I always had an appetite for self-expression. In secondary school, I would post on multiple platforms including YouTube and Tumblr under a mysterious username. Although I constantly craved to speak my mind, I would always set my posts to private out of instinct. My self-expression was always limited to a privatized audience. This came as a result of being taught to keep things private online. In Danah Boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, she expresses the sentiment behind teaching the youth to be cautious online. She states that parents are usually concerned about their child’s online presence with worries that they might post something inappropriate or dangerous (Boyd, 2014, Searching for a Public of Their Own, para. 16). I was never posting anything harmful, but it was still a frightening thought to have something negative traced back to me in the real world. My past fears about having an online presence are important to recall when understanding how my habits have transformed throughout the semester.
PUB 101 forced me to defy the fears that I previously avoided. It troubled me to think about how others would perceive me online, so creating a public blog about myself was a significant disruption to the habits that I was normally comfortable with. The first disturbance came about when I was picking a blog name. It was such a critical decision to create a web domain that would last a year. Initially, I wanted my blog to be under a mysterious username, in the same degree as my old habits. However, I figured using my name would be my best bet at creating something unique. Since I was already taking a leap of faith by creating a blog in the first place, it didn’t seem too far off to also name it after myself. In hindsight, I’m surprised that I chose to post things under my real name where anyone could find me. This name choice was a shocking first step that paved the way for many other decisions because it went against all of the preconceived opinions that I had about creating an online presence.
After that first step, I decided to choose a blog theme. I wanted a theme that was minimalistic but also unique; something that wouldn’t take away from the content that I would post. I took a long meander through WordPress themes and initially settled on one of the lesser-known ones called ‘Pink Personal Blogily’. I enjoyed its simplicity, but I soon realized that this lone factor was its greatest downfall, since it lacked a number of customization features that I desired. Shortly after, I adjusted to the ‘Elfie’ theme. This theme allowed for the same minimalism but included more ways to customize features. I tried to keep in mind the design principles that were mentioned in class – balance, rhythm, proportion and scale, contrast and point of focus, and unity and harmony.
I was originally debating between two totally different blog topics – hockey or fashion. But since we’re in a global pandemic right now, the hockey season was constrained. With that being said, fashion was my best option. I consider myself to be heavily motivated by fashion influencers, so I thought it would be a good idea to experiment with fashion using my own personal twist. In “Digital Dressing Up: Modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere” by Tara Chittenden, she explained how many females, including myself, choose to express themselves using fashion blogs. Chittenden articulates, “The complex interplay between individuality and connectedness comes to the fore in the field of the fashion blog as teens trade cultural and social capital through processes of posting, linking, and commenting” (Chittenden, 2010, para. 14). This is extremely relevant to the way that I view large fashion influencers and the way that I strive to become one as well. Popularity amongst fashion influencers stems from the idea of following trends while also creating new trends to follow. When reflecting on my own blog posts, I recognize that I do a lot to make myself become a part of the fashion community, but I don’t do a lot in order to differentiate myself from other people.
For the most part, I provide information about products, including reviews and dupes. When looking for influencers to follow, I usually follow people who also provide reviews and dupes. In that sense, I recreate the tactics that big influencers use so that I can garner growth similar to them. This concept can relate to the idea of copycat culture that Travis Gertz outlines in “Design Machines: How to survive in the digital apocalypse.” Gertz states, “When another company achieves success, there’s a lot of pressure to investigate what they did right and apply that to our own organizations” (Gertz, 2015, para. 24). Although this is a good way to start, I also realized throughout the semester that this tactic can quickly become a disadvantage. This downfall is because there are many people who already blog about fashion and do it better than me. At the end of the day, it becomes a question of who will choose to listen to my opinion over other influencers who have a larger following? The only way to win in this situation is to create something unique; something that I haven’t done enough of. I learned this by exploring the statistics provided by my audience. Most of the sessions on my blog are surface-level interactions, with no comments. Consequently, I still have a lot to learn about how to cater to my audience using Google Analytics.
My imagined audience is other fashion enthusiasts who have a similar style as me. Although this imagined audience is whom I would hope to reach, I presume that almost all of my real audience is actually students from PUB 101. I think it would be cool to reach more of my imagined audience in the future, but I also understand that doing so takes time and effort that I have yet to put in. Before this class, I thought it would be easy to create and maintain a blog. But I realized it takes a lot of work. There’s a big difference between having an idea and actually executing it with an audience in mind. I had endless ideas about what I could post, but the way that I imagined them in my head ended up being difficult to successfully market to an audience. Although this is the case, it’s a part of growth to understand what I enjoy posting and vice versa.
After this course, I will continue to blog. I will experiment more with catering content to my audience and trying to find ways to reach more people. It will be fun to look back on my content from the past and see how much I have grown from it. I gained unforgettable knowledge from this course that I know I will use in the future. Since I want to work in the marketing industry, it was fascinating to learn about content creation and analytics. It was a valuable experience to be able to casually experiment with ways to cater to an audience, especially because it is actually a lot harder than it seems. I also learned how to use many different tools like WordPress, Google Analytics, Canva, Pexels, and Unsplash. I will be delving deeper into these new tools to use in my work life.
Boyd, D. (2014). Searching for a public of their own. In D. Boyd, It’s Complicated (pp. 213-227).
Chittenden, T. (2010). Digital dressing up: modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere. Journal of Youth Studies, 505-520.
Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). Design Machines: How to survive the digital apocalypse. Retrieved from Louder Than Ten: https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines