Looking back at my blog posts over the last two years, it’s easy for me to see what has changed and how far my writing has come. When I first started this blog, I was anxious to post my work because I knew that it would be in a public space and that anyone could read it. I didn’t want to post something that I wasn’t happy with, but I also didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. For someone that wants to work in the media, it’s a very odd stance to take.
The way I approach blogging now is very different to the beginning of this blog: I’m more comfortable with my work being publicly available, I enjoy being able to contribute my opinions, and I love the way that my blog is set out.
Starting my first post for BCM110 was a nightmare because the most exposure I’d had to posting in a public space was an old WordPress blog I had to cover a trip to Kenya that never happened. One of my first posts was a strange mix of personal experience and academic essay that should never have been mixed together, but happened because I was unsure of what style to use. Finding the right balance between the two took it’s time, but I’ve now developed a style that fits what I want my blog to say about me – but there’s always room for improvement!
Although when I write or tweet about a project or a post it is in the comfort of my own home and is confined to the drafts section of my blog, I know that as soon as I hit publish it will be out in the world for everyone to see. This means that I really think about the quality of the work that I post, which has allowed my writing practices to develop more than if I had kept it to myself (Wolfe 2014).
The work that I am publishing each week has certainly improved because of this thought process, and writing in a public space has allowed me to enhance the way I write, as well as what I write.
While I have made progress on the content that I’ve produced, I know that there are still areas that need to be improved. Some of my posts do read more like an essay than a blog post, so that is something that I’ve tried to work on. Balancing references with personal experience and opinion is difficult when I’m not used to writing in this style. I know that the only way to really overcome this is to develop a writing habit to practice creating that balance. As King wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut” (2000, p.145).
Another thing I know needs to be strengthened is my promotion and publicity of my content. When I publish a post, I tend to leave it there and forget about it. The statistics of my site show me that although I am getting some traffic on my blog, there are definitely strategies I can use to increase it.
One thing I could do to increase the number of views would be to tweet a link to my posts once they are published. The use of hashtags or mentions relating to my posts when I tweet them would also increase the chance of my post being seen. Something that I do well in this area is the use of tagging and categorising on my blog. Each post has a set of tags relating to the content to make it searchable and accessible either through a search engine or the blog itself.
A different way to make people aware of my blog would be to engage with others through their blogs and Twitter, as it can create conversation and debate that can help build networks (Demopoulus 2006). In BCM112, we had to comment on someone’s post every single week. This meant my blog saw more traffic than it has this year, because I haven’t been commenting on anyone else’s blog and as a result, no one has noticed my blog in order to comment. Tweeting and commenting each week will help me to develop my writing habit, and extend the reach of my blog.
The layout and format of my blog has also changed since its creation. I started my blog with the Sorbet theme, purely because it is what I had used on my Kenya trip blog. At the beginning of this year, I realised that it wasn’t the most navigable theme and decided to change it ready for the new semester. My blog now runs on Dara, which I have customised, along with my Twitter, to create my branding “itsbritters”.
Changing the theme has definitely helped me in making my blog fit my style as it’s clean and easy to navigate to what I need, and has encouraged me to create better content.
Everything considered, I think my blogging experience has helped me to become a better writer and researcher as I ensure that what I’m writing is factually correct and easy to read. While my stats are not the highest, I know that this is due to my lack of promotion and have devised a plan to increase this and make sure my blog is seen.
Demopoulos, T. 2006, What no one ever tells you about blogging and podcasting: real-life advice from 101 people who successfully leverage the power of the blogosphere, Kaplan Publishing, Chicago.
King, S. 2000, On writing: a memoir of the craft, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.
Wolfe, K. 2014, Blogging: how our private thoughts went public, Lexington Books, Maryland.