The Weblogs and Wikis final project was everything I hoped it would be going in. I knew it was going to be fun because the students were allowed to take what they learned from the class and use it in a way they wanted—meaning I was allowed to do my project on hockey blogging.
Looking back on my proposal, which most essentially was to create a popular hockey blog, I think I did as good a job as I could have based on my work situation, although I did stray from it a bit at times and went in different directions as I learned more.
While doing writing for my blog, I did a lot of outside reading on other blogs that were similar to what I wanted mine to become. The Missing Manual book on how to use WordPress allowed me to do everything I tried to do with it—which was mostly all about the layout (something I concentrated on for a week or so)—so that was helpful, but reading blogs like Puck Daddy and Russo’s Rants made me come to a few realizations for this project and those are the things I’d like to focus on for my reflection.
First off, it takes time for a blog to mature and gain popularity. When I was writing my proposal, I didn’t believe that I was going to be a famous hockey writer by Week Five, but I thought support would come more naturally than it realistically could have. My goal with integrating Twitter into this was to do it that way, but I also wanted to develop the account more before I publicized it.
Yes, I would post links to my posts, but looking at other well-known hockey blogger Twitter accounts, I noticed that there had to be more. I wanted to watch every game and have some additional information that I wouldn’t necessarily blog about. There simply wasn’t enough time to do this on a nightly basis. The Twitter account was set up, but never really going because of this.
When the idea of having a large quantity of quality tweets wasn’t very realistic, I tried to up my frequency of posting and I believe I at least accomplished that as it rolled along. Looking at other blogs, I saw that there were a lot of posts like the ones I was doing, but there were a lot of smaller posts on smaller stories. A majority (if not, all) of my posts were on the longer side and were well-thought-out and time-consuming to finish, which I felt met the criteria for earning my 250-point contract (several posts a week of 500+ words).
This was really good for me as far as developing my blogging and web writing abilities, but it didn’t afford me the time to do smaller stories. This is okay, though, because you don’t want to go without posting on the big things and fall out of the loop. Doing this project did get me more into reading anything and everything about the sport and enhanced my knowledge of the game.
ALL BY MYSELF
Looking elsewhere on the web made me think of something else. Every successful hockey blog has a staff and now that blogging has become more respected, some of these writers are being granted access to the press box at games. This is something that wasn’t available to me during the project. The really good blogs are done by bloggers that work at their craft as a full-time job. I go to school and have another full-time job of my own that involves loads of writing on a daily basis. If I could do it over, I would’ve liked to be the editor of my own blog, meaning I would have some hockey-crazy friends send me in a blog or two per week that I could read over and post.
If I really had it my way, it would be a full-time job and would consume my life.
I claimed that I would continue my blog in the future and after learning about this, this will likely not be the case to the extent that I implied it would in class. However, this is all because I have talked with a couple of my friends and we have decided to make a website in which I will be able to put this project to good use.
In short, we will be creating and maintaining a Western Massachusetts sports website. The local newspaper (which I work for part-time) there runs a site called masslive.com, which is currently the only place for Western Mass. sports coverage (it also has all other kinds of news that would be in a newspaper). We will be looking to overtake that site, sports-wise, with a site of our own, in which I will cover high school and AHL hockey. It will develop over the next year while I finish my work at BSU and could turn into more of a full-time gig if it pans out (the friend I am creating it with is unemployed, so there is an incentive there to get it going). I find this to be really exciting.
TIME NOT ON MY SIDE
One thing I wish I could change about the project would probably be the timeframe. There may be some projects that had enough time to run their course in five weeks, but I noticed in my studio tours and from our last face-to-face meeting that a lot of projects take a long time.
Going into the project and hearing ‘this is what you’ll be working on for the rest of the semester’ led my mind to believe I had all the time in the world and because I knew it was something I really wanted to do made my mind really ambitious (I tried to temper that with the proposal a bit, however) to get started.
I feel like this is something that—well, it could go on forever—would be better suited for a full semester project or something that could be taken into a Weblogs & Wikis II or something of the sort, where the sole focus is the project. It could be different if I only had school to deal with, but this is the way I started to feel after the first couple weeks.
Overall, the project really was what I expected it to be in that there were a lot of things I didn’t really expect (see all the above). If people make a living off doing blogs, it couldn’t be that easy. It certainly wasn’t.
I really did get a lot out of doing this, though. I have a much better understanding of what it takes to run a blog and that was my biggest internal goal going into it. I think my project turned out great and I did a lot of quality sportswriting. Another goal I had was to build a foundation for the future, and I definitely accomplished that. Before I move on to my Western Mass. sports website, I will probably try to continue on the blog I did for this class.
My biggest external goal, which was in my proposal, was to write about ‘all things hockey’ and I did that. I wrote on college hockey, the NHL, and the AHL. I had extensive posts on each category and I think I also did a good job using tags in all my posts. I used pictures in almost all my posts and ended up integrating video, too.
The one week that set me back was the week of the Boston Marathon Bombings, but I think I even made the most of that, despite working, traveling to and from Sioux City, Iowa on a bus and staying up for 50 hours straight at one point.
This project will be one that I won’t soon forget and will play a role in my future—the very near future. It was a very worthwhile experience.