Have You Met Your Blogging Goals?

Cercyonis-pegala-1

Goals

When I started blogging, I set a time frame, not in years, but in numbers. It seemed sensible at the time so my life didn’t become all about blogging. I enjoy much more than just gardening at home. So what seemed reasonable?

Round Numbers

Cisseps fulvicollis

I wanted to reach 30,000 views per month, and GWGT passed that two months in a row recently. Quickly… I saw how fast those numbers started adding up. I’d be gone from blogging before I ran out of ideas, based on numbers. I also saw how numbers as goals were useless to obtain. What is one million views anyway? Numerous views reach a wide audience, but there is no gratification in numbers.

Common Wood-nymph

Next goal…

Learn more about the world around me,

identifying what I find in meadows and fields. This led to being a better photographer. To identify an insect, you must really see it from every direction, and know the plants on which it is feeding. Learning all the time…that is gratifying. Obviously, the garden was not the only place to find my quarry.

My subjects expanded.

I wanted to see colorful migrating birds, photograph raptors in flight, see whales breaching in the Pacific, and photograph underwater sea life. See exciting places across the oceans. If I did not blog, I never would have met new friends sharing my passion and traveled to far off places.

Painted-lady

Blogging is really about the โ€œmagicโ€ or lack there of.

Just because you reach more viewers does not mean the experience of blogging is better. It’s not. It is what and where you are writing about, and how much of you gets invested into the words you pen. Certain subjects excite me where I want to share. Others, not so much.

Black-tipped Orange Beetle

I would not stop blogging because I canโ€™t think of interesting things to write or cool things to photograph, I would stop just because the rabbit left the hat. The rabbit is getting a tad bit antsy to bolt lately.

Then it comes.

A few days ago, an email arrived that I never thought I’d receive. GWGT got a request of sponsorship for Scotts Nature Care, Miracle-Gro and Scotts Nature Scapes Mulch, even being invited to take a fun trip to seal the deal. They must have seen me show their Nature Care products on my blog, say I use Miracle-Gro and their soil products in containers? Pretty impressive I thought to have found me.

Bee-on-Knapweed

As tempting as it was to answer the email in the positive, I didnโ€™t. It might be a way the magic gets sucked out of blogging. Since the fun has been teeter-tottering on the edge already, I declined the offer and opportunity.

Rhagonycha fulva

Not throwing in the towel just yet on blogging, I still have lots to say. Just needing motivation say it. Posts are in the hopper for traveling. Need to refuel the mojo, top off the tank of inspiration!

Yellow-collared-Scape-MothNext post, the white rabbit escaped the hat. See what he’s up to.

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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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42 Responses to Have You Met Your Blogging Goals?

  1. David says:

    Great photos. I especially like the third with multiple elements and all in focus.

  2. interesting post, Donna.
    BTW is that the DREADED LILY BEETLE in photo 5?

    • No the Red Lily Beetle is Lilioceris lilii and the one shown is Black-tipped Orange Beetle – rhagonycha-fulva which is found on golden rod. The Lily Beetle is very prevalent in our area really destroying lilies. It has not hit mine yet thankfully. Thanks for the link too. I could not get to your site earlier today.

  3. Wonderful photographs.

  4. johnvic8 says:

    Donna, I would like to ask you to continue your blog. I am relatively new to the blogosphere…about a year and a half…and your blog has been very helpful to me in developing my efforts. I share your thoughts that numbers don’t really matter (although I must confess I like them at times). I just want to share what’s going on in my garden, in my community, and, alas, in my head.

    • Thank you, John. I am tossed a bit, but am going to keep blogging. Some reason the gardens I show are starting to get the trolls that say some really stupid stuff. I stopped posting gardens for a while for that reason. Then I thought to fight back – delete and post about it to see if they quit. If I lose a few readers and subscribers I really don’t care. I feel I should protect those garden owners from those particular remarks.

  5. You have amazing readership Donna! I don’t and contemplated throwing in the towel even without mentioning it. My numbers went up shortly thereafter, and I ran into people that told me they enjoyed my blog even though they had never commented. It recharged me a bit. I do keep it all in perspective however. Life always comes before blogging, and I love it when they interact.

