Blogging with Value or a Snarkfest to Make you Think?

Red_Poppy_Field

This post just popped into my mind as I lay convalescing from surgery recently. I took notice of a few things…

Yellow_Poppy

Readers have an appetite for imaginative thinkers and insightful ideas. Can social media deliver that?

After all, good writing takes time, research, and passion, where internet readers demand fast and concise. The web is synonymous with fast and the idea people only want a few paragraphs to read. Are people tiring of this and do we want more?

So… what do we want to spend time consuming?

Noticing a spike in readership lately and lots of thoughtful comments, this got me to thinking about substance and quality in 500 words or less.

White_Poppy

I thought, we just might be what we read in the same light that we are what we eat.

Wolfing down that fast food burger is like reading many posts, feasting on mental junk food – quick and convenient. Wouldn’t you rather have a juicy Grade A steak instead? One to savior and take your time eating?

Pink_Poppy

Are we so consumed by Facebook and Twitter that reasoning comes into question? Where we ingest social media like a fast food meal, with little nutritional value leaving you always hungry for more.

Think about that next time Facebook keeps you in your seat for hours on end. Can you remember what you read or saw – something to ponder or react to emotionally? FB and Twitter happen at lightening speed with incoming posts.

Orange_Poppy

I know, a snarkfest, but at least it is not a kitty sunning on the deck. What are we losing by this brevity of bland?

So why am I blogging about value? Well lately, my blog has been attracting some very fine blogs. Blogs with valuable information of their own that really make you think.

Deep_Orange_Poppy

Click on comments in recent posts and you will find a few blogs with very knowledgeable and talented writers. It is a bonus when blogs of interest show up in comments.

I keep busy here answering comments and as always, visiting those that comment. It is how I found some good ones too.

White_Poppy_back

I believe readers want substance. Not the usual stuff we see, like a few shoots popping up, or somebody’s cat laying on the deck, posts with real meat to the articles.

TulipShoot

A few shoots popping through the snow! Interesting, no? The garden just is not ready to wake.

We get lots of trivial and funny information from tweets and Facebook updates, yes, but…

Backlit_Poppy

People get spread so thin posting to so many formats and as readers, there is no time or energy to keep up. Are we now asking for writing that’s full of thought, emotion, insight, and cool info, things that used to be important to writing? In a way, I think we are.

Bee_On_Poppy

Why poppies? They just popped into my head. Now off to read some good stuff.

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, 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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91 Responses to Blogging with Value or a Snarkfest to Make you Think?

  1. Bonnie Lee says:

    This is a nice essay on an issue that a lot of people are trying to figure out. About four years ago, JF and I attended a social media conference in Los Angeles just after a lovely weekend spent in Joshua Tree Park. The keynote speaker was Peter Shankman, one of Social Media’s big gurus and founder of Help A Report Out (lovely site, BTW). In his talk, he berated close to 60% of the audience who was not live Tweeting about the event. I was appalled–wouldn’t he rather we listen and respond thoughtfully and meaningfully? I was so annoyed that I ranted about it on my personal web page. (Here is the link if you are interested: http://tinyurl.com/c7btv9k.)

    Since then, I have learned how to use Twitter while at events, but I have yet to find a balance between immediacy, relevancy, and thoughtfulness.

    It would be interesting to know how others strike that balance.

    Nice post.

    • I so agree. I find it distracting to listening when everyone around you (even in a restaurant) is on their phones, computers and iPads. In garden blogging the same issue was raised on making sure to utilize all the avenues of social media. I found what happens is that those posting spread themselves too thin and their usually fine work suffers just to cover all bases. Tweeting actually has been good for my blog even though I am not the one tweeting. My posts get tweeted by others and I immensely appreciate that. But some of what is tweeted or appears on FB is so pointless. I am finding many blogs are headed into the pointless realm too. Why say something unless it has value. I love your blog because YOU and JF ALWAYS have useful information. And you have a cause. Not many do that, and BTW I always love JF’s stories, even the one eating the live lobster. I had to say my opinion, but loved his story anyway.

      • Oh, loved the post on Cobwebs and Clutter. Also agree that snarky is easy on Twitter. Finding out that there are more important and beautiful things in life besides posting to social media, ya, it’s a good thing.

      • Bonnie Lee says:

        I am not sure which platforms are best for a variety of subjects. But I’d think that a Facebook page serves to show the number of people who want to openly stand up in support of a blog’s theme. Twitter is more like driving on the highway and watching the Billboards–you may see something that strikes your interest but that you’d not normally see. So, you may be able to expand audience through Twitter with a variety of posts that are focused, but open enough to appeal to a larger number of people than those who follow you on Facebook.

        Just thinking aloud….

        • Good reply and observations. I really don’t use either although I have both. I just never found the time. I don’t look for FB friends or look to find others on Twitter, but do approve all friend requests of those I know. Since my blog is not tied to my business, it is not that necessary for me to promote it. I am just lucky it is somewhat popular.

  2. todd says:

    I enjoyed reading this very much, Thanks ! I just finished carving a male cardinal out of a chunk of firewood. I used a couple of photos from your site to help with a few details, Thank You ! I love my garden in the backyard, saw a female cardinal there this morning. The males are perching in the tops of the tallest trees and singing ! here comes the sun… here comes the sun …

  3. Les says:

    I am flexible, sometimes I want a quick snack and at others I want to savor a fine meal. Fortunately the later is still around and easy to find, at least for now.

