Before knowing the “transmedia”, I was already critically aware of the importance of having not just a cohesive online brand, but one that cross-promoted itself. Before starting djalexrose.com (and still now), Instagram was my primary social media platform. I had always promoted my Soundcloud using the business website function and by posting previews of songs, however, now the connection is deeper. My Instagram and Snapchats focus primarily on “story” function engagement with polls, event promotions, and exclusive media.
My Facebook and Twitter are both quite neglected, being automated to post content whenever I upload to Youtube and Soundcloud. I’ve heard from colleagues that Facebook has a much stronger ROI on advertisements than Instagram (which I recently tried) so I’ll be investing more into that platform soon. As of now, neither one has exclusive content.
Soundcloud has shifted to have only my best musical content. From originals to bootlegs to remixes, Soundcloud houses all the tracks that make it Spotify and ones that can’t clear copyright but are still strong releases. It also includes links to all my other social media platforms.
Youtube is the king of my content strategy. It’s home to weekly vlogs, 30-80 minute mixes, exclusive mashups, and much more. As you can see, djalexrose.com remains a focal point being included in my banner.
The final service I’ll mention is ArtistUnion, a download-gate service that exchanges downloads of your music for specified actions. In my case, I require my audience follows my Soundcloud and like and reposts the song they wish to download.
Self-branding and online identities have become a common topic in everyday conversations in recent years, especially with the omnipresence of popular social media sites like Instagram. Despite this topic even being a common theme over the course of my Communications degree, I had never honestly considered the benefits that I myself could have by constructing a strong online brand in this digital age. “Many people think that personal branding is just for celebrities such as Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, yet each and every one of us is a brand. Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others” (Schawbel, 2009). Publishing 101 served as a strong pedagogical narrative by which I learned not only about the changes in the world of publishing, but also about the ways in which we can now publish ourselves, and the benefits (or even downfalls, when done incorrectly) that may arise from these online publications. Throughout the course of this essay, I will first address the ways in which this course has shifted the way in which I think about publishing, and further, how these new ways of publishing have worked their way into my online presence over the course of this semester. Following this, I intend to specifically address my online self and publication, not only referencing my blog but also my social media platforms. Lastly, I acknowledge my goals going forward, including what I aim to take with me beyond the confines of this course.
It would be erroneous to claim that I hadn’t considered online works to count as publishing prior to the start of this semester. Of course, tangible books are the obvious thing that comes to mind when someone mentions “publishing,” but it goes far beyond that. Having said this, I didn’t the extent of which publishing expanded to. Publishing is not only online works and articles as well as tangible books; it is further embodied by anything that gets put out to the public, including social media posts and – of course – blogs. “Publishing” is has many definitions, but has come to be best defined as “the dissemination of literature, music, or information—the activity of making information available to the general public” (Wikipedia). While Wikipedia is generally not the best source for correct information, other acclaimed dictionaries are still stuck in the ways of defining publishing as being limited to formal publications that are for sale, which we have come to know is simply not the case.
As mentioned above, publishing encompasses any online works that we “publish” or make available to the public, including any blog posts or social media posts. As Alive Marwick states, “the logic of marketing and advertising embedded in social software has infiltrated the ways in which we relate to ourselves and to others,” and that we “[use] social media as a neoliberal technology of subjectivity that produces social status as the ultimate commodity” (Marwick, 2013). In other words, we live in a world where we have technologies at our fingertips that allow us to market ourselves, our products, and how we ultimately wish others to view us. Throughout the course, we learned of how wide the span of publishing is now, and how we can use these new technologies tour advantage. Though I am nowhere near the status of being a “micro-celebrity” or Instagram celebrity (nor do I aim to be), I can now recognize that our online presence can be extremely useful one way or another. Even if you’re not trying to become famous in one way or another, marketing yourself as a brand online can be a valiant tool in this digital age.
With regards to both my social media presence as well as my blog, I found the focus throughout the semester on the importance of identifying an audience and a brand to be largely advantageous. In the early weeks of the semester, I decided my blog was going to be a foodie blog which what chronicle my adventures to various restaurants around Metro Vancouver and write about my experiences. Identifying my audience, I learned, was one of the first major steps I had to take. In a process post I wrote, I identified my intended target audience to be foodies in the Vancouver area. I added that I don’t necessarily imagine there to be a specific age demographic, but likely people out of high school, perhaps young adults in general. This is mainly because high school students may not be interested in food blogs, cooking, and so forth, and may not have the means to go to far-out restaurants. In “Publics and Counterpublics” (2002), Michael Warner addresses that if you are reading his essay, “you are part of its public.” Warner goes on to say that there is a difference between thepublic and apublic (Warner, 2002). Warner describes the public as a ‘totality’: an all-inclusive description of the general amount of people, whereas a public is more specific, like an audience. Therefore, the people frequenting my blog would be a specific public or audience, likely visiting to check out restaurants they may be interested in.
It is important to recognize your audience and public in order to market it to those specific people and thus further your success and your clout. “Any technology gradually creates a totally new human environment. Environments are not passive wrappings but active processes” (Campbell, 2009); each platform or domain may have a different audience and environment, and must me marketed as such. How I market and design my online self and presence on my Instagram page differs in the way in which I design my blog, as I have identified different audiences for the two. My personal Instagram features more artistic photos of self-exploitation, encompassing the best parts of my ‘self.’ Conversely, my blog markets itself to my (assumingly) foodie audience, and thus my posts tempt to embody food, Vancouver culture, and often an attempted humor. Furthermore, more online publications look to provide a service to their audience in one way or another. Ensuring that the basic service functions of one’s website or publication is an important element to consider because your audience will likely not return if they aren’t able to find what they are looking for. As I briefly touched on in the previous paragraph, my blog seeks to satisfy the service of reviewing restaurants (as well as local food and beverage in general) in the Greater Vancouver area.
