The Intern Diaries is a meme created here at Lili's Reflections to share my thoughts, opinions, experiences, and what I have learned as an industry intern with my readers and those also interested in interning one day.
It's been a very long time since I've done an Intern Diaries post chronicling some of the things I've learned along the way. To put it simply, I've been super busy. But I was trying to explain this to a friend the other day and thought that this topic would be a really cool discussion for all of us here! So, let's jump right to it!
On July 7, 2015, I officially became published. I know, I know, I have a blog so I've been published over 800 times on here, but I mean I am published for a big-time company. My first blog post as an OUP intern went live on Oxford University Press's website. I felt like such a big deal and was really proud of myself. If you're curious about that first post, it was about how countries in Oceania got their names. And then on July 20, 2015, my second post went live. This one focuses on stans. What is a stan, you may ask? A stalker fan coined by none other than the rapper Eminem. Check it out! It was actually really interesting to research!
As of this moment, I have 3 other posts pending publication for Oxford's website, and once they go live they'll forever be in that archive. Because of that, I have an online professional portfolio on top of the portfolio that is my blog, and I also have an author hub page on their blog that branches out to all of my other posts. Are you guys getting the vibe that I still can't wrap my head around how cool this is?
After blogging professionally for them and observing the people who run this blog as their living, I've noticed myself comparing what it's like to blog professionally compared to what it's like blogging as a hobby. It's really very interesting, and I thought it would be a fun idea to further elaborate on what I'm noticing and see what everyone else's opinions are. In truth, some bloggers do use their blog for income via blog tours, assisting authors, designing graphics and layouts, and so much more, so I'm curious if they've noticed any differences/similarities too.
I've never written under a strict style guide before interning at OUP. Some people may think style guides are helpful because they basically outline what is and is not acceptable in certain situations and the laws of grammar according to your company. But it's actually really hard. You may have a gut instinct to use a certain kind of quotation mark, but because you are writing for a truly international and diversified audience, you have to be hyper-aware of what you're doing and how you are employing grammar. For example, in the UK, they use inverted commas instead of quotation marks and put their punctuation outside of the quotation marks instead of within it. An exclamation point is an exclamation mark, and they do not have a difference between an em dash and an en dash. In fact, their dashes differ even further because there are spaces between them and the words they separate instead of immediately being placed prior to a word without any space like American dashes.
On my personal blog, I care about grammar. I think we all do. But if something slips by it is not as big of a deal because we can simply go in and edit a post, but dealing with a style guide on an international level with a huge interface complicates things immensely (at least they do for an intern that has never written under a UK-based style guide before).
An awareness of your audience
As a book blogger, I am obviously aware of my audience. You are my people, and we are all book people. You may be other bloggers, you may be librarians or teachers, you may be my friends and family checking up on what I'm doing. You may be an industry professional or a reader looking for opinions before buying a book. The list goes on. Your gender, age, and country of origin does not matter to me because we are all book readers.
But when writing professionally, you constantly have to keep that in the back of your mind. A term here in America may be obscene in, say, India, and when talking about the creation of another country the word "inhabitants" may offend those who are descended from the country's natives. Certain terminology used in Australia may not have any synonym in Japan, thus making no sense to a portion of readers. While it's important to know you audience when blogging for a hobby, when blogging on an international scale professionally, you have to be aware of everything you are writing and how it can be interpreted by a plethora of different readers of different genders, ages, and backgrounds.
I don't know about you guys, but as a book blogger I don't really care about my stats. I check them when necessary to keep publishers updated and I celebrate when I reach certain milestones, but I don't go out of my way to seek them out because then it stresses me out. If a new meme I have introduced or a review isn't receiving as much attention as I would like, I'm not going to change anything. Since this blog is a hobby (granted one I've poured blood, sweat, and tears into) I am going to blog about what I want when I want.
In contrast, when blogging professionally, you need to be aware of your audience. If a certain kind of post (say a listicle style post instead of a historical analysis of a word) is picking up steam among international audiences and you notice that certain topics are heavily commented on (let's say anything involving poking fun at obscene language) then you are going to do more posts on those topics to keep the traffic high. You'll go out of your way to do a few more listicle-style posts about fun ways to use obscene language, ten obscene words that came from other countries, obscene words that are not archaic, etc, while that post on the history of the word "cat" is put on the back-burner for now. Your content flows with the market, so to speak.
This kind of ties into the previous bullet since I ended it briefly speaking about content. As mentioned above, when blogging as a hobby I produce the content I want to produce. I talk about books, I start discussions, I talk about my internships and Broadway shows because interning is my life and Broadway is a passion of mine. Though I am primarily a book blog, I talk about travel and personal things including TV shows I'm watching on top of reviewing books, participating in bookish memes, and holding bookish discussions. This is my blog, so I can do that.
But when blogging professionally, you have to hold true to your platform. Oxford, being the amazing dictionary that it is, focuses on words on their blog. This may seem like a limited field, but it really isn't. Words are vital, and because of that a post about words can be created for nearly anything. A fellow intern celebrated the 20th anniversary of Clueless by posting about the words and terms it introduced to our language! Like, come on! That's pretty cool! But the blog could not, say, write an ode to Clueless's anniversary the way I could on my own blog because an ode to a movie is not a post about words, but a post talking about how the movie has affected our language while celebrating its 20th anniversary is. You have to stay within your preferred topic and run with it in fun, entertaining ways.
There has been debate around the blogosphere about bloggers being used as marketing tools. Really, every review published is assisting the publisher in publicizing the book and marketing it to certain age groups. We are part of the publishing machine in that sense. We get ARCs in exchange for honest opinions (good or bad) and the publisher gets more buzz about their books because of that. So by simply existing and continuing to flourish, we are helping out an industry that we all know and love.
Blogging professionally is no different in the sense that the blog is a marketing tool as well, but it is used on an entirely different scale for different reasons. Having experienced OUP from the inside, it's crazy interesting to me how their blog is used to interact with everything else they do. Every time their dictionary is updated, every time there's a new word of the year, every time there's an Oxford related event, and every time their grammar and usage guide is updated, you'll know because there's something relating to it on their blog. So while they are promoting a general awareness and love of words, they're also smartly integrating their social media and blog with all other content that is being produced by Oxford and drawing us further into their wonderful world of words one click at a time. Anyone who finds themselves blogging professionally is literally king or queen of integration because their blogging operations are so ginormous it is ridiculous (in a completely fascinating way that leaves me awestruck).