Reflecting, Remembering and Reminiscing – A Blogging Reflection

Reflecting, Remembering and Reminiscing – A Blogging Reflection

“Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.”

– Paulo Coelho

blogging
Image source: Flickr.com

While writing and maintaining a public blog on WordPress has been a great experience for me, it has also been challenging. Even though I’ve been blogging for two years, I’m constantly learning new things, such as how to make my blog more appealing to a wide range of people. There were a number of factors that I took into consideration when developing my public writing practice, which included being aware that I was writing for a public audience, the way I promoted my work, the appearance of my blog and realising that research is an important part of any project.

Writing for a public audience

At the beginning of this task, I was under the impression that my tutor and classmates would be the only people to view my blog, but this assumption soon changed. After attending some lectures and doing a bit of research, I realised that the aim of this project was to learn how to make our writing appealing to the public. From that point forward, I did everything I could, such as sharing my work on social media, to ensure that it reached these people. Finding out that my blog had attracted some Egyptian readers definitely emphasised the fact that I wasn’t just completing a university assignment.

Below is a list of some of the different countries that have viewed my blog. I think I’ve done pretty well considering I’m a journalism student, and this is the second communications subject that I have studied.

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 8.42.21 pmScreen Shot 2015-10-04 at 8.42.35 pm

Because my blog was intended for a public audience, I had to be careful about what I posted. An article by David Siesage touches upon this by explaining that the decisions we make on the Internet are crucial. In today’s society, one of the easiest ways for prospective employers to find information about you is to search for it online. If they found something unprofessional about you, do you think they would be willing to hire you

It’s important to be cautious about the content you write on your blog. Sure, most of my posts are opinion pieces, but that doesn’t mean I should post offensive things. When I was creating a blog post about the ethics of photographing people in public,  I was about to publish a number of photographs that I took of strangers. Their faces were clearly visible, and because I had researched that it’s legal to photograph people in public, I didn’t feel guilty about posting them. However, I decided that posting these photographs might be offensive to some people. This made me realise that just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s ethical. I then censored my photographs so that the strangers’ faces were not visible.

It may seem obvious, but good grammar is also essential. You should always run a spelling and grammar check to make sure that you’re on the right track. From experience, I have discovered that it’s easy to make small errors when you’re trying to get something done quickly, so you must set time aside to proof read your work. I usually ask a friend or relative to check my work because a fresh set of eyes is more likely to pick up on errors.

grammar-meme-some-ecard
Image source: Someecards.com

Promoting my blog

My blog has gained a lot of attention from many different people, and I believe that this is because of the way it has been promoted. It’s currently being followed by 98 people, has 1,091 views and has received 536 visitors.

According to an article by Kimberly Reynolds, it’s important to “give users a compelling reason to click your link.” I took this advice into consideration by coming up with interesting headlines for my blog posts, and then sharing them to my social media accounts. However, the article also says that bloggers should share their work across smaller networks, such as Quora, Tumblr and Empire Avenue. These platforms often have dedicated and smaller audiences that offer less competition for attention. I wasn’t sharing my work on these platforms at the beginning of the semester, but after doing some research on ways to attract viewers, I asked a friend to share my work on their Tumblr account. I think that this was an effective method, as my WordPress statistics almost doubled after that.

I discovered that Twitter was the most efficient platform to promote my blog. It enabled me to use hashtags, which allowed other people who were interested in what I was blogging about to actively seek out my work. Using hashtags also helped me to connect with teachers and other students, who inspired me to write efficiently. I found it helpful to receive feedback from these people, especially my tutor, Travis Holland.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 4.41.09 pm

I made use of hashtags on my WordPress account for the same reason. This worked particularly well, especially for my post about photographing strangers in public spaces. I managed to attract a lot of people who were interested in photography, as I promoted it as a photography piece. This article got more likes and comments than any of my other WordPress blog posts, and it also managed to get a mention in a fellow student’s blog post.

