30 January 2010

Encouraging our fellow gardening bloggers: Adopt-A-Blog?

Stormy days are a great time to sit with a mug of coffee, glower out the window, be grateful to be indoors, and muse about things that puzzle me. I've had something on my mind for a couple of weeks, but it's taken me that long to pull my thoughts together in a way that I hope will encourage and challenge other bloggers in a happy, intriguing way.

One of the things I've noticed since getting really back into blogging and reading is that there really are a lot of gardening and garden-related blogs out there. And I mean a LOT. I don't remember how many there were at Blotanical when Stuart launched the site nearly 3 years ago, but I knew and read a good many of them. Some had been blogging for a while. Others started up and then joined Blotanical as word of the site spread. A visit to the site this morning shows me some 900 on the 'most visits' list, yet one blog is ranked as # 1364 in 'most favourited'. Let's just say there are a huge number, some of which I've never visited. That doesn't include those who don't belong to Blotanical, either. And I know this is the same experience for many of us. Can't possibly read them all regularly, or even visit them all regularly.

There are so many ways to keep track of other blogs now, that it gets confusing. We can 'fave' blogs and blotanists at Blotanical. We can 'follow' bloggers through Facebook, or become a fan of them. We can follow thru Google Friend Connect, or by various widgets through Blogger, and I assume through Wordpress and Typepad. And then there's Twitter...

But there are still so many out there that get very few visits, (at least via Blotanical), and very few if any comments. And for some reason, I feel really badly about that. Because so many of these blogs are very well written, with good information, excellent photographs, strong and charming personalities. They deserve to be read, commented upon, supported. Not everyone has the same interests, of course, and there's sometimes a language barrier with bloggers from other countries.

I know that people blog for a variety of reasons, but obviously most of us put thoughts out there on the Internet to communicate with others, share our thoughts and experiences. That makes it safe to assume that most want to attract readers, commenters, followers, etc. So, what can we longtime bloggers, Blotanical veterans, etc, do to encourage and help out other bloggers in raising their profiles?

From sleuthing my way around the Web and following some of the more active bloggers, I have a couple of observations. There are people who regularly visit other blogs and leave lovely, well thought out, funny, wise, comments. Some of these same people also participate a good deal on Blotanical, picking posts, sending welcoming notes to newer bloggers, dropping in to other bloggers to announce their own recent posts, etc, which helps encourage newer bloggers to participate. I don't want to mention anyone in particular because I don't want to leave anyone OUT, but my hat is certainly off to those who encourage other bloggers.

What I've been wondering is what about if we each--and by each, I mean those who feel like doing this--adopted a new/newish blog (or three or four or a dozen) and regularly visited, commented, put them in our feeds, at the top of our 'faves' lists? Would others notice and spend more time reading those other blogs? What do you think, friends? I'm sure someone has a better idea, and gardeners are great at brainstorming over gardening questions, so why not this? Could we perhaps have a conversation about this, as we while away the winter months and wait for spring?

I hesitate to call what I'm suggesting 'mentoring', which is something I have done in my real-life writing, mentoring newish writers as they entered the wonderful world of freelancing. In fact, I struggled long and hard with even creating this post because several years ago, I did a series of three posts to help out other bloggers, making some suggestions on how to make things easier/attract more readers. I caught flack in emails and also indirectly from several other bloggers who thought I was criticizing the way others blog and trying to get everyone doing things in the same way, which wasn't the intent at all. Oddly enough, several of those critics no longer blog.

This has nothing to do with bloomingwriter's visitors, for the record--I'm more than happy with my own blog's statistics, I don't do awards or competitions of that nature, and I have the privilege of receiving wonderful comments from around the globe. I'd just like others to receive more visitors and support, because they deserve such accolades. When I was trying to decide whether I should overhaul my blog, close it down, or just carry on as I could, I received the most wonderful support and encouragement. It was truly humbling, and proves my point about this community of gardeners and writers. Y'all are just awesome.

That's enough out of me for today. I'm looking forward to the conversation among this community of generous, fun and talented people. That includes those of you who are newer to blogging--what do YOU want from the community? What's working for you, what do you wish could be improved? If it merits, I'll do a follow up post based on how the conversation flows.


  1. This sounds like a great idea.

    I am not sure how it can actually be implemented, but the thought that relatively unknown blogs can be found a bit easier just because others "adopt" it sounds like it may work.

    We all know that getting the blogs found in the first place is half the battle of building a following. This may be just what some could use. A link to them from another gardening related website may be just what they need.

  2. I think it is an excellent idea, but could perhaps snowball quickly? Since I am relatively new at blogging, I've found the best way to meet blog friends is to visit their blogs and leave messages for them, if visit mine and would like to do the same, then a 2 way relationship is forged. I do have regular blogs that I frequent, and if I see a new name in the comments I will visit their blog to check it out. I'm always torn as to whether to check new posts thru my blogroll, or through the blotanical list (which I find a little hard to navigate). If I visit via my blog, I go back to do the picks later. I'm not entirely sure that more is better, I had wanted to keep my blogging community between 10-20 people, but this can expand quickly, you're right, there are so many great blogs out there. I think it's a great idea to encourage new bloggers by perhaps sending them a message, mentioning that the more comments they leave, the more that will be left for them? I'm still new at this too, so my perspective is most likely different from someone seasoned. Good food for thought! :) Rebecca (sorry this got so long, and a little off topic)

  3. Not long or off topic at all, Rebecca. You've jumped in nicely in participating, and with the rainbow project you started, you've galvanized a lot of cool posts. And yes, sending messages/comments to new bloggers is always a good idea.

  4. I'm not sure either, Dwayne, but just initiating the conversation is a good start. There are just so many amazing blogs to read...I could do this as my fulltime job. :-)

  5. Hi Jodi,

    What an excellent idea! I think I will start by checking the new lists of blogs on Blotanical and 'adopt' 3 or 4 a month. There were a few bloggers who helped me along the way when I began blogging and they still have a special place in my heart.

