For this semester, I had the opportunity to start my own personal blog to represent my digital self and to be able to do this, I must create publications that suit the kind of identity I wanted to craft online. As a result, I decided to create a lifestyle blog that talks about my interest and how I live my life as an Asian – Canadian living in Vancouver, British Columbia. I understand that this is a very broad topic but my personal experience and personality is not the necessarily the same as any Asian – Canadian because I am talking about personal interests while combining my personal experience into the publications. Personally, my interests which ranges from video gaming, food and special events that occurs around the area while including my personal experience and reflection on the topics of interests. Mainly, my main mission is to provide those who are curious about the lifestyle of a geek living in Vancouver and to get rid of the stereotypes that not all geeks are extremely obsessed with geek culture 100% of the time. I wanted to show to the world that not everyone just thinks about animation all the time because certainly, I don’t have an extreme obsession but I do have other interests other than Japanese anime for I tend to see this as a hobby.
Who is my public?
The kind of public that I am aiming to acquire would be anyone with an interest in the Asian – Canadian lifestyle of a Japanese animation geek who wants to see how one lives through their everyday lives outside of the culture. This is the intended public that I wanted to attract but due to me having a strong background on attending food spots around Vancouver which resulted in me attracting more foodies than my intended audience. This is very revealing when it comes to analyzing my analytics from Google because, whenever I post an article about a restaurant or a snack I had it would always result in a huge spike of visitors. This is a strong indication that my audience which ranges from the ages of 18 – 35 are foodies which is a good thing because I love introducing new eateries and hangout spots to my readers but I really wished that the readers would be more interested in my other topics rather than just on food.
How Am I Addressing That Audience?
Due to the fact that my audience is mainly foodies, I would continue to do more posts about certain eateries that sparked my interest to help maintain returning visitors. Just because I am aiming to maintain my foodie visitors does not mean that I had halted on providing publications for other topics. I would still attempt to create content that is appealing to visitors that isn’t just interested only in food because according to analytics, it is revealed that there are still visitors that are still interested in other topics such as personal life experience, events, and video games but it isn’t as high as food posts. In terms of publications I am always trying to find ways to appeal to those who wants a preview of what my article is about by providing an appealing feature image that represents what I am walking about for the publication along with a small snippet of the article that makes the visitor wanting to know more of what I am talking about. This is similar to how a magazine draws in their audience because according to Gertz article states that “the cover gives us a hint about what’s inside, and teases out our emotion, begging us to read the rest.”
As for the design for my blog, I did not want the clean white look where the background is full of whites because I view it as being too plain. I view this kind of blog design as being too minimalistic which really does not describe who I am. Thus I aimed for a carbon fiber grid kind of feel to my background which provides a very aggressive and masculine look to my blog. According to Gertz, he states that “we tend to shy away from carving our path because reality is risky because it is difficult to quantify and defend.”
The Value That I am Providing to the Audience
As I had repeatedly described before is that I am providing the audience with a lens of how an Asian – Canadian lives his everyday life outside of the Japanese geek culture which is what I hope to provide as the value of my publications. However, given the fact that most of my returning visitors are more interested in the food part of the blog than anything else. Thus the true value that I am providing would be to provide a list of places to visit as hangouts for friends, family and loved ones because restaurants such as a ramen shop or a pub is a social spot. Given that foodies are the returning visitors, I must maintain a performative mask and provide content that is appealing to the dominant demographic. This is described by Tara Chittenden where the “‘follower’ is used to describe a person, it has performative qualities. It is meant to signal a certain kind of relationship, regardless of the blogger’s actual feelings.” Through this description I am performing a kind of service that I understand what the visitors are interested which is if the analytics tells me that my visitors are mainly interested in food articles, then I provide them with what they want which is more food articles. There is this saying from James Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies, “What is the first rule of mass media? You give the people what they want.” – Pierce Brosnan
Google Analytics and Adsense
Surprisingly when using Google Analytics other than the fact that I can see what my visitors do such as how long on average they stay on my blog, the age range of my visitors, number of visitors per page, where they start and stop on my blog which is actually quite scary at times now that I think about. By this, I mean how Google can gather data on our visitors. Due to the fact that I have Google Adsense as well which makes it even scarier because due to changes in my search and viewing patterns on the net also changes the type of advertisements, I would see on my personal blog whenever I have Ad Blocker off. If I were to search for what kind of video games I want, my blog would start showing me ads of newly released video games and if I am doing research for my papers it would provide me with the weirdest of ads. These can range from ads from rival schools asking me to enroll down to ads about applying for medical school and lastly food because I get hungry whenever I stay up prolong just to finish my assignments. This is actually happening right now but I am not going to say much.
