March 2009

  • How can I find out how many readers subscribe to my blog via RSS? #
  • RT @problogger: I’m going 2 have 2 put the srt date of the 31 Days 2 Better Blog challenge back a week due 2 a number of circumstances 🙁 #
  • RT @problogger: the new start date for #31DBBB will be next Monday (6th April) – sending email shortly to notify. #
  • RT @TrevorHampel: RT @Kimota: Please RT. New post: Top 50 Aussie Writing Blogs – Update AND I’M ON THE LIST #
  • It’s a girl. 4 months to go before Luciana gets a sister and I’ll be father again at 49. #
  • Blogging for birders #
  • Seen the best sales pitch flash intro for a bird book ever made? The book s now on sale. #
  • Twitter comics. A good laugh. Do you recognise yourself (via @GuyKawaki ) #
  • Updated “I Twitter, therefore I am” #

Powered by Twitter Tools.

Google Buzz

Share with

Blogging for and about nature

blogger iconThis article aims to beginner bloggers, but there are also some tips to more experienced nature bloggers who are still struggling with less than 50 page views per day. Finally, this blogpost coincides well in time to take part in Problogger’s 31 day e-course on blogging (more on that at the bottom).

In my previous post about how to get kids and adults interested in birds, I recommended they get a 10-24x zoom point and shoot camera first instead of binoculars. Blogging is the next step.
In a blog you can publically document what you have seen on your nature walk. It is a difference compared to sharing your photos on Facebook and having your own blog. The latter is public and therefore it can attract a larger number of readers. Potentially, this also means that the citizens are participating as watchmen for the sake of nature. The more nature-bloggers there are and the better organized they are, the larger influence they will have as a community, against violations of nature’s space in the modern world. It may sound a bit Utopian, but considering the networks that are currently building on today’s online applications, it should not be frowned upon. For example Facebook has 200 million users! Nature bloggers, it is time to emancipate yourself for the sake of nature in the future!

To start blogging

There are two main free services for bloggers. WordPress and Blogger (provided by google). WordPress is preferred by businesses because it has large numbers of great plugins such as SEO optimization tools and both free and pay-for themes. I am using WordPress myself for my blog, which is housed on the same URL as my business web-page. It should help getting better page rank eventually, and it also helps people finding my page through searches (even if they don’t necessarily come to the page to buy a tour). If you are a birder you may even put your blog on one of the popular birding pages such as It guarantees a lot of visibility to other birders and you may find many readers this way, especially if you post a lot of quality bird pictures, which the readers of Surfbird love.

In spite that WordPress has more businesses using it, the majority of the naturebloggers are using Blogger. Therefore, as a community Blogger works very well and is very easy to use. You can upload your photos direct to your blog from the free Google Photo editing program Picasa.

There are a lot of resources out there you can use to learn about blogging. I am not going to enter in detail about these here, but you may check out a previous blog of mine how to read books on social media for free on Amazon. com. You will probably not be able to read all the stuff in every book in Amazon reader without purchasing the book, but since the there are so many books on these topics, you shall be able to pick up all you need to know by this method. I have listed two books on blogging and two books about WordPress in the Amazon carousel widget at the bottom of that blogpost.

WordPress has a built in statistics in the dashboard, that gives you the basic information how many visitors each blog post gets, what page visitors were visiting when clicking to the link to your page, and what the daily score of page views is. In either case, Google Analytics is a very good resource to install on either blog, as it gives a more detailed analysis of visitor data.

Fill you blog with content that the readers want to read.

I admit I also started as many other people seeing the blog as a mere diary. Sort of: Dear diary, today I did this, and then that, and finally I went to bed. So, while certainly the blog is a place where people talk about what they are doing, there are limits to what the readers will find interesting. One resource you should check out straight away if you are new to blogging is Nature Blog Network. Check what the top bloggers write about. What style do they use, how do they use captions and finally look at the titles. A catchy title is very important to get readers. More on that later. As a rule, every post becomes more interesting if you provide a picture with your blog post.

How to get readers to your blog.

You need to spread the word around that your blog exists.  This is where your social network comes in. If you are on for example Facebook or Twitter (again see my manuals for birders with the provided links), none of your friends will mind, if you tell them that you have posted a new blog. Now is time to use that catchy title of the blog. You will not get many friends clicking if you only say –New blog – and provide the link. If you find more than one catchy title, you may use the other ones to re-send a message on Facebook/Twitter about your blog. With the way the new Facebook works, it is probably best to first send a status update with your catchy title together with the link in the same field. Next time you update your status (several hours later) with something trivial, you may additionally send your link as an attachment in a wall posting. Use your secondary catchy title for this – as the primary title will already be as name of your blog-post attachment.

