Heisui’s Thoughts: Drama-blogging Tips

Drama BloggingHeisui's ThoughtsOther

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When I first wanted to make a drama blog, I literally searched “how to drama-blog” on the internet. *facepalm*  Obviously nothing came up. 😛  Of course we all learn these things by experience…so I feel like I’m just saying what everyone already knows….but I think it still might be helpful to list some tips in case anyone needs them.  Note that all of these tips are based on my experience at WordPress, so some of them may not apply to the other blogging platforms. >__<

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Organization

Tags

Make a document with all of the tags that you will use for each drama.  General rule of thumb is to include the title, the cast names, and the characters names.  This way you only have to copy and past these tags into the “Tags” section for each new post you do on the same drama.  This has saved me a lot of time and it also ensures that your tags will be consistent.

Image names

Have a naming system for your images.  At the start you may feel like you don’t have too many images in your blog library but by the time you start writing a lot, chances are you will have hundreds of images with no way to find them again.  An easy way is to have some kind of abbreviation for the drama/actor’s name (or even just use the entire name itself) and then add a number to the end.  This way if you have to find an image, all you have to do is search up the name and it will pop up!

Archives / Categories

On wordpress there is the option to create ‘categories’ for your posts so you can group them together.  For instance, I have categories for c-dramas, tw-dramas, etc.  It makes it so much easier for visitors to look through your archives or to find posts that they want to read.  It is really overwhelming if there are absolutely on categories to browse through your posts!

Page: List of all your posts by drama

If you are recapping or reviewing a drama, it will make it a lot easier for people if you have a page where you list the dramas and their respective posts.  One of the most daily viewed pages on my blog is my “Dramas” page where I have all my dramas listed.  You could also do a separate page for each category of drama posts if you like, such as having one page for c-dramas, one for j-dramas, etc.  Another option is to provide a link to the tag of the drama in these pages.  For instance, if I am listing the drama Legend of Zhen Huan then I could hyper link it to the tag.  If a visitor clicks on the link, all of the posts with this tag will pop up.  That way they can see all posts that are related to the drama.

Page: General info

One of the most interesting pages in a drama blog is the “About” page because it is your chance to find out the bloggers’ background, motivations, etc.  A lot of times, these ‘about’ pages will only have like…3 sentences (I’m not even making an understatement here)…or maybe a paragraph.  IMO this is not really enough because there is so much more you could talk about in this page.  But it’s up to you!

Keep your files organized on your computer

This is probably a tip that everyone will say “DUH” to but…I didn’t do this in the beginning.  A lot of my screencaps were all scattered throughout the pictures folder on my computer and I also had no naming system so…I was left with thousands of images to sort through.  Actually I gave up on even trying to sort them all out.  Just have a folder for each drama, and also separate the screencaps by the episode number.  Trust me it will save you so much time and effort.  It will also help if you want to get a screencap from a specific episode later on.

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Images

Reuse your images

If you are writing a post that is not specifically related to any drama (i.e. my Heisui’s Thoughts posts) you don’t have to go searching for other images to match along with your post.  Instead it’s totally fine to reuse a previous screenshot or still that you may have uploaded before.

Resize your images

One thing you can do to save space is to resize your images to a smaller size.  I would recommend this particularly if the image is originally a very large size that is over 1000 pixels large.  Also, I suggest that you use a medium or large picture size in your posts and CENTER IT!!!!!! (just a pet peeve, I think it looks so much better centered :P)  Again, just a personal preference but IMO if your image is so small I can’t even see it very well, then what’s the point? T_T”

Use a good collage maker. (if you’re making collages)

I would suggest Picasa or Photoscape to make your collages.  It will save you a lot of pain if you have a good collage maker!

Headers

Making a header is actually very simple but ironically I can’t really explain how I make them because…I think it’d be too confusing, LOL. So I will give a very easy version of how to make a header–

1. Find an image that will be large enough to fit your entire header size.  This way you won’t have to combine any pictures or anything. (<It is easy to do but I have no idea how to explain it.)

2. Adjust the image position in the header space.  You can use interesting positions such as choosing to have an image upside down or horizontal (this often works for pictures from photoshoots), or maybe even asymmetrical.  The subject of the image doesn’t have to be centered in the header.  Sometimes it can be to the side, etc. and it will actually look more appealing to the eye.

