Spring is here, and everyone is excited, most of all, gardeners. Spring comes with increased daylight and allows farmers to indulge in their gardening activities. Gardening is an engaging enterprise, and some gardeners love to share their experiences with others. Blogging is one way to do that.
Apart from providing you with the means of sharing your experiences with others, blogging also connects you with other gardeners. You get to compare experiences and might even get useful advice on how to improve on the techniques you currently employ. There is no telling the extent of the reach of your blog, so it is possible to connect with people even outside of your immediate environment. Blogging is also a means to document your experiences, first, for yourself, and then for posterity. The thoughts and experiences you write down on your blog will still exist twenty or thirty years from now. If you need to refer to them in the future, blogging makes that possible. Also, even when you are no longer around, or if perchance, you no longer actively engage in gardening, your written thoughts and suggestions can be useful to someone else.
Finally, blogging about gardening can be a satisfying experience on its own. In this regard, it is akin to journaling. There is an intrinsic satisfaction that comes from seeing your experiences in print. It can also be a means for you to process your thoughts and actions. This is especially as gardening can be a therapeutic process for some folks. Thus, blogging about it is then an extension of the process for them.
However, a lot of gardeners still hesitate to start a gardening blog. The reluctance stems from the fact that it takes a lot more than mere interest to begin and sustain a blog. Blogging is distinct from gardening, and success in the latter will not necessarily translate to success in the former. This makes it imperative for any intending gardening blogger to acquire the requisite knowledge about blogging before venturing into it. The intricacies involved in gardening blogging include the choice of a blog site and name, how to curate and post engaging content, and how to widen the reach of content put out. While blogging about gardening might be a private experience, the blogger, no doubt, intends to reach a broad audience. The subject matter may be different; however, apart from the slight changes in the nuances of the garden blog’s content, it is not different from mainstream blogging. Hence, all of the skills and practices involved in seeking and sustaining the interest of a mainstream audience ought to be applied.
Below, you will find six carefully selected modern tips on how to start and maintain a gardening blog:
- Be passionate/Find your voice
The key to being successful in any enterprise is passion. Passion will be the fuel that will keep you going even when you get frustrated or disappointed at the slow pace of things. Before you start your blog, be sure you are passionate about both gardening and blogging. Then further decide on what aspect of gardening most catches your fancy and settle for that. Blog about the experiences that excite you. It might be as simple as harvesting tomatoes or planting pumpkin; your passion need not be popular or mainstream. Do not settle for any topic because you feel it is the rave of the moment if you are not passionate about it.
The beautiful thing about passion is that it is magnetic. If you are passionate about what you blog about, it will show, and will attract the right audience to you. At first, it may not seem like it, but if you consistently put out content in the area you are passionate about, you will eventually connect with your appropriate audience.
You also have to find your voice. Have you ever read anything and can tell immediately whose content it was? That is the power of having a unique voice. Blogging is a lot like having a conversation with a friend or a group of friends. You ought to sound real; there is no need having a different persona online and offline. When you are real, you will not struggle to stay in character whenever you want to make a blog post. Do not make the mistake of projecting what you are not. Your audience should get to see you for who you are, and then decide what to make of that image you project.
When you open a gardening blog, it should be about chronicling your experiences. For that to happen, you need to be transparent. You have to talk about both your successes and your failures. Your audience should see that you make mistakes and that you are not afraid to discuss your mistakes. It will depict you as a sincere person, and help them connect with you on a deeper level.
In finding your voice, you need to be consistent. Your followers should know what to expect from you. It is always a terrible idea to ambush your audience. You further need to be accurate and literate. It will be a shame if typos detract from the beauty of what you’ve written simply because you could not take the time to proofread your content. When spelling plant names, a quick stroll to Google can save you from making a gaffe. Do not include content from unverified sources and make sure you give proper references whenever you use a source. Of course, you should not handle your blog as though you are writing a thesis. Your language should be simple but clear. Imagine your average reader and write your content in the language that they can relate with. No one is infallible, so slight mistakes may crop up. However, there is a difference between a one-time error and a consistent misuse of tenses. Whenever a mistake happens, make sure that it is the former that is most likely the case.
