A Wildlife Biologist Blogger

u/dilljone

Where do you find a community for bloggers that isn't just for shameless self promotion?

This is something that has always frustrated me. I am a wildlife biologist, photographer and blogger that has really struggled to find a community of other bloggers that doesnt feel, well, forced. I have a fair following on Instagram (11.5k), a Facebook/group (petty numbers) and twitter (sub 100 followers), but have always struggled with having legitimate conversation with others in my field. The WordPress blog reader is laughable at best, and most websites either have me struggling to get anyone to take notice or result in me asking empty questions.

What I really crave is a place where I feel I can discuss other people's blogs and my blogs point of view without this feeling of fake self promotion. Like actual comments and discussion not just dozens of "Great read! I think you'll like my blog post on this similar subject". Reddit is kind of getting there for me, but with the general hate of self promotion and the feeling that I'm still just a faceless entity it's not really working for me. Right now I feel that a lot of my social media just has me either posting into the void or into an echo chamber.

Do you guys have any sites, communities, or tips that are beneficial for bloggers looking for a community to be a part of?
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bookchaser

legitimate conversation with others in my field

👉 E-mail mailing list. Find one, or make one and then build it through professional networking.
👉 Facebook. Likes and scrowling faces have minimal impact.
👉 Reddit. Upvotes and downvotes hold too much sway over fruitful conversation though.

People simply don't read blogs like they used to, which is why every blogger seems to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. in conjunction with their blogs to reach people where they hang out.

dilljone ✍️
I guess I am a bit confused by your answer. This may be ignorant of me, but every email list I've been a part of feels like a one-way conversation. Blogger to the recipient. I guess you could reply to the emails, but that's not a community necessarily, but a reply.

Are you saying that Facebook is pointless or giving me general advice about the platform?

And I mentioned my current trouble with Reddit.

I think your last sentence is more of what I am trying to get at, but you just listed the social media accounts I am already using without actually giving any advice. I think at this point I am less concerned with driving traffic to my blog (of course that's a factor) but more interested in having a legitimate community for which to share my blog and my opinions while also being influenced by other bloggers, thinkers, and influencers. I am more apt to listen to a blogger, because I feel their viewpoints are typically more researched or genuine than the average twitter user, Reddit commenter, or Facebook scroller.

bookchaser
But every email list I've been a part of feels like a one-way conversation. Blogger to the recipient.

Ahh, I'm talking about a mailing list where there is no blogger, at least not in the way you're thinking. Mailing lists existed for decades before blogs were invented.

I'm suggesting a solution to your craving, not a solution to your career as a blogger. Start a traditional 2-way unmoderated mailing list and limit its participants to wildlife biologists.

The mailing list isn't used to promote your blog. The mailing lists exists as its own organism for wildlife biologists to discuss issues of importance to them. You, as the mailing list moderator, will largely spend your time helping people subscribe or unsubscribe (if they have problems doing so on their own). In a rare instance where there's a jerk, you might kick someone out of the list. Except for that, there's nothing for you to do, except to seek out wildlife biologists and encourage them to subscribe.

If there is a professional organization that wildlife biologists belong to, you might first look to see whether it maintains its own mailing list that will scratch your itch.

To clarify, in case you've never belonged to a true mailing list… everyone who is on the list sends their e-mails to the same universal address. All mail sent to that universal address is copied and sent back to everyone who subscribes to the list. You don't control the flow of the conversation. Anyone and everyone on the list can send messages that everyone on the list reads and responds to.

Here's a sample footer from an old mailing list I used to subscribe to. Every e-mail ends with this information. I modified it a little to pretend it's your wildlife biologist mailing list…

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Wildlife Biologist mailing list.To unsubscribe, send e-mail to wildlife+biologists+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com. To ask questions, send an e-mail to: dilljonevia.made-up-address@gmail.com. For more options, visit: http://groups.google.com/group/wildlife+biologistshl=en

When I received an e-mail like this, if I wanted to join the group conversation, I simply hit reply.

