Last week marked the one year anniversary of The Jaguar and its Allies. It has been a productive year for me. I have been able to connect with professionals in my field, have had my posts shared by the Oxford WildCRU and the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group, have been asked to write two guest posts, and have “met” many wonderful people.
But this has also been a year of learning. Therefore the rest of this anniversary post will focus on some of those lessons, and on what to expect for the coming year.
Lessons From one Year of Blogging
1. You get out of blogging what you put into it.
I have noticed a direct correlation between how much time I spend in the blogosphere and how many hits The Jaguar and its Allies receives. The more I read and comment on other people’s blogs, the more traffic my own site gets. The same is also true for post quality. I do not think it is coincidence that some of my most widely shared pieces have also been those that I worked the hardest on.
2. It is okay to set limits.
This lesson is the necessary counterbalance to the previous one. Blogging can quickly consume one’s life. For a while I was spending over 3 hours a day reading and commenting on others people’s blogs, and spending 2-3 weeks preparing each of my science-related posts. Literally all of my free time was spent on this blog.
While I enjoyed spending so much time researching topics that interest me, and this site’s stats boomed during that period, that is not a healthy way to live. If The Jaguar and its Allies was a professional blog, then it would be appropriate for me to invest so much time into it. But it is not, and as I transition into a new period of life I must not allow this site to interfere with more important tasks.
3. Do not make assumptions.
When I first started this site, I figured that most of my efforts should be directed towards those who wrote about nature and conservation. My reasoning was that authors of such blogs would be more interested in my content. But this turned out to not be entirely true.
While I have been successful in connecting with other nature-oriented bloggers, many of my readers are from outside that realm. I am honored to mutually follow owners of creative writing blogs, fitness blogs, photography blogs, fashion blogs, blogs about love, travel blogs, and more. This has been an encouraging experience for me, and it suggests that big cats are loved by people from all walks of life. If this wide-ranging admiration can be turned into action, then there will be a better future for these incredible animals.
One reason for reflecting on the past is to anticipate the future. My life, and consequently this blog, are about to change a great deal. Most of these changes will result from my upcoming graduate studies.
Once I begin studying at Humboldt State University, I will need to set firmer boundaries on blogging. School and work will become my top priorities, and I will have to structure my time accordingly. I will also have to increase my Spanish-learning efforts, since I want to do my Master’s research in Latin America. This means that I am not sure how frequently I will update this site.
What I do know is that I will need to diversify my posts. Unless I am able to find a second (or third) author, it will be difficult for me to continue with my research-oriented posts. I will try to release some when I can, but I will also have to focus on less labor-intensive content. Thankfully I might be doing more exciting things that are worth writing about.
This first year of The Jaguar and its Allies has been a fulfilling one. I have connected with many wonderful people and learned important lessons that will help me in the future. And while my life is about to change immensely, I will do my best to keep up with as many of you as I can.
Thank you all for your support: it is incredibly meaningful.