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Source: https://laurzanatta94.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/youre-funny-looking-takes-photo/

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The appearance of my blog

A few months ago, the layout of my WordPress blog was different. I liked it, but unfortunately nobody else did. After learning that it was supposed to be appealing to the general public, I decided to take their opinions into account. I then chose a layout that wasn’t outdated and that was visually appealing. After all, as Marie Asselin eloquently put it in her tips for creating an effective blog layout:

“Everybody loves discovering great content, but who likes stumbling around a clumsy design that makes it hard to access said content?”

I also incorporated some widgets, such as my Twitter feed, a search bar, an ‘about me’ page, a subject drop box, blog statistics and a list of the blogs that I follow. These things made my blog seem less cluttered, and they made way for a blog that was easy to navigate. I have had previous experience using WordPress, so I found this process simple and quick.

Having visually appealing images that are relevant to your work is also an efficient blogging practice. As this article stresses, “a picture speaks a thousand words, and when it comes to your content, that cannot be truer if your image is relevant.”

Image source: Flickr.com
Image source: Flickr.com

Research is important

Gone are the days when I jumped straight into writing blog posts without doing research, as I have learnt that it’s important to spend about 40 minutes researching and preparing your work prior to starting it. It’s essential that you figure out what you want to write about, and then search for strong evidence to support your arguments. You should make use of subject readings, but it’s more important that you source your own research. You need to demonstrate that you have your own ideas, and that you have the ability to find effective resources.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 4.47.52 pm
Image source: https://twitter.com/buffer/status/646218891727929344

When comparing two of my blog posts, it’s evident that my post about whether the cinematic experience is changing is a better research piece than my earlier post about collaborative ethnographic research. My cinematic post made use of more academic resources, such as statistics, and by that time I had learnt how to better articulate my arguments alongside my research.

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Image source: PopResults.com

Basically, blogging can be fun, but it can also be difficult. By catering my writing towards a public audience, promoting my work, making my WordPress blog look visually appealing and undertaking a variety of research, I hope that I have managed to maintain an effective public blog. I made many mistakes, but by learning how to overcome these mistakes, I have become a more efficient writer. 

Below is a video that details some of the top blogging mistakes. I find it both relatable and helpful, so I hope that you do too.

References

Arts Law Centre of Australia, ‘Street photographer’s rights’, Arts Law Centre of Australia website, viewed 5 October 2015,
http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/street-photographers-rights/

Asselin, M 2014, ‘The five most important elements of a blog layout’, Food Bloggers of Canada, viewed 4 October 2015,
http://www.foodbloggersofcanada.com/2014/06/the-five-most-important-elements-of-a-blog-layout/

BrainyQuote, ‘Writing quotes’, BrainyQuote website, viewed 4 October 2015,
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/writing.html

Buffer. 2015. How to write a blog post: a full breakdown of what we do buff.ly/1MvHV7k[Twitter]. 22 September. Available from: https://twitter.com/buffer/status/646218891727929344 [Accessed: 4 October 2015].

First Web Designer, ‘Why images are important for blog posts and content’, First Web Designer website, viewed 5 October 2015,
http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/why-images-are-important-for-blog-posts/ 

Henry, A 2012, ‘How to clean up your online presence and make a great first impression’, Life Hacker website, viewed 4 October 2015,
http://lifehacker.com/5963864/how-to-clean-up-your-online-presence-and-make-a-great-first-impression

Meghan, n.d., ’10 writing tips for bloggers’, Hongkiat website, viewed 5 October 2015,
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/blog-writing-tips/

Michael Hyatt YouTube Channel 2013, Top blogging mistakes – platform tip #3 – Michael Hyatt, online video, viewed 5 October 2015,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSqK8gyXZDI 

Reynolds, K 2013, ‘5 creative ways to drive more traffic to your blog posts’, Social Media Examiner website, viewed 4 October 2015,
http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/5-creative-ways-to-drive-more-traffic-to-your-blog-posts/

Siesage, D 2013, ‘The internet never forgets, so be careful what you put on it’, Independent website, viewed 4 October 2015,
http://www.independent.co.uk/student/istudents/the-internet-never-forgets-so-be-careful-what-you-put-on-it-8787706.html

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