Tag Archives: online presence

Essay 2: Not the end!

Last April, I have created my first website with Wix.com. It serves as a portfolio to showcase my photography work to others, especially to the employers when I am applying for jobs. I did not intend to write and post other content on the website because I feel self-conscious when people read what I wrote.

I haven’t updated the website for months as I was too busy at school. But when I receive my acceptance letter as an exchange student in SFU, I thought it’ll be a great opportunity to reactivate my website to post so I can document my journey in Canada. I am glad that I took PUB101, which “forces” me to post on a regular basis. It was frustrating at first when we have so much freedom in this course and I was still adjusting to the new learning environment here, jet lag and everything. I remember I couldn’t think of a name for my domain until I was unpacking my clothes from my luggage, then I realised how many stripes clothes I have. That’s how lilyinstripes was born.

It took me a whole night to complete the setup of the blog, from purchasing the domain and picking the theme that best matches my content. As these 12 weeks progresses, I am proud of the content I created and the positive feedbacks that I received from peers and friends from around the world.  It has resulted in a reduction in bounce rate to 61.67% and an increase in session duration to 2 minutes 13 seconds compared to the last 30 days. Google Analytics is by far one of the most useful and important tools that I’ve mastered in this course. The analytics provides me with insights to create intriguing content that will allow users to stay longer on my blog.

According to Patel (2019), bounce rate refers to the “bounce” that someone visits your website and leaves without interacting further with your site. As of the statistics by Google Benchmarks 2017, the bounce rate in the arts & entertainment industry is 58.69% (Ritwick, 2018), which is three per cent below mine. I will continue to post when the semester ends, aiming to reach through this three per cent difference by including more engaging content. When I look at the pages that my users most frequently visit, I notice that more people visit the photography page rather than the portfolio page. I think they may have expected to see more of my photography work under “photography” while I put them under “portfolio”. To avoid confusion, I will remove the photography category and use portfolio instead, so people can easily access to my photos.

When I started my first blog, I asked myself “How should I differ from other travel or photography blogs?” I knew exchange or studying abroad may seem interesting to my audiences, so I thought it’ll be a good idea to share Hong Kong culture to my Canadian friends and also allow my family and friends in Hong Kong to know what I’ve been up to in Canada. Tobi Cheung, one of the classmates who did a peer review on my blog said the Cantonese characters and pronunciations in each blog posts adds a personal touch and connection to my audience (Cheung, 2019)[, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve. Even though Cantonese is not a very common language to most Westerners, I hope to connect with my audiences by showing Hong Kong’s language so my users can understand my background and the place where I grow up in better. I see language as a way to connect with others. I realise most Westerners cannot tell the difference between Hong Kong and China (that’s the most frequently asked question by Uber and taxi drivers), we share similar language, similar characters but they are not the SAME. Therefore, I’ve decided to always include a Chinese keyword in traditional Chinese characters and its Cantonese pronunciation, so it tells more about what’s special about Hong Kong. As Adam wrote in the peer review, “One of humanity’s defining features is its ability to communicate with language.” (Schmidt, 2019). I hope my audience can get an overview and know more about Cantonese and Hong Kong culture when they read through my blog posts.

Looking back at the blog posts I’ve written, I realized how much I’ve grown and experienced in the past couple of months. First time blogging, first time studying abroad, first time skiing, first time seeing aurora and of course, my first solo trips. I am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and experienced so many new things here! I will keep on posting when the semester finishes. I will be doing lots of travelling before I head back to Hong Kong, hopefully, there’ll be more photos coming up! Also, stay tuned to my blog if you’re interested in my life in Hong Kong! The support from all of you is the greatest motivation to keep my blog running.

This is by far the most rewarding class I’ve taken in university. Thank you all for making the first half of 2019 extra special and memorable!

References:



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Vol. 12: Essay 2

Being an online publisher has been nothing but a journey. I had to dig deep into my knowledge and mind, find the treasures of ground-breaking posts, and slaying the bad ideas that come at me when writing. The digital revolution, in how easy it is to present ourselves online, opens a world of possibility. In my experience, I started to find my online presence through what I wear: fashion. Fashion to me is a form of art, in that you can communicate it through pictures, words, and having this “physical thing” on your body.

But why care about fashion when it is deemed materialistic? Is that not shallow? According to Jenni Avins, Quartz’ global lifestyle correspondent who has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Style.com and various others, she explains how why caring about fashion does not make one shallow. I read this article about a year ago, and one of the main reasons I decided to go with clothes. She describes how fashion may be hard to follow, but if you focus on clothing and what communication it provides, it’s a different matter.

