Niche Journalism, Infinite Possibilities

Otaku Journalism is all about finding your geeky writing niche and making a living with it.

At a crossroads in your niche reporting career? Help is here.

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Are you interested in taking your niche writing career to the next level, but find that you struggle with confidence? Maybe you're unsure if your interview questions are engaging enough, or worried your cover letters to editors aren't compelling enough to get replies.

You don't have to do it alone.

My new workbook for niche reporters uses processes and scripts that I have used in my career for years. It includes step-by-step walkthroughs to the technicalities of niche reporting—plus actual emails I have sent to land writing gigs, with fill-in-the-blank spaces for you to make them personal.

This 18-page digital workbook includes 15 worksheets, each of which you can complete in 15 minutes or less to make a big difference in the way you kickstart your niche journalism career. As usual, my workbook is targeted at reporters pursuing decidedly geeky niches, and the example text reflects this. It's all yours for $10.

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I am building this workbook as part of the Gumroad Small Product Lab, in which creators each launch a product in 10 days. This workbook will be available on August 6, 2015, but you can pre-order it starting today. Better yet, if you pre-order, you can get a 50% discount by using the discount code otaku.

Pre-order it here

I hope you have as much fun filling it out as I had making it! And, don't hesitate to email me with any questions about whether this workbook is right for you.

How to get paid to watch anime

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Here it is, the topic I've been asked to write about more times than anything else!

Ever since I wrote Meet the girl who gets paid to watch anime, I’ve gotten questions nearly every day from readers who’d like to do the same.

The short answer is that you can’t. If you read the above profile of Victoria, you’ll see that yes, she gets to watch anime on the job, but she also works evenings and weekends almost every week of the year. In 2013, Victoria went to 42 conventions around the country. Could you?

If you want to get paid to watch anime, you can’t just passively watch anime and expect money to roll in. You have to put in the work. This can take long hours, constant honing of your skills, developing a thick skin to face commenter feedback, and constant promotion.

Furthermore: while it can be very difficult to make your entire income this way, it is much simpler than people realize to earn some money this way. These suggestions will get you paid for watching anime, but it’s much more realistic to shoot for a couple hundred a month at the start than a couple thousand.

Still interested? Here are my suggestions for hard workers only:

Work For A Review Site

This is one of the ways I personally make money watching anime. I am one of ten weekly streaming reviewers at Anime News Network. Every season, I am assigned three shows to watch and I write up 500 words or more on each episode I review. That totals to about 1500 words a week, and about 5 hours of my time.

Working for ANN means I don’t always get to review my three favorite shows of the season—or else all ten of us might be reviewing the same shows! Also, even if I start to dislike a show over time, we don’t drop them. This isn’t just a hobby I do when I feel like it—it’s work.

On the other hand, it offers a sense of security in the way that ANN pays me a consistent salary no matter how many views my articles get, which means I don’t have to worry about writing a controversial review if that’s how I really feel. ANN has also given me a built-in audience and exposure to my work that may have taken years to build up if I did it all on my own.

Be An Anime Site Affiliate

Of course, the elephant in the room when it comes to working for a review site is that you need to apply for a position and actually get it. That’s why, when it comes to beginning writers, I am much more likely to recommend that you start your own blog and monetize it.

The first monetization strategy for a personal anime blog is becoming an affiliate—somebody who puts links to a business on their site and makes a small commission when readers click those links and buy products. This is the entire business model for my site Gunpla 101, which brings in dollars when readers click links and buy Gundam kits of their own.

Gunpla 101 links to Amazon, but you can try any place that has an affiliate marketing program like J-list or Play Asia. However, this comes with a huge warning—if you simply spam your readers with links and offer no valuable content, nobody is going to visit your site.

Be A YouTube Reviewer

This seems to be the next big wave in anime reviewing. As our Internet connections get faster, people can watch video more easily, and on every mobile device they have. So some people might not want to read reviews at all when watching them is a possibility. If you’re the kind of person who loves to be in the spotlight, this might be your best bet.

As a YouTube reviewer, you’ll have the opportunity to put ads on your videos and you’ll get paid by the view. That means it’s really important to amass a wide audience. You can increase your chances of more hits—or blessing and curse, going viral—by creating smooth, easy-to-watch video; sharing divisive opinions; and cultivating a bombastic personality.

I’d suggest checking out what Top X calls the “top ten anime reviewers and critics” on YouTube and seeing what they do in order to build their audiences and stay popular.

Start A Patreon

If you’ve been reviewing for a while and already have an audience, you can consider opening up an account on Patreon, a crowdfunding platform for creators. I can name several anime bloggers who have launched Patreons: Bobduh, Guardian Enzo, and Serdar come to mind.

With a Patreon, you can encourage your readers to give you a small monthly donation in exchange from some control over your work. For example, Serdar allows patrons to choose which anime he’s going to review next.

On the other hand, you might not appreciate being told what to do. The con of this is that people aren’t going to donate if you don’t offer a benefit, and you might resent having to review anime you don’t like much, for example. But that’s something you’ll discover that, no matter which monetization strategy you choose, most reviewers occasionally have to do.

