Is Garden Blogging Dead?

Flame Azalea

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.

Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae)

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.

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About Donna Brok

Love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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204 Responses to Is Garden Blogging Dead?

  1. I think garden blogging is not dead at all….but I think it is going through changes with the changers in social media…I can’t keep up with the social media stuff….I agree that gardening this time of year reduces readership. Lovely pics Donna…I find this time of year I have so much to write about and no time.

    • I have all the social media accounts, but never use them other to link GWGT. I really do not know how others can post to so many. And Twitter, I never tweet unless it is to win some camera equipment. I know this is a mistake too, but the only traffic lost was with the new features on WP. I lost maybe 120 – 150 hits a day because of these changes. And blogs I visited no longer see me either. This was how I found all the photo blogs and their new Topics format stinks. I never use it now and I bet others that used to follow me this way must feel the same way.

  2. Jess says:

    If garden blogging is dead then someone should tell my readership, they have nearly doubled in the past 4 months. I am a reader of blogs not as much of a picture looker, therefore I’ll continue to read them as long as they continue to get written. I do use social media these todays to connect to them if possible, so I don’t have to go searching for them. And even with that, there are times, in deep August or January (my have to stay inside months) that there aren’t ENOUGH garden bloggers producing content. Frankly, I wish we had a few more good content writing garden bloggers about who have the art of the sentence and the ability to tell a good tale which draws us in, and creates an emotion behind it.

    • I am in the same boat as you. Readership has increased over last year but it has leveled out a bit. You are right about July and August for the most part, but here in my area, the Garden Walks are occurring, so there is loads to post. You are a blog with quality writing and I too wish there was more. I like blogs with a touch of humor, but often these are posts that require more from the reader. It is a shame too because they are most often the ones that should be read by all garden bloggers.

  3. trailblazer1 says:

    Quick fix society – we get bored easily and wander from one social network site to another, often times never pausing to leave a “like” or a comment. Maybe times were simpler and just sitting with good friends in one’s garden was delightful. Pour me a little more sweet tea, and yes, I’ll have an apricot scone, please and thank you.

    • I think you nailed it. We are a fast food society. Jumping from one to the other, boring our taste buds and moving to the next. I like commenting, but many times it is not always feasible. Sometime I have time to read, and have to return to comment. I think simpler times had its allure. Many seem to want to go back in time so to speak. There really is less actual interaction with real people and the computer is like the friend that introduces us.

  4. Martha says:

    The hits on my blog have quadrupled (see Jess’s comment) in the past several months.
    I suspect that some bloggers have tired of garden blogging, especially those for whom it is a source of needed income. I’ve read some garden blogs lately in which the authors say it’s over – maybe it is for them.
    Not to be an old poop, but your group’s conversation reminded me of professional groups from my long ago business past: A few people want to discourage their weaker competitors.
    Is there a limited amount of money available in the garden blogging business?
    Were the people in the group blogging for financial gain? Were they tired of doing it?
    Lots of questions without answers.

    • I can’t answer for others’ motivation. I know GWGT quickly rose I think because it is opposite what the informed blogger was suggesting. He said to have a specific focus, and GWGT is anything but. My subscribers are all across the board to, from travel and photographers to weirdly enough, a few scientists. I find I bore myself easily and like to learn. I like to relate stuff too. So I explore more than most. I do landscape design for a living and my blog is my creative outlet for me, not my clients. That is why I do not feature plants. I spend lots of time telling this stuff to clients.

  5. As a blogger who writes about a lot of other things besides gardening, I find my biggest challenge is keeping up with the “Jones” – the pressure to constantly increase readership, link with this great blog, “meet” that blogger. But when I refocus and write about the things I’m passionate about, one of which is gardening, then I’m content with the readership whether it’s up or down. I started my blog as a gardening blog, but soon realized that my life is a lot more diverse than that. So that is what I share. My readership? It’s up and down – I’ve been very lucky since I started this blog 10 months ago and have regularly increased readership every month. But more importantly to me, I’m building relationships with some wonderful people around the world through my blog. Now that’s definitely a positive!!

    • I agree, building relationships is a benefit. They did talk about that at the meeting too as being important. But the only problem is having that many friends requires a large amount of work. And for no reason, sometimes those friendships disappear. Off they go. This happened with a few that I really enjoyed where it became one sided. Then you think is was only about faves, picks and hits. That is a bummer.

  6. I’ve wondered about whether blogging is on the decline, in general, but find that I am enjoying both reading and writing more each day. I predict that “surface feeders” will probably move on to other social platforms, but those of us who truly enjoy reading and connecting more deeply with others, including learning from them, will continue to be happy with blogging.

    By the way, I love the color and texture combo in your photo of bronze fennel and Persian shield!

    • Thanks much. I liked that combo too. It was actually at a garden center and not planted. The texture is what drew me to the potted plants. I too read blogs for what I can learn. What I learn from others inspires me. I think many of the ‘surface feeders’ already moved one. Even if they don’t actually leave blogging. I have seen so many that move on to the next ‘conquest’. I bet many know what I mean by this statement too.

  7. GirlSprout says:

    Donna, I enjoy your writing and think it’s evocative. I have a hard time putting words together so I tend to be a three paragraph blogger if not less, unless I have a funny anecdote to relay because it takes longer for me to assemble my thoughts. I think blogging is waning. I enjoy Pinterest, but I don’t spend a lot of time interacting with other users. I use it as my online bulletin board to remind of interesting things I’ve encountered as opposed to spending time using it as a search tool. I also have twitter and Fb accounts, but rarely use them. Blogging is the best fit for me in terms of social media. I’m not the savviest of bloggers, but I do it for enjoyment and will continue to blog because I enjoy the interaction with other bloggers.

    • I have a Pinterest account and never pinned anything. I hear it really is addicting. Usually, posts with a lot of writing take me time also, and I should have taken more time with this one, but that discussion at the Fling really hit me. It is funny too, because some of those talking about this issue seemed to me to be some losing readership. That is why when the guy blogger spoke up it seemed to get a bit tense. The other issue that caused a little bit of a stir was Pinterest. Some are very against pinning of their work. Me, I posted that I have no problem with it. What I do have an issue with is FB ‘owning’ images. That really seems wrong. I never post to FB because of it and was wondering about those images that get there via each of my posts from WP.

  8. This is a very interesting discussion! I certainly don’t feel up to speed on all the social media outlets. I hadn’t heard that blogging was out of favor. I think that each media outlet attracts a different audience…some people want “fast food” information while others are looking for more in depth information. I find all the different social media a bit exhausting. I use some but I would have to be at the computer all day to be successful with all of them and I don’t have such an inclination. I would rather be out in my garden, gardening!
    I started my blog as a creative outlet for myself and to share my discoveries and knowledge of gardening & wildlife. Perhaps wrongly, I am not driven by the stats of my blog but they do show what posts draw readership. What I enjoy is the sharing of information and experiences from my readers. Meeting people around the world that have similar interests is the biggest benefit. I follow blogs that teach me new things, provide perspectives that I hadn’t considered, outstanding photography, and personality. Maybe that is all “old fashion” of me!

    • I pretty much mimic your take on blogging concerning social media and blogs that you follow. I used to follow many more, but life and work gets in the way. I am at the computer anyway, but would not get any work done if I was in with the social media crowd. Blogging fills the need for creativity and it is most enjoyable to see what others post. The real interesting discussion was the one in NC. The group really pushed social media to drive up stats, but I find that exhausting. I like the way it works now with bloggers coming because they like to see what is posted. I only miss those from WP. Otherwise, I am happy about my readers and they continue to grow.

  9. Sassy Judi says:

    I honestly don’t worry about readership or high rankings. I blog because I *want* to. I enjoy writing but some days I will only post photos, therefore making it a “hybrid” blog. Most of the time I blog to keep detailed accounts of what is wrong or right with my garden at the moment, or how my garden affects me on a more deeper level.

    My blog is hard to follow for readers looking for more structure. On the contrary, it could greatly benefit the novice gardener looking for ideas and/or inspiration. There will always be novice gardners, and even I frequent many gardening blogs to seek answers or get ideas. That is why garden blogging will always be around in some form or another.

    With regard to linking to other social media sites: when Twitter first started out, it was a tremendous tool. Now, they are plagued with spammers. I do not favor the other social networking sites for the same reason. Perhaps I will change my mind about this, but for now, I am content with the sharing options I have now.

    In short, I blog for me. Everyone is welcome to read/follow, and comment on my blog. Sometimes it’s just better to see things in print, which is also why I don’t think garden blogging will ever dissipate. :)

    • You wrote a very thoughtful response, Judi. I wish you had left your link because so many would click to see your blog after your description of how your blog is structured, without structure. I agree many new gardeners come and I myself always forget this. As a professional for over 20 years, I have much to offer them but always assume the bloggers that read my posts are very experienced and much informed.

      I found out at the Fling when I said I was doing a certain and odd planting for a long time, that another blogger questioned a planting at a local Hort school. It was a planting of lettuce at the base of tomatoes and letting it bolt in the heat. Since it was at a horticulture school, she thought it odd and neglectful.

      I said I have been doing this for years because the lettuce cools and keeps moist the ground/roots of the tomato plants. The bolting lettuce serves a functional purpose. But also, the lettuce flowers are really pretty albeit very small which added to the beauty of the garden by covering up the tomatoes lanky and unsightly stems. The rapidly growing lettuce also aids in lending physical support too as it climbs up and up.

      After I stated my reasons, she thought it interesting and not just neglectful. So, you never know what you can ‘teach’ others, and it is not right to assume you can offer no useful advice I guess. I just look at much of what I do a everyday, and overlook that others may not know some little trick I do.

  10. I read every word of this post and found it a very provocative discussion. Since I’m relatively new to blogging, I never seem to run out of topics/angles. But time is definitely an issue since blogging is something I do in my spare time. It’s something I love, though. And I’m finding that in addition to writing, planning, and gardening, blogging has become a passion. It’s a rewarding endeavor just in the discipline and creative opportunity of it. Thanks, Donna, for this thought-provoking post!

    • Spare time…pass some along this way please! Being pretty new myself, I always wondered if I too would run out of stuff to post, but since my blog is not tied to my professional life and is eclectic, I could post forever if my interest holds.

      I too view blogging as a passion now, but it does get in the way of life and work sometimes. I usually do it late at night, so maybe it gets in the way of sleep. I did find out that the gardening part waned a bit in my passion department because my job day in and day out is similar. I thought this would be what would feed my blog exclusively, but found that relatable things on the fringe captured my interest, like environment issues and the like. Things that I care about and enjoy came to the forefront.

      I enjoy my garden, but rarely have time to enjoy it. I am glad for all the bloggers out there. There is so much of interest and you get so many opinions and perspectives. And pretty pictures too.

  11. Donna, you captured the discussion quite well. The ‘informed’ blogger is coming from such a different direction than so many of us. I think he was speaking for a minority of the group. I know there are some in the group who are ‘in the business’. Stats are important to them. I like what Heather said in the comment above, write what you like and the numbers don’t matter. I think part of the question was raised because some don’t write posts as often. I do FB to keep up with the kids and for social interaction, I blog for my gardening needs…writing and photography. It is funny that my posts have fallen in number/frequency since my husband retired….I now have someone home all day. think we are sorting out our space again.
    Do I like comments? Sure, I like to think people are reading my blog postings, but I write for me.

    Your photos of this past weekend are lovely, many of us got that mill pond shot. What a great view!

    • I really thought this meeting on the state of blogging was unproductive for the most part. Not many solutions were offered and supported with statistics. I know statistics are boring, but they give some credence to the ‘argument.’ Especially if you are trying to get some to consider abandoning ship. And I really did feel that way each time they mentioned people not blogging for extended periods of time. I did not feel it personal for this reason, but did feel as if it was inferred that there are too many garden bloggers. It is hard not to agree here, but like I mentioned in another comment, each and everyone has a different ‘method’ to blogging with a unique perspective. All of us come from many different backgrounds and places in the world. Blogging is fascinating and there is a great sense of community with it.

      One thing I really was disillusioned about was the choice to limit attendees. I attended some events in Buffalo because being in the landscape field, I was invited. So WHY limit. The reason was for buses, but they could inform ANYONE signing up late, that they could rent a car if there was no room. WHY tell them they cannot come?

      I think some bloggers have been doing it far too long and feel the pressure of the newer contributors. Again, my take on it and I could have been totally misinterpreting the intent. I really was hoping that the ‘leaders’ were in no way trying to weed us newbies out by instilling the the fear of blogging failure. Even SB kinda was questioning this too. Why would the ones on the sideline want to come back? Blogging was presented as a newly evolving scary place and if you choose not to play in the minefield of social media, you could end up on the sideline whether you want to or not.

      I think blogging is for the personal growth aspect and the interacting with fellow bloggers, the reward. So there was no need to drive stats and and no need to question motivation. I enjoyed the Fling immensely and met some wonderful people there, but this meeting for me was a bit of a downer.I like happy and fun.

      • I agree with you about not wanting to limit the group. We had a neighborhood girls night out and a few were not included ‘because of the transportation’. I felt that was wrong.

        • I think they (not the actual NC organizers if you know who I mean) had intent to limit it from the start, and not just because of buses. I really tried to meet many of the folks and was not sure if I always felt included.

          As a side note, one blogger (an original and if you watch Vampire Diaries you know the connotation I mean by this) kept trying to make me ‘go away’ so she could ‘sit’ with my travel companion. So I offered her to eat lunch with us. That went fine, but she still persisted in trying to replace me on the bus. It was obvious that it was me, since she had all the time in the world to approach my friend during the garden visits, since I like to shoot on my own. I was almost always singular when photographing, but that was not enough for her. On the last day she got really snippy with me too, to the point of being rude. My friend and I just looked at each other with amazement. What was the problem, I had no idea. She asked me a question, and I answered. But she assumed I knew what she was talking about and it was not what we were discussing at that time, so I answered her vague question like it referred to our current topic. She was really annoyed, pissed more like it. I bet she keeps me from the next Fling. And if that happens, I can tell you I will post like a madwoman.

          • Rebecca says:

            Oops. After reading your response here, I need to rescind my request for an invite to the next Fling! (Not that I would have gotten the information anyway by the sounds of your comment here….) I only wanted to come for personal pleasure – not business! Now I see there is an assumption of “business” which would ruin it for me. I was under a false impression.

            • tina@inthegarden says:

              Rebecca, You don’t need an invite to the flings. They are really wonderful ‘conferences’ where you get to meet many people who have the same interests as you and you get to view gardens. I really enjoyed my first fling in Asheville. There was so much to do and learn! I think in 2014 the fling will be in Charleston SC and I hope you come. No invite needed just follow the FB page and read the blogs for info.

          • Oh Donna, I had no idea! I wouldn’t let someone like that stain the trip. I vacillated between trying to meet as many people and getting to know people a little better than just a hello and move on.
            There were some on the trip who were not interested in getting to know anyone, or so it seemed. There are enough others that I am not wasting my time on these folks. (not a Vampire Diaries viewer, but that is ok)

  12. Andrea says:

    Thanks Donna for the information. I have not been blogging for two weeks and i certainly missed posting and commenting on other posts. I hope garden blogging will not stop as i find joys in it, most especially reading comments from around the world. It is also my habit to read most of the comments in posts i opened, just like here. But i agree with you, it really is very time consuming, though it really provided me a venue to post my photos not only of plants but also of travels and landscapes. I am grateful for the friendships i got here and the good vibes we encounter. And of course i love the inspiration i get from the photos of others like you.

    And, am glad to see you now!

    • You photography is so improved since you have been blogging. True this part is time consuming, but so rewarding. I enjoy your travels too. Sometimes the comments generated are more interesting and enlightening than the post. I too read comments often.

  13. Lyn says:

    It seems like this discussion made you a little sad, Donna, and no wonder. I think it’s a bit like the “books are dead” conversations that pit e-books against print ones. They serve different purposes, and so do blogs and platforms such as FB and Twitter. I can’t read a good gardening article on any kind of social media except blogs. Gardening blogs are not an alternative to FDB or Twitter, they’re an alternative to gardening magazines and books. And blogs are better because I have so many more to choose from, at no cost. As for the bloggers themselves, the rewards of garden blogging, for me and many others, have very little to do with traffic numbers or income. Those rewards haven’t changed and so I suspect that most of us are not going anywhere, no matter what the pundits say.

    • It did sadden me a bit. Maybe I too sensitive on the subject being new. I agree that the blogs did affect the magazines. But I still get mine in hard copy, but also in web format. I was surprised how may of the writers also blog. I also agree the rewards are not numbers generated. If I got money from my blog, I might think differently on this. I am happy as a lark with my numbers too, but really sad when WP changed up how I got new visitors. Many that came subscribed. But they found me with WPs Topics. That is how I found them too, by having similar tags directing me to them. To WP, I wrote to you twice on this. You screwed up. Your new way bites the big one.

  14. Wow, garden blogging dead??? I sure hope not! I’m With the others who have noticed a marked increase in readership without really doing anything new or different to promote it. I’m also not in it for the money. I’m using my blog as a personal / professional journal to get back into the swing of working after having a break for children. While I have picked up a couple of clients as a result of having the blog, I don’t have advertising or sponsored posts. I’m not overly concerned with stats, though I have a strange addiction to watching the numbers rise each day and working out how they are increasing. I also have an eclectic mix of followers as I tend to blog about things that interst me rather than sticking purely to gardens and design. I think that blogs provide a really interesting middle ground between professional journalism and social media. They provide a more voyeuristic position and look at the real world. When you can’t afford or accommodate the showcase garden in the schmick mag, what can you do that has been tried and tested? Blogs provide people with a window into other peoples worlds that they might not get, this isn’t something that FB or twitter can provide quite as easily, there’s a certain lack of permanence with the “quicker” social media platforms. I think that we might see a decrease in the blogs created for cash and without so much passion, you know the ones written by people who really aren’t interested in the content, just the income, and that can only be a good thing.

