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?
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…)
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.
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?