Another thing to add the number of weird things I would like to add on my reflection, the recent abnormal number of secret language of “vote for Donald Trump” due to the election so I get it. Whoever created this on Google Analytics you are a genius but is it really necessary because even though the election is over, more and more people are starting to use it. Also near the end of the semester, the abnormal amount of Russians has been surfacing on not only my blog but also my fellow colleague’s blogs too. It is hard to identify who exactly is genuine because now these bots have a low bounce rate and longer minutes of staying and surfing around my blog. Is there a possibility that bots are getting smarter and are pretending to be genuine because this makes it really hard for me personally to determine who to filter out to get a more accurate look at my analytics.
Overall, a lot of weird things came out of analytics this semester, thanks to the presidential election Donald Trump jokes started popping up as a secret language and bots not behaving like bots *cough cough* Russian bots.
Gathering of Comments
Sadly, I didn’t gather any comments that are good other than one of where a fellow student apologizes for being a little too aggressive with her critique. Despite it being the only actual comment I collected, I was actually happy to see that a fellow student continued to read through my blog and actually responding to an article I wrote that responded to her critiques. It felt great to be able to interact with a reader even though it was only once. What shocked me is the amount of spam comments that tries to pretend to be legitimate but thankfully due to my comment filter that categorizes these comments as spam so I don’t have to waste my time to read through them. However, I did get quite curious on what these spam say so I check them anyways just to see if anything might have accidentally got sent to spam and luckily everything in the spam folder was indeed spam and advertisements.
Reflection on my Change in Thinking About Publication Since the Beginning of Term
At first, I thought the course was fairly simple but “surprise surprise” like any course at SFU, it is not as simple as I thought. As we continued through the course, there are a lot of readings that kept our brains thinking which makes us second thought ourselves when it comes to designing our own blog. We have to consider when to have our publications published due to how diverse our audience can be. Since the Internet is a connected digital space where anyone in the world can have access to your content then you really need to consider where exactly all of your audience are. Thus it results in different time zones, along with the fact that not every person is the same results in different spans of attention and interests. Some visitors are more foodies, some are more tech focused and some are just all over the place. Another thing to add is whether to moderate comments or have them left unmoderated, at first I say to leave them unmoderated because opinion is meant to be free. But after having special speakers talking in our course such as Amanda Nelson from Book Riot who has to look through and moderate comments every single day states how it is best to have comments moderated. This is due to how certain trolls can harm your audience by going overboard thus making your followers feel unsafe.
In an article written by Joel Stein on Time magazine’s website that talked about how those who trolls for laughs cites that “psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.” After reading this post and hearing what Ms. Nelson had to say really influenced and changed my viewpoint on whether to leave the comment unmoderated or not.
Before this class even started, I was going to start a blog anyways and thanks to this course it accelerated the progress of developing content for a blog. Trust me being a university student with tight deadlines and dealing with university stressors, it would had taken me forever to start my blog. Now that my blog has started and it has a variety amount of topics of interest with academic reflections being dominant at the moment. I am hoping to have more of my own personal interests outside of the course to come out more on this blog in the near future. Food is not the only factor that defines who I am and to develop an authentic self online I must not only post about food but continue to post other things that suit my interest. This is a risk I am going to have to take but due to this blog being a lifestyle blog, I am certain that with the progression of time that I would be able to develop a more diverse set of visitors and not just foodies. Dear any foodies who read this I am still going to post about food so CALM DOWN!
In the end, I had learned a lot in this course, ranging from social media integration, how to figure out what is appealing to my visitors, problems with moderated and unmoderated comments, typography, layout design and of course great guest speakers. These past three months of active class work despite all the stresses I had accumulated from other class, I liked what I did in this class. Both of my instructors are very engaging and not dry in content and topics unlike my other courses kept me engage in the topics we were discussing for the week which also made me not regret choosing to do a Publishing Minor.
Links of References:
Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. Available from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines
Tara Chittenden. 2010. “Digital dressing up: modeling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere.” Journal of Youth Studies http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13676260903520902
Book Riot. “Community Guidelines.” http://bookriot.com/about/community-guidelines/
Joel Stein, “How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet” http://time.com/4457110/internet-trolls/