    • You are like me a bit with your profession, but I purposely chose to distance my blog from my career. No clients even know I blog. My work is serious stuff and my blog can be frivolous and fun. It is a good relief too. I know you blog on the sideways interesting stuff too. That is why I subscribed. As per the trade mags, I often find blog reading more fun. Even some of the shots in the magazines are met with those from blogs just as good. I also chose to not monetize my blog. I get asked frequently. I think if I ever did go this route, it would be ONLY with things I would use to endorse. I have thought of mentioning product often, but don’t know the ins and outs of this as in reference to blogging. Before architecture, I was in advertising, so I tread lightly here.

  15. I hope it’s not dead. I’m a non-gardener, unless you count having grass on your garden as gardening, but I read with great interest and thoroughly enjoy the photography. I do enjoy the elements of design, and I appreciate the fact that you take the time to include the Linnean binomial with many of your pictures.

    • All fixed. I enjoy your blog immensely and is one I found through Topics. So hear that WP!!!! My interests vary quite a bit and finding well written blogs of varying disciplines keeps reading fresh and fun. I learn a lot too.

      I am always not so good about adding the Latin names of the plants. Many think it very important, but my view is that our planting zones are so different the another variety might suit the climate better in other locales. On architectural drawings it is always included. In discussion with other professionals too. I should get better on it with the blog though. Being slightly dyslexic, typing the names it torturous.

  16. Karen says:

    Oh, dear. Blogging is predicted to go the way of Betamax….how sad. That’s my luck although I still have my Betamax VCR in case it makes a comeback. I could never see blogs like yours falling by the wayside. Mine, on the other hand, yes, but I only write about the silly, goofy stuff that goes on around here on a day-to-day basis which is admittedly not everyone’s cup o’ tea. I’d hate to lose the ability to blog though, since it is an outlet for me regardless of how few people are actually reading.

    I have a FB account but it drives me batty. I don’t know how people keep up with all of the social networking; where do they find the time? As you said, putting together a blog post, especially with pictures, is a lot of work. If I didn’t include pictures, I could write a post every day. (My computer is antiquated and very persnickety about uploading photos.) My son introduced me to blogging a few years back; I had no idea what he was talking about back then.

    Times change, but it is my hope blogs will go on; they have enriched my life immeasurably.

    • You blog is fresh and humorous. Never will it be one on the sidelines. Your personal approach is similar to some of the best Journal blogs out there.

      Twitter drives me nuts. Who cares for the little life snippets of someone you don’t know. How boring a life one must have if they follow many tweets. And there is NO PICTURES. I know that is the point, but to a visual ‘reader’, I find this annoying.

      Blogs will unlikely ever go away. People like to talk, and talk about themselves. In proper conversation, that would be a no no. People like to look at others lives and that is improper in life too. Blogs are much more than this with photos and interesting dialog.

  17. First, I want to say “Hey!”, love your photograph in the right hand bar :). So nice to put a face to the blogger – and such a pretty one it is :)

    I read this with great interest. I think it all boils down to personal goals and the reasons we blog. When I started blogging I never imagined that anyone would ever actually read my blog posts – (or be interested in them). It was a personal journal, two friends sharing with each other … the readership was an exciting development and the friendships made in all corners of our planet with fellow gardeners is the reward. And I have learnt more than I ever imagined possible. Yes I have some “blog-burnout”. Is anyone really interested in repeatedly looking at my little “Rose Bed” and how it has grown or the endless aphids that munch on my plants? I doubt it. But I do enjoy journalling what I have done in the garden and what I am achieving in it keeps me blogging. Blog readership has grown tremendously – but most of the traffic comes from Google searches (fortunately no “Girls gone wild” type searches, hehe) but some strange searches do creep into the stats occasionally.

    • Many challenged the ‘photographing their own garden’ comment at the Fling meeting for precisely your reason. Their blog was a record of their garden, a journal of their thoughts and actions. But I always feel when I post on the home front, others will tire of it. My garden is probably one of the smallest out there, I just photograph it big. One thing I did notice though, is I improved my photography right in my garden, so readers were subjected to my learning all along and did not abandon me. Lucky too!

      I get loads of searches, but for the most part, they hit right on the post they want. Many search GWGT too and get to me. I should try that one and see if it is a porn site or something. I always took it as I was getting known, but you never know, it may have nothing to do with my blog even though I caption many photos that way

  18. Gosh, I hope not! I learn a lot from the garden blogs and always love looking at the photographs!

  19. Graziella says:

    Hi there, I guess it all depends on what your blog means to you in the end. In my case, I started the blog as a gardening journal, taking down notes about my various plants and just enjoy taking pictures of them, watching them grow. In the beginning I never even looked at the stats. One day I got bored of it and I was just about to shut the whole thing down when I decided to look at the stats on Blogger. I found that 53 people had visited the blog, in three months!! I thought, wow, someone has actually read my posts.

    That’s when blogging became just another job for me. I delved into SEO, keywords, promoting my blog everywhere etc etc. It became frustrating because I felt I didn’t have anything engaging to write about, except for showing the same pictures of the same plants all the time. Winter was dreadful because I had nothing to write about. That’s when I realised I lost the whole scope for my blog. Instead of focusing on writing I was focusing on how to attract people to mundane posts. Then I tried writing for the people and that got difficult and even more frustrating. In the end I gave it all up because it was no longer fun. Sure the traffic increased but I was exhausted.

    I created an new template, went outside, took some pictures and wrote down whatever came to mind. Sure it’s the same old plants, but it is never the same situation. There is always stuff to do in the garden, and there will always be people in need of advice out there. For experienced gardeners, repotting a plant is uninteresting, for beginners it’s not. I think the best thing about gardening blogs is that it’s about nature, which is ever changing.

    I think the blogging community is called that for a reason and it is still strong. As soon as bloggers start competing against each other on similar topics, that’s when the blogging community becomes a business. It may sound naive at this point but I would like to believe that if you are genuine in your writing and do it for yourself and your pleasure, it will definitely show. You don’t have to be a writer, just show that you are having fun and the people will notice, like they will also notice if it’s just for the traffic/money.

    I don’t use social media to promote my blog because none of my friends enjoy gardening, and I don’t think they will care about my new plants, and how much they have grown in spring. I think using social media to promote blogs also depends on the subject topic. Blogging about celebrities is sure to catch more attention for an audience with such a short attention span on these media channels.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment but it was a very interesting post which touched alot of issues I have dealt with in the past year or so. Like you I believe the blogging world is evolving, for the better. People (and search engines) prefer good quality content so as long as you have something worth sharing, I say go for it. If not, then don’t write. Most importantly, keep it fun :)

  20. Les says:

    First of all, for once I read your text before i noticed the photos (I did go back in look though). I have noticed over the past year or more a general decrease the number of garden bloggers, and at many of the places I regularly visit there has been a decrease in the number of posts. Although, that is not necessarily a bad thing. I have also been trying to narrow the number of blogs I look at regularly and give attention points to sites with good photography, snappy attitude, off topic posts, ones that take me somewhere different, as well as the occasional garden post. I have no time to watch other people’s seedlings grow through blurred photos. I will continue to blog because I enjoy it, I feel like part of a community, and it has become a personal journal to me (regardless how many people read it).

    • Bravo Les. I concur, but did not have the nerve to mention two of your points without back up. The blurry seedling posts are no interest to me either. That is why my removal of the Carex morrowii “Ice Dance’ did not get its own post, although I use it frequently on large commercial designs like banks. I got it free to as a leftover. I cannot see why anyone would find a post like that interesting even if my photo of it was crisp and clear. (I mentioned it in a comment, not the post) I guess I could mention why I use it. I could mention how people assume it is a native. I guess I might say what a great groundcover it is, but that it must be corralled or watch out. Ya, but BORING.

      Your other point really hit a nerve because one ‘established blogger’ once wrote to me to say that I was dropped as a fave, but more importantly, dropped from her rss reader list. She just had to let me know that my blog did not interest her enough to be included in the 100 she reads daily. I did not ever know I was on her list either. What a joke, since she favors blurry seedlings I think. She also one time was bragging in a post about her 60 hits a day and how that was wonderful. Yipes and really who cares. BTW, I found that laughable since I had that long before Blotanical and I am not a Blotanical troller for faves to boost my following. But I do read all blogs that take the time to comment here, so not always is a post one that might really float my boat.

      I favor your blog for all the reasons you mentioned (expecially I admire your photography), in addition, you are quite knowledgeable and informative. That was my point too that a few really important things about blogging was never mentioned at the Fling. Quality, experience and knowledge. If you want followers these help. So does like you said, pithy attitude and a willingness to say it like it is. Funny blogs are a favorite too and a few garden bloggers do this with ease.

      This was the ‘informative bloggers’ main point. Put in the time and don’t just post because you have a schedule to keep. Sometimes I have my filler posts. They are usually of a place I have been and I have many in the hopper if I feel like people might wonder what happened to me since I post more regularly than many. But, my ‘informative blogger friend’ has me rethinking this. So does my Green Apples blog, where I post less than twelve times a year. It gets searched all the time. So it is about what you write about, not how often – that is what I learned from this.

  21. First of all you have some beautiful photos.
    As for all the questions about blogging, I think everyone finds their way to communicate and find inspiration. Some day my posts would work in a simple tweet or photo blog but other days, I have more to share or need more information. I haven’t adopted all the other ways to link in like facebook, twitter, etc. I like having my little spot on the web. It is found by people searching for info who may just stop once and visited by friends who keep in touch. To each their own.

    • What you stated. “I like having my little spot on the web. It is found by people searching for info who may just stop once and visited by friends who keep in touch. To each their own.” was a theme of some of the discussion. Many felt as you do and like their little spot on the web. Since I do not make money from the blog, or use it to generate a client base, I too fit into your way of viewing the activity of blogging. Nothing to gain but readers is all the reward I need. The community of bloggers is a like a drug fix. It make you feel very happy when you see your ‘friends’ come in and read what you wrote. That was what was so nice about the Fling. Some of the bloggers became actual friends, rather than virtual friends. Some of them I really connected with, like Tina, of the comment below. She is extremely knowledgeable and very, very nice and friendly. Like me, she is a happy person too. I was very honored to meet her.

      • tina@inthegarden says:

        What a nice thing to say Donna. GOSS is one of the folks I enjoy connecting with on the web so I’m glad she weighed in. I really liked your honesty in all you did at the fling and also on the blog. See ya in Charleston?? I hope so!

        On the happy part I have my days. With blogging I try very hard not to take things personally on the web as we really don’t know each other. I will have a post up this week with a little about that-mainly about communication on the blog versus in person and getting to know one another. It is quite different as we know. Now my friend Skeeter-she is one happy tee hee girl all the time and helps me to keep things in perspective with blogging. Anytime you need to talk just email me.

  22. tina@inthegarden says:

    Ha, as a blogger who was there I am interested on your take on the discussion. I felt like there was not so much a negative vibe as much as there was a divide between those of us who blog for our own personal reasons versus those who blog as a means to make money-the professionals. One of your commenters ‘drawnoutdoors’ said: “blogs provide a really interesting middle ground between professional journalism and social media” and I couldn’t agree more. No where is this more evident by some attitudes with writers who are members of professional writing (presumably writing to make money on their blogs) organizations versus those who aren’t.

    I’ve been garden blogging for nearly five years and have over 1300 posts under my belt on my blog and have seen some trends. First of all the traffic, those garden bloggers who see an increase in their traffic this time of the year is because it is gardening season! It will wane as winter approaches for sure. But the more content you build on your blog the more likely your blog will be found in searches and traffic will rise and fall. It is only natural.

    When I first began blogging I thought traffic was from other bloggers because of all the comments but in reality the comment traffic is a very low portion of traffic a blog receives, at least from what I can see on my blog. I track the traffic, the reasons, and trends carefully because I am a knowledge based blogger. I want to know what people are searching for to see what is going on in the gardening world. I only mention traffic because we all like to think people are interested in what we read even if we blog for fun.

    For a while I became burned out with some aspects of blogging. I almost stopped blogging but then had to prioritize and try to think what was my purpose in blogging? I think the informed blogger (I assume Steve) laid it out wonderfully that you need to determine your purpose. He told me on the bus that research shows that dividing your time between FB, Twitter, and blogging is not really effective. I do like that my posts show up on FB and Twitter automatically but I don’t do anything else to build it there so I was relieved to hear that. No sense in chasing my tail with those social medias as the blog takes up way too much time as it is. Every now and then I look at my ‘About Us’ page just to remind me of my purpose in blogging. It is not about traffic, it is not about competition, heck, we can read 100 blogs or only a handful-that is our choice because it is truly about us when we blog or read blogs-even if the us means making money. Of course professional money makers will perhaps blog differently and might not read other blogs because honestly those other bloggers aren’t buying from that professional blog and aren’t bringing in much traffic. The real divide with the discussion was professionals and non professionals-which is not to say nonprofessionals are amateurs. Just because you are a member of a professional organization or have a degree doesn’t mean you don’t know anything. But again, all blogs should be read with common sense and who in their right mind would take one bloggers view on a particular subject and call it the law?

    I wanted to personally tell you that I didn’t even notice the pictures until halfway through when I saw the pond and realized they were from the fling. I love to read words and get others views. I think it TERRIBLE. someone would take the time to tell you they don’t read you. Totally mean and crass and totally not called for in blogging. I have to apologize for anyone who does that and perhaps even they too feel sorry. But again, blogs are about the people and while your blog may not have been her or his thing that is okay but telling you was not necessary. I think blogs are great that even if you want to see blurry pics you can. I talk to a lot of bloggers who post blurry pics and am okay with that because for me making a little connection is nice and I like to encourage others. Blogging is however a two way street and if one blog does not work well for me or there is no communication then I can move on-though I would not be so unkind as to say that to anyone. It is just the nature of blogging and of gardening even. We change, blogs change, gardens change, life changes and we can no more stop the changes than we can keep the sun from rising. I think blogging about your garden daily is great. I’d love to hear about your carex-but that is me and it might not necessarily interest someone else. But then you said you would be bored with it yourself if you posted on it. One tip I read early when blogging is to pick something you are passionate about and build your blog around that. You must be passionate about what you write and not look at how others might perceive it. One person might not think the post is interesting but another might-the nerd in me for sure would so if you were bored with the carex it is probably best you did not write about it. Though I’d love to know how to get carex growing in my garden. Ha! Don’t worry, it’ll probably never happen and I’ll let the point go. My true point is there is a blog flavor for all and we must as bloggers, decide why we blog and be true to ourselves with blogging.

    Will blogging die? Never in our lifetime. Will blogging change and readers come and go? Yes. Do we need to build our blog and change too? Yes. I was always taught in my military career that flexibility is key to reacting and growing and succeeding. It is also true in blogging that we might have to be flexible to get out of blogging what we want. Truly, unless you blog to make money your blog should be about you and what you like. People will always read. Even when I first began blogging years ago I was excited if even one person-just one! would read or comment on my blog! That probably wouldn’t work for me today but that is because I have changed along with my blog. Hang in there. I’m glad you posted this. I got a lot out of reading others comments. Love them all! Now I must get off here and get to work on a design which is why I got on here to begin with. I am procrastinating me thinks. ciao.

    • I am so glad you weighed in Tina. Being new, it was easy to be a little sensitive to some of the remarks. Feeling like the weed in the garden so to speak, waiting for the ‘experienced gardener’ to come along and pluck me out. I know that one gardener had sights set on plucking and I have NO clue why. Why the attitude, I was befuddled. She never even read my blog either that I am aware, or met me. It takes all kinds I guess. Lucky, there was only one in the bunch. All the others were nice.

      You are very knowledgeable and I was a bit surprised at the reaction to your one remark at this affair. I did not think you were getting your fair due with the response. But again, maybe I just did not get the point of their rebuttal. I have always been at peace with Pinterest, but learned a lot by what you said. Here is a link to a very famous photographer that help shape my opinion on Pinterest. http://www.stuckincustoms.com/2012/02/13/why-photographers-should-stop-complaining-about-copyright-and-embrace-pinterest/ and another, http://www.stuckincustoms.com/2012/03/01/go-ahead-steal-this-photo-and-make-prints/ . Trey even got another famous photographer to embrace Pinterest. I guess with all the legal issues, it will be a wait and see situation.

      When at Chanticleer, I was engaged in conversation with one of the area head gardeners and he was a member of the Garden Writer’s Association. He asked if I was and I quickly said that I am not a writer, but an architect. He took one look at my camera and said that I must be a photographer too. I said, sort of. He said 40 percent of the members were photographers and they had architects too. He convinced me I would have a great time with this group and was going to make sure I joined. He would look for me at the next meeting. BTW, he does not write anything he said, but does get on the lecture circuit.

      It is funny you mentioned the writers (I am guessing this means to professional money making blogs) and the casual bloggers divide. By what this guy told me, you really did not have to be much of a writer to be a member and wear that pretty green ribbon on your name tag. It really made me look at the writers differently since very few of them did I know from magazines. I get asked often to have ads on my blog and have refused all of them. I think it would have to change the way I blog and I am not interested in changing. I like my quirky change up of material. I agree that the Association does not make a knowledgeable gardener. Only experience and training do.

      I think if I told you who the blogger was that dumped me from the feed list you would understand. She makes waves everywhere and I do not want association with her anyway. I still think she reads my blog just because she is into everyone’s business and wants to know what is happening in blog land. Bet this post got her attention too. Funny thing is, her blog is not bad and if she would not stir up trouble, I would read it.

