This Fall semester has been a tumultuous time of discovery for me. After taking this course, I realized that my passions lie in informal, online editorials rather than archaic English texts. I learned that Publishing extends much farther than merely books, and can encompass the most innocuous piece of writing, such as a forum post. I have extended my knowledge of social media integration, algorithms, and the importance of audience. But most importantly, I have a desire to pursue blog posting and journalism further in my University studies.
Although I may not have accrued stellar technical expertise from this course, I understand WordPress’ functionality and proper website design. By being encouraged to think about affordances and how my site may look to the casual viewer, I was able to make menial adjustments to tailor to my audience. These small changes include font type changes, font size changes, improving the navigability of my site, and its general aesthetic. While I am still trying to wrap my head around metadata and CSS code alterations, I believe that the progress I made with WordPress has been substantial over a 13 week period.
Although my background image may have initially violated copyright rules, I learned to change it to a similar background that encapsulates the energetic and comforting vibe I envisioned. In fact, most of my content dances dangerously close to the copyright flame, which required me to learn what constitutes Fair Use and what does not. My posts discuss a medium that is very detached from reality, so I wanted my site to encapsulate the same escapist fantasy that nerdy communities can provide. Thankfully, I had a firm grasp on my audience at the start of the semester, and the 25 USD to create this site paid dividends for me. Although I do not have an audience, I believe that the content I make can tailor to a demographic of analytical nerdy people who want casual reads that are absolved from hate speech and cursing.
Publishing my content was nowhere near as easy as I thought. Learning Google algorithms and how they favour constant content was daunting because work, University, and relationships halt my progression to grasping the Google System. But as I learned from Jesse Thorn’s article, my content can be original and passionate, and still maintain a loyal fanbase. Looking at my pathetic Google Analytics numbers does not discourage me. If I have a day with 10+ visitors, I view that as a monumental success. I stopped expecting instant fame and realized that my dreams take a lot of work and passion. Thankfully, I genuinely love writing content for my audience, and I will continue to promote it on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit until I gain a sustainable following.
Google Analytics’ statistics were always confusing to me until I realized what all of it meant. Words like “drop off” and “retention rate” were all jargon to me before this class. Even on my YouTube channel, I never bothered to look too deep into the analytics. However, I now have a critical mind when looking at data, and grasp a firm understanding of my audiences on this site and my YouTube channel. I see which videos and pages have the strongest retention time, and understand if people explore my site and content more. For example, when I noticed that there was a huge drop-off rate on this post because I linked it to social media, I added in a “related posts” function to encourage more active readership. I am grasping Google Analytics and using all of its tools to better my site and brand.
This online presence I have instigated a part of myself that I was always afraid to express. I grew up watching YouTube, and I always wanted to be a content creator, but I never had the drive to do it until this course. I loved writing, but I didn’t know what I wanted to write. I fluctuated between poetry and attempting (and failing) at writing a novel, However, I now have a passion and a purpose, and despite my site’s lack of originality, I believe it can offer content to an audience who is curious to read it.
I focused heavily on the readings and bettering this site this semester over any other course because the other courses were not as engrossing for me. PUB101 has given me a purpose of pursuing Publishing as a career, and maybe even a co-op job as well.
If it was not obvious, this site is something I wish to update continuously. I want to learn about plugins and other resources provided by Reclaim Hosting and better my site even more. I may even undergo a theme change or a complete overhaul of the aesthetic.
I was contemplating getting my girlfriend and friends to help create content. I know that I will struggle to maintain a following on my own. I may go on vacation, or I may just grow apathetic and stop posting. I do not want to get into a disinterested state and shatter everything I have been trying to establish. Future content does not even need to be written or an article; it can be a piece of art with a caption, it can be anything, as long as it pertains to the theme of this site. I think what is critical is finding a specific audience and tailoring to it. If I wrote a “Nolan” blog, it would be incredibly boring, as I have grown indifferent to many world issues and topics. However, by cultivating my passions and similar passions of other individuals, I believe this small piece of my life can become a major factor in my identity.
In terms of Google AdSense, I would like to integrate it soon. I decided that I will see how much revenue I can accrue to really gauge how possible turning this site into a business is. This is why I need additional support for my content; to keep it relevant and always churning a profit. I do not want my site to end up like The Toast, where it was unable to sustain itself due to AdBlock and infrequent posting. I will try my hardest to avoid irrelevancy.
For future content, I want podcasts, video series, web comics, and just a lot of different types of mediums in which to express content. That cannot happen on my own. I am not a very talented artist, audio engineer, or composer; I am just a student and a writer, but with the knowledge of this course, I can better this site and promote it efficiently and effectively.
This fall semester has gone incredibly fast, and I have learned so much. I have learned about Google analytics and its integration with my site; I learned about audiences and my passions; I discovered a lot about where my true love lies, and I contemplated switching my major and minors to better pursue these dreams. It has been a tumultuous journey, but there has not been a second where I did not love it.