In a sense, Avins described how clothes represented deep meanings such as identity, a story, and “as a piece of the globalized economy” (Avins, 2018) We are all part of the fashion movement right now, in 2018, and what is worn today might not be worn in a few years. Whether we like it or not, we are part of this history, and to it has been astounding to think of it like that. My public that I had imagined was the Millennial male who adored street fashion, but, my public was anyone who wears clothing in general. They do not particularly have to agree with my style or start to own anything I suggest, but they can admire and view what it is like to dress in 2018 through my lens.

The most important thing to understand in branding is your audience. Building an online presence is much like building a brand, especially for those who delve into fashion blogging. In building a business, your brand “is how people perceive you wherever they interact with your business—both the impressions you can control and the ones you can’t” (Shopify, n.d.). This is particularly the same for building an online presence of a blog, and I feel that people usually forget this factor. You have to view your blog in its entirety: the design, the layout, the way people navigate. Every little point matters, down to the font you decided to use because it is how people are interacting with you without saying anything. You are giving them almost something I would call “digital touchpoints” for them.

So how can you deal with this? In previous posts, I feel that consistency is key to building an online presence. You need to make sure every little detail is consistent with what you are trying to pursue. If you, for example, want to give off the vibe that you are bright and bubbly, it has to reflect well on your design, the words you use, and the pictures you provide. For me, it was easy to saw what my brand in fashion was, but it was a different story to translate it online. One of the things I had to learn is that I needed to “position myself apart from competitors,” almost if I were to competed with them (Shopify, n.d.). Having this mindset really helped me develop my blog in that I needed to provide what is different about myself and showcase that online as well.

This is when the development of my online presence started to manifest—when I was trying to got noticed as much as possible. I personally used social media to my advantage, as I used Instagram already to develop a following through not only friends but other people who have a similar style. According to Ramsay, who runs Blog Tyrant to share blogging, SEO and email marketing strategies, he analyzed several fashion blogs and found that while good content is vitally important, he explains that “it’s your colleagues and readers and the relationships that you have with them that will make you famous (R., 2018).”

My network, which is comprised of mostly my friends, have been pivotal in my success of growing an online following. Before even starting my online blog, a lot of them were already nagging me to start one and have stated that I should did one. With this motivation from them, I knew that once I started, I already had supporters. For me, to even have 10 supporters, is a lot. If I were able to have 10 life-long supporters, I already knew that they would play a huge role in shaping my reach as they were advocates already for me. Yes, they were my friends, but it paid off having supporters; I can’t ever thank them enough for their trust in me.

Looking back, I think there were many instances where my thoughts have changed. I started off thinking “this would be easy and fun” to “alright, I need to plan what I’m going to do next.” Though it became a job, it was fun in that I had an outlet to just be me in the most creative way possible. However, I guess in a sense that could also be a double-edged sword, in that I could not bear to be boring or mundane and had to put this image on all the time.

I really fell in love with the design aspects of my blog, making it unique, navigating through every detail possible until I was satisfied. I became picky. However, I felt that this contributed to producing my online presence. If everything on my blog was a choice I had to make, then I know I am creating an authentic and unique presence. As the semester ends, I think this was my biggest takeaway. Be picky, because that’s when you really find out more about yourself and what it means to have an online presence.

In conclusion, I must address whether or not I feel successful in reaching my audience. To answer this as concisely as possible, I feel that I did in terms of reaching people. Though I’ll never know if I converted anyone into buying clothing pieces that I would buy, I’m sure I was able to provide content that people liked to see and were able to show myself in the best way possible. In terms of continuing this blog, I definitely plan to as time goes on, and will continue to keep reiterating as my creative mind continues to grow, change, and adapt.

Sources:

Avins, J. (2014, December 15). Why caring about style doesn’t make you shallow. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://qz.com/259024/why-caring-about-style-doesnt-make-you-shallow/

How to Build Your Own Brand From Scratch in 7 Steps. (n.d.). Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.shopify.ca/blog/how-to-build-a-brand

R. (2018, January 14). How to Start a Fashion Blog and Make it Famous. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.blogtyrant.com/start-a-fashion-blog/

 

Looking Back: PUB101

Heavily influenced by online creators of our generation and their work, I’ve always wondered about what it would be like if I had my own audience that enjoyed the content that I created. Of course, I’ve had my doubts and thought about who in the right mind would actually be interested in what I deliver. My doubts and worries grew stronger every time a possibility came up to the extent that I’ve convinced myself that being a well-known online creator is mission impossible. But that got me thinking about if being an online creator is only about getting famous. Does one need a following in order to be considered an online creator or publisher? Is it not possible to create for yourself and only for yourself? Well, I’m actually not surprised that I only think about the fame because I’ve been shaped by watching many influencers on YouTube. Seeing how luxurious their lives are and watching their followers grow makes me want to give it a shot too, just for the monetary value aspect. And it’s not only influencers on YouTube, there are full time bloggers that make a living out of it and at a first glance, it does seem like an easy job. Having said that, I honestly think that it can be toxic at the end of the day. As Shelby Carpenter writes in her article about The Toast shutting down over ad revenue woes, the battle for online revenue is harsh and it affects big and small mediums of the like (Carpenter, 2016). Sometimes when money is involved, it takes the pureness and authenticity away from what you are publishing because you’re putting out content just for the purpose of driving revenue. Looking at how far I’ve made it into the semester and this course in particular, I think I’m finally learning the means to be an online publisher.

