Friday 5: My Blogging Resolutions for 2011

Lots of bloggers have summarized 2010 in the past few weeks, highlighting their best posts, photos, recipes, etc and pondering the past.  I learn from the past, but I like to look forward too.  Today’s Friday 5 probably won’t be that exciting to read, but here are 5 goals I have for The Dragonfly Woman in 2011:

1.  Host a blog carnival.  Every time I read about how the mega-popular blogs became so popular, one things crops up over and over: the top bloggers read a lot of other blogs.  I read one statistic that said these bloggers typically subscribe to 100+ other blogs!  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t have anywhere near that kind of free time.  I have to be a lot more selective, not to mention I have a lot of interests outside entomology that demand my attention.  Blog carnivals are nice because they prompt me to read posts on blogs I don’t subscribe to.  I love blog carnivals!  It seems only fair that I pull my weight and host one.

2.  Keep up with the twice a week posting schedule. Recently I’ve posted early in the week (generally Tuesday) and on Fridays.  I want to keep this pace going, maybe even bump it up to three posts a week once I’m finished with my Ph.D.  I wish I could blog every day, but as described in goal #1, I don’t have enough time to do the type of blog posts I like to do on a daily basis.  This goal is more reasonable with my schedule.

3.  Have more contests. I love entering contests on other blogs and, as I mentioned in the craft post I wrote a few weeks ago, I really like to make stuff.  So, I’ll give away some of the stuff I make on my blog.  I’ll shoot for, oh, once every two months.  Look out for the first contest of 2010 in a week or two!

palo verde beetle

My favorite photo (not necessarily the best) from 2010: Palo verde beetle

4.  Improve my photography skills. It’s beginning to drive me nuts when I can’t get quite the right shot of something I want to post on my blog.  I think I’m a decent photographer at my current skill level (which is enough to put the camera in full manual mode and get a decent shot most of the time), but I am also becoming increasingly aware of my many limitations.  I want to be more like Alex Wild, Jason Hogle, or Ted MacRae, all people who take great photos and put them on their blogs.  To become more like them I must practice, practice, practice!  It’s also high time I figure out how to use a flash.  I have avoided using flashes for years because it seemed like too much work to learn how to use them properly, but I’m finding I need one for a lot of the macro shots I want to take.  Wish me luck!


5.  Keep the quality of content at its current level. My primary goal in creating/maintaining my blog has always been to provide information about insects, especially aquatic insects.  I of course like to mix things up with stories and posts about artists and books, but it’s all part of the vision I have for my little corner of the internet.  I am selectively perfectionistic about various things in my life and this blog is one of them.  I might not always catch every typo (I do proofread, but things slip through now and then) and sometimes I go back and read something a year later and think to myself, “Whoa!  What was I thinking?” when I come across a particularly poorly worded sentence.  I’m okay with that.  However, I do try to provide accurate information in a visually appealing manner to the best of my abilities.  Even if I don’t get around to figuring the whole photography thing out, never have a single contest, or end up going weeks without posting anything new, I will avoid skimping on content.

So, those are my blogging resolutions for 2011!  If you have comments, suggestions, or would like to share your own blogging resolutions for the year, leave a comment below.  I’d love to get some new ideas and hear more about how other bloggers approach their blogging experience.

Here’s to a great 2011!


Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © 2011


16 thoughts on “Friday 5: My Blogging Resolutions for 2011

  1. Admirable goals!

    Regarding Goal #1, AIF is looking for an April host! :) (unless the badge accompanying the goal is a subtle hint about the carnival you really want to host).

    I’m with you on #2 – I don’t know how people post anything with meat on its bones every day! 2-3 times per week is my speed, and that’s with the pedal to the floor.

    Flash is a steep learning curve (I’m still fighting gravity), but if you want to get good at macro you need it. Embrace the challenge! (and thanks for the props).

  2. These are definitely good goals to have.

    On #1, hosting a carnival is a good way to introduce yourself to a variety of people with similar interests who might not otherwise know about your blog. The same goes for participating in carnivals.

    I think #2 revolves around consistency more than anything else: posting in a consistent manner no matter the schedule, and posting at a consistent quality level when you do post (nod to #5).

    Thanks for the shout out on #4! Practice is the best way to improve. As for flash, I’m not a fan of using it myself simply because I’ve never put time into making it work (Ted and Alex show perfectly well how it can be handled expertly), but Ted’s right in that good macro photography pretty much calls for getting a handle on it.

    • I’ve got a Nikon D80 DSLR with several lenses (including a 105mm macro) and a Canon G11 that I use for everyday point and shoot sort of situations. The latter I carry with me at all times, but the former is what I would like to improve on.

  3. I’m pretty new at this blogging thing (just started in December), so my primary goal right now is just to produce something on a fairly regular schedule–about once a week right now, probably more frequent during odonate season. I’m sure I’ll have more resolutions at the end of the year.

  4. Some great ideas here, and good luck to you. Perfectionism is all very well, but if you’re shosrt of time, there’s no harm in an occsional typo or spelling mistake. Your specialist area is what keeps people interested, not your skills in grammar. Have a great 2011.

  5. 1. I’ll bite. I’m not sure what a blog carnival is.
    2. I’m with you on the posting schedule. According to my Google reader stats I post 2.6 times a week. That is plenty. I’m completely baffled by those who post daily and yet are apparently crafting, renovating homes, unschooling and raising a gazillion kids. I expect something isn’t really getting done and something more important than blogging.
    3. I’d love to win something you’ve made.
    4. I’m actually going to take a digital arts class at Pima this semester to develop my photography. I’m off the auto settings, but still need to spend more time on this.
    5. Keep doing what you’re doing. I love it.

