Twelve weeks ago, I had never published any expression of myself which was not heavily curated through a well developed or popular social media platform. I published myself on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and even Wattpad, yet there wasn’t anything more daunting than the idea of a completely self-driven space such as this blog. Twelve weeks ago I had never heard of what a “personal cyberinfrastructure” was or how many layers latticed the foundation of a simple website. In the past, my online publications were straightforward. Now, I type this with swirling ideas of digital publics and monetization in my head. However, what I did know twelve weeks ago was that I was incredibly excited. I had no clue where to even begin but, scrolling giddily through hundreds of WordPress themes that night after our first lecture, my heart leaped simply at the chance to publish myself: creations, opinions, and identity.
My blog began as a scattered jumble of my interests. However, as the weeks went on and the lengthy category menu leading to many empty pages began collecting dust, I decided to dwindle it down to a baking blog. Dreaming of cookbook worthy images and creative recipes which I had never thought to try before, I realized my underlying plan was to create a quintessential baking blog full of Pinterest inspiration at every click. The audience I initially imagined in my head was very similar – if not the same – audience as Pinterest, the popular photo-based platform used by mainly females in their twenties and up looking to cook, create, and design. To attract this audience, I focused on using plenty of large high quality images, a casual writing style, bright colours, simplistic designs, and obvious links to my various social media accounts. Travis Gertz warned against falling under the generic theme in this article on a website full of unique graphics which I could never comprehend how to build into my own site. I did end up with a theme which Gertz sees as a standard issue copy of many other popular websites with the large image and overlay text. However, I feel as though it was a safe place to start which I not only found aesthetically pleasing, but thought my potential audience would too.
Although I understand that advertising is an important element of boosting a website’s success, I have not yet ventured into the territory of monetization as you may have read in this Process Post. In an article about a small website business shutting down due to low revenue, Brian Feldman explained that creators have the ability to create content but are rarely making enough money to get paid to do so. At the moment, my blog isn’t something I’m interested in being a source of income. While I don’t know where I might end up in the future, I don’t feel as though my blog will ever be of any physical value. Instead of a monetary value, I believe my website provides the value of inspiration to those who are looking. Much like many other food blog browsers, I look for beautifully plated food and innovative recipes to boost my creativity. I can only hope that one day – when my blog is not still wheeling through the web on training wheels – mine could spark that same sense of creativity.
It is important to remind myself that my blog has barely started. Not only does this justify my dismal traffic data, but it is reassuring to imagine the places it still may reach. Truthfully, I’m not sure how many genuine audience members I have received yet that are neither my mother or spam bots. Some of my recipes have collected lovely comments – even a few from outside my friends and family bubble – but I have noticed that the most attention I get is from spam comments. Fortunately, I can simply filter out these comments before they are seen publicly on my page, yet they are still a pressing nuisance whenever I log in. Due to this influx of obscene messages usually baiting the receiver to click some sort of link, I have decided to look into a test for my comment section to simply filter out some robots designed to send out mass spam responses. As we discussed in class, a Norwegian website proposed introducing a quiz filtering system which users would need to fill out before being enabled to leave comments. While this is more geared towards letting readers cool off before typing out a rant and ensuring that the entire article was read entirely, it is a thorough example of a moderating system which could block out spammers.
Twelve weeks later, I guess I still don’t really know what I’m doing. This course has taught me useful skills which I will carry on in both my blog publications and any other social media post I share; knowing that whatever I publish contributes to the constant shaping of my online self. I am also not sure how long this specific website will carry on. I love this blog, I love what I’m posting, and I even have an idea for an entirely new post series, but I want to make sure that I am working on this blog to the best of my abilities. Neglectful, I feel as though I wasn’t able to fully mold this website to its full potential in the fog of other pressures and deadlines weighing on my life. I rushed through some things – unfortunate, but true – and I want to make sure that I dedicate the time this blog deserves in the future. Kadunbar.com will remain active for now, and I will be committing further to shaping my publication of self online. Twelve weeks later, my website is a little underdone and all over the place but, it’s mine. And that makes me pretty damn happy.