The Life of Pip: An Analysis of PUB 101
Over the past semester, I have learned so much about the blog sphere, from content creation to audience development, and in doing so, I have gained an appreciation and interest in blogging as well. It has been quite a fun learning experience, with informative lectures and in-depth tutorials. Incorporating guest lecturers with experience in publishing was a great asset to the course because it took us students one step further, rather than relying simply on experience. Hearing their experiences regarding Google Analytics, advertising, typefaces and design was very helpful when developing my own blog.
The First Step in the Creative Process
Deciding a topic to focus on for the entirety of the blog and course was not all that difficult for me. I knew immediately that I was going to incorporate Pippen, my four-year-old Golden Retriever, as I usually do with school assignments. He is by far, the most fascinating being in my life, which makes writing about him even easier. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to incorporate Pippen in some way because the content was already there, it just needed to be fleshed out.
Registering domains in the first week of class was very helpful because it gave me a strong sense of freedom over what content I was about to post. Having one’s own domain gives the user more say over their public profile and digital identity. They have more control over how their website looks and what they share publicly (Watters, 2015). It allowed me to take more time and consideration to brainstorm ideas about what I wanted my website to be about and to put thought into the name because it is, in some ways, the first impression that the consumer has with the blog.
Theme and Audience
The Life of Pip is meant to document the daily adventures of Pippen, his nightly walks, and the ultimate joy that he brings into my life. During one of the earlier process post activities, I laid out the website through the vision board activity. This helped quite a lot because it made it easier for me to visualize my ideas and thoughts about my blog, like having a page for the gallery of pictures and another for my stories of Pippen when he first came into our lives.
In addition, I wanted to make sure that the blog was lighthearted, because for me it was about letting loose of all the daily struggles of life and reading these adorable stories about a big fluffy energetic dog. The best way for me to do this was to change the post category titles like, “Pictures,” and “Pub 101,” to “Piptures,” and “Pip 101,” which I was actually advised by your son. After all, the blog was being targeted to animal lovers.
For me, it was not about looking smart or making a point to seem intellectual, it was focused on bringing the readers into Pippen’s daily life. It was for the animal-loving readers who do not have animals to hear the experiences of someone who does or for those who already have or had pets before and wanted to hear of experiences of someone with a crazily energetic dog. I did not want to target a certain age group because being an animal lover has no age restrictions. There was also no target gender either, as being an animal lover has no gender restrictions. Now that I think about it, being an animal lover has no restrictions at all.
According to Habermas (Fraser, 1990, p. 58), the public sphere is made up of people who would meet up to discuss their common interests. The imagined public of The Life of Pip are the animal-lovers and owners who got their first pets later on in their teenage years and earlier on in their adulthood, similar to myself. In my opinion, these types of readers are likely to resonate most with my content because of the possible similarity in our experiences, like the keeping up with school and managing the responsibilities of an adult, also known as “adulting.”
The real audience of my blog are those in my social network or in the social networks of people I know, who may have heard from my friends and family about the blog. They could potentially be reading my posts on the basis of supporting my endeavors, or even just reading up on some funny stuff regarding animals.
Addressing the Audience
I address my audience through my easily understandable and enthusiastic vocabulary and phrases, as well as the content, editorial layout of the featured images and posts, and the overall design of the website, like the color scheme and widget and view configurations. The overall use of easier words and chronological arrangement of the sentences makes for the story to be better understood and perceived.
Content development is not all that easy and it requires a lot of copyediting work in addition to the layout and design (Gertz, 2015). Prior to entering the blogging sphere, I thought that blogging was very easy because of how the media portrays it. It is made to look as if there is no editing and that it is straight from the mind to the page rather than all of the other key components like the integrated media, the layout ideas and the overall editing process.
When it came to developing the look of my website, I made sure that the editorial layout was minimal but impactful because as a reader, I don’t like seeing too much on the screen. By this, I mean that I did not want the pages to be cluttered with content but I also did not want for the sidebars to be empty. Throughout this entire process, I have used my own experiences as a reader to guide my website development because in addition to listening to the guest lecturers like Mauve Page, I also understand how the reader, consumer, and viewer feels because I am one myself when I choose to go on the web.
My blog gives users and readers insight into what me and my family experience with Pippen. In writing and editing this blog, I feel that I am helping other dog owners who may also be experiencing the same things. I also think that I am giving my readers the value of respect and responsibility because I talk about my own struggles with my brothers and the division of responsibilities. To me, it is a bout understanding each other’s feelings too, to ultimately view the experience from everyone’s perspective.
Observing Google Analytics was a turning point for me in the course because I started to realize the importance of spreading the word about my blog especially considering how much time I have put into the content, layout, and design. I started spreading the word more and not just through text like before. It provides so much feedback regarding my audience like their location, the times at which they viewed my blog and for how long they viewed it. I found that Google Analytics proved to be such a useful tool for my blogging experience because it did all the talking for my audience so they didn’t have to.
Reflecting on the Course
Prior to this course, I thought that content creators were not deserving of a pay because they were not really doing much. However, I was very surprised because I began to see how hard they must work when they are blogging because there are so many factors in the process like editing, creating original content, remixing content, maintaining the layout, reaching out to your readers, and much more. Nonetheless, managing this cycle of work is very difficult because many of the factors depend on each other to work successfully.
Building a personal cyberinfrastructure allows users to develop a sense of self and identity throughout the digital age (Campbell, 2009). Creating my blog, posting original content and designing the layout gave me a sense of personal identity in the digital sphere. I was able to express my thoughts and feelings through this personal cyberinfrastructure that I had worked so hard to build.
I also realized how hard is to flesh out content because you have to take your overall idea and go full steam ahead. While doing the process posts, it became easier for me to understand what my blog was about, who it was intended for, my goals, and the process by which I was going to achieve them.
Goals for the Future
I hope that once my blog has more content and has a more fleshed out design and layout, that it attracts a larger audience outside of my social network. Currently, all of my readers are apart of my social network, whether they are friends, family, or co-workers. I want to expand from my network to a group of readers who are more interested in the content and not me or my interests. I want for the content to speak for itself and for the readers to keep coming back to read about Pippen.
Also, I want to work harder to make the layout more robust and better designed because I am still not fully satisfied with it at this point. This course has been a split between design and content for me, as I have spent each week working on perfecting both to the best of my ability. Although I feel that my content posting has gotten really better, I still think that the design of my website could still use some work. I edited each of the featured pictures for my original posts on Photoshop so that they all have a paw print in the bottom left corner and a frame inside the border. By doing so, I feel that I was able to add a sense of originality to the design, one that my audience could pick up on.
Once this course has ended, my primary goal is to continue posting at least once a week because this course has taught me that by sticking to a routine, I find that I keep myself in check and do not become lazy. By sticking to a weekly posting routine, I can guarantee that there is always new content on my blog, which is likely to appease my audience. The freshness of content will assure my readers that I am attentive to their needs and that whenever they check my website, there is always at least one new post.
Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review,44(5), 58-59. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure.
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
Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). Design Machines: How to Survive in the Digital Apocalypse. Retrieved from Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need to Give to Students. Retrieved from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x
Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech,88(4), 413-425. Retrieved from http://knowledgepublic.pbworks.com/f/warnerPubCounterP.pdf
Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need to Give to Students. Retrieved from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x