  4. Jennifer says:

    To me word count is somewhat irrelevant. A single sentence can express an incredibly profound idea that keeps me pondering for hours.
    It is my impression that people come to blogs looking for different things. Sometimes they want to see something beautiful or read something funny that makes them smile in the midst of a really bad day. Often times I believe that readers don’t want to have to think at all. They just want to let nature’s beauty wash over them in a calming wave of relaxation.
    This being said, I think there is also an appreciation for something thought provoking or inspiring.
    The one thing that underlies any good blog post is quality. Witty sentences, touching moments, beautiful pictures, profound ideas: they all require a certain skill of execution. And speaking of execution, the photos are as lovely as ever.

    • Thank you for your opinion, Jennifer. I agree one sentence can be very powerful, but how often do you see that in social media, even blogs. It is just too fast a media format. It happens in advertising where one sentence says a mountain of things! It happens in reporting sometimes. It happens in philosophy very often. It happens in long form stories. Maybe that is my point. Maybe there is not enough short stories being posted, like you might see in magazines or even books having short stories where to get there, the writing is beautifully done. I guess I am nostalgic for those really doing writing well.

      Yes, people come to blogs for many things, but some of what gets posted is a true waste of time, lacking any of the things you mentioned. You have a wonderful blog and never post less than quality, so I think you relate in that way.

  5. I’m only in the blog world. I have to facebook for work. It has it’s place for quick answers in some topics. Gardens help you slow down and enjoy. I like visiting everyone’s garden when I read their blog. The poppies were a great choice!

    • I like visiting gardens too. But when that is the only thing posted it gets too repetitive. Like right now, if I picture my garden, it is the exact same view as that last time I posted it. How many times can people see that? Finally this week the snow is gone and maybe I will post the dried up sticks that still have not been cleaned up. It is still too early in our area to remove the Autumn leaf litter mulching the garden. Plus it is too damp to get into the gardens. Spring takes its time here.

  6. HolleyGarden says:

    I love that each blog is different, and that there are so many. Some are very informational, some are beautifully poetic, some are funny, some are inspiring. On different days, I enjoy different things, as I suspect, mostly people do.

    • Different is good. It keeps the interest. But like I said to Jen, it is nice to have the qualities that you mentioned. I think most can easily tell those that look to add these qualities. A few I found recently, have writing that is equal to that which you might find by professionals and you can really see the difference in those well written blogs. Turning a phrase comes naturally. My blog is mainly my photography and art, but I do like to add things others may not have found. When I do gardening posts, it is in a similar manner. I try to add the design perspective.

  7. Kevin says:

    What a beautifully written and thought-provoking post. As for my reading of posts, I enjoy a post that has something to say — if it’s done in 100 words or 1,000 words, it’s okay with me. As for writing, I try to stick to the 500 word “rule,” but I very often go over that. As a reader and writer, I worry that there are many blogs out there where the idea if quantity over quality. Social media has been an interesting journey, especially as I try to learn the different formats as well as the needs of the audience involved in each format. In the end, I write for me — and I truly love reading comments from readers all over the world. By the way, beautiful photos — but I especially loved the tulips popping through the snow. 🙂

    • Funny you mention the 500 to 1000 words. I have always had a hard time staying under 1000 words. Lately I have been keeping posts at 500 or less and I noticed a greater response to posts in comments. I think 500 is the magic number. This post is 500 words. The last post was 822 and was very popular. But I am constantly paring them down. Maybe that reworking helps. I think the idea of quantity happens on FB the most. Post after post, seems to be the norm. I love your writing. It always has so much personality. The tulips popping was kinda of a bit of sarcasm. That is all that is in the garden right now and the photo I would take today is the same I would have taken last week. So I put garden pictures on hold until SOMETHING happens out there besides birds. I have lots and lots of birds.

      • Kevin says:

        Thank you so much for your kind words. I also count your blog among the ones that I truly enjoy and learn from (although I admit I often fall short when it comes to comments). When it comes to social media, I have turned it into a bit of a game — how to pull readers from other media over to the main blog. It’s an interesting journey. May your snow melt and your tulips bloom — and very soon!

  8. EcoGrrl says:

    Agreed – dig the blog format as it actually has real content rather than 140 characters 🙂 I gave up Facebook a couple of years ago as it wasn’t giving my life any value. I have a Twitter account which is primarily used for a) work (I’m a recruiter, it’s super valuable) and b) following my key nonprofits and magazines all in one place so I don’t get a thousand e-newsletters, but I don’t follow that many folks so my actual feed is not too exciting fortunately. As this is my fifth year blogging (4 on Blogger, 1 on WP), I too agree that there are some amazing writers (and photographers, ahem!) who keep me checking in fairly regularly (a few times a week to be honest, as I’m online so much for work and keeping up my own blog that I try to get out into – gasp! – nature now that spring has sprung 🙂

    • I am guessing many will check out those that comment here to figure out of whom I am speaking. I know a lot of people who use both FB and Twitter for business. It must have a lot of value in the venue. They both are good staying in contact with friends and family, although that is the part I don’t really like. I often don’t care for the trivial stuff that is posted. So what somebody found the perfect pair of shoes to match her dress. Gag me now!!!! Keeping up a blog takes time and I think like you, that so much more information can be had on a blog. I don’t tire of good blogs. I may not have the time for so many, that is why I made it that I visit those that leave comments. It gets to be too time consuming. Never could I do that with FB.