  6. I have been thinking about newer bloggers, too. I'm one myself (about 5 months now, and 2 on blotanical). I have been visiting blogs that, in blotanical terms, aren't much picked and trying to leave comments and questions. A little encouragement after a well thought out post is nice, so I try to do that for a few blogs that aren't usually on the "popular pick" list everytime I log onto blotanical. As a newer blogger, I know I appreciate when the seasoned vets stop by for a comment. I think the mentoring is a fantastic idea for longtime bloggers (and guru/master blotanists).

    Christine in Alaska

  7. I'm not a member of Blotanical, but I like the spirit of this post and your thoughts behind it. So, no criticizing from me.

    When I started GardenBloggers.com I wanted to do a series of blog roundups of various blogs, paying attention to new garden blog, but after a few of them that idea has sort of stalled because of time. But you've inspired me to start it up again.

  8. As a new blogger (not quite half a year) and someone brand new to Blotanical and finding it wonderful, adoption sounds like a great plan to me.

    I'm just starting to get a handle on the whole blogging thing. My picture was so very vague when I began, and I had no idea I was going to form *relationships* via the blogs I have. But that has turned out to be, for me, one of the main unexpected joys of the project. The leap in writing confidence was what I was initially looking for, to lose the paralyzing fear of having others read what I write. The blogs have brought me that, and so much more. :)

    p.s. I'd also be interested in the advice you gave in those three long-ago posts. I may go hunting for them, to see if they're in the archives.

  9. What a great post Jodi, and something that I have been thinking about for a while. There are so many new (to me) great bloggers out there. Some have visited me and left comments, and I know that I am way behind in visiting and commenting on the blogs I usually visit, so that sometimes reaching out to new ones seems hard. For me it is getting the balance right between all my old friends and all the new potential friends.

    I have stared to move my gardening blogs links to a separate page (I can have pages with wordpress) and I am aiming to have maybe 6 "currently reading" blogs in my links, which would be blogs I have only just started following. So they may not be new, but they would be new to me.

    I am struggling with blotanical a bit just now because of the very slow load time of the pages, and I am coming across new blogs by following comments left on other blogs.

    I look forward to returning here and reading everyone's thoughts and comments on this post Jodi and I am glad that you have written about a subject that I have been pondering.

  10. Oh! I just noticed that Meredith left a comment just before me - which is such a coincidence as hers is a blog I have recently come across and would definitely be one of my 6 currently reading!

  11. Good idea!

    Here's another way for blogs to get exposure: Jan at Thanks4Today is running an Earth Day event where all garden bloggers write E Day posts and then link back to her site. She will have a list of all participating.

    Veg Plotting did a Mr. Linky event about a year ago, where we wrote about our ideal dinner party guests, and then all were linked from her site. I met lots of fun UK bloggers that way and "invited" my neighbor garden blogger to my own faux dinner party. Now we have meals together in real life.

    I have found the garden blogging community to be warm and welcoming. And now it's really BIG too.

  12. From what I can tell, the best way to let others know you're out there is to leave comments on blogs that you like. I am a member of Blotanical but never visit it.

    What I love about the current state of blogging is that there *is* so much encouragement -- I've been blogging about a year and a half and it's been a very positive experience.

  13. A very thoughtful post, Jodi. We all know how hard it is to get a blog noticed, and Blotanical certainly goes a long way in helping out, as does leaving comments on others blogs. And I remember well Veg Plotting's dinner party--it was great fun. What if there were a monthly meme in which we did something similar, only with three new blog "discoveries" and links to them? I'm sure VP wouldn't mind if we adopted her idea (with credit) and expanded on it.

  14. Jodi excellent info, I went around night before last and tried to meet a bunch of new bloggers which I do every now and then. One thing that stops--- discourages me is how people have their identity set up on blogger blog comments. If it's not set up exactly how you have yours---I read content but do not comment cause it takes too long. And sometimes knocks me off their site completely. If you've got one of those drop down menu set up deals please get rid of it.

    If someone said that already sorry.

  15. I guess the more blogs you visit the more visits you will receive.
    Maybe one way to get a new blog going in the right direction would be for a garden blogger who has a large following to introduce and post about a new blogger that they really like....and that would start the ball rolling for the new blogger to get visits. Then, it would be up to the new blogger to keep posting and communicating with visitors. Hmmmm...just an idea. That's funny I have been thinking about that as well.

  16. Jodi: This is a great post and you've really put into words what I've been thinking while taking the time to read a lot of the new blogs in the last couple of days.
    There's a couple due to come on line and I'm going to tag them in my blog to draw attention to them.
    Perhaps we could all start giving links to newer blogs when we do our posts and this would encourage readership?

  17. Jodi, This is a great post, and so many great ideas from the comments already posted here. I remember when I first started blogging, I would find new bloggers and make sure to visit them regularly, because I knew what it felt like to be a "newbie." I still do that occasionally, but now I have so many blogs I regularly read that it's hard to keep up with my favorites! At the same time, I've met a few new bloggers just in the last few months that I so enjoy that I don't want to give up reaching out to new people.

    As for Blotanical, I belong but I rarely visit, and I have never "picked" any favorite posts. I have never figured out how to do that, and I have trouble navigating through the pages. I know others visit blogs through Blotanical, but it just seems a more time-consuming way to visit than just to use the blogroll on my sidebar. Does Blotanical have a page listing new blogs?

    I remember your posts about advice to bloggers--I was a "newbie" at the time and really appreciated all the tips you gave. I can't believe people would criticize you for that--sheesh, some people have to complain about everything.

  18. A very generous and thoughtful post Jodi! Beautiful photos of your gardens and the lovely metaphor of the chrysalis is precious. I have really been enjoying meeting new bloggers at blotanical ... I spend some time each day in the New Garden Blog post section... and have been amazed at the quality of writing and presentation found in bloggers just starting out. I have faved many of them ... added them to my blog roll and left comments. I also write welcome greetings and try to explain a bit about how the site works... not my forte however. Gee ... I feel like a beginner too... just approaching my 'one year old' blog birthday. Adopting a blog is a great idea... only what if someone adopts you and you would rather they did not... how would that work... (playing the devil's advocate here) Of course you only mean to encourage and maybe even add a piece about their blog in a post?? Maybe a welcoming committee that will help newcomers to blotanical ... learn how to navigate the site ... since so many (including me ) have trouble at first learning how to get around. Stuart does a great job in featuring new blogs but many do not even know they are featured. He has made a great tutorial too. I joined in May of 09 but only began coming over in October... I just did not have the time to learn what to do. I did get several sweet welcomes but just did not "get it" . I do now and love all the wonderful blogs/bloggers I have discovered. A great topic to discuss and so kind of you to consider others in this way ... to start the dialogue. I am so impressed and touched by the great sense of community in all of this... that you are leading us in this effort... your idea is terrific and worthy of bringing to fruition. I so agree that there is a wonderful supportive community of garden bloggers in our world.