    • Thank you Julie. I did not do anything special to get the readership, and was very lax in adding relevant tags to posts for many years. I was a bit naive in the beginning thinking a garden blog could do as well as the design blogs (30,000 views a month was what some reported on their sidebar tally as getting) so I thought that should apply to garden blogs. For the first five years that was a pipe-dream. Then this year it happened. Twice in May and June. But by then, I realized it does not mean much except to attract sponsorship. In the beginning I would have allowed sponsorship, but being a littler blog savvy now, I knew they would control what I photographed and wrote. Blogging is just a hobby, so all that stuff did not matter anymore. Like you, I get people that never commented either that have been reading for years. They make my day when they tell me.

  6. arlene says:

    Keep blogging, I love reading your posts. And thank you for sharing these lovely photos.

  7. Cathy says:

    Hi Donna, I’m another longtime fan. I faithfully read each post even though I don’t always comment. I also missed you terribly when you took a break — in fact, that break was at the same time that I was also going through a difficult time medically and I had to satisfy myself by going back and re-reading older posts.

    I set goals to blog that were based not on page views or readership but rather on my wish to document my garden and my activities with nature. I also wanted to use my blog to promote volunteerism, to teach about gardening and nature, and also to share places we have visited — mostly wonderful gardens. I hoped not so much that I would have a thousand page views a month but that I would have grandchildren who would be wowed by their grandmother. I guess you could say I am writing for my future audience, not just the current one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The other day you asked “When will you stop blogging?” I have seen you hint at the questions you raised in that post and sensed your frustration and uncertainty about blogging over the past year or so. I selfishly hope that you continue blogging. You always provide thought-provoking articles and your photos are totally amazing and of a quality that is hard to find elsewhere in the blogosphere. But blogging has to meet your needs, not mine. I sense that blogging no longer brings you joy and for that I am sad, because your blog brings joy to so many, among them me and my husband.

    I admit that this past year and a half, I have not met my blogging goals but that has not dampened my enthusiasm for blogging. I’ve been frustrated by hardware issues (I had to get a new computer and did not do well with the conversion to Windows 8) and serious medical problems that severely curtailed my activities. We moved three thousand miles away from my favorite source of blogging material — our wonderful Massachusetts garden. When I haven’t posted, it’s not because I haven’t blogged. I have an embarrassing number of posts waiting to be completed and published… my current goal, which I am chipping away at. And I have continued to participate in the activities that I enjoy blogging about – so I have hundreds of photos documenting our work with vintage roses and our new container garden.

    I suspect that you are correct in that as technology changes, blogging as a form of communication and memorialization of thoughts and photographs will also change. I can’t imagine that occurring, but then, ten years ago, I couldn’t imagine blogging; my garden journal was a scrapbook. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I guess what I wish is that regardless of what you do, whether you blog, or share your photos and writings in another medium, or chose to do something totally different, that you wake up each morning happy to embrace the day and set about your work, translating the wonders of nature around you to photos and words, as you do so well, in a way that is more fun than work.

    Wishing you the best, Cathy Rose

    • You were smart, Cathy, to have sensible and worthwhile goals from the beginning. I was a long time reader of design blogs and they pull in the viewers. I gauged how I approached blogging by their standards. It did not take long to realize garden blogs were NOT design blogs. I think I got in the habit of posting so often because many of them post daily, with long detailed posts with loads of images and info. I was not a reader of garden blogs although landscape design is part of my architecture business. I found out quickly what many gardeners thought of designers too. Not particularly well. So I just went with gardening stuff after learning the audience. I talk design, just not the way an architect does.

      I am getting a bit frustrated and it is why I spun off the wildlife to Nature and Wildlife Pics. It was going to be my “fun” blog if I could not work out the trolling issue on GWGT. I am getting some garden bloggers making snarky comments on featured private gardens. That is uncalled for and inconsiderate. I asked in the one post how they would feel if others did that to their gardens? They still are keeping up the inconsiderate remarks.You would know these bloggers too, that is the frustrating part. They don’t even post anonymously.

      I believe with the net neutrality argument and the cable companies getting more control on what we receive and have to pay for, blogging will suffer. Who will pay for it? We all would have to have Scotts sponsor us.

      I too have participated in things I like about blogging, like the Garden Bloggers’ Fling. It is fun meeting these bloggers each year in a new place. It is why I started the blog as a garden blog, rather than a design blog. With my architecture background, I easily could have talked design.