  9. I love the pictures of gardens, interesting design, funny art, the breathtaking views from a favorite mountain lookout, and the things that folks find meaningful. I get it that you have to sift through the poop to find the pony, but isn’t so much of life like that. How is it possible for FB or blogs to be any different? I love Hemmingway, and Steinbeck, but even for them a good deal of what they have to say is pure crap. That comes from someone with leukemia so you can take that to the bank. Breath in and out, focus on the beauty that you seem to find so easily, share it if you can, and know the rest of us our just grateful, and nothing more.

    • I would like views from a mountain lookout. I would increase my creativity with a view like that, especially in architecture design. I agree a lot of sifting is in order in many aspects of life, even the people in which we deal.

  10. A.M.B. says:

    The poppies are lovely! I appreciate thoughtful and thought-provoking content in the blogs I read. I don’t mind a good laugh from a well-crafted 140 tweet, but I don’t spend much time on Twitter or other social media sites. The river of short bits of information is overwhelming for me. My posts are usually between 450 and 750 words, but I don’t have a rule about it. I’m one of those people who always struggled to meet the word limit in school writing exercises!

  11. alesiablogs says:

    I seriously have been pondering these very issues with my personal blog. I know for my blog to be successful I need really good content as I am not so good with the techy part of making my blog look super cool. However if I work on my writing and offer passion within my writing I think then my intentions are clear! For now I try to keep my blogs under 500 words. BTW – I read blogs that I learn from and yours is one of those for a variety of reasons.

    • You have a very open and honest style of writing. I find that very refreshing. Not much is refreshing on the net, where you come away feeling better about many things, even if it is in comparison to things not going well for others. In the things sad, comes hope. In the things of despair comes strength. In the things hard comes resilience. When you read what others face, you sometimes see how lucky you are. My surgery left me with a week of pain, but I think that is all I will be left with, much better than the alternative.

  12. Even though I rarely comment – or even have a garden to speak of – I enjoy reading your blog because you always have something interesting. Whether short or long, you seem to have a handled on what people are interested in. I have no such idea, I wrote on Source Memory which I thought would really excite dog owners and …zilch. Then again, maybe the writing sucked. I still struggle between too sciency which nobody will read (my other pure science blog has a measly 26 followers) and not sciency enough which I refuse to post.

  13. I try to stay to 500 words but often fail, ending up at 600 or 700. Then occasionally I am able to stay down around 300. I think brevity is a good thing, but there has to be some real substance for a post to have real value.

    I find that I am more frequently bothered by too many photos on blog posts than by too many words. I know that sometimes choosing among photos is like choosing among your children, but occasionally a touch of ruthlessness in this regard would be a good thing. On occasion I find myself wondering just how many photos have been included in a given post, and scrolling down to see where it ends.

    I started looking at twitter because a young friend of mine is an accomplished twitterer. If that’s a word. The best tweets, I find, have links to longer articles or are short reports on something happening right at the moment. For example, I couldn’t bear to watch the second presidential debate so I just read tweets from people I know.

    The time I spend looking at twitter and facebook is a very small fraction of the time I spend looking at blogs. Twitter and facebook for me are like snacks, but blogs are a meal.

    • I know I always have too many photos. I use them to break up the long winded posts. But also, I have a number of followers that only come for the photos, so I made the blog very photocentric. I may have to scale them back too, others have said the same thing you mentioned. I view social media like you, snacks versus meals. But I still feel that some amount to fast food. A snack one should just avoid, but often don’t.

      • I definitely don’t think you post too many photos, and the quality of your pictures is really superb. I didn’t have your blog in mind when I wrote that.

        • It was fine if you meant GWGT, but I am pleased you didn’t. I am trying to get to a place where my blog does not make people scroll to the end and hit the like button. As much as I am not a writer, I still want my writing to be interesting and not a yawn. I have been rewriting posts to try and make them better. I never did that before, what I thought got written down, faulty grammar and all. Hey, I still do that with incomplete sentences, double negatives and such, but it helps shorten the post too.

  14. Emily Heath says:

    Poppies are one of my favourite flowers. I don’t mind reading a long blog post if it’s a subject I’m interested in. Sometimes I’m particularly looking for a long post, for instance I eat my cereal in the morning whilst on my laptop in bed, and then I like a nice meaty article to read while I eat. I generally don’t blog more than once a week, as my posts take hours – sometimes days – to write. I have a tendency to go on a bit, but then there is so much to say about bees and beekeeping!

    • I can read on bees for days. I like long informational posts and I like those with personal stories. On your and Emma’s blog, I find both. Eating cake??? I love that you guys do that when you meet. The honey cakes are so appropriate. I only wish often, that I could be there in person because it appears you have so much fun. It comes through loud and clear in your writing style. You know what makes for a really interesting blog to read…. when I click enlarge to view. I don’t want to miss a word. I do that on your blog.

      • Emily Heath says:

        Would be fab if you visited us one summer! We’ve already had the pleasure of receiving one US blogger at the apiary, Deborah de Long from Romancing the Bee. We could feed you cake and you could give us photography tips.

