Over the last semester, I have gotten to build and grow my website, Brooke Reads Books. This was a really interesting experience for me, as I have always wanted to try blogging but never made the leap. Although there is so much back-end customization that goes into a website, it’s not as scary as it seems, and the most important thing is to start sharing content. I’ve enjoyed getting to cultivate a “digital garden”, a space of my own on the Internet (Basu, 2020, para. 3).
My website is for book lovers or for people who are wanting to get into reading books. I decided to do a mix of blog posts, some being book reviews and other being articles relating to books, such as new releases for 2021 or gifts for book lovers. I thought this would be a good way to reach an audience that wants book reviews or who wants book related content but aren’t completely interested in the books I have reviewed. Gifts for book lovers could also potentially reach an audience that doesn’t usually read but was wanting to buy something for someone else, and then potentially while on the site they could have found a book they might have been interested in themselves.
I hope that an audience would find value in my website for all things books. For book reviews, I would be going up against Goodreads which someone might first turn to for a book review, but hopefully they would find value in my blog posts as well. I’ve also linked all the book titles to go directly to the book on Indigo so they could purchase it easily if they wanted to. I hope my other articles are also useful to an audience to find book related information that may be more effort for them to search for, such as gift ideas or upcoming releases. I was inspired by the Digital Garden reading for this, stating that my site can be not “the definitive source, just a source” (Basu, 2020, para. 8). I hope that book readers looking for different opinions and reviews on books may find mine helpful, even though it is just my personal opinion.
Over the last month in Google Analytics, I have had 66 users come to my site. I thought this would mostly be clicks from other Pub 101 students, but I had 17 Canadian users and 48 Americans on my site. I would be interested in continuing to track this long term and learning more about my audience. I wasn’t able to collect enough data to see the age or gender statistics. I think tracking this longer term would be very interesting to get a sense of who my audience actually is. For my imagined audience, I figured that most would be girls, as the books I am reviewing are usually marketed towards girls, as well as my website having a “girly” theme. I think the age range of my imagined audience would be teen girls to young women, in the 15-29 age range. This is because that is also the age range for most of the books I am reviewing.
I think that the past 13 weeks of creating this website has been a really interesting challenge. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a website, design elements that are important, search engine optimization, and other little things I wouldn’t have thought about for creating a website, like the importance of linking out and how important fonts are. I’d like to continue to learn more about SEO and Google Analytics for the future. Since I focused most of this class on making my blog look how I wanted it to and creating content I thought was important, I would like to explore more of how to promote and market it in the future. A goal of mine would be to get my blog posts into the first page of Google search results. Currently I have found that one of my blog posts is at the top of the second page on Google results, I would be interested in learning in-depth about search engine optimization and applying it to my blog post to get it to the front page. Hollingsworth (2018) states that the first three positions on the front-page result in 40 percent of click-throughs, while up to 30 percent after that will not get clicked at all (para. 54). I need to focus on SEO in order to rank higher on google search results, so I can get more organic website viewers.
Creating a website and posting on it weekly is a great learning lesson, and I think it would benefit any student to do this, not just one that is planning on a career in publishing or communications. Campbell (2009), lists some of the benefits to students having a personal cyberinfrastructure, such as technical skills, multimodal writing, social networking, and more (para. 7). Learning to be a digital citizen is very important for students, and I think this has been a very beneficial class. This has prepared me for “creative and responsible leadership” for my future (para. 9).
Having a website domain is a great way for students to create a portfolio to take with them. When their assignments are posted on their own website, they are able to take the work with them and carry it through their education and future work experience (Watters, 2015, para. 6). It can show the progression of a student’s learning progress, rather than just grades locked in a school system (para. 19). As a communications student, it is very important for me to have a portfolio of writing and design work I have done. I think creating a website is a great way to carry this with me and has been a great opportunity to practice writing samples and get experience with WordPress and Google Analytics.
I think I would like to continue to blog, but I may change it up slightly. I think the book reading niche was a great way to get started and to create for this class, but I would be interested in writing different content in the future, maybe on a separate website. The freedom to write and create whatever I want is something I liked the most about this class, it is my own personal digital garden that doesn’t follow any rules (Basu, 2020, para. 6). I will definitely be taking the knowledge I have learned from this class and using it in some sort of digital garden somewhere in the future.
Basu, T. (2020, September 03). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/
Hollingsworth, S. (2018, April 13). 12 reasons why your business absolutely NEEDS SEO. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-seo-is-important-for-business/248101/#close