My experience as an online publisher.

“The swiftest hours, as they flew”, he said.

Shakespeare once used this quote to explain how swiftly times flies, and that’s exactly what I’m feeling right now. I could still vividly remember how I was driven to my wit’s end when I first knew that I had to create and manage a personal website in early September, I had never heard of WordPress, nor did I use tools like Analytics and Plugins. It was until the arrival of this course that I realized so many easily accessible online resources are available to help novices like me to transform into a seemingly professional (haha) online publisher. I feel amazed, and is definitely overjoyed to see how nice my website looks like now; it may still look flawed for publishing professionals, but I’m already feeling kind of proud. It is because I’ve at least taken the first step to build something out of nothing, and is progressively getting familiar with the system. Now, I’m able to keep up with my interests and develop more skills by constantly exploring different plugins and tools. For me, the formative stage of learning a new skill is always the most challenging, as it’s so easy to have the urge of giving up when often having to deal with information overload. Under this kind of circumstance, taking a university course like PUB101 would be the best for learners like me as you have no choice but to persist and surmount the challenge.

I seem to have talked too much for my introductory paragraph, but it’s definitely just a tiny part of my feelings and experiences this fall. Though I’m just a beginner in publishing, I’ve always loved the elements and involve in the process. The best part of being an online publisher is that you could mix and match different art forms and content that cater to your personal interest, you could hit home the messages that you value and share your mindsets to people who are willing to spend time listening to you. It’s not only about the aesthetics (which I already love so much), it’s also about the creation of your own meanings, about your linkages with the world you’re living in. Therefore, at the beginning of the semester, once I was told that my blog should represent who I am, I simply kept asking myself two questions, the first one is: “Is there anything that I wanna say but I don’t feel like having enough space to express through my personal social media channels?” Like Derakhshan says there was the web, and on the web, there were blogs: the best place to find alternative thoughts, news, and analysis”. I knew that I should capitalize on this opportunity to let my work go through the entertainment. And the second one is: “Are there some beautiful pieces of life that I want to have them organized so badly?” It’s time for me to search for some senses of self-gratification and get something that I would love to preserve for a lifetime done.

So, that’s how the idea of creating my vegetarian-food-oriented website “My Infinity and Beyond” is born. Who is it for? To be utterly honest, the first one would be me, MYSELF. Perhaps it’s debatable whether or not this thinking is appropriate because it sounds a bit self-centered, but I see myself as the most important audience, at least in the primitive stage of developing the website. How could you please others if you can’t even please yourself? One must first meet up his/her own standards before expanding one’s creation to others! That’s what I think.

My standards aren’t unrealistic though, I simply want everything to be neat and with aesthetic potentials, at the same time readable. And most importantly, I want the content to be original and flavourful. After ensuring the presence of these elements, it’s time that I want to share them with my public. My imagined public includes anybody from any part of the world that has a passion for eating scrumptious food without guilt. As Thorn says, “it is passion that drives audiences today”. Not something-slightly-above-disinterest, but PASSION. Of course, I’m very passionate about guilt-free food as well, it’s my ultimate goal to eradicate people’s “vegetarian food is only dull veggies” thinking! By the way, what I mean by “food without guilt” is food that wouldn’t harm one’s health and other animals’ living. Correspondingly, most, if not all of the food places I’ve blogged serve exquisite, organic and unique vegetarian cuisines. In reality, I’m confident that most of my audiences are from two groups of people, which are members of PUB101 (teachers and students), plus my own family members and dear friends.

I’m addressing my audiences through editorial, design, and content. Since most of them are quite young or are with innovative mindsets (they are mostly communication students or young adults like me), I’ve been trying very hard to keep my blogs visually lively, such as by using light-toned colors and spirited fonts. While I also recognize that reading about food blogs isn’t limited to any age ranges, my editorials are mostly made to focus on the taste of the food items and the vibe of the food places, in which everyone could easily reflect on them. Furthermore, I always edit my photos before including them in my blogs, like adjusting the level of ambiance, saturation, and brightness; as well as the structure (sometimes known as sharpening level). I believe it’s crucial to catch readers’ eyes by that initial glance on the food pictures.

The values I’m providing are my beliefs, in which good food isn’t necessarily pricey, and is not confined to a particular kind of meal. Also, GOOD FOOD DOESN’T REQUIRE KILLING AND UNHEALTHY INGREDIENTS. I think everyone should understand that. From the stats from Google Analytics, the most obvious thing that I’ve learned about is the origin of my audiences, I know from where they’re reading my site so I know where they come from. For instance, some are from the Islands, some are so distant back in my homeland, Hong Kong. Sadly, even though the comment section is available and can be easily seen from my site, I’m not gathering any comments. It’s surely a thing I have to find ways to improve.

As I’ve said at the start of this essay, my current thinking about publication has changed since the beginning of the term. I thought serious publishing (excluding publishing from common social media platforms) was like a “mission impossible” thing and should be hard for an amateur to learn on his/her own. But the fact is there are a million ways to create a second to none website/blog with the help of existing online tools. I clearly know that anyone could become a publisher as long as he or she has the fervor to start learning and observing, to appreciate others’ work and find out why it’s interesting or intriguing, and it’s not so hard!

My goals for my online self are mostly achieved. The website looked as fine as I’ve imagined, and I had introduced quite a number of food places that I regarded as “must-go”s. Travis asked in his article: How will you prove you’re bet­ter than a machine?” I really like this question. I mean, there are so many similar publishing designs under the digital age, almost-the-same fonts and page layouts… I’m still not sure whether my design is not so cliche (though I like it), but it’s my goal to be different by having really personal content, my emotions are in there as well. And I reckon it’s achieved too. Nonetheless, I believe I’ll still continue to blog because I’m not willing to see my website drown and abandoned only after a few months since creation. Moreover, I hope to elaborate on my online presence by including more eateries from Hong Kong when I’m back next month.

To sum up, I’m very thankful for the opportunity I had reaped and I couldn’t wait to see how my publishing journey would continue.

References:

  1. Derakhshan, Hossein. 2015. “The Web We Have to Save.” Medium.com. July 2015. Available from: https://medium.com/matter/the-web-we-have-to-save-2eb1fe15a426
  2. Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. Available from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines
  3. Jesse Thorn. 2012. “Make Your Thing.” Available from: http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/
  4. “Time flies.” Dictionary.com. Available from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/time-flies