  19. Meredith, the posts were from March of 2007. Hard to believe they were that long ago!

    Blotanical has some problems. Navigation is appalling, and pages are soooo slow to load, and some feeds don't work. We haven't heard from Stuart in months except via his blog, so I hope everything is okay with him.

    Anna, oh My GOSH you've nailed one of my pet peeves. So many bloggers are using those embedded comments at the end of their posts, and it takes as many as three refreshes to get a comment to post. I'm going to mention that in my next post, hoping more will opt for one of the other options that Blogger uses.

    Daffodil Planter, I remember and loved that dinner party meme--I took part too. Sadly, I'm across the pond or I'd love to join you all in your meals--or in the cool meetup you're having in Malvern.

    Great comments, everyone. Keep em coming!

  20. I am up for your idea. When I found blotanical, I didn't know my way around or what made a good garden blog. A couple of bloggers found me and and made be feel at home. I asked blotanists to critique my blog and received some really good responces. I even trade seeds know, for crying out loud. I make a point of visiting new blonatists daily on my sweep through thwe site. I just want to return the favor that was given to me.


  21. Good idea, and good discussion. I find new blogs primarily through comments left on my blog and the monthly Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts on the 15th. I try to visit those who say they are new, but am not always successful at doing so. There is only so much time!

  22. Jodi:

    I should like to think you were a Den Mother to cubs or Guides in earlier times, as you so know how to look after the flock that has become Blotanical. I remember you and Joy being the first people I conversed with a year ago! You are both in my esteemed glory as a result.

    I very much like the premise that you are proposing. Its interesting to see how many new garden bloggers have come on board, even in the year that I have been blogging. I followed an earlier suggestion fo yours {Twitter} and tried to visit a dozen new blogs every week. I have also started to add them to my blogroll, and when appropriate create a link to them via a new 'rambling.' I was thrilled to see a blog or two [either added to the Blogroll or mentioned in a post] experience a sudden surge in popularity. I don't say this was my own doing, but the Blogroll is a very powerful tool.

    I rarely visit a new blog without scanning their Blogroll. Inevitably this leads to a visit or two to new blogs I have never heard of. I have one day {Sunday] a week where the only blogs I visit are new ones, and likewise, any picks for that day are from the newest members to Blotanical. Here's hoping others will pick up the torch you have so graciously lit, and that the proverbial garden blogosphere will soon feel like a giant family reunion!

  23. Jodi, what a great idea, I still think of those first Bloggers who stopped by as very special friends. Those were the comments that spurred me on, encouraging and welcoming me. I would love to be able to do the same to new Bloggers.

    I dearly hope that I don't have the embedded comments form on my blog activated. Am going to have to check from another computer, since I can't tell on mine.

    Thanks for such a informative post.


  24. I think this is a really great idea too. I remember the excitement I had when I first starting getting comments, it was so encouraging. When I have time I try to visit some of the newly listed blogs on Blotanical. I've found some really great ones there. I follow so many now that like you said I just don't always have time, but I figure that even if once a week or so I have some time to visit new ones I do.
    I'm also a big fan of Blogrolls. I've found some great ones that way and I try to keep updating mine with newer blogs as well.

    PS Not quite sure what the embedded comments are, but they might be the ones that keep bumping me off Blotanical when I try to comment. The pop up comments seem to work the best for me. (the type that you have.)

  25. This is a fantastic idea. Very generous and thoughtful too.
    I started my blog as a gardening blog but I'm all over the place these days. So I don't think I would really fit in with this. Seems like I've lost some of my gardening readers. But I love this idea and your wonderful energy and of course, your blog.

  26. Dear Jodi, I have read your posting and all the comments to date in detail and with much interest.

    I think that the idea put forward to set aside a certain time each week to seek out new blog sites that are new to one, and leave an encouraging comment is a good one. However, in order to maintain one's integrity I feel strongly that any comment left should reflect genuine feeling and interest in what the blogger has to say. Meaningful two-way dialogue is unlikely to be opened up unless there is a real meeting of minds.

    At the risk of sounding negative there are, I believe, some blogs which should be allowed to wither on the vine, for example those which are clearly for commercial benefit.

    As a newcomer to the world of blogging I have, in common with many, many others, sought out newcomers and have left a welcome comment only to find that there has been no response of any kind. It could be that for some to post a blog is, for whatever reason, an end in itself.

    Whatever, it is good to open up this debate.

  27. A fantastic post and what a great response Jodi!

    You (and I mean you and everyone responding) have touched on much that's been on my mind lately as I'm trying to get all my blogreads into one place and am amazed that I have around 150 blogs on various readers, Blotanical etc.

    I agree that Blotanical is a great way to find other bloggers. I see a number of people aren't aware of the recently joined list that's on the tabs at the top of the site. I've used that regularly to find blogs and welcome people, but admit ashamedly that that's tailed off over the past couple of months, simply because it takes so long to load. That's what prompted me to sort my reading lists out actually so that I can quickly get to see people.

    I love the idea of mentoring in some way, as I've done already with a few people whilst they were setting up their own blogs. I'm not quite sure how it would work though and I hope that we wouldn't all choose the same ones!

    Others have already made points about comments and blogrolls being the best way to find others. I certainly find that getting out and about is the best way to find others. It's a lot of fun for me and appreciate those who stop by to say hello and those who come on a visit as a result of my comments elsewhere. As for blogrolls, I find those which show the most recent post in some way are very useful. I use those a lot to find new people and posts that interest me.

