This may end up being the most arrogant post on the blog but as this site grows, I’ve had multiple people ask me for any tips and tricks when it comes to Blogging for Anime. Also by no means is this a definitive “guide to blogging”, every writer works differently and has their own method of working. These are simply what I personally think are important factors in creating an interesting anime blog.
1. Create an appealing and consistent layout
This is something that took me quite a long time to figure out (and I still update the look of posts to this day). It seems really obvious that your website/blog should be incredibly user friendly, but there are still sites that easily confuse readers. Obviously there is room for experimentation and no blog should keep itself in a corner. However, a quality blog will have a consistent voice and style – something readers can come to expect and look forward to.
For me, I have a few tips that have definitely enhanced the viewing aspect of this blog. First and foremost, create your own banners and article headers. Although screenshots work fine, this runs the risk of your blog looking like every other site talking about that show. Familiarising yourself with an image editing software (whether free like GIMP or more advanced and costly like Photoshop) is one of the best pieces of advice I can give. From an author/blogger’s point of view, the words within your article feel like the soul of your blog, when in actuality the visual look and design of the site is often a larger factor in retaining a viewer.
Personally, I have found colour coding to be a huge improvement to the visual aspect of the site. If you have categories that you stick to on a regular basis, I would suggest sectioning them into colours. Not only does this keep the look of your site vibrant and colourful, it also gives readers a visual indication in what the article is going to be like BEFORE they click.
2. Always think of how you can improve your last article
I can be a very pessimistic person and my mood will always impact my writing. All bloggers will at some point think that they have peaked, whether they have written what they consider to be their best work or through comparison of other bloggers. Nobody can write your own style better than you, always remember that you are the best version of you. Patience, hard work and positivity are the three key factors that keep me from plateauing in this field. You should always be looking to improve your work, there are no perfect websites – nor are there perfect writers. If you can publish something and genuinely think “this is an improvement, I’m getting better”, then you have all the power you need to produce a fantastic blog.
On the same note, I refrain from ever publishing something that hasn’t been refined or edited. Remember that being the first article on a hot-topic is never more valuable than producing a quality article on something that may have been more popular a while ago. Obviously if you can strike a balance, then you’re in good running but I personally prefer spending more time and publishing late than rushing into an article in fear of missing my window of popularity. If you write well, people will come that’s all there is to it.
3. When discussing animation, use animated GIFs
Nothing is more confusing to me than when a review will be discussing one aspect of a show and then follow on with media praising an entirely different feature. One of the biggest things to think about when discussing anime is animation, you cannot sufficiently present animation quality through a series of still images. I would much prefer a poorly edited animated GIF playing through a sequence than a collection of frames presented in a slide show.
For animated GIFs, there are multiple methods you could undertake. Possibly the easiest would be to search for it online. There are plenty of tumblr blogs that will GIF key sequences and they will usually ask for credit (with a link to their blog) or they will simply overlay their username on top. Again, it is okay to use somebody else’s GIFs as long as you comply with their requests.
Alternatively, you could use a window capturing software such as Open Broadcaster Software and record a sequence. You can then use software to convert that recording into an animated GIF. Personally, this is what I do for all of my animated GIFs and I use EZ Gif Editor (in browser) to resize, cut down and compress the recording. If you have any questions on how to do this or anything I have missed out, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.
4. Write in an approachable and understandable format
An increasingly large misunderstanding among the writing community is that “using long and convoluted words will make me sound smart”. Depending on the voice you are trying to put across, it may be important to assert a level of intelligence, but I believe that in terms of anime blogging you should write for your audience. One of the biggest reasons I enjoy blogging is that I don’t have to write as the stuck-up intellectual voice I had to perform in my academic work. Readers love personality, and if you write with a style that will turn away readers without a dictionary to hand then you won’t be bringing in many followers.
Something that I still work on to this day is quantity and paragraph sizes. As a result of my nature to ramble and over-explain, my posts are often walls of thoughts with intimidatingly long paragraphs. As I said before, there are no perfect writers and everybody is working with what they have. Keep your sentences short and digestible, paragraphs succinct and focused on a single point and separate your ideas into clear headers. Unfortunately, not all readers will take the time to take in every word, many will scroll through quickly and only take in the largest and most bold portions of your article. Ensure that your headers sound intriguing and that they stand out clearly from the bulk of the text. Use media to back up your points and this should keep your readers from feeling exhausted after reading an article.
5. Write consistently and take pride in your content
Consistency has always been the plague to this site, with articles coming out in a surge with the end of a season then a three month hiatus until the next batch. Internet time is nothing like time in the real world, people are fickle and can easily forget about you. I had a period of time where exams took precedence and blogging was pushed to the side and I’m still trying to make up for it now. I know just as well as anyone how difficult it can be to juggle blogging alongside your other commitments. Readers often forget that authors will have a life behind the screen and are easily to be unimpressed with the quantity of your content.
That being said, your readers should drive you and bring you the motivation to continue writing. All it takes is one dedicated follower that you can rely on for a blogger’s motivation to skyrocket. Building an audience is easy, retaining it is harder. The way I keep readers invested in the site is through Weekly Roundups, every Sunday I publish an article on that week’s airing shows in a digestible and easy to follow format. Logically speaking, it is impossible to produce content that would take you a month to create on a weekly basis. My weekly roundups are deliberately kept simple and easy to create so that they can be released consistently without fail. This isn’t compromising quality for quantity, as a blogger you have to construct articles in a way that you can keep your audience pleased.
You could post the world’s greatest article once every two years, but if your followers lose interest a couple months after that post then they won’t stay engaged for your next out-of-this-world article. Whether it be through brute force, planning and scheduling or simply efficient writing, keeping an engaged audience is the largest hurdle in this field, but we all have to find our own way of making that first leap.