With this essay, the goal is to think introspectively on our experience as an online publisher, and reflect, really, on all that we’ve learned in PUB 101 this fall.
When I was first contemplating what exactly my publication would be, I had a lot of ideas going through my head, and not all of them were the brightest. Being tasked with building a website from scratch is a very tall order: obviously, you want to pick a topic that is naturally interesting to you, but you also want to build a space where a real audience can develop and foster, gaining something from it.
I decided on a food blog, because not only am I very interested in food, but there is a huge potential audience for food content on the web. As I’ve noted in some of my previous process posts, food has seemingly taken over Facebook and Instagram for a lot of people.
I felt that starting a food blog put me in an advantageous position, since I would be able to tap into a demographic (foodies and regular folk alike) which already existed, and that I wouldn’t have to shift too much to accommodate.
When it came to designing my website, I definitely had a goal in mind to be simplistic and easy reading, because in my opinion, following recipes online is hard enough without having to navigate overly-complex fonts, layouts and spacing. I also wanted to play to my audience, which I imagined would be those who enjoyed aesthetically-pleasing, simple layouts. A lot of my secondary design tweaks came after reading Travis Gertz’s article on “Design Machines” (2015), which was undoubtedly the course reading which I gained the most from this semester. Hearing advice on needing to make your site stand out in a world of unnoticed assimilation was very needed, and helped motivate me to add the splash of unique yellow that my site now has.
When it comes to my public, I must say that I dropped the ball in not promoting my site, or posting enough. My biggest mistakes, in my opinion, were
a) not having a pre-scheduled selection of meals which I’d write about, and
b) focusing on more complex recipes, instead of simple ones which would not only be easier to read, but much simpler and faster to draft up as content posts.
Because of these two mistakes, my postings were definitely not frequent enough, and I lost a huge chance to, in my opinion, make a website that could realistically have a great impact for students and foodies.
Having said that, I feel like if someone were to stumble upon my site at the moment, I would still be able to provide them with a couple of solid recipes, and most importantly, a smile on their face. From day one, I knew that I needed to have some cheeky, funny images to draw readers in, and I fell like Full Plate, Empty Fridge still has the potential to do so.
Looking into the past and into the future in regards to what I’ve learned from PUB 101, I can confidently say that I learned an absolute ton that will help me be not only a better publisher, but a better consumer in the future. When the question “what is publication” was asked in the first lecture we had by Matthew Stadler, my answer would undoubtedly have been something related to “putting out content”, but throughout the entire semester, I’ve become more and more aware of how Stadler is absolutely right in saying that moving from the thought process of “getting from publishing, to publication… the creation of a public” is the most important thing to understand about any online or print platform (Stadler, 2010).
Big, successful brands in every industry, from fast food to fashion, all share a commonality of having created publics, not just content.
Any type of publisher, from a Denny’s P.R guy (yikes) to someone with no more than a dozen Instagram followers, can benefit from this thinking: if you can create a public, you can be successful.
That’s not all that I’ve found useful in PUB 101, however: perhaps the most interesting topic for myself personally was the rise of data tracking and advertising’s shift into highly-personal, tailored ads. Hearing about just how much control companies like Facebook have over what we see has been unsurprising, but very unsettling nevertheless, and pieces like Suzanne’s on Amazon’s deft ability to track you no matter what were interesting and revealing (Noraman, 2015).
I hope to further establish my online presence after the conclusion of this course, and now I have the tools to do so. When it comes to Full Plate: Empty Fridge, I’m hoping to trow up a couple of recipe posts during the winter break and see if it’s something I can realistically continue to do in the future when life gets busy (funnily enough, that’s more or less the tagline of my website). Worst case scenario, I’m definitely going to show it to my friends and family, because not only is it something that I’m really proud of creating, it’s hard proof that yes, I am a publisher.
Gertz, T. (2015). “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. Retrieved from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines
Norman, S. (2015). “Trying not to drop breadcrumbs in Amazon’s store.” Retrieved from: http://publishing.sfu.ca/2016/03/breadcrumbs-of-data/
Stadler, M. (2010). “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. May 21, 2010. Retrieved from: http://vimeo.com/14888791