Being a “Publisher” was something I never thought of, yes, I do have an Instagram account for my country, yes, I have built a small community on Instagram, but still I have never thought I am a publisher. Why? Simply because the word itself in my mind has a bigger image. For me the definition of Publishers was the people who publish articles, book, novels and more. They are people who write in a very creative and complicated way, and I have never perceived myself as one of them. After the first class, I have realized anyone can considered as a publisher. publishing your opinion on Facebook or tweeting it on twitter or describe it through a photo on Instagram is believed to make a you a publisher, of course there are levels, but still there is a chance you can improve and work on your content.
How did I create my publication? Well as simple as it sounds, it all started when I had to create a blog. I have an Instagram account that portraits my country. I wanted to grow more, not only on Instagram specifically, the overall process was not easy, having in mind that what I want to stand for my ideas and share my cyberinfrastructure that I built with “the public sphere”. I had a plan to represent a similar idea that I have on Instagram, but this time adding more words rather than just photos. I planned according to Gardner Campbell’s article when he mentioned that progress is sometimes going back to what you have and bringing the ideas back into a new context. “Gardner Campbell. 2009. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure.”
The website that I build through word press, is called MySyrainblog (ADD LINK). Why? I wanted to give the blog an identity, I want the people who check the blog to directly relate and connect with before browsing it. According to Suler, John in his book Psychology of The Digital Age, He mentioned that cyberspace is place that “ loosens the psychological barriers that block the release of these inner feelings and needs”. I wanted to take advantage of this space to create a sense of belonging for every Syrian disregarding the barriers that exists.
The content, in a crucial world that we live in, when mentioning my country, Syria, most of the public will react in a negative way from what is seen through the media, not saying it is not true, but it is also nice to appreciate the good side of this country. I was tired of listening every day to the chaos and the destruction that is happening in Syria, I believe most of the Syrians feels the same way too, and I wanted to make a change even if it is minimal. My inner drive for trying to change the bad image of my country was very strong. My Syrian Blog is a website that talks about What’s new in Syria, related to newly opened places, concerts, food and where to go in Syria. It is a safe place for every Syrian.
My Imagined Public: my target readers are Syrian people who lives in Syria and would like to know about the updates and events that are coming soon. Also, Syrian people who left Syria because of the war circumstance and would love to stay connected and remember the good side of this wonderful country. I don’t limit my target audience to a specific age range, I want to target all different ages.
Getting to know my real audience : After posting my first blog post “10 photos that prove Syria is one of the most amazing countries in the Middle East or the world ;)” ( ADD LINK), I learned a lot about my real and current audience. I took advantage of my personal social media accounts and shared my first blog post. I also associated @SyriaWeekly as a part of the website and took advantage of Instagram by sharing the blog post for two days in a row as a story and post a photo on the account asking the Instagram audience to show support. After one week, I used Google Analytics to check the audience. I had at first 27 users who check my website since the time I launched it but not advertise it. After posting my first Blog and advertising it on different social media accounts my readers increased to 462!! Yes, I was overwhelmed Having in my mind the audience that I want, the real readers turned out to include people who are from countries I never expected like Philippines, Germany, peru and more. Knowing my audience more helped me in adjusting my posts depending on their behavior and interests.
Not only I got to know who my audience is but I also I got to receive comments from them. I decided to give a try and leave the comment section open for the readers in the first blog. I received four comments, from unknown readers encouraging me to continue writing and sharing on this blog. I was very grateful, after I read those comments, that I was able to make the connection with my readers. Will I keep the comment section? Yes, taking into consideration that not all the comments will be positive and thinking that I should think about the negative comments in a positive way!
Taking into consideration the design of my blog. I have integrated jasmine flowers as a background for my website. Jasmine flowers represent the capital of Syria, Damascus. I followed what Gertz, Travis said in his article “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse”, that we should integer emotions and feeling in the reader to tease them and make them beg for more. Moreover, I have added Arabic words to the tabs that takes the reader to different posts. Also I learned to be consistent with the blog font, colors and scheme. Since design is considered as effective as the content that is on the blog.
Throughout the class, we have learned how to monetize our website through using Google Adsense . I Even though I do not have a product to sell, so why advertise? I learned that what you do is your own personal brand. Since I am sharing my experience to the world at the same time I am building my own persona. So went ahead and downloaded the plugin for google ad sense, and I started checking the ads on my website. Of course, it takes time and effort to start actually gaining money through google AdSense, so my main focus was focusing on my content and I will be thinking about the advertising later on.
I can say that I sincerely enjoyed the journey of this course, where I had the chance to experience my online digital persona. I would definitely keep on blogging, I do believe this is just the beginning for something bigger! I can see that there is a lot of things that I can work on and make my online presence a statement.
Gardner Campbell. 2009. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure.” EDUCAUSE Review 44 (5). http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure
Suler, John. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326.
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