Blog Growth, the Eternal Struggle

mary and the witchs flower

I occasionally get asked for blogging advice, as I assume you all do, and I do my best to answer even though I’m still a rank amateur, albeit a veteran one. By far the most common question I get is how do you reach more people/get more followers? I’ve also noticed a trend in the comments. People pointing out how long and difficult it is to get even one new follower.

I don’t know about Karandi, but in my personal experience on my blog, it’s pretty much an eternal struggle. There are days I lose readers and end up with less at the end of the week. I know it doesn’t really mean anything. A long absent person who may never have read my blog deactivated their WordPress account and boom… I’m a little bummed that day for no actual reason. I try to figure out if my latest post was that bad. Sometimes I have a follower dance, gain one lose one, back and forth all week. Usually whenever I get excited about being close to a milestone, those last 5 followers take forever!

And to this day, getting someone new to want to follow my blog is exciting. I won’t deny that it gives me a little thrill.

But let me tell you, unfortunately it doesn’t get any “easier”. At least not in my experience. I thought that there would be some type of feedback loop or something of the sort that would make it so that the bigger a blog got, the more it grew naturally without any effort on my part. Nope, very wrong. You get complacent, you stagnate.

kuroko drowning
took me forever to find the right pic

Now I’m not going to rehash all the things you can do to gain followers but I will tell you the things that have worked for me and why they don’t get easier.

– Sidenote, I really wish WordPress would make it easier to like and comment without a gravatar account. I understand that the follow mechanic puts your blog in the person’s reader app so their would be no point in anyone following without having the app installed but I do regularly get comments to my posts on twitter because it’s easier for the reader, instead of my blog, and I miss them half the time. I think this is one aspect that cuts down engagement and ultimately follower count.

Back to what I was saying though. One of the most effective ways for me to get followers has been community engagement. Following other blogs, reading and commenting on their posts, chatting with bloggers. That sort of thing. As I’m sure you’ve heard though, that takes time. I have a full+ time job, a social life (I know, even I’m surprised), I write regularly, not to mention all the anime to watch and games to play. At some point, you just reach a point where following a new blog and interacting regularly with them isn’t really possible without leaving someone else behind. I know first hand how depressing it is to loose a follower so I rarely stop following blogs but eventually you have to make tough choices.

Then again, when I started out I followed everyone who followed me, something a few bloggers were exploiting, and as such I still follow a bunch of blogs on subjects I really have no interest in and who have obviously never been on my blog at all. I should probably trade them out for fellow Anime bloggers who at least have similar interests… This said I know I can’t follow unlimited blogs and as such that particular strategy for growth has it’s limits for any blogger. Now I follow blogs I like whenever I find a new one or from readers I interact with. I won’t just blindly follow everyone anymore because it gets out of hand.

The other strategy to gain followers is straight up promotion. I’m bad at this. I do projects without insisting on credit or links back. I have been told that promoting other blogs diluted your readership but I have always enjoyed sharing other blogs with readers. And if I lose readers to those new blogs, I figure they probably would not have stuck around anyways.

nisemonogatari-03-kanbaru-waving-good_bye-bandages-smile
thanks for stopping by

On the other hand, I’ve never been great about making sure other sites end up linking back to my blog and I’m super lazy about promoting my posts on other platforms. This is my own fault. But I’m just busy with the games and anime and stuff…

If you have the energy and the hustle, you can enlist other bloggers to advertise for you. I personally don’t like when people use comment sections just to plug their own blogs, especially when it’s completely irrelevant to the post, so I never click on those myself but I bet that works as well. I don’t like it because I think you should at least ask a blogger before advertising your own blog on their platform. But that’s just me. And if your own post is relevant than that’s a different story.

This said, no matter how many followers you already have, getting more is always hard work. I can’t say my blog has growth has changed in any way and the moment I stop putting in effort, it slows down. Some people might get lucky with a viral post or something and get explosive growth but for most of us it’s a slow (I cannot emphasize this enough, it takes time) hard climb. So if you feel like you’re at a standstill, don’t worry about it too much. We are all in the same boat. It’s hard for all of us and sometimes feels like a gargantuan task! You shouldn’t worry too much about those numbers anyways, eventually people will find your blog.

*If you get tired of it you can always write for someone else’s blog and make the follower thing their problem..? cough cough…

anime coughing
had a tickle in my throat

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Expanding beyond WordPress

bloated

I think this post belongs on Karandi’s blog as it’s 100 word anime that originally made me consider this question. But I m getting ahead of myself.

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?

Dakaretai Promo3
just a suggestion

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…)

Cheer3
yeah…this is pertinent

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.

Tuesday's Top 5
sorry Karandi, it was the most fitting image

***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 animecentric 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.

idiot
don’t get me wrong, I’m still a genius

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?

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

A Review of The Blog – 2018 – Part 2

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 8 Fireworks

Part 1 of the review of the blog looked at the general stats for the year but numbers are just kind of that. As 2018 draws to a close I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of the posts I wrote this year that people read and to wish all my followers a wonderful night and success in 2019.

Most Viewed Episode Review

demonlord2a

This one is and isn’t a surprise. It is the post most often hit by search engines so it kind of explains the sheer number of views this post has gotten. Anyway, this one managed to become my second most viewed post ever on the blog: How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 2: Fan Service and Boobs in Fantasy Land. Part of me kind of wishes my most viewed post for the year was one that was slightly better written than this one but still I’m glad that an episode review did get some attention.

