Let’s do the housekeeping first: heartfelt thanks to all of you for your comments, suggestions, and feedback. I finally got Blogger to let me in to edit my site (ever since I upgraded Safari it’s been problematic to access the site editing options) so was able to change my background colour and darken the text font. As I said in a comment, it’s easy to change the font size of a blog I’m reading, as an Apple user. We use Apple/Command and + or – to increase or decrease the size of something we’re reading, and there are also buttons in some programs. Unfortunately, because I don’t use a PC, I don’t know what the equivalent command is, but in Firefox, for example, you should be able go to the menu under View: Text: and find the command to increase or decrease text size.
Xris, the affable Flatbush Gardener, also told us about improving blog usability with expandable post summaries (thanks and a tip of the ol’ gardening hat to you). He also mentioned sites that will analyse your website performance and make recommendations. I confess to being essentially a luddite about web-based things—I’m a writer, a quasi-professional photographer, and a rank amateur about web-based design etc, so a lot of this has been utterly new to me—and slightly scarey, too, being new! So once again, a tip of the hat to Xris for sharing these tidbits of info.
So, you’ve done all these things and you’re perhaps wondering about increased readership? I know some people don’t care how many readers they get, but others do. After all, we’re putting our thoughts out there for the world to see, and we want people to see them, right? For whatever reasons. I do my blog in part as a way to give back to the gardening community at large that I learn so much from, and to promote local nurseries and other topics of interest, plus to promote other bloggers that I enjoy. I call it gardening karma, and prefer to be positive and encouraging, except, of course, when growling about the weather, which we all do on occasion, but especially we who are Canadians—it’s a national pastime for us.
Networking: I can’t stress this enough. Read other blogs, but most importantly, leave comments. Comments are the blossoms in a blogger’s existence, even though we sometimes have to put up the word verification exercises to keep out spambots that want to take over the known universe. Take the time to say, “hello, I was here, loved your blog”, and you’ll find the recipient comes to visit—and leaves comments—and before long, you’re back and forth like old friends. My days wouldn’t be complete without regular visits to a number of blogs I especially love, quite frankly. There’s not always time to leave comments, of course, and sometimes, for reasons only known to the blogging sites, it’s a challenge to do so.
RSS feeds: I confess to not being able to explain this real well, but others certain can and have. Having a feed that people can subscribe to lets your fans know exactly when you’ve written a new post, and in some cases emails it to them directly. You can use any number of methods to burn a feed. I use FeedBurner . There are numerous feed readers for every webbrowser too, if you prefer to read your blogs right in the browser.
Get Involved with Blotanical. I’ve extolled the virtues of Blotanical before, and will continue to do so, because it’s an awesome resource for finding new blogs, tracking posts, getting to meet other bloggers, and simply having fun with garden blogging. Yes, you can collect points, (which sadly, aren’t redeemable for mixers or earrings or more plants), but it’s for fun, and I’ve met so many new (to me) bloggers as a result of my activities with Blotanical. Like anything, the more you put in, the more benefits you get out, so if you don’t sign in, send notes, visit other blogs, or otherwise get involved, you won’t see any increase in traffic. But I’ve been tracking my stats for almost a year now, and they have increased significantly by being involved with Blotanical.
One thing I'd really like to encourage: if you're involved in Blotanical, either as a blogger or a non-blogging member (or just visiting) take a page out of Carolyn's book and go visit Blogger # 300--or 200, or 176--in the top 300. Carolyn says it best, but I'll summarize and suggest that you do explore new-to-you blogs whenever you have time and inclination; whether via Blotanical, or via people's lists of blogs on their websites. You'll find an amazing, rich and terrific world of gardeners out there, all crazy about "this thing of ours" called gardening--and garden-blogging.
Answer Your Comments: If you love to get comments, then reply to them, and see how many more you get because you do give feedback. It amazes me that some so-called professional writers find it beneath themselves to respond to comments on their blogs. Others are far more generous and their comments in return are just as interesting as the posts. I cherish each comment I receive (except the spam ones) and do try to answer quickly, but sometimes fall behind. Some bloggers choose to answer comments by going to the commenter’s blog and posting a comment in reply, and that’s a nice idea too. And some have figured out how to answer each comment directly underneath, in italics--perhaps this is a feature of Wordpress or Typepad, because I can't find it in Blogger. Anyone?
Blogging Awards. Some think these are silly, or a waste of time, but I think they’re great fun. What better recognition than to be accoladed by fellow gardeners and bloggers? Some of the awards are memes, where you are awarded a particular accolade and then spread the joy forward—and I confess I was awarded two during a recent busy period of my life and lost the messages as well as neglecting to play them forward, for which I apologize profusely! One really neat set of awards is Colleen’s Mouse and Trowel awards, where you get to nominate, then vote for, your favourite blogs in a whole fine host of categories. So this is a shoutout to Colleen for all the work she’s put into those, and an encouragement to readers to get involved and nominate your favourites in the next couple of weeks.
The most important thing to remember about blogging? It’s all meant to be fun and a pleasure, not a set of tasks. In that way, it’s like gardening, so I’ll wrap this up with a paragraph from a gardening column I wrote early in the year:
• Most Importantly: Stress-less gardening. Repeat after me: gardening is not rocket science. We are gardening for the pleasures of it, not to stress ourselves with growing longer beans than the guy down the road, or perfect roses that are the envy of the neighbourhood, aren’t we? We garden for the exercise, not to wear ourselves out until we hurt all over, but there are things we can do to make it easier for those who are older or dealing with illness or injury. The main thing is to give ourselves permission to not get it all done perfectly.
Just substitute “blogging” for “gardening” and remember not to stress or worry—just enjoy blogging, as I enjoy reading all of you! ☺