Impressions of a Thorny Cynic: Tools for Helping Your Blog Blossom

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Before stating anything, this isn’t a be all, end all post of proven, 100% accurate ways to help increase the traffic or “success” of one’s blog, but rather a list of things I’ve seen work firsthand with other bloggers. I’m still a relatively small blogger myself, but my length of experience (over three years) gives some backbone to a few of my suggestions. This also isn’t a proven way to go from one to one-thousand followers in the course of a day. Blogging is normally a very slow, slightly gratuitous process of building up the foundation of what you want to be, not an instant ticket to internet stardom. Like most things, it requires a dedication to your craft and… well, now I’m getting ahead of myself.

In any case, as the days go by and my age grows to increasingly larger numbers, I find myself clamoring to find that comfortable process of growth from my blog that I didn’t care for in my younger days. I didn’t really take this blog seriously until the end of 2015, when I started to post things more than four or five times a month. I added a number of key changes, such as my blog’s current layout, pictures/expressiveness in posts, variety in topics, and I became more active in the community around the mid-way point of 2016 rather than secluding myself to my minuscule corner of the web. Overall, I think it’s worked well for me. What say you?

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With the context nuzzled warmly in place, allow me to strike straight at the point of this post, detailed explanations and all.

Step 1: Content, Content, Content!

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To show any upcoming audience that you’re dedicated to your craft, your library has to be plentiful, if not consistent. It establishes a trust between that follower and your blog that you aren’t going to suddenly take off and leave them without content, the sole reason (if not out of obligation) they decided to hit that “Follow” button. I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself enamored by a person’s post, only to find out it’s one of the only things they’ve done in the past couple of months. Inactivity is a killer for those trying to stick out from the shrouded woods of blogging.

Another important upside to writing a lot of content is that it greatly improves the chances of someone finding your blog via search sites and/or WordPress recommendations. Say you write a post about a topic that’s only slightly well-known, something that hasn’t been touched by most major news sites of that genre. Chances are, those search sites are going to list your post among the top results. Multiply this by a hundred and you have yourself dead-center for additional traffic. Write as much as you possibly can about as many things as you can, whether within a single spectrum or multiple ones. Snazzy titles help, too.

I’ve started a trend of writing at least one post every two days, and ever since I started writing more regularly (two to three posts per week), traffic has skyrocketed compared to my olden days of “post every whenever I feel like it.” Hopefully for those just starting out their dedication to write doesn’t dissolve within the first month or two, as a good start is critical when it comes to growing as a presence. It took me years to establish myself; don’t let it wait. Post now, post often.

Step #2: Write Quality Content

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I’ll admit, there is some risk in the wording of this step. Notice the italicization on “Quality,” something that can be highly subjective to any individual person. What one considers a garbage post others will consider great. There’s a lot of variables to what makes a post evoke true quality, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ll go with a safe interpretation.

Quality posts are:

  • Well-written.
  • Establishing some sort of point.
  • Free from multiple grammar errors.
  • Able to maintain a reader’s attention through a “hook” or organized structure.
  • Expressive (to a degree).
  • Providing room for reader feedback and/or interpretation.

I’ll also admit that this step is probably the least important (as backwards as that seems) of the steps I’ll provide. Some can get away from having content below the standards of an average person by compensating with, say, a likable personality or enticing lures found in their posts. Again, quality is in the eye of the beholder, but for my own tastes, I enjoy articles that are detailed, provide examples to back up their words, and have a balance between professional and personal wording. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but I feel people are looking for a place they can trust or feel comfortable with following. Try to take your blogging seriously, unless you run a parody account in which case be as contrarian and whimsical as you possibly can.

Step #3: Don’t Be a Giant Asshole

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There’s a little more to this than what’s bluntly obvious. Of course, most people are going to be turned off by a ranting, ego-maniacal bigot who sees their opinion as absolute fact. What’s more to this, however, is the manner in which people write their posts. Over the years, I’ve found an interesting correlation between people with many followers and people trying to reach their level: those in the former are a lot more positive with their content.

As an aspiring critic (and a cynical one at that), this finding is a tad unnerving. The job of a critic is to inform the masses whether or not a particular thing is good or bad, with a lot more emphasis on good than bad, if history is any indication. Scores for video games are typically overinflated past the typical critic’s rating system for, say, movies. What’s a 5 for a movie is likely a 7 for a video game. But why is that? Some might argue because it’s safe, because it’s less controversial. The tired internet saying goes: “Anything below an 8 is bad.” This goes for more than those already within the business, but those trying to get into it, too. From what I can tell, those who are more inclined to praise everything is more beloved than those who are more inclined to bash everything. Positivity wins in the end.

