As I See It
That was the question raised at the Garden Fling, but not supported with any numbers or surveys, but just asking for anecdotal opinion. I, and many others, were very surprised by the question, and did not feel that garden blogging has come to any kind of end.
To support that blogging is not gone to the point of the Betamax, there are an estimated 158 million blogs out there vying for your very click.
This is according to Technorati from their State of the Blogosphere 2011, so I am a bit surprised that there is so much discussion on this topic lately. The main problem to those seeing a decline in readership is there is an astounding number of social media markets competing for a blogger’s and reader’s time, but in very different ways.
USA Today reported recently that more companies are abandoning their blogs in favor of Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. I add RSS feeds, Pinterest and Google+, too for the personal blogs. Granted this is companies that the news media surveyed, but I am betting that it applies statistically to personal blogs as well. Blogging is work, (sometimes hours of work), and the alternatives offer much more immediate gratification. Blogging is mainly time-consuming, and it is difficult to generate new and good content every week for most bloggers. That is why having a journal, varied or eclectic blog makes blogging much easier.
Earlier this year, The NY Times reported, “Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.” I think this is why many have opted for photo or Tumblr blogs without much text or research needed. It is also why photo blogs are popular because very little is demanded of the reader. True photo blogs are a wealth of information though, and I find these incredibly appealing. My sidebar lists many I enjoy daily.
Notably with Tumblr, it is shown that younger people are still blogging with this platform, even though they may not think of themselves as “blogging.” What blogging is really doing is evolving, not dying. But what traditional blogging offers better, is a control over your look and layout, plus you cannot manage the comments with the other platforms as easily. So blogging is transforming, yet retaining for what it is best known.
“Micro-blogging”, like Twitter, and those that allow for interaction and uploaded multimedia content like Facebook command the main competitive edge to traditional blogs. Does Facebook help traditional blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger, or is this a substitute and quick fix where readers don’t need to access the blog post itself? I think it may help, although only my blog is what ever visits FB. And in a hybrid class of its own, there is Tumblr, which is like a combination of multiple formats.
Sure things have changed in the short two years I have been blogging as evidenced by the lightning speed of these social media markets to garner huge usership, but change is necessary in all walks of life anyway. The old often gets replaced by the new. But in the case of blogging, the old still has a leg up in certain areas as I mentioned.
I think as long as people have something worth saying, blogging will always be popular (this was said by a friend of mines husband, only he said it better). But having the need to say it spawned the likes of the faster, more immediate platforms. What started as a daily journal morphed into telling everyone your every movement, no matter how mundane.
It is just how we post that is changing, or should I more accurately say, evolving. In fact, blogging is just starting to get interesting as I see it. Google is the case in point. Blogging has gone video with Google Hangouts, and I find this as interesting as watching TV, only in a way you can interact with your favorite bloggers directly. Anybody can create a Hangout, you just need a video camera (or laptop equipped with a camera) and a bunch of like-minded friends, and oh, something interesting to talk about. I view Hangouts on those photo blogs I was telling you about. It is like a group of ten friends in a video chat for all to see. Viewers can ask questions and make comments.
At our Fling Discussion
One blogger at our Fling meeting kind of addressed the issue with some authority when he noted many ways to engage the reader and create interesting content. I am not a writer, which he is, and am far more a visual blogger with graphics and photos, but his advice applied to everyone sitting at a keyboard trying to type out a post.
He did say that photographing our own gardens might be why we hit upon nothing to blog about and traffic wanes. It is same old, same old in effect. Scenes we see season after season. And I have to agree.
Like today, I dug out the Carex in my front garden and am replanting the beds, but do I think my readers would care that I ended up with enough individual Carex to say plant an area twenty times as big? It is just the nature of this fast growing plant.
I never am at a loss for inspiration which he seemed to identify as an issue. I think blogging about my garden can be a bit boring (if it bores me, it certainly will bore you guys), and I do a lot of traveling to feed the blog, finding inspiration many places.
When posting on public gardens and pastoral scenes, I readily pick up visual cues that translate into design. I believe you can as well, because you see relationships between elements, but most beneficial, scale of elements. You can learn the feel of what works.
The group noted using all the social media to your benefit to drive traffic. That is all well and good, but many of us do not have the time to manage our blogs like a business. Bloggers often use Facebook and Twitter to promote their blog posts to a wider audience, with just the link on the appropriate platform. Rather than being competitors, said the informative blogger at our Fling, they are complementary.
I also think you can gain a growing audience because you have informative posts, quality graphics and images, and generally fun information; then the traffic will naturally continue to build. The issue of quality or authority of subject matter was never specifically addressed, but I think it should have been.
I guess it really is about what interests the one writing, but in the end, it is most about what engages the reader. Traffic is only important if the post is being read by those that come because they enjoy what you have posted, generally not those that click by accident thinking they are getting directed somewhere else. Case in point. I tagged all my Gardening Gone Wild, Picture This posts as ggw. This got me many hits from guys looking for Girls Gone Wild. So….
Not all traffic is good traffic. Not all traffic stays on your blog for more than a few seconds either as in my example. Blogging is being refined by those that play the game the best and do not rest on laurels of blogging past. The way things were is not the way things are.
But at this meeting, there was an air of negativity in a way to this discussion because a hint of consolidation was mentioned in so many words. Not like it was needed to be mentioned either because this seems to be the state of the blogosphere in general.
Blogging appears to be going through a very natural consolidation phase where the ‘weak contributors’ are being weeded out. A couple of us were thinking the discussion inadvertently was encouraging this process along. Hopefully, for those that survive, this is a positive sign, not a foretoken of doom and gloom.
Honestly, I felt uncomfortable with this portion of the discussion, although it was never quite stated or presented exactly this way. It was like the unspoken elephant in the room. A few other bloggers I spoke with felt a similar vibe. Maybe there was no real intent to dissuade, it just seemed that way.
As the blogger that spoke with authority mentioned, he encouraged the group to understand who they are as bloggers and determine why they are blogging. Focus. I am paraphrasing a bit of his commentary, but my understanding was that your blog will determine your definition of success in proportion to your blogging efforts. This is why blog quality or authority was never mentioned I think. It was an underlying presumption, that or some felt it unimportant if your blog is just a personal journal.
Blogging connects you with like-minded people, and that can be both a boon and a detriment. Because, you are in the same rut as those blogs that you read, and there is no incentive to betterment generally speaking.
This post was a smattering of images taken during the Fling. It was also just my opinion and I certainly am no expert. A post that is a kind of this and that, from garden centers to natural landscapes, from formal to designed by nature. It is kinda like all the garden bloggers too, a bit of this and a bit of that, a mishmash of talents and abilities.
I think too other factors play a large part in decreased readership if that is what one is experiencing. I find myself at this time of year bogged down with other obligations, many of which I could have good posts about, but no time to do them. The weather is a factor drawing us away from computer screens and out into the real world of gardening. I have to admit I am curious what you might think on this subject.
I pose the question to you the readers, do you think that garden blogging is dead? Do you find yourself staring at the computer screen with nothing to say? What do you think is happening in the world of garden blogging? Any thoughts?
More Fling posts to come.