  15. I couldn’t agree more (Blog, Twitter, FB) – and it’s not only the apt description mentioned in your post (which contains exactly what I’m feeling about it). It’s also written in many comments here and/or in your respective replies. I, myself, must be one of these persons, too. Those you mentioned who “are nostalgic for those really doing writing well”. I love to read even rather long posts in case they are informative, personal, honest, with lively descriptions and sometimes unusual, surprising elements.
    It’s disappointing to start a text and find out it’s only the head line which is interesting or to discover an exact copy of wikipedia. It’s tiring if you get the impression someone tried to post in any case but seemed to be rather unenthusiastic and worked sloppily, It’s boring to get only a carelessly written fast food meal.
    Although many people seem to prefer shorter posts, I would think that in case you’re post can offer thought, emotion, insight etc. you might reach them – in that moment they start to read! The problem is that a lot won’t start. ^^ Writing rather long posts myself I therefore decided to offer shorter posts in between (I’m not very successful in doing that permanently). Donna, I don’t think your posts are not too long! (But I completely understand your arguments). And I don’t feel “fogged in” in case you add a lot of photographs! I enjoy them very much. 😉
    Keep on writing as you do. I always love to come to your blog and even am visiting the archive because I can’t get enough of it.

    I

    • I am glad you agree. You know you must have an interesting blog because I am reading it in my rusty German. I have found the more I read your blog, the more I am getting better at reading it though. Since you post on fashion and runway shows, I have to one day post my fashion illustrating art. I won all kinds of industry awards for them and I never went to school for advertising. I just had a knack for it. The very first ad I ever did (full page for Valentine’s Day) ended up in a trade magazine right aside Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman’s, etc., so my boss was pleased to have our department store highlighted. I enjoyed that job, but the family run store of 100 years eventually closed.

  16. I have never given much thought to word count when I write my posts. Some are longer than others, just depends how much I feel like writing. I think it is more about quality and substance which you wrote about in another post. I have a FB page for Southern Meadows and I find that it is a different audience than my blog. There are a few crossovers but not many. I am not on twitter since I just don’t think I can add another social media venue to my life. It is already busy enough! I am often overwhelmed with all the social media and trying to figure them all out. I know that FB has gone out of favor since links are not promoted unless you pay and so they don’t show up in newsfeeds. Google+ seems to be the new darling. Anyway, I think much of social media is about brevity. But is that a reflection of the venue or society in general?….which is your point I think. I think there is an audience that is interested in still thinking! 🙂

    • My long posts are more on what I think needs to be said than on how much I feel like adding, but I am finding the posts better when I started to limit the word count. That is odd too, since much of what I write has to do with some issue or another. But it has increased readership and commenting, unless that is just a coincidence. Hard to tell, but this month I will hit 15,000 views and that is an all time high here. I know some blogs get that in a day, but garden blogs are not read as much I think. I do not have a SEO here, so all the views are those wanting to come. With a SEO I know I could get 10 times that amount, but I care who reads here, not how many. Plus I have no reason to pump numbers for my business. If I used the blog for business, then I might employ and pay a SEO to help spread the word.

      My posts for GWGT do not appears on FB anymore on my Wall. I guess they think it is too popular and I should pay. But those of Green Apples do, where I post maybe every two months. Google+ is the new darling by photographer standards. I should like it but find it just as much a pain in how fast new stuff appears. I started it then abandoned it. Pinterest I joined but never pinned. ViewBug just gave my one photo an award and emailed to tell me, so that made me go an look around, but that faded in two days time too. I know blogs are suffering in general because of social media, but I think they are on a comeback for the reason I mentioned in the post. People are tiring of all the shortened posts. They want more of substance. Now the key is to find out how much they are actually willing to read.

  17. diggingher says:

    Reading the post and all the comments it would appear that your sentiment is widely shared. I don’t know that I had given much head space to this topic until reading the post. Now that the topic has been raised I can see that I sway certain ways in my reading. I see blogs, FB and twitter feeds as very different in their purpose and readership. I know I cannot keep up with all the format and info coming at us so being selective based on quality and interest is important. One more comment, I get so frustrated when I see so many on their electronic devices during a conference. We deceive ourselves if we think we can truly multitask listening and typing, we just aren’t created to function at that level. Put the device down, slow down, listen, enjoy and remember to breathe…it might be the first time you did that all week!

    • I think in concept all the three big ones did start to be different in approach, but it was people that made them congeal. It reminds me of an upcoming post of mine that looks at art, photography and image editing. It took technology to combine all three into creating art. A piece made up of all three. As much as I utilize the benefit of this, I also pine for when both art and photography were pure arts unto themselves, and not everybody was doing them. I am starting to feel the same with the art of writing. That is a main point, is it art anymore?

  18. You already know how I feel about the subject because I have been saying the same thing practically since I started blogging. I would like to do less sifting and more reading of quality posts. Like a broken record, I say post less often and give your posts more substance. If you want to do something insubstantial use FB or Twitter. A blog is not the proper format for a photo of your cat on the deck. I have never considered word or photo count because I use as many words as it takes to cover the subject and hopefully no more.

    • Yes, you are a cheerleader in this respect. Too many are substituting FB for blogs. I cannot care for reading this way, and like you mentioned go to FB if that is what you want. Your blog is totally different though. It is for your business predominately, so words of information need to be said. If I posted on garden design for my business, (which some is coming, but not for business), GWGT would be more like your blog. I also would read less blogs too because of the time I would need to maintain such a blog. The sifting would never occur. I am not even sure how to find good blogs other than what shows up on the GWGT doorstep. Those sites that have the ‘Best Blogs’ usually have the blog owner submit, so how is that the best?

