So why do we need the same article on the same page on the same day? The point of discussion (or rant) is that there are too many bloggers with similar content and this is tedious to wade through. Of course, just because it appears on RSS aggregators does not mean that readers have to read it. But this issue of repetition and over-crowding has even made Jason stop adding new blogs to his index. So a possibly good blog may not get its deserved viewership because it is swamped out by many similar ones. Case in point: Lolicontrol is a new blog (new? Started at the same time as this one) with many interesting in-depth articles on anime, doujin games, otaku theories etc. But because it isn’t on blogsuki, it doesn’t get as many visitors as it potentially can.
The thing is, a blog starting out is like a germinating seed. Viewership and comments are its sunlight and water, which stimulates further growth. It’s rude but similar blogs with similar content are like weeds in a garden. But rather than plucking weeds, what bloggers should strive for is to convert these weeds into flowers, through the posting of unique content, perhaps more opinion based ones rather than straight factual posts which are often repeated.
Btw if you haven’t noticed, I do not have authority to say these but this is purely my opinion. This blog is still pretty new, but I have learnt a lot over these two months and improved it such that the original Riuva.com is now totally unrecognisable. I started out with a bad layout which used a dark background over light text. It also had an ugly header. I didn’t have a digicam then so I had to use figurine pictures from official sites instead of my own. I wrote really long and tedious posts without any pictures at first. I had poor categories. I did not justify my text and use tiny font sizes. I did not and still do not use the “More” button to condense my posts. I did not link pictures to bigger versions. I did not have a logo and had a messy posting format. But as the months went on and I posted more, people commented and I heeded their suggestions, as well as thought of ways to improve. While I’m still not satisfied totally with the current site, I can safely say it has come a long way since the original one.
Headphoned girls are hot.
Since I’m pretty new myself, I understand the pain of budding bloggers and so shall give some tips that I have picked up from more experienced bloggers or my day job. These are general tips on how to make your blog stand out more among the sea of Haruhi 5s.
Informative, Unique or Funny Titles
The title of a post is what makes people read it. If there were five posts on Haruhi episode 5 with the title “Haruhi Episode 5″, which would you pick? Chances are, it’ll be the one by the blogger with the best track record. BUT if you add a short line beind the title, that makes it unique, informative or funny, just like a good newspaper headline, it’ll attract more attention and inadvertently make people click on the link.
Funny titles are difficult to come by and sitting down straining your brains isn’t going to help. After 10 minutes, if you still can’t think of one, then take a walk about, watch some anime and just forget about it till it comes. As an article in Discover magazine (the science one yeah) said, sometimes thinking isn’t the best way to get an answer.
Unique ones are those moulded in your own style. For example, Heisei Democracy has its Mainichi Junk columns + a short line of elaboration. Just find a style that is one of a kind, interesting and you can stick with.
Informative titles are good because they give a snippet of information which makes viewers want to read on more about. If you have a generic title like Haruhi 5, readers may assume that you are just generically blogging. But by providing a bit of info in your title, your post will stand out since the reader will already have learnt something from the title alone. Of course, informative titles tend to be longer. And any regular reader of this site will know that my title posts are painfully long like episode names from He is my Master. I always try to have a category, then the actual title which is normally a sentence summarising what the post is about. To be honest, a long title takes up a lot more space on RSS aggregators so I feel people will see it more. I wonder if others feel the same way or are they just irritated by my long post names? And my long blog name as well. And sometimes totally incomprehensible or random titles hooks readers through pure curiosity. Like “Wow that Monkey really Flies like the Sword of Burning Laser!!”
Post as Often as Himeko Says “Maho~”
As Jpmeyer says, posting often will result in your site appearing all the time on RSS agg. sites thus increasing familiarity with readers and they will mostly likely click on sites they are familiar with. Furthermore, when people visit, they will always justify the time used since there will always be new stuff to read. I used to surf blogs in the past until I realised I was time wasting since only about 30% of my visits yielded new posts to read and I stopped visiting these sites.
Posting often is difficult enough and posting often with unique content is even harder. That leads to my next point.
Keep a store of interesting topics, subjects or drafts. When you watch something and an idea pops up, jot it down. When you’re on the bus and you feel a sudden urge to bitch, jot it down. Not recording it down will result in the feeling diminishing over time and you may even forget the things you wanted to say. Let’s say I watched Gatekeepers again and I had strong feelings about it (that’s an understatement btw). I create a draft post with the title “Gatekeepers is the new Bible, and Ukiya Shun is JESUS!” or something. So even 2 weeks on, I can still recall the burning feelings I had when I watched it. And instead of posting everything you have, post one or two a day and leave the rest for days you do not have any material to work with, especially the timeless ones like old anime reviews.