      Thanks for your long and informed comment. I appreciate you taking the time to read the post and the comments. Hope you get to see my reply.

      • tina@inthegarden says:

        Heck Donna I subscribed to the comments on here so course I saw your reply. I would’ve come back too. You make some very valid points in both your post and response. I was very happy to meet you and get to know the folks behind the blogs. We are all such individuals and I totally understand how things are with blogging. I enjoy hearing your side for sure. Again, it was a pleasure to meet the famous GWGT architect! I wish I could be half as good as you!

  23. jakesprinter says:

    Beautiful post you have here my friend I love all of it :)

  24. If garden blogging is dead, then I’m screwed. Most of my friends don’t garden so I depend on blogging to connect with other gardeners. It’s also helped me to virtually tour other gardens, which has significantly influenced my garden. Gardening is so important to me, that if I didn’t have an outlet to talk about it with others, I’d end up talking to myself like a lunatic or torturing my family, which I think I already do. For me, blogging is a joy not a job and it’s definitely not dead.

    • You always have posts (blog and comments) that give me a chuckle. I too hope never to think of blogging as a job. I cannot always devote as much time to it as I like, but it will always be important to me and mostly because of all the fine blogs I visit. Visiting and commenting gives me much more joy than writing a post, but posting keeps me in contact with all the readers whose blogs that I adore. And FYI, you are one of the bloggers who I mentioned as having a funny blog worth visiting for all garden bloggers. Not to mean that the content is funny, but your commentary always makes me smile.

  25. Skeeter says:

    This was my first Fling and during this discussion, I felt a bit uncomfortable. Almost as if the group had gotten too large and we “newbies” to the Fling needed to back off. I had thought this conversation was going to be a fun talk on how we have all gone through our issue’s of starting a blog

    I thought the purpose of this Spring Fling was a way to get Garden Bloggers together that have shared their ups and downs about their gardens over the years with cyber friends. Meet these “Real” people in person and enjoy some beautiful gardens with people that feel the same passion as us! I felt very welcomed until that speaking then I was on my guard afterwards.

    I do not blog to make money or get hight Stats. I Blog for a hobby of sorts. The main reason is I live in the country and do not work outside the home. Blogging is my outlet to make new friends and chat about similar interest! I learn from blogs, I get ideas from blogs, I get inspired from blogs and so on. My gardens started out nothing more then a plant here and there but since blogging, I now have strolling gardens! They have grown into something for me to be proud of and I credit Blogging for expanding my horizons. My husband has taken a great interest in my gardening as well and even attended the Fling with me! I try to do all my gardening on a budget and I enjoy sharing those little tidbits of information with others as well. I also enjoy talking so hence, a blogger. LOL..

    There were close to 90 people at this Fling and I did not meet half of them. I do not like large settings to meet people.I get a bit overwhelmed. I do however like to spend quaility time with people one and one and really get to know them. I was able to have some one on one time with those that I felt wanted the same from me. I feel that The Saint and I met some wonderful people that we will see again in the months to come and some we may never see again but through blogging! We have made some wonderful friends through blogging and visit with them throughout the year. Tina and I met through Blogging and some people have thought that we were sisters! We go on vacations with some bloggers, etc. Yes, Blogging for me is a way to form friendships and that is something that all the money in the world cannot buy!

    It someone wants to make Garden Bloggers Spring Flings more for professionals, that would be so wrong………Sigh….

    • Rebecca says:

      Hahahahaha! I thought the two of you were sisters!

      • tina@inthegarden says:

        We are ‘blog’ sisters-haha! Just good friends who have the same interest and are compatible with one another. It was fun spending the weekend with my friends in Asheville too!

    • I am glad you popped in to join the discussion. I think you saw it as I did. This was not really my first Fling, as I was invited to some events in Buffalo. Meeting some of the bloggers in Buffalo is WHY I started blogging. I thought that they were the nicest group of people. So I was really surprised to find anyone I thought less than nice. Luckily, it was only one in NC.

      You said, “I thought the purpose of this Spring Fling was a way to get Garden Bloggers together that have shared their ups and downs about their gardens over the years with cyber friends. Meet these “Real” people in person and enjoy some beautiful gardens with people that feel the same passion as us! I felt very welcomed until that speaking then I was on my guard afterwards.” My thoughts exactly. The toned changed after the meeting.

      You also mentioned how blogging changed the way you garden. I think blogs offer a wealth of information and can very much influence others. Every time you make a garden post, someone will pick up something they see or get information from something you say. I think at next years Fling, they should let some of the newer bloggers have the floor. So many are talented, experienced and have much to offer.

      I have to say one other thing that I found not very ‘appropriate’. It was when they were giving out the plants at Christopher’s garden. Did everyone notice how one-sided that was? One new blogger spoke up and I think she was dismissed. Then they started handing out plants to those blogging the longest, those having the most posts, etc. This cut off anyone who was new to blogging. I did not want a plant because, one, I could not take it on the plane, and two, I get them for free from the farm, but it would have been nice to make the newbies feel welcome. And I did hit the number of posts per year to get a plant, but they skipped me and made another question. I thought that kinda funny. I felt bad for the new girl who spoke up. I left the group after that and went to take photos until we left.

      Really folks, next Fling, welcome the newbies with open arms and try not to discourage those that made the trip

      • Skeeter says:

        I was not there during the plant give-away. We left Christophers garden after lunch then checking out his and moms gardens. We left just before the speaking under the tent began. I made a point to say goodbye to everyone in a group setting while you all were sitting under the tent. So we missed that part of the Fling. Wow, I was expecting a “whom came the longest way to Fling” award, “Out of Country” Award and maybe acknowledge of those that have attend every Fling but hits on their blogs…?… Wow, did not expect that. :-(

        • I do remember when you and your husband said goodbye. I was not sure if it was after or before the plant give away. They did not give a prize for hits on a post, but number of posts per year. I did think they should have had the questions so some of the newer bloggers could have gotten a plant. But, everyone who wanted one of the new plants offered could sign up to receive them from the company. The company is shipping those plants to those filling out request cards, so it did not matter much if anyone won one.

  26. Victor Ho says:

    Well, you certainly drew quite a long list and lengthy discussion. I’m relatively new to blogging. I’ve enjoyed you posts without much thought to gardening. I’ve more or less enjoyed your thoughts, observations, and photos. To me the blog has been one to meet and make friends in a venue that is international. Other bloggers from across the world comment and chat as though we were close by. That is a great thing. For photos, twitter would be a challenge. I don’t much care for facebook. Flickr is not quite right either. Keep up your good work. A good blog is reflected in the comments and folks who follow along.

  27. When I look at blogging as a business, then blogging does get frustrating. But like Christine, I use blogging as a personal journal. Blogging allows me to easily put my thoughts together with some images. Blogging is my writing practice and allows me to explore topics. I prefer blogging to a pen and notebook. My ideas are easily stored and accessed so I can refer back to them for inspiration and I can quickly and easily get inspiration from my fellow bloggers. Blogging has given me visibility for some paying work, but I simply enjoy putting pen to paper, so to speak, and writing. Blogging has also improved my photography. I admit than when I am in the garden or traveling, I take photos that I think will add a visual element to my blog. And this has allowed me to see and experience the world around me differently, which is a very good thing indeed.

    • You hit on a great point. That is what separates blogging from FB and twitter. The fact that you can search out a post or comment. So often you might want to refer back and the handy search window comes to the rescue. I don’t use FB or twitter, but to my knowledge, you cannot do searches. In FB you can scroll, but I never did try to see how far back it goes. And weirdly, on twitter between yesterday and today, I two followers. I got six more followers on WP too. All you have to do is have a controversial title and look what happens.

      You are so right on seeing the world differently through photography. I have posted on this topic on numerous occasions and I think it is important for many to realize how profound this can become. It is like one blogger who commented on this post yesterday, drawnoutdoors, the post, http://drawnoutdoors.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/does-kindness-happiness/ noted today how ‘happiness’ changes one’s perspective on life and it can be had so simply. Mary, you might like this blog.

  28. Rebecca says:

    I absolutely loved reading this post (even if it was a bit lengthy). First of all, I enjoyed the pictures. Then I found myself overwhelmed with information and GREAT nuggets to ponder! I wanted to consider them one-by-one, but the sheer volume of food-for-thought kept me from specifically digesting each of them….. HOWEVER, my general response is that I WILL continue to blog, and evolve, and enjoy this spectacular medium. AND I believe I will come back to try to glean one-liners to tuck away for future reference & to improve my own blogs. Thanks for the time you put into this!

    • Ya, I do that. I ramble on occasion. :smile:
      Like I said in the post, I see blogging hitting a new level. Evolving to video is just so cool and it would be great to have a roundtable discussion with some of our favorite bloggers. Nobody is doing this in our area of topic. Either one or two bloggers sit in as commentators. One if it is from a laptop, two if a video camera is set up. Then their friends log on with their laptops and you see them lined up at the bottom of the screen page. Then a topic is presented and all sit around and discuss their thoughts and opinions. I saw a couple of these on Pinterest by photographers and have to say I learned a lot.

      Thank you much for posting your comment, and by all means, do come back.

  29. cathywieder says:

    Donna, you’ve written quite a thought provoking post (and well-researched, I might add). If blogging is dead, then I’ve died and gone to heaven. I would rather read my favorite blogs than a magazine and I would rather blog (both read and write) than watch TV. As far as our blog goes, we are getting more than a hundred hits a day on our blog (up from 100 hits a month a year ago).

    As for blogging ideas – Yikes, I have too many ideas and too little time. Of course, on our blog you will find recipes for garden spray or tabouleh from our herb garden, pictures of our trips to various gardens and gardening events, book reviews, information about everything from water garden maintenance to adding Victorian touches to the deck, and lots of pretty pictures When I come up with an idea for a blog post, I start a draft that includes a few sentences about what I was thinking of at the time and a title. I have as many drafts (ideas) as I have actual published posts!

    I also read the article about companies shutting down their blogs. It didn’t surprise me. Some of them (the blogs) were pretty awful…. nothing I would want to read on a regular basis. Many were used simply as a means to advertise a product or toot the company’s own horn and not to inform about anything significant with regard to a product or a problem the product addresses. And some were so poorly written (bad grammar), they made me cringe. No great loss in my book.

    Like several other commenters, I am not into social media at all. I don’t have time to keep up with the ever-changing face of it, for one thing. If I spent 10 minutes a day on every one of them, that would be more than an hour of my valuable time. I’d rather spend that time catching up on favorite blogs and learning something of value to me than seeing which of my FB “friends” are playing on their virtual farms or sending each other virtual cups of coffee.

    I think that Your statement… “Blogging appears to be going through a very natural consolidation phase where the ‘weak contributors’ are being weeded out….” is really at the crux of things and I don’t see that as a “negative” comment but as a realistic observation of a phenomenon whose time has come.

    Until social media evolved and became user friendly and readily accessible to the masses, people didn’t really have a way to communicate, share and archive photographs and information with large groups of family and friends in a permanent, uniform way. For many people, a blog provided them a means – if not a labor intensive and cumbersome one – to do that. But with the advent of such places as MySpace and Facebook and the other social media, those types of communications can be conducted in a much more appropriate and user friendly forum, leaving the blogging world for the type of communication and archiving that it is best suited for that as well.

    When I quantify the value and quality of a blog to me, I look at three things: First, does it educate me? Secondly, does it entertain me? And third, does it make me think? For a blog to be one that I return to over and over again, it needs to do all of those things at one time or another and it needs to enrich my life in some way. What I have found is that there are not enough hours in the day to visit all the blogs that do all of those things and more. In many ways, it has been like panning for gold — reading through a lot of sand and gravel to get to the gold nuggets.

    I truly believe that there are millions of people out there like you, like me, like the writers of all of my favorite blogs of many genera (gardening, Victoriana, sewing, paper crafts, Regency, etc.) for whom blogging is a natural way to communicate and share thoughts, ideas, passions, experiences, and knowledge. Not only do I think it’s not dead, I think that new developments and upgrades in the major blogging services are making blogs that much better and more exciting.

    Just my humble opinion, of course….. but blogging is far from dead. It’s just shedding some of its dead wood and starting to really come alive.

    • Cathy, you are one of the most involved and interactive bloggers I have met on the web. Your comments are always worth reading and worth pondering. Like me, you visit many photo blogs and leave very thought out comments. I often find reading your comments as good as reading the post in which they were refering.

      Your blog is a great resource for new gardeners with all the informative information that you post. One other commenter mentioned how important it is for new bloggers, and I know myself, I have a tendency to think all readers ‘know’ gardening and do I really need to repeat this stuff? Kinda like the images from the Fling. We all have the same shots from the same angles. Some are a tad better than others. This is why I tried to not post my images. I will later in some design post when I speak on design. Also why I am popping in images willy nilly. I visited four gardens in PA and they will not compete with the bloggers that attended the Fling. I am doing this out of consideration to them.

      As per the weeding out, I think like I said in the comment to Carolyn, that it all depends on your motive for blogging. Those that record mundane tasks or list what is for dinner, to me are like keeping a diary. If it records their life from day to day that is what was their intent in the first place. I did not think anyone having this type of blog should be discouraged and I feel the tone of the discussion did have this element. Your three things is very good criteria. “First, does it educate me? Secondly, does it entertain me? And third, does it make me think?” But some blogs can not accomplish all three or even want to, and I bet you visit some of them.

      Your panning for gold comment is very accurate. It does take time to find the best of the best. And I think those leading the discussion realized that too. They did remark how many blogs are out there, not in numbers, just as an observation.

      Thank you for chiming in here, as I said your comments are always worth a read.

  30. cathywieder says:

    I just want to explain a comment that I wrote…. which will teach me to proofread before I post and not after…..When I wrote that “In many ways, it has been like panning for gold — reading through a lot of sand and gravel to get to the gold nuggets.” I was referring to the process of finding those gems of blogs that I return to on a regular basis. I did not mean to imply that on the blogs that I do follow and enjoy there is a lot of less than optimal stuff that I have to suffer through to glean a few choice nuggets.

    The Blotanical network has made that process of finding top quality gardening blogs very easy. I wish something like that existed in my other areas of interest! There are literally hundreds of fabulous gardening blogs at my fingertips.

    Prior to discovering Blotanical, I would search on Blogger and via Google for blogs and and I spent many frustrating hours scrolling through so mighty nasty stuff in order to find a paltry few excellent ones. And it was that process that the comment referred to….

  31. The Saturday night discussion at the fling was to cover “the evolution of blogging” and was led by two old time (for blogging) bloggers. I didn’t know what to expect except I thought it might give me some good ideas for my own blog. Leading off with the questions “Is blogging dead and should we even require fling attendees to be bloggers?” was disconcerting to say the least and resulted in some very unhelpful dialogue. However, I think the panelists wanted to be provocative and get a lively discussion started.

    What I took away from the discussion is that some bloggers haven’t completely defined the purpose of their blogs, that traffic to their blog is the main concern of many bloggers, that quality content is not the most important consideration, and that many bloggers are burned out or have difficulty thinking of subject matter. I also realized that, although bloggers are riveted to their own statistics, everyone operates in a vacuum with no statistical comparison of comment numbers, subscribers, and page views from blog to blog. I am sorry if this sounds negative but this is the direction that the initial question sent the discussion.

    I believe that the answer to all this, whether you blog for professional or personal reasons, is to clearly define the purpose and objective of your blog and the steps you will take to achieve it. Again whether personal or professional, bloggers need to provide quality content and do a good job of tagging posts (not even mentioned in the discussion). If the content is there, then the readers will come and comments will be made—without Blotanical, without Facebook, without Twitter, without any other social media, although they are helpful in broadening your reach.

    Quality content also means that it is not necessary to post as often as most bloggers think they must. Frankly, I would rather not hear from any blogger more than once a week and even less if longer intervals mean the photos and text will be better quality. If you are sitting in front of your computer with absolutely no ideas, then don’t just throw something out there. If you blog for personal reasons, then you don’t need to post, and if you are a professional, your uninspired post won’t help your business anyway. Get outside, work in your garden, visit nurseries, private and public gardens, historic sites, take horticultural courses, tour horticultural businesses, interview your favorite gardener, take lots of photos, do research on any topic that interests you—-the ideas will flow in.

    • I find your observations really to the point of the discussion. What you took away, “that some bloggers haven’t completely defined the purpose of their blogs, that traffic to their blog is the main concern of many bloggers, that quality content is not the most important consideration, and that many bloggers are burned out or have difficulty thinking of subject matter,” leads to the conclusion that they should not be blogging, or taking an extended break. That was addressed too, but who should be telling these bloggers this, if they should at all. They are in it for the community and I think this put a damper on community spirit.

      Whether to continue to blog is something they must decide for themselves, not brought to the forefront so all the attendees can sit there thinking, “Is that me they are talking about.” I think this is why so many had the uncomfortable feeling. I never thought them referring to my blog even once, but I could see perusing the faces on the crowd, that there were some fidgeting in their seats.

      You are certainly right that those leading the discussion wanted a provocative discussion, but they were not talking to the right group for this. So what that there are those journalling daily tidbits. That is what a diary once was and many of those there grew up with that type of journal. Some of these daily or weekly journals are quite funny. I did not think it the place to question motive and focus. What they did not do is keep the discussion upbeat. They could have made the discussion a much more friendly affair.

      Without a doubt, a commercial blog should be more successful than a personal blog. Your point on tags supports this. Add a famous and specific company name in the tags and hits will multiply, just because the tag will pick up. Your comment of statistical numbers for hits on a blog is subjective a bit. Some think 100 hits a day is great, but I know one blogger getting 30,000 per day. (design blogger) This is all relative. I kinda view how many come as when I lectured to a Intro to Architecture class at my University. It is like looking out into a huge auditorium and seeing a sea of faces. That is what blogging is like to me. I am saying something and they are paying attention. Anymore hits are those who most likely came from a tag or popped in accidentally, and are ‘not here taking notes’. Not that they do that on blogs, it is just my way of making a point.

