Quasi-professional blogger Irina on what changes when you *Have* to post

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.

I use this image a bit too much when I talk about blogging

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 might even script a post :O

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!

serous 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.

just give me a few more days

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?

Irina

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

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11 Responses

  1. Pinkie says:

    I do notice people hate sponsored content and in the distant past I had to do the secret kind , I think the way you do it though, and most my YouTube does it, is just a product of its time. I see it more as a seal of approval… In your case, official instances see something in Irina, so she must be legit..or wow, glad she is appreciated.

    It’s like how people still whine about DLC being a thing, claiming they dont get a full game because stuff gets added later. Sponsored content by that logic must be insincere! Yet anime and gaming has changed over the years, it became so big that not only studios are being recognised.. there is a symbioses with the fan now. Sponsored is just part of that symbiosis and kind of a loyalty or prestige award for a fan that actively engages with their chosen media.

    I know you are pretty much in this for the giggles and kicks, not for a carreer, so you only have to ask yourself 2 questions. Does doing this add something to my blogging experience? Is my own voice still in there? If yes than go for it.

    I feel that if you shun sponsored content because people dont like it, you limit yourself for no real reason, if you dont fully sell out, most of the demonising of sponsored is just conservatismn.. no matter what you post, sponsored or not, you will always have to deal with that in some shape or form

  2. Scott says:

    As a person who has had some opportunities come their way, you make me feel a bit lazy. I do try my best to write the best posts I can for what I have been asked to read and write, though in my case I can choose what I write about sometimes, but they do come out to be short and to the point but they are honest and positive. I also use the opportunity to read manga I wouldn’t otherwise. Hmm

  3. I find that, when it comes to review items, I usually have to post the review within a certain time frame. That’s the biggest pressure on it, what with a full time job too. Other than the item, I don’t get paid for those. I do feel the same though, it makes me feel like part of the industry. When the reviews have been quoted on advertising too, even more so.

    As to sponsored, I’ve done two types. One involves me writing an article for the client, and the other is hosting posts that act as advertorials. The trick is to have fun with it, and be clear on both what you expect (eg no links to content type x, y or z) and what they can expect (your usual traffic, how long the post will be on the front page etc).

    I have no issues with sponsored content, but I am coming into this from the standpoint of writing professionally on a freelance basis (mostly radio ads and press releases). As such, I’m used to charging for writing, so it makes sense that I would charge to write an advertorial. In the same way, if I’m hosting an advertising post, I treat them like fun versions of advertising banners. I charge a small fee, and that goes towards site upkeep.

    I think, really, it all comes down to how comfortable you are with charging. If you are comfortable with it, go for it. 🙂

    • Irina says:

      Well that’s not fair, you’re an actual professional! That makes sense. Like you I have a full-time+ job and I’m often too exhausted to put a post together on a tight time frame. That’s why I schedule everything way in advance.

      • I try to get things done in advance, I’m just not consistently good at it. LOL. It is necessary with a job though, as time is far too fleeting, especially with my habit of doing tons of projects at one.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This really hits home with me as it’s something I’ve struggled with a lot. I actually stopped accepting review requests and stuff for books because I noticed it was taking away from my enjoyment and slowly killing the fun and comfort factor I felt with books and reading, same with certain other media things. Granted not everyone’s gonna feel that way but I just knew it wasn’t for me anymore.

  5. AK says:

    I’ve never been approached by anyone to write any sponsored articles, so I can’t offer any insight on that (maybe they saw the kind of extremely unprofessional language I use and decided against it, and I wouldn’t blame them!) But what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. I agree that people are wary of sponsored articles, though I think if there’s enough established trust in the writer, readers will usually be okay with them to some extent, naturally as long as the writer is upfront about what the article is.

    • Irina says:

      I think so too. It does change one’s mindset though. At least in my case. That’s was surprising.

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