The Creation of an Online Presence
Throughout this semester, I have worked at creating a distinct and coherent online presence. My online presence that has developed through the creation of my blog is quite personal. My publications are written from my own point of view about my own experiences and tips for university students. However, it has still proven to be difficult curating an online presence that is believable and marketable. Channeling aspects of my personality and turning it into an online space, took a fair bit of time and effort. Through various design changes, thinking about my intended audience, and marketing my content to satisfy readers, my online self has come a long way and will continue to grow every time I post.
In order to create an audience for my blog, I needed to think about who they are and what they would like to see from me. My intended audience was clear to me from the beginning. It was young people, particularly women, who are in university and can learn and engage with the tips and experiences that I am writing about.
Also, I knew that when I started my blog, I wanted it to be personal enough that readers get a good understanding of who I am. As explained by McQuarrie, Miller, and Phillips in The Megaphone Effect: Taste ad Audience in Fashion Blogging, “early in the blog, [bloggers]…[should] adopt a community orientation toward those who browse the blog” by opening their blog up “to receive comments and answer questions and suggestions” (2013, page 146). I decided to allow comments on my blog for this reason. It is not meant to be a podium where I am talking down to others. It is an open playing field where I want readers to also post comments to engage with the content I am posting. My audience is meant to consist of university students, so as Liz Spayd discusses in her article “Want to Attract More Readers? Try Listening to Them,” “younger readers…want to feel a sense of being close to the action,” meaning that allowing for readers to comment on the content will allow for young readers to be much more engaged (2016). Spayd states that “this is arguably the most elemental way…[to] let [the] audience engage,” so I will certainly be keeping the comment section open on my blog and encouraging engagement from my readers (2016).
My blog started out quite simple and monochromatic. There was very little colour and vibrancy to the blog, which I later decided was working against me. Mid-semester I decided to completely revamp the theme of my blog to one that was more customizable. Settling on the theme was not easy, but after awhile of playing around with the customizations, I decided I was much happier with it. I needed something bright and feminine, something that would draw the attention of young women and make them believe the content that they were reading. I chose the primary colour (for my tagline, buttons, links etc) to be hot pink for just this reason. It makes the blog more fun and light-hearted, matching the theme of the content that I am publishing.
The value that my blog provides users with is through my tips and stories about what I have learned during my time as a university student. Jesse Thorn expresses in his article “Make Your Thing” that “rather than defining yourself by the medium you create, define yourself by what you offer to your audience” (2012). I have created an online space in which readers can come to my site to find a young woman writing about being in a similar situation as them, and engage with the content as if they are talking with a best friend or sister.
My thoughts about publication have changed throughout this semester as I have continued to learn about the ways in which publishers struggle to catch and retain the attention of readers. I found it very interesting to learn about all the resources, like Google Analytics, that afford publishers the ability to know all about their readers and curate content that will best satisfy their audience. Thinking about what my audience wants is how I chose to make many design and content changes that has lead to the way my blog looks and reads today.
Beyond this course, I plan to continue my blog. Jesse Thorn argues that “the difference between the successful [blogs] and the unsuccessful ones is that the successful ones do it, then do it again and again, ” meaning that continuing to blog and post more content is the only way to reach success (2012). I think; however, my content will likely shift from solely focusing on university content to being more of a personal blog about several interests in my life. I have recently included a “Portfolio” section of my website, which I am treating almost like a virtual resume in hopes that I can show my blog to future employers in the industry. Posting more personal content is not necessarily to draw a larger audience, but I have come to enjoy the space that I have created for myself online and find it almost therapeutic to put my thoughts into published words.
Spayd, L., (2016, July 9) Want to attract more readers? Try listening to them. New York Times. Retrieved on November 6, 2019 from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/public-editor/liz-spayd-new-york-times-public-editor.html
McQuarrie, E. F., Miller, J., & Phillips, B. J. (2013). The Megaphone Effect: Taste ad Audience in Fashion Blogging. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(1), 136–158. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/10.1086/669042
Thorn, J., (2012, November 11) Make your thing: 12 point program for absolutely, positively 1000% no-fail guaranteed. Transom. Retrieved on November 6, 2019 from https://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/