’s block” was largely because I was watching so many anime, it turns out. (At least for me, it was a lot of anime.) This may mean I just need to watch two or three shows a season, instead of five or six (or more). And it may mean just blogging here once a week, instead of three or four times.
For now I’m going to finish catching up this week on the blog posts I’ve been meaning to get to for a while (dealing with my backlog, if you will), but once I’m caught up I’ll probably slow down a little bit. I ought to follow my own advice and keep this blogging experience enjoyable, am I right? Sort out my priorities, pace myself, focus on what matters most, and of course keep my anime/manga hobby fun.
Feel free to share any suggestions you may have for me and this blog, or any advice you have to other bloggers in general. I’m always up for new things to try!