Given the chance to be an online self-publisher, I prepared myself for the work dedicated to writing blog posts and the content. I had not considered the learning curve of building a functioning website and the design decisions for making an online space. During the first 13 weeks of online self publishing I focused most of my attention towards the audience, the value of my website, decision making as a publisher and why I found emotional energy to be the most challenging part of being a self-publisher for Nothing to Lose.
A Changing Vision
I imagined my website would gather a community of people; curious about understanding themselves and who relate to posts about body image, injury, identity, fitness, and living without feeling held back. As I wrote, themes of fatphobia, diet culture, and thin privilege arose and the audience I imagined will read my blog narrowed.
My page speaks to people uncovering how external influences keep us from thriving as authentic and unique beings and my goal is to inspire and bring positivity to someone’s life. My anticipated audience held room for a wide range of people that would be intrigued in topics that resonated with them, enjoy my style and personality and then engage with topics that are new to them. James Hamblin (2016) said “engage with a stranger, and at least something interesting might happen” and that is how I would like people to enter and stay enthralled with Nothing To Lose. Come to my site as an individual, and become part of a community. I realize that having content that is narrower in its scope may speak louder to fewer people rather than whisper to many, but I hope that strangers take that risk to learn something new from my site and spread the message to others.
The value of my website is within the content, derived from my personal experiences and knowledge. In my ideal world I would be able to make a profit from my blog posts (and podcasts). Nothing To Lose would produce income from advertisements or sponsorship from brands that are either on the side bar or linked out within my text, as discussed by Jaapsfilm in a peer review. Including advertisements or sponsorships may be difficult as I am trying to promote intuitive living and self respect, so these publisher decisions would have to be well informed and thoughtful.
The non-monetary value provided is a personal value at this point. Nothing To Lose has given me the opportunity to explore my own mind and gather a deeper understanding of myself, revealing how I interact with the world and the experiences I have had. The value I wish to bring to others is that of new ideas, perspectives and an ability to have a positive outlook on situations they encounter; specifically within diet culture, diet brain, feelings of unworthiness, or underestimating ourselves. I believe Nothing To Lose already holds great value and I look forward to continuing to bring this value with future blog posts.
Designing for function
Decisions as a publisher have primarily come down to what I personally think looks and feels good, as well as what the reader would expect to see, given my contect. To engage with the audience I attempted to add a questionnaire or poll on my site to understand their interests, however I was unsuccessful at finding a widget that fit my purpose. That decision was from my desire to understand the person who is looking at my site.
Aspects such as the colour and photos were purposeful. The colour mauve was intentional as I am writing to a feminist audience, most likely female dominant. I imagine the males who read and engage in my site would not be offended or turned off by the colour purple.. Additionally, I decided to use my personal photos as much as possible to give the audience a greater insight to who I am and this makes the website have a personable and friendly feeling. The other photos (from google) were chosen and stayed in a colourful theme, relating to the post (although that may only be obvious to me) and have a spiritual twist to them. I am learning about my own spiritual journey, which includes questioning why we are here and how we interact with each other and the world around us. This detail of myself that is brought into my chosen images is also found throughout my writing and thought processes.
What struck me as the most significantly underestimated aspect of being a self-publisher was how much emotional energy is required. For example, initially I imagined doing a weekly podcast, but that quickly fell aside as I realized the sheer work and time it takes to have that be successful and how you need to show up being enthusiastic, expressive and demonstrating your best self. The podcast is still a goal for the future, but I will tackle this when I am providing content at my own pace, instead of within a full time schedule of work and school.
The content on Nothing To Lose requires diving into personal dilemmas, shortcomings or other experiences and pulling out a message to make the post comprehensible and valuable to a stranger. Then, developing the website itself; since it is based on me: the style, aesthetic, and functional decisions need to align with who I am, to ensure the authenticity consists. So, each time I came to work on the website, or write for the website, I had to show up in a positive state, feeling strong enough to delve into potential triggering subjects with creativity. This aspect of a self-publisher was the most challenging. I am hopeful that when the stress of finishing up my final semester is gone, I am able to fall into that creative and expressive mindset naturally.
Summarizing the self-publishing experience
I am grateful to have the skill and knowledge to personalize a website and have a platform to speak my truth. This class has opened the door of self-publishing that I have dreamed of having since believing I have a story that is worthy of sharing. Although, there were some realities that did not meet expectations; such as the sheer effort required to be successful with my blog posts and difficulty building and altering the site itself, I enjoyed the process. I was able to narrow down the audience I intend on reaching and I got to uncover and delve into my passion of how patriarchy and diet culture have been weaved into our lives before we knew who we were as individual beings. Now I am on my own with a website that has three months of content; I do hope I continue it at my own pace when I feel a spark of inspiration. Additionally, I want to try and podcast again, but approach it with more preparation and thoughtfulness, as I learned, even with a light outline ‘winging it’ does not work for me.
Despite the unanticipated challenges and constraints of expression during a stressful school semester, I would like to continue to write and develop my online world. My goal is to continue to build my website up and post consistently. Then, before the end of 2021 I wish to share a link to Nothing To Lose on my personal Instagram to encourage my personal following to engage in what I have created. My authentic insights will be introduced to the audience that follows my brief and filtered life. Who knows, maybe this will encourage me to engage in the social online world more frequently and with an unapologetic honesty that my site holds.
Hamblin, James. 2016. “How to Talk to Strangers.”