A Dog – and Blog – Birthday

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Aimée is one today. The little three-month-old puppy we brought home in September has grown up into a beautiful, long-coated adult dog. Despite technically being out of puppyhood now, she isn’t trustworthy yet, as shown by her decision yesterday to take one of my best shoes off the shoe rack. Fortunately, I rescued it before she did any damage! Continue reading

On Being “Discovered”

In the days when being Freshly Pressed was the holy grail of WordPress blogging, you’d often see bloggers proudly proclaiming “I’ve been Freshly Pressed”. Just a quick side note, in case you’re unfamiliar, Freshly Pressed used to be the section of the WordPress.com homepage where the WordPress editors chose the best of the blogosphere to be featured.

Laptop blog photo

The WordPress blogger’s native environment

Being Freshly Pressed was a huge thing to happen to a blogger. One day, you’re writing away, publishing your work and wondering what kind of reception it will get. And the next, you’re on the front page of the WordPress community. Your reader stats spike upwards so fast that they could give you whiplash and your comments section overflows with abundance. Exciting stuff!

At the end of the last year, the WordPress team gave Freshly Pressed a new look. It’s now called Discover. It’s the hot destination for editors’ picks, thought-provoking topics and recommended sites. And on Tuesday, I was Discovered! My post, talking about language and accents in Disney movies, was featured on Discover: Disney’s Loss of Innocence.

 

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A screenshot of my post on Discover

I’ve enjoyed the lively discussion in the comments that this post prompted. Not all of you agreed with what the researchers are saying, but hearing different perspectives is all part of the fun. And I’ve realized that one of my favourite writing topics is to break down academic research — specifically related to language and linguistics — into readable, (hopefully) thought-provoking and conversation-starting blog posts.

Having made the decision to put my postgraduate academic aspirations on indefinite hold, it’s a great way to keep up-to-date with the linguistics world and to write about interesting, diverse topics without any pressure of deadlines and grades. If you’re new to my blog, you can read about my decision here. And also, welcome to all my new readers and followers!

So, you’ll see more linguistic-themed posts in the near future. I hope you’ll join the conversation!

Looking back at 2015

2015 was a good year — it brought new blogging adventures, my graduation, and an unexpected twist at the end of the year (you’ll have to read to the end of the post to find out about that).

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A piece of wisdom from Thomas Hardy

During the summer, I participated in the WordPress course Blogging 201, which gave me the boost I needed to refresh areas of my blog and plan for future posts.

I would have liked to post more often. My readership and reader engagement with the blog (i.e. via comments, follows and likes) increased during the two months when I posted my ‘Between the Pages’ series, with several themed posts about Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy. Continue reading

A “Between the Pages” Announcement

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As part of my Between the Pages book blog series, I blogged about the lives, historical periods and creative works of two great authors: Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy. I’d planned to continue the series until the end of the year as it was great fun to research these authors and write posts for you all to enjoy.

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What’s Your Opinion about Cultural Life?

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As part of my ongoing effort to develop and improve my blog, I have created a reader survey. You can access the survey by clicking the image above or by clicking here: Please share your opinions about Cultural Life

It’s a short survey and it shouldn’t take you longer than 5 minutes to complete. Your responses will help me to understand my readers better and to publish even more posts which you will enjoy.

The survey is completely anonymous, and none of the questions are mandatory, so if you don’t have anything to say for some of the questions, feel free to skip them. But I would love to hear your responses to all of the questions. Thank you very much!

Fun with Blogging 201!

I’m having a lot of fun with Blogging 201, which is a two-week WordPress course about developing your blog. I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out in The Commons, which is the Blogging 201 area for chatting about all things blog-related.

Fun with Blogging 201

Although my blog looks fairly similar to how it did before I started the Blogging 201 course, changes are going on behind the scenes. I have plans for scheduling a blog series: a succession of posts which all relate to a particular topic. As I sit here and type, my notebook is open beside me with plans for my blog series.

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Three Blogging Goals: Focus, Engagement and Design

You might have noticed that a Blogging University badge has appeared in my sidebar. During the next couple of weeks, I’m taking part in Blogging 201: Branding and Growth. This WordPress course is designed to help bloggers who feel they are familiar with the basics of blogging and who want to move on to topics such as design, creating a blogging ‘brand’, and growing their blogs.