    And I'm really humbled that last year's dinner party event is remembered so well and Malvern's been mentioned too. I'm guest posting soon on Mr Brown Thumb re Malvern and if that doesn't persuade anyone to come, I'm trying to think of ways for those of you across the pond to participate in some way, so you can be there in spirit at least :)

  28. I also have two older posts that link in with this. First check your own stats and see how many visitors COME TO YOU thru Blotanical. Then remember that Stuart runs this, alone, in his spare time, after a day job, and he has a family. When does he sleep??!! Yes Blotanical is slow, but it is definitely bringing you visitors (however ungracious you are about using Blotanical yourself)

    The first post is about mentoring a la Frances the Faire

    And the second is a reminder, if you do use Blotanical, that you will feature on the Newest 200 list, until you in turn are bumped by the next class of ...

    The least we can do, in thanks to those first visitors who encouraged us when we started, is to check Blotanical's Newest 200 regularly. Rant over. Thanks Stuart for Blotanical. And thanks to the Blotanists who give Blotanical life.

  29. PS forgot to add that Malvern's likely to make me more of a lurker over the next few months (hence my trying to get all my reads into 1 place), but rest assured I will still be visiting, even if I'm not as chatty as usual ;)

  30. Hi Jodi, I think its a Fantastic idea to 'adopt a blog'. Mentor ship is not an alien concept and goes a long way in relationship n community bonding.

    Personally, I enjoy the creative process involved in compiling a blog, however being a professional, I am not here much, I merely update my blog only once a wk and visit other Garden blogs quite regularly as n when I can.

    Comments/Feedback form an integral part of blogging. Though most people write for themselves, I feel a writing would go to waste without any readership. Encouraging Words go a long way in forging a healthy exchange of info.

    Blogger/Blotanical n more offer a great platform for any exchange of info, ideas, view pts, meet new ppl from across continents et al.

    I feel great to be part of the e-world. Kudos to the concept! Cheers! Radhika

  31. Jodi,
    Your garden looks beautiful in its wintry blanket. A very thoughtful post. There are so many wonderful blogs popping up, but I find myself frustrated because surely I am missing out on some really great ones. The awards do get out of control, but I have found one of the benefits to them is calling attention to blogs you may not have had the pleasure of visiting. I wonder if those that wish to participate could feature 3 new blogs per month. I have certainly been grateful to those that have given me encouragement, and featured my blog on their site, whether mentioned in a post or featured in their blogroll. It would be lovely to return the favor by featuring new blogs - providing newcomers with encouragement and introducing them to this wonderful community. :)

  32. When I visit Blotanical, I always welcome the newest bloggers. Many will comment back. If and when I do any picking, I always go to the new garden blog posts and pick from there as this gives those newcomers a chance to know that some folks are looking at their work.

  33. I think it is a good idea Jodi. I always check out people that comment on my blog. Sometimes they are new bloggers. I will never forget the help you gave me when I first started blogging. If everyone would just remember to give an encouraging word or more to new bloggers it would help tremedously. Even giving a link in your post to a new blog helps.

  34. hi jodi
    mmm i am loving your snow pictures :D
    i like you idea!
    one thing that i will do is if i am visiting a new blog i will add my blog addy in my comment-that way people can find me and i have found a lot of great blogs by following others link when they leave a comment-thats how i found YOU!! can't remember who's blog i was visiting at the time but i am so glad i readf your comment and am now here :D
    thanks for stopping by mine yesterday-my son had a great bday
    who wouldn't snowboarding all weekend with friends :D
    enjoy your day

  35. Jodi girl .. I had no idea you were critized for those points to improve the "readability" of our blogs .. I was happy to take up the point on enlarging the font (sometimes in a hurry I forget oops!) I thought that was a very helpful post, but was it that long ago ? Holy Moses !
    Maybe it is my cold, but for the life of me I'm not sure what embedded is referring to ? and I don't know where to look for stats on visitors, I really didn't want to have that on my blog actually .. I never initiated the friends connect because I see it as a popularity contest (that is just MY view on that gadget no reflection on bloggers who have it!).. in truth , I have a hard time keeping up with just about everything in my life .. so I wanted my blog to be as stress free as possible (meaning small actually I guess ?) more of a record of the garden and plants I love and the moon with sunrises .. wow .. I'm tired just thinking of it all ? LOL
    BUT .. for those of us that have the energy and time, I think it is a great idea to give a step up to other and new bloggers .. so YES ! Great idea : ) Did I ramble too much .. it is the meds ?
    PS sometimes those spam verification words are difficult to get right and it takes a few tries , that may stump comments too ?

  36. It sounds like a great idea! I've tried occasionally to visit new blogs and comment but too often life events take up time and I frequently end up unable to reply to those who comment on my blog. I end up with a list of people I regularly visit. Blotanical has actually gotten so large that sometimes I don't even know where to start with visiting blogs. I think what might be neat is a new garden blogger meme where people mention 1 or 2 new blogs they have found in the past week, tell a little about them and encourage other readers to visit and comment.

  37. Jodi, such an interesting post so thanks for starting the discussion. When I first started blogging about a year and a half ago I used Blotanical to find blogs. But I've found it too cumbersome to use (slow, navigation is strange). So lately I've just hopped to new-to-me blogs from someone's comments. There are SO many interesting garden blogs out there though. I started adding them to a list on my blog and through Google Friends. Now that's getting too big. I guess I'm now going on about how I'm unorganized about what I read. So back to your question. I like Susan T. and Amy's suggestions about us picking a day to post on 1-3 newbie bloggers through a meme. Maybe you could start it? :-)

  38. As a new blogger, I love this idea. My daughter started her photography blog last year but had trouble keeping up with it and everything else. I joined her this month and we expanded the format to cover gardening too (she does a lot of garden photography anyway). I try to visit all the bloggers who participate in regualar events, like Bloom Day, Foliage Follow-uo, etc. And I comment on those who have few or no comments, because I know how depressing it can be to get no comments:) Unfortuanately, most of us have to actually work, so we can't just visit blogs all day and many good blogs get lost in the shuffle.

  39. There are some really, really good ideas here, which is exactly proving my point about the garden-blogging community. Brilliant, everyone.

