Generating content is a challenge to all those who operate any kind of media channel, be it a video channel, a publication–digital or print, or even a social media site. Providing one’s audience with compelling and enjoyable content which encourages them to return for more or continue to engage with one’s site puts considerable amount of pressure on the site owner/creative staff. A friend once told me a story about someone they knew who was wrestling with doubts about the type of content they should be providing their audience. My friend, rightly, told them to just keep generating content they are enjoying. To begin creating content for the specific purpose of satisfying their visitors only will make the operation of the site feel like “work”. Ultimately the content itself will suffer as a result. I, personally, have not encountered this conundrum as of yet. My audience is rather small yet, and the nature of Indievisual’s mission means the articles I write are aimed for whomever willingly follows the magazine or stumbles upon one of the articles through a search on the web or my social media activities. I do not have a large, loyal following hungrily awaiting the next post or article. However, as Indievisual’s “editor-in-chief” and principle “writer”, I still do genuinely feel the responsibility to write quality articles in a timely manner. If you’ve read my previous “year-end reviews” (here and here), you’ll note the one issue with which I continue to struggle is the number of articles publish. As a “one-man” operation, sometimes there is not sufficient time to write articles or conduct interviews on any kind of planned timeline. I do so whenever time allows. Regardless, I earnestly desire to publish more often.
As a solution to the problem, I have sought the aid of contributors; or at the least requested people to write about themselves or their experiences as a means to source additional content as a supplement to articles I research and write myself. Unfortunately, the people to whom I have reached out have not been able to deliver. One individual ultimately admitted losing confidence in and thematic coherency to what they were attempting to write after months of waiting for them to complete the article. Rather than give up, I have instead encouraged this person to continue gathering their thoughts and when inspiration strikes to write their article. When this will be, I do not know. Another individual I asked to profile–rather than interview–initially welcomed the proposal enthusiastically, so I sent them a questionnaire which I use as a resource for the quotes and overall narrative of the article such as in the case of Hasegawa Toshiyuki and Andrew Kirkham. However, the person has yet to return the questionnaire even after contacting them a few times to check on their progress since first reaching out to them in November of 2018. As recently as July, I had been asked to wait “a little longer”. This month will mark a year of waiting. Yet another individual expressed their appreciation of a proposal to feature entries from their blog in a series intended to spotlight their particular perspective on the industry, but I have never received an official approval nor the English transcript of their text. At this point in time I do not know if I ever will.
I recognize that in these cases the individuals are also busy with their own lives and careers. I can certainly sympathize with them. The irony is these attempts at seeking third-party sources for articles have involved as much time, if not longer, as it would have taken had I tried to write them myself; the end result is still a shortage of published articles. That being the case then, I have decided to own the problem. The aforementioned content may still appear one day, but for the time being I will focus on interviews, event coverage, and essays which I can conceive and complete on my own in addition to Caught My Eye write-ups on movies I find and research myself. Though this will mean fewer articles will be published at infrequent times, at the very least I will not be at the mercy of others’ schedules or creative blocks or simple forgetfulness. I had hoped to serve my readership better by publishing more frequently and sought the aid of others in an attempt to generate more content, but I fell into the trap of thinking “more” equated to “better”; a “better” site, a “better” experience. My friend referenced at the beginning of this post was largely speaking about maintaining a consistent quality of the content regardless of how long it may take to create with the caveat I always communicate with my audience (as in these blog posts). In short, adhere to the old adage of “quality over quantity”.
I will continue to await responses from the previously mentioned cases, and I certainly have a variety of article concepts for contributors to write, but I believe my motivation for engaging others to write for me was born out of a fear the site was not being generously updated. That is not why I should have been seeking contributed articles. My aim is to one day deliver articles on a regular basis, but I may not always be able to do so. Having made an attempt at remedying this without much change in the number of articles published, I think I should instead continue to focus on maintaining my own standards for interviews, features, and write-ups with respect to staying faithful to Indievisual’s mission to “spotlight unsung figures in Japan’s independent film scene.”