Through an immense and tedious 10-week-long trial and error process, I finally settled on a simplistic layout, removing the (apparently) tacky carousel-style photos on my home page. Gone with this was all of the numerous background images I tested out that just didn’t work. I created a logo that I felt embodied my blog in a clean and crisp way, keeping in mind the design elements that our guest speaker Mauve Pagé taught us at the start of the semester. I attempted to link colours together by bringing the gold found in the logo into other elements of the pages, such as titles and links. Travis Gertz had an interesting take on design elements and layout as well in his work, “Design Machines: How to survive in the digital apocalypse” (2015). Gertz’s main argument is based on the premise that all websites have started to look the same in an attempt to “look sexy” and appeal to the masses, but by appealing to the masses many actually become lost among the massesof other sites (2015). Unfortunately, I found it difficult to break free of most of the stereotypical constraints of which Gertz spoke about due to the confines of this course, being both the short timeframe as well as the resources made available to us. Nevertheless, these are useful pieces of information to consider when we inevitably use online mediums in our future professional lives.
In summation, these four months have shaped the way in which I view publishing. Although I understood publishing to go beyond physical books, I didn’t understand the broad span that the term encompassed. Not only is it books and online articles, but also virtually anything that disseminates products and information to the general public. This includes social media presence as well as forum posts and, of course, blogging. Through the combination of the creation of my food blog with various guest speakers, tutorials, and online readings over the last 12 weeks, I have learned that identifying an audience and marketing yourself is a useful tool at any level of this digital world be live in. Despite my blog not gaining a large enough following to truly be able to use applications like Google Analytics or AdSense to my advantage, I can now realize these as important tools that help to compliment ones persona and identify important information. Going forward, I can confidently say that although I may not become a blogger, I have gained important and useful tools to brand myself, whatever that ‘self’ may be.
Campbell, W. G. (2009). A Personal Cyber Infrastructure. New Horizons, 44(5), p. 58-59
Gertz, Travis. (2015). “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” Louder Than 10.Retrieved on 12 April 2018 from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines
Marwick, A. (2013). Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age. Canadian Journal of Communication, 40(1), p. 143-146.
Let’s start off with my User Overview. We will look at my data since the website’s inception in January, including February 20 – March 10th whose data was lost due to a tracking code issue. My traffic is relatively low and consistent. According to 21 Handshake, my type of site has an average bounce rate of 70-90%. Compared to this benchmark, my bounce rate is very good at 38.44%, however, my low amount of users makes most of my analytics insubstantial. The biggest thing I’ve taken from this section is to remove my Youtube videos from my site as session durations are too short for them to be relevant.
Next up: some technology-related data. Most of my users are in the Apple ecosystem and use Google Chrome like myself. Not much to say here other than I may consider implementing an Apple Music widget as well, seeing as my music is hosted there as well as Spotify.
Now for geography. The website follows my Instagram and Soundcloud analytics in that I am predominantly popular in the United States and Canada. Interestingly, the website maintains my popularity from Spotify which is concentrated in Latin America, especially Chile and Brazil. This is most likely due to name confusion with Latin artist Alex Rose (the reason my name is spelt “alex rose”).
How about discovery? Well, there’s a pretty even split between Direct, Social, and Referral here. Most of my social traffic comes from Instagram (my primary social media for engaging my audience) and I’ve also seen a lot of traffic from my peers’ websites referring users to me. I should continue focusing on my Instagram as a traffic source and expand my collaboration to ensure more referrals. Finally, I plan to improve my SEO to see my organic search improve.
Finally, pageviews broke down by page. No surprise that my homepage would have the most traffic. It’s also comforting to see that my shows page, where my audience can purchase tickets and RSVP to events, is second most popular. Shows are a growing form of revenue for me so this is a welcome insight. Unfortunately, my blog doesn’t appear to get much attention. Most of my blog content can be found directly on my Youtube, but moving forward I plan to have exclusive blog content focused on SEO friendly tutorial content.
The first four months of 2018 have felt like the fastest of my life. At the crossroads of doors opened and closed, I’ve developed a digital home for myself to chronical what has begun to feel like the legitimate fruition of my creative pursuits. To say I’ve learned a lot about myself, my industry, my art, and my brand is an understatement. I want to focus the many learnings I’ve had into the 5 most important. Some of these I knew in a different context but had to realize they still applied, some were taught to me by mentors, and some I learned over the coals. Regardless, they continue to inform my decisions about this website and my digital presence overall.
Unfortunately, none of us come out of the womb knowing how to use Adobe Premier, how to produce in FL Studio, or how to design a website. Thankfully we live in possibly the best time to learn ever. Companies like Skillshare, Khan Academy, Lynda.com, and many more have been built with the sole intention of educating people and developing their hard-skills, with the World Economic Forum estimating the e-learning market was worth an enormous $166.5 billion in 2015. The best part? If these services aren’t the content for free, someone on Youtube is.
Here is a short list of hard-skills I’ve become proficient in mostly from video tutorials and with no formal training: DJing (both on controllers and on CDJs), music production (primarily in FL Studio), playing the guitar, Photoshop, Premiere, Salesforce, and so on.
I’ve seen far too many of my peers roll over and die at the discovery of their own ignorance or incompetence. News flash: success doesn’t come from your genes or luck, it comes from closing your Netflix tab and spending that time learning deliberately.
Build a home
I had some initial scepticism about the costs and benefits of creating a website for my brand. As a musical artist, my priority should be directing the public to my Spotify as my main revenue stream and putting clicks in between discovering me and listening to my music could lose potential listeners. I’ve learned very quickly however that this potential cost is vastly outweighed by having my own domain, my own home on the internet.
Magnetic Magazine puts it best in saying “one of the biggest advantages of running a website is that the artist has full control over it”. Unlike social media platforms like Instagram where I am at the whim of the algorithm about whether or not my tribe even see my content, every piece of content on this website is created and designed by myself. I can experiment and change as much or as little as want at any speed. The agility and freedom of having a website has allowed for me to engage my tribe how I see best.