      As for illness, I understand what you went through. I battle it daily and hope my condition does not worsen. Doctors are helping and I am on medication. But one never knows, so I have been taking it easy in the last year and just enjoying life. I rarely get bothered by insignificant stuff like blogging, that is why I was thinking to hang it up rather than be bothered by a few trolls. Thanks for your comment Cathy. Also thanks for being a loyal reader.

  8. Cathy (above) really summed it up in her comment. I feel pretty much the exact way as she does about blogging, and your contributions in photography and gardening, and all other subjects you choose to write about. My original goal, as was hers, was for the future. Kind of like a garden diary for my grandchildren. I find a lot of “junk” on social media and in emails, and I wanted to do something meaningful for me and my grandkids for historical purposes. It was never about the numbers. At first, I did check to see how many people were reading other garden bloggers, but then I realized it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy what you are doing and your readers enjoy it as well. As far as the negative comments, I would just delete them. But I can see how personally they can be very frustrating.
    And I have no set schedule when I write or post the blog. At first I was doing it weekly, and now I’ve become more lax and maybe post one every 2 weeks or so. Maybe your blogging schedule has just become too rigid for you and now you see it as a chore or “job” and you’re not getting the personal satisfaction out of it anymore. I hope you continue to write because you have so much to offer everyone. But I certainly understand if medical issues or family were involved in your decision to give it up as well.

    • Thank you, Sue. Having the record of your garden and travels is a wonderful log and legacy for your grand kids now and in the future when they have their own kids. I commend you for doing that.

      I was so amazed at the success of the design blogs when I was reading them. The highly popular ones were getting 30,000 per day in two cases that I knew. Others getting that a month. I was ambitious, but not that hopeful. It is a whole other ball game over in that arena. The amount of comments was astounding too. Why I think blogging viewership and participation is waning is first because of FB, but second because it has affected the design blogs too. I used to get some of them reading here but no more. In the early days, they were my more frequent visitors.

      It is not the frequent posting on GWGT that is the problem, it is partially the apathy of other bloggers. That apathy is working its way into my desire to visit and read blogs too. Some bloggers make it like work telling us they will get to us eventually where we must wait and wait, and that is telling. To me that is not what blogging is about. If one has to work that hard and visit hundreds of blogs to make meme participants happy first, then leave your regular readers as the ones to catch up with, well that again says it all. Blogging has become a real chore. I stopped with memes long ago.

      I never wanted to lose the fun in blogging. It has it ups and downs and that itself is telling me something. There is NO reason to care that much. I never did before and now slight pings of disillusionment is creeping in. I have to nip that in the bud.

  9. Hi Donna,
    I look at the beauty of your photos as your way of getting the reader to focus on your messages. You clearly have an agenda and this is an excellent way to promote them. When your agenda was getting the reader to focus more on the big design issues, I took notice and my photography reflects some of that change. And when your agenda was the environmental issues that are caused by companies such as Scotts, it too had an effect on my landscaping practices. Your agenda may change but I believe the important thing is to focus on those main purposes.

    It is the same way regarding people moving into retirement. I tell them that before they retire, they should have a reason for wanting to put their pants on in the morning. And their purpose may change but the important thing is to have at least one good goal that motivates and enthuses them.

    Please be encouraged in what you do,
    Tom

    • Thank you. Exactly. I always want some kind of message in my posts. I have many interests and concerns, so being a voice in those areas is something to discuss. Your advice to retirees is very good. Having goals keeps people lively and young inside. Last year when I went on the cruise with my friend I saw that first hand. I think I was the youngest traveler but all those older folks had more get up an go than I did. They wanted to learn new things. For me, that was something to admire and hope for when I am their age.

  10. Had to stop over before I sign out for the night. Please don’t stop! Maybe take a break, but don’t stop! Your blog is one of the best garden blogs out there. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Congratulations on meeting your goals! Your blog deserves to be successful.

    • Thanks Connie. I am not sure it is successful in the regards most think. Lots of visits yes, and lots of searches. The sponsorship offers have been many too. The selling of some photographs from the blog is wonderful. I really can’t think what makes a blog successful, but one thing I noticed on the ones that are… is that the same and new readers go to them every day. The blog author goes to not one of the viewers’ blogs. Now that is success. Why? Because the blog is literally like a magazine where readers go because the new “magazine” is out and they can’t wait to see it. You are onto something calling yours a magazine.