  19. Donna, good thoughts all. I think I need to learn Photoshop, as your images are always pristine. HEAL!

    • Thanks, but these images are not Photoshopped in this post. It takes too much time and I post too often. You might like a post I have coming. It discusses image editing. Thanks, I am off to the doctor today. Hoping for all good news. No bad news came since my surgery last week, so that is good news.

  20. Couldn’t agree more, Donna!
    BTW I do not FB or Tweet.
    One more reason for your wonderful wonderful poppies: Spring!
    🙂
    xxxxxxxx

  21. You’re always inspiring. I used to be a newspaper reporter, and I think in general it’s more difficult to write short than it is to write long. If you have enough space, you’ll eventually hit all the points you need to make. The question is whether your reader will stick around to the last paragraph. Writing tight, as we used to say, is a real skill. Writing a long piece on a complicated topic is very difficult, too, and it’s even more important to write tight.

    • I agree. I find writing shorter very time consuming. I remember the term writing tight from my fashion illustrating days. In advertising, tight is important. I decided to edit my work to keep people sticking around. It is a tough nut to crack too. You are a professional writer and should offer us that are not, some tips. Your garden articles are always so well done, and say just what needs to be said. Maybe you should guest post here?

  22. gauchoman2002 says:

    I agree with many of your assessments, and I still have yet to find more than a few useful applications for short-form things like Facebook (I’ve never used Twitter and probably never will). FB is great if the intent is to share a picture or to pass along a link to an awesome article, but I feel that even through my selective friending, I still get a lot of “Here’s the awesome donut I had for breakfast” and silly cat pictures.

    One of my all time favorite blogs is Watching the World Wake Up. His posts start with an innocuous comment like “Did you know that there’s a lunar eclipse tonight” or “On my daily bike ride I saw a Cooper’s Hawk” and that comment will turn into a several thousand word mini-novel that includes a ton of pictures, charts, graphs, and other visual aids along with a wealth of well researched info. I wind up actually feeling smarter having read the post and it gives me a feeling of having a friend/mentor who’s inquisitive about all the awesome stuff that we have going on in the world. Unfortunately he’s on a blogging hiatus right now, but cruising through old posts is still a treat.

    I get that same feeling from your blog as well. Your posts are detailed and include a ton of pictures and I actually leave thinking “I wonder if my yard provides adequate cover for smaller birds to escape from raptors or other birds of prey”.

    The other bonus with your blog is I get to troll the comments and find links to other awesome blogs. I guess the bottom line is that one-liner snark is fun every once in a while, but my main attraction is, and will probably always be, long form blogs that are entertaining and informative.

    John – Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes

    p.s. – still having problems with Mozilla and posting hyperlinks…

    • Thanks for adding your assessment and also http://watchingtheworldwakeup.blogspot.com/. It is an interesting blog. He lives in Salt Lake, a place I spent an entire winter into Spring. I love that place. Thank you for having the same feeling about GWGT. I try to find things that might interest others because they interest me. I like to tackle hard subjects too, because there is just too much pollyanna in the blog world. Not every plant grows everywhere and heralding them to others is not helping the plants or the garden readers’ pocketbooks. I go on that rant soon in a message to beginning gardeners and their love of garden books. As a professional, I keep things real.

      • gauchoman2002 says:

        I completely agree. It’s easy to post your best pictures of perfect flowers and perfectly manicured gardens, but the reality is always much messier. One of my most popular posts each year is my “Garden Failures of 20XX” where I get to describe in gory detail, and often in pictures as well, all of my happy total failures. As the saying goes, everyone fails, it’s what you learn from it that matters. Plus I think most people like the honesty that comes with describing your non-successes, because it’s a guarantee that there’s someone else out there that either has or is about to make the same mistake as you.

        There was much sadness when “The Watcher” announced his blogging hiatus, but good gravy was his blog awesome. My blog has about 1% of the writing and research and graphics and I spend a ton of time on it, so I can only imagine how long it took him to create each post. The last thing he probably wants is people nagging him to start up again, and I don’t think I would do that, but I would want to at least give him a hug and tell him how awesome his blog is.

        One of my biggest problems is actually exactly what you see here – If I were to spend half the time writing my own blog as I do making detailed comments on others blogs, my own blog might be better, but what fun is that? I enjoy the interaction here so much more!

  23. Beautiful poppies. I feel that different blogs serve different purposes for me. I compare it to other forms of media. Sometimes I want to watch a documentary and sometimes I want to watch a silly romantic comedy and not think for awhile. Sometimes I want to read a page turning thriller, and sometimes I want to curl up with my Rilke and ponder the meaning behind the words. Like these other forms of ‘entertainment’, I have various blogs that I follow that feed me in different ways. I appreciate your blog because it is one that I go to in order to fulfill two needs — beauty and information. Your photography is always stunning and visually stimulating. And I love the information that you provide.
    Kenley

    • Thank you Kenley. I am different from many of you in blogs that I read. It is not based on how I feel at any given moment, it is based on those coming here for the most part. I found that those that frequent here, like the same things that interest me. And boy is that varied. I easily tire of those that post on the same things over and over, but they are also the ones that pop in here less frequently (sadly, sometimes only once a year), so I see their blogs less too. No boredom because it will be new to me. That is my gripe on posting one’s garden daily or weekly. It is not changed that much and the same flowers are in it year after year. Blogs are more interesting when they add new gardens or plants. But how often can that reasonably be done? Since blogging I did make a complete change, but I am a professional with free labor, materials and plants. I could do a redesign every year almost. But others cannot. There are enough strictly garden blogs too, but there are also a lot of good garden magazines!