The other huge benefit to having a website is the consolidation of the many platforms I use. Instead of linking people my Spotify, Soundcloud, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on, I can just tell them to come here. It’s fantastic. Especially as I learned to integrate widgets throughout the site instead of hyperlinks, djalexrose.com became the easiest way to follow me on Spotify, subscribe to my Youtube, and much more. My blog and media pages are also filled with relevant content that is well organized, meaning my tribe can explore the site and find value throughout.
You are not your audience
Many creatives say that they make their art for themselves and that their desired audience is “people like me”. While the response may come from a place of wanted to seem authentic and empathetic, it can’t be true. If it were, any content you produce would have 0 value to the audience as they’ve already thought of, known, or seen it. It’s possible to have a past version of yourself as an intended audience, but to say you are your audience is a failure to understand your own potential and the variety of interests people have.
Take me for example. I am, as of writing this, a 21-year-old male from a major North American city who produces bass-heavy / ghetto house music at an intermediate level, DJs multiple genres at clubs downtown, is classically trained in music theory, and a vocalist. If I only targeted myself as my audience I would miss a lot of opportunities. For example, my experience as a classically trained musician who is literate in music theory is unique in the dance music production industry, meaning I can teach those who do not have my level of theory. Being a vocalist means I can attract other vocalists from outside of the dance music world. If I only focused on my own age range I would miss a huge potential audience of teenagers who consume dance music. Finally, as an intermediate producer, I can’t teach other intermediate producers but I can teach novice producers techniques I find valuable.
Your target audience should be value-aligned to your brand, meaning that they can extract value from your content, but that target is far larger than you as an individual. Accepting this fact does not come at the cost of authenticity, in fact, it amplifies it by making you seem inviting and accessible to the public.
Make it easy
After 4 years of a Communications degree, my writing and speech heirs more on the side of quantity over brevity. My tendency towards purple prose is still noticeable in my writing which is a huge problem when communicating with a general audience. Thankfully, the medium of a blog incentivizes concise content over the 3000-word research papers of my university faculty.
When it comes to creating content for my audience, I always keep in mind that I target beginner producers and dance music fans who have little-to-no technical knowledge. This manifests in my content in a couple key ways. First I try to never have videos go over 10 minutes to make sure my tutorials are focused and streamlined. Second, in editing I simplify sentences as much as possible. The more density of meaning and the less repetition the better.
This philosophy even impacts my UX design. Compared to other DJs, my website is very minimalist and visually simple. Take a look at Dutch superstar DJ Hardwell’s website. It is so cluttered with carousels and text boxes it leaves me nauseous. Of course, this is due to the challenges of being world famous and having multiple music labels to promote, but for an artist who is always so cutting edge, his website is surprisingly unfriendly. I try to do the opposite of Hardwell with my website. I am okay with having more than 2 pages for the sack of accessible and we as designers should always have the user’s ease in mind.
Don’t keep secrets
The world of music production like any art is prone to copy-cat’ing. Once Tchami and Oliver Heldens combined the worlds of deep house and mainstage electro to invent the genre of future house, Youtube exploded with tutorials on how to make their bass synth patches and percussion patterns. The same would happen with future bass, future bounce, and now Confession-style ghetto house. Because of this, most producers are reserved about sharing their techniques out of fear of being copied.
I believe that an artists sound goes beyond just the bass they use (see Tchami’s evolving style from 2014-2018) or the shaker they prefer. Videos titled “How to make music like _” or “How to sound like _” equip developing artists with new tools to add to their arsenal in developing their unique sound. Personally, learning to make percussion like Oliver Heldens, kick patterns like RICCI, basses like Tchami and Malaa, and melodies like Martin Garrix have allowed me to craft my own sound in my productions like Drank.
Sharing my techniques with other only works in my favour creating a stylistic movement behind my music. If someone produces a track similar to Drank, others will say “hey that sounds like Drank! I like it!” and both myself and the other artist benefit.
There you have it, my top 5 learnings from developing a website for my artist brand. I expect to continue learning more as this site and my career progress, but I’m extremely happy with where its come in such a short time. If you’re a returning reader, thanks for sticking with me, and if you’re new, welcome to djalexrose.com.
Online comments are a bit of a double-edged sword – they can facilitate meaningful dialogue but they can also attract obscene and harmful content. According to Konnikova (2013), comments sections can produce a diffusion of responsibility because individuals feel less accountable for their own comments and thus, are more likely to engage in amoral behaviour. In order to combat this amoral and potentially harmful behaviour, it is imperative to establish a set of guidelines on what is appropriate vs. what is not appropriate.
In addition to this post, I think that I will implement my community guidelines under my About page or under a page where they can be easily found. In order for users to be aware of what constitutes an inappropriate comment, it is important that they first find, read, and understand my community guidelines. Therefore, it is imperative for my guidelines to be on a page that is easy to find.
The core values of Jkallu.com are sync with those of Book Riot. Jkallu.com values social justice, feminism, and inclusivity. Therefore, I have developed the following community guidelines for this website:
The following comments may be removed:
Comments that harass, abuse, insult, or discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, race, age, national origin, and/or disability
Comments that contain any computer virus or other malware
Comments that are threatening, defamatory, pornographic, or violate any party’s intellectual property
Comments that are posted for any obscene or immoral purpose
The following community guidelines for Shaponders are set in place to protect the Pondering community. Comments will be monitored before they are approved by myself. Any inappropriate comments will be deleted and the commenter will be blocked immediately. Non relevant comments will also not be approved in order for discussions to remain on topic and relevant. This website is a safe space for my audience to interact with me, my content and with those of similar interest. I encourage you to converse amongst yourselves in the comments section so that we can build a strong community.
Do not post abusive or discriminatory comments.
Do not promote anything in the comments sections.
Do not argue with others in the comments. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
No name calling or attacking in the comments section.
No hate will be tolerated in the comments section.
Violating any of these community guidelines will result in the violator being blocked from this website.
