Starting off today is Mark Carrigan, digital sociologist at the University of Cambridge and The Sociological Review Foundation.
Mark discussed some of the history leading up to his own, very successful, blog. Sometimes personal blogs can take a few iterations before we’re able to settle upon one that clicks (and gets clicks). For Mark, his current WordPress-powered blog began as an online receptacle for his thoughts, which slowly transitioned into a place to share thoughts on his PhD experience, and eventually becoming a research blog.
What is a research blog? For Mark, the blog became a tool for the thinking process. The blog in this way functions as a sort of publicly visible playground of the mind — where ideas are played with, explored, and even tested as prospective projects. During the process of sharing, linking, researching through his blog, Mark often found that disparate ideas became larger, connected ideas or incorporated into larger bodies of work.
A blog in this way functions along the same lines as a digital commonplace, a form of digital marginalia that you use a way to think while working, reading, and researching. A blog can also potentially represent a measure of accountability — any ideas-in-progress are out there, and can attract feedback that can potentially be worked with later.
For @mark_carrigan his blog also functions as an online scrapbook – a way to collect all kinds of ephemera that I’m interested in. Over time, this means he can look back and see the development of his ideas over time. #SocialMediaPhD
— The Sociological Review (@TheSocReview) December 8, 2018
For Mark, a blog is a “place for developing ideas, thinking out loud and collecting things I might need later.”
Another option, either alongside or as an alternative to WordPress, is Medium.com. How might audiences vary from WordPress or Medium.com? It depends. Curating your content and topics via tags (see image on the right for Mark’s organization scheme) can influence the kinds of audiences you reach.
On the one hand, Medium.com can potentially have a built-in audience for the topics that you write and think about, which can in turn lead to different traffic and different audiences than perhaps a WordPress blog, where audience growth can happen more slowly or more organically. Mark posits that perhaps Medium.com might be more conducive for longer form pieces of writing (I’m inclined to agree), which might lead to longer, more sustained forms of audience engagement.
What sorts of things have worked (or not worked) for you? Any questions for Mark on this topic? Feel free to get in touch right now!