  24. For me it’s not the number of words but the quality. I follow some blogs that offer only a few sentences each day, yet the messages are always engaging and often profound.

    I deactivated my Facebook account, and although I have a Twitter account, I have never used it. My virtual community consists of my blogging friends, a mutual-support society where we leave comments on each other’s work. I cherish these friendships (including yours, Donna), and keeping up with my Mon.-Fri. blog and interacting daily with these friends leaves me no time for other social networks.

    I get annoyed when so many businesses will offer a promotion where you HAVE to log onto Facebook to participate, as if Facebook is the gatekeeper for all human interaction.

    • You mentioned something that bugs me too. FB and Twitter have business accounts and you have to follow to get entered into contests. I really dislike that. Just more junk to keep scrolling by. It is hard keeping up with friends in blogging though. So many have dropped through the years. They just stop coming. Some are new, then for whatever reason unfollow you even when interests are the same. I followed one and she followed me. As soon as I followed, I was dropped a day later. Makes one wonder what was the problem, but having many followers, I don’t care, but it would have been nice to have someone with similar interests that LIVES near me.

  25. Loving your post:) Sending good thoughts your way for a great recovery – take care.

  26. lucindalines says:

    Such pretty photos and such good thoughts!

  27. Patty says:

    Not a FB user or a Twitter-er. Their purpose is not something I am interested in or something I do. Perhaps it is because I am a private person, not one to show the world my life or give you a minute by minute update. Blogs I understand. It is a place for a different kind of expression that takes time and commitment. Women and the Garden I spend days, weeks, months researching because I enjoy it. The other is about my garden -take it or leave it. I enjoy similar blogs, like yours, that are thoughtful and educational. I like slowly discovering the person behind the blogs I read. It is like turning the page.

    • I did not come out from behind the curtain so to speak for a while. No picture until after the Fling, then I figured they knew me. The photo on the blog was taken in the hotel room after the Fling by my laptop app. Just kinda an impromptu thing. I am usually private, but blogging has made me more open on many things. I like learning too and find so many ways in which to learn and share.

  28. beautiful photos Donna, Frances

  29. A very thoughtful post and I also have been thinking about content within a blog post as well. I find those that are lengthy are just that – too long to read, too long with too many photos.
    In my blog I used to really go into depth with the story, info, etc. But I found what people wanted was something short and generally happy. Sometimes they like to think through the images, and many times they are looking for some basic photo ideas. It’s a tough one. Too much…too little? To find the right balance.

    • My blog, not being specifically a photo blog, allows for all kinds of post lengths. It is difficult to zero in on what one might think others feel comfortable to read.

      In a magazine, people read long articles. Even on my iPad, I read magazines like Nat Geo for instance. They have long articles and many photos. There is not a problem with that it seems. So I started thinking what is the real difference (besides the obvious professionalism and excellent photography). Is it the way an article reads as you turn the page? The sharp, interactive videos and cool links to follow? Yes, it is all this and more. On a blog, there is photos, good writing, cool links, and fun video, but it really is different in the way it is presented. There is not the interactive fun and unexpectedness of reading. Even the hardcopy magazine sent to my home has the same satisfaction of layout (without the glitz of the iPad version). It seems there must be a way to make blogs have this pull on people, even though it seems to be much more than good writing and photos.

  30. Donna, you read my mind! I have been thinking for quite a long time to do a post on something like: How much is too much of social media? I do not have twitter, nor FB, I did have one but decided to cancel. I prefer to have the control of communication. Last year I was on project photographing a garden and I wanted also do some shoots of the house, and she said OK, because I know you, but I do not want my home in FB!! I so understand that position. I like you being brave about this topic

    • Thank you Lula. It is a tough subject, because as I explained to Bella Remy above, there is some reason why one can sit with a magazine and read long articles, but not do that on a computer screen? I think it is more than the fact that one views it on a screen too. What is it where one cannot wait until the magazine arrives? Oddly, I never found a blog that has this pull, where you can’t wait to see everyday what is published. I thought I found some, but what happens is the material presented all starts looking the same. One blog I was reading, the woman wrote about her home life. She is a creative photographer too. But after not even a month of her daily posts on family, it became so repetitive and boring. So what is it with magazines? How do they keep us buying them? After all, blog reading is free.

  31. Two years ago, it was all about SEO and key words. Social media “experts” were approaching blogs and posts and tweets from a scientific perspective. “Use these words … in this way …” Interesting that now the research is showing how authenticity, passion, and writing from the heart are much more effective than trying to write to match a certain ratio. But that’s how it has always been, really. Good writers are under-appreciated, until people realize how powerful good writing can be. Excellent post, Donna!

    • I have not looked into the research on SEO and keywords. I did check them out because I get requests often. The main problem is the robo views. You get hundreds/thousands of hits via a computer just to raise stats. This ends up lowering ranking now, but did not at first. Many are happy to have thousands of views a day, but I never would in this manner. I did not research writing quality either. Interesting that you did. I would be interested on a post on this subject. I did mine from a feeling, not research.