      I know we had very similar thoughts on this event by your comment, funny thing, I was just out in my garden planting all morning and then I come back here and all kinds of insightful comments are waiting. Now that is what makes blogging grand.

      • My point, which wasn’t very clear, is that clearly bloggers at the fling, and many of them were personal bloggers, were concerned with traffic, but there is no way of discussing this topic meaningfully (especially for the sponsors) without statistical reference points. What exactly is more traffic? How many subscribers and views can you expect to have on a gardening blog specifically (as opposed to other types of blogs)? It is hard to discuss this issue in a vacuum.

        I apply my comments equally to professional and personal blogs, and I consider mine both. I started it for three equal purposes: to get all my gardening knowledge into print, to build up a library of photos, and to help my nursery customers.

        Personal blogs or garden journaling are great, and if the blogger doesn’t care about traffic, that’s fine (and probably less stressful for them). They can put anything out there they want as often as they want. I would never tell them not to do it or to give up blogging because they have a purpose: sharing and community. But, why stare at the computer screen with writer’s block when you don’t need to post. However, where traffic is an issue, I believe content is the answer. In the professional realm bad content actually hurts your business.

        I disagree about traffic from tags. If you have valuable advice to give then tags are the only way most people can find it. I myself use garden blogs as a source of information about plants, and I find them through tags on internet searches.

        • I was not clear I think. I did not mean you were telling those on the fence not to blog, I think it was just implied at that meeting. You are correct on presenting a business in a professional manner. And I did discuss the issue of quality of content as being a key to building a following. But not all cared about quality at this event. They cared about telling their daily story. And I did not think those at the meeting should have presented the topic so cut an dry. Too many of us approach blogging so differently to fall into any one category where there is a fix all like social media. I don’t think we disagreed on tags, I know they have tremendous value for search engines. I was just saying that when you are talking about a company for instance, and it is tagged, that helps quite a bit. One time I did tag a post this way only with one sentence about the product and I got a serious amount of hits.

    • to compare blogs, I use Icerocket. There I see VP and Holley.

  32. HolleyGarden says:

    Great topic. I don’t think blogging is dead. On the contrary. Perhaps for some, though. For example, I had a friend start a blog because I did. (She’s competitive.) Anyway, she wanted money from her blog and put up all kinds of ads. She never, ever commented on anyone else’s blogs, she updated her blog irregularly, and her posts never included pictures. Although her writing was quite fun! Needless to say, her goal of making fast money didn’t materialize. So now she’s down on all blogging. To her, blogging is dead.

    Second example: I google a lot of things I want to know more information about, and I have found that a lot of blogs (not necessarily garden blogs) give all the information I’m looking for. I think as more and more people become exposed to blogs just through random searches, all blogs will benefit. It is always amazing to me the amount of information that we freely give. Plus, there is also the issue of television. Many of us have made posts asking HGTV to broadcast more gardening shows, which they have not done. Where else can people get their gardening fix if not the internet? As people continue to use the internet, blogs will certainly grow. That’s why I think blogging is not dead. Although I don’t do FB or Twitter or any of those other things to help “grow” my blog.

    As for myself personally, I love to blog but do feel like chucking it all on occasion simply due to the time factor. I find myself behind on reading other blogs, and even on trying to get a new post up. I feel guilty about this, although I know it happens to all of us. I do try to keep my blog posts regular, but I know their content is not always as good as I want them to be. Time is the biggest issue facing most of us bloggers. We have lives, families, gardens, jobs, etc., and we blog, too! It takes dedication.

    • I agree, we live in a great time of information. I too run into a time crunch and feel a bit guilty for this. That is why I started to visit less blogs and mostly visit those that comment here. I look at that as a compliment when others take the time to comment.

      I did not realize that bloggers had an effect on HGTV. Kudos to those that changed their programming schedule. I never watch HGTV because I always thought the shows rather unhelpful and less than entertaining. But if they have increased the quality of the shows, maybe I could give them a look. But what I find with blogs is better content and social interaction. TV needs to measure up I think.

  33. Alistair says:

    Hi Donna, Is garden blogging dead! statement like this made me all the more excited about reading what you had to say than I would normally be, not that I ever find what you have to say as boring. I can only say the page visits on my blog have increased dramatically in the past six months. Yes many of the visits are for seconds but that was the case when I had much fewer visitors. I was always told not to try and be more clever than you actually are, and make it generally easy to read. I love the look of this post, good stuff to say, fantastic pictures and set up in a simple way that is a pleasure to the eye. In my opinion this is far more enjoyable than the magazine style which you do. Keep up the good work, I may not manage to read all of your posts but I will always be a regular visitor.. .

    • I am glad I am not boring. :wink:

      Also, another blogger in your part of the world said they did not prefer my magazine format because they could not make the text audible and therefore could not see what I posted. I always knew the panels needed to be clicked to make them readable, but did not realize I was leaving out those that had reading issues, not to say you are one of them.

      Your blog is mainly known for highlighting plants. You do a great job of listing important information on varieties and cultivars. If you make sure and tag the plants with the Latin names, your blog traffic will increase exponentially. Maybe you do and that is why you have increased your traffic so much.

      Many have gone the SEO route to increase traffic. Paying for a company to optimize and maximize the traffic. This works great, like thousands of daily hits, but a friend of mine did it and was so disillusioned by the number of pointless hits that she is now not blogging. It affected her regular readership, but did not tell me why, but I am guessing that her blog ended up with unrelated advertising. Just thought I would throw that out there for any one with experience using Search Engine Optimization companies.

  34. Bom says:

    Dead because there are no new bloggers? Dead because no one seems interested? Dead because not all garden blogs are commercially successful?

    I think the purpose of a blog should be considered and death is if the blogger does not achieve said purpose.

    I started blogging in 2003, 2 years after my wife did. My wife’s purpose was to document family events and inform family and friends about them without having to bombard mailboxes with emails. My purpose was more of an online record of sorts. We eventually abandoned our blogs because of time constraints. They died a natural death because my wife could not find time to blog about events and I could not find time to do things I would have blogged about.

    My current blog came about because of my passion for plants. I’ve seen eyes of family and friends glaze over the minute I start talking about plants. I wanted to share what I learned about my new acquisitions, about what I learned when talking to more knowledgeable people but I didn’t know who to share these things with. Hence the blog. Sharing the plants I have and the trivia that interest me about them. That is my purpose.

    At this point in the life of my new blog, just knowing there are people who read my blog achieves my purpose. Receiving email from those to shy to comment (you know they read the blog because they exerted the effort to contact you and not just reply), being recognized by other plant lovers in a foreign country (a most humbling surprise), being invited to press events (fun because I am among the first to see the exhibits), those are all icing on the cake and all much welcomed but they are not things that I consciously strive for. The only thing that could kill my blog now would be time constraints. One does not easily come by the leisure of time in my profession.

    The fact that I am still around and you are still around and there are all these passionate comments from your readers shows that garden blogging is neither dead nor dying. At least not to the people who are in it to learn, to share and to connect with like-minded people.

    • There were too many qualifier questions without answers that did not accompany the Fling discussion. I have to admit freely that I am a blogger that started blogging just to join a Fling. So that is a pretty flimsy purpose. And having direction??? Well, it started out because we have a whole summer full of garden walks. Easy pickins for content.

      But, being creative, I could not just be happy with showcasing all the gardens around our area, and veered off in a new direction. And once creativity takes hold, everything expands in many directions. You too changed focus, but changed blogs also. A much smarter way to define purpose and keep content consistent to allow readers consistency. It is also a better way to manage time. You had the added benefit of all your accomplishments too, as a result of you expertise in the plants you highlight.

      Blogging will never be dead for those that specialize. I think that is an important point. Thank you Bom for leaving a comment outlining your foray into blogging. Your direction really did evolve and paid off in spades.

      • Bom says:

        If that was your original purpose then you can consider yourself a success now that you’ve attended a Fling. Hehe. Seriously, blogs evolve as the blogger grows/matures (more). Yours has morphed as well but I enjoy reading about your recent travels and the photography tips which are so much more than your original garden walks. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy them as well but new quality content is always welcome, isn’t it? I’m also more knowledgeable now about the falls than I ever was and I know things that one doesn’t find in traditional texts.

        My first blog didn’t even have a single plant post. None of my old readers would have carried over even if the blogging had been continuous. I can count only a handful of present readers who would even stay on the landing page of old blog for more than a minute. Since my purpose was to connect with other plant lovers, reviving the old blog didn’t make much sense. Hence the new blog. I don’t have the time to worry about statistics on a conscious level but do notice a gradual increase in traffic (it’s at the top of the dashboard when I log on). I do have a Twitter account but hardly get anything from that if at all. I do get hits from Facebook, most probably from family and friends who are not familiar with RSS or feeds but who do read my blog and appreciate the links and heads up on new posts.

        Expertise? I don’t consider myself an expert. I just really enjoy learning about the plants I love and sharing the knowledge just as I enjoy reading blog posts about plants I don’t have. Most of the people who land on the blog do so via search engine queries on Tillandsias and Cycads which are my favorite plants and the main reason I started blogging in the first place. So your point about being specialized is certainly valid.

        • I think that all the search engine queries on the tropicals on which you post lends a lot of credibility to you becoming an expert in this field. Readers out there search for YOUR information. I have a few posts like that too that get searched every day. It is so rewarding to have posts so well received.

  35. patientgardener says:

    I found this a really interesting post. I have had discussed with other bloggers here in the Uk in the past about traffic and personally I think your traffic is directly affected by how much you interact with other blogs. Therefore if you never visit anyone else or comment on their posts then you will never improve the traffic.

    I am in my 5th year of blogging and my focus in the last 6 months has really changed. I used to be bothered by traffic, tried to attract advertising, did reviews, guests posts etc. It was becoming quite onerous and less enjoyable. I was also doing paid garden blogging (2 posts a week) so it really was a challenge to keep coming up with new material. The paid blogging finished and I used this to have a good think about why I blog and what I want to get from blogging.

    My conclusion is that I want to go back to why I started to blog in the first place. I want to connect with like minded people and to record my garden and places I visit. I now do not accept advertising, have guest posts and I only review books I am interested in and generally then for one company. My blog is mine again, I dont really care about traffic although I do find it interesting to see patterns and what posts attract traffic. My experience is that the posts about my garden get more traffic than posts about places I visit etc which really surprised me, I suppose we are all really nosey!

    I have been on twitter for about 3 years and unlike blogging I am hardly using it now. I find it all very superficial and unsatisfactory. There is an immediacy about it but often there are tweets which catch my interest and I want to know more, all of which is annoying in 140 characters.

    I dont think garden blogging is dying out. I think as some of your fling friends said there will be people you stop blogging. As with any new social media, there are people who have to be up to date and as soon as some new social media platform comes along they are off there. However, I also agree there is a hard core of bloggers who will continue and many of these are people who have blogged for years. It is a hard habit to break. So I think the future for garden blogging is just fine

    • They brought up interacting with followers at the Fling too, but only briefly and kinda in passing. I think the main direction of the discussion was the quick fix to generating traffic. The ‘informed blogger’ I mentioned, help steer the conversation back to basics and put the brakes on a bit with the social media aspect. He mentioned it must be looked at as complementary as in secondary to the main idea of blogging. He encouraged replying to comments and also encouraging those to respond by email or comments to questions that bloggers ask. His blog often helps others and since he is an expert so to speak, he has been doing this for years. I like and respect him quite a bit and have been following his blog long before I started one.

      A few commenters mentioned that he comes from a different genre of blogging since his blog is commercial with one specific garden related ad, and his advice might be skewed a bit towards that, but I think all of what he said made great sense. I also think of his blog more in the category of a personal blog, not because it is, but because the way he presents it. He is very approachable and often very down to earth. Honest to, and maybe a bit too much since he raises the ire of readers in some posts I bet. I would love to link to his blog, but do not want to bring him into this conversation here. It may not be fair to him, since he kinda was on the opposite side of many at the Fling.

      I know what you mean about posting your garden. I have to admit, although I would rather not since I have my own views on this, that posts I do on my teeny garden are well received. It befuddles me to no end too. Maybe like you said it is people are nosy. :grin:

      I agree, many of the long time bloggers will continue well into the future, but there is always room for those that are new. Plus, some of those blogging for many years might be the ones to consider hanging it up if they find the arena too saturated, rather than encouraging others to do so. There are many fresh, young, creative, experienced bloggers out there that have mounds of information to dispense, and I am finding many of them interesting reads. I am glad you posted here, Helen, because you have been doing it for so long and went through much of the options/ad alternatives of blogging yourself. It is beneficial to those new bloggers to hear from those that have been around the block a bit.

  36. Alistair says:

    Thanks for the tips Donna, I do geherally use the Latin names as tags, and I wouldnt pay to increase traffic, I am Scottish. Thanks for your honest comment on my post I have replied.

  37. I am a reasonable new garden blogger. I started my blog as I moved away from all my friends and family and rather than have to tell them all what I was up to it was a good way to keep them in touch. I found that I really enjoyed it and gradually learned more about blogging and ways of promoting my blog. I use facebook, twitter and Pinterest and various blog directories and am now having a good 75 hits a day on my pages. I love that people are interested in what I am doing. I have thought about what I am going to do once I have gone through all the seasons but I am sure I can still make it interesting. I have met lots of other garden bloggers along the way and they have helped me immensely with tips and suggestions. I know when I dig up my vegetable in the future, it was not just me that made them grow, but my army of followers and advisors. come and visit http://www.lorrainesvegpatch.blogspot.com

    • That was a very nice way to put your feeling on growing your vegetables in your last sentence, and I believe it is very true. They say it takes a village to raise children, but I think like you, it takes a community to grow your garden. There are so many helpful bloggers out there, of which many are willing to share their advice and time to help those that are getting started, either in blogging, Blotanical, or gardening in general. Everyone raise your glass to all those fine folks.

  38. VP says:

    Too bad I couldn’t get across the pond this year to the Fling – I for one would have been very happy to meet you :)

    I wonder how long the people mainly involved in the discussion have been blogging. It sounds like they have been for quite a while. I don’t think garden blogging is dead, but I do believe there’s a natural cycle to it with many people leaving along the way for whatever reason. Because of that natural cycle, then you have to constantly reach out and engage with people both old and new.

    I believe that those who are still blogging after 5 years (like me) tend to be those who have a real passion about the subject, want to learn and are primarily doing it for themselves. If you’re boring yourself or it’s become a chore, then you have very little chance of interesting other people with what you’re writing about.

    Concentrating on SEO is a mistake because the way SEO works is constantly changing. I would much rather deal with pleasing real people (even if they’re of the virtual kind!) than pleasing a computer.

    I also wonder if some of the questioning about blogging being dead is because of the way Google has been clamping down on the way links work recently. Thus the ‘professional’ bloggers may have seen a fall in their revenues and are questioning whether blogging is still worth it. Now I DO believe that way of advertising is dead.

    I count myself as being both a community blogger and a professional one. I do have adverts but they have been taken to pay for the trips I’ve made and blogged about. They haven’t changed the way in which I blog and if they go, then it’s no big deal. I’m also lucky that blogging has given me a whole wealth of fantastic experiences I didn’t dream would happen when I started out.

    I’m having far too much fun on the community side of things and my own fulfilment to stop blogging now :)

    I did wonder last year if perhaps the Fling had got too big. There were 2 buses, so I got to know the people on my bus quite well, but hardly got to know the others. That was despite making a conscious decision to move around as much as possible and talk to as many people as I could. If there were 90 people at this year’s Fling, then it would have been even more difficult, especially if there wasn’t a way to make sure everyone got introduced to each other in some way – just going around with a name badge isn’t enough! Perhaps whoever is organising next year’s Fling needs to think long and hard about how to ensure new people feel welcome and included with the group.

    • Hooray! I am so glad you said your last paragraph. They did have the initial get together meet at a bar so we all could mingle, but that is like you said, too small a venue and too many people. We needed a place like where this meeting was held at the end, where we all could stand up and formally introduce ourselves and say a few words about our blogs. It would have broken the ice and avoided the cliques in this bigger space. The cliques were expected because the venue had small group seating, so many stayed in their comfortable zones for hours.

      Even if only the first timers got introductions, it would have been so welcoming to have them say their names and a few words. I know when I met some, I had immediate rapport. I felt the new bloggers may have been overlooked a bit. A few of us discussed this – that at a corporate meeting, often the new members are made to feel like a million dollars.

      I know I keep repeating that I bore myself, but I do have much passion for what I do. I do it daily and think others either know this stuff, or it just is so mundane. My own garden, being small, makes it hard to show it often. At the farm I can show oodles of plant stuff, but then again, the plants growing there are not what can grow in many regions. Blogging is not a bore for me since my interests are varied, but I can see how it can get that way for others.

      Like I said to Helen, I am glad you have posted your thoughts and long time experience. It makes it so much better for those having doubts and those having questions. SEO has been a pain. I get so many looking for my blog to be a part of their ‘enterprise’ each day. They give you all the things you are doing wrong, then ply you with how they will increase traffic astronomically. A computer can pop in hits left and right, but did not Google catch on to the excessive frequency and lower those blogs in the ratings? Where a blog can make the first page, now it is buried?

      • VP says:

        I believe that has happened to some blogs, yes. And it’s interesting that when I point out to potential advertsisers about the type of link they’ll be getting from me, most of them aren’t interested. Too bad.

