Final Update

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I would like to start by saying how grateful I am to Innovation & Entrepreneurship for allowing me to do this project. Through the Failure Fund I have been able to:

1. Buy my own domain name

2. Use managed wordpress hosting to build my site, econically.com

3. Subscribe to the New York Times to make sure I always had access to trustworthy sources

4. Purchase a kindle, a stylus and drawing app to make eye-catching images to go with my writing

5. Follow through on a project I’ve been wanting to pursue since my sophomore year

I cannot believe how quickly time has moved on this project, how much I have accomplished, and how much I have left to do. When I started this process, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. Every decision felt enormous, and I had no idea how to gauge whether or not a spending decision would be the right one. What if I bought a theme and it turned out not to work? What if I got a tablet and it turned out the drawings were awful? What if I promote the site and no one reads it anyway? Eventually, I kept reminding myself, and having Liz remind me, why I was given the funds in the first place: to take a risk.

A few things I know for certain have paid off:

  1. I love the writing. I’ve turned in blog posts for my independent study that have been longer than anything else I’ve written at Davidson except one semester long paper. I’ve spent ages digging into topics because I am determined to think everything through carefully and from as many angles as possible. I’m definitely going to keep writing post-graduation, and I’m really looking forward to it.
  2. The kindle-drawings work. Am I the best artist? Absolutely not. But I’ve decided that the look I ended up with, which I refer to as my “snarky kindergartener aesthetic,” works for the mood and tone of the blog, and I think will definitely grab people’s attention. I definitely plan to continue that as well.
  3. I pushed myself. Deciding to take on this project was scary in its own way, and new things are cropping up to frighten me in new ways. I had to get past second-guessing everything I wrote, and wondering if I had the authority to be speaking to these concepts. Yes, I do. I had to get past feeling like I needed to be certain about everything before trying anything. I remain certain about nothing, and I’ve accepted it. Now I’m working on the fear of backlash on my posts. Anything controversial on social media can get so ugly, and the more attention I bring to this website the more criticism I invite on my writing and my self. The old doubts about whether I am smart enough, educated enough, knowledgeable enough, are creeping in, and I’m afraid of what people will say. But I started this blog with a mission to educate and I won’t let fear get in the way of that either.

Moving forward, I will be using the remaining funds to advertise on social media and to pay people to edit posts and help create images as I split my focus a little more between generating content and attracting readers. I am really excited to see where this blog can go.

ermoreauFinal Update
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Blog Post 5

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We’re on facebook! And instagram! I’m still in a little bit of an editing backlog on posts but I have a few more that are just about ready and a few more in the works. To make sure staying up to date on social media is manageable I’m going to carve out time to come up with a bunch of posts to archive: some witty tweets, images to share, etc, and take the time to write a really thoughtful instagram bio and introductory post. I realized that even though I have my “about page” on the site, translating to social media is different and will take time.

One of my biggest concerns right now is consistency. I am spending a lot of time on each individual post (as, I think, I should be), and there is no way I’m going to be able to generate new content quickly, as much as I might like to. I don’t want to get people to my page and then have them forget about it because the gaps between posts are too long, so I’m working on ideas to fill the gaps.

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Blog Post 4

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The site is up and running with images! After getting feedback from a friend on what worked and didn’t work, I have fine-tuned what I’m calling my “snarky kindergartener aesthetic.” While I’ll keep honing the image style as I hone the content style, I am happy with the current images and I now feel that the site is strong enough to begin actively recruiting readership. I am still facing some technical difficulties (such as getting the featured images to format the way I want them, rather than taking up more than a screen length in size), but these are small bumps in the road that can be worked out smoothly and with time. Early last week, I had the honor of being invited to speak to Dr. Shireen Campbell’s professional writing class, which is the course in which I initially started blogging about economics. I spoke to them both about developing the blog and the process of applying for grants and writing proposals. In the coming weeks, I’m looking toward shifting my focus away from content and web development and toward more general web presence: facebook, twitter, instagram, SEO and etc.

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Blog Post 3

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I’m really excited about the progress I’ve been making. Through my independent study I’ve been generating a lot of content, and where those pieces are longer and covering a variety of topics, I’ll be able to break them up into shorter posts for econically.com and cross post them that way as well. I also have plans to create a glossary of terms as they come up, and I keep getting ideas for new content categories, such as a recommended additional reading section.

I used the funds I initially had set aside for animating software to get a kindle tablet and a stylus. With that investment, I turned a post-it note storyboard into a full video that is now embedded in my first blog post, and has also allowed me to make diagrams as I work on newer posts. I’m really excited for the opportunities the tablet will provide, and I can’t wait to see what I can do next.

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Blog Post 2

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Building this site is in some ways much simpler and in some ways much more complex than I expected. First of all, I’ve discovered the beauty of plug-ins and have a particular place in my heart for ones that allow more customizable page design. With those, I feel like they are really helping me to realize my particular vision for the site with much less compromise than I would otherwise have to make. I’ve drafted a few different layouts, but have also realized that it will help a lot to have the site populated with posts so I can see how to place different post sections and categories.

Researching for posts has both reaffirmed my reason for starting this site and has inspired new content categories. I realized how difficult a lot of journal articles can be to follow, but more than that there are so many buzzwords that we throw around that for most people are ill-defined. When trying to compile something on the repeal of the individual mandate, I realized how much I don’t know about the US health insurance systems. I also realized how hard it can be to follow an article talking about Medicare, Medicaid, and the different public versus private provision options therein. Trying to keep track of which policies and properties are related to or can be ascribed to which insurance form can be difficult. While there is plenty of time, and plenty of need, for analytical posts, I’m also creating a new category that focuses on simple, clear definitions and explanations of how our systems work.

In terms of site personality, I’m working to keep a lot of my humor in the pieces. The luxury of a blog of my own is that I get to set the tone and that I don’t feel it has to have the same gravitas as an academic or even journalistic publication. I want the pieces to be fun to read. I’ve been playing with the more static about and introductory pages to get that voice down before I start translating it into more content driven posts. The most polished of those pages is one titled “Bark versus Bite” that covers the reasons I’ve heard people don’t study or follow economics and tries to mitigate those concerns.

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Blog Post 1

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In addition to being the proud owner of my own domain, it is now equipped for wordpress hosting. I’m already running into some of the easy mistakes for a new developer. My ‘free’ extra domain that came with purchasing hosting services meant that my personal information was available in the domain owners database unless I paid for privacy. I’m now, thankfully, rid of the extra “free” domain, my information is no longer public, the emails and phone calls from developers have stopped, and I know a little bit more about the world behind the world wide web.

As I was dealing with all of this, one of my finals was actually to build my own personal domain, which dovetailed nicely with my considerations and experimentations regarding econically. I’ve realized that econically should have a very personal stamp from me, and I’m even toying with the idea that the persona should actually be more casual than my personal site. I want the econically content to feel easy to read and connect to, as compared to a page that is meant to be viewed by potential employers and has to have a different type of polish. The reader audience isn’t looking for the same things and that gives me a lot of freedom to take risks. I’m also excited about the web building. For a while, I’ve been hesitant because I didn’t want to commit to a theme before I was sure of all of the details. I’ve since realized that, thanks to Davidson resources, I can build a subdomain through my Davidson domains account and test out the themes we have institutional access to before building on my site.

ermoreauBlog Post 1
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