Yakumo. Hey why are these girls here anyway?
This is interesting since the world is made up of different time zones. But the majority of English anime blog readers are still in the US. Using a stats counter, check out when is the period most people visit and post about 1-2 hours before that, giving Blogsuki and animeblogger.net enough time to put up your post. I post at about 7-10 pm Singapore Time, while 11 pm to 1 am seems to be the peak traffic periods. Now I am not if the peak traffic is due to my posts or the other way around but the added advantage is that I will be one of the first few on Blogsuki’s daily list. I’m not sure how useful is that, but being one of the first means that there will be a period of half a day or so when the list is rather empty. Compare that to the end of the day when it has been fully populated, which one allows your post to be more visible?
If you are blogging on episodes or news, speed is also crucial. People rush to read Random Curiosity’s blogs because he is the fastest, presumably since he catches it on TV in Japan. Any posts that comes later will have to push a more opinion-based approach since readers would already have read RC’s summary.
Use good images. I guess this is where I need to improve as well. My self-taken pictures of my figurines are crappy due to a poor set up and lack of skill. I feel rather than a lot of unimpressive images, it is better to have just 1 or 2 bigger ones with good captions, unique to your site. I use the Lightbox plugin for a cool expansion effect when it comes to linking to bigger pictures. Sometimes it’s difficult to link posts with images, when they are pure editorials. This is when you decide if a random image or no image is better. If my post is long, I would go with no image since I don’t want to clutter up the already packed post. But it may help to break up the word monotony with pictures, so it’s up to you.
I suppose “good” in this sense means two main things – Uniqueness and Readability. Most blogs use wordpress, so the standard for readability is quite fixed. Clean light backgrounds with dark text, simple layouts, are the in thing now but that also means very similar layouts for most bloggers. I guess a few things like having a good header, easy navigation, pleasing background, a favicon helps. Personally, the layout for this site has been drastically improved if compared to the old one but I’m still looking to up it. I like Heisei Democracy’s layout the best but I do not know how to do the dual side bars with thumbnails. Crappy layouts give the impression that the blogger is not professional, so people will be turned off even if the content is good.
English is the main net language but sites in minority languages may possibly be popular too. Many bloggers do not take English as their first language and hence grammar and vocabulary may be a limiter. For those comfortable with the language, it’s more interesting to see writers with their own style.
Here in Singapore, we have a rather unique situation. Our education system is based on English and that’s considered our first language but the majority of the citizens speak their mother tongues (be it Mandarin, Malay, Tamil or dialects like Cantonese), so a huge proportion of the country can communicate with multiple languages. However, this also means we mix up the various languages into a blend only locals can truly comprehend. So the standard of written languages here is actually quite low. Americans and British guys can spice up their blogs with slang or words they use normally, but Singaporeans in general do not talk like how they write, which results in mainly two scenarios – Boring, text-book style English, or worse, an mix of bad English, other languages and local slang incomprehensible to foreigners. It’s not just English, we suck at even our own mother tongues as well. China people laugh at our Mandarin lol. It is beyond my ability to write above functional level to reach aesthetic level.
Blogs with unique, interesting and memorable names always have an advantage when it comes to discussion. A domain name helps I guess and it’s the cost of two McDonald meals so why not go get one? It allows people to just remember your URL and type it in even without scouring blogsuki or animeblogger. But more importantly, an easy to remember and unique name stands out. For example, BasuGasuBakuhatsu, Lolitron, Heisei Democracy, Anime on My Mind, Random Curiosity etc.
100% or 20%? Content Sharing
When you are the only person to post on a certain subject, you get 100% undivided attention. When you are just one of the 5 Haruhi 5 bloggers, you get 20%. That’s assuming all blogs are equal. I click on posts like Lolitron’s pro-paedo jokes, Jpmeyer’s editorials, HD’s news and reviews etc immediately.
For existing anime bloggers, I propose a Reflection. Think about and ask yourself the following questions and post the answers on your own blogs.
- Does my blog have an interesting name?
- Is the layout pleasing to read and instantly recognisable?
- Do I update often?
- Do I post stuff that nobody else is posting about?
- Am I posting stuff that everyone else is posting about?
- Are my posts increasing the readers’ knowledge?
- Do my posts give readers a different viewpoint on a particular topic/episode?
- What are the areas of the blog that are not up to standard?
- How can I improve these areas?
- What are the areas of the blog that are up to standard?
- Can these be improved even more?