Befriend other bloggers

You need nevertheless to stretch out outside your own sphere in Facebook and Twitter to find more readers. The best way is to read what other bloggers on Nature Blog Network write about and chip in and comment on their blog post, and make sure your blog also get registered with Nature Blog Network. Also, refer to other blog posts that you have found interesting in your own posts. Most bloggers automatically monitor the net if their blogposts get mention elsewhere (monitor application available as plug-in to your blog).  If you are consistent you will see that you will get visits to your blog from the same people you admire.

A word of warning regarding comments: Be careful so that your comments on other blogs does not become spam. You must take your time to treat every comment as a real comment to the blog not something automatic like “Awesome post, man!”.  It is not very constructive – and it sounds like a typical spam phrase where your next word is Viagra!
Some self promotion you may get away sometimes, but not every time. Just the fact that your name is linked to your blog in the comment field invites the reader to check out your blog if you have something interesting to say. But if you say something stupid or just “read my blog” you will get many bad vibes and very few visitors. The owner of the blog, can erase any comment he/she does not like – and believe me they will.

Another way is to participate in blog carnivals. Blog carnivals are like a Blogger’s Digest recommending blogs under a specific subject. Nature Blog Network mentions several you can participate in.

Social media bookmarking, such as Digg, Delicious and Stumble Upon,  are other ways to get traffic to your site. Unfortunately, there are few birdwatchers that use these services. I am going to deal with these services in a future blog post. Meanwhile, play around with them and bookmark blog posts that you enjoy (including some of your best own posts – and naturally this article if you like it!)

On Facebook there is an application called NetworkedBlog, where you can register your blog, follow other blogs and ask others to read your blog among their friends. This application is great as long as you are logged on to Facebook, but it does not allow you to sort the blogs you follow in folders. For that you need a RSS feed-reader.

RSS reader such as Google Reader

The best RSS and most popular reader is Google Reader. As usual when it comes to Google the service is absolutely free. You need to sign up for a Google account, but chances are that you already have one if you use any of the other Google services such as Gmail, Picasa or Blogger. The reader makes it possible to handle a large number of blogs at the same time and sort them into folders. You add a page by clicking the RSS button found on the web-page you want to follow.   Try clicking on this button to add my blog to your Google Reader.

If you use Mozilla Firefox as I do, you also find the RSS button next to the Url web-address box. In Internet Explorer there is a button in the toolbar.
Again you should resort to Nature Blog Network to find the blogs you want to follow. With Google Reader it is possible to follow several hundred blogs if you like. You can always sort them into folders, of priority for your obligatory reading.
By monitoring a number of blogs this way, you can very smartly look where you want to make a comment on another blog and maybe even with a link directly to a specific topic you cover in one of your blogs – especially if it is relevant to the particular blog post. Just make a search for the key word(s) in your latest blog in all the blogs you follow and maybe you find something relevant to comment.

RSS reader for your mobile phone

Repeating what I stated above, you must read and comment other bloggers to get more readers. By all means tell your friends to subscribe to your feed, but unless they are bloggers themselves it is unlikely they will and less have an RSS reader they check regularly. The people just reading the RSS feed will not register in the page view count in the statistics from Google Analytics or the WP dashboard statistics.  With Feedburner Google app you can get an idea how many people read your RSS feed. Blogger has a specific widget that shows your friends that follow you automatically, which is very cool since it also includes the miniature photo or avatar of your friend.

The main problem remains: Who has time to read so many blogs? Getting a mobile reader for your phone will help you. There is a mobile version for Google Reader. This way I can read a blog when in the supermarket cue or waiting at my turn in the bank and even jam down a few blogs right before bed time in bed. Problem is that the text is so small on my Blackberry, so I need to always carry my reading glasses – and the lay-out is not very user-friendly.

In my blog Twitter for Birders, part 2, I talked about a great RSS reader for Blackberry and Smartphones – Free Range in the context that RSS feeds of Twitter hash-tags can be used as a rare bird alert system. (Really, read the article if interested in this).  Free Range has its own web-browser converting text and pictures in a very user friendly format and readable for Blackberry (which I use). You can download the feeds to read them later even without phone connection. You can also bookmark with or send the link to an email address with just a click. Check this FreeRange Feeder page for two tutorials that explain all possibilities of this mobile RSS reader. For Iphone there is a similar reader (that I have not tried) called Net Use Wire from Newsgator. Please, let me know if it works well in your comments below.