Image courtesy of Steve Bridger, sourced from Flickr Creative Commons

Image courtesy of Steve Bridger, sourced from Flickr Creative Commons

As part of Blogging 201, we outlined our three blogging goals for the rest of 2015. My goals are:

1. To increase my average daily hits by 25% by the end of 2015

I plan to achieve this goal by creating posts with a specific focus (e.g. a series of posts about a particular topic) and by setting myself a weekly target. At the moment, I post as and when I have time. This is usually a minimum of once per week, but I’d like to create a regular schedule and perhaps post on specific days during the week.

2. To encourage more engagement with my blog

Essentially, this involves receiving more comments on my posts. It’s great to receive feedback and I’m always appreciative of comments, so I aim to encourage more people to stop by and interact.

3. To improve the design of my blog and make some changes to my blog theme

One of the Blogging 201 tasks has encouraged me to think about the design of Cultural Life. This involves thinking about my ‘brand’ and how I can make my blog stand out in the crowd.

Do you keep a blogging schedule where you post on particular days per week, say, Mondays and Fridays?

Have you changed your blogging theme or kept the same one since you first started blogging?

And for bloggers who receive dozens of comments on each post, how do you encourage people to engage with your blog?

What’s Your Blog Name Origin Story?

When I started blogging four years ago, I knew that I wanted a blog title which would give me the scope to write about multiple topics. I also wanted my blog title to evoke culture in a dual sense.

Screenshot from Oxford Dictionaries

Screenshot from Oxford Dictionaries

In other words, I wanted to come up with a blog title which would reflect my curiosity about culture in an anthropological sense, giving me the opportunity to write posts about travel, language and linguistics as well as exploring the culture of literature, film and music.

Whether or not we choose to follow popular culture or engage with the arts, we are all influenced by society and its customs, and for many people, cultural choices form part of their identity.

I experimented with various combinations of Cultural + ?, before settling on Cultural Life. I think that adding life into my blog title adds a personal touch to my blog. It gives me the freedom to write about aspects of my life as well as acknowledging that our daily lives are bound up in culture.

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An ideal set-up for an afternoon of blogging!                                                                   Thanks to Public Domain Archive for the photo.

So, that’s how I created my blog name!

What’s your blog name origin story? How did you decide on a blog title? And what do you want your blog title to convey to your audience?

Blogiversary: Cultural Life turns 4!

Four years ago today, I sat down to write my first post on Cultural Life. For the first few months, views from blog visitors trickled in and comments were a rarity, but during the last few years, my blog has attracted more and more visitors. One of my posts was even Freshly Pressed! I would love to be FPed again in the future: it gave me such a boost to continue blogging and the comments from readers were lovely.

My blog stats are still modest compared to some bloggers who get thousands of views per week and hundreds of comments on every post, but to me, blogging isn’t all about statistics: it is about community. I feel a part of the WordPress community and I have  ‘met’ so many amazing bloggers whose writing has inspired me and motivated me to keep blogging.

When I look back at old Cultural Life blog posts and think how much I have learned and how my writing and approach to blogging has changed in the past few years, it makes me excited for the changes that will, no doubt, take place in the next four years.

To all my readers, thank you for taking the time to read, comment and leave feedback on posts. It is truly appreciated!

Taking a break…

Time waits for no woman…the clock is ticking and my deadlines are calling (Public domain image source)

I haven’t blogged in a while. Where you can find me? Down the rabbit warren that is Google Scholar, getting (enjoyably) lost and immersed in a sea of interesting research. If you’ll excuse the use of another animal-related metaphor, I’m busy beavering away in preparation for my final undergraduate exams.

As much as I love blogging and reading your blogs, I am taking a blogging break until the end of May. As I have exams starting on May 11 through May 18, I have little time to spare for blogging right now.

Meanwhile, happy May Day and see you at the end of May. I hope you have a wonderful month. Do you have plans for this month? If you’re a student like me, are your exams looming on the horizon?