Expanding beyond WordPress

This post was originally published on 100 word anime but I’m repurposing it.

Some time ago I realized that although the WordPress community is absolutely wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it remains for lack of a better word, “limited”. In numbers, not in wonderfulness. For a blog to *keep* growing and getting new readers, sooner or later they have to attract people who are not already on WordPress.

I was reading this very blog (100 word anime) back when I was a wee baby blogger. As I was watching it grow into the 4 digit follower range, I figured Karandi would soon exhaust the amount of WordPress folks interested in anime. Since I knew she was thinking of eventually making a living off this, then she would need to get those readers somewhere else. I started considering myself, how to get followers from some other avenue than the reader app.

This isn’t simply a question of getting your blog out there. I think I’ve spoken enough on SEO and cross-platform promotion. Besides, I was woefully unqualified to do so in the first place. This is more of a question of broad appeal. Once you get new eyeballs your way, how do you keep them coming back?

Dakaretai Promo3
just a suggestion

You see, posts about blogging tend to do very well on WordPress because most of us are also bloggers. (Not all but a pretty high percentage). As bloggers, we are of course interested in articles that apply to our hobby and could even potentially help us build a better blog. But to everyone else, those posts are generally uninteresting. Maybe the more talented writers could still make them entertaining enough for the layperson, but I probably wouldn’t have been that interested until I got my own blog.

Then there’s the personal post. These are tricky. They don’t tend to do that well with search words and the like but on the other hand, it can be a big incentive for new readers to follow your blog. Getting a sense of personal connection and a feeling of sincerity goes a long way. The downside is that this tactic tends to be much more effective when your audience can see you, even if it’s just in pictures. Putting a face to the name makes everything seem more concrete and “real”. Of course, you don’t want to overshare. Not only is it risky it may also turn people off. Finally, you need to make sure new readers can at least follow along if this is the first post they read from you but you don’t want to bore your faithful followers by posting the same thing over and over again.

I have also come to notice that our community tends to form its own little echo chamber. We talk among ourselves and read each others’ blogs so we often end up excited about the same shows or disappointed for the same reasons. However, these perceptions may not be in line with what most fans are thinking.

(As a slightly funny side note, I have now been blogging for the equivalent of 7 anime seasons and 6 of which have been declared “the worst” or at least the worst in recent memory. I have to check but I think I have a particularly beloved show in each of those seasons…)

Cheer3
yeah…this is pertinent

Basically, in order for me to not cap myself on WordPress users, I needed to figure out what other fans out there were talking about and what interested them. I specifically created my Twitter account to interact with readers. I briefly tried following “anime personalities” and accounts to broaden my horizons a bit but found that my readers tweets got completely hurried that way and it degraded the purpose.

I still do get some info that way. When a bunch of mutuals all like the same tweet for instance or when a particular topic gets brought up by a lot of different people. That’s my queue to look into it. I’m usually the last one to know.

Reddit may be the best choice to gauge general Otaku response. And MAL. But it requires a lot of effort. There’s simply so much information there that parsing through it to get an accurate read on what you should be writing about seems like a full-time job. I’ve given up for the time being but I want to get back to it.

The first thing I did when I decided to look into expanding beyond the platform, was to check out the competition. By this, I mean *professional* blogs like Honey, ANN, Crunchyroll, Kotaku and the like… What I found were top 10 lists…Lots and lots of top lists. I’m not trying to talk smack about them, on the contrary, I think it’s a particularly effective format, but it is rather omnipresent.

***I also publish weekly top 5 lists***

Otherwise what I found was a certain slanted perception of the medium and its fans. A lot of articles were either amateurish or so superficial it left me wondering whether the reporter had really seen the series they were covering. Others were just eager to identify as critics or journalists and NOT part of the anime fan community. Sometimes even showing lightly veiled animosity towards their readership. This tendency annoyed me so much in fact, I wrote an early rant post on the subject which remains one of my favourites.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good anime journalists out there. I once read a wonderful and thought-provoking piece on the Flowers of Evil published on Kotaku. It was clearly written by someone who had both a deep understanding of and love for anime. I don’t know if it says something that that was the last article he wrote there.

