In this course, I had the opportunity to create a blog and learn about what it means to publish myself to the world. I did this by focusing on an Instagram page I had called @nimras.canvas, and expanding my presence onto this blog, NimrasCanvas. NimrasCanvas-the blog and my Instagram page-are platforms where I share my thoughts and work as an artist, poet, and writer (See “About NimrasCanvas” page for more). Through my journey in creating my online presence, I have learned how to use WordPress, how to describe my work and identity to my audience, ways to monetize, and other tools I can build this platform moving forward.
My experience as an online publisher began at a young age. In Grade 5, I tried to start a jewelry business. I remember using Wix to mix and match text and images on my chosen layout. I also remember using other tools to play around with when creating a logo for myself. It’s been so long that I forgot the name of my business. However, I stopped pursuing that path, and although I regret stopping it, starting it helped me get my feet wet in the online publishing world.
In 2019, I started my Instagram for @nimras.canvas as a creative outlet. I have some posts for original paintings, poems, and drawings. In my experiences with these platforms, I didn’t comprehend that I was publishing. Instead, I posted because I wanted to and wanted others to be inspired by or notice my work. With this course and developing my blog NimrasCanvas, I understood the power of ‘self-presentation’ (Hollenbaugh, 2020) and creating what I wish for people to see.
I have created my publication of NimrasCanvas with Reclaim Hosting through WordPress and have had a rough start. Firstly, my Reclaim Hosting login wasn’t working, and I had to keep changing my password and using cPanel to log in. Eventually, I resolved that problem, but then I had to watch videos on how to use WordPress because I was overwhelmed by the options and themes I could use. There are many other functions that I have not used or discovered yet. For example, I know I can add more buttons for people to click to take them to external links, and I can also make room for more transmedia embedded in my posts. I wouldn’t say WordPress is for everyone, other platforms such as Wix also provide an easy user interface. I believe that the media you choose to create your publications with depends on your niche and type of audience.
WordPress aside, I used Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Linktr.ee to publish more of my content. Linktr.ee provided a way for me to share YouTube clips and my blog NimrasCanvas on my Instagram account. Moreover, Instagram and TikTok let me post pictures of my writing and create video content for my storytelling and short film projects. These types of content are essential for NimrasCanvas because they fall under my theme of creativity. Another reason I chose Instagram and TikTok as platforms was because I already had a following on those social media accounts, which allowed me to have more audience reach.
For this blog, I identified myself as an artist. Through this process of creating my online self, I’ve realized that creative writing and poetry were my main niches. Therefore, those are the themes I used for most of my posts. My imagined public for NimrasCanvas were other artists like me. However, I believe the real public I may have been pleasing were my peers in PUB 101 and my followers on Instagram who had happened to find the link to this blog in my Linktr.ee. One important factor I want to mention is that I never promoted my website outside of my inner circle and other people who follow me on Instagram. I felt like I was being very open online, but not when it came to my everyday life. As Danah Boyd puts it, “I was being public, but not in public” (Boyd, 2014).
Since I pictured my audience as other people who like similar niches such as writing and poetry, I catered my website design to them by writing things down and giving a vulnerable diary-like feel. Journalist and writer Maria Konnikova states in her article “The Psychology of Online Comments”; online content gets lost in translation because readers can lose connection to the writer (Konnikova, 2013). This disconnection is typical and can often lead to a ‘cold’ response in the audience because they assume the writer’s tone and can get triggered (Konnikova, 2013). However, my intention behind posting my handwriting was to give the audience an authentic look at my poetry. I also used images of myself and a voice memo for one of my poems, so the audience has a face and voice to consider. For my typed text, I edited it so that I don’t use any jargon, so I am consistent with my tone. I follow a beige color scheme for my content since the color is like a piece of canvas. I also use featured images that match my other colors’ aesthetic in my blog.
NimrasCanvas holds value simply because it’s where my ideas can grow. My ideas are flourishing because my readers can take my words and relate them to their own inner experiences. Therefore, my website’s value depends on how readers interpret what they read. Audience aside, NimrasCanvas gives me value because I use it as an outlet. I also use it to create a safe space to talk about identity, mental health, self-growth, and more nuances of being human. While NimrasCanvas may not be used to make income, it is used as a way I enrich my soul.
After reading Jesse Thorn’s article “Make Your Thing” (2012), he mentions that one of his 12 points for success is finding the money, and I know there is some way to make that happen for NimrasCanvas (Thorn, 2012). Firstly, I could add in advertisements. However, I am not sure what I can advertise, given that my niche is writing. Another way is to offer my skills as a freelance writer and use crowdfunding when I eventually have a book to sell under my name. Lastly, I think I can make money off TikTok or Instagram if I start posting my work consistently. I am excited to explore more of these opportunities.
While monetizing my work for NimrasCanvas is excellent, I also need to know my audience to have enough influence to make a dime. As I explored my WordPress stats and MonsterInsights I discovered that most of my audience members live in Canada. Unfortunately, I do not have much reach on my website; therefore, I don’t have any comments from my readers. However, I have received likes on my posts. One of the posts I received a like on was when I performed at Douglas College. This tells me that my audience likes it when they see photos of me performing my work. I think what I could have done for next time and moving forward is to make more posts of me performing my work and adding in audio or a video clip.
I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity to develop my online self through this course. Before this course, I didn’t comprehend that I was publishing on my Instagram page @nimras.canvas. Instead, I posted on the Instagram page because I wanted to. I also thought that publishing was restricted to books. However, as this course moved forward, I learned that we publish ourselves anytime we post anything online or put ourselves out there for the world to see. I also used to see posting our online presence as a bad thing, but now I realize that content creators and publishers alike are making money, building connections, and creating social change with a tap of a button. Therefore, maybe publishing our online selves isn’t so bad after all. However, I need to remember that boundaries for online use are essential, and I should only share what feels fitting to share. I also want be more comfortable sharing my work in public not just the public I have online. I want to have influence outside of social media influence, so there should be a balance between promoting things in person and doing it online.
As I end this course, my goal is to continue with NimrasCanvas through WordPress and my Instagram page. However, I want to make the blog more organized and hopefully have a section on it where people can ask me questions and call me in to perform poetry. I might even change the name of NimrasCanvas to direct my focus more on poetry and writing. I am also considering creating the opportunity to start freelance writing for people, so I want to look into that. On Instagram, I want to develop Reels and show my face more. Lastly, I hope to write more so I can publish a poetry book and use platforms such as Patreon to connect with others and build my audience. The possibilities are endless.
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