Why are reviews so common?
Reviews have their own built-in audience:
- people who are on the fence about the content
- people who want to know things like content warnings for themselves or others
- people who’ve already consumed the content and want to know others’ opinions on it
2. tends to get the least traction, since you have to sometimes specifically ask people what content warnings are present and sometimes even fans can ignore how toxic some of their content can be, out of blind love.
Also, it’s easy to churn out a few hundred words on something, proofread it and then call it a day, but as most bloggers can attest, it’s not easy to come up with unique content in editorial style – your well of ideas will run dry at some point. Sometimes, you just need a template for something consistent to keep those views rolling in.
How do you structure reviews (to address Lyn’s question in the tweet above)?
It’s all up to you – some people like templates, some people just write huge chunks of text and then break it up with images. They can vary by site or even between reviews by the same blogger as they continue to experiment – Karandi, for example, has always had relatively short reviews with a few subheadings or none at all, but the way she’s talked about her review content and how her reviews are presented has shifted over the years as she’s branched out into occasional podcasting, which is also a story many other bloggers will take or have taken already (or alternatively, they branch out into YouTubing).
The structure will obviously depend on the content, too – episodic reviews are generally shorter and sparser than batch reviews and series reviews, for obvious reasons, and more reactionary content is typically avoided because you can get that on Twitter.
For more insight on my process specifically, I cover it in my Write Process and Write Process (2) posts, while for how I structure my posts…this post is a pretty typical way I structure a post, to be honest.
Should you try writing reviews?
If you’re just some reader and you want to try writing a review on something because “oh, this is the thing I just consumed and You Just Have to Hear About It!”…why not? It’s bound to give you a thing to do to kill time. You could write a guest post or even start your own blog.
However, if you’re sincerely thinking of investing time and blog space for regular reviews, then the advice I gave to Lyn was to focus on making your review have a unique viewpoint. Everyone can write a quality review, given some persistence and time, but no one can write about it the way you do. You can try putting a unique spin on things, like Irina’s drinking games, but there are ultimately only so many ways that reviews can be restructured and rehashed.
Another point of advice which I didn’t give earlier is to observe any reviewer you like already. If you want to write reviews, you probably have an idea of what your ideal review looks like, based on your own consumption of reviews – if you don’t know any reviewers in your field of reviewing interest, search engines are your friend. Many bloggers are available via email and/or social media, if they haven’t already discussed their own process of their own volition.
If it doesn’t work out, then that’s okay. Reviews are not the only content out there – as I’ve addressed previously, editorial-style posts (also known as “opinion pieces”) are also available for you and reactionary posts (like my Kanon AniTwitWatches posts – they’re easy to write up, but don’t beg for a lot of interaction) There are also didactic posts (such as “puns in [so-and-so anime]” which I’ve churned out from time to time – they can be more research-intensive, so you run the risk of getting things wrong), as are crossovers with non-anime and manga posts if you’re not as committed to the theme as I am (such as travelling to anime pilgrimage sites and blogging about it, like Zenith does with his Oculus).
I banged this post out because a blogger in need is a blogger indeed…and let’s be real, not everyone knows where to start with this stuff.
So, any other advice to give to Lyn?