        As for the ‘advice’ you get on what you’re doing wrong, I’ve found most of it is rubbish and doesn’t apply. Being true to yourself and doing what’s right for you is the most important thing to get right.

        • Thanks for answering, I always wondered about these SEOs.

        • patientgardener says:

          I agree with VP (we have discussed this subject on many occasions) – the most important thing about blogging is to be true to yourself, it comes across in your writing and that is what makes it interesting. You develop an identity and that is what readers buy into.

          • I agree. My blog is an example. I do what makes me smile, not what others expect. I keep it fresh with material even if it is sideways of gardening. Ratings and stats are inconsequential. But being so eclectic, it is hard to acquire an identity. That must come with time.

  39. VP says:

    PS I forgot to say I’m proud to have got quite a few people blogging. New people bring fresh perspectives and ideas and I’m sorry if you felt that the ‘older guard’ were trying to discourage you. That’s totally out of order.

    • I just posted my response to you. Thanks for encouraging newbies. I think the old guard meant well, they just presented incorrectly. There would have been no discouraging me, because my blog does pretty well, but I did feel bad for a few that were looking for helpful advice, and I have to say, that was in small supply.

    • I have been reading VP’s blog in admiration – meeting the rich and famous. David Attenborough! I’m awed.

      Donna, here in your comments I see so many familiar Not Dead Garden Bloggers!

      • That was the point Diana. So many of us looked at each other when the topic was presented, all thinking the same thing. Blogging is not dead, how can they pose the question? The group tried to explain how blogging can be helped by social media, but most of us looking on, still in wide-eyed disbelief, don’t do much with social media, and have not seen anything but a constant upward movement in our daily visits. I know they meant well, it was just their presentation that seemed off.

        I also assume that the long time bloggers should have stats greater than the majority of us, but most probably it has leveled out somewhat. Not many get daily hits like my friends in the design world. The design blogs and I bet many of the photo blogs I read, have daily counts far greater than many of our monthly, and in some cases, yearly counts. I cannot see blogging bottoming out for a long time to come.

        • Bit wary of HUGE numbers of blog visitors, who dip in, and don’t comment. Feels like sharks circling a fish bowl. I prefer ‘real’ readers who sometimes comment.

          • The blogs I was referring to with huge numbers actually are very popular sites. The photo blogs are run by some of the top in the industry. In fact one of them has the top selling photo books of all time. I visit them daily, reading every word, and only ever left a comment once. It was answered too! So not all visits are for circling the bowl for a tasty meal.

            Also, since WP lets us see incoming links, often bloggers come without leaving a comment, and I think this is fine too. I believe they read the post, or why else would they come. Stat Counter, which I think you use, gives email addresses too. They make it even easier to find out who accesses a blog. I only signed up for Stat Counter because I was getting recurring incoming links, maybe circling the bowl, that I wanted to find out their origin. Only way to get the info is to open an account. Honestly, there is just too much info on the web, too easily accessible. I am getting hits from Stat Counter every post, so there are those out there interested in my numbers most likely, which they can see with a paid account I believe.

            The SEOs that I mentioned are the ones supplying the dubious traffic. I would never hire one for this reason. I too prefer the real readers.

            • and a refutation from beyond Garden blogs
              http://ariherzog.com/the-death-of-blogging-part-271/

              9 out 10 of my readers don’t comment. That’s fine, I also don’t comment on everything I read! StatCounter gets me to IP addresses, which is not so useful. I don’t get hits FROM StatCounter, that’s interesting.

              • VP says:

                Interesting – I wouldn’t expect to get hits from Statcounter because it’s a traffic monitor, not a search engine. Also puzzled by Donna’s remark about seeing email addresses via Statcounter – like you Diana, I only see IP addreses. WP allows you to see them, but I don’t check. I also find the majority of people don’t comment – that’s fine. I’d rather have a few comments which enrich the conversation, than lots which just say ‘great job’ or suchlike.

                When people start talking about stats, I always feel a bit wary because we’re comparing apples with pears i.e. the results vary depending on which stats package is used. I find WP gives about 25-30% extra compared with Statcounter. Google is different again. So for me I don’t compare with anyone and I’m just happy that visitor numbers keep growing :)

              • You can do an IP search you know, Diana. http://www.whois.net/ip-address-lookup/
                On Firefox, if you have the Developer Tools enabled you can find out anything you want on any webpage. You can literally reproduce a page format and take it as your own, and I bet that is done sometimes. I did drop the Stat Counter URL into the browser to locate it but, it was a password protected account. That would require something I would not do to find out who was behind the link.

                So it actually is useful information if you know where to look.

                • fair enough, but digging thru IP addresses feels invasive to me. If a reader wants to make contact, we comment. Then we can email if we want a private conversation.

                  • You only need IP lookup if you suspect foul play, nefarious conduct, or CSS and HTML swiping. I am sure they have these services that do much more because, like I said with Developer Tools, you get way more information then should be out there. Way more than I understand or would use.

      • VP says:

        Aw thank you Diana – meeting David Attenborough was one of the things I was referring to when I said blogging has given me opportunities I’d never dreamed would happen :)

        • I made a mistake I think. It is IP adresses, not email. I only looked at Stat Counter once a long while ago. But the links coming in from there appear like they are accessing my hits per day and overall totals, like I could see in my account. That is why my assumption of the paying service offers much more. I must copy that link an post to see if anyone can figure it out.

          I find WP gives less hits per day than Stat Counter, sometimes by hundreds of hits. I think it is their cut off time is different and one day goes into the next and appears like a larger total than it really is. Now I understand Diana’s comment that was posted far above. It followed the wrong thread, because it is listed here again.

          • Ok, I got one incoming from Stat Counter. Here is the url. statcounter.com/p5078961/camefrom_activity/. This is the login screen, and when I log into my account to access it I am denied. So this account belongs to someone else. Anybody know how this happens? There is also another different url that comes in too from them.

  40. Gosh that brought in a lot of comments and so much to read I think I will have to sit down and take my time to read them all properly. My initial response is that I believe garden blogging is far from dead, in fact, I know that Marketing/PR companies turn to garden bloggers for reviews etc as they are usually instant and reach a large market. Whilst they will ask journalists, they have to wait maybe a week or two for publication and even then they don’t reach worldwide readers, in the same way blogs do.

    I do blog for myself, first and foremost, but I love the idea that other people out there read and enjoy what I have written and my photos, so there is an element of writing for an audience. I am still in the big scheme of things quite a new blogger, only having started 16 months ago, so it is still fresh and young, I may feel different if still going in 5 years time. Whilst I am not very good at responding to comments or finding the time to read other blogs, I realise this is important and somewhat rude not to acknowledge other bloggers who have taken the time to read and comment. I do try to address this.

    I may come back with another comment once I have had time to digest all the others.

    • Thanks Ronnie. You added another level to this discussion with the PR and Marketing aspect. As for comment replies, I am very negligent in this respect, where in the beginning, I always replied. I do look at comments very gratefully that others take the time and effort. Also that my content can be read by them and they find something to say. The group discussed interaction with visitors and other bloggers, and I too believe it is very important to the success of a blog. I try to read blogs that comment here because I think it is the proper thing to do. I know many blogs that never reciprocate, and it is not like they are getting 50 comments or anything where it would be difficult to go have a peek an another blog. Sure blogging is a bit of a chore, but the interaction keeps it fun and interesting.

      As for five years of blogging… I can see myself still doing it, but I am sure since my blog really is all over the map in a sense of material posted, that at that point, I may settle into something a little more specialized.

      You should come back just to read. I think we got more information from the people commenting that we really did at this meeting I was reporting on.

      • Katie says:

        In fact, I AM a PR/marketing company and some of our clients request bloggers by name. It’s not dead. just evolving like youve said. What a lively discussion!

        • I have a friend that does a magazine format gardening blog that depends solely on related advertisers. And she repays them often with articles on their services and product. Her blog gets a little less monthly traffic than mine, but she does quite well with her advertisers and makes her living off her writing and blogging skills. She would say too, that blogging is far from dead. She does it the ‘old fashioned’ way with good writing and support material. Since we get relatively a close amount of traffic, it would behoove me go this route. But, freedom of posting still stands in the way. I could have not included a post such as this one for instance. Or like I said, spin it so it is all cherubs and cherries. Too many got this post way off the original discussion too, which got comments following suit..

  41. hello Donna, I love all the photos especially the NCbarn and raindrops on poppies, I also like the photo of you in the sidebar, very nice you look so happy and sparkly, Frances

    • Thanks Frances. I am a happy and sparkly in person, generally. I laugh a lot too. Life is too short to be a sourpuss I think. I have some serious health issues and have to say since finding out, my outlook on many things is quite different. That is why when we had our meeting, I kept thinking why can’t this be presented a little differently? You never know why lies ahead.

      • I agree life is too short to be a sourpuss, so sorry to read you have serious health problems and yes things like that can radically change our outlook on life, I hope there is help for your health and you will improve, take great care, Frances x

        • Thank you, Frances. My problem is something I was born with, and getting older, it was sure to catch up with me eventually. But, I have good care and am confident things will improve. I get tired easily, but don’t we all!

          • I’m glad you have good care, I’m not surprised you get tired as you do so much, I have been borderline anaemic since my early teens so understand a feeling of tiredness, I’m on what I call a low just now as my limbs feel like lead weights and sometimes it takes a lot of effort to get going but I do and there is no point dwelling on it, I feel fortunate when I think of what some people suffer, take care, Frances x

  42. Jean says:

    Donna, This is a fascinating discussion — although I’ve been skimming and will need to go back and read it more carefully. It definitely is not my impression that garden blogging is dead. My blog of the month feature keeps me aware of how many great garden blogs are out there waiting to be discovered, and too often I have 300-400 posts backed up in my Google reader waiting for my attention. I hit a bit of a “third-year slump” with my blog this year and my frequency of blogging slowed down. But that’s not because I’m bored with it; rather that I’ve been having trouble finding enough time to do the research to write the quality of content that I aspire to. Interestingly, similar to reports from others, even as I’ve been posting less often, my readership (whether measured in page views, unique visitors or number of followers) has increased dramatically. It may be relevant here that blogging has never been a business venture for me, but an avocation (like my gardening).

    • Thanks for commenting, Jean. I had thought of your blog when I was commenting on new blogs and bloggers. I almost referenced your blog of the month posts because you do much to encourage new blogs. I felt that the Fling discussion did a bit of the opposite by making new bloggers a bit apprehensive on what lies ahead for garden blogging in general. You have a first rate blog which is always well thought out and well done. Finding the time to both read and post seems to be getting much harder than before. I am not sure if it is mismanagement on my part, since I have been working less as of late. My health has been part of the problem, but being told to take it easy by my doctors should have given me more time for blogging not less. At least I am getting the reading in and I much enjoy your posts that enable me to find new and interesting blogs. I found Carolyn’s blog from your post, and now we are friends. Thank you for that.

  43. Indie says:

    Maybe because I’m a relatively new gardener and blogger, but I think that WE NEED MORE GARDEN BLOGGERS! I constantly have questions about plants and gardening, and since none of my friends are gardeners, I am constantly turning to Google and the knowledge and wisdom of all you people in the online garden blogging community for help. And yet oftentimes I still cannot find the answer I am looking for. Or I’ll end up reading through graduate students’ dissertations wondering why a good garden blogger hasn’t summed up this information for me yet! Thus, we obviously need more blogging :)

    There are probably millions of gardeners out there. If people like different types of media, that’s good – different people like different things. I am in garden blogging for fun and learning and to interact with other gardeners. I love reading other gardeners’ ideas and what’s going on in gardening around the world. I love to see other people’s perspective and pictures. Now it might be different if I was blogging for an income – then I would be all about readership and competition and whatnot. But if not, relax and have fun, people! Sorry you had such a downer of a discussion at the Garden Fling!

    ps. I had no idea that carex was so fast spreading since the only carex I have has been half eaten by a vole and I am trying to nurse it back to health…

    • The meeting only had a slight negative aire to it, where the general feel of the Fling was wonderful. I know I was too sensitive, but also know others were as well. Two topics especially were a bit disconcerting, yet some of us left the event feeling much differently than when we went in. One commenter noted that the group may have gotten too large and this may have helped to structure the overall event in this way. I think she was right because it was mentioned how large the Fling had become a few times. I was not sure why this was a problem other than in visiting gardens, but it would overflow into certain activities as well.

      Getting so large and continuing to grow will make each subsequent Fling that much more difficult to arrange I am assuming. It was a not miss event for garden bloggers and I do hope that growing interest by participants will be handled so many more can attend in the future. Some of us newer bloggers were discussing how we wished more from when we started would have chosen to come. There were many first time attendees, but not as many new bloggers.

      Thank you, Indie, for adding your thoughts on more garden bloggers, not less.

  44. So we have to give, write and blog valuable content to our readers. And I believe high quality and practical functional advice always will be enjoyed. Have fun in your garden, visiting other gardens and blogging! I am a huge fan of your blog, that’s for sure and I love that you also visit mine :-).
    Sunny regards, Mariëtte Verlaan, Feng Shui Gardencoach in the Netherlands. When you need translation of my blog just ask ;-) or use Bing translator.

    • Thank you. I have been trying to read your blog. With Bing, do you click a button or copy and paste the text? I did the copy an paste in Google. I was not sure how to use Bing. I do love your images though and have gotten the understanding of your articles on occasion from the images and a few words that I could figure out. I can speak some German and a very little Spanish and I have a friend in Finland who has helped me learn some of their language. I am always amazed how people from all over the world can speak so many languages fluently, and here it is not considered a priority. I wish when I was younger that I had took a greater interest, because when older, the skill is so much harder to attain.

  45. Rose says:

    A great post, Donna, and so thought-provoking–judging by the number of comments here, blogging is certainly not dead! I don’t participate in all the other social media; in fact, I don’t even know what someone of them are:) I am involved with Facebook and Pinterest, but they’re just not the same as blogging. As someone said in our discussion at the Fling, other social media don’t allow the same depth as blogging nor do you establish the same connection with other people as you can in blogging. For me, blogging is also about those relationships–part of my excitement about going to Asheville was to finally meet in person bloggers with whom I had been “talking” for years.

    Your photos are beautiful as always, and it was such a pleasure to meet you at Fling. I think one of the main reasons for less traffic these days, as you say, is the time involved with creating and reading blogs. In fact, I’d like to write more here, but if I don’t get out into my garden and get some weeding done, I won’t be able to see the flowers:)

    • I can say I am getting overwhelmed by the comments here. I too was just out in the garden doing chores in the cooler morning air and came back to more comments. Lucky today is a holiday, no work!!!

      Not using FB and twitter, but having accounts, I did figure that out early. The comments were less exciting and the information posted brief. Plus you get notifications when your friends post. I found that overwhelming, and I have very few friends. Maybe it is something I can turn off in FB. FB is kinda like blogging. You have to participate to have others want to be your friend I think, and I don’t participate.

      Going to the Fling was a highlight for me this year. I so wanted to meet all the folks behind the blogs. So many are warm and friendly just like their persona on the blog. I heard a lot of folks saying that certain people were not as they expected. I really did not have preconceived opinion, so for me it was so much fun to see how friendly were most
      all Flingers. They other thing so great was all the sponsors. I talked with quite a few and they were so nice as people and generous as companies. Same with the garden owners. What a friendly bunch.

      I really have not experienced less traffic, but I myself have been visiting less, so I assume have many others. This time of year is working in gardens, whether as my job or in my own garden. I am betting many have this same conflict and work always comes first.

      It was nice meeting you and I am glad you feel the same. Have gardening fun today!

  46. custom sheds says:

    I don’t think garden blogging is dead. There are a lot of gardeners out there who are into blogging like myself.

  47. Karen says:

    This is my first time visiting your blog and I want to let you know how much I enjoyed it. I don’t think garden blogging is dead. I find most very interesting and enjoyable. I do think that there are some blogs that turn people off when they appear to look down on beginning gardeners. My blog is about my gardening adventures, food, recipes and travels. My gardening posts are some of the most read and commented on. I’ll be returning to read future posts.

    • Thank you for stopping in. Blogging will never go away as long as people want to learn, want to convey, and want to enjoy. Flowers make people happy and gardening brings peacefulness and joy. I agree, everyone starts somewhere on something and has to start at the beginning. Everyone was once a beginner and I agree, there are blogs who do not consider the beginner. I hope my comment did not lead you to think that is my take, I just assumed that most of my readers know information I have learned over my 20 years in the design business, and I obviously assumed wrong. Sometimes the simplest things are what even experienced gardeners might not know. It was brought up at the meeting that we should embrace questions, and I think that is a good idea too. And here is a link for you with a post right on the subject. http://www.maydreamsgardens.com/2012/05/i-pledge-to-help-new-gardeners.html

      • Karen says:

        Oh no…I found your post and blog very beautifully done. Most people are very kind and share their gardening knowledge which I appreciate. I have moved many times over the years from Texas, to Florida, to New Hampshire and Maine. Each area is so different with what plants will grow and the care needed. Gardeners are a happy and helpful group for the most part. I have only found a few gardening blogger that won’t acknowledge comments and questions. I enjoyed the link by the way.

  48. b-a-g says:

    OMG! When I read your post the first time I wasn’t sure what to comment. Now I’ve come back to all these insightful essays.
    I am the most un-tech savvy person (in terms of social media). I don’t even know what FB or Twitter look like. My mobile can only phone and text. But even I can write a blog! I still remember the first time I received a couple of comments (just after I joined Blotanical). I didn’t sleep all night, I was so thrilled, in a way that I hadn’t been before. One and a half years later, I’m still thrilled – maybe because it’s the first time in my life that I’ve worked hard on something because I wanted to rather than because I had to.
    The next post I write will be for your brilliant W4W meme – and I will try to find a way to include a blurry photo of my seedlings!