    A couple of observations for now, pre-breakfast and midway through first coffee:

    No one was criticizing Stuart here. The point is, and Stuart has said this himself, is that the software Blotanical runs on has a hard time handling everything, especially since the membership did explode. As someone above noted, Stuart does do this in his 'spare' time, on top of work, family, etc, and everyone who 'knows' him (via blogging, emails, etc) appreciates what he's created. I have been a bit concerned that he hasn't posted a News note in recent months, but can tell he's busy in real life from reading his blog.

    Not everyone uses Blotanical, either, especially anyone who has sludgy Internet such as dialup or one of those options where you have to pay for X amount of online time per month. It can be dazzlingly intimidating when one first visits, and it's not everyone's cup of tea. But that's the beauty of the blogosphere; we don't all have to have the same tastes.

    Commercially-operated blogs are as much bloggers as anyone else, as far as I'm concerned. I don't read very many of them because there IS, after all, only so much time in a day, but in this world where advertising is expensive and dubiously effective (on the Internet, I'm talking here), some businesses take to writing blogs both to promote their nursery/landscape business/widget company and (in some cases) as a way to give back to the gardening/hort community around them. The ones that are blatantly commercial, with embedded advertising links/popups or so many advertisements on the sidebars that you can hardly see them, I tend to avoid as well. But others are great. It all depends on personal tastes and perspectives.

    What people do (if they so choose) to promote other blogs is entirely up to them, of course. And as Carol said, there's the question of what to do if someone wants to adopt a blog that already feels like they're getting enough attention, or doesn't want to be involved? Good questions. That's why I love the hive mind.

    What I'll do in the next couple of days, is gather up these suggestions and put them in a post. I love the various ideas coming forward. Of course, as Melody just observed, most people do have to work so can't visit blogs all day long, as much as we might like to. And...in my case, life has gotten busy because I'm writing a book that is due at the publisher's on 1 July. But since it's about plants, reading blogs can be justified as research, always. :-) Unless of course they're about cooking, cats or David Cook. I might have more of a challenge justifying those. :-)

  40. Hi Jodi, I think this is a great idea - I have only been blogging since the middle of November and joined Blotanical in December and so many of those Blotanical members have encouraged me and I really appreciate the time they take to pick posts and leave a comment.

    Blogging in a 2 way thing - I try to keep in contact with as many as possible but working as a horticulturist, keeping my own garden and family commitments and blogging makes it difficult for me to keep up with everyones posts they way I would like.

    I have a few new blogs that I regulary go over to but I should be more proactive in commenting as many of the new bloggers on blotanical don't know about the picks...... well I speak for myself in that one as it took me a while to figure out how that worked and how to find out who picked your post.

    I am sure there are some great blogs out there that are just waiting to be discovered by us.

  41. I agree with Anna and Joy about the word verification thingy in Blogger now...the one with the drop downs. And sometimes, you jump through all those hoops only to find that the blog host moderates comments before they're published anyway...which makes the verification process rather redundant. :) But, that's just my take on that.

    As for your idea, I think it's a good one! There are many blogs I read on a regular basis that are no where to be seen on the "Most Visited" Blotanical pages. I'd be happy to feature some of them -- with a link, with a post about them, or by any other method that might work. This requires a bit of thought. :)

  42. I'm not sure I can add anything that hasn't already been said, but I want to thank you for the gift of your friendship and the wonderful advice and encouragement you've given me and others through your blog and newsletter. You've got a maturity and spirit of acceptance that draws people to you.

    You and others have some fabulous ideas and thoughts here - I'll be looking forward to your follow-up post!


  43. This is a very generous idea that really touched my heart. I sort of already do this, flitting here and there and leaving comments, but maybe I could do a bit more of this encouraging that you write about.
    Hey, I see you encourage beginning writers and so do I, I have an ongoing series of tips for beginning writers on my blog.
    Sending warm thoughts your way,

  44. Jodi: You sure generated some conversation! Bloggers and expecially garden bloggers are a friendly group. You are right, there are so many blogs out there now that it is difficult to read and comment on all that one would wish. I do belong to Botanical and think it is a great resource but I rarely visit as I have little time to do so. If anyone out there wants to be 'adopted', I would be honored. It is only time which prevents me from visiting all those other gardens and blogs. Any suggestions for using time wisely when sitting at the computer? That would be a help. I get lost in the blog reading sometimes at the expense of work.

  45. Thanks, Jodi. It's wonderful when more-established bloggers take the time to reach out to new bloggers and give them a leg up with a link on one's blogroll or directly mentioning them in a post, etc. I've tried to do that for some time with new Austin bloggers--selfishly, mind you--in order to encourage the local garden-blogging community.

    It's good to have the discussion and encourage more mentoring, as you put it, as a person has time.

  46. Jodi:
    Thanks for adopting my suggestion... sometimes the gray matter stirs itself up and something smart seeps forth from the petrified wood that is my brain. You mentioned me adding an addendum:

    Its very easy for those who use the Blogger platform. In the 'Layout' screen, click on 'Add a Gadget' From the pop up screen, choose 'Picture' You add whatever title you want ...'Have you Visited?' or such. In the caption section add your blurb about what you are hoping to achieve, as well as any key functionality info... click on photo, etc. Use the 'Link' field to create a direct link to the blog that you have chosen, and lastly, choose a photo. I tinkered with the idea of a screenshot to the blog you have chosen to highlight, but enjoy an element of mystery..... Jodi is to be thanked for the idea and inspiration, this is merely two Canadian cents worth towards a much larger cause!

  47. Jodi, This is such a good idea; thank you for suggesting it! I've only been blogging a few months, and the learning curve has been steep. I do use Blotanical extensively; for me, my list of faved blogs there is the easiest way to keep up with blogs whose posts I don't want to miss. For a while, I also made a point to welcome new members; but as my "faved blogs" list has grown, I've been finding it impossible to keep up with all this. Here is what I'm going to do with your idea: On the first of each month, I'll spend some time sampling new blotanical members' blogs and pick one or two to "adopt." I'll make a point of reading those regularly for the month and leave frequent comments. At the end of the next month, I can reevaluate whether my relationship with the adoptee has been mutually fruitful. This seems much more manageable to me than trying to engage with every single new blotanist. (I will, of course, continue to interact with and respond to those who seek me out.) -Jean
    p.s. Totally off topic, but I *adore* word verification. I'm a word nerd, and I get such a chuckle from trying to imagine definitions for those computer generated "words."