3. (optional) It’s not totally necessary to have your blog name in the header.  If you do add your blog name, try to use a clean font that will match the feel of the header.  I usually use white or gray font color.  Again, your blog name doesn’t always have to be centered.  Use interesting positions for your blog name.

4. Use an editing program such as Picasa to make simple adjustments to the header.  Simple rule of thumb is to adjust the contrast and brightness to make the picture stand out more.  You can also use simple filters such as black&white, sepia, etc. that might make the picture look better.  If the header is a bit blurry/pixelly, use the glow or soften effect.  😉

Don’t use too many images in your posts.

This is totally contradictory because I always use TONS of pictures in my collages.  Oops.  But what I mean is, you should not have too much but you also shouldn’t have too little.  Using images will really help you break up your posts into smaller parts, which can help organize your posts. Overall images can really add to the aesthetics of your post and also make it easier for the readers to follow along.

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Theme

Widgets

Widgets can make your blog theme much more interesting and pleasing to the eye.  For instance you can use the text/HTML box to add updates, images, music, videos, or visitor counters.  They are also useful to make navigating your blog easier if you add an archives or categories widget.

Copyright

I have had a case where another blogger reposted my recaps (in full text with my collages) without my permission.  It doesn’t hurt to add a copyright disclaimer in your sidebar just to make sure it is always visible to all viewers.  You can also get a Creative Commons license to add into the copyright.

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Other

BACK UP YOUR PICTURES!!!!!!

I think this is probably the most important tip, heh. >__<  JUST DO ITTTTTT.  It is inevitable that your computer will crash someday, so don’t let all of your screencaps and treasured pictures go to waste.  (*cough*  am I speaking from experience? *cough*) Just get an external harddrive (a small flashdrive that is like…1GB or even 3-8 GB may not suffice. But it depends on how much memory you need) with enough space in it and periodically back up your files.

Keep a list of all the dramas you’re watching

If you are aiming to do an end of the year review, then it will really help if you keep a list of all the dramas you’re watching/attempted to watch throughout the year.  It may not seem like a big deal but last year when I had to write up my end of the year review, I actually had trouble remembering all the dramas I had watched.  (including those I tried out watching) O_O”  *update: Thanks to everyone who commented and suggested My Drama List.  This is a good option if you want to keep a list of all the drama’s you’ve watched. 😉

Don’t be discouraged if your stats are very low in the beginning.

When I first started out, I got 0 page views per day.  3 pageviews was like a lot in the beginning. O_O”  So really, don’t worry about your stats because no blog is going to have booming pageviews right from the start.  It takes a long time to build up a following & to have a rapport with other drama bloggers. 😉

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 So, these are all the tips that I could think of off the top of my head.  Let me know if you have any other tips and whether any of the ones listed above helped you out any. 😉

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • Great post and lots of very useful information. 🙂 I thought by using MyDramaList I can keep a better record of what I watched but then it doesn’t tell me what I watched when! Maybe they’ll have that functionality eventually…

    WordPress is mostly great except for the Media Library. I’m not sure why I must either upload to folders separated by dates or just have one folder for everything. Ended up organising the images the same way as what is on the website!

    And yes tagging is so important!!! It’s a good point to have a page where it lists all the dramas (and their related posts) although I wish there was a less manual way. If they can have something like the menus where you can specify which post would display on a certain page that would be great.

    Anothing thing I always do when setting up a WordPress site is changing the Permalink structure. Although it might be less important now because you can use the wp.me shortlinks. I noticed some people have theirs just as ‘blog.com/post-name’ instead of ‘blog.com/2014/05/28/post-name’. I like to keep the dates… but for some posts it might not be necessary?

    • Hmm I never thought of using My Drama List before. I think as long as you have some way of keeping a drama list, it’s fine. I sometimes like to separate my list by the type of drama or by the season it’s from.

      Yeah, I also have one giant folder in the media library. That’s why the naming is important if I ever want to find an old pic, heh. I used to use other image hosting sites (you can make folders in photobucket) but I found that the media library is more convenient for me.

      HMM I think the links are automatically set? All of my links always have the date. I usually don’t use the short links either. >_<

    • As far as I am aware, you can only change permalink structure on WordPress.org sites (meaning self-hosted) and not on actual WordPress.com sites. People who do not have the date in their permalink structure probably aren’t on WordPress.com. Truthfully, long URLs are bad, thus why people say you should eschew the date functionality in WordPress.