Prior to this spring semester at SFU, I had only experienced the surface of online publishing. I’ve made posts on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter but I’ve never been so involved and dedicated into creating my own personal cyberinfrastructure. Throughout these weeks of taking PUB 101, I’ve gained valuable experience in developing my online self, curating content for my imagined audience, and cultivating my creative side. In addition, I have acquired some useful technical skills by working on my blog.
I didn’t have to think too long about what type of blog I wanted to develop. I’ve always had an interest in reading lifestyle magazines, watching lifestyle vloggers, and following lifestyle influencers on Instagram. Thus, I created a lifestyle blog, but I wanted it to cater to my lifestyle and my online self. So I decided that I wanted my blog style to be very simple. My blog contains content surrounding fashion, beauty, fitness, and everything lifestyle. I thought that it would be perfect for general women in their 20s or 30s who live a normal, simple and modern life. This was the audience I imagined, and I felt that my style of blog can be relatable to my targeted demographic.
Keeping my imagined audience in mind, it has influenced many decisions I’ve made for my blog. For example, I put in a lot of effort into making my blog look pretty, simple and clean. This is because my targeted demographic is mainly females, thus much of the aspects of my blog is feminine. I think “about how [I] should treat each piece of content, designing to reflect its subtle personality. The content should speak to the few people who can identify with this personality because this is the only audience that matters.” (Gertz, 2015) I’ve maintained a simple and feminine theme throughout my blog by making my colour scheme white and coral. Also, my font is either cursive or light and simple. I target my content to audiences who appreciate aesthetics and are looking for content that lightens up their lifestyle. I cater to this by posting about fashion and makeup tips for example. Furthermore, I include a lot of relevant and quality images in my posts to capture my viewers attention.
Google Analytics has been a helpful tool in my journey as an online publisher. It really helped to see if my content is appealing to my targeted group of people. I discovered through looking at the statistics provided by Google Analytics that a majority of my audience were females. From seeing this statistic, I believed that I was successful in creating content that appealed to my imagined audience. Also, I saw through Google Analytics that many of my viewers visited my blog through Instagram. Therefore, I have been continuing to work on and integrate Instagram more into my blog. I have also been working on writing better keywords for my blog in order to attract more users through organic searches. By gathering and analyzing this information, I was able to better cater my content to my intended audience which helped me market my blog.
Thus far, I have only gather a few comments from my fellow classmates which I am grateful for. I found it challenging to successfully engage my audience and I hope that my content will attract more comments in the future. I believe engagement with my audience can inspire and encourage me to continue creating and improving my online content. Audience engagement is one of the areas I wish to improve on for my blog in the future. “It allows you to use online marketing to its full potential and purpose in order to build stronger relationships with your audience as well as grow your brand loyalty and presence online.” (Henwood, n.d.)
At the beginning of the course, I though publication was simply the act of putting content out for the public to see. I soon learned that it was a lot more intricate than that. I’ve never though about my online self, my online presence, or my online audience until this course. Publication involves “how we carefully craft the way we appear, the way we behave, and, as a result, the way we are perceived by others.” (J Max, 2015) I’ve learned to develop my online self and create quality content to effectively attract an imagined audience. After gaining experience as an online publisher, I’ve gained respect for other online publishers. I discovered that developing a cyber infrastructure demanded a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, it is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. I learned a lot of technical skills during this journey. For example, I improved my Photoshop skills and learned more about Google Analytics. At first, it was daunting to have so much freedom and lack of structure to the instructions for this course. In the end, I was grateful for having a creative outlet where my innovation wasn’t stifled. |Fascinating and important innovations would emerge as students are able to shape their own cognition, learning, expression, and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium.” (Watters, 2015) I’ve really enjoyed developing my blog this semester and I plan on continuing to blog past the end of this course.
This semester PUB101 focused on students creating their own spaces online. The publication that we were required to create was a blog. I created my blog www.shaponders.com, which was quite exciting as I got to choose exactly what direction I wanted my blog to go in. This began with the freedom to select the name for my blog and then designing the entire structure, including the theme, the fonts, the layout and so on. For the content, I had to put out weekly posts for my blog that were for my specific audience, weekly process posts, three peer reviews and two essays.
My weekly posts for my imagined audience gave me the most amount of freedom to express myself and shape my blog in the direction I wanted it to go. My imagined audience was originally international college and university students, however I have now gone in the direction of creating content for college and university students in Vancouver between the ages of 18-25. I have chosen to go in this direction because after looking at my audience demographic on Google analytics, I have come to realize that most of my audience is based in Canada, with a few individuals around the world, in places such as the UK and India viewing my blog.
To cater to my audience based in Canada, I focus on publishing blog posts reviewing restaurants and café’s that I visit and I think will be of interest to individuals around my age – who are of the demographic I am catering to. I also post about my current interests such as the shows I am watching on Netflix and quotes that motivate me. Although these posts are personal, they are relatable to individuals of my age range because they too are watching similar shows or may have similar interests as myself and this is how we can find common ground. New discussions can be formed around these topics, as they are both current and relevant. I try to create content that is not too personal, as I want to keep my privacy.
When I first created my blog, I was hesitant to use my name. I did not want to attach myself to the content I wanted to originally create, however I realized that using my name would allow my audience to be able to relate to me better and make my blog appear more personal. According to the article ‘Searching for a public of their own‘ by Boyd (n.d), it appears as though individuals choose to be more public online because they want to become a part of a larger public group. They want to find individuals who share similar interests as themselves and interact with them. This relates to what I have been trying to do with my blog. I too am trying to interact with individuals who share the same interests as myself.