Most Viewed Light Novel Review

goblin slayer vol3

Again, not so much a surprise with the anime release, but my light novel review of Goblin Slayer Volume 3 ended up being my most read review this year. Timing really worked in this one’s favour but it is a shame because of the first three volumes, volume three was definitely the weakest and the review meanders because of it (it is always hard to review things you have a luke-warm reaction to). Still, I’ve continued reading this series and I am looking forward to getting more light novel reviews out in the new year (and manga reviews as I continue to work through Natsume Yuujinchou).

Most Viewed Inquiring Minds Post

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 13 Rimuru

Turns out there are some topics all bloggers are a little bit interested in and one of those is how to gain followers. I wish I knew the answer to that one myself but I did my best to answer the question about how I gained the followers I have. Of all the post series I’ve started on 100 Word Anime, I really enjoy the Inquiring Minds Posts because the topics are so varied and they usually force me to think about things I would otherwise be writing about or just think about something in a different way. They have been some of my most challenging posts to write and I certainly don’t always get them right, but I’m really glad I started the series and hope my readers continue to send questions my way in 2019.

Most Viewed Series Review

Noragami Aragoto Yato

I was absolutely thrilled to see that this post that came out in early January ended up being my most read series review of the year. It is an anime that is so close to my heart and I just love it (and where is the next season already). Noragami Aragoto was a delight to watch and I had a lot of fun writing the review. Given the responses, clearly a lot of my readers love it as well.

Most Viewed Feature

How Not to Summon A Demon Lord Episode 9 Shera
The magic of anime hair, and sparkles.

I’m noticing a trend with this and my most viewed episode post. When you write a feature about fan service in anime discussing the currently popular fan service filled anime that is already blowing up your views because you used ‘boobs’ in a post title I guess it is to be expected it will get views. I’m not big on click bait so while I get that these sorts of topics get views, I’m not about to start filling my blog with them because while they have their place it isn’t my main topic. Still, this feature may have garnered some click bait views but it also gained some fairly decent discussion in the comments and that was something I was really delighted about. My most viewed feature of 2018: Is Anime Doing It’s Fans a Service?

Most Viewed Top 5 Post

Sword Art Online - Episode 4

My most viewed top 5 post was looking at my favourite dubbed anime. I’m not much of a dubbed anime viewer (and having recently watched the Yuri on Ice English dub now that I’ve finally got the DVD’s I’m standing by my usual stance of sticking with the Japanese versions of most things), but occasionally there are English dubs I quite like. Clearly lots of people have opinions on this one as it is one of my most commented posts and it remains a post that regularly gets found by search engines.


So that is my look back on 2018. I’ll be looking at my plans for 2019 very soon as Irina has asked me a fun question for my first Inquiring Minds post of 2019. Once again, I hope all my readers have an excellent night and get to welcome in the new year.

Thanks for joining me in 2018. See you next year.

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Reflections on February

There is no doubt that February was a great month for my blog. The number of visitors to the blog increased (though views went down a bit). I also gained some new followers, found some new blogs to read, and had a great time writing posts.

The real world wasn’t so kind in February and between work and some health issues (nothing serious, just annoying) as well as life in general I’ve really had my work cut out for me finding time to look at ways to build on my blog. My routine for my three posts a day is fine, and I’m not struggling with that as it is just kind of what I do, but I really do want to look at a wider range of content.

Off and on during the month I’ve been playing with audio and video but as I just haven’t had enough time to consistently work on this nothing much is actually being created and to be honest the quality stinks so probably nothing along these lines coming out any time soon. That said, there are lots of ideas I’m kicking around at the moment and eventually I’ll produce something along these lines.

On that note, I’ve been really thinking about my patreon site and what I can offer there to try to encourage more supporters and to actually make it worth their while. I still don’t know what the long term answer is at this point but in the short term I’ve created a small anime challenge for March.

Anime Challenge 1 copy copy.jpg

It’s a simple thing but if anyone wants to try it they are welcome to. However, given this isn’t a part of my normal blog schedule I am going to be posting my 7 responses on my patreon site for patrons only between Sunday 5/3 and Saturday 11/3.

Not sure about the idea yet and whether it is worthwhile repeating a similar thing next month or not but I’ll see how it goes this month and certainly listen to any comments followers of my blog have or patrons reading the posts. Then I’ll think about what I can do in April.

As to the blog itself my features did quite well this month with the two Valentine specials getting quite a lot of views. On Romance in Anime and On Bad Romance in Anime both got quite a few comments and it was great to really engage with readers. And of course, the Yuri On Ice review came out on Valentine’s Day though I think with the OWLS tour going on during February and the thousand other Yuri posts, people might finally be hitting their saturation point for Yuri.

That said, I am only a little bit out from my one year anniversary on my blog (by a little bit out I mean 2 months given the anniversary is May 1). I’d like to do something to mark the occasion and I’m kind of wanting to work with my followers on this a bit. Basically if you follow my blog and you’d like to participate (by participate I mean write approximately 100 words about anime, why you like it in general or why you follow my blog) let me know through my contact. I know it is 2 months away, but life happens fast and it is always good to have some advance notice of things.

As always, I’d like to thank my followers and particularly my readers who regularly take the time to comment.If you ever have any suggestions or ideas for the blog please let me know. March is going to be another great month so let’s get into it.


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Karandi James.

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