    • You must have read every word of every comment to pull out the blurry seedling quip. :grin: I am flattered. I was thinking of you this very morning when I was out in my garden, and not having anything to do with blurry photos since yours are mighty fine. I remember all your trials and posts on Foxgloves and that you like to see a stand of them like in my last W4W post. Well, I am on cloud nine because my white foxgloves have multiplied and now created a tiny stand by my roses and between the blue Delphinium. I am so proud of them. Each time they made babies, I started distributing them all around my garden, always thinking of your posts. I have to get out there and get photos so I can show YOU. Foxglove and Delphinium are not known to grow in our conditions. You would never know they are in Niagara Falls’ heavy red clay in the bright and hot sun. They are my garden pride and joys right now.

    • tina@inthegarden says:

      Too funny. Love your enthusiasm b-a-g!

  49. Great post, Donna. You photos are beautiful as always!

    Another way to think about our content might just be that we are the authorities on our part of the world, therefore we each have something unique to share. When I post about a well-known garden like Longwood, for example, I know that many thousands of other people could have walked through to see the views that I post. But when I share my own garden, I am sharing unique content that can not be found anywhere else on the web. Does it get boring? I think that I am often afraid that it will to readers, but I post it really for myself and my family anyway. It helps to have an idea of who you really are writing for, I think.

    • We can view our microcosm of space in this way, and many bloggers do. I also agree about images at public gardens, folks rarely find new angles of view. That is why I was not showing many images from the Fling that duplicate others. And no one is going to be photographing a home garden unless it is in a magazine, then maybe a photographer other than the homeowner will be doing that. But, I run into this problem on the garden walks. It is getting where those images are repeating. Thousands of people go through these gardens, many with camera in hand. I hope readers do not think I am referring to home gardens boring in any way. I just mentioned it bores me in my own teeny garden. I am at the American Falls frequently and get the same feeling of same old, same old sometimes. After all, garden blogging IS about our own gardens, so it is the main content on all our blogs. I never counted my posts on my garden, but I bet it is a lot.

  50. Jennifer says:

    Hi Donna, Bloggers certainly had a lot to say in response to your post. I kept scrolling and scrolling. Obviously you hit a nerve. People seem to come into blogging and find that it is lots of work. The ones doing it for the right reasons persevere, the others fall away. I always find it odd when I blog just stops. No final farewell post.They just end rather randomly on what becomes a final post.
    I think that I agree with you that blogging is evolving. I also agree in part with the commenters who say they write for themselves first. You do need that degree of authenticity to write well. However, I think you also need to write for your readers. If they don’t feel engaged, they won’t be back. Too much introspection and you are just talking to yourself. You certainly engaged your readers with this post.

    • Nice observations, Jennifer. Funny thing, all bloggers must think they are doing it for the right reasons though, even those making money. I do realize that there is different classes of money making blogs too. Some are much better than others. I do feel that I write for myself because all the topics interest ME. But I have come to the conclusion that it must be for others as well or I would lose too many garden readers.

      My conclusion to all this discussion, taking into account all the opinions and advice offered by those commenting, is that…. there are many ways to approach blogging and damn the stats to blog for yourself. If the writing is interesting enough, beyond your immediate family, you will do as well as you see it, not what others determine as successful. So what if there are a lot of blogs and bloggers. The more the merry. And I personally feel that should apply to the Fling. No need to make others question whether or not to continue or attend.

  51. Denise says:

    What an interesting discussion you started Donna! It took me almost a day to read it all. I hope you still have time to read one more comment.

    I would love to read about your Carex morrowii. That’s one of the reasons I read garden blogs. To get real inside information about gardening. But there are many reasons why I read blogs. Some I visit for the beautiful photographs, some for the interesting information and some because they are fun. Your blog I visit for all those reasons. I don’t comment a lot, because of the language. It takes a lot of time for me to write in English. I sometimes feel guilty for not commenting because I enjoy receiving comments on my blog a lot.

    My blog is mainly about my own garden. A place where I keep photos and links and information. I find it amazing that there is so much to see every day in such a small space. Nature is never boring. I don’t think my blog gets many hits. I hope it is because of the language and not because it is boring. I have no idea about statistics. Maybe that is a good thing for me. Although I started the blog for myself, I don’t like to be considered boring. I think nobody does. Anyway, enough about me. Back to your question. Blogging is not dead. New, interesting blogs appear every day.

    • You can not know how much it means to me to get a comment like your comment, Denise. I do understand the language barrier and I am a faithful follower of your blog. I have found interesting stories, useful information and wonderful photography on your site. I am honored you would both read and post your comment, considering it must have taken much effort on your part.

      Coincidentally, I am posting my garden for the end of the month, May 31, and it will give Carex a spot in the commentary. A few have asked about it and I will explain why I removed it. I will also note why it IS a wonderful plant, and that I use it so frequently in design. I hope it is not a boring post.

      I am not sure if this will end up being more than one post since I have many photos to show of all the spaces in my garden. That is a problem with tiny gardens. It is hard to get it all in just a few images. City properties are too close to give you the space to step back. I am using a wide angle lens too which generally helps. I noted in a comment that I shoot my teeny garden BIG. It is no trick, just a wide angle lens makes it appear larger than it is in reality.

      I guess posting my garden among all the grand gardens shots from the Fling will be a test to see how well the post is received in comparison to those I have been posting about my travels. For example and comparison, usually GBBD posts do pretty well for visits. But the month of May and even the month before that, for me, the volume of incoming views was down substantially compared to the travel posts I am doing. Down by about 60 percent. So when I mentioned my home garden images maybe a bit tiring for folks, I do have comparative numbers. We will see. Then I may have another somewhat engaging post about that, either noting that I am completely wrong, or that I am on to something. The informed blogger noted that is why numbers might be low, so I will see if I get data to back him up.

  52. lula says:

    Donna, This post is absolutely into one of my interests nowadays. And considering the number of comments, you can say that blogging is perfectly alive! Due to personal reasons I have not been blogging at a normal pace since a couple of months (I hope I will get back to normal next week both in reading and posting). The positive side is that it got the opportunity to reflect on what blogging means to me: something I cannot do on other social platforms like FB or twitter. I am more into visuals for professional and personal reasons, but I do try to make a story out of my photos and sections in my blog/s. I consider blogging a repository of my work or research, a way to sharing information, memories, etc. and so far, I am never out of ideas. But let’s face it, it is something completely different blogging for you or your own business, than being a paid blogger oblige to post several times a day to attract visitors (and analytics, stats, etc. should be blamed for perverting the concepts). I would prefer a good post with interesting content from where to learn, or to share, or use it to meditate. But I must admit that more and more is getting harder to cope with readings when there is a long list of interesting blogs, if they are updated 3-4 times a week or daily. I use to follow a blog that posted a pic every day, and suddenly he decided to update several times a day: he just lost me. I don’t know you, but I spend a lot of time in front of my computers and is hard to accept that after work, you will have to spend some more hours catching up with blogs, even if you really adore them, I will not enjoy them, that is not the point. We should consider content to publish for different platforms, I cannot compare a blog with tumblr, twiter, or FB, that by the way is absorving emailing very fast.
    I would have many comments to share her eor a long conversation that could happen around a cup of coffee, but …. In any case, the number of comments to your post/question show clearly that there is a true interest in bloggs if they are good quality, and your has what it takes! Lula

    • Thank you so much, Lula. My blog started off for one purpose. To attend a Fling as a blogger. That was done. I looked up to all these ‘old guard’ bloggers because I was reading them long before blogging. I enjoyed them too. I found through the years that there are many blogs equal to or that surpass content on these blogs that I originally read. Your blog far surpasses most with your high quality photographs and very interesting garden visits for instance.

      Another thing to, I believe in reciprocity and that DID NOT occur in this regard. I did not even get most to ever come one time to see what I was posting. That soured me a bit on a few and I did not return on any regular basis. Some bloggers even brought that up at the meeting, and my internal response was ‘what a hollow comment, did you sincerely just say that, seriously’? I remember some coming in the beginning, until they got their faves, then no more. I know my remark here will take flack, but I like to say it how I see it.

      I believe in what you said, “I would prefer a good post with interesting content from where to learn, or to share, or use it to meditate.” I just think it would be nice if some would just pop in to find out who their readers are. And when we have the actual opportunity to meet, take a few moments. Many did and I was quite pleased with that.

      So many are finding that my remarks and those of some commenting might dissuade bloggers from attending a Fling. And I might be helping those that thought there are too many of us and that there should be less. But I hope no one feels this way. The Fling was great. The people who organized did a spectacular job. The gardens were interesting and beautiful. The food was delicious and plentiful. The hotel…. well that was not as impressive, and the internet reception was pitiful.
      All and all, the event was top notch. The discussion topic was not presented in an upbeat way and that led to comments that maybe should have never been spoken. That is what generated this post which I think was more productive than the meeting itself with all the people commenting and giving their reasons why they blog and WHY THEY WILL CONTINUE TO BLOG. Did I scream it loud enough? :grin:

      • lula says:

        Donna thanks for your comment in my blog. Just wanted to copy my reply here: Donna, my admiration for your blog and work is reciprocal, I “use” very much your enthusiasm and versatiity to find different facets about topics. Do please continue blogging!

  53. Garden blogging is far from dead though some of us have phases in our lives when we just don’t have to time to write about all the things that are happening in and around the garden and our garden visits – never mind visit all the blogs we have listed in our readers! A good blog post with quality content takes time to write.

    Sometimes I just read and don’t leave a comment as there are just not enough hours in the day! Plus language can also be a barrier to leaving comments for some never mind some bloggers having those awful captcha things you have to navigate through.

    Garden blogging changed my life – opened up new doors and loads of new opportunities within the local gardening community and I also started a photography business through it.

    I’m very grateful to those who supported me in the early days of blogging. I’ve learned so many new things and been so inspired – what did I do before blogging? …………. probably more weeding!

    I never buy a gardening magazine these days – I ceased all of my subscriptions as I get all of my information from garden bloggers – they tell it as it is!

    I’ve made online friendships especially with many that are not ‘ no comment reply bloggers’ as we’ve carried the conversations on into emails and friendships have developed over time.

    As for stats and SEO – they can look after themselves………..at this time of year I wouldn’t even have time to check where folk were coming from. I’m not into blogging ‘what’s in trend’ just to get traffic either – it’s what interests me that’s more important. If it’s interesting to me then it will show in the way the blog post is written and hopefully it will interest someone else too.

    I would love to go to a ‘fling’ but I think it would be daunting with all those numbers especially for new bloggers. I really hope that talk didn’t put any of them off blogging as they need encouragement in the early days not discouragement.

    • I too have run into the time crunch. Writing posts is easy for me because my job relates, and I am at the computer doing it most of the day. As a home business, my garden is always being photographed.

      Reading blogs is where the problem occurs like you said. I do not use a rss reader and always relied on Blotanical. All the recent uncertainty of Blotanical, along with the slow loading, has made me rely on my sidebar, but predominately those visiting and leaving comments on a post. Garden blogging has opened opportunities for me as well, I just have not exercised the options yet. Time is a key factor, that and far less money than I can earn in my chosen career.

      I too have made friendships where we chat by email and phone, so relationships became more real. I am not even sure how the discussion started on the SEOs and IP addresses and such. So much of it turned to Stats and the like. Much of the discussion at the Fling did mention ways of increasing traffic though. I found this part of the discussion not interesting because I am happy where my blog stands. I like that it increasing. I did not even have subscriptions on it when I started, so that tells you how interested I was in gaining traffic.

      The Fling having too many bloggers, I do not see as a problem at all. Everybody does not have to know everybody else, but 90 people to talk to, was not that many. I am used to places that have thousands of people so I had no problem being with 90. I just think the affair should have been more encouraging and a bit more welcoming to those that were new. Thanks Rosie for adding your thoughts. I think you added another facet to the conversation.

  54. Holy crud, Donna, what a conversation starter this post was! I can see where there were a few areas where newbies to the Fling could have been made more welcome – maybe next year there can be more of a plan to do so. I don’t think that was on anyone’s radar, so nothing was made of it.

    And garden blogs dying? I was kind of surprised by the conversation at the meeting too. I agree with cathywieder – I think garden blogs are replacing garden magazines! I’d rather read a rude, ranting garden post; see someone’s blown garden experiment; and view some awesome (and real) residential gardens than the annual “Six annuals to add color to your garden” generic/beginner advice that seems to be pervasive in many magazines. I also like reading/seeing blogs of others in my zone or similar garden challenges (I don’t see any of that in Garden Design magazine – though I love Garden Design magazine!).

    I got the impression, from the discussion, that many had been blogging a long time, and those leading the discussion, were offering their perception of blogging, and not reflective of everyone there.

    I depart though on opening the Fling to non-bloggers. It’s organized by bloggers for bloggers. The sponsorship and financial support from companies (not to mention the convention & visitors bureaus) comes in the hopes (but never the promise) of getting their products and services in front of garden bloggers that potentially can reach millions of their potential consumers. This would not be true of regular garden tour attendees. The blogging AND gardening is what we all have in common. Costs are kept to a bare minimum (believe it or not!) and if this were to become a garden tour anyone can attend, there’s be good reason to make it a money-making tour so the host/organizers could be paid for the considerable time it takes to organize (this I know first-hand), as well as to compensate the gardens being visited, somehow. As it is, gardeners seem to be willing to open up for bloggers that may end up saying nice things and showing pretty photos of their gardens. We opened up the Buffalo Fling for some locals that were interested – after all bloggers that wanted to attend by the deadline were accommodated. Which they did in Asheville, also.

    Did you break your own record for comments?

    • Thanks, Jim. You added another facet or two to this long conversation. I did not think that the Fling should be opened to non bloggers, but I have to admit, seeing what was occurring in Buffalo during Fling is the only reason for me starting a blog. And I heard from one other blogger that two non bloggers did the same thing reading about this Fling, where they started blogging for this reason too. So it is clear how the Fling has encouraged new bloggers and like me want to attend future Flings. It was a blast, fun out the wazoo. But, like I posted, every year there is room for improvement, and making the new bloggers feel included is one of the biggest improvements for the next set of organizers.

      You laid out the logistics rather well which is really helpful for all. I have nothing but nice things to say about all the gardens that we visited, the sponsors to the event, and the organizers of this Fling. They did work very hard to make a wonderful experience for us. The whole affair was good for me, except my experience with one blogger and the feeling I got from this discussion that generated this post. Like I said, this was my perception and many of the issues were addressed and cleared, so I feel better about it than I did initially.

  55. Hi Donna. I wasn’t there for the blogger discussion post dinner on Saturday, so I won’t commit on that discussion. I was busy tiding up the Masonic Temple’s dining hall after dinner for 86 people. I read all the way through this though and must comment on this:

    “One thing I really was disillusioned about was the choice to limit attendees. I attended some events in Buffalo because being in the landscape field, I was invited. So WHY limit. The reason was for buses, but they could inform ANYONE signing up late, that they could rent a car if there was no room. WHY tell them they cannot come?”

    I am the person who is responsible for limiting the number of attendees and setting a registration deadline. There is no nefarious “they” who decided this beforehand. The reasons are simple logistics. With that many gardens and venues over five days to move people through and caterers to feed them, larger numbers become unmanageable. Caterers need head counts for food weeks in advance. The smaller gardens we saw simply couldn’t accommodate larger crowds. That is why I split the buses up Friday morning. I was positively not going to allow a convoy of cars to follow the buses. At the Gentling garden on that road it would have been a nightmare. When that car convoy did happen on Sunday at my place did you see what happened? Five cars in a row like lemmings drove down my driveway right into the tent.

    The Flings are organized by local garden bloggers on a volunteer basis. The entire planning team is made up of volunteers. Event planning is not my profession. We are not paid. We were prepared to handle up to 100 and were at 93 before last minute cancellations. Even so a final deadline would have been enforced. Signing up late and having an unlimited number of attendees is not an option for a whole host of reasons if you have any respect for the people hosting this annual event.

    At some point a survey should appear on the Fling blog where people can critique the event, say what they liked and didn’t like to help future Fling planners make the Fling better. You might want to make some suggestions on how to make first time Flingers feel more welcome. Then figure out how to fit it into the schedule with such a large group.

    • Thank you much for adding your comments. I think Jim too explained the logistics, and I did see the problem at your house with all the cars. I still think there has to be some way to handle bloggers that may want to attend that exceed the limit for busses. Maybe jitney buses that carry a fee? As for the food, yes definitely there has to be a deadline. That is different if people want to sign up after a deadline has passed.

      I understand the small garden issue well. I have been involved in organizing two garden walks in our area for a couple of years running, and a large art/garden event where I lived once before. I also attend Garden Walk Buffalo each year and see the crowds at these very small gardens. It is a problem and very hard to deal with for garden owners and visitors alike. But it works. Jim and his group are masters of this type of affair. The other 17 walks are but a small copy of the GWB event for the most part. One I work with gets about 4-5 thousand visitors, but does not showcase many gardens and it still is in the planning for months, with much left to the last minute. I fully see the difficulty in organizing the Fling, but I guess being involved in large events previously (large grand openings of architectural buildings) this does not phase me as much dealing with 100 bloggers. So maybe I am I instilling my experiences a bit, and assuming that the Fling could enclude a larger community of garden bloggers in the future.

      Since you read all the comments fully, you had seen how I and others appreciated all that you and your fellow organizers had done to put on this fine event. Posting a few issues brought up some resolution too. I think your idea of having a survey would be most beneficial if people are honest in their assessment. Like most comments left on many posts, often, only praise is given and not much constructive critism is addressed. Hopefully responders would offer suggestions to some of the issues raised, like the number of attendees and making the newbies feel welcome. And having the meet and greet where we could have a place to introduce ourselves more easily. The bar was really fun and a great party, but I found it a little confining to meet others. I am not sure how to solve this one, because I enjoyed the meet and greet a lot and would not want have foregone that type of event.

