While the term “publishing” originally revolves around books, magazines, and newspapers, the definition has changed significantly over the years. Print, known as the traditional form of publishing, has now been digitized and presented in an online environment. As Baym and Boyd stated, “people choose to share content in ‘‘spreadable’’ media” which indicates that people’s relationship to public life, through social media, has shifted in the digital era (Baym & Boyd, 2012, p.321). With that being said, I’d like share some of my thoughts and experience as a food blogger and an online publisher throughout this term.
In a podcast by Gardner Campbell, he encouraged us to build a “personal infrastructure”, one that we can modify and extend throughout our college career and beyond. The construction of a blog in this class has allowed us to “frame, curate, share, and direct our own “engagement streams” throughout the learning environment” (Campbell, 2009). At the beginning of the term, we have been asked to set up our own domain and create a blog using WordPress. One of the challenges I faced was coming up with a blog name.
One of the most important elements of a blog, having the right name that best reflect the content of the blog. I am a hungry girl and I always Instagram my food before I eat, so I thought it would be a good idea to create a food diary with reviews and recommendations. Well, everyone has to eat, right? So, I decided to write a food blog. I finally came up with the name “All the Right Bites”, which clearly reflects the main theme as food. With this blog, I aimed to discover the diversified culture around food and share valuable reviews with my reader.
So, how should I blog about food? I did some research on food blogs and I came across Irvin’s article Food Blogging 101: How to start a food blog. For restaurant reviews food blogs, he mentioned that “gorgeous photography and wonderful writing” are the basics of food blogging (Lin, 2011). Photography is recognized as the visual voice through the content that is produced, which highlights the relevance of incorporating appetizing images of food into a blog. More importantly, another essential aspect to earn a loyal readership is to identify and establish a unique voice in our writing because we want our readers to resonate with our content. To this date, I am still experiencing to develop an authentic voice for my public and hopefully as time goes by, I will naturally find the tone and identify a unique voice of my own.
While the theme of this blog is food, it addresses a specific niche and brings them together in an online environment. As Warner defined, “the public is a kind of social totality” (Warner, 2002, p. 413). In other words, it is of the people and the community that comes together to a public sphere. Here you may ask, who is my public then? I didn’t really have a specific niche in mind at first but since this is a food blog, I’d say my audience can be anyone who loves to eat and wants to share anything about food with me. As many of my posts are focused on Vancouver food scenes, my blog can also be handy for travellers who may be visiting Vancouver in the future.
In addition to blogging, we were introduced to Google Analytics, a useful tool that provides information on people who visited my site. With the installation of this service, I was able to gain valuable insights on my site performance. While the majority my visitors come from Canada, there were also a number of them from the U.S, Russia and Brazil. This information was quite shocking to me, I never thought my site would reach people who are so far away from where I am! I was also able to see that many users access my site through Chrome and Safari, and rather less through mobile and tablet devices. I have set up my site so that it is responsive to mobile devices so I am hoping to see an increase of this number in the near future. As of today, my site has generated 1,140 views with a bounce rate of 56.74%, which I think it is not too bad given the blogged has only started for three months.
Google Analytics have also helped me in identifying where my visitors are coming from. My posts are connected to my Twitter account, so when a post is published, it will automatically update a tweet with a link to my site. I was really surprised when I made a post reviewing Spaghetei, a fusion Japanese pasta restaurant; they retweeted my post on Twitter and featured it on their Facebook page. The post was very successful in reaching many viewers directed from both of the social media websites observed in Google Analytics. It was very encouraging to a newbie blogger like myself to post more regularly because people are interested in reading my content!
For my tracking assignment, I have used Track My Happiness to record on my happiness level. I was not a fan of this tracking application at first, because I thought it was silly to have to track my emotional state for a blog. However, as I’ve successfully completed a series of tracking cycles, I was able to identify some interesting relationships between my happiness and my daily activities. I have discovered that I am most happy when I am doing something productive as opposed to being lazy and procrastinate. Although the amount of sleep I get does not influence my happiness level, I realized that I have a really messy sleeping schedule.
As we have looked into marketing potentials of a blog, I want to mention some of the changes I’ve made lately not for marketing purposes but to share my blog on food-related platforms to reach a large demographic of readership. By adding an html at the bottom of my posts, my blog posts has been featured on the restaurants that I’ve reviewed on the Urban Spoon website. Since then, it has generated some traffic to my site shown on referral links on Google Analytics. Furthermore, I’ve been posting my reviews on Yelp, again, hoping to gain exposure to this blog and put myself out there as a food blogger to generate trust and interest to my content.
Seth Godin mentioned in a TED talk, “we are living through and are right at the key moment of a change in the way ideas are created and spread and implemented” (Godin, 2009). The prevalent of social media has encouraged conversations and collaborations, as such; blogging is recognized as a platform for the creation of content. This blogging experience has given me a lot of motivation to EAT and inspiration to create meaningful content and share it with my audience. It has given me a chance to discover a new dimension of media distribution, and to establish myself in an online environment through my eating journey. Even though this semester is coming to an end, my interest and passion for blogging will not stop here. In the future, I will continue to blog and explore different ways to expand my online presence beyond this course.
Campbell, G. 2009. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” podcast. From http://www.gardnercampbell.net/blog1/?p=934
Lin, I. (2011, 11 14). Food Blogging 101 – How to Start a Food Blog. Retrieved 4 8, 2014. From: http://www.eatthelove.com/2011/11/food-blogging-101-how-to-start/
Nancy K. Baym & Danah Boyd. (2012). Socially Mediated Publicness. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media , 56 (3), 320-329.
Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech. , 88 (4), 413-425.
Seth Godin. 2009. “The Tribes we Lead.” TEDTalks.