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ChatterCove: Interview with Roger Senpai

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Mengshu

Co-Founder

If you've been cosplaying, then you'll probably have heard of the name "Roger Senpai" or read one of his blogs. Roger is a cosplayer based out of Toronto, Canada. He's best known for his cosplay blog, the Senpai Blog, where he gives a ton of helpful tips, advice, inspo, and resources for cosplayers. I was thrilled to chat with him today and hear more about his story, how he got into cosplaying, and blogging.

Cosplaying

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Do you mind sharing a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up and how did you get into cosplay?

Yeah, for sure. My name is Roger Senpai. I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I've always been into the geeky stuff, like video games and I'm still getting used to using a webcam. I first got into cosplay when I went to my first convention called Anime North, and it was really cool. My first time going, I thought it wasn't so cool to be a geek back then. So naturally, I didn't cosplay at first. But over time, I met some friends and they got me into it. I guess that's how the story goes. Then I got into the cosplay community, I get some cosplays and help out other younger people, and I just wanted to do it all year round. So I actually started my own cosplay group and I did my own cosplay events. I have my own website: rogersenpai.com, so I can help other cosplayers not just in Toronto, but around the world.

I love that! And how long have you been in the community? What would you say has kept you there?

I'd say at least 10 years in the cosplay community. It's cool to see everything sort of changed. Like back then cosplay was really niche while it's pretty much mainstream now. It's like a really big industry. What's kept me to this is the people and like I just said, I'm a geek, so it just naturally comes to me and yeah, there's honestly a lot of really good people in the community as well. That's partly why I've been in it for so long.

What would you say is your favorite thing about cosplay or the community, or the thing that really comes to mind that brings you happiness?

I'd say the fulfillment. Like holding the events, it just always feels good when you do an event and get people to meet each other. I got to meet so many friends and I had so much fun at this cosplay event as an organizer. It's very fulfilling to me to hear positive feedback from the cosplayers. I guess if I went to a goth event, I wouldn't understand some of the jargon that they use. So it's the same way with cosplay and the anime world. When you're in the cosplay world, it's easier to explain stuff to people, and they will understand what you're going to say.

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You mentioned the cosplay events. Can you tell us a bit about the different types of events you hold and how you got started?

Yeah, so I started with just the casual. Just the cosplayers hang out and do some activities casually because there are only limited conventions happening in the city, especially now with the pandemic. So I want to give people more opportunities to cosplay and to meet other cosplayers as well. I started with the picnics, and then over time, we got more experience so I added stuff into the picnics like scavenger hunts and crazy events. We actually did one thing called watermelon smashing, and it's pretty cool. I have so many videos of the watermelon smashing and I will send them to you. It was pretty fun. Oh, we have karaoke nights, too. Those were always fun.

What would you say is the one thing that the cosplay community could improve upon? Or that you wish they would get better at?

Um, I'd say keep an open mind. Because there's a lot of accusations going on, there's a lot of times where someone thinks one thing, and that happens to be another thing, and leads to a lot of drama and stuff like that. So I think it's good to keep an open mind and try to stay away from the troublemakers. And one of the main features of the cosplay community is that it's very open to all sorts of different subcultures. I was reading a scholarly article about how cosplay can be built on subculture within a subculture.

Blogging

Moving onto your blog. Can you share a little about what motivated you to start your own blog, and how long you've been doing that?

Of course. I was always into writing. One of my organizers tells me that I'm really good at writing event descriptions, so I thought it might be a good idea to write a blog, and then I just decided to start my own little WordPress blog by writing a few posts. Then later, I got my own website, and it's even better now because I get to interact with people from all over the world who read my blog. The first one was a little tricky because I made so many mistakes in writing the blog and I got some likes, yet some hated it. But over time, when I get more experience and look back to the stuff I did a few years ago, I've definitely improved a lot, which was a nice thing to have. And I can say my writings have gotten a lot better, too. So I definitely enjoy keeping the blog, because not only do I get to help cosplayers, but I also get to grow from it.