- Decide on a niche
There are a lot of things to discuss on the subject of gardening. However, it is impossible (and would be counterintuitive) to want to dabble into them all. You have to decide on an area or areas that you want to dedicate your time and energy to. Else, you will be wasting your time and resources on areas that do not matter to your audience.
It may happen that you do not have a lot of information on your area of interest. That does not present a considerable challenge. You can combat this lack of knowledge by carrying out some research. In doing your research, have some questions in mind. You should consider if bloggers already overflood that particular niche. Then you also have to examine if the area is broad enough to provide you with continuous content. Finally, you need to be passionate about that area.
In deciding on a particular niche, here are some areas to consider:
- Seed planting
A lot of farmers do not know the first thing about seeds and how to take care of them. If you are knowledgeable in this area, your blog will have subscribers. Also, it will be a great conversation starter for you and your audience because it will give you room to compare notes and proffer solutions.
- Gardening tools
You can make reviewing farm tools your specialty. There will always be something to discuss about tools used in gardening. You can also decide to make your blog a video blog (vlog) and demonstrate how specific tools are used.
Everybody loves flowers. If picking and arranging flowers are your thing, by all means, make your blog about them. Making your flowers the focus of your blog will make sure that you give them the necessary attention they need to bloom. You can make weekly posts about the flowers in your garden, the uniqueness of each, and the different arrangements you make with them. You can rest assured that there will be flower enthusiasts who will not wait to jump on your train.
- Find a unique blog name/get the essentials
Your blog name is a huge part of your identity, so you have to be careful about what to select. In fact, in a vast majority of cases, people may be able to figure out what you do only through your blog name. Your blog name has to be simple and significant. It should be catchy and easy to remember. Also, it should relate to gardening, or specifically, the particular niche that your gardening blog is about.
Do not just settle for anything. Take a look at the popular gardening blogs and how their blog names enhance their brand identity. So, take your time and make sure that any name you select properly reflects what you care about.
The next step after choosing a blog name is setting up your blog address. For beginners, WordPress might be the most convenient for you. It is easy to set up, and further navigations are not tricky. You can watch a couple of videos on the subject to get a fair idea of what is required of you. If you can spare some cash, you could have a specialist walk you through the rudiments of hosting your blog site. However, it is mostly a walk in the park, so you can confidently take care of it without supervision.
You have to get the tools of the trade. Blogging, as earlier mentioned, is much more than just putting out content. There are several stages involved in blogging. The first stage, ideally, is putting up your post. You can decide to make it daily or weekly, depending on the schedule you set up. Then you will have to promote your content using social media and such other platforms. You will have to take pictures or make videos to accompany what you write. This means that you will first need an internet-enabled device that is reliable. It could be a smartphone or a computer. Then you will also need to have a device to take pictures with. After taking the pictures, you will have to edit before you upload them. If what you opt for is a video blog (vlog), then you might have to purchase a digital camera.
Of course, you may not need to have all of these before you begin. A blog can be started from scratch, and as you evolve, you can add more features. However, you have to know what you need and work towards getting them.
- Create engaging content
Blogging is all about creating meaningful content. Great bloggers understand this and are thus always on the lookout for ways to churn out unique content to hold the interest of their audience. The emphasis while creating your content should be on quality and not volume. You should pay more attention to making posts that are worth your while, as opposed to striving to make daily posts. It might even be possible that the topic you choose to dabble into has been discussed previously by some other blogger. What you ought to do in such an instance is to give a unique spin to your version. Make that subject uniquely yours, discussing it in a new light. Again, when you are authentic with the content that you put out, there will be people drawn to it precisely because of the way you handled the subject.
Also, make sure there is a central theme for each post. Your audience should discover and learn something new every time they visit your blog. For this to happen, you need to acquire some knowledge about the subject you want to write about. Dig deep into the subject so that your posts do not come off as pedestrian. Bear in mind that your audience will be looking for posts relevant to them. You need to be sensitive to know when to make certain posts. If an issue is hot and is pertinent to your chosen niche, you ought to write about it, keeping your audience updated. If the period passes, there will be no longer any need for information on that subject. Thus any post you make will be useless. Pay attention to the seasons and structure your post around them. Farmers are most active during the growing year, which is between March and October; thus, your blog should be fully functional within this period. Work with the farmers through the planting, weeding, fertilizing down to the harvesting of the crops.