  48. The best kept secret on Blotanical is the FAQs. It's found under Help and in very small letters in the middle of a paragraph.

    If not for the FAQs, I would have given up and left in the first month, actually the second, because I forgot I'd joined for the whole first month. Then the Awards cranked up and I began to get messages on my Plot which I had discovered by then.

    I read the FAQs 4 times before I figured out what to do. Then I studied Frances to learn what else to do.

    New members do need encouragement. We each do it differently.

  49. You are a wealth of wonderful ideas, jodi ... count me in! I have been trying to do just that and once I hit the next level in Blotanical (taking forever but getting close), I can add more of my favorites. It's no wonder you have such a fan list ... always a dear and extremely thoughtful, *hugs*. (Don't you wish there were more hours in a day!)

  50. You are so right about the number of bloggers now compared to when blotanical first started, Jodi. It is mind boggling and so many are just outstanding. I have been trying to get to know new bloggers better, and think your idea most excellent. We just cannot visit them all, but would love to. :-)

  51. My participation in blogphere has increased since December when I got a laptop so dont have to sit in the uncomfortable other room anymore. Consequently, I spend more time looking at blogs and I have made a conscious effort to welcome as many new bloggers to Blotanical as I can. I also have been faving a few of the new ones which look interesting to me and leave comments regularly. But I think it is important for new bloggers to realise that to get an audience not only do they have to update their blog regularly but they have to leave comments on other blogs and so become part of the community - it is a 2 way thing

  52. Much food for thought there Jodi. After blogging for a year I am not sure whether I qualify as a newbie anymore :) I remember that when I started I was delighted and still are by people who took the time to comment on my blog posts. I know that there is never going to be enough time to discover all the blogs on Blotanical let alone comment on them. I do try to visit anybody who stops to visit me. However this does not necessarily spread the word when I discover a new blog. I am going to give some thought about how I can do this - maybe a variation on Teza's idea :) Time to put the thinking cap on.

  53. You are all awesome, you know that, don't you? Such good ideas and such supportive attitudes. The next couple of days are really busy for me, but I will try to get a post up gathering some of these ideas. PLUS I'm going to do an explanatory post to Blogspot bloggers, explaining what the problem is with the embedded comments. I took screen shots at one site yesterday but have been busy working today plus reading the occasional blog post myself. And leaving comments, naturally.

  54. Hi Jodi, I'm so glad to have come across your post tonight. I have been 'absent' from picking at Blotanical since November, but for the first time tonight, I went through and read some posts through the site and made some picks. But I must say that I get so 'tense' in doing so, because it takes FOREVER! The time to jump from the list to the post then to pick it and back to the list really takes quite a while...and I found myself thinking how silly I am to take so much time doing it! I 'want' to do it, but it took over 2 hours and I only got through part of the new blogs and part of my favorites. That just confirmed why I don't generally do it, yet, at the same time, I really enjoy all of the people I've met through Blotanical and love so many of the blogs. I've met some new bloggers through my FB connections, which has been another social network that takes up time... Do you ever feel like your fingers are glued to the keyboard?!?! Anyway, I like the idea of a 'meme', bringing new bloggers to attention that way; AND, I like the idea of doing a post now and then 'featuring' a new blogger. That's something I will consider doing. On to another thought:

    For some reason, my last blogpost didn't go through the feed at Blotanical...and I would like to get the word out about that particular post, because it is announcing a Give Away that I'm having, related to sustainable living practices (in recognition of earth day). I'm asking folks to write a post about their own practices & leave me a comment with a link & I will add it to my sidebar...plus, bloggers are then eligible for the garden product--it's a pair of landscaping gloves, made out of recycled plastic bottles...I'm still trying to get 1 more gift to add to this. Stay tuned...it' might be a big one! I hope you will participate;-) Jan

  55. Great post, Jodi, and a lot of food for thought. I used to visit and welcome each new Blotanical member, but I rarely use Blotanical anymore just because of the time factor. I'm really hoping that Stuart has success in figuring out a way to streamline it and make it faster. I loved using it and miss it. (I'm not meaning to be critical in any way at all of Stuart or Blotanical).

    I'll make a special effort to stop by Blotanical more frequently just to visit some of the new blogs!

    Regarding comments: I tend not to leave comments on blogs that require my name, email and URL every time. Some blogs save the information but others don't.

    I look forward to seeing your follow-up post on this topic!

  56. Well Jodi, it looks as though your post drew a few [!] comments. LOL I would like to read through them but I promised hubby I'd get off the computer at 10 and it's 10:37. I'll be back. But first I'll offer my two bits. I agree. It tugs my heart when I see a blog with one or two comments and three or four followers. Immediately I want to chime in and encourage the author and hopefully I'm doing an adequate job of it.

    Not long ago I was reading a Google/Blogger forum in an effort to resolve an issue. Naturally I got sidetracked and ended up on a newbie thread. The question was posed, "How do I get more readers?" I felt compelled to offer my two bits because as a blogger who, in a year's time has gone from zero to 102 followers [at that time] I felt I could write with some measure of authority on the subject. I replied that the best way to get followers is to be a follower. The timeless principle applies: Spend less time talking and more time listening. Become friends with fellow bloggers. I haven't checked back to see if there was a response to my reply.

    One more thing on this subject: I think that in some ways Blotanical has done a disservice to bloggers. To some extent with the awards and picks and faves we're unwittingly being pitted against each other. It appears to me that certain bloggers have made it a priority to be number one in popularity. That's fine for them but I left high school too many years ago to count. I want no part of it. This is why I didn't take part in the Blot awards last year. As I state in my sidebar "In my book, everyone's a winner." ...'nuf said.

    It's been my observation that many of the bloggers who have very few commenters don't seem to put the effort into getting to know fellow bloggers. Perhaps they've forgotten that blogging is a conversation not a monologue.

