What I Learned From The Aniblog Tourney

Well, that’s a wrap. Shades of Grey officially lost in the second round of the tournament against Unmei Kaihen. It’s essentially what I expected going in, since I’m not a very popular blogger and some of the other people participating are very well known. Honestly, I didn’t think I would do well even at the start. I even had a picture picked out before the first match started in case I lost.

I had some fun and managed to avoid most of the DRAMA!!!, so I’d say it was a good experience. However, there’s still something that’s been bugging me about the whole thing since the first match started. It may very well be the question that’s been hanging over this website since it began: how exactly does a manga blog get attention?

At first I thought that having other manga websites in the tournament would get me the chance to find other sites that were like my own. As time went on, I realized there really weren’t any sites exactly like mine, since many of them covered reviews of whole volumes, and most are built around single genres (shonen, shojo, yuri, etc). The few websites I know that have chapter reviews are large sites with many contributors, and those sites are mostly anime focused anyway. Initially I just thought this was good for my chances, but when the match started I began to notice what it really meant. There were quite a few people who commented that my site looked good, but they didn’t know any of the manga I was talking about. Even the people criticizing everyone had trouble talking about me. Hell, the Whiners entry for my first match had one sentence of actual criticism (and it was as dumb as you’d expect from them).

What I guess I’m trying to say is that this was the first time it hit me how hard being a manga blogger actually is. I know that most of my current readers haven’t seen everything I discuss (that’s half the fun of using out-of-context Squid Girl pics), but it never really occurred to me how hard that would make finding new readers. I’ve gotten in contact with a few other manga sites, but that can only get me so far. So I thought the best way to find out how to improve things is to ask directly. For those old readers, new readers, and those who clicked this link because it contained the words “Aniblog Tourney”, I would like to know what you think of the site, how I might be able to improve it, and if there’s any way of getting the word out to other people about manga websites.

There is something else I thought I would try. Since everyone reading this has their own tastes, I figured it would be best to find out what people would like to read posts about the most. So I gathered a few different series that I’ve seen discussed and which I can catch up on and put them into a poll. You can click as many series as you would like to see. This isn’t meant to be a strict “First Place gets discussed” thing, but it should give me a rough idea of what I could focus on most. For those who don’t know, my backlog is ridiculously large, so this helps more than you think.

This is probably just another case of me overthinking things. I’m very happy with all the people who frequent my site and the comments that get left behind. I think I’m just getting to all those questions bloggers start to ask themselves after a while.

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Posted on May 14, 2012, in Series and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Voted for the few I know in that list even if I wait for volumes in order to read them. :P

  2. I think everyone arrives at the question of how to draw more attention to their blog. Everyone goes through trial and error searching for whatever method works best for them, so there are just as many ways to attract readers as there are blogs.

    That being said, it must be more difficult for a manga blog when compared to an anime blog since the population pool between people watching current anime and reading current manga is so different. On top of that there are more manga being published currently than anime, so the number of series to blog about and what people are reading can have quite a bit more variability. And on top of that, there are different writing styles, content, presentation, layout, and so much more that determine whether a potential reader will return or not. It really is difficult with all these variables, isn’t it?

    I believe what you’re doing currently is helping draw some attention to your site. By making your name visible on other blogs through comments, connecting with other bloggers in projects, networking with others on twitter, and any other ways to spread your name through word of mouth will draw potential readers to your blog. Getting them there is the tricky part but once they’re here, then your blog will do the rest of whether to warrant their returns or not. I’m not sure if you already do this or not but a further step might be to target people already reading these manga by joining in discussions on forums and such and joining each community that way. Of course, that methodology consumes a rather large chunk of one’s time but it may pay the highest dividends in terms of securing new readers.

    Anyway, hope the AniBlog Tourney was beneficial for you and your blog. It sounds like it got you to think about yourself more and understand the community better which hopefully you can turn into ways to improve yourself and your blog. Good luck!

    • I’ve been looking into a few other communities, although there’s still the issue I have with shilling my own work. It’s the reason I had so much trouble exchanging blogrolls before. I suppose there really is still a lot I need to get the hang of.

  3. …I think Avv pretty much pointed out the reasons. There are a lot of people who just want to watch anime really, and don’t read a lot of manga. I notice that unlike episodics or standard anime reviews, it’s a lot harder to generate discussion for manga. Unfortunate yes, but that’s the reality at the moment.

    Now in your case, you haven’t even completed a year yet, so it’s not quite so bad. However, partaking in projects and also trying to do guest posts could also increase the readership, so keep working hard, but don’t get too obsessed just yet!

    • I was always under the impression that most anime fans read at least a little manga, though it’s hard to say what those series are.

      I was wondering about guest posts, but I never know where to start with those. I might think more about it some time after the blog carnival.

  4. You definitely have a “niche” in the blogosphere. Your site’s content is truly unique, which generally means that you can only develop so large of an audience – but your audience might become very loyal (if they aren’t already).

    I think that for you to reach out and continue developing an audience that’s really related to your topic, you might need to focus on doing the nitty gritty of searching it out. This could take a lot of time and mean that you might withdraw some from your ties within the current anime/manga blogging communities.