I have received a few relevant comments on blog, however not as many as I had expected to receive. I received a relevant comment on my ‘Must Watch On Netflix’ blog post last week, where the commenter was interested in taking a look at a TV show I recommended and also recommended something for me to watch. This was a very constructive comment, which goes to show that my post was relevant to someone. When replying to the few comments that I received on recent blog posts, I have had a difficult time trying to figure out what I should say. Usually when I produce work for my courses or submit assignments, I am accustomed to receiving feedback and a grade. I do not have to continue discussing the topic with my marker, and therefore I have to take some time to think about what I should say in response to the comment. I believe that over time I will take less time when responding to comments. Also, responding to comments in a timely manner will make my readers feel as though I am engaged with my content and interested in making connections with them.
The design for my publication that I have selected is that I am going for a clean layout. I want there to be white spaces so that my audience do not have a hard time navigating through each post. The posts on my blog appear as they do on Instagram, in little boxes. I believe that this layout gives my blog a very current and on trend feel, which is exactly what I want it to have. It also allows my audience the ease of being able to quickly glimpse over the images and see what strikes their interest. According to the PEW Research Centre, an article titled ‘Social Media Use in 2018‘, 71% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 use Instagram (Smith & Anderson, 2018). This suggests that this age group are likely to be drawn to a website that looks familiar to a social media platform they use on a daily basis.
Looking back, I now understand that a publication is anything that is posted for others to access. My blog is a publication; my social media content are also publications. Before taking this course, I thought that blogs were being phased out as individuals prefer visual content over having to go to a website and read content. I learned that I can make blog posts more visual too, such as by using gifs instead of making my posts text heavy. I created a blog post ‘5 Things Only International Students Can Relate To’ using gifs and a minimal amount of words. I found this extremely fun to create and I loved how the post turned out.
At the beginning of the semester, one of the required weekly readings, ‘The Web We Need to Give Students‘ made me realize the importance of publishing my work (Watters, 2015). The article talks about students not being able to access their work after the semester is over as it is not publicly available. This is true for most of my courses because I do not save all my work after submitting it. Being in my fourth year at university, I have deleted most of my first year work to make space on my computer for work that is more important right now. Having my work published on my personal blog allows me to refer to the content I created weeks ago. I will have access to this work for at least a year, until my subscription expires.
As for my goals in the future regarding my publication, I will continue to try and put out weekly blog posts. I will also continue to promote my blog on my Instagram account, and if I continue to enjoy doing this, I will renew my blog subscription next year. I believe that working on improving my blog could be a great asset and I could use it as part of my portfolio to showcase some of the work that I have created.
The process of creating a blog was much different than what I anticipated. I thought that it would be a fun and straight-forward process. And while the process was fun and exciting, it was also confusing, frustrating, and sometimes aggravating. The following images illustrate what I thought blogging would be like vs. what blogging was actually like:
One of the main things I struggled with was finding a purpose for my blog. The amount of freedom that I was given in this course was foreign to me. I think academia has conditioned me into thinking that there is always a right or wrong way to do things, and this mindset was really difficult to overcome when I started blogging. After reading Gardner Campbell’s (2009) A Personal Cyberinfrastructure, I realized that the amount of freedom afforded in this course was necessary in order for students to learn the ins and outs of cultivating an online identity. Campbell (2009) notes that by building a personal cyberinfrastructure, students will “acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives … [and] engage in work that provides richly teachable moments” (para 7). Therefore, it is only through a hands-on, self-driven approach that students may be able to fully explore and understand the intricacies of the online realm. Overall, while I learned how to blog in Pub 101, I also learned about the “so what?” and “why?” questions underlying what is done online.
Initially, I decided that I didn’t want to set too many restrictions on the content that I would post. The theme of my blog is fairly open – I have a “blog” section for personal posts, and I also have categories for food and beauty. Later, however, I realized that having too many categories created some difficulties for me – was I being concise enough? Should I focus on one specific topic? How was I defining my audience? Had I known what I know now, I probably would have been more precise about the purpose of my blog.
In Process Post Three, I noted that my imagined audience includes someone similar to myself: female, late teens or early twenties, student, interested in posts related to food and beauty. In addition, I think that my blog might attract other South Asian females because culture is discussed in some of my personal blog posts. Conversely, my real audience comprises my close friends, some of my classmates in Pub 101, and of course, professor Norman.
Keeping My Audience in Mind
I did not have a distinct audience in mind when I created my blog. Instead, I followed Warner’s (2002) suggestion to “put on a show and see who shows up” (p. 82). Unfortunately, I failed to understand the importance of defining my audience. Now, however, I realize that keeping a potential audience in mind is an integral component of the blogging process. At the same time, this is a personal blog first and foremost. Therefore, my decisions are mostly informed by my personal preferences, and my imagined audience is a secondary consideration.
I decided to stick with a minimalist theme because it is trendy and easy to navigate. This is ideal for my target audience because I expect that most individuals in their late teens or early twenties are comfortable with a clean design. With regard to my content, I kept a casual tone and tried to include personal anecdotes where possible. In addition, I included a sidebar with an image and description of myself. I did this because my blog is personal in nature and I wanted my audience to feel like they could relate to me.
After Mauve’s lecture on design principles and Heather’s peer review of my site, I decided to incorporate a seafoam green accent colour. Unfortunately, the theme that I am using does not allow me to include an accent colour. In order to do this, I had to make changes to the CSS using the editor tab. By doing this, I realized how malleable themes really are. I think that an accent colour enhances the consistency of my website and is also aesthetically-pleasing for my audience. In “How To Survive the Digital Apocalypse”, Travis Gertz (2015) raises concerns that we have designed ourselves into a corner by being reliant on design choices created by machines. To address this concern, I customized my theme to reflect my personal taste. As a result, I believe that my audience is better able to get a sense of my personality and style.
Pub 101 has inspired me to do a better job of linking my existing social media accounts to each other. In “Publics and Counter-Publics”, Michael Warner (2002) argues that “no single text can create a public… nor can a single voice, a single genre, or a single medium” (p. 420). In class, we learned that the medium we use can ultimately influence what and how we post. Thus, I think that transmedia integration is an effective way to provide my followers with a more nuanced and comprehensive look at my online self.
