Wow, I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for an entire year!
It’s been a wild ride and I’d like to share all the highs and lows with you. I’ve compiled the most popular posts, fun statistics about how many people are reading the blog, where I traveled, what I learned and mostly importantly, will I be continuing?
Best of The Afternoon Birder
In the last year I’ve written 65 articles. Of those, here are the 10 most popular according to Google Analytics:
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Owl Photography: Owl Baiting
Hands down my most popular post of the year! It was an exciting time to get so much attention for the blog. But, more importantly it started a conversation about owl baiting. I created @ethicalowlphotos and united a group of people who are all passionate about ethical owl photography. Thanks to @nikon_birder for making this great hub possible!
Why Superzoom Cameras Are Great For Bird Photography – Thanks to some great SEO, this article shows up at the top of Google for birding + superzooms. These small powerhouse cameras are a favourite among birders!
Best Canon SX50 Settings For Bird Photography – The settings I use to get the best bird photographs with my superzoom camera.
Best Nikon DSLR For Bird Photography – I did a ton of research for this article! Find out the best Nikon DSLRs for bird photography.
Guide to Birding Kauai: Hawaiian Paradise – Another SEO success story, this article is popular with birders travelling to Hawaii.
Duck ID Quiz – Over 500 people (and counting!) took this duck identification quiz! I am thrilled that so many people found the quiz useful.
The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Wildlife Hubs – Learn how to master Instagram’s hashtag system to get your wildlife photos seen by a large audience.
Must-have DSLR Accessories for Wildlife Photography – I upgraded to a DSLR last year and I quickly learned that I needed a LOT of accessories to go with it. I go through the must-haves and how much extra you should budget for accessories.
Quick Guide to DSLR Settings for Bird Photography – A quick and easy guide to bird photography settings.
How Bird-watching Gave me My Life Back: A Dizzy Girl’s Story – My personal story about dealing with a chronic dizziness condition. I was touched by how many people reached out to me after writing this article.
Who Reads The Afternoon Birder?
In 12 months, I’ve had nearly 20K people from 48 different countries visit The Afternoon Birder! I’m currently getting 3,500 visitors and nearly 7,000 page views per month. Pretty exciting stuff!
I am incredibly thankful for everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment, send an email or like or share one of my articles. The blog wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the readership.
Thank you for being such an amazing audience!
Most Popular Photographs
These were the ten most popular photographs I posted on Instagram this year:
Where Did I Travel?
Part of my vision (aka my dream) for The Afternoon Birder is to make it a travel blog with a focus on birds and wildlife. I don’t have the energy to travel 12 months of the year, but I try to travel as much as possible. I love sharing my experiences and inspiring others to visit new destinations.
Here are all the places I visited and/or blogged about in the last year:
Peaks Island, Maine
Algonquin Park, Ontario (fall)
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Oregon Coast, USA
Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Algonquin Park, Ontario (winter)
Prince Edward Island
What Have I Learned?
I came into blogging last year with little to no experience. Rather than create a free site on WordPress or Blogger, I chose a self-hosted WordPress blog. This gives you creative freedom and a more professional look, but it means you have to do everything yourself. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I definitely feel a proud sense of accomplishment at setting up the website on my own. I learned (the hard way) that every time you want to make a small change, it always involves WAY more work that you anticipate.
Wearing Multiple Hats
When you’re running a blog, you have to do everything. I’m the writer, photographer, editor, graphic designer, social media marketer, search engine optimization specialist and more. Some of these things come naturally to me, but others (like graphic design) I have no experience or talent with! Every day that I work on this blog, I learn something new. My design skills are still a work in progress 😉
Aside from running the website, one of the harder things about blogging is dealing with negative comments about your articles. Luckily this doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. If you read the comments section on my article about owl baiting, you will see some pretty harsh stuff. I made the difficult decision to publish the negative comments and I’m happy that I did.
I’ve learned that it’s possible to over-extend yourself on social media. When I started the blog, I only had Instagram and a Flickr account that I barely used. I wanted to reach a wider audience so I went a bit crazy and signed up for Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest and YouTube. Sure, you can set up zillions of social media accounts, but if you want to have meaningful interactions it’s better to focus your energies.
Will I Continue Blogging?
Abso-freaking-lutely! In short, I love it. If you’ve read my dizziness story you’ll know that I had stop working in my “real” 9-5 job. I can’t manage 8 hour work days anymore, but sitting at home every day gets old fast. The blog is perfect because I can do as much or as a little as I feel like each day. It gives me a focus, it forces me to learn and develop new skills and it makes me feel like I’m still making a contribution. I also love interacting with birders from all over the world. I no longer have work colleagues, but instead I have awesome readers!
What’s Next for The Afternoon Birder?
Before you ask, no I don’t plan to take up early morning birding. Afternoons for life!
The plan is to continue writing articles at a similar pace and to focus on growing my readership. Photography articles are popular, so expect more of those. I ran two photography contests last year and I hope to run at least one this year. I’ll also keep covering important topics like photography ethics.
There will be more bird ID quizzes (I still can’t get over how popular the duck ID quiz was!). And I plan to fit in as much travel as I can manage. My next trip is in October to Fort Myers, Florida. In December, I’ll be heading to Fernie, British Columbia for 5 months! Buh-bye Ottawa winters, hello Fernie winter in the mountains. My goal is to get Steller’s Jays on my feeder!
Is there a topic you’d like to see covered? Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
Keep Being Awesome
Thanks for all the follows, likes, shares and comments.
Here’s to another year of great birding!
-The Afternoon Birder
For all my favourite birding, photography and travel resources, check out: 51 Resources to Help You Bird, Travel and Photograph Better!