I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my niche blog, and am eager to keep it up over the coming months. I had never written a blog before I started this course, and I have most certainly been converted.
My blog was intended to be an informative breakdown of political news. I hoped to write an easy-to-understand blog, which was accessible to those who didn’t know much about or particularly enjoy politics. I feel I have partly achieved this, since my blog posts have given a bit of background information, and tied in other relevant news to help the reader to better understand the issue. For example, in my post about Scotland gaining new financial powers I explained to readers when the Scottish Parliament was set up, and gave an overview of the powers it holds.
My blog was originally intended to cover worldwide politics, but I soon discovered this was too wide a remit. I found myself struggling to decide on a topic, and quickly realised it would make my blog too broad and thin on the ground. I therefore decided to limit myself to UK politics, focusing primarily on political news affecting England and Wales. On reflection I should have narrowed my niche even further – for example, I could have focused on local government. I thoroughly enjoyed the few posts I did which related to this topic. (Please see links 2 and 3 at the bottom of the report).
The biggest number of hits I achieved was 91 on December 17. This was sparked by my Capture Cardiff project about Welsh speakers in Cardiff, but I was pleased to see that just under half of those readers were checking out my home page as well as the article. I believe this post attracted more readers because it included footage and audio, making it more interesting. Similarly, I posted a video about Cardiff at Christmas onto my course blog, and saw my hits increase dramatically that day. (Please see link 1).
I feel I did not fully utilise the tools I intended to support my work and my community. I went ahead with setting up a Twitter account for the Corridors of Power, but I rarely used it because the majority of my followers follow me, not the blog, and it was difficult to get them to follow both. I intended to set up a Facebook page also, but decided against this as I wasn’t sure it would be of much use.
I also intended to make use of forums. I joined four, and posted on most of them for a time. However, I soon realised I would only get readers if I regularly and properly engaged in the forums outside of posting – people will only read your work if they feel you are reading theirs. I found this quite difficult to achieve given our timetable. I did find it an interesting tool however, and would have used it far more if I had the time. I feel I could have linked to more content in my blog posts also. I found Twitter and Facebook were the best ways of pulling in readers.
I planned to post four times a week, and soon realised this was over-ambitious. I tended to post over the weekend when I had more time, and some weeks I posted more than others. Political news and analysis is an extremely saturated subject area, and although I loved writing my blog, on reflection I might have been better choosing more specific topic area, to make my blog stand out.
My supporting social media strategy changed as the blog developed. I actually ended up viewing blogs I hadn’t discovered or thought of at the time of writing my strategy. For example, I recently discovered syniadau – building an independent wales. The author of this blog was kind enough to put me on their blogroll, and they even wrote a post recommending my blog. I have also enjoyed the blog of the New Statesman’s Laurie Penny, and have drawn some of my inspiration from the Guardian’s politics blog. In reality, however, I got most of my ideas from the news, and wrote about what most interested me. As I expected, Twitter proved to be a great tool for promoting the Corridors of Power.
Overall, I found this an extremely fun and interesting learning curve. I enjoyed having a public forum in which to write about a topic I am passionate about. It is a great way to put the things you learn on the course into action, and it is exciting to see that some people are actually reading what you write! I hope to continue my blog, even if I can only post once a week, and to remedy the issues I have raised in this report.