21 November 2013

Is there still a place for garden blogs?

 I'm back, did you miss me? Probably not, if you follow along on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Pinterest...or on the somewhat stagnating Bloominganswers. (You'll notice I ignore Google Plus, because that's what I do with it: ignore it).

It's fascinating to see how many types of social media have erupted since I began writing bloomingwriter so many years ago. They've proliferated pretty much like enthusiastic perennials. You know how we say about perennials, 'First year sleep, second year creep, third year leap"? That seems to be how social media options roll, too. Some sort of stumble by the wayside, like StumbleUpon, which was the second thing I joined (and which technically is a discovery engine as opposed to a social media thing), but which I never even look at now.



When I'm not out in the gardening or writing about gardening or travelling around for work, I pretty much live at my computer, and online. Oh, I do have other passions; I spend plenty of time peering through my camera lenses at flowers and pollinators; for the month of September and early October, I was buried in the Nova Scotia provincial election, helping our local Liberal candidate to get elected. These days, in my spare time in the evening I watch Netflix and knit comfort throws to raise funds for the Valley Animal Shelter, our local no-kill cat shelter. I read prodigiously, both online and actual real books (and I'm waiting excitedly to get my hands on Kylee and Jenny's new book on Indoor Plant Decor!

 Do I spend much time reading blog posts? Not like I used to, when I read them in the evenings pretty faithfully. Why? Because often I'm following my friends via one or some or all of the social media options listed above. And probably, many of them do the same with me. I do have my favourite haunts that I read regularly because they provide excellent gardening information that I can trust, write very well, and are generally entertaining.
 It's been two months since I've written a post here, and yet again I contemplated whether or not to continue on with this blog. To be honest, it's easier to have conversations in other types of social media although they are often quicker conversations; sometimes, they're only a retweet or a 'like' or a 'heart' but it lets others know: "I saw your photo or your post, and I like it! I'm thinking about you even though I'm on deadline or juggling multiple Facebook Pages or trying to get my bulbs planted before freeze up."

It's been the same thing contemplating the future of Bloominganswers. These sites take a lot of work to make them truly interactive, and we are all busy people. (I know many of you remember the halcyon days of Blotanical, and what a lot of fun it was. That site seems to be broken and unusable at present, although apparently a new version is being beta-tested.) As we know, the Internet and social media are ever changing, kind of like our gardens, and what we loved five years ago is different from what we love now--and who KNOWS where we will be in five years time with all this? I jokingly say I wish SIRI (the artificial intelligence in my iPhone and iPad) could read my mind, so she could take dictation while I'm swimming laps in the pool. Who knows but that could be coming. :-)
I think I'll take a page from other bloggers, and simply commit to posting once or twice a month, regularly, instead of erratically. We're heading into the cold months here in North America, where most of our gardening becomes enjoying indoor plants and planning next year's garden adventures. Plus, I'm getting the second of my new knees very soon, so next year I'll be REALLY ready to work on this new garden. As for bloominganswers, I'll keep it live for now, but with the caveat of use-it-or-lose-it. I don't have to be there all the time, there are plenty of talented gardeners who lead discussions nicely. We'll see what the next few months bring.

So let's keep in touch, shall we?

29 comments:

  1. You are right about all the rapid changes, in both social media and in our world at large. For the nonce I embrace blogging and Facebook, with a nod to LinkedIn and Twitter. FB for instant updates from friends world wide and Blogger.com for longer visits with friends. In our blogs we trade garden tips, favorite books, pray as requested, learn about each others' adventures. I am glad you will still blog.

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  2. You ignore Google+? Why? That social network is what brought me to your blog.

    Anyway, I have never really followed garden blogs, but have visited them when recommended by others though social networks. I think social networks and YouTube (although one could include YouTube in the list of social networks) is the present and future of gardening blogs....for me at least.

