A Thanksgiving thought: share what you know online
I’m an anxious person. I stress over everything, especially this website. So when Rich came home with yesterday’s mail, I imagined bills, registration notices, reminders, and special offers for things I don’t recognize. But among the mundane notices sealed in window envelopes was a card-sized piece. The hand-written address immediately piqued my curiosity.
I recognized the name in the return address. It was one of my readers, a beekeeper in a far-off state who has been following my site for its entire existence. Inside, I found a thank-you note and a check, all of which elicited an adrenalin surge of emotion. Who knew people could be so kind?
Oops, on my part
Being the anxiety-ridden creature that I am, I immediately remembered the recent post in which I complained about insults and coarse language left in the comments section. This charming note reminded me that the vast majority of my readers are unbelievable in the opposite way. All but a few are gracious, generous, friendly, lively, and funny.
The note made me think about blogging and the good things that go with it. My Thanksgiving thought to all of you is this: If you believe in something, consider sharing your thoughts online, no matter how intimidating that may feel. If you have ideas about woodworking or crocheting or fixing transmissions, you should let the world know how you do it.
A belief in science
When I decided to share my love of bees and science on the net, I didn’t expect anyone to actually read my posts. I imagined they would just sit there until the blog disappeared into page 800,000 of a Google search for beekeeping.
For those of you who don’t know, I based the idea for my blog on two observations. First, I believed that too much beekeeping was driven by word-of-mouth half-truths and hand-and-me-down experience that no longer applied in our modern world. I found very little science-based beekeeping information, and I thought this was leading to poor results.
My second thought was that most people know a lot more science than they realize. We learn many basic principles just by living. If you’ve ever changed a lightbulb while standing on a ladder in the living room, you know hot air rises. If you’ve ever seen a ring of water form below a cold can of beer, you know atmospheric moisture condenses on cold surfaces. We can apply these countless little tidbits to beekeeping with excellent results.
Linking bees to science
All I had to do, I thought, was point out the science and describe how it might apply to beekeeping. I simply needed to remind people about the things they already knew.
Much to my amazement, the response was overwhelming and incredibly positive. People often say it’s because my explanations are crystal clear, but I think not. I think the clarity comes from illustrating a point by comparing it to something obvious. In other words, I’m not saying anything new, I’m simply presenting it in a different light.
It works sometimes
To be clear, this philosophy doesn’t work for everyone. Many people say they don’t believe in science or are suspicious of research. That’s fine. With all the bloggers out there, I know those people will find a website that fits their style and beliefs. In fact, that’s one of the first things I learned from writing online: you can only help people who have open minds. To maintain your sanity, you need to forget about the rest.
I began blogging with no expectations, but I’ve become a better beekeeper, scientist, writer, and photographer because of it. I’ve learned much from other beekeepers and garnered so many virtual friends that I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Furthermore, maintaining a website that’s designed for users and not for profit has led to countless opportunities I never saw coming.
Good things from far away
Although the internet can be scary and discouraging, it can also be magical and enlightening. It’s taken me a while to sort through it, and I’ve learned you can never let down your guard, not even for a moment. But I’ve also learned when to trust and when to believe, and good things have resulted.
For example, I was only into my second year of blogging when I got an email from a woman who said she was deputy editor of Bee Craft magazine in the UK. She asked if I would be interested in writing a monthly column for the magazine based on my blog posts. I deleted the message, thinking it was a hoax. The next week I got a similar email, so I wrote back and explained I know a ruse when I see one.
Wrong. After a rocky and highly embarrassing start, I ended up writing a column for several years called “Letter from America.” Eventually, the magazine dropped the column. But I still publish an occasional piece at Bee Craft, and I have an entertaining relationship with the new editors, who I adore.
So don’t be timid. If you have a passion, an expertise, or just a shaky idea you want to share with others, try it. Start a blog or website that is truly yours and write what you think. Don’t worry about SEO, keywords, monetization, or views per day. The sharing is what counts.
No matter how obscure your ideas seem, someone is looking for precisely that information. Each of us has expertise, insight, and experience we can gift to the world, and blogging is an efficient way to do it. When you share your passion with others, you help them, but you also help yourself. And if you don’t expect too much too soon, good things will fly back at you at crazy times from unexpected places.
Let us know
If you already have a blog or website, let us know in the comments section. Maybe you’re already writing what someone needs to know—maybe you’re writing what I need to know.
I wish each of you a healthy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. And once again, thank you for reading Honey Bee Suite.
Honey Bee Suite