Now, disclaimer, I’m not actually a professional with the blogging thing. Shocker, I know. In fact, I only started this thing around 9 months ago.
While there are certainly more qualified individuals, I still think I can provide something interesting to this topic for the simple fact that before I started the blog, I had no interest in it whatsoever. From my first post to the latest, that has been my whole journey.
Of course, I have written for a few years now, but never in the style of a blog post. My heart did and still lies with fiction. Perhaps because of that lack of experience, the way I write these posts has changed quite a bit since day one.
So today, I’ll tell you all about my process from the very beginning to the time I hit publish. I’m not telling you this is the right way to do it, just that this is my way, and maybe seeing another’s perspective will be interesting for you, or we can just share our processes. Let’s get started.
This is an odd one. I really don’t do too, too much in the planning department. Ideally, you should. It would be best to have things planned many, many posts ahead and know exactly what you need to do to get them out on the days they’re supposed to be released. That’s great, but it’s also hard.
I did originally. For the first three months or so of the blog, I had things planned a month, sometimes two ahead. It was helpful because I knew exactly what needed to be done when. Then around when Haruhi week happened, for those of you who remember that, I began to change things. The schedule got a lot more lenient, and it also became private. I didn’t share when I planned to do things, and I believe that’s best. It gives me more creative freedom.
Now, I work more on a day-to-day basis. I write down post ideas and go back to them every now and then. I have a few site-related things written down on a document that I take care of when I have free time. For instance, I have a few things planned, even if they aren’t for the immediate future. I know I’m going to watch and do an 86 review. I know I’ll have a post on Fate/Stay Night soon.
I don’t keep a strict schedule, but due to the episode reviews, it now gives me a way to structure things a bit better. So even if I don’t know what post is coming out, I will usually already have the day it will release planned and alter things as needed. This means I know when I’m doing stuff, just not what.
Again, I would recommend planning further than this. To give you an idea, I’m only ever one or two posts planned ahead, so I’m constantly working on stuff. It’s an uphill battle, but it’s part of the process and I do enjoy feeling busy. It’s nice.
So my biggest tips would be one, plan, plan, and plan some more as far ahead as you can. It helps. And two, manage your time well. A lot goes into these posts, whether that be getting images, watching anime, proofreading, writing, making thumbnails, promoting, etc. Spacing things out so I don’t get burned out doing one particular thing is helpful.
And depending on your content, this will change a lot. I used to do posts around 4000 words that required quite a bit of research. Now, I keep things around 1500 – 2000 and don’t have to do much research at all. Why did I make this change? Two reasons. It’s easier on me, and I think more enjoyable to read. It also means I get to write about more things, which helps my creativity. All of this just comes down to a balancing act that will be different for everyone, especially when you throw other parts of our lives in the mix.
I usually make it easy on myself by only leaving the proofreading on the day something goes live, for instance. Or I may watch an anime for a review as I’m doing bug fixes or other minor things that don’t require my full attention. That’s really the name of the game. Figure out what you need to do and how much time you have to do it, and then use that time to the best of your ability. Because sadly, we all need sleep. I wish I didn’t.
How I Write
This is one aspect that has changed a lot over the months. This is also something that’s very circumstantial. How you should write your posts comes down to the type of content you make. There’s no one shoe fits all. For me, I originally wanted the site to be more of a variety thing. That’s actually the reason I started it, funnily enough, but things happened, and now I stick mostly to anime or at least things within that realm.
Even though I stick mostly to that, I’m not limited to it. One thing I’ve learned a lot about is figuring out how to write what you want versus what people want/expect. If I wrote about, I don’t know, the history of phones, people probably wouldn’t like it. So while I still struggle with it for time reasons, I feel I’ve gotten pretty decent at striking that balance. While a blog about “anime” may seem pretty niche, there’s a lot you can do with it.
For starters, I’m not limited to just anime. I’ve talked about manga multiple times, even different aspects of storytelling, character analysis, video games, whatever. All of those things, based on how you handle them, fall under the veil of anime. Say I want to talk about the concept of justice being black and white. Pretty non-anime, right? I wrote about Tales of Crestoria and did just that. Even this post is related because it’s about an anime blog, which falls under anime.
Basically, my anime blog isn’t necessarily an anime blog. It’s a blog primarily about anime but can cover a range of topics that could be included in anime. For instance, I’m playing Atelier Ryza. I’ll probably write about it when I’m done. It is not an anime, yet it has an anime art style and many tropes seen in traditional anime. Therefore the audiences line up pretty damn well, and I can talk about it.