At the time I realized that there was a niche for a more informal form of anime adjacent content for the wide public. An editorialist who identifies as a fan. Chronicles of an everyotaku if you will. I was so excited about the idea. I even had this vague concept of a weekly diary blog series, highlighting the events of my life from an anime-centric point of view. I might still do it, mind you.

However, I’m not smart enough to have discovered something no one else has. If the niche really existed, someone would have filled it by now. Still, I can’t help but think there’s an audience for this type of content, I just haven’t figured out the proper format yet.

idiot
don’t get me wrong, I’m still a genius

Now that I’ve been blogging for a while, I have come to see that episode reviews get a huge amount of off WP views. However, I have the sneaking suspicion a lot of them may be trying to watch the episode online. Otherwise, character studies are pretty good for drawing the general public on my blog but do poorly with WordPress readers. It’s a bit of a balancing act.

I’m not yet at a point where I need to reach beyond the BBB WordPress boundaries. However, it pays to be prepared and I would like to find a way to do that without alienating current readers. For those of you who are bloggers, do you have any suggestions? Has anything worked for you?

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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13 Responses

  1. oliveunicorn says:

    Maybe making your own discord too . I actually really enjoy discord servers , I’m mainly in Beauty but I like to hang out in the Neopets server as well.
    And yes I do sometimes cringe reading certain anime reviews from people that are just not knowledgeable on the genre, or certain aspects of storytelling . Plus I do think certain genres of anime have to be taken in consideration. If you review mainly battle shonen but trash a slice of life for being too slow , it’s not fair unless you compare it to other slice of life shows . Or eechi , which there are a lot of trash, but can definitely have some funny and binge worthy shows too . I do appreciate your blog as your taste is similar to mine , and you seem to watch a wide variety of genres 😊✨

  2. Pinkie says:

    I did an internship for professional writing (mostly games, but some anime as well) for a website that sells digital gaming credit, like those nintendo code cards and Iphone Wallet stuff etc.

    I got told to do reviews of a lot of games that I haven’t even reviewed at all.. they told me.. just look up other reviews and make something up , it’s faster that way.
    The idea of their website was basically being enthusiastic about the new Fifa Game in a review and then have readers get an possibility to “buy now” we did that for some partners that retailed Manga as well or foreign credit cards so you can buy stuff of other play stores. I would imagine that websites like Kotaku who are extremely dense in content also tell their writers to just put something out at times.

    I have been trying a bit of YouTube as well and that is super hard to start, interaction is so much less, I can see it with Meg form Geeky Gal. I will give YouTube a new try once my new model is done, (because the moth gave to much trouble physics wise) but I will give it another try. Honestly I’d say streaming on Twitch is probably in this day the best way to expand to a bigger platform or YouTubeised podcasts.

    The problem with YouTube however is that the Algorithm doesn’t favor “game vloggers” or “Anime Vloggers” It Favours “Natsume Book of Shadows” dedicated channels. Or “Magical Girl flavoured” channels. It requires you to dive into a more specific Niche.
    I’d say maybe Reddit might offer a possibility to expand, like by placing doing anime specific lists (Top 5 natsume episodes0 and posting them on the reddit as well. With a link to the blog at the end or something?

    Another option is to have your own site build maybe? I think because WordPress requires you to be a registered user to interact and comment it stops a lot of interaction and if it’s available to everyone you might draw a bigger crowd, then again a lot of WordPress people only look at each others blog trough reader.. so it might be tricky! For blogging I think you’d just need a huge site with several writers, doing multiple subjects a day, that might get the SEO traction. Expansion is very hard though!

