I’m someone who loves research. Not only is it necessary for the job I do, but the insight gained from the pursuit of knowledge is priceless. As a feature writer, much of my research goes into various film and TV blogs.
I discovered a graveyard of passion projects. Dozens of these entertainment blogs and film criticism websites haven’t been updated with a new post since 2014 or earlier. This phenomenon got me thinking about why these abandoned blogs happen, and why they even were started.
I am not going to explicitly say any of the names of these lost blogs. I don’t want to “kick them while they’re down,” or anything of the sort.
One film blog ended abruptly by leaving a comment in their most recent film review. They said that they could not afford to continue the company. While their reviews and news were valued and had a decent online presence, they couldn’t compete with more popular entertainment sites. Many of the responding comments mentioned they noticed the lack of quality from the blog as it’s updates began to slow down. One anonymous commentor said:
“This site has always been pretty hopeless at delivering bad news – if it’s a touchy subject they just don’t bother updating the readers at all. If something controversial happens, you have to spend a few hours combing over other sites to find out what the fuck has happened.“Anonymous
This example fits the case for not only this site, but several other blogs of a similar caliber.
It’s easier than ever to write about film and TV. With popular sites like Letterboxd and IMDb, you’re never more than a few clicks away from hearing hundreds of opinions. I’ve noticed that this is what most of the abandoned blogs didn’t understand. They thought their opinions were unique, when they were actually just harder to discover online, and similar comments could be found on more popular places. None of these blogs added anything new or creative to their posts and lost to the notoriety of bigger companies doing the same thing but to a wider audience. A metaphor for this would be opening a burger restaurant across the street from a McDonald’s and offering the exact same burgers. Why would customers go out of their way to your restaurant for the same thing when a more trusted brand that they know is right there?
It comes down to marketability. We’re in an age where every film topic is oversaturated. Even the indie films from decades ago now have at least ten articles on ten different sites about them. This outlook isn’t that bright for aspiring, independent writers.
What can you do? From what I’ve seen in the blogs and websites that do work and still have a modern presence, it’s all about combining creativity and knowledge. There needs to be a reason for people to visit your site. By just reviewing the top 100 films on Letterboxd and giving them all high ratings, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. I can’t tell you what your unique thing should be, it’s something you have to discover for your brand. As for knowledge, you have to know what you’re talking about. It’s easy to see through an article when it’s written by someone who did a one-second google search on the topic before writing. Know your stuff and express just that.
Persistence is key. Cliche as it sounds, a lot of dead blogs suffered from quitting too early or spreading themselves too thin. Take it one step at a time but be sure to actually take the step when you do. So many people think you can make a product instantly go viral and then get discouraged when that doesn’t happen. Building a large audience from a blog won’t happen overnight. If you’re doing a blog for your own enjoyment, persistence won’t be hard for you. Your audience will also see that you like what you’re writing about and stick around.
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