Monday, August 28, 2006

Watching blogs succeed and fail...

This post comes as a reaction to the fact that I have not, in fact, returned to my weekly posting schedule unlike what I said earlier this month. There has been no resumption of regular updates, no deluge of intellectually stimulating posts, no return to the "routine." In fact, as I speak, I am as far out of "routine" as I can possibly get. Life seems to be like that boat in The Perfect Storm, that gets tossed around a lot and flips all over the place. Fortunately it appears that my blog hasn't lost all of its readership in this period of inconsistency.

I always promised myself that I wouldn't be one of "those people," who doesn't adhere to a regular update schedule when I explicitly state, in my header no less, that the blog will be updated by such and such a day, every week. This is a particular pet peeve of mine with webcomics, and while this is far from a webcomic, I still believe that adhering to schedules is important. People like reliability, and I'm obviously not providing.

A similar thing happened with AnimeLife, Scott's anime blog. He went on hiatus for well over a month, in which time I kept checking back and checking back, but nothing ever came up. Not even a single post, detailing why the long away time. When he finally did return, the blog took on a new form - not focusing on episode recaps or summaries...but something different. It began to cater to Scott, and anime bloggers within the community at large.

There are several different measures of a blog's success. The most obvious is the number of "hits" a site gets (of which I get a decidedly mediocre amount). More popular blogs, like Riuva and Memento, can get thousands upon thousands of visitors a month. Of more interest to the blogger than hits, however, is the number of comments he/she will get on a post he/she writes. This is because comments are not only a method for interaction with the people who read the blog, but also serve as an indicator of how many people have invested themselves in reading it. Again, for the more popular blogs you'll see well over a dozen comments on even the most mundane topics. Now, for a blog of mediocre popularity like mine, you can expect maybe a half dozen comments on a good post, and a handful for something of no importance.

So what determines a blog's success? Being good at what you do, for one. TJ Han over at Riuva is great at figure reviews and is deep into that niche of otaku culture, while bateszi at...Bateszi does some really great episode/series reviews. Then there's the amount of content you put out. For example, Garten over at Memento does more episode summaries in a week than I post in a month (or two). Do pictures and the "flash" really attract readership? I think it depends on what you're talking about, and who you're trying to get to read your blog. Some of the best blogs I've read have no pictures at all, but then on the same token, many of the most popular blogs actively incorporate media into their posts. It really depends on the post type (for example, editorial-like posts don't require loads of pictures whereas episode summaries and reviews tend to be more fully loaded).

Another aspect of the anime blogging that cannot be ruled out is the number of bloggers who cross-reference your blog (either by citing you, linking you, or commenting on your blog). It's a small community, as evidenced by anime-nano and other anime blog rolls, and knowing other people definitely helps get the word out there, especially for the blogs with smaller reader bases.

Overall, what does this all mean? Nothing really. Blogs succeed and fail, in the end, based on the wills of their creators to continue to write for them. Many more factors than what I listed above contribute to that, but I think I'll save that for a future post.

Note: Been watching Welcome to the NHK!, and I love it. It's the best show I've seen this year, combining a good dose of otaku-oriented humor and a very creepy sense of reality. And it's fun to watch, something that always helps. Its musical score is unusually good, and the opening theme in particular sticks out for its cheerful score. I recommend this series highly.


At 2:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Riuva is about 5% as popular as Memento if you count visits only. The vast majority of readers are only interested in episode reviews and summaries.

The more enthusiastic anime lover looks at merchandise as well but these are much rarer. Figure reviews don't get much comments but I personally enjoy the process a lot, especially the phototaking.

At 6:02 AM, Blogger bateszi said...

I'm actually falling into the same trap as you Michael. I try and post 3 reviews a week but these days it's usually only one or two. Some people are great at sticking to a schedule, but not me.

By their definition, blogs should not have to be updated all the time. They should be about the author, rather than the reader - but I think the anime blogging community is different. Most of these blogs aren't really blogs at all, they are fully fledged, highly organised anime review sites updated every day.

Sometimes it's hard not to be swept up by it all (I made 31 posts on my blog in May, compared with 8 in August) but I think as long as you stick around and make the occasional interesting post, people will come back. I mean I visit Like Water because I like your writing style and taste in anime. That's all that matters really.

At 7:24 AM, Blogger J.Valdez said...

I just wanted to note that I "invested" myself in reading this post quite thoroughly.

As long as people are talking blogging styles, I’ve tried a lot of different things in my short ~40 post career as an anime Blogger. Above all, I’ve found that expressing myself+anime is far more enjoyable than simply reviewing series.

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've hit a bit of a lull in my posting lately, too. No idea why, just haven't factored it into my daily routine as much as I did in the past. Might be the end-of-summer blues.

Still, I agree with Bateszi. Quality over quantity is what I respect the most from a blog. Don't feel pressured to perform or meet quota; do it purely for the enjoyment factor!

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. This was definitely more of a "blogger-centric" post than many of my previous ones, since it addresses all of you.

I think bateszi really sums it up the best - the anime blogging community doesn't really focus on "blogging," as much as it focuses on providing as many reviews as possible.

And everyone made the great point that, when it comes down to it, it's the enjoyment factor for the author that counts the most. Do what you love.

At 5:11 AM, Blogger Adam said...

You forgot that another measure of a "successful" blog is that it accomplishes the mission it sets out to. Mine, for example, is pretty much to keep my small group of friends informed of what I've been up to and what I'm thinking about...and at that, it performes perfectly. The number of views and comments or cross references is slim to none...but the quality of those are high.


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