GoogleGroups.com is one of many services that lets you set up a 2-way mailing list.
deleted
This is very interesting. If you create one, how do you get people to subscribe
bookchaser
Just like with blogging, you need a way to reach your intended audience. I don't know anything about wildlife biology, but here's a guess.
👉 Promote the mailing list on your blog on the off chance any wildlife biologists see it.
👉 Creature a flyer or brochure about the mailing list. When planning to attend a professional conference, contact the conference organizers in advance and ask if you can distribute the flyer, be it at your own table you staff, or just placed on a table at the event for pick-up or inclusion in an information packet attendees receive. Certainly, hand out the brochure to everyone you meet there.
👉 A paid advertisement in a professional publication, or as the mailing list picks up steam, pitch a news story to the publication (or website).
👉 Make a business card with the mailing list information. Hand it to other wildlife biologists you meet locally (which is potentially plausible working as an independent consultant on a company's environmental impact report involving multiple experts or even one biologist hiring another biologist to complete the work).

The answers will be different for each type of mailing list. I once advised an elementary school librarian how to start a mailing list. Her situation was easier. She could obtain a list of every school librarian in her county and mail them a postcard.
deleted
Very good insights. Thank you!
dilljone ✍️
See that makes more sense. Seems like a super old school approach, but a real good one. I'll have to look into it more

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tdave
Start with the blogs themselves. Avoid those constructed with the elements of monetization growth instruments (meaning, any trick or even any "commonly accepted practice" designed to encourage subscription and sharing). It is extremely difficult to find blogs like this today because Google and any other major search engine index on a monetizing pivot. Blogs that are published in order to reward the publisher and the influencing game as a whole bury the quieter blogs that exist as mere fascinations of their authors. It is in that realm you find the original authentic voices that were supposed to define blogging and the open web.

This reply to the OP is NOT self-promoting since that would be ironic, but, I started a list tonight of blogs that are crafted along the lines of exactly what I am talking about. The blogs on my list are click-safe and present on the desktop web first (in fact, my list explicitly prohibits inclusion of blogs that attempt to look good on mobile devices). The list is small, but its point is to inspire other bloggers to stay out of the monetization game and to begin the rebuild the channels of link-sharing their blogs among fellow desktop web surfers.

JR
I am truly happy something like this exists. I have the same issue as the OP. In my case, back when I was on WordPress, I was looking to restart a "blogroll" of people I know or appreciate. Their blogs were not so much related to my topics (mostly tech) but more about the fact that they provide content and out less emphasis (in general) on social media.

Your blog looks interesting in itself :)

petitedancer
You can have discussions on forums, there is no issue with that, and theoretically discussions about your blog post should be happening on the post itself.

I'm not sure what you are doing in the WordPress reader but it has served me very well for the past 5 years, and if you are tagging properly, you can usually see some traction there!

I blog in a fairly small niche, and have a tiny bit wonderful group of people to discuss with. That may be an option for you, as well.
markaritaville
My main blog is regional retail based "new taco bell proposed for Main St". I write the stories, then post on to Facebook. I mention this, because for me Facebook is the #1 discussion platform for my site as well as growth and sharing. People "like" my page. They see a post they like, and they share it or tag their friends. Conversations start. Like… a LOT. tips get shared. complaints tossed in. just a ton of information in the mix. I have also done a little bit of paid promotion. In your case, you could do an ad for your FB page that drops the ad to those with wildlife interest. I'm talking like a $20 investment to try out. I now have 10k page followers. and a decent post of mine is seen by 30,000 or more, and tons of comments

It seems the same pattern could work with you and your blog.. pulling in others to your page who are truly interested in wildlife
Sera
So far in my 1.5ish years of more-focused blogging, I've found two very helpful communities. Both Facebook groups, in one case offering other channels to interact if you're a paid member.

And, TBH, full of click-chasing, ad-revenue-loving bloggers who seem less interested in the craft of blogging than in monetizing it.

Hence the frequent self-promoting & shallow discussion :-\ But, they're helpful enough from a tactical standpoint that I stay.

Not gonna publicly ID those groups here. #sorrynotsorry I think what groups are helpful vs not is pretty subjective.

My experience with the WordPress reader is mixed. My guess is it is more or less useful depending on niche.

I've found Twitter to be a decent platform for interacting with peers in my niche, so while I can't really get much audience input there I do find it worthwhile.
JR
First, this is a request for more advice related to what OP said, not an answer to the question. Here goes.

