I was initially reluctant to enrol in an introductory course as a fourth-year student. However, I am glad that I took Publishing 101: Publication of the everyday self because, unlike communications classes, this class has provided me with a more hands-on learning experience. In this class, I was fortunate to learn how to use WordPress and cultivate, distribute, and interact with the public sphere. During my time in pub 101, I was introduced to the world of blogging and discovered how much time and effort goes into creating an online publication. I learned that a blog must consider factors, including branding, content, and user engagement. Furthermore, I had to think of a subject to write about, figure out how to define and engage my audience, and finally, figure out how to interpret my website analytics.
At the beginning of the semester, I crafted a vision board of my ideal personal cyberinfrastructure. This vision board played a crucial role in the creation of my publication. From the start, I knew that I wanted my blog to be about fashion because it is something that I am very passionate about, interested in, and enjoy. In terms of design, I wanted my blog to emulate my personal style. When it came to designing my website, I got inspiration from different mediums. The inspiration that guided my publication came from other fashion blogs I constantly visit, social media influencers I admire and stores where I shop. Throughout the semester, I received a lot of feedback from peers regarding design, content, and marketability. I had lots of fun rearranging my site and adding elements to increase my user engagement. Basu (2020) discusses the idea of digital gardens. My experience with changing my blog relates to the idea of a digital garden because as Basu, states, digital gardens explore a wide variety of topics and are frequently adjusted and changed to show growth and learning, particularly among people with niche interests (para. 3).
Next, I will discuss the audience. A blog’s audience is an essential component. The audience is such a crucial component that there are numerous tools and programmes available to analyze and track website visitors. Knowing how visitors to your website behave can help creators create the best content, post at the right time, and develop appropriate engagement strategies. All of these factors contribute to the overall quality of your blog, which increases engagement. Although my current audience is small, consisting of classmates, friends, and family. When I write my content, I keep my envisioned audience in mind. Ideally, my audience for my blog is anyone who enjoys fashion and enjoys expressing themselves through their clothing and accessories. According to Fraser (1990), the idea of a public sphere is that of a body of ‘private persons’ assembled to discuss matters of common interest (p.58). However, as technology advances, the public sphere has also transitioned online. The Internet and sites such as WordPress provide individuals with an opportunity to be a part of a broader public that was not available before. This class has taught me to embrace popular technologies to build an audience and contribute my thoughts to the broader cultural ethos. In class, we discussed the topic of publics and counter-publics. Boyd (2014) suggests that through social media, individuals build networks of people and information. And as a result, people both participate in and help create networked publics. My site, Javiera Wears What, has allowed me to assemble and interact with people to discuss ideas and disseminate knowledge about mutual interests like fashion. If I could attract a larger audience, their comments and interactions with one another would be enough to create my own public. However, for now, I am content writing about and publishing my perspective around fashion. As Basu (2020) suggests, digital gardens are less about connections and feedback and more about quiet spaces they can call their own. Although in the future I would like to expand my site and make it more than just a hobby, I am content with how much I have grown in the past four months and enjoy this space that I can call my own.
I integrated Google Analytics and Google Adsense for my blog to understand my audience better. Some insights I’ve gained about my audience include the fact that the vast majority of visitors to my site fall into two demographics. The first group is people between the ages of 25 and 34, and the second group is people between the ages of 18 and 24. Something Interesting that I found out is that 54 percent of my audience are males.
Despite the reality that developing my website has been a lot of work and that it still requires some fine-tuning, I am incredibly pleased with the content and design of my blog. In terms of the blog’s future, I intend to keep it growing and adding to it regularly.
Basu, T. (2020, September 03). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/
Boyd, D. (2014) “Searching for a public of their own.” It’s Complicated. pp 213-227. Retrieved from https://www.wattpad.com/203798155-it%27s-complicated-8-searching-for-a-public-of-their
Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text, (25/26), 56-80. doi:10.2307/466240