Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here and this is a more serious, introspective post that directly references this one here, written by Ospreyshire. The title? “Top 7 Concerns I Have As a Film Critic and As a Fan”, and let that sink in really well for all of you… because these concerns hold value and merit beyond the scope of simple complaints.
Why am I inspired to write an open letter? Simple, because while it’s true that I directly commented, bloggers are by-and-large people that need to network. We directly rely upon each-other to uplift our communities… and when we don’t, our communities suffer for it.
People rarely talk about it from the human perspective.
The mindset is always “backlinking begets backlinking” and that’s true. Networking for that reason really is important… but no one talks about the human behind that screen, or the struggles they encounter when those backlinks don’t happen.
If even just one of you goes over to that post and takes something meaningful from it, I’ve done my job as a fellow blogger. As a blogger, support of the community, and backing your communities up in solidarity really matters.
Blogging is hard guys, really hard… and sometimes, it really sucks… but in the swell of “How-To” guides and you never see the downsides.
We like to pretend we have it easy, because no one wants to read headlines about the cold hard truth. Sometimes, being a blogger really hurts, and the uphill climb is one that can really stick into our craws and get us down.
So, I’m going to break down these 7 concerns, because EVERY BLOGGER taking themselves even halfway seriously has them. For those of you who aren’t bloggers, this post can help you see why we often feel the burn-out or stress that we do.
So, let’s dive into this. Ospreyshire begins his top 7 list with a simple, but common problem.
7: Sometimes I’ve been paranoid about what I post.
On a top 7 list, it’s funny to me that this one falls on the lowest rung, but it’s undeniably true. Any blogger that takes themselves seriously considers very heavily the kind of content they post. Bloggers truly care about the image they reflect while doing so.
We don’t want to be misconstrued, misunderstood, or directly and flat out misquoted. We risk that all the time, and when we’re discussing contriversial opinions, that can be problematic.
The industry of blogging can be cut throat. Social media can be nasty and no blogger worth their salt wants to make a post that will somehow offend the messes on pure principle. We don’t want to be hated for an opinion, even if it’s not the same as everyone else.
In his post, ospreyshire says this: “This one may surprise you given how strong my opinions can be with certain movies, series, or when I mention real-life implications, but I do feel this way. Not for every single review, but the ones where I may bring up unorthodox opinions.”
It’s true though… look, some people may not care what other people think. Some people may stand so firm in their belief that they need to speak out in spite of the fear. Even so, this is the internet.
Being able to stand your ground on a personal belief that you truly believe in… that can be just as hard as doing it face-to-face.
It can be hard not to nod your head and follow the crowd when you truly don’t agree with it. I encountered this very problem with my post The Problem With Lady Dimitrescu. People HATE that post, all the comments, few though they are, are negative… they don’t like my opinion, and that’s okay.
No one has to agree with me, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but let the facts stand as they are… I’ve thought about taking it down, I’ve wondered if I should… but I can’t do that to myself. I feel too strongly about that character. If I took down that post, I’d be removing something that I felt strongly about just so that I don’t anger people…
It happens though… bloggers can have opinions that sometimes aren’t widely accepted as orthodox. Sometimes, we wonder about how we’re seen and viewed by others because of it…
That’s okay… sometimes that’s the reality you face when you’re putting yourself out there… Blogger, YouTuber, Twitch streamer… it happens…
6: I’ve wondered why some posts get more views than others especially when some of my favorite posts don’t get much attention.
If you’ve never blogged or put yourself out there before in the media sphere, have no idea just how true this is… it’s a visceral reality.
You write a post you believe will knock it out of the park, and you don’t. Other times, your post will fluke out and you’ll see 100’s of views or more when you doubted it would even breach half of that.
That’s the luck of the draw, your social media following, and a bunch of other factors. Some blog posts will hit, others will miss. Unless you’re following every massive and major event on the planet, you’re going to post things that just won’t get a lot of attention sometimes.
However, when you spend hours working this blogging craft of yours to perfection and you get so little in return, it can be a punch in the gut. Growing takes time, and so does outside validation.
Ospreyshire mentions this: “I wondered if it was because I watched something too obscure or maybe what I wrote was boring. There are certain reviews I could name (including one that got a 10/10 that no one paid attention to), but I don’t want to have a pity party with my portfolio. I do wonder why this was the case.”
That’s just it, though… bloggers don’t want to sound like we’re complaining. It’s not about that. We don’t want pity parties, but we do like to know why our audience enjoys what they do. That’s why we need your feedback as readers. Why did you like the post? Why did it resonate with you?
If you’re a blogger yourself, this is your bread and butter. You need to know… we all need to know. Analytics are only half of the story, but a lot of the time, it’s the only half we get. That can be confusing. We don’t always know why things hit and miss the way they do unless we have an active community.
