Reflecting on my Experience as an Online Publisher

This website has gone through a lot of changes since September. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to share my work on a blog since I feel that I best express myself through writing. However, I had never created a website before, so I had to learn quickly. It has taken me a lot of research to figure out everything from changing fonts to using plugins, but I am finally satisfied with what I have.

Masked Retail has been my way of sharing my personal experiences working in a retail environment during the time of Covid-19. Since I started working in retail 2 ½ years ago, I noticed that I would leave every shift with a new story to tell. Through blogging, I have been able to unload some of my frustrations by sharing stories that combine the difficult parts of retail and the pandemic. There is a lot of misinformation that is spread by people who don’t believe in the pandemic or think that wearing a mask represents relinquishing freedom. Masked Retail is my way of countering that illogical narrative by supporting scientific evidence with real experiences in the hopes that people become more conscientious about the way they behave during this time.

Initially, I used this website to rant about how inconsiderate some customers are. After a few weeks, I started to recognize that my peers would be reading my posts and wanted to ensure that the content I provided would be useful to them. I started adding posts that offered advice, such as my post, “When Should I Shop?- Covid Holiday Edition” to help my readers stay safe (Masked Retail, 2020). Other than my peers, my imagined audience comes from a younger demographic looking to learn more about consumerism during the pandemic. Using Google Analytics, I came to the conclusion that the members of my audience are young (under 30 for the most part), which supports the idea that my audience is made up of people who may be experiencing similar things in their work environments. Through Google Analytics, I learned that while there are a lot of bots out there (I assume that I don’t have legitimate readers in China), there are people outside of this class who have viewed my work, including some legitimate viewers from the USA. I’ve learned that most of my audience comes to my page between 10am and 4pm between Tuesday and Friday, which gave me the idea of posting primarily during those days and times. I have also learned that linking back to my other posts when blogging keeps people on my site for longer, as they are inclined to click a link and see where it takes them.

In terms of editorial, I address my audience by being clear about the purposes of this site and by considering their thoughts and feelings when writing my posts. I am constantly aware of the fact that people will view this site, so I ensure that I make things as easy as possible for them. For example, I write all my posts in Microsoft Word so that I can spell-check my work prior to posting. The design of my site is centred around usability. To make my site easy for everybody to use, I use a grid layout for my posts, which includes a picture and an excerpt of the post. As the article “Should the Block Editor Have a Grid System?” points out, grid layouts are great for creating a clean, visually appealing page (Tadlock, 2020). I wanted something that was simple but structured, so this was a good choice for me. The menu and my posts are easy to access, and I have created ways for the audience to interact with me and the site. For instance, I have a contact page, I allow comments on posts, and I use a plugin to allow users to share my posts on social media. By doing so, I encourage my audience to get involved with Masked Retail. As described in the article, “Why We Need Social Paper”, a good public will create space for discourse that can continue even as the audience changes (Glass, 2015). Hopefully, I will have time to keep blogging even when the semester ends, and in doing so I will encourage new types of discourse with my ever-evolving audience. Overall, my content addresses the audience by answering questions that I would ask someone in my position.

I feel like the value Masked Retail provides is insight. Not many people get the opportunity to share their work experiences with the internet, and I am glad that I get to show what working in retail is like from all angles. I try to make relatable content and empathize with how people may be reacting to what is happening in the world. There are things included in my blog that I would never have thought about before I started working in retail. For example, I used to be shy and would never ask for or accept help from a retail employee. Looking back, I know that I had nothing to be afraid of, and I am more conscientious now with how I approach and treat retail workers when I am the customer. I hope that this blog does a similar thing for my readers by providing industry knowledge and tips for success during the time of Covid-19.

So far, I have not received any comments on my posts, so I cannot say that comments have really influenced me. Based on the article, “The Psychology of Online Comments”, I think that if I were to receive hate via an anonymous comment, I wouldn’t be too hurt (Konnikova, 2013) and I would simply delete the comment. Even if an anonymous comment were positive, I doubt I would be very affected because the sentiment of the comment seems less real without a name or face attached to it. Comments that are attached to a name would have a bigger impact on me, whether that be good or bad.

Prior to this class, I had a very outdated perception of what publication was. All that I really considered was book publication and notable companies. I never would have imagined that I could run my own publication from my computer! Now, I see that there are so many ways to be a publisher, and that there is no correct way that it must be done. Though the semester is ending soon, I am optimistic that I will continue to blog. This pandemic and my job are not going away anytime soon, so I am sure that I will have plenty of material to draw upon. Years from now, I would love to be able to look back at my posts and remember who I was and what I experienced in 2020. Ultimately, my hope is that even once the topic of Covid-19 is no longer relevant, I will be able to use the knowledge and skills learned in this course to establish some other online presence.

References

Masked Glass, E. (2015, December 11). Why We Need Social Paper. CUNY Academic Commons. Retrieved from https://commons.gc.cuny.edu/papers/45249/

Konnikova, M. (2013, October 23). The Psychology of Online Comments. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-psychology-of-online-comments

Masked Retail. (2020, November 10). When Should I Shop? – Covid Holiday Edition [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://maskedretail.com/blog/when-should-i-shop-covid-holiday-edition/

Tadlock, J. (2020, April 27). Should the Block Editor Have a Grid System? WordPress Tavern. Retrieved from https://wptavern.com/should-the-block-editor-have-a-grid-system

(Featured Image by Pepe Reyes on Unsplash)

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