Want more suggestions? I list many more in Build Your Anime Blog, my ebook about building a successful anime blog with loyal readers, surging traffic, and an income stream.

Interested in more ways to merge your writing career with your geeky hobbies? I’m working on a new course about taking geekdom to the next level. Sign up for my mailing list to be the first to know about it. You'll also get my free course.

Sign me up!

Lead image via Danny Choo

Why you want to make readers emotional

In Build Your Anime Blog, I shared Otaku Journalist’s most popular posts of all time. I told readers each of these posts were successful for two reasons:

  • It was on a topic people were already discussing.
  • It included original material you can’t easily find elsewhere.

Now, I think there may have been a third reason these posts did well. They each elicited an emotional response.

I was thinking about it this weekend when a story I wrote suddenly got lots of attention. My article was about an organization that Photoshopped pictures of female videogame characters. It’s definitely one of my ConAir stories, as Helen would say. I wrote it on a Thursday and didn’t think about it until Saturday, when lots of people began commenting on my article and sending me tweets and email. Most of these comments had one thing in common—people were angry.

It turned out my colleague, Erik Kain, wrote a follow-up story on the subject that linked to mine and revitalized the topic. Though my story was neutral, many people reached out to me taking offense at my title’s assertion that overweight women can “look great.”

It sucks that the catalyst was how women’s bodies should or shouldn’t look, but what’s incredible about this story is that it inspired people to take action. They didn’t just passively read it, they shared it on social media and reached out to me with their opinions. Their enthusiasm made this my most popular story for July. I pessimistically told my Forbes mentor, Susannah Breslin, that now that I write for hits, this told me I could make more money inciting anger than dispensing information. Her response snapped me out of it:

“I think people click to feel something.”

People come to the news each morning to feel. They want to be uplifted, reassured, and yes, sometimes righteously enraged. But all the best journalism calls us to action. Good blog posts inspire us to comment, and maybe write follow up posts of our own. For example, when I read a particularly striking review from Bobduh or Josei Next Door, it inspires me to try a new anime.

In the future, I’d like to avoid articles that make people angry, but even that can have its place. In the New York Times, an exposé of nail salons in New York inspired hundreds to boycott manicures and pressured the governor into ordering an emergency measure. It was a well-reported story that made people shocked and angry—but for a very good reason.

An article that makes people emotional can be a very positive thing. People come to the news not only to be informed, but to take away a feeling with that new knowledge. What will your next article or blog post inspire people to do?

Otaku Links: How to write stories, play dating sims, and create new anime fans

  • Comic-Con 2015 attendance was 49% male and 49% female, and the Washington Post thinks this indicates the death of the "fanboy" stereotype. Female attendance at anime conventions has been equal to or higher than male attendance for years, and it's nice to see others catching up.
  • I've had a generally good experience with episodic reviewing for Anime News Network, but I still related to Zac's ask.fm answer about women reviewers. It's important to remember, as author Chuck Wendig reminds us, that online is IRL—whatever you say affects people in real life.

5 Summer Reading Manga Recommendations

Whenever I need a break from writing all day, I walk to the local park with the best Wi-Fi connection, settle in a shady spot, and browse my Crunchyroll Manga app.

Manga always feels like a guilty pleasure to me, perfect for summer. And predictably, I’ve been reading a lot of it lately. Here’s what I’ve read and would recommend:

Scum’s Wish

This is the Harlequin Romance of manga: soft, gentle art with a junk food plot. Witness a tangled web of unrequited love, with two seemingly perfect teens at its center. Hanabi and Mugi are dating, but only so they can “use” each other physically and forget about the ones they really love. This manga is definitely not for anyone under 18.

Orange

A high school romance, complicated by time travel. Naho knows that in the future, her friend and crush, Kakeru, is going to commit suicide. She’s received a letter from her future self about how to keep that from happening. This bittersweet plot is complemented by art that’s all sweet, making me feel real emotion whenever Naho makes Kakeru smile.

My Wife is Wagatsuma-san

Another high school romance about time travel, but it couldn’t be more different. Aoshima timeslips into a future where he’s married to the prettiest girl in school, and does whatever he can to preserve that reality. The best parts of the manga star him and his geeky group of friends, whose over-the-top commitment to gags results in prime comedy.

Kiss Him, Not Me

A wish-fulfillment fantasy for fujoshi, this reverse harem manga has four guys (and one handsome girl) vying for Kae’s affections, but all she wants is to watch them enact her boy’s love fantasies! This manga is currently ongoing, and BL fans will recognize current fandoms like Touken Ranbu. I love this manga’s spot-on parody of fujoshi obsessions.

Princess Jellyfish

Tsukimi is a jellyfish-loving geek whose life gets spun into chaos when she meets outgoing, crossdresser Kuranosuke. With a cast of unique characters that don’t fit into standard anime “types,” well-timed joke delivery, and a professional-level translation into English, Princess Jellyfish is the highest quality out of all the manga I’ve listed.

I’m current on all the manga above, so now I’m looking for something else to read. Any recommendations?