When I first started seventhousandmiles, it was honestly just for the purpose of a course. I was told to create a blog, so that’s what I did. At the beginning, it felt like quite a chore updating the blog every week. But this blog became so much more than just an assignment as the weeks went on.

The very first week, we discussed talking to strangers and read an article titled How to Talk to Strangers. The process post was to discuss our experience of speaking to a stranger. This was a surprising assignment, because I talk to strangers on a daily basis. But during the discussion, I realized this didn’t come as easily to everyone else in the class. So when I was told to brainstorm a theme for my blog, I decided this would be my strong suit. That being said, I was already writing poetry every week with my boyfriend in order to sustain our long distance relationship so I wanted a way to incorporate that as well.

When I started the blog, I was inspired by Humans of New York and wanted to create something similar. So my journey began. I decided every week, I would meet a stranger and document their story through a poem. That way, I would have a topic to write my poem about, and I would have a blog post ready. According to my bio, my “intention [was] to create a more united world by understanding a lot of us go through the same feelings in life”. In context of that, the target audience were just about anyone so everyone can learn that we are interconnected through our stories.

Now that the theme of my blog was set, I was given tasks every week in order to continue updating my blog. Over the weeks, I kept finding new ways to improve my blog and honestly, it became a little bit addicting. It seemed like every week I was attempting to make it even better than the previous week. One of the aspects of the blog I spent majority of my time on was the design on the blog. During the second peer review of the semester, Be A Balanced Badass reviewed the design of my blog. After that review, I spent quite a bit of time on the design on my blog. I changed the template, the wallpaper, and the featured images- but doing these were simple. Something seemingly simple like adding black borders, or creating a header was the harder part. So I turned to the Beginner’s Guide for WordPress which explained how to use the additional CSS function and the coding needed to make those little changes, as well as answer questions I had.

Though the design and content were the way I wanted it to be now, week 5 taught me that design and content weren’t all that mattered in a website. Speed and usability is a very important aspect that determines the traffic of your website- even a few seconds could lose an potential reader. That was the first week I used PageSpeed Insights by Google to learn how slow my blog was running. In order to make it faster, I learned to compress my featured images from this Youtube video, which made my website run significantly faster. Throughout the semester, I kept referring to PageSpeed Insights and compressing my images in order to ensure that the usability was convenient.

As for the content, what started off as a term-long assignment turned into so much more than that. Making friends with a stranger and sharing their story gave me purpose, in a sense. I even had people introduce me to their friends so I could write about their story. People would message me asking if their poem was up, and thanking me for articulating their story. To enhance the blog post, I decided very early on that I would feature artists and musicians to tie the post together- this added another element of creativity and unity amongst the Arts. This blog has taught me more than every other course in my 3 years in university because I learned something no theory can teach me- to embrace individuality yet expect similarity.

When I first started the blog, I honestly thought “how hard can running a blog really be?”. Little did I know, there was a whole world of things to learn-which is why there is an entire course for it. From audience, to headers and sidebars, the possibilities are endless. For the future, I hope to continue learning the world of WordPress and all that I can do to customize my page for my audience, both in terms of design and usability. I hope to continue making friends and sharing their stories through my poetry.