5: I hope I don’t repeat myself too much when it comes to times when I’m not trying to do so to prove a point.
There’s a fine line here, and it’s a line a lot of bloggers second guess or struggle to find. Iteration is a core tenant of the written craft. Reminders and call-backs to earlier posts help to build our narrative cadence. That is generally the factor readers will cling onto.
Still, there comes a time when that same repetition and iteration feels stale. Like all authors, bloggers do struggle with this too.
The written word can feel weak when you’ve looked at the same blog post for days on end trying to make sure that you’ve done your talking points justice. .. and to prove that point I’m not going to do that here.
This is a write-and-toss open letter… why?
I personally struggle with this problem often enough myself. When you desire a clear cut-carefully written piece of work, you’ll go to great lengths to achieve it… but I don’t want this post to be careful, I want it to be honest.
Sometimes, inevitably… you’ll scowl at the words upon your post and wish it was paper you could crumple in the trash. I will surely feel that exact same way about this post later, but if I don’t stand my ground, I’m all just talk.
Be a blogger for long enough, be passionate about honing your skill tirelessly enough, and the backspace key won’t feel sufficient for the discontent you’ll feel. When your writing isn’t the standard you want to set, it will stick in your craw…
It is incredibly frustrating when that happens… but, that’s okay… seriously, it’s okay…
You can feel that discontent, let it hone you, let it shape you… let it mold you… that’s your journey as a blogger. If you strive for self-improvement, if you desire to get better, that discontentment will be at your back often enough. Let it be gasoline to your fire, not the thing that wears you down.
It’s hard, it won’t be easy… and if you find yourself having a hard time, just know you’re not alone in that. Just because we don’t say it enough as a community, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel that way too every now and then.
You’re really not alone out there.
This might sound trite, but we are our own worst critics. Particularly when constructive critique is the name of the game.
Blogging lends itself to a certain level of negative feedback loop. When we don’t get comments or likes, that can conflate our own harsh criticisms of the writing we do… as bloggers we have to check that fear at the door and be okay with occasional imperfection.
No one is perfect, our posts won’t always be either.
4: There could be a disconnect between my readers and followers.
I wish more bloggers brought this fact up. It’s a disservice I think, when we don’t want to admit that this does happen. However, this is to be entirely expected. As people, we generally have more than one interest.
The truth is, not all of those interests will entirely align with our readers. That’s just fine, but it is a little burdensome when you consider yourself a seriously passionate blogger.
Ospreyshire touches upon this detail earnestly saying: “I totally get why a bunch of my anime reviews get a lot of attention since I follow a lot of anibloggers, but I believe not many people are interested in multiple documentaries or serious live-action films more often than not.”
There will always be a disconnect to a degree, I think. When you blog passionately, and yet in a way that isn’t streamlined into one core demographic, that’s occasionally the outcome.
Here on The Demented Ferrets, we are very similar in content diversity and style. Kresh is mostly on the Twitch side of things, but you see her on the streaming archive content I post up all the same.
Ruka is our artist and doesn’t post much. When she does, art and history is her passion, and that often has little to do with gaming or anime. She loves photography, and the majority of her posts are about the art world and images she’s taken.
This “catch-all” mindset is often antithetical to blogging. Blogs tend to be more focused, because that’s how you play the game on google to get more views. A single blogger may have 2, 3, 4 or more blogs all revolving around a particular topic to separate their reader-bases into the big buzzword known as a “niche”.
I don’t really do that here. You get a full taste of all kinds of things. Topics run the gambit from writing guides, my thoughts on blogging, anime related content, gaming related content and artsy-fartsy posts… and now, I gues I’m doing open letters too, because why the hell not?
I feel strongly about this post. Our blog and website is the HOME of The Demented Ferrets. Therefore, it’s the creative space where I hope that I can bring you something valuable.
This is the true nature of the people behind the screens. We’re not just reviewers or critics, we’re people. Complex and with lives that span beyond the mediums we discuss… so often though, our content is the only baseline that can be used to measure the value of a blogger on the internet… and that value, what is it really?
I don’t have that answer.
I wish I did, but I don’t… and that makes that disconnect we occasionally feel all the more prominent. It’s there, of course it is, and every blogger out there will encounter this problem if they’re passionate about the craft. It’s just that, at the end of the day we need to measure what we find valuable in a different way.
Self-validation is a tool we need to use, and yet there are times it will feel like a review simply shouts into the void, never to be seen. For all bloggers out there, our personal view of the blogging medium is the hill we choose to stand on.
To those most passionate, it’ll be the hill we die on too.
3: I have moments where I think I’m worthless
I know this feeling, I think a lot of people know this feeling… and when we feel this way it absolutely sucks… but to a degree, it’s true for all of us in the arts, crafts, and critique of those things.
