I’ve been interested in nature as long as can I remember. I have a BA from Hiram College (that’s where hiramtom.blogspot.com came from) with a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). I’ve been working as a full time professional ecologist since 2003. I help keep track of Ohio’s rare plants and animals by doing field work and using Global Positioning Systems and Geographic Information Systems. I’m lucky to have found a full time, paying job that supports our family and lets me study natural history. Obviously, I can’t get enough nature, because I do the blog thing in my spare time.
Where else can we find you on the Web?
My blog URL is officially http://hiramtom.blogspot.com, but Ohionatureblog.com and tomarbour.com will get you to the blog as well. My hobby aside from nature blogging is photography – I’m an istockphoto.com exclusive contributor. My online portfolio is at www.istockphoto.com/hiramtom and I also have a photo blog at http://ittybittybugs.blogspot.com. I love using twitter, where I go by @NatureDad
Why do you blog?
I first started blogging because I wanted to improve my writing skills. As a graduate student, I was writing constantly, but when I entered the workforce, not so much. I blog about nature because it is who I am and what I want to be. It’s inherent- it is just what I do and what I love. My biggest reward is when I meet someone at a nature event or meeting, and they introduce themselves and say something like “Mr. Arbour, I read your blog, it’s nice to meet you in person.” That’s awesome.
When I am able to help someone understand something that they observed in the natural world, but never completely understood, that’s a great feeling. Those things took a while. For the first year my blog was for me and me only. I wanted to document what I saw in the natural world and write about it. When I started getting a following, that was icing on the cake.
What do you like most and least about blogging?
I was just talking about this with a fellow blogger this week. It’s hard to constantly come up with new and interesting blog content. At first, you create a blog to show what you do and all the cool interesting things you experience, but it can quickly take over your life until you reach a point where you are doing things so that you can blog about them. When that happens to me, I know it’s time to take a step back for a few days for my own personal sanity.
It’s made me a better writer, but I don’t think it’s changed my passion or love for nature. It has only fueled my fire to learn more about the natural world. For example, I started taking macro shots of every insect species that comes to my light post. I was amazed to find out that most of them were so obscure that only a handful of experts in the country could identify them, and these were insects flying around my front yard in suburban Worthington, Ohio, an enclave of Columbus, a city of over 700,000 people.
How do you promote your blog and attract readers?
I use Twitter and Facebook primarily. They are both great ways to find a following. I try to send out links to all my blog posts to both Facebook and Twitter. I also write small nature notes for Twitter, share photography techniques, and let people know where I’m headed to take pictures.
How did you pick the name of your blog?
I picked the name “Ohio Nature Blog” so that when someone typed something like “nature in Ohio” in a Google Search, it might show up in their results. And since I do travel across the state, I thought it was applicable. Sometimes I think that name is WAY too presumptuous and have thought about dropping it for something a bit more modest, but I think I’m in too deep at this point. I do try to feature other Ohio nature blogs occasionally as well. And now that I think about it, I guess I did envision more of place where I would write about nature happenings in Ohio, but right now primarily write about my own personal experiences while occasionally highlighting other nature happenings around the state.
Yes, at least here in Ohio. I try to read and make friends with all of the bloggers that are based here in Ohio. It’s fun to meet people face to face, too.
Any words of wisdom for new nature bloggers?
Keep blogging. Share your love and interest with others. Tell people what you do and why you do it. Encourage everyone to love nature as much as you do.