I thought about putting this in the last section since the topic you write about is something you figure out beforehand, but this is a process I’ve gone through as I started the blog, not before. You can see this evolution from my earlier posts to the most recent. And that’s how it was for me. I knew nothing of what I was getting into!
So, you’ve got a plan for what you’re going to write. How do you go about it? For the purposes of this, we’ll say I’m doing a normal anime review of 86. Why? Definitely not because that’s coming soon. Hey, ignore that caption! The actual writing process for me comes in five steps, along with a few bonus steps, but we’ll go over those later.
Step 1, we watch the anime. This is the simplest part. Most of what I write is opinionated and personality-based. That means I don’t have to do much more than pay attention, watch the episodes, and form my opinions. That’s about all there is to it. But as you do step 1, you start to prepare for step 2.
Find Your Narrative
As I’m watching this anime, I will likely figure out whether I like it or not and the reasons why I felt whatever way I did. For reviews, it’s pretty simple. The narrative is why you think this thing is bad or good. It’s the way your post will be structured and written. It’s also something I ignore entirely, but you probably shouldn’t.
Like I said before, plan, plan, plan. I, however, don’t take my own advice. Let me give you a little insight into how I write, and this goes for everything. I do it one word at a time. The same second you are reading this, I was typing it. I have a loose idea, but as far as the flow of everything, I just write and do what feels natural, editing later as needed. So typically, I don’t go into things knowing exactly what the narrative of my post is. The only one I can think of that was like that was this post of Higehiro. I knew exactly what I wanted there, but I still wing most of it.
With that being said, I do keep one tried and true rule that I made up in my head (or at least, I convince myself of that) that I always follow for everything I write, fiction, posts, or otherwise. Believe it or not, I actually have a post written up about what I’ve dubbed the “Painter Effect” that is exactly that. It’s an oldie but actually holds up pretty nice, if you can excuse younger me’s lack of any images and trying to do what he read online. The boy tries hard.
Basically, I write about what I feel is the most important or unique aspect of the thing. If I write a review, I try and figure out what it did differently from anything I’ve seen and why that is, and if it isn’t unique, I do my best to talk about its pros and cons. Like 86 in our example. I would mention how wonderfully horrifying its beautifully racist world is crafted.
So if you can craft a narrative for your post beforehand, you should, or you can just wing it like me. Really though, do your best to plan. It will likely make a better post in the long run and save you some hassle.
Writing Your Post
This part’s pretty self-explanatory. You write. Truthfully, that’s all there is to it. Having a narrative helps, but again, you don’t need it. Just get to typing away. It’s probably the easiest part, really. Everyone has different ways they do these things. Mine is I generally write in bursts. I don’t usually add to things bit by bit, and I don’t always finish writing something in one swoop. I come in and add chunks of writing depending on when I need to get it done by. That’s it. Get to writing.
Ok, not quite yet. Hold your pens…fingers there. No typing yet. There is one thing I do. As I write, I prepare for the next step. I prepare to get images. The images in my posts are decorative. They rarely serve a purpose besides giving a bit of context to a line I say, adding some variety, and allowing for me to make a joke or two. That means they aren’t that important.
If you have very important images, ones that are necessary for a line to make sense, you may add the images in right away. I don’t. It would break the flow of my writing if I did. What I choose to do is leave little notes every three or so paragraphs that give me hints as to what I put there. And these are complete jargon, by the way.
If you would see what some of these notes in between the paragraphs are, you’d think I’d made up a new language or some kind of code. For 86, maybe I’ll leave a reminder to insert an image of “Shin looking sad.” I type these so quickly and only need the reminder that “Shin looking sad” may turn into “Shin ooki ad” or if I try and remove as many words as possible, “Sh sad,” or whatever. Maybe just “sad” that devolves to “sa.” They make no sense, but I replace them with images, so I leave everything until later. It’s great! It also means nobody would understand anything if I published a post early by mistake. And all that’s left is to finish writing it, slap that question on at the end, and on to the next step.
As I said before, my images are pretty much just decorative, and they always come from anime or something anime-related. Hell, I could not be talking strictly about anime and still use anime images. It helps stay on brand.
How you get screenshots is going to be different. You could get other screenshots online, which I’m guilty of every now and then, but typically I use my Windows Snip feature to grab what I need. You know what it is. It’s a fancy screenshot thing.