  12. It is impressive to get that offer from Scott’s, but I think you were right to decline. I don’t really have long-term blogging goals, though I keep a list of things I’d like to write about. If you are having trouble with motivation, maybe take a vacation from blogging – or post less frequently for a while. You are attracting a big following with your content, so your readership certainly isn’t tiring of GWGT.

    • It is great you keep a list, you are very organized. Many of my posts seem to revolve around something happening at the moment or some place I visit inspires an idea. Some that become series are planned with an idea of an outline that has a beginning and end post. I don’t lack motivation for what to write or photograph, but it is sometimes more the issues I was having with some bloggers and their comments. Life is too short to get annoyed or rag on about some garden. I never thought garden bloggers could be so “galling” in remarks. I posted two of the remarks in a reply to a comment in the last post. They floored me. Homeowners would have cried I think.

  13. As you know, Donna, your post on ‘Why Blog?’ inspired me to take the plunge. I’m almost at the 2yr mark…
    The questions you pose resonate and I know you will come to a resolution true to yourself. Hope you don’t mind my tagging along and watching this play-out. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    All the best.
    peace
    LAURA

    • Thanks Laura. I do come up with some tendentious questions that make people think. I question a lot of things. I am sure I will keep blogging, but I have this gnawing feeling something is to change. I have done more garden posts of value these last few months, and while I enjoyed writing them to a point, it is not where my real passion lies. Images like in this post is what I like to photograph. But what do you say about nature that has true value? Value lies in the appreciation, reverence, wonder, or thanks – things like John Muir or John James Audubon might have felt and wrote. That is also where my passion lies. By all means, come along for the ride. I just can’t say what train I will be on.

  14. Your blog is really interesting. I understand what you mean about refusing the sponsorship. It then starts to become commercialised which is not what you wanted when you started this blog. I blog because I enjoy it, meeting people all around the world. It has made me more aware of what is going on around the world. Your photos are amazing and I know what you mean about learning more about what you are actually showcasing on your blog. I have also started to learn more about our wildlife and notice more when I am out and about taking photos. I do hope you keep up with your blog. I may not always comment but i do read it all

    • You hit an important point. Changing how you see things around you. Just noticing. So many don’t take the time to stop, listen and notice. I think you do a great job finding things others would overlook.

  15. Loretta says:

    You’ve put a lot of time, energy and patience and you’ve been rewarded with excellent readership. Bravo Donna! I so enjoy reading all the wonderful tips n’ tricks you put in each post. By the way, we’re off to Toronto in a week’s time – we go often, we used to live there and have a lot of relatives. I told my husband we had to make the trip to Wards Island as we frequented it quite a bit when we lived in TO. So we’ve scheduled some time to check it out and re-live old memories. Thanks for your post on Wards Island. I will be posting my wee urban garden post tomorrow, and I will be mentioning your blog and also another, as I’m always inspired with both urban settings.

    • I just mentioned in another comment that this year I devoted a lot more depth into my garden posts. Posts with ideas, and tips other many not know. I like sharing things I know. Great you are visiting Toronto. I have been in Canada more this year than all the years I have lived here. Sure I walk over every year, but I often don’t drive over. This year I visited so many gardens – ones I have yet to show. I do have to get to Garden Walk Buffalo this year, but after so many years of seeing the gardens, I just want to see other places. I am going to PA for a week in less than a month and will be visiting gardens there. I plan to look at ideas from them to share that may be easily used on a smaller scale. I hope I get good weather too.

  16. Goals are great for organizing and grounding your work. But it’s good to know that you can alter and completely change those goals with more experience. It sounds like you began one way, then found that some of the goals you chose where based, at least in part, on design blogs rather than nature blogs. At this point, you seem to have gone beyond all of that, but perhaps you’re coming to the next turn in the road, the next opportunity to change goals. For me, these times are sometimes fraught with frustration and confusion along with a little excitement. Will something new come to me around that next corner? I’m very good at urging others to trust that the next new thing will indeed come, but I’m lousy at following my own advice.
    Lastly, please don’t let the trolls take the joy out of what you do.
    And, by the way, I too love that third photo! So much going on, but it doesn’t feel unfocused or crowded. Just fun and interesting. LOVE the details on the wings.

    • Ha, my initial goals went out the window pretty fast. The idea that garden blogs were like design blogs was way off track. I finally made my own groove and have been happy about that ever since. It seemed to be successful, yet not typical of garden blogs in general. I like the third image because more is happening in the image. By photo standards, because the subjects are looking out of the image it would not get high praise, but it does have a few good points like an odd number of elements. I like it faults and all.

