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Discussion on Growing Personal Review Sites
https://forum.metal-archives.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=129752
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Author:  Spiner202 [ Tue Nov 24, 2020 12:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Discussion on Growing Personal Review Sites

I know that more than a few of us here also run our own review sites in addition to posting reviews on MA - let's try to keep the links out of this thread and focus it on tips/tricks so we don't get it closed down (also, I'm sure we all have links in our signature anyways :P )

I have run my review site since about 2012 and I have to admit that it is challenging to grow things. My own observations from following other reviewers (both text and video) is that text reviews are somewhat of an outdated format, and other than places like MA, they aren't particularly in demand, so there's only so much you can do. I watch a lot of videos by Finn McKenty, who is a sort of marketing guru that has a YouTube channel called The Punk Rock MBA, and he's pretty adamant that people like to connect with other people, so I think being a nameless face behind a screen doesn't help our causes.

As of now, I use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Instagram gets by far the most engagement (despite having the smallest following for me), but Facebook gets higher quality engagement. Recently, I started using Mailchimp's free service to set up a newsletter, and while it hasn't been around long (maybe 6 weeks), people don't seem to be signing up. I actually really like the idea of it because you can go directly to your audience and quickly let them know what they've missed (as opposed to social media, where posts don't get enough reach). I've seen other people do this and it gets me more interested in their content.

I did promote a post once on Facebook and it had very strong results, but I'm thinking this is more likely because it was my year-end top 30 list. Those are the one post that always does better than everything else because people like lists. I don't really like paying for stuff because the cost alone of keeping a website up is more than I'd like.

Aside from this, I tried ramping up interviews this year, and that has had mixed results. Much like with reviews, bands who have a good following on Facebook and repost it give me good traffic, but otherwise, it seems like a dud.

One thing I am experimenting with a bit is to crosspost some of my reviews here. MA reviews get a ton more traffic, so perhaps if someone likes a review they'll go to the link at the bottom of it, but I'm not sure that will drive a meaningful amount of traffic.

Feel free to use this thread to post tips or tricks. I've tried various other things throughout the years with limited to no success. I have no delusions about monetizing this or having millions of readers, but it would be nice for more than 10 people to read my reviews that bands don't repost themselves.

Author:  gasmask_colostomy [ Sat Nov 28, 2020 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Discussion on Growing Personal Review Sites

It's a tough old world. I've thought about doing my own reviews on a website, but I don't want the hassle of setting it up and managing it, getting traffic, and maintaining a readership. I like that MA and other webzines or mags have a captive audience, so you aren't relying on one person's writing style alone.

Author:  noisevortex [ Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Discussion on Growing Personal Review Sites

Bit late to this one but I want to share what I've learned in the ~6 years I've been running my own blog as well as the experience I have from my bachlor's degree in journalism.

I recently moved to video reviews from text reviews because I also found it hard to get people to read my stuff. People generally prefer watching/listening to someone. As you said, people want to connect to other people. I think review content like this is also often consumed "second screen" while people are doing something else. You can't do that while reading and people generally seem to be more lazy nowadays when it comes to reading. As you've already noticed, a good way to get more people to read/find your stuff is posting it to different sites like MA or Rate Your Music. I also did that with moderate success.

I don't have an Instagram so I can't say anything about that but from my experience the vast majority of bands are on Facebook, if anything. So I wouldn't want to exclude that. The problem with Facebook is that you have practically no "organic reach". If you want people to find your content on Facebook you have to pay. I ran some Facebook ads for posts of mine but even with analytics tools, I found it hard to really measure the impact the ads were making. This is easier on YouTube because I can see the views going up, more comments coming in, more subscribers etc. Aside from that I have a Twitter account for less organized posting because people prefer Facebook for "proper" updates once or twice a week and Twitter for everything in between.

One of the main reasons I moved to video reviews on YouTube is that it puts my content on a platform rather than isolating it away somewhere on a website. I found it very difficult to get people to find my website. On YouTube, someone might be searching for a band or an album that I reviewed and just so happen to find me that way. Also, I expect people to be more likely to leave a comment or subscribe on a platform they are already using rather than bookmarking a site to come back to it. In that sense, your newsletter is a fantastic idea. But you also already noticed that it's not easy to get people to sign up. When I still had a newsletter for my site I had a very prominent call to action at the top of my website. The newsletter sign-up was integrated into the header of my site. Giving people reasonably many and visible ways to sign up for your newsletter gives you the highest chance of a sign-up.

For now, I want to stick to video reviews because it gives me something new to learn and challenge myself with. After about six years of writing I'm confident in my writing skills and part of the reason why I'm running this blog is to challenge myself to learn new things. To have a portfolio to show for myself because I work in a field where something like this is a good reference to have.

That being said, video reviews are daunting. You need some equipment to reach a basic level of quality, you have to show yourself, you need some talking skills, you have to edit your videos. The list goes on and on. In the end, the most important thing is that this is your project and you can go about it any way you want to. If you're happy with the way things are now, keep going and keep promoting your work. You're bound to get more readers over time.

Anyway, I just rambled on a bit there. I hope there's something insightful for you in there. One final note, I might add, though I think other bloggers are significantly better at this than me: Update your blog frequently. It doesn't really matter if it's once a week, once every few days, or even daily, as long as you frequently put out content, search engines won't think your site is dead and people will be more likely to come back to your site.

Author:  Spiner202 [ Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Discussion on Growing Personal Review Sites

Lots of great points in this response!

noisevortex wrote:
One of the main reasons I moved to video reviews on YouTube is that it puts my content on a platform rather than isolating it away somewhere on a website.


This is actually really interesting; I'd never considered it before, but you're definitely right that people want to stay on platforms they already have accounts on, and don't want to go to new websites.

Quote:
When I still had a newsletter for my site I had a very prominent call to action at the top of my website. The newsletter sign-up was integrated into the header of my site. Giving people reasonably many and visible ways to sign up for your newsletter gives you the highest chance of a sign-up.


I'm sure this works, but I suppose it's my stubbornness that prefers to keep it simple/out of the way. I don't like going to websites and being bombarded with pop-ups or other things that prevent me from getting to the content I'm after. That said, I'm sure much of my lack of growth could be attributed to my unwillingness to change with the times.

Quote:
Anyway, I just rambled on a bit there. I hope there's something insightful for you in there. One final note, I might add, though I think other bloggers are significantly better at this than me: Update your blog frequently. It doesn't really matter if it's once a week, once every few days, or even daily, as long as you frequently put out content, search engines won't think your site is dead and people will be more likely to come back to your site.


This is 100% true. At my previous job, I was crazy busy in Novembers, and January-March every year, and it was a major struggle to keep posting reviews weekly. I pulled it off most years, but in 2018 and especially 2019 it became more and more challenging. I took a new job at the start of this year, and getting back into the habit of reviewing ~120 albums a year became a goal that I'm glad to say I achieved in 2020. I know a few 'zines that started around the same time (early 2010s) and they've sort of come and gone over the years, but I feel like you have to keep pumping out content to be relevant.

Author:  noisevortex [ Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Discussion on Growing Personal Review Sites

Spiner202 wrote:
I'm sure this works, but I suppose it's my stubbornness that prefers to keep it simple/out of the way. I don't like going to websites and being bombarded with pop-ups or other things that prevent me from getting to the content I'm after. That said, I'm sure much of my lack of growth could be attributed to my unwillingness to change with the times.

It might sound a bit more extreme than it was. It was just a sign-up field that was integrated into the header image of the site but the point was to have it instantly visible. Signing up to your newsletter has to be as simple and obvious as possible. Pop-ups and such are definitely a no-go.

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