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    1. Hi Mike...I ignore Google+ because I think Google is far too intrusive in our lives, and because I honestly can't see the point of it. I'm real glad you found my blog that way, and I do maintain an account there but I find it chaotic, confusing and not that useful for my purposes. I'm intrigued that you find YouTube useful, but then I only look at it for music, funny cat videos, and other entertaining purposes. I read very quickly but I can't 'speed watch' a how-to video, so I don't bother.

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    2. I came via an old blog comment of yours - which took me to your G+ - which brought me here. I'm still blogging and remain grateful for your kind and patient help with my blog comment form, way back when I was floundering.

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  3. I think the focus of gardening has changed a lot, from ornamentals to food. I miss the days of discussing flowers. I believe there is still room for gardening blogs, but not the chatty kind from back in our day, when we first started blogging. Now everyone is trying to make money from their blogs, and they are less social than business-like. That sort of depresses me. I liked blogging just for the sake of blogging. I never wanted to turn my gardening blog into something to make money, and when I did, I lost interest in it.

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    1. Deborah, I know exactly what you mean. Vegetable growing frankly bores me, tremendously so, but that's partly because I live in the middle of the agricultural heartland of Nova Scotia, surrounded by farms, so I buy my veggies and fruits from them. I prefer to talk about beautifying the world around us (and saving the pollinators) and I have noticed a lot of...hmmm, how to say this...pimpifying of blogging in the past couple of years, and of fawning over products that aren't necessarily worth fawning over. I DO report on plants, and review books from time to time, and I do have advertisers but they're all local businesses that I support. And hopefully they aren't too invasive to other people's enjoyment. :-)

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  4. I like blogs, but know how much work they can be. Especially when one is being in-the-moment on FB etc. That said, I like the blog form - it's still kind of bite-sized, but you can bring your tea to the computer and sit for a bit with a blog; it's not busy nor does it even really expect interaction like all the other things in our lives.
    If you did it once a month, I'd be happy.

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  5. Yesterday, I sat down to catch up on some blogs and yes, I did notice you hadn't updated for awhile. I have to agree with you, though, it's very time consuming. I struggle with this all the time and when I'm working full time it's nearly impossible to read other blogs let alone post on my own. I try my best. It makes sense to commit to a sensible amount of posts per week/month, something we know we have time for. Love you on Facebook, Jodi, so even if you don't post regularly you're never far away. :)

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I knew you had been struggling with this as well. I've decided to carry on but if I can post a couple times a month that will be it for me, these days. I still read quite a few, including yours...I just don't comment as much because I tend to read them on my iPad and I find commenting from there a pain.

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  6. Blogs: I read a steady diet of them and I'm newly addicted to Pinterest. I might check in on FB or Twitter once a week or so to see what my nieces are up to, but because I can't seem to get FB to listen to me and not show me what all my friends "like", my feed is way too busy to be meaningful to me.

    I'll miss you if you decide to call it quits.

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    1. My apologies for not posting this comment sooner, Debbie! I approved it and a couple of others, from my iPad and they somehow didn't post. Technology, we gotta love it even though it misbehaves!

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  7. I really prefer blogs. I don't need to know what people are eating, who comes to visit where they plan to be the next 24 hours etc. Too much information. I love your blog and will look forward to any and all posts.

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    1. And I love your blog too, Lisa, though I don't comment as often as I ought to. I tend to read blogs on my iPad, and commenting from there is sometimes a pain. But then approving comments from there is also a pain, because I approved several that didn't post here til I did it again this morning from my computer. Gotta love technology...when it works!