My advice in this case would be to balance your content to include both positive and negative material, but if we’re being realistic, positivity is more likely to garner attention than “Eh. It was okay,” or “It sucked.” Always like everything. Never include something that may offend others. Be as vanilla as possible. While also standing out. Wait, wh—

Step #4: Interact with the Blogging Community!

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This is probably the most important step, as being a gloomy gump in the corner of a party is not going to get you many friends. What better way to get people to discover your blog than to extend your hand and provide them the same kindness you’d like from them? Leave them a like. Give ’em a comment. Perhaps even follow them. They’ll most likely be nice enough to give your content a look-see.

Don’t know how to start? Rudimentary, my dear Watson! WordPress has a handy tool that searches for recommendations based on what you’ve liked in the past, who your follows follow, and what your follows have liked in the past. If not that, there are some dedicated bloggers out there dedicated to taking it a step further and inviting people to join in on fun little meet-and-greets to give others more publicity. From an aniblogger standpoint, Arria Cross has a monthly Blog Carnival she hosts to bring the aniblogging community together. It was through here that I was able to meet and become involved with a large number of people’s blogs, and I greatly appreciate her emphasis on camaraderie.

Being involved with others has always been an integral process in growing as a blog (and maybe as a person). With more people to view your posts, the more they can share it, so that the shared ones can share it, too. Whether by like, comment, follow, or otherwise, being a part of a community can bring a vast treasure trove of opportunities. Perhaps more than that is the feeling of belonging and togetherness that a community can provide as well. Reclusive as I am, I’m glad I can say that I went out there and talked to people, and continue to do so on a daily basis. Both for me, for them, and for my blog.

Step #5: Write About Trending Topics

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This is both an opportune and risky measure, as while you may get noticed due to the trending of the topic, many other more established sources will likely take priority in search engines or otherwise. Still, better to take the risk of garnering some more views with the only downside being attracting crickets.

I’ve managed to find magic in a bottle on a few occasions, but very sporadically. My posts on AM2R and Pokémon Uranium boosted the average views/visitors on my blog to nearly triple what they were before posting them. Good timing and little exposure, I suppose. They still get a few views every couple days or so, but they’re far past what drive the view count on my blog now. It’s still nice to know that searching “AM2R review” in Google will bring up my post on the first page (at least it does for my browser).

It doesn’t happen often, but getting a jump on what’s new, trending, and garnering views is a good way to create clickbait to take advantage of the opportunity to put yourself out there. Fun fact: back when Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem kneeling was still incredibly prevalent in the media, I considered writing a post about it. Lack of motivation and other priorities prevented me from doing so, but I always wonder what would have come from putting my voice out there when the issue was at its peak. It may have resulted in nothing. It may have resulted in something. There’s no way to know now, but I somewhat regret not taking the gamble. It’s okay to take risks sometimes, and reaching for the stars can yield results at the most unexpected of times.

Step #6: Expand Your Platform

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WordPress is great. I think everyone can agree to that. Sucking up is also pretty great. Rambling aside, much like the effort of putting yourself out there in the blogging community, it’s also important to expand your reach to other more prevalent social media sites. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Tumblr, Deviantart; anywhere you can possibly develop your reputation within the field that you want to pursue would be great. Of course, sites like Deviantart and Tumblr would be more focused on artistic pursuits, while Twitter and Facebook provide a place to advertise and interact with possible readers. Make yourself presentable, approachable, and confident.

I use Twitter a lot to organize my thoughts and link my posts whenever possible. While they don’t always make much of a difference, with time and energy, it may pay off for me, and it could for you. Any kind of different passages to your blog should be opened. And if people call you a sell-out for it, well, they probably don’t have the same enthusiasm for growth. It’s just the way things are done to gain attention. There’s nothing wrong with that.

With more places where your voice can be heard, the likelier it is that you’ll gain from it. When you have multiple flags placed in multiple places, people will begin to familiarize themselves with your presence, such as “The guy who comments on anime Youtubers a lot” or “That girl who posts critiques on Pokémon art on Deviantart.” Anything that can give an impression can help, no matter how trivial it may seem. It’s more important to leave your mark than to never leave a trace. Being a ninja will not help with your blog.