However, there’s another way to look at this. It might seem a little harsh, but hear me out…
99% of everyone’s opinion is complete and total crap according to someone. Your thoughts, your views, your grains-of-salt will be worthless to the vast majority out there. There are 7.753 billion people in the world…
So yeah, our views won’t resonate with the vast majority of people, unless that view is widely accepted on principle in the first place.
However that 1% of the world makes up MILLIONS of people. That’s right, millions. Finding those people takes time, it takes effort, and sometimes it takes a lot of emotional internal conflict with yourself until you’ve reached the point you feel successful.
Nobody shows you the B-sides in their life.
The lackluster attempts, the failures, the nights spent awake feeling like they’re worthless too… we don’t show that. I’ll be honest… I have felt worthless when it comes down to my personal ambitions too.
This is why Ospreyshire’s post resonated so damn heavily with me. I cannot tell you how many times over these years of life that Ruka and I have sat on the phone, saying how worthless we feel. How, we felt as if we’d be further in our lives by now… that we feel as if we haven’t reached the bare minimum status quo we should have by now.
I love blogging, but there’s a downside to it.
Blogging is this strange sort of beast. Numbers and analytics jump out at you. They’re like the little whisper in the back of your mind, telling you how valuable a blogger you are. You watch the numbers go up, then down, then back up again.
So, when you get your first 100, starting out, you feel empowered. You hit your first 1,000 and you think to yourself “I’m getting somewhere…”
But it is a lot of up and down…. when your baseline raises, your expectations of further growth rise too… so when in a month you hit your first 1,000, but then in the next you drop to 800, it can feel like a kick in the gut.
Questions 6 and 7 just jump back at you.
The mind starts to race. You try to figure out why. Questions like: Why did I do so well last month? Why am I not doing so well this month? Oh my god, was it something I posted? Did I upset my readers? Did I alienate them by mistake? What did I do so wrong?!?!
And I have wondered about myself many times. I think to myself: What did I do… why am I such a god damn failure?
It all kicks you in the face… then you get up and try again. The next month you’re at over 1,000 again. It feels like you’ve picked up the steam. The month after that you may be at 1,500 or so, and it’s all going well… but then the downward spiral strikes again.
When you plummet back down to under 1,000, you feel like you’ve been kicked off of the moutian once again.
As a blogger, it’s always going to be an up-hill climb. Especially when a lot of places want you to have 10,000 – 100,000 readers a month just to partner with them…
Ospreyshire isn’t the only one struggling, we ALL struggle with that… but if we admit that to our readers, we feel like we’re just being whiny. They don’t want to read our failures. They just want to read the success, and move onto the next thing.
That’s not anyone’s fault… it’s just a hard truth of being a blogger.
When the going gets tough, sometimes it gets REALLY tough… and like anything you’re passionate about, sometimes it just really hurts.
2: I need to work harder than other bloggers.
I feel this one in my bones. I feel it in my head, and I feel it in my heart. I work hard, very hard, to provide the best content that I can. I want it to just be good enough.
When you spend hours in a day writing something you hope will be valuable, it can be very taxing emotionally.
This post alone is now 3 hours into writing it, and I know there will be another one at least as a lament over my choice of words, the flow of the cadence in my writing, and if what I’ve written will really stick with anyone reading this.
Even as a write-and-toss, it’s still important to me to get it right.
Hell, I don’t even know if you’ll make it down this far. The post is long as it is, and getting longer by the second as I continue to type. Will anyone read this far down?
If you have, let me know in the comments… no really… that’s not a shameless request… I’m asking because… well, when you put yourself into the post, like I am here, and Ospreyshire did in his, you’ve just really got to wonder about that.
Seriously, you wonder… I wonder, if I’m just shouting into the void. If anyone will take value from what I’m saying.
Ospreyshire says this directly: “I’m sure I mentioned something similar in one of my 2020 Top 7 lists, but this still applies. It has been embarrassing finding typos or having to update certain posts if something changed like distributors or timestamping certain posts when something happens. It’s a long story.”
All bloggers work their fingers to the bone when they want to be good at what they do, but it isn’t exactly a natural talent. We each have to work incredibly hard, and in vastly different ways… but I think that’s the struggle we all face down personally.
We don’t see the struggles of others, so we feel like we’re working harder, longer, clawing our way through the muck while everyone else has an easier ride… we see what others do, we want to be as good as them, we hope we can be.
That’s the hard work and effort of a successful blogger, but we don’t always breach past the void on that alone…
We’re always updating, we’re always going back, we’re always bending over backwards to get to the place we *want to be* as bloggers. For every success story of how someone hit that prestigious 100,000 views a month milestone, there’s hundreds more of us that will never reach it.
My posts are riddled with spelling errors sometimes. I jokingly say that I have gulf-balls for eyes… but in a way it’s true. I go back and update too. I edit, and re-edit, and then go back and edit again… and even then sometimes I’m still not happy with it.