  6. Hi Dragonfly Woman,

    I’m in my New Year’s res mode too, so here are some thoughts, possibly more navel gazing than helpful, but:

    #1 Good luck with hosting the blog carnival. It is a good thing to do, but I know I don’t have the time to do one well at the moment. I can’t even assemble posts to support the carnivals I like, let alone host one. So, for me, this is a rare example of self-restraint.

    #2 Keeping up the frequency of postings is probably more important to your blog health than anything else listed. I tried instituting two (Sunday, Wednesday) regular postings last year. This was not an outstanding success, but I did manage to increase my frequency of postings and to develop two strands of interest to me, and overall I’m happy with the effort. I’m hoping any readers are too, but based on my own reading habits, I suspect that frequent interesting postings are the primary determinant of blog visitation.

    #3 Contests are fine – I have an irregular one at one of my blogs – but unless you have the capacity of a Myrmecos, then a weekly mystery is likely to be either too tedious for you or too tough for your readers. I wonder what Wild thinks about his mysteries, with nanoseconds between pounces? It is a fine line between being fair and being a challenge and they are only fun when you think you have a fair chance. I will continue to be a semi-challenge blogger.

    #4 Photography – Well, when in lecturer mode, I used whatever illustration I could find to illustrate the point I was trying to get across. As a university lecturer this meant ‘fair use’ of whatever was available, scanned from books or stolen from the www being foremost (I did create a few of my own, but not more than 5%). Some blogs that I regularly read (e.g. Catalogue of Organisms, Bug Girl’s Blog) use this approach very well, but I think I’ve run out my fair use of fair use and for my blogs I feel I should be adding content to the internet, not recycling.

    One of the reasons I started blogging was to make use some of the pictures that my wife accumulates as her main hobby. She enjoys taking good pictures. I’m willing to concede this aspect of our lives to her and I only take pictures when forced to do so. So, in very real sense, my HBG blog is parasitic on my wife’s photographic abilities (less any Photoshop skill I may bring to them), but overall the richness of pictures of bugs on the web benefits.

    So, even though I am a photographic bludger, I think that improving your photographic skills and sharing the results on the web is a great thing. The blogs I like best (e.g. Myrmecos, Beetles in the Bush, Bug Eric, Dragonfly Woman, The Backyard Arthropod Project, BugWhisperer, Bunyip, The Atavism, Scrubmuncher’s Blog) rely mostly on their own photographic efforts. Go for it.

    #5 Quality. Personally, I think I take blogging too seriously. My posts tend to be too long. One of the primary reasons that I post infrequently is that once I get interested in a seemingly simple problem, a small bit of research shows that it is far more complicated than I had hoped. Often, it seems too complicated and lacking in resolution to form a meaningful post. So, I have a host of half-finished posts that lack either some take-away message and/or sufficient photographic support. I suppose this is good for me – I now know enough not to spout off about somethings that once seemed simple – but no one will visit my blog for an insight that isn’t there.

    I suppose what I am trying to say is that you don’t need to worry unduly about quality – this will be an emergent property of how you blog.

    • The fact that you parasitize your wife’s photography matters not to me – your blog still adds content to the internet rather than recycling it. I’ll reinforce this point as an important determinant for myself on which blogs I follow – there are only a few blogs I follow that rely on others for imagery (COO being the standout).

      p.s. your comments are better than a lot of blogs!

    • I agree with Ted. Nothing wrong with parasitizing photos – especially if they come from a willing source who is related to you – for a blog. I happen to believe that I need to take the majority of my photos for my blog because I’m anal that way, but my way is certainly not the only way! The goal is to get good information on the internet and I think you do that, regardless of whether you take the photos. A lot of my blog posts are actually inspired by photos I’ve taken, so my photos are an integral part of my blogging experience. I can’t do without them, hence the goal to improve my skills.

      While I think the goal of a lot of science and nature related blogs is to share information with the world and that is most easily accomplished by posting frequently as you say, you also have to be realistic. If you don’t have the time to write more than once a week or even less than that, then that’s just how it’s going to be. It’s not like most of us get paid for this! It’s perfectly reasonable to fit what is effectively a volunteer position into your schedule. We’re still providing a service that people want. If your goal, however, is to amass an army of readers, you have to blog more often than I do. Good thing that’s not my goal!

      As far as the contests I referred to are concerned, I’m not doing anything nearly so elaborate as Alex’s contests on Myrmecos! I’m a far inferior taxonomist compared to him – and most other insect bloggers for that matter! – and I’m terrible at IDing a lot of terrestrial insects. I doubt most people who read my blog would be able to ID the aquatic things I might post for ID contests because you need to take photos of about 15 different body parts on a lot of them to get anywhere close! No, my contests are going to be really simple: prize offered, people who want it comment, I randomly select a comment using a random number generator. I can’t put the time and effort into creating a more educational or difficult contest. And, as you pointed out, I do not have the readership that Alex does either. In fact, I get about 1/10th what he does. But that’s fine by me! My stuff fits into a niche filled by very few people, so I feel like I’m providing something worthwhile to the world.

      Thanks for the comments!

  7. One other point I think is worth mentioning, particularly for an insect blog, is that good indexing is very nice. The sorts of things that we post are not time-sensitive, like on pop-culture or political blogs, so readers are likely to be just as interested in older articles as in the newest ones. If one is posting at a fairly sedate pace (say, once a week), most of the readers of the blog are likely to be coming to read these older postings. So, it is good to make it easy for people to find stuff. I like using all the available indexing tools (tags for insect characteristics; categories to organize the taxonomy; and a set of reference pages for quick lookup of thumbnail images), and if some other practical indexing method occurs to me I’ll use that, too.

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