One way you can be continuously relevant year-round is by setting up, and sticking to, a calendar. A content calendar will help you become accountable and will make sure no area is lagging. The first step in creating a content calendar is first writing down all the topics you want to blog on within a specified period. You need to pay particular attention to make sure no area receives too much attention, and also that no topic falls through the cracks. Be flexible in your plans so that if any hot topic comes up, you can easily fit them in somewhere on the calendar. The calendar is supposed to just act as a guide, so, of course, it is possible to discard some topics and add some new ones along the way. The key factor to always consider is the receptiveness of your audience. Always feel the pulse of your audience through their reactions, and then make adjustments to your calendar. You must understand that no matter how interesting you think a topic is, if your audience, for whatever reason, does not seem to connect with it, you have to discard it and move on.
Always add pictures to your posts. This is one trick employed by most successful bloggers. Nothing grabs the attention of a potential subscriber like a crisp picture. Thus, for every post you make, always accompany such with a photo. As much as possible, avoid making use of stock photos. Make sure that the pictures you make use of are yours. It will help build trust. When you add pictures that aren’t yours to your posts, there is no pictorial evidence of what you are posting. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all. A picture can tell a story better than words. Furthermore, there may be copyright issues associated with using stock photos. Those are best avoided. Additionally, make sure the pictures you make use of are attractive. Having no pictures at all is better than having tacky ones. Always make use of an excellent device to take your photos, paying attention to the angle best suited for your pictures. Also, always edit. A few touch ups can always enhance a picture. If you do not know how to edit photos, you could learn. You do not need the skills of a graphic designer to take and edit decent pictures. You just need to learn how to use the basic tools to enhance your picture’s quality.
Pay attention to your headline. Your headline will create the first impression for any visitor and will be vital in deciding if the person eventually reads the post to the end or not. Just like with the pictures, your headline should be captivating. It should draw the visitor in, creating a desire to read the post to its end. No matter how great the post is, if a terrible headline precedes it, no one will bother with reading it. Try out several headlines before settling for one. In most cases, the first headline that comes to mind might not be the one most suited for the piece you are trying to write. Do not be afraid to experiment. Do not be scared to be bold and audacious with your headlines. If your content is great, show it off with your headline.
Finally, always stay true to your niche. Your audience will come to you strictly on that basis. Do not give in to the temptation of blogging about a particular area (say arrangement of flowers) when it has little to do with your niche (e.g., if your blog is actually about vegetables.) The duty to make your blog fun and entertaining are strictly yours. No area is more attractive than the other. The amount of work that you put in will make all of the difference.
- Learn how to keep your audience engaged
Ultimately, every blogger has the intention of getting their posts in front of as many people as possible. Thus, when you start your blog, you will want to get people to read it. Whether this is because of the satisfaction it gives you to see so many people engaging with your content, or because you want a lot of people through the content that you put out, the reason is irrelevant as long as the goal is achieved. However, the average person will not get to see your content without being prodded to. There are a lot of blogs on the internet, so the chances of a person stumbling into your blog are very slim. So, how can you widen the reach of your blog?
Firstly, you can make use of word-of-mouth strategy. This is the most effective means of advertising because it shows a vested interest on the part of the advertiser. Here, a person personally communicates to others about your blog, getting them to visit. You can enlist the help of family and friends to do this. You can have them speak to their friends about your blog. Also, you can make flyers and distribute them around your neighborhood. If you are part of any gardening circle, you can also reach out to them, asking them to put in a good word for you.
Furthermore, you can make use of social media. You should promote your blog on any of the platforms that you are signed on to. When you put up new posts on your blog, you can share the post on your wall and get your friends to comment and share too. You have to make sure that the platform you make use of has your target audience. If your gardening blog is a video blog (vlog), then Instagram may be more suited to promote it. However, if you make written posts, you can consider making use of either Facebook or Twitter to promote your blog. As your blog grows, you can consider opening a page for it on Facebook or Instagram.