  • I had a particularly bad time keeping my images organized at first. Scattered to the winds, basically. And then I started recapping Mischievous Kiss and I had way too many pics for Every episode! (like 20+ more than I would even use) so I got smart and started naming them by chronologically by episode, and their order in the episode. This tip would have been nice before I had to spend hours rearranging my other pic folders… *Now to go and back them up* :O Good advice lol

    • Same here. Things became way easier once I finally started organizing everything. Yes, definitely back up your stuff Rosie!!!!! I *cough* learned the hard way..

      • Me, too. I’ve lost stuff that wasn’t backed up too many times to count so now I keep everything backed up to the cloud and to an external HD.

    • Thanks! 😉 Hmm to add to that, even if you’re not posting frequently, I think it is still enough to keep an ‘updates’ widget in your sidebar to periodically add updates. You can also still comment on other people’s blogs, etc. so that way people will know you are still active & around. 😉

  • I know Kat mentioned it already, but My Drama List is a great way to keep track of everything! Although you can’t put when you completed the drama, I’ve found that you can use the “on hold” list to sort dramas you’ve completed that you want to review.

    Oh stats…heh, I remember when I was so excited to get 500 views my first day posting…and then none the next day. Talk about disappointing. I even remember trying to google how many views you were supposed to get for X many followers, because I was so disappointed at the low views I was getting. 😛 Nowadays though I’m much wiser, and more aware of how much work goes into a blog (and a better estimate of stats now haha). I think that’s something new bloggies need to understand, that it takes a while to build an audience, and even having one person who is willing to listen to you is something you’ll be thankful for.

  • I am kind of inspired to do my own, but I think I’d focus even more on platforms, hosting, custom domains, etc., lol. Working in the lovely world of the interwebs, I have more experience at times then I’d care to admit. From choosing a host to site naming, permalink, organization, etc. But…I doubt anyone would want the truly nitty gritty I could deliver.

    I started blogging 4 years ago with some rough knowledge of various platforms but with no idea what I was doing. Four years later, lots of messes later, I’d like to think I’m older and wiser, but posts like this could have been helpful. Kudos, heisui!

    To maintain small image file sizes for a substantial image, say 800pixels + (or anything approaching 1 meg in size or larger) Riot is a great and free tool to downsize the file size while maintaining picture integrity. I take screenshots which save as large PNG files since PNG is lossless. I then convert the supersized files to small, web-friendly lossy jpegs that help reduce load time. If that sounds completely Greek, my apologies. I’ve lived and learned and gotten used to the lingo, lol.

    My two cents is to try to cover dramas that aren’t being done to death. It happens every season, but so many *coughkdramascough* get done to death in the recap and review world. It’s always nice to find a gem of a drama not being heavily promoted on the blogosphere and covering that instead. You’d actually be surprised by how many people will come to your site for a non “popular” drama.

    It’s also interesting trying to find a balance between recapping and reviewing. How to give just enough of a plot but not too much. I majored in writing. You can’t tell probably by my blogging style, but I think a uniqueness from your own personality and world brought into the dramasphere helps spice up and can keep people returning and engaging…not that too many people really engage on recaps for my site on a large basis, but I think it’s hard to add comments to straight up recaps.

    As for stats. Mine were rather low and dismal for a long time. And when there were no commentors, it felt really sad and lonely. But building an audience does take time and low stats should be nothing to discourage you. It still amazes me that I went from 52 views my initial month of blogging 4 years ago to now averaging 1,000-2,000 a day! O_O

    • Please do one NeeNee!!! Give me your knowledgeeee!! Otherwise I will remain lost and confused over hosting/custom domains. X_X What do you mean that a PNG is lossless? At first I take the screenshots in PNG, then save in JPEG…because otherwise I can’t make my collages….but is it better to just keep it as PNG file?

      I totally agree about your tip on not covering super super popular dramas. It’s kind of a double-edged sword, heh. Sometimes it could bring in a lot of views but most oftentimes there are so many other people covering the same drama that there are already too many reviews. >_>

      • PNG is loseless which means you can do whatever you want and the image data stays in tact with no degradation. With jpegs, I’m sure you notice that the image quality gets degraded depending on what you do to it. PNG is good for certain types of images while jpeg is better for others. When I’m trying to be good and cut down on file size, I convert the large PNGS to jpegs. It’s really just finding the right settings in Riot and it can do the mass conversion for me and the images are decent…if I got the settings right, lol.

