What I Learnt from Blogging

This site has gone through many changes in the past 8 years.

This site has gone through many changes in the past 8 years.

I bought my domain 8 years ago and its main purpose was host sites that I created ever since picking up the language in Secondary 2. It was never my intention to blog even though that was pretty much what everyone was doing with their own domains. davejunia.com served as a host to sites I was building. Back then, designing and building sites supplemented my pocket money and allowed me to learn a host of skills I would have never picked up in school.

 

Road To Blogging

A year later, I decided to build a site of my own. Before that davejunia.com simply pointed to links of sites I was building for friends and customers. I love writing but posting stuff online took a pretty long consideration. I decided to do that anyways. Keeping a blog is very much like keeping a diary except that this diary was open to the eyes of anyone bothered to read it.

An early version of the site.

An early version of the site. Blogging was not a priority.

I wasn’t and still am not a programmer. I can only handle simple code, usually learning from examples and mashing them up into something that worked for me. The initial days of blogging required me to manually create new pages, update indexes and the whole nine yards. It was tiring and required a lot of effort. As such, I barely wrote more than once a week. As I got busier, I almost completely stopped writing again. My posts were short, tired and uninspired.

WordPress turned things around. My only problem with it was that it was not purely built on my end but I decided it was time I moved on from designing and creating sites to dabble in actual content creation. WordPress is a god-send for people like me and it sparked a new frenzy of short posts beginning in October, 2008.

 

It was a slow crawl from obtaining and learning to maintain my own domain in 2004, first blogging in 2006 and re-attempting it in 2008.

 

It was a slow crawl from obtaining and learning to maintain my own domain in 2004, first blogging in 2006 and re-attempting it in 2008. Between 2008 and now, the blog went on a hibernation anytime I was involved in an MMO. I finally quit World of Warcraft early this year and have been writing pretty consistently ever since.

Blogging has become something similar to jogging. It is a release of thoughts, ideas, observations and things that I believe bring value to those that visit this site. Strangely addictive. It still requires quite a bit of work but effort is squarely placed on content and research which is what I indulge in on a daily basis. In doing so, I picked up a little and here are some pointers from this experience.

 

Observations & Experience

There are news sites and then there are blogs. News sites are run by paid journalists of which the website is simply a by product of the actual newspaper or magazine you can physically buy. Blogs on the other hand come in all shapes and sizes. There are the so called professional blogs that are, in their own right, almost equal to news sites minus the production of physical media. These blogs pay their writers and pride themselves on being first to break news. I began following them and was in many ways inspired by what they did.

Professional Blogs: Not all have kept to their original goals.

Professional Blogs: Not all have kept to their original goals.

However, over time it was glaring that the level of professionalism from these full time bloggers was appalling. I was put off by the level of bias interwoven into these sites. It was probably a lesson for me that there’s no getting away from bias and subjectivity what ever the media. I initally decided to follow these so called professional blogs because the established names in news sites were very clearly controlled and motivated to take a certain slant in reporting. In time, these blogs who began on a premise of being objective and control free went down the same route.

It was easy to understand why after I got into blogging myself.

 

Readership

The one thing that ties all media together is readership or viewership. The demand for content is what lines the pockets of publishers and puts food on the table for journalists and bloggers alike. With this relationship in mind, it is quickly clear why professional blogs went down the same route as news sites. They would balance what they write with what they thought people wanted to read. The disappointing part is when journalistic codes and ethics are sometimes compromised for the sake of readership and view counts.

 

The disappointing part is when journalistic codes and ethics are sometimes compromised for the sake of readership and view counts.

 

Some technology based blogs have been accused for being biased to a certain firm or product. While that could be true, most of the time this occurs because that topic simply happens to generate the most clicks and views. This is the barometer in which sites are measured against and this is the unfortunate engine that powers the creation of new content.

2012: Statistics for davejunia.com

Statistics for davejunia.com

This year, davejunia.com turned a growth rate that I could never have imagined. From a humble thousand odd visits a month early this year, it grew to a couple of hundred thousands in the past few months.

It was exciting to see content you put time and effort into, reach an audience of that scale and I was nearly carried away. I was advised to look at the posts that were generating the most views and clicks and do more of them. It kind of made sense but it was at this moment I realized what ruined the professional blogs that were once objective and produced content that I enjoyed.

Should I take the rather logical advice, I would have turned my blog into a site where readers have indirect control of the content curated. This would have compromised my goal of writing objectively by turning this site into a populist orientated blog that functioned only to maximize view counts. I don’t want to go down that slippery slope.

 

Monetization

At times, it was tempting to find ways to make the site earn money for me. After all, who doesn’t want free cash. But this is exactly why sites  in general go into a continual loop of writing what the masses want to read. More readers would mean more money for those running the site. When you put all these together, it is clear why sites are run the manner they are now.

 

Do people demand objective content or do they simply want to read a confirmation of what they already have in mind?

 

It is unfair to put the blame on journalists and professional bloggers because these are the metrics that pay them their wages and keep their jobs alive. After all, do people demand objective content or do they simply want to read a confirmation of what they already have in mind? The former used to be prevalent in the past but it does feel that younger generations have set a new tone and agenda which is in turn changing the direction of the media in general. Is this why tabloids and gossip papers sell better even though the content delivered is usually baseless?

 

Looking On

davejunia.com will never run for profit maximization. I do not wish to see the site be turned into a cash cow that feeds me only because viewership is maximized with content being compromised. Sure, a more focused blog would generate a more loyal following. Yes, a blog that encourage fan boy wars in technology or football will bring an exponential growth in views. But, the ends do not justify the means.

This site has been a haven for my thoughts about things that are interesting and important to me. It is a site that I have enjoyed maintaining and have learnt much from. I look forward to another year of consistent writing.

These are my thoughts. Take them as they are.



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