    • tina says:

      Donna, When I read your post I was thinking the issue was more about limiting who could attend future flings and not about just limiting the numbers. Any conference would have to limit the numbers so deadlines and logistics will certainly dictate who can go and who can’t. All conferences do this unless they have an open house day like the Hosta Convention does. During Open House maybe others could come. But I felt the conversation that night was about who could come-what was the connection? Current bloggers, past bloggers, family members, gardeners or anyone? Maybe just gardeners? I said then and still think that the one thing that began these flings that united attendees was the fact that they had GARDEN BLOGS. However, family members such as spouses might want to attend and the blogger might wish for them to come. That might become a problem for logistics but like anything, if there are a limited number of spots then first come first served would get those spots. That is the way it is. Many people procrastinate and cause issues for planners. I suspect there are many who would want to bring their spouse or children and they take up spots but I think personally that it adds to the conference as how neat is it we can meet the other half of the blogger or kids? I wished I could’ve brought my hubby. I don’t think flings should be opened to all gardeners. In one of my societies of nearly 200 I know of less than five who blog about their gardens. That is less than 2% so not a high percentage of gardeners blog. Bloggers are unique whether they are garden bloggers or other types of bloggers. Blogging has a steep learning curve that only a blogger can understand and relate to. Plus the thing with the sponsors is good. When I’ve attended professional aviation conferences (from my life in the Army) the benefit of them is networking and business. It’s the same at flings but with the added benefit of publicity-free.

      • I never did think the Fling should be open ended. I must have somewhere said gardeners inadvertently rather than bloggers. But I still believe that it could include more bloggers if they are sure to make the appropriate deadlines. I am being a bit selfish because I wanted more bloggers that I actually knew coming. I was under the impression the group was saying to put a limit on Flings for the future. I question this, given enough time to organize, that new bloggers can always be included if they choose.

        If I did not read blogs from some of the long time bloggers, like Pam for instance, I would not have known about when and where the Fling was occurring. Having a place to find out this information is helpful for newbies. As for families, that is a tough one. Not because they would not be welcome, but it changes the dynamics of interaction with other bloggers I think. A family seems less approachable I think.

  56. Pam/Digging says:

    Wow, Donna, your post certainly generated a lot more discussion and comments than did the original discussion at the Fling. As one of the moderators of that discussion, and the person who raised the question “Are blogs dying out?” I can tell you that it was meant purely as philosophical questioning — How do we bloggers define ourselves in this age of competing social media? And aren’t we still a community even if we blog less? — and as a way to stir honest conversation among a group of people whose opinions I was genuinely interested in, not in any way as an attempt to shut out new bloggers or intimidate anyone into not blogging. Heavens no! I’m surprised and dismayed to learn you felt that way.

    You wrote: “I really thought this meeting on the state of blogging was unproductive for the most part. Not many solutions were offered and supported with statistics. I know statistics are boring, but they give some credence to the ‘argument.’ Especially if you are trying to get some to consider abandoning ship. … [I felt] as if it was inferred that there are too many garden bloggers.”

    I’ve never been accused of trying to stop anyone from blogging — just the opposite. I’ve always encouraged anyone to blog who asked me about it, and one of the reasons I helped start the first Fling in Austin was to meet as many bloggers as I could. I see now that the tone of the discussion at the Fling was not what some people expected or desired, and that’s good information for future planners to have. Of course an event of this size will never be all things to all people, but your post has got me thinking about what new bloggers might want from a discussion, and the Fling in general, that longtime bloggers like myself would not have thought of.

    I actually thought the discussion ended on an upbeat note. I posed the question to find out what everyone else thought (my own feeling is that blogs are evolving in various ways: some are becoming more professional outlets; others are becoming even more intimate through microblogging on Twitter/FB; plenty, of course, remain what they’ve always been — a creative and personal outlet and way to meet other like-minded folks). And what I heard from people is that blogging is NOT dead, and is in fact stronger than ever. That made me happy. I did not come to the discussion armed with statistics because I didn’t see myself as “the expert speaker” (and I know Dee didn’t either), but as one blogger among other bloggers of all stripes who just wanted to get a fun and interesting conversation going. I’m sorry it distressed you. But I have to say I’ve enjoyed the commentary here and learning more about why people blog and their commitment to it. A few commenters have said they too see changes coming — and that’s OK. No one should feel discouraged from jumping into the blogging community. It’s been life changing for me in only good ways, and I would encourage anyone interested to join the conversation.

    • I think the question posed in the frame of social media is beyond what many bloggers see as their blogs heading in this direction. Maybe it was too ambitious a question for the group you were addressing? Framing it as ‘blogging dying’ was a bit of a conversation starter, but also took the chance bloggers would shut down and not know how to get involved in the conversation.

      I see the value of social media and I see the trending surrounding it. It is evolving at record pace. I personally think this is a great time for the Internet and a fun time to explore options. My blog is not part of, nor will ever be a business, connected with my profession, so having family and clients find it would not be in my best interest. So expanding my readership with the aide of social media is a mute point for me. I can see how it might benefit many though. A few bloggers did think because of the social media focus, that the conversation predominately benefited those using blogs for business and advertising. I was tossed on this.

      Your question of community is very valid. I think of blogging as a community of like minded individuals and just because some are blogging less does not mean they have abandoned the community. Did some not attend the Fling who have reduced frequency of posting? I did not know all the bloggers that attended so I could not say if some blogged less. And, they did not know my blog either, judging by all the comments that I had to preapprove here.

      I too enjoyed all the views and opinions presented here. It changed a lot of what I felt and much of how I look at blogging. I even see that I need to reevaluate my blog’s direction a bit and focus a little more. I have a really wide scope of readership from many disciplines and that has affected my garden readership a bit. So from the discussion both here and at the Fling, I look at much differently. I can say that this post made many think and that is a good outcome.

  57. Pam/Digging says:

    Donna, I started thinking about something else you wrote: “I think they (not the actual NC organizers if you know who I mean) had intent to limit [attendance at the Fling] from the start, and not just because of buses.”

    I’m not sure who you’re talking about, but I’m guessing you must mean the advisory committee, because who else is involved in Fling planning aside from each year’s local committee? As one of the volunteers on the advisory committee (which is in its infancy as we try to help pass along planning info from one year’s Fling committee to the next), I take issue with your insinuation that there’s some hidden hand limiting the number of bloggers who may attend. Each year’s local Fling committee has set any limits based on their own abilities and resources. It’s a fair question to ask why attendance has been limited, but paranoid suggestions about the intentions of hard-working volunteers, who are taking time out of work and family schedules to make the Flings happen, is unhelpful and divisive.

    • Thank you, Pam for your honest reply. I said in many comments that I may have been overly sensitive I think, as were some others, to the fact that new bloggers were not quite as welcomed as might be expected. I understand that this is a very large event, and for the most part, was organized by people new to this type of event planning. I was not identifying any one person either because questions from the floor of the meeting leaned toward, and reinforced how large the event had become. Some bloggers DID feel that there was an attempt to have both less of us blogging and less of us attending.

      You can see in comments here everyone who attended appreciated all that the Fling was, but a few did mention that there was a feeling that the event had grown too large, and the conversation at the meeting was not very encouraging for some to continue blogging and why they should. There was, like I said in the post, an elephant in the room. My remarks were based on a feeling that I received and an undertone to the conversation. I did not really want to say that anyone actually had a notion from the start to limit, but someone at the discussion actually mentioned limiting it in the future, most likely for logistics I am guessing. I can not remember who either. Also, it is understandable to a point too, for the reasons Jim mentioned in his comment, that there is quite a lot of coordination to do and to open it up further would be difficult for planning. Readers also have to look at this particular issue in context to all the discussion here. I may have been a bit presumptuous with saying their was intent from the start, and I am sorry. Again it was based on a general feeling and not anyone admitting or saying that directly.

      This line of discussion in the post by many that commented clarified quite a bit, and I am quite grateful for that. I did not want you to take these comments personal in any way. A few people did say that your question of ” Is Garden Blogging Dead?” quite provocative and was meant to generate lively discussion, but since it was the first thing mentioned, had many of us a bit stunned. I think it shut down or limited who would participate in the conversation too. The question of using Pinterest also generated polarized opinion and that was good. It made me rethink my thoughts on it regardless of the how many professionals get on board. Why? Because I looked into Pinterest a bit and saw that they can use images that are pinned at will. It is supposedly written in their user agreement. So some very important information did come from this discussion, even if it did after the event. Look at this post, it too generated quite a discussion, and if the original question was never asked, people would not be assessing and reassessing. In effect, your question did a lot of good, even if some of us did not think so from the start.

      • MrBrownThumb says:

        As someone who was an organizer of the second annual Fling in Chicago I find Pam’s comment to you ridiculous. She knows very well who you mean by “They” because at the meeting of the first organizer, second organizers (the Chicago crew) and the third organizers (Buffalo crew) we had a long talk about the drama involved in organizing the Fling. I have been very vocal about the experience and critical if the cliquish behavior you’ve and others have alluded to in these comments.

        I’ve been reading these comments and laughing the whole time because I’m glad to see that is isn’t just me. You are not crazy, as hard as Pam is trying to paint you by calling you “paranoid.” She knows perfectly well who you mean by “They.”

        Our organizing committee consisted of a great group and one person who was hell-bent on getting her way and making the Fling all about herself and her friends. She eventually got booted, but not before poisoning the well. She kept going back to her clique and talking about the discussion processes. It wasn’t ever our project until she left because everything had to be run through her friends and what they wanted. Then we had people outside the organizing committee putting their two cents in and basically trying to run the show when we were doing all the leg work and organizing.

        Pam feigning ignorance to what you’ve alluded to is laughable. She just needs to pretend like she doesn’t know what you’re talking about to keep her status. Get off your high horse, Pam. And be more respectful of people’s feelings when they’e obviously hurt by the Mean Girl behavior you enable with you selective amnesia and dismissive attitude.

        • Your experience really did seem like you had the high school dilemma of the ‘Mean Girl.’ So sorry to hear of that. The gardening blog community seems to me, so much more that this kind of uncalled for behavior. I am hoping that my willingness to post this and your comment in reference to all the dialog, does some real good for the organizers next year. I know they must work exceedingly hard as I have helped organize large events myself and know what it entails. And like you said, that often falls to a few that work hard, and others that pretend to. Much too bad there is drama behind the scenes too. Thanks for weighing in here. I feel much better, because I did not appreciate being characterized as paranoid. And to all those that did the work of organizing, it was a great event and your work was greatly appreciated and much enjoyed by us first-time Flingers. I enjoyed myself immensely and look forward to future Flings.

          • MrBrownThumb says:

            “I am hoping that my willingness to post this and your comment in reference to all the dialog, does some real good for the organizers next year. ”

            Hopefully, but I doubt it. It’s been, what four years since the Fling in Chicago, and your comments about the cliques and “elders” could have been something I wrote after our Fling. As the Fling continues to grow it will just get worse. Things don’t change because people don’t change, and people put up with this ridiculous behavior from people inside the “community.” Garden blogging has unfortunately attracted a lot of people who are trying to be America’s Next Top Garden Blogger, and people who think they’re special because they’re friends with one of the “elders” or wannabe superstars of garden blogging.

            These people and the attitudes they perpetuate are enabled because people are afraid to call them out by name. Me? I don’t care. None of these people have an affect on me or what I do. After the Chicago Fling I chose not to give them power over me by being honest and speaking out.

            If you felt like n00bs were being discouraged from participating in garden blogging by the “elders,” it’s because they were. They’re (the pros and wannabes) all fighting for the same writing scraps and freebies from sponsors, and the n00bs are just more mouths at the trough of garden blogging that will need to be fed.

            As long as you’re telling the truth don’t ever be afraid to speak your mind. Good luck to you and your blog.

            • Had to laugh at what you wrote. Take that as a compliment too. Sad that what you said is likely to be what is true ‘for all time to come’. I can see that some bloggers do follow some like sheep to the slaughter, just because they view some as influential. I saw this mainly in the design blogs, but will keep my eyes open here as well. I just checked out your blog and I SUBSCRIBED. Very nice read and perspective, and I do not mind the ads at all. Oh, and I read a few blogs that tell it like it is too.

  58. To anyone I’ve offended, please know it was not intentional. As the sponsor-get grunt, everything I did prior to Fling was well though out and planned. Everything during Fling was ad-lib and shot from the hip. If (and when) my aim was off, please know it was not meant to cause harm, and accept my apology.

    P.S. As a side note, Skeeter I have followed you and Tina, In the Garden, for a very, very long time. I love you both. Do you know that I didn’t realize you were THAT Skeeter until after I returned home? lol. The good news, I hung with Skeeter (and Saint), feeling joy in meeting what I thought of as a blogger new to me, only to find out we were old friends. To the many other new-to-me bloggers I met and to the many I know from Buffalo and on-line, thanks for giving me the pleasure of your company. For all the many reasons we come to blogging, friendship is the greatest reward.

    • You did not offend anyone and we knew what you were doing was a spur of the moment thing, making it tough to think of everything. I only noticed because I did raise my hand and it went unnoticed, and another first time Flinger made a request that was not really heard until she mentioned again. Sorry too if your comment was sitting here unnoticed, it was because it went into Spam. I forgot to look in Spam because usually a good comment does not end up here. WP does this quite well.

      Some of us that were new did feel a little like we were on the fence looking in, and I think this discussion will help those next year to make the newbies feel very welcome. I hope too many newbies choose to come. I know I did not get to spend time with you and was hoping to meet many of the folks whose blogs I have read over time. Well, there is always next year. :grin:

    • tina@inthegarden says:

      You’re the best too Helen. I still marvel at my wonderful visit to Helen’s Haven and think how lucky I am to know you. My palm is doing so well!

      That is too funny you did not know Roxanne was THE Skeeter. She knew who you were as I told her ahead of time as we both love your blog too. She and I so enjoy talking with others and meeting new people who think like us so I am glad you all got to spend quality time with her and her husband the Saint. Meeting and making connections through the blogs is wonderful and great to meet in person too. You all did a good job on the fling! I hope I can attend more and bring my dear Mr. Fix-it too. Of course you already know him so you’ll be ahead of the game! No Jimmy though as he is too old and graduated this year! Woohoo! Take care gotta get to the big garden clean up for the tour this weekend. Urgh.

    • Skeeter says:

      Too funny Helen! I should have written SKEETER on my name tag on Day one as no one knew me by my real name. LOL. But for some reason, The Saints tag said just that, THE SAINT! I must have kept his name secret when siging up but did not realise it. I am a bit shy in person until we talk then I am an Open Book. On the Blog, I can talk talk talk as I am talking to a computer and not people right. Hee hee. I now view some Blogs differently as I see the person behind them so not so shy anymore. From your picture of hanging over the waterfall, I could see we would have a lot of fun together girl as I am just as crazy in person as that pic showed you can be… hee hee…. Thanks for all your work for the Fling and for keeping our Bus in line during the tour… Well, who paid for that broken door??? :-)

  59. fairegarden says:

    I wasn’t going to add anything here since I was too tired to attend the blogging forum after the dinner and also missed the group photo. But I can’t let it go unchallenged that Pam Pennick would try to discourage anyone who wants to start blogging. She is the person who got me started with my own blog in 2007 and I am eternally in her debt for that. I emailed her with some questions about how to start, I knew nothing at all about techy stuff, but had been a long time gardener and had some digital photos of my garden. She answered my questions with kindness and has been a mentor to me always. If anyone was put off or felt left out by this talk, I am certain that was not the intention of Pam or Dee. We worked very hard to make this fling a memorable one in a good way. I hope that is what most attendees came away with.

    • There never was a comment that said anyone was trying to “discourage anyone who wants to start blogging.” It was a feeling some got from the discussion about continuing to blog, not start a blog. You can not argue with a feeling someone takes away from an event. I do not think it was necessary to name names, because the meeting had many, many people talking and adding their thoughts, some agreeing, and some not.

      Plus the tone of most comments here was positive, which seemed much different than some of what was said at the meeting. The discussion there was not upbeat in my opinion. Many here said blogging is not dead and went on to list reasons why they will and like to continue. They were not defending, they were adding positive reasoning.

      And again this is perception and opinion. If all the comments were read, and the post was read, I think this is unfair because not much was said that pointed to any one individual. I only had a problem with one abnormally persistent individual who could have easily solved her own problem by going to talk to the right person, not myself. And only three people knew of this issue. No one else.

      Personally, I thought Pam was just as you described. I did get a chance to talk with her. I do not believe there was any intention to leave people out either, it just happened that some, like myself, wanted to feel more inclusive, more welcome, get to really talk to people beyond just a hello. Not sit on the sidelines looking back in. I did meet many folks that were friendly and warm, yourself included. If comments are going to pinpoint and call out certain individuals they will be promptly deleted. Like what was suggested, a place should be set up to offer up suggestions to improve the event. And in a constructive manner. I questioned limiting the number of attendees. That was addressed. I mentioned having newbies welcomed, that is something that will likely be considered. I mentioned that the discussion should have been more upbeat and encouraging. That was addressed too, at least here in the comments.

      • Oh, and because I was a little surprised at your reaction here, I forgot to address again how much it was appreciated what everyone did to make this event memorable and fun. I posted thanks immediately in my post As I See It, I’m Back.

  60. fairegarden says:

    One N in Penick. Sorry.

