By Sue Ann Kendall
The start of a new year always seems to inspire folks to look back and analyze things. I got to thinking that last year was a hard year for our Chapter, since we had to stop meeting in person, couldn’t do a lot of the activities we’d planned, and only had a virtual conference to attend (nice as it was, it wasn’t full of hugs and chats). We certainly got more visitors in 2020 than in 2019 (granted, we didn’t start until February 2019).
Our blog, though, provided us with a way to communicate with each other and to share what was going on in our own little slices of the natural world. I was really grateful to see how our contributions grew and grew, as the blog transitioned from reports on our chapter meetings to contributions from our members. We have a nice group of regular contributors now, as well as some Chapter members who contribute whenever they can.
In fact, there were 12 different Chapter members who contributed last year: me, Donna Lewis (winner of the “most contributions” award), Catherine Johnson, Eric Neubauer, Linda Jo Conn, Carolyn Henderson, Debra Sorensen, Joyce Conner, Cindy Travis, Larry Kocian, Ann Collins, and Sherri Sweet. What? Don’t see your name on the list? You can fix it by sending me some words and/or pictures (my email address is in the member area of our website).
You can see from the previous graphic that our hits went up and down. There were two big months. Last February, someone went through and read every single article, twice, which explains the jump. But, last month, December 2020, really spiked. Did we suddenly become fascinating?
When I look at a month’s stats, I can always tell when a blog post came out, because we get a spike in visitors. But, that was a BIG spike! The next day was pretty big, too. I was very curious to find out what the heck got published on December 23 that was so darned fascinating. A look at the most popular posts of the year gave me the answer to “what” but not to “why.”
I only figured out yesterday why Donna’s sweet post about being nice to a snake was so popular. Because of all those flags people are flying these days, the phrase, “Don’t Tread on Me” has become popular. Donna’s post must have come up in searches!
The other really popular post, Let the Tours Begin, by Lisa Milewski, was from October 2019, and was about the big event we held with the Rancheria Grande Chapter of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association. That link got sent out to a lot of places and shared often, so no wonder people looked at it. (Sharing posts is how you get people to look at them; you could do that, too).
How You Can Help Our Blog Grow
We’d like for more people to be able to find and enjoy the writing and beautiful photos from our chapter members. It’s great that we are getting more posts from a variety of members, but it would be good for them to be seen! People clicking on our blog links and sharing them are what gets our blog promoted more by search engines and WordPress (blog site). So, here are some things YOU can do:
- Contribute. Send me (Sue Ann/Suna) your nature observations, research, fun projects, or reports of activities. You can type them in an email, put them in Word, write them on a piece of paper…whatever works! I can make them into fun blog posts, even if you aren’t a professional writer.
- Read. When you see a blog post announcement on our Facebook page (or in email if you are one of our 37 subscribers), click on it. See what fellow Chapter members have to say! You might learn something. Or laugh.
- Comment. Do you have something to add to a post? What about a question for the author? You can comment on our blog posts. Just put your name in there and start commenting! That’s how blog readers converse and build communities.
- Share. Did you find a post interesting? Copy the URL (the web link, at the top of the page) and paste it in an email, Facebook post, or message to a friend. Or, click the Share button on a Facebook post. Maybe someone you know will enjoy reading what you or another member wrote.
- Talk. Mention reading the blog in conversations, when you’re explaining to a potential new class member what fun it is to be a Texas Master Naturalist, or if you’re asked what exactly we do. The blog is a good record of that!
This can help you, too! Writing a blog post gets you precious volunteer hours. Taking the photos and doing the research for an article also counts. It’s under Chapter Administration > Website and Social Media. This is something fun, interesting, and helpful that we can do while maintaining our pandemic protocols.
Oh yes, thanks for reading! Y’all are all the best!