This course is called the Publication of Self in Everyday Life. I took this course during a rather unusual time in my life, and it made it a lot more complicated for me to find my online voice. I’ve seen myself in a certain way for a long time, and the events of these past few months have kind of managed to flip these ideas on their head. I’ve gained a new perspective on who I am, who I want to be, and, of course, most importantly how I present myself, particularly in an online setting.
Finding My Online Voice
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my blog when I first started. I figured personal blogs were not the kinds of things that strangers would want to read. Everyone these days seems to have a niche blog market that they appeal to and serve. For myself, I don’t think there is one particular niche that I feel comfortable in (yet) so, I figured, why not just put myself out there and hope that it is received favourably.
Something unexpected happened, though, and I began to find my voice again. I was always blogging as a teen. There are tumblr and Blogger pages out there with my teenaged soul splashed across them. I couldn’t go a day without spilling my hormonal guts out to a mostly anonymous online audience. But I see why this was so cathartic for me then, because it is just as much so now. Writing for a personal audience of one in a journal is healthy but doesn’t inspire me to do my best work. The chance to hear feedback from family, friends, and those I look up to is powerful and important, and has allowed me to build a community of people that see the world the same way that I do, forging connections that I certainly would not have made without it.
Throughout the semester, I have done a lot of thinking about my identity, and who I wanted to present through my online persona. I found myself fascinated by the concept of the Online Disinhibition Effect, and how I’ve seen it demonstrated in various online interactions. Within myself, I have noticed I show my disinhibition online through my invisibility, in that I am much less fearful of backlash brought about by my online sharing, because I cannot see those who read my work, and likewise they cannot see me. This gives me a bit of a dissociation from the fear I normally have in expressing myself in real life, which has proven to be a very liberating and exciting experience.
Audience and Analytics
Thus far, my audience has been made of primarily (almost exclusively) from referrals from my Facebook page. It took me a while to become confident enough to share my work online, and also to create content that I felt was worthy of an audience, but once I did, I began to post my blogs on Facebook on a regular basis. This resulted in a massive increase in traffic on my site, and a fairly even split between returning and new visitors which has since moved to approx. 66% new and 33% returning. As you’ll see below, a huge number of my website traffic comes from Facebook, either from my own linking, or other people sharing my posts (Thanks, Suzanne!). This is unsurprising, because according to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, Facebook is still the most used social media platform for those aged 18-34, which is my primary demographic (Meeker, 2016).
Additionally, I feel like I could really generate a lot of activity on the site were I to start sharing my content on Instagram, especially since my Instagram profile is public, while my Facebook posts can only be seen my by friends. I have a link to the website in my profile, however, I could do more to increase referral from Instagram if I were to include snippets of blog posts in my Instagram posts.
One of the more exciting things that developed recently was a comment I received from a well-known Canadian money blogger who read one of my posts that linked to her website! Hopefully this will be the start of a growing network of bloggers and individuals that I will one day be a part of. It seems like a wonderful place to find a supportive community to grow within.
With regard to branching out into the world of monetizing, I don’t think I’m quite ready to do that yet. Perhaps as I grow and improve my website, I will feel more like I have a product worth monetizing and enough traffic to actually make a difference. Until then, I am very much okay with keeping this a non-monitary endeavour.
As I continue with my blog, I have a number of goals that I am interested in pursuing and tackling, in order to grow in my personal brand, as well as developing skills that I may be able to apply to the work that I may want to pursue in the future. These include:
- Find a new theme that has a professional and clean appearance, so that I appear less like a beginner blogger and more like someone who has been around for a while and has a good sense of branding.
- Continuing to develop my personal brand and discover the appropriate audience for these endeavours.
- Branch out on how I share my content, and possibly begin to collaborate with other companies/bloggers to build a positive reputation and good connections.
- Honing in on more specific content and a better-developed purpose of the website.
- Apply the skills learned in this class in a professional setting.
I’m feeling particularly inspired by Jesse Thorn’s piece, Make Your Thing, and his tips and tricks to finding success. The great news is a lot of this I have already embarked upon (see #1 Start Now) and I am comfortable and confident there is no way to go but up from here.
So… now what?
My perspective on my personal voice, and what I have to offer the world has changed so drastically. It’s helped me to change my mind about what kind of career path I want to be on, and it’s reminded me that people genuinely are interested in hearing what I have to say. So now what? I’m going to keep doing this. I’ll post whatever strikes my fancy and hope that occasionally I’ll strike gold. But I’m doing it with a renewed sense of optimism and confidence in myself.
Mary Meeker. 2016. “2016 Internet Trends Report.” http://www.slideshare.net/kleinerperkins/2016-internet-trends-report
Suler, John. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html
Jesse Thorn. 2012. “Make Your Thing.” http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/