    Any who, I wanted to thank you for your sweet encouragement on the subject of becoming an author. My memoir is not quite as lighthearted as my garden writing and I'm not sure there is a market for overcoming postpartum psychosis and occult brainwashing--two of the DARK subjects I delve into. I know I could take the self-publishing route and I've already talked to editors/publishers of smaller presses to no avail. I've still got work to do on the manuscript. I'm taking one day at a time. If it's meant to be it will be. If not, my kids will have some understanding of their wacky mother. :) Any more tips you can offer, I'd be honored to receive. Thanks again, friend.

  57. I think you're on to something here Jodi, my guess is that many of us unconsciusly think that a blog without many visitors/many comments is not a 'good' blog. Which of course, could be completely wrong. As you said, there are SO many bloggers around, and time is scarce for most of us, so it's easier and quicker to just read familiar blogs. -But I think your idea is great! The world of blogging is so friendly and supporting, and I wish more people would experience that.

  58. I've been reading most of the comments above. I am a new blogger based from your standards because i just passionately did it when i stumbled on these circle through Autumn Belle's My Nice Garden. I cannot be a member of Blotanical because it doesn't accept me. James Missier suggested i use Firefox, but our office firewall will block it. Anyway, i got my links thru viewers and commenters from your blogs, and just return to them whenever they have new posts. Many of your commenters here, Jodi, are also those i follow. They come to my blog for a visit and some of them follow my posts. I am terribly inspired by these developments, that i always post these days.

    Somehow, your idea of adopting a new blogger was already done by Autumn Belle with me. She has many followers. She put my link on her sidebar with a little summary of my new post. So i am thankful to her for that. I am glad that more people are viewing my tropical photos now. So more power to you Jodi!

  59. Hello Jodi,

    Thank you for such a warm and encouraging post!
    I'm a real 'newbie' having only been blogging and part of Blotanical for about a month. Reading through these comments I've seen several names of the bloggers who have already made me feel very welcome. People are still popping by to say 'welcome' at Blotanical which is just lovely and some have gone out of their way to help and encourage me which has been a real delight.
    I like Jim's idea of asking a more experienced blogger to critique your work and I may do that later, but I'm still really finding my blogging feet and experimenting with my voice, if that makes any sense!

  60. Jodi - couldn't resist popping back to see what others have said and I see you've taken action already :)

    Another option is for people to do a regular post on new blogs they've found and perhaps highlighting a particular post in each one which they think others would be interested in. That happened to me when I first started blogging and it was such a thrill to be mentioned. I try to do it from time, though not as much as I'd like to.

  61. Me again, because another thought has struck me!

    In a way a lot of our talk is really just a smokescreen to the main point. People who've done well via Blotanical are those who've joined in the community there. It's not just a matter of getting on the listing and sitting back. Just Picking won't do it in most cases either. It's getting to know people via the messaging system and leaving comments when reading posts via the various reading lists available. Do many people check who picks their posts and thank them for doing so, or then actually go and access the pickers blogs? I suspect not that many.

    New blogs succeed if their authors get out and share in the blogging community. Blotanical facilitates that, but it's not the solution in itself.

  62. Your thoughts are so timely, as I just began a blog -- 3 days ago! -- and I'm trying to figure out what I want from it. Didn't think about joining a community of gardeners, just wanted to share my thoughts with friends. But facebook wasn't working out at all. Comments were always "you need to get a life" and the posting structure was limited. So I started this blog, just for me. But I guess I really do want a broader audience, not just friends & family, and I want to contribute something to others and see what everyone else is creating and thinking. So thanks for starting this topic and for everyone chiming in with how to go about joining this community I'm discovering. I have so much to learn!

  63. I have just started a garden blog and I'm amazed at how cohesive, supportive and wonderful the online garden community is.

  64. An excellent post Jodi! It seems that everyday I stumble upon another great read and a new blogger...There just isn't time to visit them all and leave comments~especially with limited typing time! In the past week I've visited several blogs that are absolutely fantastic.

    Just looking at comments here~~is proof that blogging is about building community, encouraging conversation and interaction. This is exactly what drew me to blogging. It's been a chance to talk about gardening with a wonderful community of generous, delightful caring people.


  65. Hi Jodi, this is just my opinion but I have to say I've found Blotanical to be extremely unfair. Bloggers are made to jump thru hoops to increase that sites ratings. The strangest thing, there are mid ranked blogs there that haven't been posted to in months. How is that possible? I don't visit that site anymore.

    I do agree with you about visiting bloggers that are just getting started. If we reach out to them it often creates lasting friendships.

  66. What a wonderful soul you are to get this dialogue started.
    I haven't been blogging for long and when I first started, I was at a loss to figure out how to get more readers. I write for a garden resort and I get paid to have readers, so I was a little frantic to get them. I want to thank Grace Peterson who encouraged me (and prodded me a little) to join Blotanical. It may have a few faults, but it gave me a collection of fellow bloggers to read and communicate with and it gave me confidence to keep going. When you are a new blogger, getting a "Fave" is very gratifying.
    Like Teza, I always check out everyone's bloglist and visit new blogs.
    The offering of knowledge and humor and compassion isn't a competition. I'm all for helping new bloggers. LOVE the "Dinner Party" idea.

  67. I hesitate to add anything, but this is an issue that has been on my mind. The sheer number of wonderful garden blogs makes it impossible to visit them all, and some days I have trouble just responding to comments on my own posts, much less time to visit the commentors, much as I'd like to. I've also not been on Blotanical in a while because of the speed issue. I'd like to help new bloggers, and I'd be happy to try something like an adopt a blog program. I wonder if a 3-way series of posting, like Carol, Dee & Mary Ann did last year would help, with 1 established blogger & 2 newer bloggers writing "letters" to each other.

  68. aloha jodi, i'm happy that this post was made, i've also thought about this when a new blogger told me that they just discovered messages in her plot after a bit of time...i know its a little tough, but i usually set aside time to visit new blogs and leave messages, if the site is really interesting then i actually spend more time to read more of a persons posts and try to establish a connection....i always love to inject humor in my comments so that leads to more conversation :)

    I'll be doing an interesting post a little related to this topic to get more discussion going....