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  8. I find social media like Twitter and Facebook useful to a certain extent, but my main focus is still on blogs - because blogs offer much more content than any other social media. (Can you imagine trying to say all you had to say here, Jodi - photos and all - on Facebook?)
    I suppose it could be put this way: I prefer a full meal to an assortment of "nibblies". Most social media focuses on being short and quick. There is more and more emphasis, in fact, on avoiding the printed word and going to sound bites and images. While it's true that a picture CAN be worth a thousand words - like that photo of Pope Francis embracing the disfigured man (and shame on me for not remembering the man's name) - but frankly, not all pictures say that much. And there are times (lots of them, in my opinion!) where a thousand words is worth more than a picture!
    I do understand the difficulty of coming up with regular blog posts (says she who hasn't updated her own blog for almost a month) - but I do feel most strongly that it's worth the effort!
    One last note: I greatly enjoy your blog posts, Jodi, and I hope you do find the time and energy to keep it up, on whatever schedule works for you!

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    1. Love your analogy of meals versus nibbles. You're correct, of course--a blog is a place where we can expand on thoughts, not just snippets!

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  9. I remember Blogs much more than the stuff I read on F.B. That said, Blogging changing. You've been at it longer than me and I notice I'm Blogging less.

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  10. I've been thinking about this very question, and yet I am loathe to stop. My garden blog is still my garden journal, not to mention how much my older, less social media savvy, family members enjoy it. I try to post about once a week, but that will likely go down in winter when there is little to see. I've never stuck completely to gardening either, I often post about my vacation travel and the public gardens and parks that I visit. But social media has taken the place of a lot of the garden blogging, I agree.

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    1. I'm really pleased to see that others still find there is a place for blogs! I don't only read garden blogs, and I don't exclusively write about gardening here (just 99.44/100% of the time.)

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  11. Jodi: Great article, and leave it to you to verbalize a topic that I am sure many garden bloggers are also contemplating... the ever expanding social media presence and whether there is a validity left in the somewhat archaic 'blogs.'

    For me, its all about getting back to my roots - pun not intended but fun just the same - which was all about creating a visual, interactive, electronic garden journal. I too remember the heyday of Blotanical and while it grew tired rather quickly, it remains a steadfast phenomenon for my meeting so many of the wonderful gardening bloggers, many of whom I consider friends and family. As you mention, maintenance is one of the biggest challenges and obstacles. It takes a lot more than posting a photo, 'liking' or leaving a smiley face or a heart. For those like us, it sometimes takes 'days' to create a post - time that I am sure is needed elsewhere. But we still keep plugging away!

    I have a group of maybe a dozen blogs that I faithfully read. I post a lot less than I did in the heyday. Twice or thrice a month, and that's during a good month. I am posting now more for myself than for anyone else, and in the truest sense, that was why I created my blog in the first place. The notion that other people might be interested in the goings on in my postage stamp sized garden seemed lofty at best.

    I have been cutting back on the social media networks. FB for work, and yeah, I have an account, but I do not have a cellphone so this is how a lot of friends get in touch. I did start a Tumblr account - garden inspired, and as you mention, its a totally different beast. I have seen accounts that are made up of 'reblogged' posts of people that they follow. Its like Pinterest. Its a world of instant gratification. We function with a nu vocab... u c what I mean? Personally I have little interest in the goings on around me. I am happy and totally content in my little green world.

    I will continue to blog, steadfastly remaining the luddite in a world that continues to spin and hurl itself forward in the name of tech savviness! If someone should stumble upon it, so be it.... otherwise I will continue to plod forward, from year to year in my tiny green space that brings me more joy than almost all else. This reader is still here for you, and I look forward to those moments when we can connect in our perspective green worlds. Best of luck with your pending surgery and happiest of holiday seasons Jodi!

    cheers

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    1. Barry, I will ALWAYS be glad that you turned to blogging, because I learn so much from what you share. I like other types of social media for certain reasons, but I still like the quality of conversations we can have here the best. Especially since we can reply directly to other people's comments now, like they've been able to do on Wordpress for years!

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  12. Fascinating conversation. I still write in my blog a few times a week and still enjoy putting it out.
    To your point though, I have half the daily visitors I did before so many other information venues popped up and became popular. I love visiting others' garden blogs as time allows.
    I'm in total agreement about G+. How much more do they need to know about targeting us for ads?

