Submitting personal work to the outside world is a daunting experience. Blogs are not written in an academic matter, so personal opinions and anecdotes inevitably creep in. If a writer can embrace this, though, it offers great potential for the writing to be entertaining and enlightening. This, as Bruns (2009) explains, is key to capturing an audience: “With public writing, you’re trying to lure an audience with what you’ve written, and the way you’ve written it, and you’ll need to grab their attention immediately. General audiences sometimes want to learn something new, but much of the time they just want to be entertained or casually informed.”
I allowed this personalisation to infiltrate my blog posts, thus allowing my readers to connect with me as a writer and hopefully drawing a repeat readership. For example, in my post ‘The Twilight Zone’ I begin with a personal anecdote about the addiction which gripped my early teenage years. I believe that hearing first-hand about another’s experiences mixed with analysis is much more stimulating than simply reading a summary or discussion. In the words of Orson Welles, “I can think of nothing that an audience won’t understand. The only problem is to interest them; once they are interested, they understand anything in the world.”
The readership statistics for my blog surprised me. As you can see in the above picture, the primary country of origin for viewers is predictably Australia with 115 views in the past month, followed by the USA with 35 views. These are countries I would expect to have the highest readership numbers as the issues discussed in my blog are most prudent to Westernized cultures. Japan and Germany, however, were unexpected. Given the relatively low number of hits from these countries, it’s debateable whether or not their intent was to actually read a blog American/ Australian piracy or if they were simply lead here by the long tail of links. I hazard to guess that the single viewers from Malta, Romania, Taiwan and Ukraine, among others, stumbled upon my blog by mistake.
Search engines (Google, Google Images and AOL) proved to be the largest providers of viewers to my blog, with 68 referrals. This surprised me as I assumed the vast majority of readers would be Communications and Media students like myself. These readers comprised the second highest referral, with 45 from the WordPress reader (meaning they are subscribed to my blog) and 39 from Twitter (as I post my new blogs with the bcm240 hash tag). The link to my blog is also available on my social networking accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Blog-to-blog interaction also proved to be a successful method of drawing an increase in viewer numbers, whilst also fostering improvement in my blog. The process of giving and receiving constructive criticism is beneficial to both contributors. The act of giving helpful feedback to other writers is an art-form in itself. Simply stating “Great post, keep it up” is not going nurture the development of the author. Finding a balance between this and “the only good part was the title” is a difficult task, but is essential for further advancement of the blogger’s writing, analytical and anecdotal skills.
Through receiving feedback from other writers, I was able to gain the perspective of my reader and cultivate my work appropriately. What is always necessary to remember is that you are writing for the public sphere rather than a personal log or academic entry. Writing must be clear, concise and well evidenced.
Over the course of the semester, my mother came to expect that every weekend is ‘blog check’ day. Being the author of a text and being somewhat emotionally involved in its content often results in the inclusion of unnecessary information (also known as waffling), grammatical errors and questionable statements. My mother is a firewall, if you will, against the worst of these reaching public eyes.
For me, sitting down to write my weekly blog was a cathartic process of self-development. Beginning to write, I never pre-meditated what conclusion I would draw. As Michelle Webb (fellow UOW student) says quite beautifully, “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” The process of expressing oneself through type is that you are able to witness exactly where your train of thought began and the journey you made to reach closure. “I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering,” (Frost, 1955).
Bruns, Merry, ‘Writing for the Public’, 09/22/09, The Center for Anthropology and Science Communications, http://www.sciencesitescom.com/CASC/writing.html
Flusfeder, David, ‘Like the beam of a lighthouse’, 28/05/06, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3652692/Like-the-beam-of-a-lighthouse.html
Frost, Robert, New York Times, 07/11/55, ‘Poets on Poetry’, http://www.infoplease.com/spot/pmpoetry1.html
Webb, Michelle, ‘Michelle UOW’, 2013, http://michelleewebb.wordpress.com/