    • Irina says:

      I’ve seen a lot of bloggers move off wordpress and have their engagement just plummet. Twitch gets good views but man the interaction is though to built up. Half the time the chat is either completely irrelevant or a bit scary…

  3. Nick says:

    I still find the fact that you have almost 3000 followers amazing, but you’ve been doing this blogging thing a lot longer than I have :P.

    I think it’s an interesting topic, especially if you want to expand this to something you can make a living off of. For me personally, that’s not really the end goal, so I’m not focusing too much on getting my name out there. That might change, but for now it’s just a hobby and some good motivation to write.

    I have been positively surprised by how nice the community is on wordpress, I see some people (yourself included) come back to my posts regularly which is very motivating as someone just starting out.

  4. I have been learning video editing because this kami wants to open up his own youtube channel. This was initially pushed by being able to reach a wider audience, but also, this posts illustrates some of the thoughts I’d been having with regards to personal blogging on wordpress.
    Since I don’t do episodic reviews or character studies that much, I can’t really speak about those, but I have noticed that the seasonal anime chart does boost the searches for those anime a lot, and the biggest boom my website had in terms of readers was when Tonikaku Kawaii was airing and everyone was theorizing what I had written an year back. My Kaguya-sama posts also got pretty popular as more and more people read the manga and some of the more iconic moments were shown in the anime.

    • Irina says:

      I do think YouTube has a much wider reach. Lita and Taku both have channels and Lita told me it’s the easiest way to see bigger views but as I understand it, they do operate more or less the same. You’re way more likely to get people to watch something on an airing anime than a classic one and you still need to optimize.

  5. Thanks for sharing what you’re thinking. I like to compare notes!

    “Reddit may be the best choice to gauge general Otaku response. And MAL. But it requires a lot of effort.”

    I’d love to see you write up how you’re so successful with Pinterest! My numbers are solidly _okay_, but nothing to write home about.

    After several years of trying Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, the only real success I’ve had is with Pinterest. Even then, it’s just like you said: it requires a lot of effort. And at least for me, it’s not worth it. I’m to the point where I maintain social media accounts mostly because readers expect that. If they don’t see it, it’s my impression it makes the blog feel less legitimate.

    “Now that I’ve been blogging for a while, I have come to see that episode reviews get a huge amount of off WP views. However, I have the sneaking suspicion a lot of them may be trying to watch the episode online.”

    I think I’ve seen evidence for both cases. I still see a lot of traffic for some of my older episode reviews, like Asterisk War episode 21. My Google search console tells me the streaming keyword is part of a many of the queries, but not all. I can see in Google Analytics that many readers stay a lot longer than they would have if they’d just been looking for streaming. So that’s encouraging.

    “Otherwise, character studies are pretty good for drawing the general public on my blog but do poorly with WordPress readers. It’s a bit of a balancing act.”

    I think that idea of balancing is really important. I’ve seen the same thing. It’s great to connect with the community, and I think it’s essential for long term success. That’s where I see the vast majority of likes and comments. Both of those provide what my wife (the genius social media person) called social proof. When a reader finds one of my posts through Google and sees comments and likes, they get the impression that the post might be worth reading. Fortunately, there’s no charity flag, so the poor unsuspecting reader doesn’t know the truth.

    • Irina says:

      I,m sure your wife knows a lot more about how to use Pinterest than I do. I have written some posts about it but I usually let people know that I really use it primarily to store my screencaps. I find it a useful tool to do visual analysis of anime, the traffic is just a nice perk.

  6. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    As a former English teacher, I’ve also noticed a lot of poor writing in what purport to be professional publications–but it’s hardly limited to anime reporting/reviewing. It sometimes becomes quite disheartening. And as for that animosity towards the audience/readers, wherever were you lucky enough to find some that was veiled? Be well, and please continue to “write the good write!” We’re counting on you, Irina.

    • Irina says:

      Thank you David! Man you have done all the though important jobs, haven’t you!

      • David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

        And still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! (Not for lack of trying things out, though.)

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