Step #7: Be Yourself!

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Nobody likes fake people. Well, except maybe other fake people. This step is rather self-explanatory, but don’t let the responsibilities and nuances of blogging turn you into a thoughtless machine of advertising and numbers. Express yourself in the way that you’d like to; add a flair of personality to your voice that’s your own. Or copy someone else’s and improve upon it. That sounds kinda mean, but it happens normally.

With that, this concludes my observations on how a blogger can properly groom their blog for the future and beyond. Again, this isn’t 100% fool-proof, but rather some things I’ve seen correlated over the years with myself and others. If you read this in its entirety, try it, and fail, don’t blame me for not warning you. Just know that I did everything I could to help you out. No, no; you don’t have to thank me. It’s a thankless job. I have my own pride as an opinionated young adult and I don’t need the extra boost to my already massive ego. Knowing that I was able to inspire is all I need to remind myself that I’m the best.

Thank you for reading. Have a nice day. Happy blogging.

11 thoughts on “Impressions of a Thorny Cynic: Tools for Helping Your Blog Blossom

  1. Nice to read some blogging insight from somebody who probably exhibits my own perspective more than most. Everything here seems to be pretty solid advice as its generally what you hear repeated when this topic is brought up. Writing about anime to begin with is already pretty niche and so acquiring an audience for such a specific topic is already challenging – or at least it has been for me. I really should endeavor to be more consistent and regular with my posts as you say instead of offering this awful floodgates style of writing where I wait until the end of the season to slam out 12+ reviews and analysis at once. The problem therein is that I’m the kind of person who only likes saying something if it’s worth being said. I don’t like writing ‘favorites’ posts or what I might consider vapid, opinion pieces that don’t flesh out the what or why. I could write a weekly post of every show I’m watching but I don’t think that would be compelling to read.

    Beyond one’s ability to generate regular content, interacting with other people in the community is certainly important – that and not being an asshole. The only thing I’ve never understood is how to extend your reader-base beyond that of other bloggers. Reading blogs and leaving comments is so insulated and while we are all ‘watchers’ at the end of the day, it’s a relatively small community compared to how many people are watching anime as a whole. I suppose I know the answer given that every time I post to Reddit (twice, haha…) I get a torrent of irregular readers but as I said above – not every weekly post and old series review seems worth sharing with the wider world. So maybe this is where my own twisted perception and logic collapses in on itself.

    Maybe this is my own cynicism acting up but outside of posting frequently and regularly, I have to imagine that the most important advice here is to write about something trending. That doesn’t necessarily mean pandering to the largest group of people in what you write about but I think, somewhat obviously, writing about Occultic;Nine or Drifters this season is going to get you a hell of a lot more interest than something like Fune wo Amu. I’m still a little irritated that I get as many hits as I do over that small piece on Shelter a while back – something that took me 10 minutes to throw together while something I put more thought and heart into goes unseen. I guess the question becomes, do you go out of your way to write about these topics simply because they are accessible, and I think that will depend on the writer.

    All in all, good advice and I’ll admit I’m a little inspired to write more often this coming year and maybe change up the aesthetic of my blog to be something more inviting. Thanks for the provocative piece, for sharing your advice, and as per usual – my apologies for the insanely long response (they don’t start out this way I promise).

    • “The problem therein is that I’m the kind of person who only likes saying something if it’s worth being said.”
      True for me as well. An overinflated ego helps.

      “The only thing I’ve never understood is how to extend your reader-base beyond that of other bloggers.”
      Certainly the golden question. I’ve often wondered if the people who find my blog via search are intrigued enough by what they see to stick around and come back regularly, or if it’s just a one-time “Oh. That’s nice,” visit. I suppose it’s easier on a site like Youtube where the community is nearly billions and it’s more easily accessible, but I still feel it’s important to try what you can.

      “. . .not every weekly post and old series review seems worth sharing with the wider world.”
      Depends on the situation. Talk about anime with people, then slyly slip in the fact that you have a review/reviews up on your blog. Some might bite, and if they care enough about your opinion or person, they might stay.

      “I’m still a little irritated that I get as many hits as I do over that small piece on Shelter a while back – something that took me 10 minutes to throw together while something I put more thought and heart into goes unseen.”
      Supply and demand, my friend. It’s the way the world works. Just have to live with it.