Now, I don’t need to tell you that images of anime, video games, etc., are in a bit of a grey area legally, but as long as you use images sparingly and they’re within a post surrounded by your writing, you should be protected. The truth is you probably won’t be targeted by any big company for copyright unless you have a fairly decent presence online.
Take what I say with a grain of salt, as I’m not a lawyer. This is just how I do things, and I’m not locked up quite yet. And as far as I know, that could never happen. It’s in a grey area. It’s not illegal. Plus, if you aren’t monetized, you’re pretty much good. Companies like to make money wherever they can, and sometimes creators are the victims.
Bottom line, I get my Snip tool and use the little notes I left earlier to go through the series or episode to grab what I need. Then, I run it through GIMP, which is the photo editor I use. It’s like Photoshop but not a thousand dollars, and still pretty good.
I do this to reduce the size of the image. Generally, I keep my images at 630 by 300 pixels. It fits well, and consistency is great. I then put them in my folder named after whatever the post is, so I can go back and grab them when needed. You don’t even know how well-organized I have things.
Next step is I do my alt tags, and I now include captions. Usually, these are just little filler jokes, but I do think it makes the post more presentable and may even add some humor. I like them. After that, we’re just about at the end…of the post part.
This is either your favorite part or least favorite. I’m somewhere in between. My editing process is fairly simple. I use Grammarly, my preferred grammar checker, and slowly go through my post word for word fixing anything I see that needs fixed or altering lines as I need to.
This process doesn’t take as long as you think. Grammarly is a big help, and I have gotten better at proofreading. Doing it a lot does get you a little faster without sacrificing quality. Then I sometimes skim over it once or twice again. It depends on how much time I have, pretty much.
This is also the time I clean the post up. I add in the tags, categories, I make the thumbnail and upload it, I figure out my keywords, write a description, make sure the title’s correct. Double-check everything at least five times. This is where we get everything where it needs to be.
Of every part of the process, editing is the simplest bit but is by far the most important. It doesn’t matter how good I would write something if I butcher my spelling, grammar, etc. It’s garbage, and nobody will read it.
This is also where I get nervous. It doesn’t matter how many times I do it. Every single time my mouse hovers over that publish button, I have a moment of hesitation. Is what I wrote good enough? Will people like it? Did I not proofread enough? This is the hard part. But I find the courage, press that publish, and we move on to the last step.
This is not that hard. Basically, I tweet out the post on my Twitter after it goes live. That’s about it. I don’t do much else to push my posts. I use hashtags to give it some reach and also hint at things in the post to try and get people interested, but a tweet is the most I do.
Preferably, I would also have Reddit, Facebook, whatever else the kids are using to push my content more, but I don’t feel like I need to do that yet. One day I will, but I’m set for now. I’m doing alright with WordPress and Twitter.
And that’s basically it. I think of an idea, how I want to present that idea, write that idea and leave notes to get the correct images, get those images, proofread and edit as much as I can, hit publish, and let people know what I’ve done. That’s it. So simple, right? Not so much, but it isn’t as complicated as I’m making it.
Of course, when you throw that on top of the fact I work on several posts at once, yeah, it gets a little rough every now and then, especially with all of that only being a single aspect of my life. A big aspect, mind you, but I still have a job and a social life to keep up with.
All and all, a review of 86 would take me from beginning to end, probably about 9-10 hours to make if everything went perfect, and I didn’t get distracted at all. What, 5 hours or so to watch 11 episodes? Probably 4 to write a couple thousand word review and get images, then about an hour to edit.
I do this with multiple posts at a time, and episode reviews often throw a wrench in that because I need to write the post with a strict time limit, so it takes priority. All of this is a lot sometimes, and it does tend to overwhelm me every now and then, but I love it.
This is the most driven I’ve ever been about anything in my life, and I truly care enough about this blog to spend every waking moment on it I can rather than spend that time playing games or other things I still try and make time for. And hey, watching anime now qualifies as being productive. It’s great!
Writing posts is a lot of work, and I have no clue how some of my fellow bloggers do it daily. You all are amazing, and I look up to you more than you’ll ever know. But even with how tiring it can be, I absolutely love doing it, and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. So, I hope you aren’t sick of me, and good luck, my fellow bloggers. Keep writing.
Thank you very much for reading
How do you all write your content? I’d like to hear it, maybe even write your own posts about the topic? I love learning about others’ creative processes.