July 06, 2011

Why I Blog

Writing about web page http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/whyblogworkshop/

keyboard.jpgI began blogging in 2008, when I was working as a print journalist. I started out for several reasons: partly because I didn’t want to get left behind with the digital publishing revolution, partly because I wanted to indulge myself in a forum that wasn’t controlled by others, and partly because I was writing a novel set in the Georgian period, and I thought a blog might be a good place to meet other history enthusiasts.

My first blog (which still exists on Blogger, though perhaps not for long as Google has announced a re-brand of that platform) was a modest success. I chose to blog under a pseudonym (and a pretty outlandish one at that), and worked hard at producing quality content, at least once or twice a week. It worked well because I was visiting many historic houses and locations as part of my research, so that gave me lots of things to blog about.

I was really surprised at how quickly I became linked into a network of history-lovers - many of them Americans who were interested in historical re-enactment. It was enormous fun. When my partner and I planned a trip to the 18th-century opera house, Drottningholm, in Sweden, one of my Swedish readers sent me a list of all the must-see Georgian attractions. It rained a lot and I remember doing an update of the blog in Stockholm using the hotel’s rather rubbish IT facilities, and my Swedish reader and I shared some moans about the weather that day. I also met lots of ‘history’ people in real life, thanks to this blog (some of them even still refer to me as Mrs Woffington!)

After a while, my blog ran out of steam, and I began to see a shift towards social media platforms (I also got on Facebook, which ate into my blogging time). The nail in the coffin was that Blogger forced me into a redesign of my site which I didn’t like, and couldn’t change, so I shifted it over to WordPress. Having become freelance, I then turned my attention to a blog under my own name (Annette Rubery: Journalism, Blogging, Social Media), and I created another (self-hosted) site on WordPress which I turned into my professional ‘shop-front’, with a portfolio and my CV. This is now the main focus of my blogging activities. I write (at least once a week) on topics that interest me professionally – mainly the media and higher education – and I try to engage with other people’s blogs too, leaving comments on individual posts. I think that’s really important when you’re a blogger because it’s difficult to get people to interact.

There have been (and are still) many more blogs… I write regularly for a fantastic hyperlocal called Lichfield Live (set up by Ross Hawkes and Philip John) and I recently co-created a hyperlocal for the street on which I live using Posterous. This is a very good blogging platform for beginners because you can blog via a mobile phone or email. I thought that if blogging was as easy as taking a picture with my iPhone, adding some text and emailing it to the blog, then I might do it more often.

Let’s wait and see if that happens!

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Thanks for this post Annette – it is really helpful to hear about your experiences. It is interesting how your blogging career has developed, depending on what interests you and how much time you have to invest. I guess a blog dosen’t have to – or isn’t meant to? – last forever…

    06 Jul 2011, 16:04

  2. A pleasure! I think, as we were saying during the workshop, one of the key things is to know what the purpose of your blog is (and therefore, who your audience is). Sometimes your aims change and the blog is no longer fulfilling the function for which it was created. But I’ll still keep my history blog – some day in the future I might want to go back to it.

    06 Jul 2011, 16:41

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