Become a better blogger in 31 days with Problogger

Darry RowseOne of the top Blog Gurus Darren Rowse of Problogger, that I hailed in my post on Google Books, is starting an email course of 31 days to become a better blogger. You can not get better advice than this. The email was to start on April 1, but has just been postponed to April 6 (as I write this), so there is still time to sign up.  You sign up to 31 days to build a better blog here.  Don’t miss it. Problogger’s web-site is full of useful tips for you, in spite of being for learning how to make money making blogs (which is higly unlikely for a nature blogger in the first place except for a handful dollars per month with Adsense of Google and Amazon Associate). Daren’s success probably stems from that he seems to be a completely altruistic person in all the tips he gives away. He will probably have something to sell at the end of the course, but of the over 5000 following his free e-course he will only need to monetize on a couple of corporate companies that need a lecture series and sell a couple of 100 books to make it worth while.

See you on the Problogger’s course then. I am sure I will learn a lot.

Blogger icon from Flickr by Emanuel Batalha under Creative Commons license.
Google Buzz

Share with

  • Aiming for a solid top 10 among birding blogs on Nature Blog Network. Subscribe to my RSS feed now! Thanks! #

Powered by Twitter Tools.

Google Buzz

Share with

You have to embrace technology, to make someone into a birder!

Birders, how do you promote your hobby among non-birders? Do you tell them: “It is very easy. All you need are three things. Binoculars, notebook and field-guide”?

WRONG!  That is sooo 1900s!

You have not understood the power of technology! As of this day and age – the 21st century – all a non-birder needs to become a birdwatcher are two things.

  1. A 10-20x optical zoom “point and shoot” camera. Forget about binoculars, at least for the time being. Of course anyone sees the birds better with binoculars, but bring nothing home at the end of the day if only binocs are used. A camera is what makes the difference
  2. Internet connection. To share with friends on Facebook, post the pictures on blogs and direct more experienced birders to these pictures for a positive ID.

A superzoom point and shoot cost between 100-400 dollars. With the free google picassa program the “new birders” can edit the pictures. And with a good photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop, he/she can even reduce noice and grain, improve the colors and delete features that disturbs the picture.

The best feature with a camera vs binoculars is that the camera can be used also for other things than birds. They usually have decent macro and wideangle that makes them great to document loads of things on the naturewalk. Additionally, they have a film function making quite poor quality film in small format, but which is perfect to upload straight away to You-tube.
Ask your kid or just anyone what he/she prefers. Binoculars or a 15x P&S camera? I think you already know the answer!

Here are some examples to illustrate my points.

  • A series of photographs taken by Donna Basset with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28S. To show what one can do for starters.
  • Steve Ingraham’s blog on the topic is helpful. Steve uses a Sony DSC H9. Also check Steve’s other blogposts, becuase there is much to learn about point and shoot photography. Steve, quite obviously has a lot of knowledge about photography and uses the camera’s many functions with perfection. When it comes to shooting at extreme magnification you need to know what you are doing for best results. Having said this, these cameras are quite inexpensive, so anyone can learn a lot just from trial and error. And in case you missed this: You don’t have to pay for film anymore!!
  • A large number of incipient birders in Peru post pictures on the pics and files ID-section of my web-page project Birding Peru. Many of them don’t even own binoculars. Scroll through the lists and and you will find many Peruvian ringing names.
  • I have the privilage knowing Guto Carvalho, who organizes AVISTAR birding festival in Brazil to almost entirely to a Brazilian public. Birdwatching was practically unknown to most Brazilians just a half a decade ago. During the 3rd year of organizing AVISTAR 2008 in Sao Paolo, there were over thirty thousand visitors to the fair. Last year was the second edition of the bird photo competition and over 7000 photos were submitted by close to 5000 photographers of 650 species.
  • Birders and naturalists must start embracing technology rather than shun it. It is the only way, to get nature’s voice heard and to recruit the new generation of nature lovers in this day and age. Below are some examples of cameras available from Amazon. The cheapest one is only 103 dollars! How much binoculars do you get for that, I wonder? The kid would be stuck with something, with absolutely no use – except for birding!

