Featured Blog: The Conservation Report

Who better to introduce to you this week than the author and editor of the blog currently ranked #1 in page visits on NBN, The Conservation Report? I’m happy to introduce our colleague in blogging, Buck, who’s here to share the secrets of his success and popularity.

Buck was formerly a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar, a graduate student in Development Studies, and an observer on commercial fishing vessels and instructor biologist for the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service. He’s currently studying law as well as blogging about the environment and hopes to combine his passions by working in environmental law someday.

Madagascar Frog

Madagascar Frog

You can read more about Buck at http://conservationreport.com/about/ or email him at buckdenton [at] gmail [dot] com. Two good examples of posts from his blog are CAN YOU SEE ME? | ANIMAL CAMOUFLAGE: Leaf mimics and Shark Week. Here are Buck’s thoughts and reflections about blogging.

Why do you blog?
I started blogging because of the volume of interesting environmental, international, and political news and information that exists.  I wanted to keep a diary reflecting my thoughts on some of these stories, and blogging is a great tool to do this.

There are several reasons why I keep blogging.  First, I believe that blogging improves writing skills. The more you do something, the better you get (I hope at least).  Furthermore, blogging is a unique medium for delivering information, because a blog disseminates knowledge and tailors information within a peer review framework, therefore, other individuals can participate in vetting your arguments and information.  Allowing the public to debate information in an open forum as you do in a blog is almost impossible to do within traditional media outlets like newspapers. Blogging allows me to be an intimate participant in the public conversation.

How did you pick the name of your blog?
I wanted a blog name that could be reflected as a domain name too. I searched for a blog and domain name match for some time. Eventually I settled on the “Conservation Report” and the domain name conservationreport.com.

What’s unique or different about your blog?
My blog is constantly evolving, and the content doesn’t always reflect only conservation, environment, or nature. For example, I like blogging about politics, since political choices and policy decisions have a great influence on the natural landscape.

What other social networking tools do you use?
Social networking is very important if you want to gain readers, and some of my favorites are Flicker, Facebook, and StumbleUpon.  I like using images from Flickr with a Creative Commons license, and Facebook allows people to easily share blog content.  StumbleUpon can increase your blog’s traffic if a good blog post is picked up.   Incorporating some type of tool into your blog, which allows readers to share your work, is an absolute necessity.

Is there anything you dislike about blogging?
Juggling time is a big issue, especially with law school. However, I’ve adapted to become more efficient.

What’s the payoff for the time it takes to use all this new technology?
Technology can be difficult, so learning to use technology and making it work is a great feeling.  Exchanging ideas and helping fellow bloggers with technology is important in building a community, and I believe the two best things about blogging are sharing ideas and networking. I’ve networked with media outlets such as Animal Planet and National Geographic.  Having your material picked up or quoted by a pundit or a very popular blog feels great as well.

What have you learned from blogging and other social networking?
I’ve learned that blogging and social networking are so integrated into our culture that they’re impossible to ignore.

Has blogging changed how you think about nature?
Blogging has made me smarter about the issues, because it forces me to research, read, and write about numerous topics.

Did you expect you would have this many readers?
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve noticed the more I blog, the more readers I get. It’s always nice to be #1, but my #1 status isn’t forever, since there are lots of excellent blogs on Nature Blog Network.

To what do you attribute your popularity?
I try to be comprehensive in the content I cover, as I believe it is important to blog about both the little known news and issues in addition to covering the popular buzz.  Furthermore, although writing is the central component of any blog, we are a visual species, so I like to incorporate interesting images with my writing.  I also attribute a good portion of my popularity to WordPress.  Since switching from Blogger to WordPress, my readership has increased dramatically, and it continues to increase.  I prefer WordPress, because it has a more professional feel, and the platform creates a strong blogger community by doing an excellent job at circulating and sharing blog content.

Any words of wisdom for new nature bloggers?
I believe it is very important to cut the computer off and get exercise when possible. I’ve learned that blogging about nature can keep you away from nature, so I try to stay active by biking, bird watching, gardening, hiking, rowing, running, or walking the dog when possible. It is important to live a balanced life; otherwise, it is easy to forget about the nature outside.

If you had it to do over, would you start a blog?
Certainly!

Thank you, Buck, for taking time from your studies to share your thoughts with us. Good luck on your exams!