This is a beautiful question posted just when I am wondering the same thing. Hopefully I can use some of the solutions provided here. I feel my issue is a little bit more complicated, here's why:
👉 I don't use FB out of principal and also identity issues (see below)
👉 Even though I'm mostly writing about tech related stuff (much is about blogging and writing related tech) other things has to do with personal stuff like relationships and depression, for instance. There's no specific group or groups I can think of.
👉 my blog is tied to my pen name which I used to write some nsfw (sexual) content, mostly autobiographical. A few fictional things. At the time, association of this with my job was end of the line for my career. Today, way more forgiving but still not the stuff you'd like your boss to know about you.

If I had to find a place where people would be interested in what I write for discussion, I would choose… This community (since some posts relate to the technical aspects of blogging, writing, and organizing both), people who work in IT as help desks or sysadmins (can't find a good place here yet), and probably the polyamory group as some related to this aspect of my life.

The problem is that I don't have a specific topic or topics. I have a good post about switching away from WordPress and why, then I have something about an IT issue with Macs and the solution I found, then conflicts of personal privacy vs company policy, for instance.

Then another issue is my anonymity. I'm not as nearly as careful as I should be if this was really important, and this has it's drawbacks. For instance, I'd like to do a how-to video of a few things for Macs and Linux, and I want to show my face because it's more personal this way and conversational — but at the same time I have a post with some sexual details that have to do with my relationship.

Both of these would be pieces of good content, and I'm not ashamed of what I write, but that doesn't mean my manager (for example) would be happy to stumble upon it, or even a reader from here (for example) who's looking for blogging related material and finds more info about me they care to know. The opposite is also true, where someone who's a fan of ertotic fiction (for example) finds post after post about geeky stuff.

To me, having both is important on the grand scheme of things. I am one person with several interests. I want to connect across all of them. I trust the readers to use my categories and titles and tags to know what they're getting into. Don't care to make money out of it, would much rather find interesting people who connect on several levels.

Anyway I rambled enough.

TL; DR:

I always enjoy connecting with people who write for pleasure about their lives, and I have hard time finding readers across my several different interests.

I also keep going back and forth between keeping anonymous or not.

dilljone ✍️
Fair points! Finding communities that represent all your interests is tough. In my case my community has two very similar but extremely opposite ends. To dumb it down, there are passionate, emotion-driven conservationists on one end and then extremely down to earth, fact-driven conservationists on the other (some people say its hippies vs hunters). I feel connected to both, but they are always at each others throats even though they want to same thing. I occasionally post my blogs to several subreddits here, and it sometimes feels attacked on both ends with no one in my corner. I'd love a place where both sides can discuss any issue that's been brought up. Just my two cents on your situstion, have you considered splitting into a couple blogs? Keeping anonymous in one or two and then having a personal persona on your more tech oriented content? I'm a huge fan of personal branding and, to me that sounds a potential solution. Then again I don't know all the details!

JR

have you considered splitting into a couple blogs

Oh man, have I. I used to have two blogs, two names, two personalities almost. This proccess has been going on for a decade. One tech associated, one was more the other stuff. Turns out my life mash between these two too often, nothing is this clean cut. Further, it creates good pieces (I think) when the two mash up. You can't always split it up, nothing is pure A or pure B (unless it's forced and artificial). Besides, I feel it's more organic. I like to have one place which is my stuff that attracts different people. I'm not trying to shut you down as much as I want to express how difficult and un-organic this method has been for me.

I personally love it when I read tech related stuff from someone who also has a personal side, not afraid to show it, and has a poem in the midst of otherwise scripts or code. Or the passionate writer who writes sci-fi and goes in depth about his technical writing process (I save these! true treasures).

I don't know what's your background but if you want I'll give you my blog so you get a feel of what I mean (the current one doesn't have a lot of stuff, but if you move between the categories you'll soon see what I mean).

Thanks for the suggestion though! :)

Alireza
This is a good question and a great topic.

To be honest that was one of the reason I stayed away from all the blogging platforms, all of them started to be one another or be like FB, a little of Google+ and some of the Twitter.

It's not about bloggers or readers, it's now all about timelines full of things that some fancy algorithm has "picked up just for you". I don't want them to decide what to read, I know what I want to read, I want good content, awesome bloggers and be able to discover them and I don't like to have a page full of promotion and "How waking up at 5 AM made me a better person".

Well, I built GoNevis.com for such reason, no algo or fancy timelines. Just a simple blogging platform that gives you what you need to start blogging and a Reader functionality to follow your favorite bloggers. The community is small but growing.

Many people ask me why I built another one, to be honest, one of the answers is in your question already ;)

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