    Google Buzz

    Share with

    • Did an easy 8K with Luciana in her new Jeep Overland Jogging Stroller. 4K to a playground playing for an hour and back. My arms are sore! #
    • “My life was so boring until I’ve begun to twitter about it!” Changed the illustration of yesterday’s blog. #
    • RT @problogger: just checked and 31 Days to Build a Better Blog has 5127 signed up – still time to join at #31dbbb #
    • Should I sign up to My Space? Any advantages? Any birders there? #
    • Figuring out Google Reader. Will blog about my results! #

    Powered by Twitter Tools.

    Google Buzz

    Share with

    • Here is a thought: If I could get all my clients on Facebook and Twitter , they would see when I’m spending too much time. Back to work! #
    • With Luciana at the playground. Saturday=Daddy &Luciana Day. #

    Powered by Twitter Tools.

    Google Buzz

    Share with

    • [at]nycmike don’t think they should have a problem as Twitter is open source and invites to app building. #
    • [at]martinrstone Great stuff Martin, I will have to penetrate some of those services to get to know them better. #
    • I am experimenting with Stumble Upon. You find some of my posts there. pls vote on them #
    • [at]Dawn the toolbar is a great stumble search tool. With the TAG, you select up to 5 tags i.e. “birding”,then click Stumble! & get surprise #
    • [at]Dawn My stumblepage is pretty bleak &un-organised I´m afraid. I´m new at this & also forget I have it. https://birdingperu.stumbleupon. #
    • OMG Once again is my blog mentioned on the sidenotes of number 1 birding blog Must be doing something right? #
    • just realizing I have not been on facebook today, whay did I miss? #
    • I Twitter, Ergo I am! #
    • [at]nycmike thnx The full address if you want to skip my business pages (nobody wants to bird in Peru, right?) is: #
    • Suicidal Penguins #
    • I Twitter therefore I am ! Memo to self! #

    Powered by Twitter Tools.

    Google Buzz

    Share with

    Twittero,  ergo sum

    Had René Descartes been living today – I am sure he would have a philosophical view on Twitter. Maybe even doubting its existence or his own. How trivial can twitter really become?
    I had a great laugh yesterday checking out this video.

    The cartoon guy in the video says:
    “Twittering is just randomly bragging about your unexceptional life.”

    Although, I admit having tweeted about what I am eating or drinking at times, and made other trivial comments, I have to agree that too much of such stuff is a sure way to loose followers as explained in How to loose twitter followers in 1o steps. In spite of the time sink sometimes, one can find many useful ways to use Twitter. I have learnt much about Blogging and Social Media through Twitter. You can also get instant advice from your Twitter friends when needed.

    Use Twitter wisely. How to avoid the Twitter Time-sink.

    Here are some useful links.

    Additionally, a few days ago web-designer depot wrote the ultimate Twitter guide.  in fact it is so popular that right now as I am writing this it can not be accessed. Must have blown the server! Bookmark this article and come back in a few days and I am sure it works again.

    Twitter for birders

    I am sure most of my birding friends have seen my two manuals on Twitter for birders. If not here they are again:

    There is yet another Twitter-like application in Beta version called Chirp-tracker. It is more directed to birders. The big advatage for a birder is that there is less noice.  Only birders are participating and chirping about birds. It will most likely become a huge success among birders. I hope it will become more like a proper Twitter-client in the future, so I can use it instead of Tweetdeck also for my non-birding tweeting. To try out the beta version. Get on Twitter and follow @chirptracker and ask to try out the beta version.

    Let me know your favorite articles about Twitter and tips about applications.

    Cartoon from Geek and Poke under creative commons license
    Google Buzz

    Share with

    What do Great Tits and Peruvian Boobies have in common?

    They are both birds on T-shirts from Birdorable! What were you thinking? Well, I just read about Peruvian Boobies t-shirts it in Mel’s blog teach-me-about birdwatching.  I quote: It would be great to have a t-shirt saying “I love Peruvian Boobies for my non-Peruvian fiancee. Birdorable caught the idea and started designing. Check out the nice result.  I always said to my friends it was the Peruvian Boobies that drew me to Peru.

    Great Tits can also be found on Birdorable!

    Google Buzz

    Share with

    • RT @guykawasaki: How Twitter can make you a better copywriter #
    • Who the hell is Guy Kawasaki? Does he sell motorcycles? Reading Guy Kawasaki “Reality Check” for free on #
    • so far I have 3 people using delicious and one saying he just use the browsers. Any other people using social bookmarking service? #
    • [at]nycmike I agree, It would be cool if chirptracker could be Ur only client. Every chirp would be a tweet. Every tweet not necessary a chi #

    Powered by Twitter Tools.

    Google Buzz

    Share with