        All my knowledge comes from experience with work and just trying to figure stuff out on my lonesome. I’m sure there’s bloggers out there who know much better than I about some of the stuff I’ve tried to figure out on my own. But I still my do a post, will have to see.

        • OOOOOOOO I didn’t know! I thought they would be a larger file size than if I saved it (when I save it I crop it first, whereas if it’s in PNG it’s not…because I don’t always watch full-screen).

          • One word of advice from someone who have done lots of graphics … : ) png files are heavy compared to jpg, it’s a must to convert to jpg for easy loading. I used adobe fireworks which can convert all kinds of image files, and when doing screenshots via VLC media player, I open it using fireworks and then convert to jpg, and also adjust the image for color, brightness and contrast. NeeNee is correct on the quality of png and using a software to convert it to jpg can be a solution as far as weight is concerned. The quality is always at 80% which is recommended to avoid any loss in color or any other picture quality…

  • I’m pretty disorganized about the images and screencaps on my blog, I just name it “1, 2,3…and so on” and I don’t really backup screencaps and images unless it’s works that I made. But I think you raised a good point of resizing image, we don’t really need 1000+px anyways but I’m always pretty lazy when it comes to resizing image. Moreover, wordpress does the magic for me when I post the images in “large” or “medium” size. This function spoils me a lot, it makes me feel lazy to resize my images :p

    The most important thing for blogging imo is tagging because it makes things a lot easier so when I suddenly want to reuse a certain image, I can just search the tag for it. I don’t usually reuse my images too so it’s a rare occasion. I also use a lot of images on my post but usually I use them for breaking my paragraphs but I try to balance my images and the word count I have, news posts might be different though.

    It’s all down to personal preference of the way a blogger does things and how to make their post easy on the eyes of viewers. I have to admit that I didn’t write much stuffs on my about page other than listing some of my bias and brief introduction about me and my motivations.

    I agree with NeeNee’s comment on doing dramas that aren’t too popular to begin with because not only you’ll gain unexpected views, you’re also benefiting others by recommending underrated gems (eg: An Innocent Mistake, Kiss Me, Mom!). That’s my main motivation to focus on Tw-dramas on my blog. There’s quite a handful of people watching tw-dramas but not many blogs focused on it. Plus, it’s easier to review and recap when I have a good grasp of the language, subs are great but you’ll never know whether there is any mistake in the translation that may distort the meaning behind a scene.

    My blog is rising pretty fast too, from about less than a 100 views per day to 1200~1500 views per day. Even though I opened my blog 2 years ago to archive my graphic works and talk about random stuffs, I only started to actively blog since last December so to be specific, my blog is only 6 months old, it’s doing a lot better than I initially expected.

    • It’s hard to find Taiwanese Dramas dedicated blogs. Not sure if blogging about kdramas or Taiwanese Dramas are harder. There aren’t many Taiwanese Drama blogs but not sure if he fanbase is enough. There are tons of KDRAMA blogs but it can be hard to stand out when there are so many.

      • In my opinion, Taiwanese dramas are pretty popular among international audience, not as wildly popular as Korean dramas but based on the number of fans on TW-drama channels in viki, I think it’s still very popular. It used to be able to compete with Korean dramas for popularity back 10 years ago but not that much anymore now, but I think there’s still a lot of untapped potential to it. Yeah, it’s true that there’s not many blogs dedicated on Taiwanese dramas but for Korean dramas, it’s really sad 🙁

        • It’s the Taiwanese rom-coms that are really popular lately. That’s the forte of tw-dramas with the international fans. It’s also a bit of a pity though because there are also some good non-rom-com tw-dramas that don’t get much exposure..

          • But the thing is qualitatively, tw-dramas just doesn’t stack up to its k-drama buddies qualitatively. Every now and again you will find those rare gems (e.g. In A Good Way) but more often than not you are stuck with watched the same overused plot and leads with no chemistry (e.g. Fall In Love With Me). In addition, I think another factor that plays a role is the genre. Very rarely will you find something outside of the rom-com area and I think that people are just up for something more than just a love story.

            • You mean they are lower in quality? Hmm well I think perhaps there’s a bit more variety in the kdrama rom-coms, but they are also often stuck with the usual rehashed scenarios. I think tw-dramas do seem to have more idol dramas though, so that may be why there is less chemistry and worse acting. >_<

    • Just remember that you only have a limited amount of space on wordpress for images, so it might be wise to take the image size into account. Well for recaps it’s inevitable that you will have more image-heavy posts since you use a couple screencaps per section.