      I too believe writers are under appreciated, in that with the web, everyone is a “writer”. Writing proliferates the web. Maybe that is the precise point!!! I just was wondering in the two comments and replies above what the cog in the wheel might be to reading posts online. I think it might just be EXPECTATION. We anticipate lesser quality. It may not be so, but having the thought beforehand (because there actually is a lot of crap on the web to sort through) might be what colors how we feel about it in general terms.

      I maybe onto something here. I never read “crap” in Nat Geo, nor would I expect to. It is the same with photos too. They seem “of lesser quality” in a post. But put them on a pro’s website and they take on more authority. It can be the exact same image, yet where it is placed gives the photo more importance and professionalism.

      Thanks Beth, for expanding my thoughts on this. Now I have something to actually research, the look at perception rather than the reality of the act of reading.

      • Long story about the research, but in my line of work that is part of job. People who’ve spent most of their careers writing realize that good prose is part art, part science, part luck, and lots of hard work. People who approach it from just one angle are missing key aspects of the mix. You have a natural knack for it, Donna.

        • Thank you for saying I have a knack, that was very nice of you. I do see that art in other people’s writing, but it always seems effortless. I guess that is what makes a good writer, doing the hard work, but not making that part obvious.

  32. catmint says:

    Dear Donna, just as i think your writing can’t possibly get more interesting, your photos more fabulous – and they do! Whatever you’re doing, and however you’re doing it, you’re doing it right. Congrats, and thank you for providing me with pleasure and interest. And a challenge, not to take the easy road leading to blandness and boredom, for my readers’ sake, but more importantly, for me.

    • We all take the easy road sometimes. I know that first hand. I have a post coming up for beginning gardeners and it makes this point. It is better to have exploration and discovery, than easy. It takes more time, yes, but is much more rewarding, not to mention getting a better result. Thank you for your kind words too, I am blushing right now. 😳 :”>

  33. As a keen but clueless gardener, hopeless techy and a relatively new blogger – I have enjoyed this post. Plenty of food for thought – personally, as my gardening knowledge expands – I am hoping that my blogs will benefit. I don’t see how it can work the other way!
    I find I enjoy reading different style of blogs but they need to capture my attention and if it interests me, it doesn’t matter how many words or pictures they have. Whether that will change in time – who knows?
    I feel struggle because I lack confidence in my writing ability – as my school report card used to read (many years ago!) – needs to apply herself more!!
    I love your pictures – they said enough even if there was no words 🙂

    • I come from an opposite perspective. As a professional designer in the field of landscaping and architecture, and a Master Gardener also, my knowledge is pretty much at its limit for how to approach gardens. What I find, ironically, is that clients that are very long time gardeners, and have been in gardening clubs, do not always know as much as they think. Two very experienced gardening clients told me they did not see what was missing in ‘their design work’ until I came in and redesigned the gardens. I am not a gardening coach like seems to be the new thing out there, but actually do the design work, not the hand holding. Installers come in and do the installation.

      Once it was installed, they understood the important design principles of massing and scale – two things often overlooked and misunderstood for importance. Just because people garden does not always mean they ‘get it right’ so to speak. I am doing a post on this subject coming up and I will explain more on this odd thing of reading all about something and not being able to understand until they SEE it. It like a light bulb goes off. These two clients have huge properties and there was plenty of space yet to make gardens. They both did so, and when they were done, were so proud of themselves for what they accomplished. It only took understanding what was missing.

      Funny your comment on “needs to apply herself”, that is also advice I offer, but from a different perspective. It is in the first of my posts on gardening advice for beginners. Stay tuned.

  34. Sue says:

    Great food for thought, as usual, Donna. As I read other blogs I learn more about what I enjoy and try to use what I’ve learned to improve my own blog. Time is definitely a factor and that’s why I prefer to post better content (hopefully) but less frequently Lately I’ve been happy with the traffic and feedback I get. Most of my blog reading is reciprocal, not because I don’t find certain blogs interesting but I just don’t have the time. At some point I would like to improve my photography skills especially when I visit blogs such as yours where the photos are so exquisite.

    I dabble in many of the social media venues but only use Facebook on a daily basis as a way to keep up with friends and family. I’ve kept my friend list tight and enjoy the exchanges although I do consider it very different than blogging. Once I think I did post a picture of a donut but in my defense it was National Donut Day 🙂

    • Time is huge. Since I work in this field and now that the weather makes people think landscape design, I go crazy in the springtime with lack of daylight hours. I am reciprocal too, but it is always because I think it is the right thing to be. You would be shocked at how many don’t give a hoot about those that visit their blogs and don’t reciprocate. It is same people too that I have seen counsel others into doing it when advising on how to get more blog traffic. Hypocrites. There I said it, and I feel fine. I know this because it was blogs I used to frequent. Also, there are those that visit like once a year and once you visit, they never show up for another year. Those I am not interested in. Sorry for the rant, but I really am always shocked by people just looking to snag readers and nothing more. You can tell by the comments left.

