This week is the one year anniversary of the Married With Bees blog. In one year, 35 posts totaling over 35,000 words have been written. What is more astounding is that some people actually read some of those posts. The site had 4,000 page views and 1,700 visitors from all over the globe. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read any of my posts. The fact that anyone besides my parents reads this blog is a miracle to me. I think my parents are required by law to read what I write. The hospital made them sign a paper when I was born. Now seems like a good time to share what I have learned while traversing the blogosphere for a year.
- Write about something you love (unless that something is yourself). – Bees fascinate me, so blogging about them is always an enjoyable endeavor. Sometimes I have to put “Write Blog Post” on my To Do list, but that is because I don’t want to forget not because I don’t want to write. You can fake a lot of things, but a writer can’t fake enthusiasm for extended periods of time. (You can fake anything in short bursts. Watch “When Harry Met Sally” if you don’t believe me.) However, if the thing you love to write about most is yourself, then that could be a stumbling block. I follow lots of blogs, and the blogs I enjoy most give me something. The gift could be in the form of beautiful pictures of flower gardens, advice about beekeeping, a glimpse into a new experience like hiking the Appalachian trail, or the gift of humor in the form of jokes. One of my friends publishes a blog every week of jokes centered around a particular theme. (Check out Leonard’s Lines if you want a good laugh every Friday.) The blogs I read once but never read again are the ones where the writer spends all his time writing about the mundane details of his life. “This morning I was tired and was unsure if I should eat avocado toast for breakfast or organic yogurt. I have been trying to decide if I am lactose intolerant so maybe avocado toast is best because I don’t want to feel bloated in my morning staff meeting.” Unless you are super famous, nobody wants to read about the mundane details of your life. We are all busy with the mundane details of our own lives. If you want to write down your inner monologue, you need a diary instead of a blog. Diaries also have smaller carbon footprints, so everybody wins.
- You can’t predict which posts will do well. – I was shocked at how well some posts did while others didn’t get many views. My post about how beekeepers could save the US political system was weird. I knew it was weird when I was writing it, but I was having fun. I thought I would be the only person that enjoyed it. Multiple people shared that post, and it received quite a few views. The post about Beekeeper Barbie did not do well, and I thought it would since Barbie is so iconic. You can’t always tell what will resonate with people.
- Blogging is a cheap hobby. – I spend less than $100/year combined for my WordPress plan and registration of the http://www.marriedwithbees.com domain name. The only other expense is the electricity I use to run my laptop, and that cost is negligible. Relative to other hobbies such as beekeeping, blogging is cheap entertainment. You could even make money blogging if you wanted to advertise and insert Amazon product links into your blog.
- Don’t expect all your friends and family to read your blog. – Just because you share genetic material with a person doesn’t mean they will read your blog. I would point the metaphorical finger at a few specific people here, but I know they aren’t reading this anyway. Note once again that my parents do read my blog, and I know this because I usually ask them within a few minutes of posting, “Did you read my blog yet?”
- Blogging is a great way to connect with people you might never meet otherwise. – Beekeepers in France and the United Kingdom have given me some great beekeeping advice. I discussed art with a photographer in New York. I shared stories about my dogs with a conservationist in the Northwestern United States, and I regularly read ominous haikus published in the blog Rusted Honey. The blogosphere is filled with interesting people doing interesting things, and it is definitely worth exploring. Electronic interactions can’t replace face to face interactions, but social media allows us unprecedented access to differing facets of humanity. Blogging has given me a more expansive human experience. You don’t have to write your own blog to enjoy exploring other people’s blogs. Go to the WordPress website, enter a topic and see what happens.
Doug and I have only just begun learning about bees, so I am confident that topics for the blog will continue to present themselves. In the year ahead, look for posts about our first attempt at honey extraction, how Chinese farmers pollinate fruit trees, and how we test and treat for varroa mites. Thank you all taking the journey with us.