To be honest, I do not think that I will continue with this blog. However, I might re-structure it to narrow the scope of my content (e.g. create a personal blog, a food blog, or a lifestyle blog). Currently, my blog is a mix of personal/lifestyle content and I don’t think that will fare well if I want to expand my site. Admittedly, this blog is a bit of a mess. But, at the very least, Pub 101 has equipped me with the tools that I’ll need to clean this mess up.
Campbell, G. (2009). A personal cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review, 44(5), 58-59.
Gertz, T. (2015, July 10th). Design machines: How to survive the digital apocalypse. Retrieved from https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines
Warner, M. (2002). Publics and counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88(4). 413-425.
My community guidelines will be upheld to keep my blog respectful and safe. I create content on my blog to aim to brighten up and improve my audiences’ lives. “One of the most important controls of our behavior is the established norms within any given community. For the most part, we act consistently with the space and the situation.” (Konnikova, 2013) Therefore, I want to nurture a positive community. To support these goals, my community guidelines are:
Constructive comments are welcomed but reframe from abusive comments (threats or demeaning and insulting speech)
Discriminatory comments or hate crimes are prohibited
Refrain from promoting products or services in comments.
Although my platform is only online, “Virtual reality can become reality, and it ruins your life.” (Gardinder et al., 2016) I want to develop a community on my blog where my readers feel engaged to interact with myself and other readers. Therefore, I would hope that all my readers will respect and follow my community guidelines because I don’t want to have to remove an abundant of comments. “Removing comments also affects the reading experience itself: it may take away the motivation to engage with a topic more deeply, and to share it with a wider group of readers.” (Konnikova, 2013) I will try my best to uphold and regulate my community guidelines because I wish for my blog to have a friendly and positive atmosphere where readers are encouraged to share their positive and constructive opinions and experiences.
Develop community guidelines for your site. Why are those the right guidelines for you? How will you implement them?
(Skip to the bottom section if you just came here to see Goode Eats’ Community Guidelines.)
This week, we had the pleasure of having a a guest speaker Skype in from Oregon: Sharifah Williams, Associate Editor of theriot.com, AKA Book Riot.
Sharifah gave us the run-down on her job as Associate Editor of bookriot.com, an online website/forum for book lovers to talk about and discuss all things books (encompassing book enthusiasm as well as talk surrounding reviews). Although I am not a publishing student myself, I am in my final year of a BA in Communications, which seemingly goes hand-in-hand and thus pumps out similar students searching for like-minded jobs. Because of this, it was awesome to hear first hand about one of the types of jobs that graduates get out of university.
Sharifah explained that she is one of only about 3 people that moderate the content online and what is posted, despite there being about 200 contributors to the site and a full-time staff of approximately 10 people. One of the most interesting points I thought Sharifah made was that when it comes to moderating, there is no “guidebook” — similar to many other jobs, a large level of discretion is used when Sharifah and her co-workers decide how to handle certain situations online. Sharifah uses her discretion paired with their community guidelines (see image below) in order to make decisions on if posts or comments in the forums should be deleted, hidden, or (in extreme circumstances) if the original article should be deleted all-together, preventing further discussion on the topic.
BookRiot Community Guidelines, www.bookriot.com, https://bookriot.com/about/community-guidelines/
Following this point, Suzanne asked Sharifah, “what has happened in the past with some negatives in the comment section? Have you had to ban readers/commenters?” Sharifah replied by saying (paraphrased):
Yes, absolutely. Some politics are involved where contributors have some strong opinions surrounding some backgrounds and politics, and so forth … There are different levels of people who are angry: some can [express their anger] in a respectful way, having a debate, and discussing differing opinions … [while others may not]. We hide comments more often than ban people, [it] takes a lot to actually ban someone.
She went on to mention that, “generally, people who are banned are having a long thread, attacking someone, being nasty and just having bad intent… [they have] no intent to have a knowledgable, adult conversation.”
This conversation lead me to think about the somewhat paradoxical moral dilemma of censorship and free-speech: at what point do you actually need to limit someone’s ‘free speech’ or right to express themselves? On the contrary, at what point is it censorship? These are important questions to consider when running an online forum, as well as when developing your own community guidelines to go off of.
As we can see in the above screenshot, Book Riot’s community guidelines are pretty simple and can essentially be boiled down to: be relevant, respectful, and understanding. Differing views are inevitable and even important in many intelligent debates. However, it is how people express these differing views that is most important. Being abusive, racist, or threatening should never be tolerable.
As for my community guidelines, I have developed them as:
Respect other members of the community: no name-calling, racism, sexism, or any other threatening or abusive language will be tolerated.
No spam: Do not promote or solicit anything unrelated to the content at hand in the comments. These comments will be deleted. NO selling products!
Have knowledgable, intelligent conversations and debates.
Do not plagiarize my content or anyone else’s as your own. Not only is this wrong, but it’s illegal! Give credit where due.
Have fun and eat food.
**any violation of these guidelines may result in being banned if a warning is not enough.
I think these community guidelines would be easy to implement as they are general and based on morals and ethics. Of course, this is easy to say as I have a very small following right now. I imagine if the site were to gain traction and a large amount of people were conversing under blog posts, staffing may be needed. However, if the blog or website is not bringing in any money, simply turning off commenting may be the best approach.
As the third and final peer review is done, I am realizing that the course is coming to an end.
With the course coming to an end, I am also realizing that there may not be much time to make those changes I thought I would always have time for. One of these issues is my “You Cooked?!” page… which still doesn’t have anything on it. Not only did Joy point this out (see below), but Kim did, too (in her Peer Review #2).
I initially thought this food blog would motivate me to whip up some tasty creations, but working 4 p.m. – midnight (or later) 4-5 times a week leaves little time to make big dinner meals. Also, taking 5 courses on top of working leaves little free time to cook on the days that I’m not working. Alas, the ‘You Cooked?!’ page must go. Because… you didn’t cook Lauren. You didn’t cook.