Another way to increase traffic to your blog is through writing newsletters and getting subscribers. To be effective, you can collect email addresses of people you feel will be interested in your blog and then proceed to send them frequent newsletters. These weekly or monthly emails should carry the links to your blog posts. Through this means, you can ensure that your visitors make return visits. You can also collate the email addresses of those who visit for the first time and add them to your mailing list. Your newsletter will serve as a reminder to them. You can also ask their opinion about your blog and its content using the newsletters. Maintaining frequent correspondence with your audience is a sure way to keep their interest in your gardening blog alive.
Create and maintain a friendly relationship with other gardening bloggers. This is an effective means to build followership and increase traffic. This is because associating with established gardening bloggers will help you get introduced to the scenery. It may also serve as a form of validation for you and your blog. You could begin by visiting their sites regularly and dropping comments. Commenting is the fastest way to gain the attention of any blogger. If you are consistent with it, rest assured, the blogger will eventually reach out to you, or if you reach out to them for help, they will be inclined to do so. Also, you can make posts referencing them. When you do so, let them know. Alternatively, you could pitch them the idea of writing a guest post for them. Apart from helping get your foot in the door, this is also an excellent means to boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Being linked with an established blog goes to show that you are not a spammer. When you do so a few times, your rankings will increase.
Conclusively, to keep your audience engaged, you need to evolve continually. Cultivate an adventurous spirit and make sure you are always open to new ideas. Your audience will begin to lose interest when your content gets stale. Consistently seek out current topics and blog about them. Do not be afraid to go out of your way to search for content. You may have to travel distances just to see a new crop bloom so you can write about it. You may even have to spend some money to acquire some seeds so you can plant them and then blog about them also. The point is that you must be willing to do whatever it takes to keep your blog alive. If you are going to run a successful gardening blog, you must keep your adventurous spirit alive. Of course, while being adventurous includes taking risks, they should be within reason. There is no need for you to deliberately court controversy, although that may happen. Some of your followers will disagree with you, and that is understandable. Always tread the path of caution when it comes to taking risks. Do not mess with bees just because you want to blog about cross-pollination.
- Be mindful about cybersecurity
Cybercrime is a sad reality of the world we live in today. Regrettably, even gardening bloggers are not exempt from cyber attacks. As long as you have an online presence, you are susceptible to being attacked. The possibility of this grows as your online presence increases; thus, you have to take adequate measures to forestall this from happening. As soon as you have decided on a blogging platform to use, consult an expert about the security measure you could put in place. A starter pack should include how to take care of viruses and hackers. Several plugins can help eliminate immediate threats of danger. As your blog grows and you can afford to, there are other options to consider protecting your blog.
In all, do not forget that this ought to be a fun experience. Do not let the little things detract from the fun you are supposed to be having with your blog. As stated earlier, gardening is a pleasurable experience and can exist independently of blogging; thus, you do not necessarily have to blog about gardening. If you are going to, then it should enhance the pleasure you already feel about gardening. Blogging should fit into your lifestyle, and not the other way around. You should schedule writing posts around the free periods that you have; else, it will begin to seem like a chore. Make sure you are always on top of your game. It is okay to take a break from time to time.
Do not let blogging become addictive. When it does, it can herald several health consequences, just like any other addiction. If you discover that you are constantly obsessing about your analytics and the number of visitors you have within a given period, it is an indication that something is wrong. Be your constant cheerleader and motivator. Desist from making a comparison with other blogs because this will only cause you to spiral into depression. Do not let blogging stop you from living your best life and maintaining the non-virtual relationships you have. More importantly, your gardening should not suffer because of your blogging.
There will be challenges along the way, but do not let them get under your skin. Take them in stride and tackle the ones you can. Do not allow the pursuit of success in your blogging sap all of the energy you could devote to other activities. Of course, there is something to be said about tenacity and grit. Blogging can be a tasking endeavor. However, it is you alone who knows where to draw the line. Until then, keep pushing!
Cheryl Hearts is a writer and journalist from Boston, Massachusetts. Her passion for writing started at an early age and evolved during the high school years. She enjoyed creating her own stories, so she decided to make writing her career. After earning a degree in Journalism, Cheryl started running her own blog CherylHearts.com where she’s covering topics of great interest to society.