      I did not know of National Donut Day. I bet that is a big holiday for police officers! 😀

  35. So many blogs and just not enough time to read them all…but you will rarely find my posts less than 1000 words. I don’t count words but notice the word count when I am done. I write until I am finished making the point. If I find myself getting bored with a topic or a format, I will change it. I find I don’t have enough time to post more than once a week as it takes a long time for me to put together a post. I do admire those who can post more than once a week with 500 words at least and give quality. Good writing and putting together a post with photos takes hours of prep and writing. It truly is a commitment as if we are writing a chapter a post. Interesting as always Donna!

    • You are in a class by yourself Donna, tackling many different types of writing, from your well researched posts to your beautiful poetry, often combining them in one post. You also are very good and loyal at reading posts. That does take much time and it is really appreciated that you always comment. I don’t believe I have missed your wonderful posts, except maybe one when I was out of the country.

      500 – 600 words is a small town newspaper’s feature article and I believe a good base from which to gauge. 1000 words to 1200 words is what larger metro papers average. So you might be in the Times range. I can post a 1000 word post more than once a week, but found that editing it down to 500 words makes people read it rather than scroll to the end and hit the Like button, or at least I think it does with my work. Your writing is much different because you have done it professionally. That always makes a big difference. It is like Beth said, those that make careers of it approach it from more angles.

      What my main point in the post was getting at is as you write, not shrinking it down. It is the longer articles that are filled with information and well written, which seems to be one aspect of writing starting to be seen less and less. I mentioned in a comment that I am maybe nostalgic for more good, long form writing, but that means longer articles that really have the “power of the pen” behind them. But, the question becomes, what are people willing to read on a blog?

      • First thank you Donna as you are too kind. I agree that it is a dilemma as to what people will read if the post is more than 500 words. I try to keep the actual post to 1000-1200 words because I think readers will scroll down to the end. I decided that I would keep my posts to this size as it fits for me. I hope readers will appreciate my writing and stop by..then maybe stay. I am finding more readers going through the archives which I love.

        I think as a consequence of my longer posts, my readership is not huge, but I am OK with that. The people who come by are loyal readers who leave comments of appreciation and some do not. I have thought about shortening my posts and posting more often, but as yet I have not been able to make that fit for me.

        Whether your posts are 500 or 1000 words, Donna, they are well researched, beautifully illustrated and very thought provoking…as this post was.

  36. Reed says:

    Without naming names, but several of the mega-information sites create their content based upon trends in search engine queries. For example, say google noticed an increasing trend in searches for “bees and caffeine”, these media companies purchase this data immediately and then have freelance writers write 150-200 word ‘articles’ on this topic and post them to drive traffic to their sites to increase advertising revenue. The kicker is that the people who write these brief articles often steal their info from other sites on the web. Since they only get paid a few dollars for each piece they don’t do their own research and they don’t know if their posts are accurate or even correct. These media sites are not there to educate but to make money.

    I write to educate and entertain clients and friends who care, and honestly, who can cover a topic in 200 words. My local paper wants my articles at 400-500 words which is often tight, but it makes me be efficient in my writing which is not always the case on my blog.

    I love your posts as the pictures often tell more than words can, but your words also provide great value and food for thought.

    • Thank you for adding this information. I suspected as much and have a feeling to who you might be referring. I found shortening my post to <500 words is really hard. I rewrite and rewrite, but what I found out is that I end up with better copy. I could never do your job, but do find it rewarding when I get down to 500 words. Thank you too for your kind words. I love taking photos but another thing happened after I started looking at word count, I actually wrote the articles first rather than taking photos and coming up with the story. Weird thing too, because in advertising, I would do the art and the copywriter would write copy after I made a headline and my art was complete. It was not backwards because in fashion illustrating, you already know the product. In standard advertising, a story board is done based on the general ad campaign. I did a few of those too many moons ago.

  37. Hello dear friend, interesting topic. I checked the date against the email you sent me…. coincidence? I think of facebook as a different tool to the blog. As Karin said in one of the above comments, I reach a different audience with what I post on facebook and have comments from folks who feel as though they can’t post a comment on a blog. As for word count, I have no idea what mine are, though some are longer than others.
    I always feel the need to better my writing after reading your posts…. I want you (and all my readers) to feel that reading my posts have been time well spent.

    • I was away at a talk on bees by a nationally known organic bee keeper and bee expert. Wow, I come back to a slew of comments. I wrote this post over a month before it was posted, so the timing was a bit coincidental, but I did hope you got to see it, not for your use of FB, but the multitudes that have made a switch. I have been reading where there are writers, many professionals, getting concerned over how FB and twitter are changing the way people write and relate. I too feel this that many are not as interested in the time it takes to read blogs anymore, so mini posts are replacing regularly sized posts on FB. That often it is just the photos that interest people, so FB works out fine for most. It is why I reduced the length of posts and made a series out of a few. I found this new shortened length means posts are read to the end more often. FB I rarely visit, so I would miss most posted there. But what I find reading works of the pros is that the longer stories really hold my interest, like short stories in books do. Pretty much it is just observations, not any particular knowledge on my part since a writer I am not! Also, no real correlation either, but many defecting to FB from blogs seems to be the norm for a while, at least until that starts boring people too.

  38. Diana Studer says:

    just catching up. Hope you are recovered, recovering well? My FB is just to keep up with family. I spend a little more time on Google Plus than on blogs – but I lean towards mid-length posts. Stretching my mind on G+!

    • Yes, thank you. Came through my surgery fine and no problems. I should be on Google+ for my photography, but lack of time. If I was a more serious photographer, then I would be there often. Thanks for dropping in too.

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