Starting something new is always a journey, no matter how long you spend on it. As someone who has started countless new projects with a mixed follow through rate, I felt a kind of nervous excitement along with the fire in my veins when I learned that I had to start a blog for Publishing 101. Plus, the rate of project completion when it comes to my education is much higher than independent projects. So, I went into this confident that it would result in something lasting, and something that I love, which is exactly what happened.
Starting off this project was a mix of familiarity and learning. Having done book related content online before and managed several blogs, I found that to be the easy part. The harder part was creating and applying all the details. In the past, everything was done for me on sites like Tumblr and YouTube, but now it was up to me. Now, I am grateful for that; customization is key and I really enjoyed what I did for my site. I’m so happy to have the product I have now: a bookish website for reviews, opinion pieces, and community development, all with a queer flare to it. I mentioned in one of my early posts that I was thinking of doing this for years now, and this class was able to give me that final push to just do it. Reflecting on that now, it’s still true and I’m even more grateful for it. Channeling the time and energy into this site was my favourite thing I’ve done this fall, and it has really given me a chance to grow into who I want to be online and what I want to present.
Tanya Basu’s (2020) thoughts on digital gardens really inspired me throughout this semester. From that notion, I was able to generate my niche in my own digital garden—and it felt so good. Having created content on platforms like YouTube where I had to strictly follow their rules, this change was so refreshing and knowing that being able to cultivate my own garden as I go along threw me back to my earlier days online where I was making posts for myself, instead of an audience.
That being said, I did speak to an audience and public throughout my postings. My goal was to attract fellow book lovers, particularly those interested in queer narratives, and I did so through creating regular posts on books, primarily reviews, and by adding other elements to my blog’s design. Elements include a Goodreads widget to reflect my recent reads, images of books in my header and consistently in my posts, and including mentions of books where I can. I believe the majority of my audience is imagined, as I do not have a high amount of outside traffic on my blog, and I am mainly creating my site for myself, as mentioned previously through a digital garden. As I continue to create and grow my website, I will definitely consider trying to grow an audience more, as a lot of the main parts of the site have been established already as the semester has gone on.
Moving forward, I also want to focus on creating a stricter posting schedule, where I can balance the real world and my experiences with what I put online. What prompted me to come to this conclusion is what Kalev Leetaru (2017) described in his article about losing touch with the past as we move forward digitally: if I don’t take the time to exist outside of the digital sphere and keep parts of my life outside of that, what will become of my person? Will it be absolved into the digital realm? Or forgotten outside of it, like massive aspects of history are as described in the article? Along with this, I still want to successful. Jesse Thorn’s (2012) piece on successfully creating “your thing” in 12 steps is now bookmarked in my tabs, and something I’ve been referring to a lot in this last week of content creation for this course. Along with scheduling, I’ve been using a lot of the model he’s developed as I continue to work on my blog. Being passionate, making connections, and not losing sight of my authenticity are my main focus moving forward, and I think are good places to start as this course comes to an end.
I’ve grown a lot since I started this process. I thought it would go one way, but certain roadblocks, like not being able to create all the content I imagined I would create during the semester due to timing, and learning experiences, like the feedback I was given in peer reviews on the design of my blog, what was effective and what wasn’t, really shifted this experience to something I didn’t expect at all. In a very good way, I will say, and that truly heightened this experience for me. I value everything I’ve been able to learn from this course and from the work I’ve done within it. At the end of the day, this is really just the beginning for me. I’m excited to continue on this journey with this project, and to bring to life what I want to create and see what I’ll end up coming up with as time goes on. I’m looking forward to continuing to develop myself online, in a way that I feel I have enough control over and enough passion within.
Basu, T. (September, 5 2020). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved from: https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/
Leetaru, K. (September 29, 2017). In a Digital World, Are We Losing Sight of Our Undigitized Past?. Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2017/09/29/in-a-digital-world-are-we-losing-sight-of-our-undigitized-past/#14b2488ccd01
Thorn, J. (November 4, 2012). Make Your Thing. Transom. Retrieved from: http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/