This February 2014 marks 5 years of blogging for me, although I had been maintaining an anime website and an online journal of sorts years before. I’ve really learned a lot from the people I’ve met, things that have happened, and situations I’ve found myself in. I don’t know if I’m being repetitive because I post stuff about blogging in general from time to time but do allow me to sum up my most important learnings in the last five years.
#1 Not all events are worth going to EVEN IF there are going to be freebies. (The AI 2013 Finals was definitely worth every waking moment though, lol, so let it be my photo sample of a truly epic once-in-a-lifetime event for me!)
This may seem obvious but the fact that open registration blogger events still get a gazillion sign-ups and there are still people fighting over events issues (gatecrashing, +6, false proxies, etc.) just proves that events are still a big deal for most. In fact, these days, a lot of newbies are creating blogs just for the sake of getting invited to events. If you’re new to the whole events scene, give it a few years and you’ll see what I mean.
There was a time years back when I would move mountains just to make it to an event. It usually involved something along the lines of disturbing my hubby’s work schedule (i.e. asking him to leave the office to fetch the kids from school in my stead, etc.) or sacrificing our kids’ schedule (my absence means I won’t be able to help them with homework and such). It would eventually lead to conflict because seriously, there are more important things compared to moving schedules around just to attend an event. These days, we have an agreement: I would only make special arrangements if whatever it is I’m attending will be income-generating. If not, sorry. It’s just not worth all the hassle. I hate math but let me translate it into mathematical terms. Hubby’s line of work involves selling construction materials to customers. If I pull him out, I may be botching up potential sales and income… and for what — a few grocery items? A free meal? Products? A chance to win something in a raffle where I probably would not even get picked? Lol. I’m not boycotting events. All I’m saying is, I have learned how to pick my battles where events are concerned. If an event I’m interested in is happening during a day when it’s not coding and the time doesn’t coincide with my kids’ dismissal time, then I’m free to go.
Back in 2010, when I was relatively new to blogging and events, I had the unfortunate experience of being discriminated at a media event. I felt disrespected. I was livid when I got home. I did not give myself a chance to cool down, I took to my laptop and posted all the sordid details of what happened that same night. Come next morning, I was blown away by how my post had gone viral and how all of a sudden there were so many reactions and comments. I didn’t have that big a readership back then so it was quite a shock for me. What I had posted spread like wildfire and looking back, although I stand by what I did, I think I could have handled the entire thing differently. If ever you find yourself in a similar situation, take a step back and think before you post… because once posted, you have to stand by it to the bitter end. I did. Now I can tell you from personal experience that revenge posts are never a good idea.
#3 No one wants to read canned PRs. (Unless you’re announcing something really phenomenal like H&M Sale 80% off EVERYTHING… you get my drift…)
The habitual posting of generic press releases (especially the cut-and-paste variety) is probably the fastest way of turning off potential readers or losing whatever readers you may have gained. I admit, I get a lot of PRs “for immediate release”. Usually I don’t bother replying and I just trash such messages… but when I’m interested in whatever it is, I write back and ask for something concrete. What do I mean? For example, I receive a press release about a unique flavor of ice cream being released in the market. I would tell the e-mail sender that I prefer posting based on my personal experience (using my own words and photos, not lifting material off some generic press kit) and if they really want me to blog about the unique ice cream flavor, it would be better if they could actually let me try it.
While content is initially what attracts readers to a blog, it’s the person behind it that makes them stay. A blog is different from a newspaper or magazine because it’s still personal (well at least it’s supposed to be). Let’s say five blogs post about the same restaurant or product. A reader’s choice of which one to read will depend on who he or she trusts / likes / hates the most. Yes, it’s got to be extreme. If you’re indifferent to a person (neutral / don’t care), you would not be interested in what he or she has to say… much less visit his or her blog. In this respect, I realize it’s important to give the voice (your blog) a face and imbue it with your persona so you’re not just one of the many voices chattering away. I used to think that all I had to do was post good photos and well-written paragraphs. That may be true for newspapers but as a blogger you have to engage and give everything a personal touch, all the while remaining true to yourself. Readers aren’t stupid, they can spot a fake a mile away. Readers go to you because they want to know what you think. A blogger is a person, not a publication — and I think that’s a blog’s greatest strength. It’s crucial for a blogger to maintain credibility at all costs so it doesn’t really help if he or she is always involved in issues and scandals. After all, if all a blog’s readers wanted were pretty pictures and perfect prose, they could just pick up a magazine.
By definition, a blog is a personal web log, kind of like an online journal or diary. What you put in it will depend on your topics of interest. That in itself already shows bias. Take my blog for example. I love Korean food and Korean cosmetics, that said, you will see a lot of Korean food and cosmetics here. When I post a review, I’m posting MY thoughts and MY impressions… of course it’s subjective! I can try to be objective, like for example when I write about a chicken dish. I’m not fond of chicken but I try to set that aside and taste it anyway then tell it like it is. Then I would say if I thought it was delicious. Since a blog is propelled by how one is as a person, it’s really not possible to be completely objective.
It’s hard to believe that my blog is now on its 5th year. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone for the continued support. I hope sharing what I’ve learned will help some of you somehow. At the moment, I’m working on getting things together for next month’s celebration, Animetric’s Favorite Things Year 5! 😀
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