      And wow it is really good that you got up to that many daily views in just 1/2 a year! :3 I think you’re doing well with your tw-drama niche, especially since the rom-coms are becoming more popular as of late.

      • 3GB is quite a lot for me though. I’m such a slow blogger and If I really used up till 3GB, it will be many years later. By then, I’ll probably consider buying to add on some storage, hehe. I’ve used up about 200MB as of late, still a long way to go till 3GB.

        Rom-com have always been Tw-dramas’ forte, there’s not much serious Taiwanese dramas as of late but I think An Innocent Mistake is one notable mention. I watch Taiwanese dramas for how lightweight and fluffy they’re. When kdramas or Jdramas become too intense for me, I always run to the Tw-dramas side for comfort, haha.

      • I just upload my images to Photo Bucket and then link them to my blog. You can save a lot of space this way especially if your posts are photo-heavy.

        Hehehe, I know! Your blog (@heisui, @carolies541) is amazing!! I like stalk both of them 24/7! 😛

        • When I host images outside my blog, I utilize 3 different sources: Google+, Dropbox, and OneDrive. The thing is that outside images and embedding lots of videos can actually slog down on load time for a page which can be a bummer or it can also cause some funky loading.

        • I used to do that but I found it to be too tedious. I also had some problems with the bandwidth been exceeded and I didn’t want to upgrade my account. So I switched over to using wordpress media library instead.

          And thanks misscupcakees! :3

  • I wanted to use WordPress for my blog ever since I started blogging way way back, but I was introduced to Joomla by a friend so I’m probably in the minority here. Thanks for the post, it reminded me about organizing my image files and have some sort of management too. When a blog gets older, it amassed a huge amount of image files, and I am getting more and more confused, forgetting where I saved them.

    I have some issues with page views, because I would think the number of visitors would be more significant, in the sense that this stat measures how many visitors actually went to your site, and the page views represent how many pages these visitors actually took the time to read, skim or browse. Together the visits/page views can be correlated with the bounce rate which measures how long the visitor stayed in your blog.

    So having 500 visitors with 1000 page views would basically mean each visitor averages 2 pages in your blog, and if the bounce rate is 30% it means they actually read it rather than glimpse, browse or skim – which will probably give you a bounce rate of 80-90% which is not really a good stat.

    Google analytics is very useful when it comes to real-time stats, which maybe more stringent in their measurement than say sitemeter or hitstats.com which I also used. 🙂

  • I really like your Heisui’s Thoughts post! We might have been blogging for several years already but there’s always something new to be learned from others!

    Based on my own experience, the stats won’t skyrocket on the first day, unless you’re already an established blogger who is opening a new blog. I used to wait for views and comments from others but people didn’t know the blog back then, so I felt like talking to myself. Hehe. I began to get active in Soompi and linked my posts in the drama forums. From that, I got to know more people and engaged in fruitful discussion in the forums and also on my blog. Commenting on other blogs can bring additional traffic, plus exchanging blog links with other bloggers will make your blog known to more people. As stated by NeeNee, unique content will get your blog noticed but it doesn’t take one day to reach thousands of page views. Patience is a virtue!

    I use Mydramalist to keep track of the dramas I’m watching or those I’ve completed. It’s easy to navigate too! As for organizing the pictures on both the computer and in the media library, I am using Gomplayer which organize the screencaps according to the video file’s name, so it won’t be a hassle to find them later.

    The blog’s appearance is not something that should be taken lightly too. I have stumbled upon a few blogs with decent contents but got turned off because of the readability of the blogs themselves. As bloggers who want to share the contents with others, I think the bloggers should not only consider their own preferences. The famous blogs such as Dramabeans, A Koala’s Playground, and Cfensi are all simple and easy to navigate without being too cluttered. I also make my own headers but they’re simple pictures with minimal words. I only use Photoscape because I’m not tech-savvy enough to use Photoshop 😉

    Tags and categories will not only save the bloggers’ time but they make the posts easier to find through Google and WordPress tags, if it’s a WordPress.com blog. Last but not least..I also read the tips and tricks on WordPress.com’s blog here: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/ 😀

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What’s New?

-It took me a really long time, but I'm finally done with my end of the year 2016 dramas review! Check it out here. It includes Good Morning Call, Juhan Shuttai, Princess Weiyoung, Imperial Doctress, and so much more! Happy New Year!

-On an indefinite hiatus.

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