Want to take your garden blog to the next level? Read what these blogging experts have to say about what makes their blog stand out among the crowd…
Noelle Johnson – “A blog is only as good as the blogger behind it”
A successful blog requires someone who has a passion for the subject that they want to share with others. It’s that passion that attracts readers to a blog and keeps them engaged. A good blogger provides helpful information interwoven into a story or personal experience. This makes it more enjoyable for their followers to read and learn. Good bloggers aren’t afraid to admit their mistakes or shortcomings, which makes them more relatable to their readers.
People say that patience is a virtue. That’s certainly true for a blogger as initial readership is low and increases slowly. Don’t obsess over the number of views the website receives. Instead, focus on writing 2 – 3 posts a week and interacting with readers, which results in increased web traffic and followers that grows over time.
Noelle Johnson, aka the “AZ Plant Lady” is a horticulturist who has been blogging for over eight years at AZ Plant Lady: Ramblings From a Desert Garden.
Diana Kirby – “Keep readers coming back for more”
When building my business website long ago, I was hesitant to link my personal blog to the site, worried my garden foibles would be a negative. But, a friend said, “Oh no, people want to get to know you.” That’s what interests them.”
It’s like reality TV. Your highs, lows, quirky stories, and unique experiences create the ongoing personal perspective readers can’t always find on a newsstand. This electronic connection cultivates a loyal readership.
Regularly posting interesting material is key, and lots of photos serve to inspire readers. Followers are drawn to easy-to-read tips, bullets, and before and after stories. Remember to include close-ups as well as long shots, providing the all-important design perspective along with macro detail.
Finally, respond to readers’ comments. That’s the icing on the cake of blog engagement. When a follower compliments you, or asks a question, be sure to respond thoughtfully. Comment response also highlights what’s working on your blog. Then go visit their blog for the final key connection.
Landscape designer, blogger, and passionate gardener, Diana C. Kirby, is a columnist for the Austin American Statesman and blogs at Diana’s Designs, her landscaping business website.
Pamela Hubbard – “A good blogger should…”
…create a niche, but not be afraid to branch out. I write about cottage gardening in the Poconos, but also describe garden visits and occasionally write a book review.
…understand her audience. I write for the home gardener. As I am a Penn State Extension master gardener volunteer I know what the home gardener wants to know about gardening. A good blogger gives timely tips.
…have a distinctive voice. When a blogger develops a voice, the passion comes through to motivate and inspire. My favorite bloggers use humor. I add personal details to my blog and feel it is important to write about my mistakes as well as successes.
… keep it simple. It is important that the page is not too cluttered and loads quickly.
Pamela Hubbard gardens in Effort, PA and has been blogging for nine years at Pam’s English Cottage Garden.
Beth Stetenfeld – “Common traits of outstanding blogs”
- They are real. My favorite bloggers are approachable and accessible. They share gardening successes, failures, and observations—in their own words. Many of them have become dear friends.
- They are nicely illustrated. Some outstanding garden bloggers are amazing photographers; others are good photographers. Perfection isn’t necessary, but good photography helps to tell the story.
- They impart practical information. I’ve learned so much from other garden bloggers. The best ones are experienced and honest in what works/doesn’t work. They share results from their experiments and specific information about specific plants.
- They are fun! This is the most important qualification of all. Humor is great. So is storytelling. Every outstanding garden blogger has a distinctive flair, which goes back to my first comment. Great bloggers are authentic, and do a great job of communicating their uniqueness in a fun way!
Beth Stetenfeld blogs from her Zone 5 garden at PlantPostings.
Carol Michel – “Once upon a time…”
Once upon a time there was a gardener who wanted to write about gardening. She thought about it how to do it and even took a course on “writing for magazines.” But she was busy and had no time to query the magazines so she tucked her dream away in the pages of an old gardening book. Then one day, she read an article about “web blogs” and decided this was how she could write about gardening. On her blog, she could write whatever she wanted to write. And she did.
And then the magazine people came to her and asked her to write for them. And she did. And then one day she realized she had enough material on her blog to write a book. And she did that, too. And now she is a garden writer, but her favorite place to publish is still on her own blog. Here she follows the advice she gives to anyone wanting to start a garden blog. Be yourself. Write stories. Make it personal. Keep posting, even if you think no one is reading your blog posts.
Carol Michel is a lifelong gardener, long-time blogger, and the author of Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life, based on the writings on her blog May Dreams Gardens.
Tony Spencer – “I view myself as an iconoclast”
Rightly or wrongly, I view myself as an iconoclast within the garden blogging world. This perspective has served me well. I started my blog convinced no one would read it and gave myself full license to be free in my writing vs. trying to please an audience (or worse still, other bloggers). My posts may be by turns witty or rhapsodic but my voice is always the unifying element.
I am not a generalist by choice. From the start, I took a particular focus, in my case “New Perennialist: Explorations in Naturalistic Planting Design.” This has anchored all my explorations. The movement later happened to hit the zeitgeist, so that’s a bonus. I’m also living proof that one can write long form posts and people will actually read them.
Insights for bloggers? Consider the total experience of words, images, site design and user experience. Edit like a fiend, take great photos, and connect your blog to all your other social media channels to get it in circulation. Also a memorable name is a must.
Tony Spencer, a naturalistic planting designer received the 2015 Gold GWA Award Winner for Best Overall Electronic Media for his blog at www.thenewperennialist.com/.