What has worked. What has not. What the heck? (& Where to from here…)
Writing in the public space is something that, prior to University, I had seldom practiced. There is something very daunting about publishing your own work for literally anyone on the internet to read, and it has taken me quite a bit of practice to develop a suitable style and methodology to approach the procedure. Over the past two years I have learnt to maintain a careful balance between the re-summarising of course content, the inclusion of some personal opinion, and original mediations to support my writing.
With the ever growing presence of technology in our lives, the distinction between a ‘public’ and ‘private’ space has changed. In a sense, what I have presented in my blog is what would have, in the past, been a form of personal study notes and revision – taking its place as hand-written notes in an exercise book, never reaching the eyes of anyone ‘outside’. Wolfe (2014) argues that “every activity performed in public can attain an excellence never matched in privacy; for excellence by definition the presence of others is always required”. My ability to present this information in a public space now means that classmates and the public alike can comment and interact with my writing, giving advice, feedback, criticisms and suggestions – all enabling my knowledge of a particular area to be widened greatly. Blogging has become a very cheap, easy and fast practice and it is a perfect medium for getting ideas across (Saurs 2010).
For easier readability, I have divided this reflection into three sections, blog formatting; content curation and publicity and promotion.
1. Blog Formatting
The curation of a blog with a simple aesthetic began with a catchy title: “Lazy Susan”, which is a comedic play on my first name. The next thing that was important to establish was a categorisation system – with the very top menu bar featuring all my subject names, and each relevant blog categorised accordingly. For example:
A categorisation system such as this increases ease of use, which Demopoulus (2006) states is “a fundamental feature of a blog”. A person browsing the blog will likely read more if it is simple to navigate, meaning their attention is preserved.
On the “About” page, I have endeavoured to give the reader an insight into myself and my purpose for blogging. The incorporation of a gif and YouTube video helps set the tone for the rest of my blog, and establish a target demographic – young readers with an interest in media. I have linked my blog to other social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit, as well as my university projects “Curious Blooms” and “NotSoSloppySeconds.com”. My ambition is to demonstrate to potential employers an online digital portfolio of work that I have curated whilst at University. This design is also accentuated by the use of a simple, readable font and large headings.
Finally, I have maintained a coherent aesthetic with my Twitter feed (see below). This makes my blog more memorable and reinforces my personal “brand”.
2. Content Curation
The key to successful blogging practice is to be yourself, and speak from an authentic voice (Demopoulus, 2006). Throughout each of my posts I have developed a professional, yet relatable voice. Keeping in mind the demographic of my readers, my writing style is casual yet informed, depending on the context. For example in my blog post (here) I have written in first person, but used hyperlinks throughout to link to academic sources, which gives my writing credibility. I have taken care to present an academic voice, knowing that this information could be read by future employers and collaborators, and I don’t want to jeopardise any potential positions (Daly & Haney 2014).
At the same time, however, I have included gifs, memes and YouTube videos to make the information much more readable and interesting for a younger audience. I have also incorporated images into all of my blog posts. Blogging differs from essay writing in this sense, as it is much more of a stylish medium and is important that the reader is engaged visually. (Some examples below):
In other instances, such as (here) I have linked to previous blog posts of my own, if the information is relevant to the current post. As Wolfe argues, “blogs began as a way for technology enthusiasts to share links …with each other” (2014). This means that by linking to other works of mine, I am increasing readership and exposing people to work that I have already created.
3. Publicity and Promotion
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges I have encountered throughout this process is creating an audience and following, as well as increasing the number of views my posts receive. At present, my blog site has received 802 views this year, and there are a number of strategies that I can attribute to this.
Firstly, I have promoted almost every single post through my Twitter feed, including a link to the blog. Wolfe argues that sites such as Twitter are “primarily social in that their main purpose is to connect to people” (2014). However, I have noticed that the main traffic I receive from Twitter is classmates, with not a lot of attention from people outside the course.
To address this, I have made sure to use tags extensively on my blogs, with varying success. Since beginning the use of tags I have noticed an increase of “likes” coming from people who I do not recognise, which indicates readership is extending beyond the members of the UOW course.
Finally, I have made an effort with commenting to create engagement and interaction on my blogs. Responding to and engaging with comments is very important as a blogger, as a way to generate genuine debate and increase credibility (Demopoulus 2006). It allows me to create connections with my followers, which encourages them to continue reading my blogs each week. In the future, I will increase my usage of tagging and responses to comments. I will also work on creating titles which are a bit more ‘catchy’ and interesting, because I believe this is an affective way to further develop my public writing practice and readership.
Demopoulos, T., 2006. What No One Ever Tells You about Blogging and Podcasting : Real-Life Advice from 101 People Who Successfully Leverage the Power of the Blogosphere. 1st ed. Chicago: Kaplan Publishing.
Daly, I & Haney, A., 2014. 53 Interesting Ways to Communicate Your Research. 1st ed. UK: The Professional and Higher Partnership Ltd.
Sauers, M., 2010. Blogging and RSS : A Librarians’ Guide. 1st ed. New Jersey: Information Today Inc..
Wolfe, K., 2014. Blogging : How Our Private Thoughts Went Public. 1st ed. Maryland: Lexington Books.