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  13. You've made some excellent points, Jodi, as have all your commenters. When I bought my IPad last spring, I got into Facebook a lot more, since I could sit in front of the TV or anywhere I wanted and check postings. But it's just not the same as blogging. Facebook comments are much like soundbites on the TV news, whereas blogs provide much more information and show the writers' voices. I've made so many friends through blogging that I enjoy reading much more about what they are up to and how their garden is faring. I agree with Martha, though, that I notice a lot fewer visitors to my blog than before. Deborah makes a good point, too--so many blogs are for making business connections. I enjoy the personal ones who are like me, just trying to find what works in our garden and sharing our successes.

    Glad to see you posting again, Jodi; I hope you'll continue, even if it's only once a month. I hope this all makes sense--I'm in a hurry, because my Thanksgiving turkey is still frozen solid!

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  14. Hi Jodi,

    I have always loved your blog. I've learnt so much about gardening from you over the past few years. I hardly ever have time to comment, however. I tried to get interested in bloominganswers but could never get it to work/figure it out- there seemed almost a plethora of information and I admit, I'm a bit of a luddite when it comes to technology (we'll see if I can even get this comment section to work!). I have really loved your blog with its straightforward nature, beautiful, mouth watering pictures of all the wonderful things that can grow in our cantankerous climate and the fact that you are local and get what gardening challenges there are in NS. Whenever I wanted a moment of sunshine in my day, I would come to read your blog which made me happy. That's why I like growing flowers; they make me happy. You have a wonderful turn of phrase and I also loved hearing the occasional snippet re the animals.

    That being said, time is always a challenge and I completely get that maintaining a blog on a consistent basis must get tiresome; people's interests do change. I am not on FB because I find it hard enough just to keep up on my emails. There are about four blogs I visit on a regular basis and yours is one. I do hope you will continue to post, even if it's only once or twice a month. Thank you again for all the information, insights and comfort regarding gardening in particular and life in general that you have offered on your blog over the past few years.

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  15. Happy to see garden lovers as dedicated to the garden as me.

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  16. Of course, there is plenty of room for garden blogs, as long as you're passionate about your writing :)

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  17. Well hello. I have just found your blog through bloglovin, and what an interesting post. I have myself just started blogging, mainly because I live in tropical north Queensland, and we have some of the most beautiful tropical plants growing here and I wanted to share some of the photos. The botanical gardens in Cairns is pretty special too. Over the years I have found heaps of useful information from people's blogs, beautiful photos from other parts of the world, and have made a few friends. I hope you continue to blog about your part of the world, which is somewhere I will probably never visit. Thanks, Fiona.

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  18. Jodi, thanks for another insightful post about something I have been seriously contemplating these last couple months. I love blogging, the photos, the words, the connection to people. I have met so many wonderful people and gained so much insight into gardening through this amazing tool. It keeps me in contact with people I can't see regularly and gained me some valuable new friends I would not have met otherwise. However, it takes up a lot of time that I could be spending in my garden or taking part in other activities I enjoy. I am struggling these days with knowing how to find balance. One of the options I have contemplated is an FB page as the posts can be quicker and easier. Still unsure though - will it just be another way to suck up my time? For now I will keep the blog open because I truly do love chatting with people and sharing our story but I like your idea of committing to 1 - 2 posts per month. That might help keep me more on track.

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  19. I agree with you on most of these points. Especially GooglePlus--I just don't have time for it, and it's too much like Facebook. I'll keep blogging. For now, it's still an excellent way to keep in touch and compare notes with other bloggers around the world. I'm looking forward to Blotanical Version 2. But at the base of everything, I maintain a blog because I enjoy doing it. Happy Holidays! And good luck with your surgery!

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  20. Yes, I missed you! Facebook and Pinterest have their place, but it's not the same as a Blog, which I think is much more personal - I don't really mind what the topic it is, it's just good to read a well written Blog. Which yours most defiitely is - keep on writing! Please :)

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