You know, I think that even quasi-professional is too strong a term here. I do like that title though, it makes me sound like a light novel protagonist!
As some of you may know, a little while ago I started to publish more PR and Solicited posts. I always tell you when I do and so far I haven’t received any form of payment or even compensation so it’s stretching the definition of professional but even this casual arrangement has affected my blogging experience.
It should be said that I’m not a particularly negative person, to begin with. There are very few things that actually outrage me in any way and I find that most forms of art, manga and anime included, have some form of value. So even when it’s something I might not personally enjoy, I can see someone else doing so. The best I tend to offer is tepid subjective criticisms.
Still, even someone like me, who tends to heap praise, does have an instinct to be particularly complementary in a solicited post. I will not post on something I find uninteresting and I won’t try to sell you on something I didn’t personally enjoy. In fact, I rarely try to sell anything. Still, when I told someone I would post about their thing, some little bit of me feels like they would be disappointed if that post wasn’t great.
So although it won’t change my feelings or appreciation of the product, and how I communicate those to you, it will change the way I approach the post writing process. And that’s what I wanted to talk about today.
I follow a few anime news blogs as well as some otome and gaming blogs. The majority of their posts are either press releases or reviews of gifted products. And that’s probably not something I would ever be able to do. That would seem too much like an actual job where I have to perform and deliver in a specific way. Although I suppose you probably get used to it after a while and find what works for you.
Still, just a simple email exchange with a representative makes me feel like I have to write a post and it has to be efficient. If it’s a product for purchase or distribution, then I have to make it very easy for my readers who are interested to find where to get it for themselves. If it’s a review, I have to be clear and not go off on a random tangent about the time I tried to convince my dorm supervisor that we were all in an elaborate dream and also that I am a deep-cover spy, because they caught me sneaking in after curfew or something. Because stuff like that is super distracting and has nothing to do with what we’re talking about.
It’s not at all bad for me to try to be a bit more professional. Arguably, it will make me a better writer. But it isn’t really me. I’m goofy and I connect weird thoughts together and I tell you guys about it. Not because it will inform you on the anime I’m reviewing in any way, but because we’re having a chat. But not when I’m on the clock. Then it’s business!
I’m exaggerating of course. So far, no one has ever tried to control my content or writing style at all. In fact, if I was given any of those opportunities, I would assume it’s a tacit approval of my blog and usual content. Any pressure I feel to be more conventional or professional or to have some sort of comprehensible grammar. All of that comes from within. I assume it’s quite different for each person.
And I’m still new to a lot of that. I figure if you’ve been receiving and reviewing promotional releases for a while, it sort of stops having any effect.
For me, suddenly having PR posts to write has had both positive and negative repercussions. I find them difficult to write for one. That’s probably mostly on me and my insistence on over-moderating my own tone. But there«,s also an aspect of mixing one’s own words with specific talking points that might not have come to us naturally. So I do tend to be a bit intimidated by the prospect and occasionally put them off.
On the other hand, I also find the experience rewarding. It makes me feel like I’m a tiny part of an industry I adore. That’s very motivating. And I like finding out news or discovering new manga. all of those are very cushy premiums. And I hope some of the motivation and enjoyment do come through.
It’s a bit of a balancing act. I think that we are in an age where a lot of people have grown weary or suspicious of any content that could be under the influence. Maybe in part due to the influence and prevalence of YouTube and how it has affected our interaction with media, audiences want authenticity. Although that can mean all sorts of things.
For instance, we are very aggressive towards the idea of studio interference, somewhat regardless of the end result. We lash out at undisclosed sponsorships, and we should, that sucks. But we also have a tendency to devalue the credibility of people who announce they are making sponsored content. That makes it difficult to know how to approach any post that isn’t entirely your own.
So far, I like my balance. I am very transparent about why I publish certain posts and I am still not comfortable taking money for the blog. That keeps me out of the messier questions. But part of me would love to have more ties to the industry. And I’m not sure how to go about it.
If you are one of those bloggers that do much more sponsored content, do you have any tips? Do you approach it as a job and just deliver what the client wants, do you consider yourself a salesperson or do you write it like any other post?