  61. fairegarden says:

    I am still tired from the fling, believe it or not, and may have written with haste, please forgive me. It seemed like Pam was somehow being misrepresented in some comments and I felt the need to come to her defense. Taurus, you know. I was not at this forum, so really do not know what was said, and of course, I have no idea of how people felt, only the way this thread has run. Maybe this post of yours is a continuation of that talk. We are writers, not speech givers, after all. Sometimes people are more comfortable with the written word. I do believe discussion of how to improve the flings is a good thing. One for the next committee, and the next to consider.

    • Understandable. I did not feel anything other than Pam was trying to start a vigorous conversation to make others really engage. But I thought the question was maybe framed wrong for this group, a little out of their comfort zone. Rather than being completely straight forward by asking if blogging is heading in the direction of dead or dying, she might have asked others how they increase their traffic, putting a positive spin on the real point of the question. Ask others if they are embracing social media and why. She essentially did ask it rather than tell us in a way, but we got the feeling like we should be using it for the benefit of our blogs, and many of us do not have the time or desire.

      It was the enthusiasm surrounding social media by some that steered it in that direction. There are really many opinions on it too, from fear, all the way to something you have to check on all day long. This is so much different than blogging I think. We as a blogging community have a love for it and no fear of who are our friends, and these people actually become real world friends. The funny thing is, most of us would not want our family members meeting folks over the internet, but here we all are doing it. My husband plays Playstation football, and his ‘friends’ on the internet are not the kind of folks I would invite to my home. No way.

      This post did not start out to continue the talk. I never thought it would get so involve. I am not a writer (slightly dyslexic and harder to do for me) like you and the others, so this has been a bit taxing on me, but I really enjoy the dialog. It got people thinking and I think that is important. I have done other posts that have done this too. It is very easy to get people talking if one picks a topic where there are polar opposite opinion. Or if people are rabid in their desire for something for instance. Pam picked one of these topics and just asking her question again got a lively reaction, as she did the first time. But here, people get a little time to digest the question and also to structure a thoughtful response not based on immediacy and emotion. That is what is different in a live forum with so many participants all wanting to have a say. Here, if you are shy or prefer not to speak to a large group, you can have your say and for as long as you want. That is evidenced by the length of these comments.

      Frances, I am a Taurus too.

  62. Marguerite says:

    I’ve stepped away from the computer for the past week and missed all the action! This post resonated though and just had to throw in my two cents. A couple years ago when I started blogging I read a couple posts staying ‘blogging was dead’ and thought, how can that be, I just started?! People seem eager to move on to the next social platform that’s been invented. Personally I like blogs and I’m sure others do too. It suits my time and personality. I don’t have to have it on my hip, I can post and read as I like when I have time and I can express myself in words or photos at length or in short pieces. Facebook, Twitter, etc are entirely different beasts which can obviously benefit a blog or even replace it. These platforms suit others well and perhaps some will move on to other media but some of us will stay right where we are. Why the pressure to declare blogging dead? On another note, I found it interesting that you felt as is there was some discouragement being thrown toward new bloggers. I’ve noticed a similar trend on Blotanical with some blogs declaring that it should clean up its directory and weed out members that don’t have current postings or bloggers who are not contributing on Blotanical. I’ve been a bit shocked at that attitude. Why would some bloggers want to impose rules like that and essentially try to remove a certain portion of the blogging community?

    • I noticed that on Blotanical too. It is starting to become a less fun place to blog as a result. Lately it is not working correctly and not updating. I know Stuart is trying to get it updated and I, myself have been using it less until he completes the version. I had much fun on Blotanical and will wait to again.

      Thanks for adding your two cents. I saw those articles years ago too before I started blogging. I think it has not at all declined, but has changed the way we post. In both the photography and the design blogs, they are doing well. Photography especially. From my observation, it is all the services out there that are helping this along, like SmugMug, View Bug, Zenfolio, Picasa, Flickr, although it has lost some momentum I bet, and countless others. Why? it is because people are into the one photo a day mode, like the immediacy of twitter and FB. Blogging has changed to more imagery and everybody now a days is a photographer it seems. Even the design blogs are posting more images and saying less. Look at Wordless Wednesday, the one for Shadows, and Sky Watch Friday. One image makes blogging fit into people’s weekly schedule more easily. But that is what is also making so many new bloggers. It is easy, but also, it loses peoples interest over time, both the blogger and the viewer. Where the person can forgo the excess work of making a post funny, informational or educational, they find their audience change. I think this discussion did not have the chance to have the substance it needed for such a wild card of a question. Had they group had more time, it would not have had to be so rushed from topic to topic. Certainly, no fault of the people running it either. It just was a loaded question.

  63. Donna, so far this post has gotten 180 comments, so that pretty much answers the question in the title. For that many people to have read through your thoughtful commentary, to have enjoyed your always-wonderful pictures, and to have taken the time to comment means that there is still a large community of people interested in gardening blogs that are MORE than nice photos or twitterfeed. No one does what you do as well as you do it! –John

  64. I am clinging to my 40′s, my blog is just one year old, it’s more of a garden journal. I post a pic often, and have little to say–I will never be on facebook or twitter! Everything evolves! You young ones will see!

    • Stacy, I am not so young. I am old enough to remember diaries and am older than you if you are 40. Most of those at the meeting were older too than the kids into twitter and FB, but like I mentioned, many are enthusiastic about social media. I think it has the connecting with family and friends aspect that is alluring to older folks. And this naturally fits seamlessly with their blogging. Family members that I am connected with on FB never read my blog. They have no interest in gardening, photography and no interest in my job designing. They post stuff like who is having a baby, graduating, marrying, or who is moving. Just like a family newsletter sort of.

  65. Rhonda says:

    For the first time since starting my blog, my posts are lagging, I have massive blog-guilt. Partly the reason is upheaval in the form of moving and leaving one garden to temporary quarters. But my blog is certainly not dying, I will “borrow” other gardens until I design and start the new one. I think it’s important to venture beyond your own garden gate with a variety of topics.
    Ironically the other reason behind my irregular posts is all the freelance articles I’m doing having been discovered on my blog.
    In one regard, I consider my blog as Emily Dickinson once said, my “letter to the world that never wrote to me”. I love making friends with gardeners all over the world. We are so unique and so much the same. Otherwise I think of my blog as a living resume of my work.
    I do think it takes a huge commitment to write (and photograph) a quality blog and there are so many personal factors that make it difficult for people to maintain. My best wishes to anyone starting a garden blog, whether you find personal or professional fulfillment, you’ll be glad you did.

    • Thank you very much for this take on blogging, you give many others confidence and hope for a future to continue posting. And ideas on how to keep posting without having to always rely on your own images and ideas. Just exposing others to what you find interesting is a lot of what makes the design blogs so successful. And with Pinterest, this has been made easier and more available to many. I have taken flack here on the few occasions before Pinterest became popular, for showing images that were not my own. I explained that the garden bloggers are behind the design bloggers (in popularity) by not doing this. I guess coming from the design blogs long before garden blogs, shaped my attitude toward this.

      I was befuddled a bit by the notion of blogging being dead or dying. I am involved reading Photography blogs, and that is another genre of blogging breaking records for daily visits. I am impressed that you have gotten found for your writing ability, “is all the freelance articles I’m doing having been discovered on my blog.” Congratulations. I have been asked too, but have countered that I am not a writer. I leave that to the ones that can really spin a story. My talents lay elsewhere, but I do blogging solely for fun and pleasure. And relaxation from a demanding design career. Like right now, I have a CAD image on one screen and I am typing this on the other monitor.

  66. Monica says:

    My random thoughts:
    1) You know the difference between complementary and complimentary–Congratulations, you ARE a writer! :)
    2) I’ve noticed the phenomenon you write about in many different social and professional circles. But the idea of discouraging weak competition in a field holds no weight. What savvy business spends time or money trying to discourage “weak” competition–they only worry about STRONG competitors because they’re a threat. I mean, it’s Coke vs. Pepsi, not Coke vs. Podunk Bob’s Fuzzy Water. So perhaps the authoritative blogger was in fact scared of a wide open field of bloggers, or maybe just likes to hear himself talk. Or it could be another issue entirely, of social cliques (and sending a message about not belonging to those outside the main circles). All of which is really too bad.
    3) For me blogging was personal–a way to connect with other gardeners. I’m tired of everything I read about blogging being about how to make more money or be more popular (um, I mean, use social media as marketing). A major reason I stepped out of the “blogging world” quietly some time ago. Actually, it feels good to admit that out loud.
    4) Thanks for letting me ramble.

    • I don’t think it meant there was intent to discourage weaker bloggers per say, except that it may be a flooded market. Even Coke and Pepsi would love RC and any other cola company to fizz away.(pun) Or buy them up for a great price! Just like burger wars too. Now that is a saturated market also. The informed blogger had nothing to worry about from any one of us I bet. We go read his blog, not the other way around. He does love to talk, but he is a great person to engage in conversation. He is humorous, knowledgeable and informative.

      I really did feel there was a bit of “a message about not belonging to those outside the main circles.” But that was a feeling I got rather than any overt message, (my reference to sitting on the fence looking in).

      It is personal for me, far removed from my landscape profession and work with the wholesale nursery. I have refused advertising opportunity. I just want to post what I feel, not steered in any particular direction. So I understand you approach.

      I am glad you added your opinions. Especially since you took a step back and out. It lets readers have another perspective.

      You are one I met in Buffalo I believe. I met a few of the garden fairies.

      • thegardenfaerie says:

        i honestly have no idea who the informed blogger is and I did not mean my comments as a personal dig. I just don’t agree in some of the reasoning. And I agree feelings are personal and can’t be wrong. Different people are sensitive to different things, pick up on different things, etc. Sometimes people in a clique are so caught up with their friends and living int he moment and having fun, they may not realize it’s harder for others to try to jump in. I think that’s part of what was happening. P.S. I was not at the Buffalo fling. :)

        • No problem. I just wanted to clarify that he was a nice guy. Fine too, because I understand how feelings are much different than what may have actually been the intent or what may have even occurred. Hard to shake a feeling. That is what generated a lot of this discussion. Cliques were to be expected. They occur in most group dynamics I bet. It takes time to get to know people, and at the Fling, we were always hurried going somewhere or another. Too bad we did not have more days to get to know one another. I know many did not know my blog, yet I knew theirs. I was confusing you with a garden faerie named Lisa. It was so long ago, but that maybe was her name. I do remember she was a nurse.

  67. stone says:

    Getting and keeping readers engaged is a large problem with blogging. We can all join sites like blotanical, and as long as we are reading and commenting on other blogs, those people will return the favor. When we get busy pulling weeds, getting soil work done, and other life stuff, and fail to visit those other blogs, they stop coming to visit us…

    Tumblr is great, post a new pic, and go back out to pull weeds, but it’s difficult to tell whether anyone saw the pic, our followers never come to our page, our posts show up in their dashboard.

    With 3 garden blogs, I find plenty to post about, but I see a lot of friends suddenly stop posting, I see a lot of great blogs out in the internets that stopped adding posts a number of years ago.

    So… Your talking point is one worth noting, but… writers will write, and some of us are driven to record our experience, even if our only visitors come in on image searches.

    • Very nice summery, Stone. I could not agree more. Places like Blotanical, and garden blogs in general, are a very reciprocal group for the most part. I try to visit all that have a working link left in the comments. BUT, how often do you visit a blog (even repeatedly) that never returns the favor, even having the curiosity to see from where their readers blog? And judging by the number of comments received on their posts, most likely they do have the time to do this. I feel then, those saying blogging has affected their traffic are deserving. You get what you put in, as another blogger pointed out.

      BUT, this leads to another of your points. We all have other lives, and even jobs related, which everyone knows at this time of year, is quite busy in our part of the world. The main key is… and I will repeat it over and over, is the content that we publish. Not being a writer myself, I already have a bit of a hurdle, but photos like you mentioned for Tumblr (or any of those predominantly photocentric blog platforms) should be of decent quality, not the blurry seedling example given earlier by another commenter. I have my images on five photo sites and when I am good about posting photos, get lots of comments. Except Flickr. I found that one very disappointing, so I stopped posting. Plus these sites are commented by many professionals, and I LOVE the critique they leave. Most of the time it is a compliment, but sometimes they offer advice to improve my work.

      A little off your topic, I read certain blogs every single day, and look forward to daily postings. They are not Garden Blogs. I get all the things that a good post should have, good story, good images, good information. One usually has just one photo a day, but not always, and when the post does have story, it is always interesting aspect of design. So what does that say about most garden blogs? I am not sure.

      How many times can we talk about Carex (my new post this week) for instance. I use that because I was encouraged to post on the plant. All over the world, people are posting on this plant at one time or another. That has been some of my reluctance to talk about plants. I can pick up my wholesale catalog and look it up if I don’t know about it from experience. Sure experience matters like I said in the Carex post, because I swear that plant will grow anywhere if does not have to out-compete.

      Three blogs? I cannot maintain the two I started. Like you, not for lack of content, but for lack of time. But the other blog gets searched quite a bit and amazes me each day to have visitors with no new post in like two months. So what does that say? It must indicate it really does not matter if we post often, if you have content others want to read or images that they want to find, the readers will find your blog… like you said.

  68. stone says:

    Thanks for visiting my blogs. Linking to the third with this post.
    I’ve seen your comments over at the lady in the pink hat’s blog… Not sure why I can’t remember reading here b4 today…
    “Mr. Brown Thumb” linked to you at FB.

    I dunno how many times you can talk about carex, I’m not a fan.
    I post about not dead-heading, and post pics of seedpods over and over… I have a post sitting in drafts right now discussing an exception to my rule of not tidying…

    I read a lot about blogging, and while there’s a common belief that we should blog constantly, there’s a lesser-known belief coming up that we should blog when we have something to say, that we can drive people away with too many posts (of whatever quality).

    Blogging is an easy way to get our unique viewpoints out into the world. It’s free to do, and we can say what we want without fear that an editor will chop up our articles to the point that our points get lost, as often happens with “letters to the editor” in the paper medium.

    • I have to go back and see the third post. Had enough time to visit two blog posts and a tumblr image. I like Susan’s blog, but do like it more when she writes more often and reblogs less. She is witty and always has a unique perspective on things.

      It is always good to offer up contradicting info, like on garden tidying. There is always information on both sides of the fence worth talking about. I do both, tidy and let stand over winter. It depends on if the plant is offering up food or shelter to insects and birds. My client’s always have their yards cleaned in fall. Helps the landscaper at a time of year when he needs the income and, on the estate properties makes a better appearance to the neighborhood in which the clients live.

      I too have read much info on blogging. I find other bloggers having some really good advice. Advice they got through doing it for a long time AND being very successful at it , and those whining because they lost traffic and have nothing good to say on it. Both can be interesting reads. There are those saying three times a week and those doing it daily. But all of them always say to post when you have something to say or show the reader that which they might not have seen or heard before. That is a bit of a problem for garden bloggers. How much have we not seen or heard before? I write on design sometimes because it is unlikely, unless the reader is trained themselves, have to have necessarily heard the info. The problem with doing posts like this is not getting preachy. I try not to get too technical or too academic.

      So true on doing what you want without the editor or art director having input. Having been a fashion illustrator (pre-architecture school and career), I know what that was like. Same as an architect, having the partner in the firm having the last design word. I do blogging because it is my creative choice on what I post. I can draw all the gnomes I want!!!!

  69. I for one really hope garden blogging is not on the decline, because as a relatively new gardener but already certified Plant Nut I feel that I NEED garden blogs! There is a huge mass of collective gardening wisdom out there, and the internet is the perfect medium for sharing it. What is wrong with taking photos and sharing experience from one’s own garden? As a gardener, that is exactly what I crave – to see what other gardeners are growing, hear what worked for them and what didn’t, get ideas for good foliage combos, etc. If every gardener on the planet took photos and shared their own garden with the world, that would be awesome! The cool thing about the internet is that is so decentralized, so it allows for all of these little, personal contributions to combine into something larger and more valuable than any one project could ever dream to be.

    But, I do think that the traditional, serialized “blog” may in a way not be the ideal format for this. Do people want to read posts in reverse chronological order? Do people care how frequently someone posts? In most cases, probably not. For me at least, I would prefer to have more of a “website” for each garden, with clear, content-based organization so that I can easily find what I am looking for.

    Also time-wise, it’s pretty unrealistic to keep up with reading and commenting on hundreds or thousands of blog posts per week! I’ve only just recently discovered the garden blog-space, and already I can’t always read every post from the many superb blogs I’ve found – and I know there are many many more out there. Maybe structuring a personal garden blog as a serial publication with “subscribers” is not the best way to go, given the type of content. But I love those individual contributions to the collective garden cloud, so I hope they never stop, whatever the format.

    Thanks Donna for this thought-provoking post.

    • Very well put Rebecca. It is hard to add to what you said because you said it so well. This is another comment I urge others to read. It is coming from the heart and shows why readers choose to blog and why it becomes difficult to cover the community reading blogs. There are search boxes in blog themes, but they do not always return appropriate posts that may be what the user is actually looking for. Thanks for writing in.

  70. I dont think its in decline, there are still plenty of good quality blogs out there to read. Our own blog has seen readership increase over the last few months, and with many readers sharing their own blogs its clear there is still a very healthy approach to blogging.

    FB/Twitter etc do not allow the depth of interest, whilst this may be easier for the commercial blogs to use i prefer to read a blog and follow a gardeners story. There may be a decline in number but on the whole this is the lesser quality blogs and adverts dressed up as blog going away rather than quality blogging as a whole declining.

    • You are probably correct, that it is a decline in the commercial blogs. I find that many of the commercial blogs do have interesting information, although slanted toward certain products or businesses. One that I read locally highlights advertisers, but in a very informative and interesting way.

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