One critique that Joy made in her Peer Review #3 was that I have many spelling/grammatical errors throughout my blog: “too many to link”.
I actually hadn’t realize I had this many errors, but I went back to review and spruce up any posts that needed revising. I had quite a bit of trouble finding these errors? There were some that were as simple as writing “and” instead of “an” (rookie mistake, I’ll give ya that), however I believe Joy may be referring to my overuse of commas and periods, as we learned in lecture this week (Week 11, March 27). While I wouldn’t use this much punctuation in academic writing, I often use periods and commas in my blog for pauses and dramatic effect, because that’s my speaking style. I’m absorbing this information but to make my posts 100% grammatically correct would, IMHO, change the tone of my blog to be an unauthentic representation.
Joy also mentioned how awkward my lonely Instagram icon looks in the “Social Media” section of my blog.
I agree — I think Joy was sugar-coating it a bit but lets be real, my Instagram icon is a complete and total waste of space. Goodbye, Instagram square.
Aside from peer reviews, I decided to do some final editing of my blog’s appearance. Not only did I remove the expendables (You Cooked?! page, Instagram icon), but I also decided to remove the background image. The background image of my blog has changed a number of times, due to not only criticisms by peer reviewers but also from my flea-length attention span. Starting with awkwardly tiled plants to match the photo on my About Me page, to too-bold gold cutlery, and from that to more-subdued-yet-more-ugly silver cutlery, to a pink background that made no sense…. you get it. It changed a lot. Never had I considered a simple, white background.
Long story short, I finally decided to ditch my dreams of having a perfect background image and allow the blog to speak for itself.
On top of this, I changed the link colours to gold to match the logo. Green is so 2003.
I keep signing up for them, but I never learn. A few of my friends have 9-5 jobs, meaning they either need to workout before or after work. For the sake of ‘getting it over with,’ they go before, often at 6 a.m. Of course, I always think this is a great idea and tag along despite not having to leave for school for hours. On top of this, I often work after school from roughly 4 or 5 p.m. to about midnight, and sometimes as late as 2 a.m.
So why, why?! Why do I continuously think it’s a good idea to sign up for 6 a.m. workout classes when I have a full day of work and school. SLEEP LAUREN. Take the ‘L’ and have a friggen’ nap.
I’m still having a bit of trouble understanding the relevance of my ‘four word cause of death’ to blogging but alas, there it is.
On a separate note, one reading we did this week really stuck out to me. I found Kathryn-Lindsay’s article, “UNPOPULAR OPINION: These YouTube Authors are Ruining the Publishing Industry” (2014), to be extremely interesting.
Kathryn-Lindsay analyzes this issue that is YouTuber Zoe Sugg’s book, that turned out to be completely ghost-written, despite claims she made that ‘she’s so excited she was finally able to write a book’ after it ‘always being a dream of hers’ (Kathryn-Lindsay, 2014). She goes on to say that other YouTubers have gone on to ‘write’ books as well.
“But I don’t blame these YouTubers! I think the rise of content creation on the Internet is an important and awesome new part of pop culture. I indulge in YouTube binges as much as the next person, and it’s the people like Zoella and Grace who make this possible. They’ve developed their brands, curated an audience, and created content that is successfully geared towards their demographic. Every subscriber they gain is deserved, and so is the subsequent money they make off of these clicks. YouTube is their job and we keep giving them promotions.”
So, Kathryn-Lindsay (KL) doesn’t blame these YouTubers. But, the YouTubers getting the book deals are not the ones that necessarily deserve the book deals: some Youtubers, as KL points out, are English grads and review books, with a genuine knowledge and appreciation for it (Kathryn-Lindsay, 2014). Yet it is the trendy, ‘sexy’ YouTubers that get the deals. KL blames the publishers for this, because capital has become more important than authenticity, quality and craft all-too-often in today’s consumer society.
I find this article to be extremely relevant to the course (sorry-not-sorry, “Four Word Cause of Death” assignment). Who doesn’t want to make money doing what they love? Who doesn’t want someone to write a novel for them, then get to rake in the money from that book that has their name attached to it?
Very few people, I think, would pass up on an opportunity like this. Unfortunately, publishers know this — so when the pool of options is seemingly bottomless, publishers pick the shiniest option swimming around… the one with the dollar sign attached to it.
And that, is what Kathryn-Lindsay argues to be ruining the publishing word, and consequently the content we receive.
This was a fun exercises for me. It allowed me to share my “experiences and instantly publish [my] thoughts to the web with minimal technical understanding. […] An important part of this process is the exchange of cultural and social capital.” (Chittenden, 2009) This exercise forced me to think and express myself in a different way. I’m so used to using words to tell a story, that this was a challenge for me to use only images to tell a story this time. As this was my first time doing this kind of exercise, I just created a short story about how living in Vancouver, I wish that the weather was better this time of year. But in reality, it is still constantly raining in spring.
First impressions: Joy’s website is simplistic and easy on the eyes. The colour scheme flows well with mixes of soft pastels and light photos. There is a photo of a sunset-ridden sky hitting clouds on the top right corner of her homepage. Underneath is a play button for an audio file – when pressed, an acoustic song plays in the background as you scroll through the rest of her blog. This is an interesting and complementary touch; the music goes well will the overall vibe of Joy’s site, which is a ‘thoughts, opinions & lifestyle blog.’ In short, the font, text, and photos flow well together, as does the accompanying music.
One critique on aesthetic is that although the simplicity and neatness of the layout is pleasant to the eye, some areas are (IMHO) ‘plain’ looking. In all honesty, this is something that I enjoy more than a super busy website. It is also something that I feel I struggle with in my own site – some places are too busy, while others are plain.
I think Joy excels in marketing to her intended audience group! In Joy’s Process Post #4, she loosely defines her intended audience to be likeminded people, “older teens and young adults who want to have a casual read of various topics.” I think she is spot on with that. Her blog covers a variety of topics, from music to lifestyle and even food (yay!). I fit the category of her ‘intended audience,’ and I think it plays to my interests and ‘aesthetic appeal.’