    Here are some things you could do:

    1. Find a forum or two that has members who might like your blog. Engage them in conversation and, if possible, start a thread to give links to your posts.

    2. Consider starting a Facebook page and find like-minded readers there. I haven’t used Facebook as a medium for my own blog, so I don’t really know how effective this would be, but it’s an idea.

    3. Create automated searched and add an audience by engaging these readers. This may be the easiest and best way for you to link to others. For instance, I have my gmail account set up to send me hits from something like one or two dozen searches, some daily, some immediate, and other more intermittently. An example of a search would be “Christian anime.” Most results sent my way aren’t helpful, but I’ll occasionally find an interesting article or a post from a blogger who has similar interests as me. Likewise, I get emails for Twitter searches and sometimes follow people who I find interesting (and who might think likewise).

    4. Join a team. You might be able to find some new readers by linkbacks from one of the larger manga sites.

    Anyway, I don’t think you were asking for this type of advice, but I just wanted to say that I think it’s great that you’re covering material that really isn’t otherwise being covered and that you can survive and thrive in this manner – it just takes some work.

    • I would like to get more followers, though I’m not sure if I would want to give up my current ties to do it. I like you guys far too much for that.

      Of those options, chatting on forums seems like the best one. I don’t really use Facebook and I’m not exactly sure what you mean by joining a team.

      And thank you very much. A big part of why I started this was the general lack of manga coverage, and it’s good to know it matters to people.

  5. As Justin said, I think Avvesione mentioned the main the main reasons. Something that you should really take heart in, though, is that your content is really quite good. Truth be told, I don’t think I follow *any* of the series you blog about (The closest one is Fairy Tail, and I’m at least 100 chapters behind you, if not more), and indeed I don’t visit this site religiously. However, I *do* still visit the site (religiously or not), and more importantly I come back. Any of your posts that I can read/watch while having a semblance of an idea as to what you’re talking about, I do. I think if you ever did pick up a series that I really like, I’d love to see your thoughts on it (on that note, consider adding Break Blade to your backlog. But, I digress). As it stands though, you still have an irregular (but continual) reader in me. Keep up the good work!

    • I know not everyone is a religious follower, but it’s still great to hear that. And this is part of why I try to make my posts about the whole series rather than the most recent events. I’ll look into Break Blade when I get the chance.

  6. I admire people like you who put so much energy and attention into your blog. You’re already covering large amount of manga series all by yourself and that’s quite a feat. You should be proud of yourself for doing such a great job.

    Previous commenters gave pretty good insights and recommendations already so I don’t have much to add other than suggesting a collaboration post with other manga bloggers for your blog or maybe a few posts on manga industry itself.

    • Aww, it feels so weird to hear people say that stuff, but it’s still very welcome.

      I’m thinking about a collaboration post. It wouldn’t be until after the blog carnival, but that should give me time to think more about it.

  7. To be honest, you are the only manga blog that I’m subscribed. Although I’m more of an anime fan, whenever I would like to check reviews of some manga that I’m finding, this is my go-to-manga blog. Btw, I’m still waiting for some yuri manga reviews so consider me as one of those people who voted for Prism.

    As for increasing your readership base, I don’t really have any suggestion other than try to come up with unique ideas that’s beyond the mainstream. I’m just a floater in the blogosphere and sometimes I get lucky that some bloggers appreciate my writings and a few readers find me. TWWK and Avvesione’s suggestions are really helpful. I read them as well ^^ (thanks!).

    • Trust me, you’re one of the main reasons I put Prism on that poll. Well, you and all the yuri bloggers and yuri blog fans I recently discovered.

  8. More yuri would do this blog justice [wat]

    Speaking from a more unbiased standpoint, you can try out a lot of things. I’m not sure if you have Google+ but if not, you can certainly try it out. I didn’t use it when I just started the blog but someone recommended it to me a bit later.. I think it was nopy, and google+ is especially awesome, especially in the way they share their posts. You can also try out facebook, using more medium to expose your blog doesn’t hurt. Currently, I’m using twitter, facebook and google+. Probably I’m going to be ditching delicious soon though..

    Joining on forums like most had said here, is also a good idea. If you’re doing this, try to choose a more manga-orientated forum. Develop a rapport with the members and share your blog with them.

    In the end though, your blog is already good as it is, my suggestions are only a meant to improve your blog further. I’m a frequent reader of your blog, even when I rarely even read manga, and that’s saying a lot. Keep up the good work!

    • I don’t use Google+ all that much, but I should probably have a look and see how it actually works.

      There’s an interesting contrast between the commenters in the tourney and those here. They seemed to consider the “manga” part more important than the “blog” part, but most of you don’t. I guess that shows how writing can be enjoyed even without knowing the source material.

  9. Like the others already said, you have a great blog. I read many manga but your blog always surprises me with its content. If you want more followers how about organizing a manga blog carnival? Also doing guest posts for Western comic blogs can get you a ton of new readers (since a lot of Western comic fans can get into a specific manga if they think it is cool-looking).

    • I don’t know all that much about Western comics or their blogs, but the idea of a manga blog carnival might be interesting. I’m in something similar with the History With Manga posts right now. And thanks a lot.

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