You, too, can reviews movies online.
It’s as simple as slapping up a web site and letting your inner Roger Ebert loose.
Only it’s not really that easy.
WWTW made the journey from full-time reporter and film critic to movie blogger roughly three years ago, and it’s been a bumpy trek filled with frustrations as well as light bulb moments.
So I wanted to share some hard-fought insights in case other movie lovers wanted to add their voice to the blogosphere.
To Blog or Not to Blog?
The first step may be the hardest – determining if you have the energy, passion and dedication to be a movie blogger. The pay is lousy, the hours unpredictable and the direct benefits minimal.
“So where do I sign up?”
If that’s you, then proceed by all means.
Starting a web site can either be super simple or complicated. This site uses WordPress technology as its platform, but budding bloggers can also opt for TypePad or Blogger as their platform of choice. WWTW began as a Blogger site but transitioned to WordPress after one year on the Web.
You can read about several options at Problogger.net, an invaluable resource for neophyte bloggers.
You’ll also want to buy your own domain name (like whatwouldtotowatch.com, drudgereport.com or aintitcool.com). You can find out which names are available at sites like godaddy.com, and the annual expense is minimal.
And check out the free resources in your own community for other tech help. Meetup.com is a great way to find local groups that pertain to your interests. I’m a member of the WordPress Meetup and Front Range Bloggers group in the greater Denver area, and each has been a major boost to my blog.
I’m a journalist, not a techie. But if I can crank up my own web site, so can you.
Setting Up Shop
The next step is the movie blog itself. It’s helpful to nail down an area of interest before writing your first few posts. Do you want to focus on horror movies? Indie features? Foreign films? Maybe you’re a sucker for B-movies.
Niche blogging can separate you from the pack and make it easier to target your potential audience.
WWTW is a general interest film blog, with a minor emphasis on overlooked indie films, horror movies and conservative-minded audiences. That means I compete with hundreds of similar sites. It makes my mission harder since I can’t reach out to any one demographic, but it honestly reflects my film interests.
One you’ve got your theme nailed down, make sure your entire site reflects it. If it’s a horror movie blog, the graphic design should reflect that theme, and so should the sidebars elements (links, photos, video clips, etc.).
And stay on target! Nothing will confuse readers quicker than having to wade through a post on Meryl Streep’s Oscar chances if your site is geared toward science fiction films.
It’s All About the Content
Movie blogs can go in a variety of directions. Some strictly offer film reviews, while others comment on breaking film news and cultural trends. No matter the direction, the new blogger should deliver clean, readable content that adheres to journalistic principles.
That means limiting spelling mistakes, linking to supporting data whenever possible and fixing errors quickly.
Just remember – whatever you’re blogging about will likely be covered a hundred times over on other sites. So while there’s nothing wrong with yet another review of the latest Matt Damon movie, always try to think of ways to set it apart from the competition.
Consider this post as an example of thinking outside the proverbial box:
Be bold, original and thought-provoking. Just don’t try to start an online ruckus for the sake of drama – and site traffic. It might pay off in the short term, but you won’t build community that way.
Part 2: Tips on seeing movies for free and other lessons WWTW learned after spending three years blogging about movies.