One year ago today, I created this blog. To celebrate the occasion, I’m sharing my perspective on what it’s been like to be a Weekend Otaku over the course of a year.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year since I started this blog and wrote my first post, where I introduced myself as a “weekend” otaku. If you plan to read that post, understand it was my first, and not my best. In any case, the idea presented was that the site’s name referred to my casual (but highly enthusiastic) interest in anime, and how it would define my style. One year later, some of that has changed but the core aspect remains the same.
A one year anniversary post is usually when you see a blogger reflect on the journey that led them there. You might see site stats, plans for what the next year will bring, or special thanks to certain followers. Those are perfectly good ways to celebrate one year, but to be honest the more I thought about what to do to commemorate this event the less I wanted to do any of that.
I have a few reasons for wanting to do something different. For one, my stats are nothing to be that proud of (more on this later). Also, I already covered what I wanted to do this year, and those items are still on plan (this is the first “Perspectives” post, for example). Lastly, I don’t like singling people out or making exclusionary lists. If I connected with you during my time on WordPress, I hope you know who you are.
Instead, at the risk of appearing self-centered, I wanted to offer you a rare glimpse into how I approach being an anime fan and blogger. My reason being that I’ve seen so many bloggers facing a lot of the same issues I have. Hopefully some of my stories will help you deal with similar hurdles, or at least entertain.
For the sake of clarity, and because my brain works best when things are categorized, I’ve divided the challenges I’ve faced as a weekend otaku into three main points.
A question that often arises among ani-bloggers is, “how can I possibly make time to get everything done?” For me, the answer is painfully simple – I don’t.
It’s not that I don’t want to, but even while I am writing this, my “to do” list is growing. Anime that I will “get to sometime this week” are still idling in my queue. Several drafts of half planned out posts are waiting to be fleshed out. My wife’s car needs an oil change, the bathroom needs worked on, and, out of the corner of my eye, I can see our cat begging for my attention.
Time management is a conscious effort to manage your time to ensure maximum level productivity, right? Well, I try to do that as much as possible. During an especially hectic week, I told myself I would tackle my one year anniversary post last Saturday. I would set aside the whole day to write. That plan lasted for about an hour before my wife decided we will spend our day at a book sale, followed by dinner and meeting with friends. It wasn’t the most carefully laid plan, but my point is they can easily fall through.
Perhaps the biggest problem when it comes to time management is the expectation we set for ourselves. While I would love to devote the same amount of time I spend at work to blogging, the fact remains that I am as much a weekend blogger as I am a weekend otaku. At the same time, I am a full time husband, programmer, landlord, repairman, and cat-dad. All these things vie for attention simultaneously, eating away precious time set aside for blogging or leisurely activities.
There were periods when I posted every day, or at least several times a week, but keeping that pace up proved impossible for me. There were even some months (especially recently) when I couldn’t even manage one post a week. Outside events, lack of focus, and even your mood can be unpredictable factors that kill your productivity.
My situation is hardly unique though, and there are bloggers who do a much better job with this than I do. The post I just linked can teach you a lot about managing time, but at a high level the key points to producing consistent content are prioritization, planning, and using what little time you have effectively. Practice makes perfect here, and it’s important not to let temporary lulls in delivering content hinder you creatively.
Working Within Limits
As I write this, the old adage comes to mind, “you get out what you put in.” Most bloggers can agree at the end of the day, our goal is to create engaging, thoughtful content that will pique interest, promote conversation, and hopefully (if we’re lucky) inspire someone. In order to achieve this, I am only limited by my imagination, right? Well, not exactly.
Being a weekend otaku means blogging and anime are more of a hobby for me than a way of life. As such, I have to establish some boundaries around the time and resources I devote towards it. This involves working with the cheapest options available to me, like a basic plan WordPress site, limited streaming services, and learning to be patient when it comes to having what I want.
