So You Want to Start a Blog in Japan?
5 Tips for Beginner Bloggers
Whether you're a part-time English teacher with a lot of spare time or a spinning-top salarywoman, I bet you notice interesting stuff; interesting stuff that you wish to tell the world or even just your dear nana back home about. Japan seems to have that affect from time to time. And by time to time I mean ALL of the time.
So you might think: Hey, why don’t I start a blog? But then you quickly convince yourself otherwise. Ain’t nobody got time for that, right? Plus, what would you even write about? Where do you start? And is this just another fad?
Allow me to convince you otherwise. Japan is a great place to blog.
One, there are innumerable things going on all of the time. Two, everyone has always been and continues to be interested in this country. Three, there are actually very few English Japanese blogs which makes your future project instantaneously stand out.
So. Do. It. Say “Buh-bye” to that inner critic and try these tips to start your blog in Japan.
1. Purchase a good camera
It doesn’t have to be the most expensive camera on the market but it has to take good shots. Or else, you have to take good shots.
Living in the birthplace of almost every camera brand there ever was, you shouldn’t have an issue finding a good one. Beginner photographers should try something like a Nikon D3300 or Canon SL1 – both great entry-level DSLR cameras that are easy-to-use and produce professional quality images.
When it comes to blogging, photos are important. This was the first blogging advice, I ever got. Take good photos. Show people interesting stuff. Experiment, practice and make mistakes with a variety of shots until you find your style.
Personally, I started with no photography experience at all.
So I faked it.
I looked at the works of food and travel bloggers I liked and attempted to mimic their photography style. Through doing that, I was able to develop my own.
For example, I believe my smoothie/breakfast bowls are unique because of my flower arrangements and their always wooden background. Hopefully, after much trial and error, if someone sees a healthy foodie picture of mine now, they’ll be able to tell that it’s Anisa’s.
2. Know your audience
Okay, so you’ve got your fancy camera and your Japan thinking cap on. Next comes pitching. Who do you want to be reading your stuff? Those familiar to Japanese life: Citizens, ex-citizens and/or frequent visitors? Or those new to Japanese life: Recent citizens, tourists, Japanaphobes.
Choosing your audience helps in deciding what you write. If you’re pitching to the first group, you might use easily relatable lingo and examples such as genki, yukuri, shoganai and the like. Whilst writing to an uninformed group might require more explanation.
Further, knowing your audience will aid in the success of your blog (see Watch your stats below). Also, and obviously, reaching that audience is vital. Which is why I share my blog through various social media. By this, I don’t mean just having your blog’s own Instagram or Facebook account but also trying to interact with other relevant bloggers, online communities and websites.
In fact, this is how I scored this job! I sent a web-link all about Japanese sushi to my now boss. Fortunately, it was liked, shared and eventually turned into a little moolah.
3. Post daily
Wait, wait, don’t exit out. Or roll your eyes (I see you!). It doesn’t have to take that long. That is, if it’s coming from the heart (see next step).
No matter how busy you are, you can always make time. Or if you come by a day where you have much free time and material, you can write two, three or more blogposts at once then simply schedule them to be published at a busier time. However, posting daily will help develop your writing voice and style. Also, people will notice. They will see your determination and see that you’re for real.
But how do you decide the topics?
When I first started out, I used to think long and hard about what I was going to write by planning my blogging week(s) in advance. This is a great way to ensure variety and works well for logical types.
Flash-forward two years and today, I write whatever I feel like writing at the time. This is perhaps not the best advice but I find it works for me because it makes my stuff natural. My readers often comment on the relatable and honest aspect of my blog.
4. Write from the heart
What’s that saying about love being like a fart? If you have to force it, it’s probably s**t? Well, the same goes for blogs.
If you’re sitting there ready to physically pick at your brains with your chopsticks then surely you’re doing it wrong.
Write what you know, refraining from unnatural or overdone figurative language.
Instead, tell your truth (whether it be a story or an advertisement for a business or product) in a non-intimidating way by writing as if telling it to a friend out loud. An honest voice delivered via a simple narrative is the way to win hearts – though often such a voice is much harder to pull off. Again, practise until you get it right.
5. Watch your stats closely
Sometimes what your audience will like or dislike will not be black and white. Keep a close eye on your stats, no excuses.
Listen to your readers and they’ll keep coming back.
This one’s simple: See which posts get the most clicks or likes then simply write more of those ones. In the same way, the articles which get little to no attention can be reduced. For me, the posts with personal anecdotes or sushi food porn are the most popular.
All major blog sites will easily provide you with this sort of data. In my case, even though I am blogging in Japan about Japan, the majority of my followers come from America. So, keeping this in mind, I try to post at a time when America is awake and free to browse. I do this by scheduling my posts during USA’s lunchtime.
For the technical stuff:
- I recommend WordPress.com where you can start a blog with no charge.
- Black writing on a white background.
- Keep content short and punchy.
- Use a variety of high definition media (photo, video, song) to keep your audience interested and your content alive.