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AONC style year in review

This has been my second year running The Nature School blog. I began this blog with two simple purposes. The first was to connect me to nature and nature education. To bypass the gate keepers and to take personal action on a personal goal to help others find meaningful connection to nature. The second was help people consider the importance, the value, and joy of being connected to nature and, as corollary, to help them learn how to connect or expand their connection.

Looking back on the year, what went well:

  • Up until June, I maintained a consistent posting schedule, updating the blog every Sunday.
  • Overall, the quality of the topics and the writing were good and, I think, they got better as the blog aged.
  • I learned things that helped me improve my writing by following other blogs and reading about online writing and trying them out.
  • I made contact with a few other people on similar blogs.
  • I established a twitter account and made an effort to learn how to use it.
  • I successfully installed a capture box to limit the spam comments I was receiving. (More important for the technical success than for the comment filtering.)

Looking back on what didn’t go well:

  • In June, the regular posting schedule fell apart and my posts became more and more sporadic.
  • I was not able to create posts that stimulated comments
  • I tried and failed to find someone who could help me understand wordpress and help me in the back room.
  • I tried and failed to achieve some technical goals in the set up of the blog.
  • I was not able to find a stride on twitter to help me build readership and community with people who have an interest in nature connection.
  • That limited my ability to communicate my message, create a tribe and to find people I could learn from.
  • I was not able to get an email system in place that allowed me to see who my subscribers were and to interact with those subscribers in anyway.
  • I did not achieve my goal of monetizing the blog by creating product or building affiliate links with people.

This year has been a year of transition. I began the year as a full time science teacher teaching on the subjects of Chemistry and Physics. In some ways I was successful. In some ways I was a colossal failure. In most ways I was mediocre. When I was successful I believe it was because neither Physics or Chemistry come naturally to me and I can understand and empathize with others who struggle. My failures rested on the foundation that these subjects are not native to me, that I have to learn the content, and that makes it very hard to stay ahead of the students I am trying to teach. It also created a high frustration level and which was reflected in my demeanor, sad to say. Kids pick up on that and they become frustrated and anxious as well. As the year progressed I got better. That allowed me to reach mediocre.

In the face of layoffs I decided to resign. I figured that would allowed me time to write more. I’d improve my content. I’d expand my outreach. I’d reconnect with some local nature groups. I’d find a volunteer niche where I’d be out more and would have more personal content. In short, the blog would improve. In fact my writing fell apart. I did continue to post but the posting dates became more random and more sporadic. Along about October I decided to ride that wave for awhile and focus on the tutoring business that I am trying to start.

Aside from the technical challenges that I have faced due to lack of comfort with and understanding of widgets and other tools to make things happen with a web site another has been the lack of interaction with people on the blog.

Perhaps my content is too didactic. I am certainly a woman of strong opinions and values. I know that my tendency to lecture comes out in conversation with friends who have learned to converse with me in spite of it and call me on it when it is too severe. On the internet, where my readers do not know me, I know I do not have that luxury. I know that somehow I must make my posts more inviting and conversational. This is certainly a goal for the coming year.

Upcoming goals:

  • Improve my use of twitter and learn how to participate in conversations there so that I move from a single tweet or retweet to following a #chat.
  • Develop and become part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC)
  • Improve my content. (Always, per Tony Robbins “Constant and Never Ending Improvement” idea)
  • Develop and stick to a posting schedule again.
  • Develop marketable content.
  • Sell it.

I’d like to improve the interactivity between myself and others on the site. At this point, I am not sure how much control I have over that. This is why it is not on the list. I do feel that I can control how much I interact with others elsewhere and, if I interact with others more on the topic and related interests elsewhere then there is a greater likelihood that people will visit the site. The more people, real people not bots, who come, the more likely it will be that someone will say something that starts a conversation.

I think I have made it through the Dip, at least the first one, and come out the other side ready for 2012.

Wishing you all a Happy, prosperous, and natural New Year!

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