  17. I appreciate reading your blogging thoughts. Blogging is new to me (last 6 months) and still fun. I can tell from the high quality of your postings that you spend much time and thought for each. I can easily see that it might someday get old. I really enjoy reading your posts and hope you continue.

    • Thank you. I am glad you are having fun. I do like blogging and it always has new things for me to explore, but sometimes there are a few apples in the bunch that I wish would roll away. Things don’t get old, but what I do find is there is so much repetition in garden blogging. Finding new ways to say the same thing. With photography, I find it endless on things to talk about. Maybe the subjects might be the same, but the way in which they are photographed can vary greatly. Here if I talk photography, it is usually beginner stuff. On Nature and Wildlife Pics, there are more followers that are pro photographers, so I don’t talk on photography much, other than experiences. I mostly do the photography posts on GWGT.

  18. I read most of your posts including comments, Donna, and learn, learn, learn so much about writing from them and, of course, photography. I retired to garden and began blogging as a means of recording the development and changes in my new gardens, mainly for myself. I developed another goal — to impart a love of gardening to others and hopefully inspire them to make a new garden or continue with their gardening efforts. As I learned more as a master gardener, I added a teaching component to my goals. As a side goal, I write to keep my mind sharp now that I’m approaching my mid seventies. My Mom had dementia and this scares me.
    I never worry about numbers of readership or how to increase those numbers, but I’m always grateful to anyone who leaves a comment and I try to return their visit. As for the ‘trolls,’ we probably all get them, and I simply do not post their comments.
    So am I meeting my goals? I think I am, but my big, big problem, that you describe so accurately, is the amount of repetition in garden blogging, including mine. I don’t know how to overcome this. I’ve registered to attend the GWA Symposium in Pasadena in September with the goals of getting more ideas and motivation to continue.
    I understand your angst, but selfishly hope you continue to produce your meaningful, beautiful postings. You are very talented. P. x

    • Thank you, Pam. I was asked to join the GWA and even got a friend of mine to join. I never did though. As more of a photographer, the writing aspect is not my thing per say. I was a MG long before blogging and found many gardeners either don’t respect the group, or find the MG ways not conducive to their form of gardening. It is similar with the views on designers too.

      The repetition is inevitable. When I profile a plant, inevitably another blogger will make the comment they also profiled the same plant. But what is different, like you know, if how a plant performs in OUR particular conditions. Some bloggers think if the zone matches the profiled plants can grow well for them too. Just not the case. I always suggest readers ask a local nursery or MG in their area before purchasing an unfamiliar plant.

      It is wonderful you are gardening in large scale in your seventies. I admire that. The one friend I travel with is also in her seventies and has a huge garden. She is far more ambitious than me. I just wish I had her energy, and yours too with your farm animals.

  19. A.M.B. says:

    I’m glad to see that you aren’t throwing in the towel on blogging just yet! I’m not surprised that Scotts would contact you–you write a superb blog. I can see why you declined the offer. I agree that blogging might lose some of its magic if it becomes more like a job.

    • Thank you much, AMB. I know your first name, but know you don’t use it on your blog. Declining the offer was a hard choice in a way. Even though no money was discussed in the email, they were flying me to a very cool tourist destination, probably with other bloggers too. Not too much detail was given unless I contacted them at the link provided. I was going to Google the marketing guys name, but never did. I did not want to seem too interested, although I was curious. I just know from other sponsorship offers, they do want to control what is written. I would be certain Scotts would not want me showing so many weeds with insects happily nectaring either. It was their organic product division I am assuming by the products mentioned in the email, but if I had a company making both types of products, I would not want so much negative press on some of the detrimental to wildlife chemicals they produce either. I would be silenced I am sure.

  20. debsgarden says:

    You set some great goals in the beginning, and no doubt that has contributed to the success of your blog. My main goal when I first started was to find out what in the world I was doing, since I started my blog without ever having previously read a blog! Times, they have changed.

    I have always enjoyed your blog. It combines wonderful photos with thought-provoking commentary. The best!

  21. Well this is marvelous Donna that you have achieved so many goals. I do admire that and how you inspire so many of us to be better photographers and bloggers. I hope you will continue for a long time to come. It would be sad not to have your blog posts to read and inspire me.

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