When starting this class, I was extremely intimidated by the thought of posting my writing on the internet. I did not think anything I wrote would be good enough or interesting enough for anyone to read, and not to mention my complete lack of tech skills that are necessary to the success of a good blog. My training as an English major helped me develop skills as an academic writer but has left me to my own devices when it comes to writing in less formal settings. However, an aspect of writing that I love and that I find in every writer I admire is authenticity. I was not going to shy away from myself and my shortcomings for the sake of attempting perfection. I was going to give myself completely over to the process and take the risk of putting my writing out there in order to grow.
My academic tone of voice shines through in my introductory blog post. I remember feeling rigid and confused when I wrote it. I didn’t know how long it should be, what I should include, or how I should sound. I ended up with a post that addressed the questions I wanted to talk about, which was a point of success, but I wasn’t happy with how I was portrayed. So I used the About Me page that I created to do so. It was there that I opened up a little more and let my audience know who I was, what my intentions were, and how I was definitely going to mess up along the way. This was what my peer reviewers told me they enjoyed more than my first post. My voice was far more relaxed, relatable, and they could tell it sounded more like me. Since then, I’ve tried to embody this voice. Not the academically minded “ask this, answer that, make this argument” kind of approach, but a more holistic, human-centered, mistake-prone, laugh-out-loud voice that reminds you of talking to a friend.
A great example of this progress for me is my post on parasocial relationships. I became obsessed with an author and podcaster and after learning about parasocial relationships and their effects, I realized the hold this one had on me. I wanted to share this, and the same way this author feels like a friend I know, I felt like I was talking to a friend about “how I just found out about this really interesting idea”. By far, it is my favorite blog post that I have written yet. I enjoyed writing as the most authentic version of myself, not hidden behind the ivory towers of academia.
I also learned how to alter the visual aspect of my blog posts to create a more engaging and memorable experience for my readers. Here’s a paragraph from my first blog post:
I listed a series of questions that I potentially wanted to answer in future blog posts. Because I was early in my blog, I did not think to list these questions in bullet points or bold them. So instead of grabbing my readers attention and showing them clearly the potential future of my blog, it was just another block of text. This would have been the perfect place to use bullet points because this paragraph is also preceded and followed by another larger paragraph, giving this page on my blog no break for white space.
Bolding and using bullet points is a technique I soon learned though and it created a much better feel and experience for my blog overall. Here’s a screenshot from my annotated bibliography post:
Here it’s clear that I learned to make use of white space, headers, and bolding. These techniques add much more value and effect to my blog visually. To me, the most significant part of this transformation is that I initially thought that if I used white space, bolding, and lists, that somehow this made my blog hold less important content. I found this is certainly not the case and that I didn’t have to concede my content, I just found ways to organize and present it better to my readers. This lesson has been carried into the rest of my blog posts, and I pay a lot of attention to how I use headers and bolding to organize the post so my readers can take it in more effectively. Focusing on content organization and how my readers will take in what I write is something that I will take with me into my future as a writer because I’ve learned how vital it is.
Another way I revised my blog is through image use. When I first started my blog, the theme I used did not allow for featured images to be used and show up on my blog page. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but I knew that my blog wasn’t as strong as it could be. I searched through WordPress and found a different theme that conveyed what I wanted those who encountered my website to feel. While uncluttered, it had room for a large header image, featured images for my blog post, and the font and color scheme were clean and simple. Now, this is what you see when you open my blog page:
The feedback that I got from peer reviews and workshops showed that my blog was now much more effective in grabbing readers’ attention and reaching the overall visually stimulating effect that I wanted to create.
Developing my blog this semester has presented me with several challenges that I had never faced before as a writer. But with time, feedback, and intentional alterations and revisions, I was able to bring it much closer to how I envision my ideal blog to be. I know that I still have a long way to go in terms of adding more engaging features than links and images, but at the moment, I’m proud of how far I’ve come with my blog this semester.