As far as the content of her posts go, Joy mentions (in the same Process Post #4 as linked above), that she wanted all her posts to be grammatically correct in order to be easy reading. I think this is a great tactic and in general she does very well with it. There are some basic grammatical errors scattered throughout, such as run-on sentences or missing commas, but nothing that takes away from the overall readability. She clearly proof-reads her posts and there are rarely negligent spelling errors. One criticism is that Judy only has 1 post on her ‘music’ page, and two on her ‘food’ page.
All in all, it seems that Joy has definitely put some time and effort into identifying and marketing to her target audience, through clean visuals, audio inclusion, and relevant post topics.
This week, our task was to come up with a hypothetical four-word cause of death and then brainstorm how we would publish it on various social media platforms. This activity was interesting because it illustrated how “the medium is the message” (Mcluhan, 1964). As publishers, it’s important to understand and be cognizant of how different platforms influence our content. In turn, the platform we use also shapes how others perceive our posts.
To incorporate more transmedia integration into my blog, I would focus on Instagram, Facebook, and (potentially) Youtube.
My four-word cause of death is #runningoutofcoffee. The following image will be used to illustrate how I would use this hashtag on various platforms.
If I were to post my #fourwordcauseofdeath on Instagram, I would use an app to edit the picture, post a brief description, and be sure to include several hashtags such as #posiel #coffee #student and #overcaffeinated.
Because my blog is personal in nature, I have linked it to my personal Instagram account. To direct traffic from my Instagram account to my blog, I can link to my blog in my biography. I can also write “Read more on my blog. Link in bio!” in each caption that is relevant to my blog. I have a larger following on Instagram than I do on my blog, so I think that directing people from Instagram to my blog would serve to increase my blog’s traffic significantly.
If I were to post my #fourwordcauseofdeath on Facebook, I would post this image, remove the caption, and pose a relevant question to my friends to promote engagement. For example, I would ask “What are some alternatives to coffee that help you feel energized?”.
For my own blog, I can use Facebook to post content to my personal account, link to a related post on my blog, and encourage friends and family to share my posts. Again, this would serve to bring more traffic to my blog.
If I were to post my #fourwordcauseofdeath on Youtube, I would probably title the name of the video “Transmedia Integration: Four Word Cause of Death” and talk a little bit about the activity and the importance of transmedia integration.
For my own blog, I can use Youtube to share videos of myself discussing tutorials and product reviews. I find that recipes and reviews can be boring to read about, so using Youtube would help make my content more engaging.
Last week was a complete tease for summer and I found myself craving one of my favourite drinks, which just so happens to be iced coffee (but Vietnamese -style). Funny enough, almost 2 years ago, I made a YouTube video on how to make this recipe but, to save myself from embarrassment, I won’t share the link to that
I’m not entirely sure where I got the recipe for this, but making it is pretty straight-forward. I’m fairly certain that my dad taught me how to make this.
Give it a try and let me know if it’s better than just regular iced coffee!
Side thought/question: Is it ice coffee or iced coffee? What do you say?
Currently, I have an Instagram and Pinterest account for my blog but I have only been active on Instagram. The social media account I plan to focus on is Instagram. I want to post more regularly and be more aware of what kind of posts my audience is looking for. My focus is on Instagram because it has a large usership and many of my targeted audience are users of the app. It is also a fast growing social media platform and I see potential in incorporating it into my online publication. Another barrier I have experienced with working on Instagram, is that I have difficulty in finding time to go out and take pictures because I currently have a lot of school work and I work as well.
Although my main focus will be on Instagram, I want to work on incorporating Pinterest as well. I think it would work well with my type of content, such as my DIYs. A barrier I have with Pinterest is that I still have a lot of learning to do with this platform. By learning more about the platform, it can also help me cater my content on Pinterest to my targeted audience. If I master integrating Pinterest into my blog, I think this can really attract more visitors and reach a larger audience.
“Transmedia storytelling is the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence.” (Kevinbrittenylauren.wordpress.com, 2013) I would like to incorporate my social media accounts in a way such that viewers won’t be confused and have to switch back and forth between platforms. On the other hand, I would aim to entice viewers to visit my other platforms to further connect with my readers.
When first landing on Dani’s website, I immediately understood the intended audience of her content. Pastel flowers and soft typefaces are typical feminine signifiers and the personal nature of the blog posts lead me to believe Dani is targeting young women like herself. I’d suspect that her content appeals mostly to her extended university network, but also has the potential to reach strangers who fit the same lifestyle profile.
With this profile as our established target market, we can now examine her website through the lens of appealing to it.
Writing & Language
Speaking in a voice that is familiar to your audience is crucial to connecting and engaging with them. One facet of Dani’s writing I have noticed is the use of parenthesis to disclose tangential thoughts. The technique adds an organic element to her writing, making it more similar to the spoken word. Dani also uses very plain language with very little purple prose or technical language without explanation. This is a very effective way for her to engage a lamen audience who would benefit from introductory content like her Workout Routine post.
The subjects of her posts are also strongly relevant to her intended audience. Fitness and food are two of the most popular topics for young women and vegetarianism is growing in popularity with young people. The length of her posts is also accessible being not too long or too short. I suspect most readers will be F-shape skimming the posts, but they are not so technical that meaning would be lost by doing such.
Some other quick notes about Dani’s website: the title “The Dynamics of Dani: the Pieces of me Beyond the Pictures” is somewhat confusing. Is this alluding to her being a photographer? If so, there’s no evidence of this anywhere else on the site. What does the word “dynamics” mean in this context? It seems to have just been selected for alliteration – a weak choice to make when choosing something so important. Another note: the use of the term “Stalk me” for her social media is actually quite clever. This is a common colloquialism among young females that helps Dani connect with her audience.
Dani does well attracting her intended audience of young women. Her writing, design, and aesthetic are all aligned to service her particular demographic but her title seems fitted to a different site.