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You mentioned the mistakes, so if you could redo this, what are some things that you will do differently to avoid those?

Back then I used to just write about whatever I wanted. When I was on my blog, some people agreed with me, some disagreed. I really just try to keep an open mind and make sure how would somebody feel if I said this. Would it offend anybody, or is it the right thing to say? Or there are some topics in the cosplay community that people prefer not to talk about, and it's definitely a learning experience. And also, writing wisely too.

How do you decide what to write about nowadays? And where do you get your inspiration from?

I guess it's a kind of a balance between what you like to write versus what people are actually searching for. So I try to meet in the middle. Recently, I wrote an article about wigs, which I'm not too familiar with. But there's a lot of people searching for this, so I'm gonna try my best to help out. Even I wasn't too familiar with wigs, I had a cosplay expert friend who was really good. And for any question that people are typing on Google, I would ask her like how do you detangle a wig or something like that? She gave me a whole list of instructions, which is nice. And sometimes, as long as I think it's an interesting topic or something big, I wrote. It also has to do with SEO, too. When people go on my website, they search for wigs. So I'm like, Okay, I should include a topic about it.

Got it. You mentioned SEO and like I said, a ton of your blogs are at the top of the search. Can you share a bit about the top SEO things that you do? Or how much work is it to get your blog to that spot?

I try to be a little different. Like, I don't want to repeat what other people have said. So just take up space, I guess. And people want to find information really fast, so that's why I only do a lot of listicles because I want to summarize the points for them. My wig article, for example, was about 10 most frequently asked questions. So it's like bite-sized pieces. I would say don't give them everything. When I go on to Pinterest, they give the entire information on the pin. I'm like, wait, that defeats the purpose. You want them to click your site, then you don't want to give them everything at the same time.

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Some cosplayers may be thinking about doing a blog. What would you say? What are the things cosplayers would have to know before thinking about monetizing the blog? And where does the revenue come from?

If it's just for fun, they could do it for free. They can just start off by doing a WordPress website. But if you're like I want to monetize and yeah, that's a completely different story. It takes a lot of commitment. Like, you got to be in it for the long haul. Because if you're okay with no one reading your articles for at least six months, then you're good. You cannot expect instant results, especially with blogs. So I would recommend just to try out for six months to see if you like it. For any website, there are different ways like affiliate marketing, advertisement, selling products, and sponsorships.

What has been the hardest thing about running your blog? And then on the flip side, what's been the most rewarding thing? What goal are you hoping to get to with your blog?

I'm kind of a people pleaser, so I like satisfying people. And when you put yourself out there whether it's like YouTube, running a blog, or a website, you're never gonna make everyone happy. So it's definitely hard when you have good intentions, then someone takes it the wrong way, and they completely blow it up. Also, it's always hard to stay consistent all the time. But I try my best. For me, the most rewarding is when somebody shares my blog post, or I feature cosplayers on my websites all the time, and they get so happy when I feature their cosplay photo on my website. And I always feel fulfilled by that. And for my goal, I'm hoping to reach way more people through my website and get me to work with people affiliated with the cosmic community. That's something I always wanted to do. So talking to you is also getting me there.

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Check out Roger's blog here: The Senpai Blog

And his social media: Instragram

Final thoughts

Here's the story of how another cosplayer made cosplay a part of their lifestyle. I hope this chat was helpful for those of you who are just getting into cosplay or who are thinking of doing it more seriously. We have more conversations coming up and if there's anyone you particularly want to learn from, just let us know!

We love to hear about how people are fitting their passions into their lives and if you'd like to share yours, give me a shout!

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Mengshu is a co-founder of Coscove. Growing up in Canada, Mengshu loved theatre, dance, and all things photography. She did photoshoots in costume before even learning what cosplay was! Find her on Coscove: coscove.com/mengshus

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