When we don’t pay an editor, we don’t have a second pair of eyes. We will miss things, but the nature of the medium doesn’t allow us to sit on posts for months on end. We’re not like book authors.
In the publishing medium the rule of three often applies. When writing a book, you’ll have three or more projects at once sometimes. One already written, sitting in a corner to age like fine wine. One in the writing phase, and one in the back-burner for consideration and possible outlining.
After your book ages and you’ve had time away from it, you can revisit it with a fresh pair of eyes, work on it again and send it to a proper editor.
Blogging doesn’t allow for that, especially if you don’t pay an editor. You get it written, sit on it for a week at most, and then you toss it out. Reviews, particularly of current media, is a time sensitive thing if you want to ride the big hype wave.
When you post, you hope you’ve caught everything… and sometimes, you just haven’t. Remember what I said though, we’re our own worst critics. For every reader turning up their nose, we’re mentally kicking ourselves when we miss something substantial.
1: I don’t belong even in these circles.
Ospreyshire hits the nail on the head, in a way I never could. He mentions this: “I get that there are creeps and obsessed people wherever, but I would feel like a fish out of water even if there are subjects I am interested in. Some people only care about what they like or dislike and never care about real-life issues which just disgusts me. Yes, there’s a time for escapism, but someone like me can’t afford to ignore what’s going on. God, I feel like I’m a pariah just because of what I like or dislike with others.”
See the overall theme here yet, guys? All 7 of the concerns all kind of tie into one another, and they’re pervasive… they’re also humbling… the phrase “finding your tribe” or “fitting in” is a weird sort of thing.
It’s a fluid thing, really. The importance and impact of it gets stronger or weaker depending upon what phase of life we’re in. As bloggers though, our posts immortalize a journey we take. In a way, it shapes us.
Ospreyshire mentions having never been to an anime convention before. That part stuck out to me… I used to go to them all the time as a teenager, but the older I got, the less interested in them I was… I eventually stopped going. It wasn’t for me anymore.
There are few anime conventions that are aimed at adults, which is weird because anime is a medium so many adults absolutely love. Most of the time 18+ panels aren’t about thoughtful discussion. It’s fun and laughter about dirty fan fiction or hentai anime, but we get so little substance of fan led discussions talking about important topics in the medium and the industry.
Listen to the same voice actor answer the same questions or quote the same line 5 or 6 years in a row, it grows trite and it grows tiresome… and to a point it feels empty. I’m sure I’m not the only adult out there that would desire a more introspective set of panels at an anime convention. I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like to have a panels touch upon wider topics, and I’m sure teens would like it too.
I know I would have, when I was a teenager.
As a reviewer there’s a weird feeling of being “othered” by fandoms when you critique something beloved by almost everyone within it. I go back to my statements about Lady Dimitrescu, I love Resident Evil, but I don’t love her. It’s easy to feel left out, or diminished among circles we should belong in, but don’t inherently fit the prescribed mold for.
And, so that’s why I’m going to post this up as it is. Imperfect as it is, probably riddled with errors too. The blogging medium has a fair bit of ugliness to it. Some of it is truly self-imposed, some of it comes from other factors… but that doesn’t mean I don’t love blogging.
It’s not a cry for help, it’s not a pity party, it isn’t even a list of things that actually NEED to change drastically. These aren’t grave sins or atrocities, it’s just the truth.
The only thing it needs to be is talked about, so I’m talking about it. The length of this post reflects the need for discussion. It truly is a requirement that we address the fact that like all wonderful things in this world, blogging can have its demons too.
The baseline entry is so low that countless people can enter into this sphere… if you have a computer, you get a free wordpress.com account, choose a template and that’s it… you start writing… you fool around figuring things out, and then you toss up your first post.
That’s really all you need to start off… never-mind the other stuff… that’ll come with time. When you reduce it down to absolute bare minimum, that’s all blogging really is.
Yet, blogging is more complicated than that once you start digging into it. People look at that, and they see this exclusive no-entry sphere of success that they could never hope to enter into… and some of us do anyway, because we want to…
Then we start the up-hill climb.
And I hope that you readers see this, and if you’ve thought about writing a blog that you STILL want to make that climb. I hope that Ospreyshire reads this and feel motivated to continue his up-hill climb… because I’ve laid myself out here too in these shared concerns so many of us have.
I’m speaking out because of him… I wouldn’t have made this post otherwise, but this all needed to be said.
Because we are a community. We are bloggers, and deep down, we all want to be worth something. I want to be worth something… and for readers, I hope I am.
If I’m not, well, I’m just going to keep trying.
This is Kern, from The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. Without the usual blue tab , without a related posts collection, and without any of the usual diatribes I’d normally give…
Because these 7 concerns are par for the course too, when you’re a blogger.
See you next time, everyone.