This frugality doesn’t come without its downsides, of course. When I was working on my first “Who did it Better?” post, I wanted to have an interactive poll so readers might be more inclined to participate. I went to Apester and designed a poll I was really pleased with, only to run into issues trying to embed it in my blog. I worked for two days trying various methods and sites, only to finally realize that the free WordPress site simply doesn’t support what I wanted. So I gave up and ended up using a simple Polldaddy poll that was built into the WordPress.com layouts. It served the basic purpose – to collect votes, but didn’t work out to be anything like what I had envisioned.
Could I achieve more with this blog? Certainly. But unless I’m willing to shell out money for more tools and resources, I inevitably have to work with what little I have. It’s more than me just being cheap (I’ll be the first to admit that I am). It’s an understanding that investment requires return.
Once I start putting more than just my time into this blog, it shifts from a casual way of expressing my thoughts to something that demands much more in the way of my expectations. Its content will no longer be dictated by the question “what do I want to do?” but rather “what needs to be done?” After all, there is little sense in putting money into this unless I can find a way to leverage the investment into something more worthwhile than my own satisfaction.
Finding the right balance is thus a lot like managing your time. You need to define your expectations and what you will need to meet them. Being sensible and realistic about your goals can save you a lot of trouble if things don’t work out the way you like, but in this another adage applies: “Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Nothing great can be achieved quickly and effortlessly.”
Struggling to Grow
Over the past year I’ve realized that for as much enjoyment I get out of blogging, there is also a sense of learned helplessness that comes along with it. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, “learned helplessness” is the result of a person persistently feeling powerlessness or failure when trying to succeed. All bloggers can relate to struggling to push out great content when facing writers’ block or time constraints. Similarly, we have all shared the sensation of spending hours to produce something, only to have it met with minimal fanfare.
While my efforts toward this have been admittedly small, my blog hasn’t grown nearly as much as I had hoped it would. I don’t seem to write any faster than I did when I first started. I’m not at all sure that I’m writing any better either. I put days worth of effort into content and still fail to connect to readers in a way that gets them interested and engaged in what I do.
It’s easy to get bogged down by the negative. I do so all the time with plenty of things outside of blogging as well. I tend to do this because I feel it’s important to be able to identify where you’re falling short. Only then can you take the necessary steps to fix the problem. Still, failing to see the upside of your efforts can be even more of a detriment to being an effective blogger as it can kill your motivation to even try.
So while I still undoubtedly face issues, I recognize that blogging has been a valuable experience for me in many ways. It was last year when I picked up a Crunchyroll sub and really started watching anime again. I would binge a series once in awhile, but nowhere near the extent I am now. Because of this, I was selective about the content I would view. To interact with other ani-bloggers and join in their discussions, I began to broaden my horizons to include content I normally would pass over.
The ani-community has also established a network of friendships for me that I hadn’t expected. Reserved and introverted by nature, I’ve had the same group of friends since college. Like reasonable adults, they hadn’t kept up with anime much over the years, which left my wife as my sole avenue for in-depth anime discussions when my inner otaku demanded it. But thanks to this community I’ve been able to interact with some truly wonderful people with a diverse range of interests.
In addition to helping me grow as an anime fan and blogger, my readers and fellow content creators ultimately provide me the thing I wanted most out of this – a way to relate to people who share this ‘weird’ interest of ours. In sharing our thoughts with one another, I’ve enjoyed some great discussions and created warm memories.
Despite not having met all my goals, and forever having my passion outpace my effort, the intangible value of my experiences in the past year were more rewarding than any technical measure I could apply. There is certainly always room for improvement, and there are resources to help when you find yourself struggling. What’s easy to lose sight of though, is the reason many of us get into this in the first place.
Unless you’re planning to make a career out of blogging or have some other business purpose in mind, obsessing over page views or follow counts is especially counter-productive. Blogging is more than just numbers. There are people behind those numbers who connected with you in some way, just by reading your words.
With one year already behind me, I look forward to many more years to come; making memories with those of you who stop by, even briefly, to muse over my thoughts. I humbly thank each and every one of you for your time, thoughts, and companionship.
How do you feel after one year of Weekend Otaku (Or however long you have been reading)? Feel free to rate this article and let me know your thoughts in the comments.