At the beginning of this semester, I had minimal to no knowledge about blogging. Nihon Shoku is the first blog that I built, and also the blog that discovered my interest in online-publication.
Nihon Shoku is an online food blog that introduces the history and manner of Japanese cuisines, and my experiences visiting restaurants in Japan. I started by choosing a theme, a name, a website domain and settling with the platform WordPress. After building the base, I started compiling weekly posts, designing the website, creating social media account and keeping track of readers.
During the whole blogging process, I was doubtful about my chosen theme. I am always passionate about Japanese food, and I wish to use my passion to promote this culture to other readers. However, I was not sure if I am on the right path until I read the article by Jesse Thorn. He used Chris Hardwick as an example to prove how following one’s passion can be a significant part of a creator (Thorn, 2012). He mentioned that the audience can tell the true side and real passion of the creator. With his advice, I became confident with the blog’s theme. I have always been interested in history, origins and manners of different cuisines, especially Japanese dishes. Embedding such strong interest in my blog posts, it can help visitors to feel my enthusiasm and a true passion for this topic. This is an influential factor and advantage to the blog since it helps to communicate my online presence of a Japanese food mania.
Other than the theme, defining a target audience is also helpful as it provides editorial guidance. Potential audiences that I imagined are English readers of the western culture who want to receive reliable information about Japanese food culture. I specifically emphasized on English readers because I primarily use sources that are written in Japanese. I want to bring less accessible content to my readers and also build an authentic atmosphere for the blog. Also, targeting individuals of western culture has prompted me to translate and explain Japanese terms from the perspective of this group of readers. I compare Japanese food to common western recipes aiming to help readers understand better.
This potential audience group has proven by Google analytics to be matched with the demographics of actual audiences. All visitors are English readers and more than 80% are located in Canada and the US. This suggested that most of them are English readers who are familiar with western culture. Google also hinted me to put more effort into the computer website layout since more than two-thirds of the users browse from a laptop. Google analytics has helped me to understand my market since I have not received any comments from any readers yet.
Another group of audience that I targeted are individuals who wish to get reliable information. As the research from the Data & Society Research Institute (Marwick & Lewis, 2017) has indicated, around two-thirds of Americans do not trust mass media. This statistic has largely impacted my choice of sources since I would like to build a trust relationship between me and my readers. I want to build a resourceful blog with accurate knowledge that audiences can trust. Hence, I cross-check uncertain information on organizations’ websites, official company blogs or newspaper articles before referencing them in blog posts. Hyperlinks of the source are attached to keywords to show credit and prove, and hopefully, to increase the validity of the blog. I would like to brand this blog as a place full of solid Japanese cuisine knowledge tailored for English readers from western culture.
On the other hand, besides bringing knowledge to readers, I also wish to provide some promotion value to Japanese food culture. Each article is completed by thorough research along with numerous revisions on the writing. Composing articles of research and learning outcomes of a food item can possibly raise attention and increase the chance for readers to try out the documented food. Appetizing images and vivid descriptions are also used for the same purpose in creating an opportunity to promote this culture.
All in all, building this blog has given me a comprehensive learning experience of building an online personality. I learned that online publishing is not only about writing, but also marketing, design and market analysis. I will develop my blog further if it can bring my financial benefits, which according to Vauhini Vara (2015), I have to expand the blog. I will need to entertain readers of a larger population, generate revenue from them, then use the profit to build on my own big project of investigating on food history. This financial goal will take a longer time to be completed, but I will definitely keep trying.
Jesse Thorn. 2012. “Make Your Thing.” http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/
Marwick, Alice and Lewis, Rebecca. 2017. “Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online“. Datasociety.net.
Vauhini Vara. 2015. “Survival Strategies for Local Journalism”, https://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/survival-strategies-for-local-journalism