      “I guess the question becomes, do you go out of your way to write about these topics simply because they are accessible. . .”
      Either you’re with the clickbait, or you’re against it! In all seriousness though, writing on trending topics isn’t as soulless as it sounds. If one is interested in something that’s trending and writes about it with a tender enthusiasm, I see no harm in that. Jumping on a bandwagon, however, feels a little forced.

      “All in all, good advice and I’ll admit I’m a little inspired to write more often this coming year and maybe change up the aesthetic of my blog to be something more inviting.”
      You have no idea how good this makes me feel. Thank you. Don’t apologize for the comments. I enjoy them.

      • All true and thanks for hitting each of my points. Mostly in response to the ‘trending topics’ – It’s true, sometimes you’re lucky and you find yourself enjoying what’s popular and its effortless while at other times, its unsightly. I think the best strategy to take with these things is the ‘one for them, one for me’ approach. Find balance in writing about what you want to write about while capitalizing upon the popularity of something else even if you don’t enjoy it yourself. That way you’re getting the best of both worlds. At least that’s something I’ve heard and agree with.

  2. I have to agree with your number 5. Every Yuri on Ice post I’ve made has skyrocketed up in my list of read posts over the last month and my number one episode review in terms of views is Yuri on Ice episode 1. Though even while I know this I don’t think I’d review an anime just to get the hits because I’m writing for fun and if I wasn’t having fun reviewing it I probably wouldn’t be writing anything worth reading anyway.

    Thanks so much for sharing this advice. I remember how daunting it was to start out so posts like this are really helpful.

    • Never implied writing about trending topics can’t be fun. I understand the premise of writing for the sake of standing out, but usually it’s because you genuinely want to write on said trending topics. It’s killing two birds with one stone. Enjoy those views!

  3. Solid list! No. 4 is very challenging, though. You’ll need to be consistent in interacting with other bloggers, which means you’ll have to discipline yourself to sit down, read other posts, comment on others’ work and so on. Thanks for sharing! This will definitely help new bloggers and will be a good reminder for veteran ones! Kudos!

  4. This was a really great post to read. I’ve been blogging on a lifestyle blog for a year now, and just started a far nerdier blog I’ve been wanting to start for the same amount of time I’ve been blogging, and I always go through the struggle of wanting to have well written content and content I think people will come to the blog to read. Ultimately, in the end, I just write what I like, and what I personally would want to read because that’s a tip I’ve gotten for YouTube and other internet things, and it definitely works for me.

    I agree – writing on something trendy isn’t a bad thing! I used to be so against it, thinking people were sell outs if they did it, but then I realized if you structure the trendy thing to something you want to write, it works both with improving your writing and having stuff that’s popular people would want to read. And, I notice by commenting and interacting with other blogs, both of my blogs get noticed even if it may not be something I think the particular blogger would want to be following.

    This was a great post with a lot of tips I’m going to use for my new blog, thanks for writing it 🙂

  5. Excellent post! I was nodding my head as I read all your points. And big thank you for the shout-out to my blog carnival. My purpose is to make our otaku blogging community stronger and more united, and of course, more welcoming to every blogger, from the newbie to the veteran. Personally for me, content is queen. No matter how active I am in the community, I don’t think I’ll retain repeat readers if my content are crap. So yes, quality content is very important. I think that the only challenge I’m experiencing is the social media one. My blog is my very main hub, and I put very minimal (and I mean VERY minimal) attention to my blog’s other social media accounts. Except for Twitter, I’m very active there, but I don’t use it to promote my blog unfortunately. I mainly use it as a more convenient way of messaging fellow bloggers and readers of my blog. I’m still thinking how I can put more attention to my other social media accounts without taking too much time to my blog because it’s the priority. So far, I’m satisfied with my blog’s growth without too much focus on these social media accounts but I know there will come a time when I’ll have to expand and use them to maximize my blog’s growth. Oh well. I’m feeling a headache coming just thinking about it. Anyway, please excuse my babbling. I just want to say excellent post. Keep it up. Cheers!

  6. Really useful suggestions !!
    Thanks quite. It actually is an excellent feeling when i’m reading an article like yours.
    I’m so delighted I located your blog, your writing is really wonderful. Not everybody creates for the very same factor, yet yours is actually exceptional.
    Great ideas and also great blog post total!
    Thanks for sharing

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