Thanks to PUB101, I was able to start something that I’ve always wanted to but scared to do it. The anxiety of having people read the work I put out is just overwhelming and being the shy person that I am doesn’t help at all. I never found an outlet where I could comfortably express myself so I grabbed onto this opportunity to start something new! My blog, Be Right Back, is a lifestyle and travel blog. Obviously for the course requirement, we all had to create our own blog. That was the starting point for me. To be honest, I think people who wants to start something and haven’t gotten the guts to, just need to have that kick starter in order to take off in their journey. Like in Thorn’s post (2012) about making it into the media world, he stresses the first point for “Absolutely, Positively 1000% No-Fail Guaranteed Success” (Thorn, 2012), is to start now. Nothing can be accomplished unless you start making stuff now. And his last point: do a good job. We have to keep learning and keep trying. Even if we fail, those failures will eventually turn into successes. Our brains are capable of understanding our own weaknesses and we can use this to make better decisions.

I want to say that the audience that I have been imagining for my blog is exclusive from myself and more to entertain and influence a demographic that I attract with my travel related posts. But looking back to what I’ve created so far, I believe that I’m publishing for myself and I am my own audience. My blog has become a diary for me to document my life adventures and even if I’m not attracting any readers, I feel like I’m still passionate about my travels and it’s enough for me to continue posting. But to be honest, it’s hard to not be consumed by the competitive nature of the online space because if everyone is doing the same thing, how do you make yourself stand out? There are thousands of travel blogs out there and it is still growing day by day. We have the tendency to compare ourselves against other people but we shouldn’t base our lives on their values. Instead, the only opponent that is worth going against is yourself. In Herbert Lui’s article (2016) about competing with yourself, he states that “you can chase your future self” (Lui, 2016). I agree with this notion because you are not building your game plan for other people, you are allowed to personalize it to fit your own ability and make goals based on that.

My blog is pink themed. As much as I want to cater to everyone’s interest, I still want to maintain what I love and have a piece of my identity into the theme. I can definitely imagine myself looking back to the blog in the future and reminisce about the time that I got to do such a fun project for a university course and I’ll also thank myself for documenting my adventures so the memories will still be fresh in my mind. If I do gain an audience then it’s not just about me anymore. If that is the case, then I want to portray myself as a close sister of my readers or the sister that they never had. I want my blog to be valued as an informative yet entertaining domain and I wish to build a strong relationship with my readers where they can rely on me and on my content to have a better experience in their life adventures. The best way to interact is to integrate social media platforms as a tool to communicate. This semester, we’ve talked a lot of social media and as mentioned before in one of my process posts, I think actively using the Twitter app as a way to promote and share my blog can really help my blog flourish.

Throughout this semester, I have been keeping track of my findings in Google Analytics. As expected, most of the users are from Canada with a few occasional ones from the United States of America, Russia, and India. Through this, I’ve learned that success does not happen overnight. You can’t make a blog and wish for it to attract readers and gain a following the next morning. Of course, the only readers are my classmates and professor of PUB101. It’s hard for people to discover something that is not advertised or shared.

Looking back, I’ve definitely looked past on the complexity of publication during the beginning of the term. I wasn’t aware of the technical elements that were required to run a blog and I definitely wasn’t aware of its impact. From the theme of the blog to the content that I created, every single detail has its own impact and while it’s easy to overlook them, the reaction from the audience says a lot on its own and it reflects the current trends and shows what people are drawn to when it comes to content. I definitely want to continue on with my blog for my own purposes, as a diary that I can look back on. My online presence as of now is quite underwhelming, and while I don’t wish to work on elaborating it anytime soon, I do wish that I can make it a challenge for myself and work on my online presence in the future.

References

Carpenter, Shelby. 2016. “The Toast Is Toast: Literary Humor Site Shuts Down Over Ad Revenue Woes.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/shelbycarpenter/2016/05/13/the-toast-is-toast-and-its-devastating/#44854347c877

Lui, Herbert. 2016. “You Should Only Compete with One Person: Yourself.” Herbert Lui: Thoughts on Life, Psychology and Culture, HerberyLuinet, herbertlui.net/you-should-only-compete-with-one-person-yourself/

Thorn, Jesse. 2012. “Make Your Thing.” http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/