Since starting my blog almost two years ago for my Media and Communications degree, my entire blog layout has been the same. I hadn’t changed my blog theme, I only hashtagged the subject code, they were put into subject code categories and my writing style stayed the same. After receiving a review back on my first few posts this semester, while the comments were positive about my writing style, it was the skeleton of the blog that needed to change. This semester I was pushed to do more than just write. I needed the think about this blog a creative piece in its entirety. I needed to find the perfect theme that represents me but did not have too much going on to confuse the reader. Playing around with the colours on my blog, pink just didn’t seem to sit right. Having a pink background really was going to limit my audience to predominately females. I had to remember to not get caught up in the design though, because as Janine Warner points out in her book Creating Family Websites for Dummies (2005) “A great site design and technical gimmicks are no replacement for developing an interesting, readable writing style”.
Having had a review on my blog in week 5 really helped me evaluate what needed to be changed. Now reflecting on my work I submitted a mere 5 weeks ago compared to what I am submitting now, I believe has completely changed. The importance of self-reflection on a project like this is learning how to improve and listen to and implement constructive criticism. While some students may view reflection as “pointless”, Monash University perfectly describes the importance of self-reflection as a tool for the real world by saying “As well as facilitating learning and monitoring learning, the intention is to produce graduates who have acquired the habit of reflection as a means of continuing to learn and grow in their professions”. I feel like this statement is true as you reflect on yourself you understand your values and how you take on information given to you by others. It shows whether you’re willing to learn or not.
One of the things I learned was how to engage a bigger audience. I had a closed mind as I was mainly writing to my peers who would understand what I was talking about. What I really needed to do was to make my topics appealing to anyone who came across my blog. I found I could do this by making my blog more personal so people would know about me and not only about what Hagerstrand said for example. Warner (2005) points that it is important to have your own writing style and voice. She says to write like you’re having a conversation, avoid jargon and consider your audience. In my writing, I tried to make my style as personal as possible by trying to add parts of me to it. For example, in my post about public photography I tried to make it as me as possible. I love fashion so I spoke about street style photography. I felt as though this truly made my readers understand a bit more about me and what I love. By broadening what I was talking about, I then needed to think about how I could capture a bigger audience. Previously only hashtagging subject codes, it really didn’t bring much traction to my blog. It was suggested to me that I hashtag more than just subject codes. So on my first post after this advice I hashtagged things that were sprinkled throughout my blog. Within 5 minutes I had 5 likes which I had never had before and that post is still my highest viewed post.
It was extremely important that I took on the advice given to me as it really did broaden my audience. Although I was getting better at using WordPress as a tool to widen my audience, I still struggled with using Twitter as way to navigate my audience to my blog. I found that Twitter never really gave me much traction. I would regularly post links to new posts and hashtag BCM240, but reflecting on this now, maybe that was my downfall. I should have been tagging other tags that were alike to my post instead of closing in my audience to only my peers. Hines (2015) says that it is very important to promote your posts on social media if you want a large audience. Maybe if I had extended links to my blog via Facebook and Instagram I may have received more viewers but I personally didn’t see those platforms as being particularly helpful or relevant. Another thing that Hines (2015) says is that you need to post regularly to keep your audience coming back. I tried to do this by having posts completed by Sunday every week, also partly because I didn’t want to be swamped with posts at the end to write. I knew if I wrote posts at a good pace, I might receive comments on my posts or more views, as people would wish to come back and read what was new. I would like to compare the views on posts of people who regularly space out their posts compared to those who write them all at once.
Lastly, I found that for me it was really important to read my peers posts. In reading them, I could establish myself on how I felt towards a particular topic and what I wanted to write about. I found that reading other posts made me consider options I had never considered and also it was good to see what my peers thought of different topics. As we are looking at ethnographic research, it became a good way for me to have those personal insights into the ways people functioned regarding the media and I could conduct ethnographic research of my own. I had some advice on needing to engage readers so I decided to use my blog browsing to my advantage. Every post I would add my favourite blog post by one of my peers for that week’s topic and sent a link to the post so my followers could read it. I think that this was a great way for readers to find out more information about certain topics. This task has been challenging at times as I found it difficult to write about my thoughts and myself and also adding other sources and references. I believe blogging has made me become a better writer and has allowed me to better understand the topics that we have learned about throughout BCM240.
Janine Warner 2005, Writing a Good Blog from Creating Family Websites for Dummies, For Dummies, viewed 3rd October, http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/writing-a-good-blog.html
Kristi Hines 2015, 6 Ways to Grow your Blog Audience, Social Media Examiner, viewed 3rd October, http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/grow-your-blog-audience/
Monash University N/A, The reflective learning process, viewed 3rd October 2015, http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/medicine/reflective/3.xml