My Individual Project: Posh Notes – a blog on journalism trends and commentary on news
‘Yay! Another blog!’ I hear you exclaim. Or are you really thinking ‘Could you be anymore unoriginal?’
Well, I was thinking the latter, at first, for as much as I enjoy blogging and learning about blogging and how one becomes a better blogger, I hadn’t originally intended to do a blog. Hey, I’m just being honest.
After seeing some of the amazing slideshows and multimedia work on The New York Times’ website, I’d had the idea to create a slideshow and podcast featuring mini bios on some of my friends. The idea was based on my own experiences of a ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ and what had ensued in the years following. I stared off small with things like cutting off all my hair and joining the gym, but then I realised I needed to make bigger changes: I left my husband, moved out, forced myself to make new friends (most of mine stopped talking to me after the split), applied for university and was accepted to study journalism – which was a major triumph in itself, as it was a degree I’d started many years ago back home in Australia but had never had the chance to finish (after my second year, I deferred to travel for 6 months which turned into seven years travelling and living all over Europe, finally settling in the UK).
I digress. Right, so a few of my friends have also experienced ‘life-changing’ moments upon turning 25 (some bought a house, some got married, moved overseas, some had babies, changed careers- you get the picture) and I wanted to capture the excitement, the anticipation, the nerves, the joys and the sadness that could come from making such important life-altering decisions at what many would feel was still a young age. I was going to take photos of each person during the interview, combine it with images relevant with their story and then put the slideshow to the audio.
I’m not really sure why I didn’t go through with this. Ah yes, time. I ran out of it.
So I figured my next best idea was to do a…drumroll please….blog.
Here’s a break-down:
The idea: A blog from the perspective of a journalism student, commenting on journalistic trends and things that were happening in the media. The notion was that it could explore issues like ‘churnalism’, or how PR can affect news etc and essentially cover topics that I’d found interesting in class or that had grabbed my attention; elements of journalism that I find interesting, challenging or moving. It wasn’t totally serious – the idea was to keep it casual enough so that I could just log on and type away without worrying too much about how ‘professional’ it appeared. As much as I complained earlier that doing another blog wasn’t my original idea, it’s one that I’d quite happily maintain beyond this project.
Does it work? Hmm. Tricky. I’d say yes, but then I’m biased. Of course there are things that can be improved. It works because it’s something I’m genuinely interested in. It works because I’ve finally worked out a ‘niche’ to my mental ramblings, thoughts and comments. I’ve read alot about what makes a successful blog. Yes, there are technical elements, like your ability to communicate, links, tweets etc – but the one practice I kept seeing being advised was that a blog needed consistency and a theme. If you wanted to write about frogs, write about frogs. In this case, I wanted to focus on journalism and the media from the perspective of someone who was only just being submerged in the industry – from someone who was willing to learn, make mistakes and who wanted to explore and not so much judge or be overly-critical. I included as much multimedia as possible – from images and videos (I’d expand to podcasts and things wherever possible). I had RSS feeds, links to sites, links to my videos and I organised my blog in a way which I think is easily navigable. I’m hoping ‘navigable’ can apply to blogs and not just waterways!
What might make it better? Twitter. Social media. I need to learn to embrace these more. Perhaps I could have ensured my headlines were better for SEO. I could have posted more. I could have tried to include more original content, although my format was more about comments on work already out there. I love writing, and if I can learn to clear some time in my day, I could probably become quite a regular blogger – but I need to learn to drive traffic to my site – that’s something I struggle with. SEO techniques will help I know – so practice makes perfect. I’m okay for categories and tagging, so perhaps more links and better headlines are needed. It’s a working progress!
Have I learned from other projects? YES! A resounding yes! I’m always flicking through other WordPress blogs, especially the featured blogs on the main site. I’m always curious to read who the bloggers are and what makes their blog so successful. It is generally down to a few elements, namely:
- The subject is relevant to a wide range of people. Mum-type blogs are the perfect example. These blogs always seem to have comments from other mums and become almost community-like writing forums where women share stories of their stressful lives and how adorable their children are. The best ones, of course are funny. Which leads me to point number two…
- Entertaining blogs – i.e. funny, ironic or interesting posts – are a sure way of building a good audience. I subscribe to a number of blogs whose owners have an amazing way of turning mundane activities into the most hilarious scenarios.
- Niche blogs – such as tech or cooking or travelling – also attract wide audiences.
What I have noticed is that personal blogs aren’t generally full of links or tags or even categories. These diary-type posts are just interesting, insightful or entertaining. So I’m confused. There, I said it, but the one thing I can take away is that these bloggers are consistent. Whether it’s writing everyday or just once a week, they maintain their blogs and are aware of their audience. They also appreciate feedback and comments.