Throughout the years I’ve collaborated with a lot of bloggers and guest posted on a few blogs. But only recently have I had bloggers guest post on my blog and it’s made me realize a few things.
Generally, I collaborate for three big reasons. 1) I am not a good representation of the average anime fan and often don’t have a good grasp of what is going on in the greater community so a collaborator can help me fill that void, 2) I find it motivating to work with someone else on a project and 3) It’s actually easier (at least for me).
However, those aren’t the only reasons to do either collabs or guest posts. In fact, I wrote myself that these are a great way of getting your name out there and reaching a new audience. It stands to reasons that a lot of bloggers will try collabs or guest posts at least partly to grow their reader base.
I think it’s a great tactic where everyone wins but there are some extra considerations. I once wrote that when asking for a collab you should familiarize yourself with the other person’s style, to make sure that you will mesh well. Well, that’s true for guest posting as well, and doubly true for growing an audience.
Let me give you a fictional example. My personal style is fairly irreverent, quite liberal and fuzzy. I make no secret that I believe in most social causes and have little patience for bigotry. I also make no secret that I believe it’s dangerous to call everything bigotry as it dilutes the real problems. That’s not what this post is about. I’m just doing a little bit of mise en scène.
If I decide I want to guest post on the blog of a very popular author who happens to be very serious and adamant about let’s say extreme traditional values. Who regularly advocates for removing the right to vote from women for instance. (I’m making this blogger up, I’m sure there’s some out there like this but I don’t know them) Then writing one of my usual posts is likely not going to go down well.
After all, that blogger’s audience is there because they enjoy that particular serious style and those views and values. One of my exposes on how I wish one of the hot Fire Force boys would lose their clothing for every time Tamaki did would probably not go down well. I have not written that post, but now that I think of it maybe I should. It would be an excuse to post tons of shirtless anime boys…
At best my post would be completely ignored as it is neither the style nor material the readers of that blog are interested in. At worst it would be maligned and I would get comments that hurt my feelings.
I would like to think that people enjoy differing points of view and various styles. That readers want to challenge themselves. But let’s be honest, we write hobby blogs. We are entertainment. Most of our readers are either followers who read our posts at the end of a long day to relax and distract themselves a bit because they enjoy something about our writing. Or they stumbled on our post looking for specific information. It’s pretty reasonable that they might not be into something completely different than what they signed up for.
I’m sure all of this is pretty obvious to a lot of you. And you might be thinking, Irina, you adorable dummy, just write about exactly what you love about each cup size in anime breasts. (Another post I have not written but sounds like it could be fun). That post will get tons of interest and nice comments on the imaginary blog you dreamt up for this post.
And yes, you are 100% correct. Actually, if all I want is to grow my reader base, then I think that’s actually pretty good advice. I honestly think it would work. But only if I also change my blog.
Cause those new readers that signed up for a particular type of content delivered in a particular tone are not going to stick around when they realize that it’s really not what I have to offer most of the time. And worse yet, they might feel cheated. Like it’s false advertisement or something. And that’s likely to become unpleasant for everyone.
I used some pretty extreme cases to illustrate my point but it doesn’t have to be so clear-cut. For instance, I have written a lot of episode reviews for Karandi’s blog. Karandi is much more concise and even-handed than I am. Her posts are informative and to the point. Also at the time, 100 Word anime focused mostly on currently airing episode reviews.
When I wrote for that blog, I wrote a number of essays and tons of episode reviews for currently airing anime. I made sure the content was in line with the rest of the blog. I tried to be a bit more concise but my tone remained more jokey and more filled with personal impressions and emotional reactions.
And I did o.k. I got the expected engagement relative to which show I was reviewing. It worked well and the synergy was easy since both of our blogs are very similar in a lot of ways and attracted the same readers. I wouldn’t say it visibly grew either of our blogs though.
To this day, there are people who like every single one of my posts on 100 Word anime but have never had any interest in my own blog. I assume that the little differences in style are fine for them in an episode review or an essay when there are all those other posts to sort of modulating the entire experience, but my writing style in isolation is just not their cup of tea. If I really wanted to bring those readers over to my blog (and keep them), I would have to reinvent my style and probably change my blog name. And that’s not something I want to do at the moment.
That’s something new bloggers don’t always take into account when they try to grow their blog. If they truly want an audience that will enjoy their content, they have to consider who that audience is and go to venues that will attract those people.
Also, in my personal experience, it does take a little while. You’re likely not going to explode from a single guest post. So don’t be too disappointed. If your content is similar to what you are guest posting on, you will still likely get noticed by a few new readers that will truly enjoy your stuff. And that’s amazing.
On the other hand, if you are guest posting because you specifically want to try out a new style or experiment with a different type of audience, then going for a radically different blog could be tons of fun. You can even be all anonymous about it! It’s also a pretty good way to reach an audience if you are the type of person that just wants to post randomly a couple of times a year because you don’t have to grow and upkeep your readership.
Have you ever had these types of experiences? Or maybe you had some great ones! What do you think is the best way to grow your audience?