  69. I am a new blogger that is definatley up for adoption. I have been born into the world of blogging this weekend and am fumbling my way in the dark somewhat. If anyone would like to adopt me I would be delighted - i need all the comments, thoughts, musings, interaction, whimsies and advice i can possibly get - bring it on. To come and see where i am upto, subscribe and offer up your help please visit me at www.earthdesigns.co.uk/blog

  70. A very generous idea. Thanks for the reminder to be thoughtful to those that need encouragement and not just the successful, experienced bloggers. I will heed your call and head over to the new bloggers and share some thoughts and words of encouragement. I have had many over the years and they mean a lot to me!

  71. Hello again, I just finished my post about taking blogging to the next level, a different take on this post with some good advise to new bloggers in general...I would welcome any more suggestions if you have the time to participate.

  72. Interesting topic. With so many blogs around it's inevitable that we can only visit a fraction of them.
    I think the best way of attracting comments to your own blog is to comment on other blogs. Most bloggers tend to make reciprocal comments where possible.
    I do try to visit the new blogs section of Blotanical regularly.

  73. I'm a new blogger (it's hard to believe it's almost been a month, I'm having so much fun!) so I don't know if I have any sage advice or anything lol.

    But I think that people leaving welcome comments is nice, because I was happy people did that for me. Plus, if the blogger takes time to seek out friends, and promote themselves (and BE themselves), things work out nicely. I'm happy with the following I have, I don't need to have 200 followers lol. But I'm very happy to have made the friends on here that I have :D

    Great post, I love trying to make new people feel welcome, because it's what I'd like for myself :D I'm off to adopt some blogs...

  74. Wow!

    I like Susan T.'s idea (Bike Garden) - seems do-able (fully recognizing that I am an unreliable sort these days!).

  75. Hi Jodi, sorry for my 2nd post here. I immediately opened your Adopted Blog, only to find out i am already a follower of leaves n bloom. lol. Also a disadvantage if the Blog title is secret! In Autumn Belle's case of Adoption for me and Dr. Francis Ng's sites, she actually put our titles. thanks.

  76. What a fantastic post. I'm six months into my blog now and still learning so much. I find all the comments I recieve so encouraging, they really make me want to go on and improve and create something for everyone to enjoy.

    I love to discover new blogs, ones I find and love I add to my blogroll on the right hand side of my blog. Whenever I visit a new blog I always look at their blogroll and see if there are any I have not yet discovered. I love Blotanical but some of my favourite blogs are not on there which is a problem.

    I always try to share interesting blogs with my friends. I belong to an online message board for gardeners, we are a smallish communitiy who mainly chat socially about our daily lives although we have a common passion for gardening which is what brought us together. I started a thread there called "Blogs I Enjoy" and we all post links to posts and blogs we like to visit or have found particularly useful.

    Twitter seems to have something called Follow Friday, I haven't quite got the hang of it yet but it seems to encourage others to discover new people, perhaps something like that could be introduced?

    (I have problems with people struggling to leave comments and blogger not letting them and I don't understand why? I've no idea what embedded comments are but eagerly await your info on that!)

    RO xxx

  77. Hi there, found you via Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams, and since I'll be putting in my first Kansas garden this spring, finding fellow gardening bloggers is a good thing for me to do!

    I really like your ideas here about finding new blogs and helping to promote some of the good ones. I REALLY like your idea of highlighting a blog in your sidebar, so I will try to do that too.

    Looking forward to adding you to my blog roll. :-)

  78. Wow, Jodi, you really struck a chord with that one. What a great response! I think I might feature a blog of the week (no, make that the month: I'm SO busy at the moment)along the lines that Teza suggested, with a Have You Visited...? caption on it.

  79. I've stumbled into the party a little late, and just spent more than my allotted time reading all the great suggestions. I'm pretty new still to blogging, but did a lot of research in the beginning using WordPress, ProBlogger & other forums about 'how-to'. I found Blotanical while strolling through other garden blogs' links & am so glad I did because that's how I found almost everyone here! I love the adoption idea & I can easily participate by sharing links in my blogroll and in posts about new blogs. At the moment work is so busy that I can barely keep up with adding posts, but I have more time during the summer months to seek out new blogs & bloggers.

  80. Yay. I agree, and I am up for adoption. Pick me pick me. :)

  81. I recently wanted to improve my blog and it was great to get feedback from other bloggers and advice on what they felt I should change.

    I do try to visit other blogs but time is an issue here. It do browse through the blotanical lists to but this is such a slow and tedious process.

    I sometimes think some sort of simple search for Blotanical may help people locate other blogs that may interest them - it always seems to be the same few blogs that appear on the highest pick list and so visitors including me are drawn to those as it is easy.

  82. Hi there Jodi, a brilliant posting and fascinating read through the comments. Well done you for getting such an excellent response :-D

    Some great suggestions there. I hear what many are saying. I too struggle to get round many blogs that I’ve known for some time. I still enjoy popping in with a comment every now and again though :-D

    Encouraging new bloggers through comments and email is something I’ve done quite a few times and it’s wonderful to see these blogs blossom. When many of us veterans started out there was less help I guess. It would be a sin if we weren’t able to share tips and ideas for those new to our community.

    In the case of my blog I am fully aware that a large percentage of my visitors will not be blogger based and I exchange many emails with readers especially during the nesting season. Just as you suggest adopting blogs I also do my best to promote websites as well as blogs that I feel readers to my blog would enjoy too :-D

    It’s all a balance I guess, but the more ideas we have and can share the better. After all, blogging should ultimately be fun and inspiring and not a chore or forced don’t you think?

  83. Jodi, Well done on this excellent post that has generated so many comments, ideas and suggestions. We are indeed a great community of garden bloggers supporting & encouraging each other. I shall keep on encouraging new bloggers by welcoming them at Blotanical, visiting and commenting on their blogs and featuring them on mine to encourage others to get-to-know them better. Cheers!

  84. Hi Jodi,
    I missed this post, because I haven't been blogging much because of the kitchen remodel planning and trying to clean different rooms of the house in order to make room for the things from the kitchen. We are turning the computer room upstairs into a play room for our grandson, and will put the big silver shelf from the kitchen in there. This weekend, I moved some of the things from the computer room to the basement. We may not be doing the remodeling, but there is still lots of work to be done to get ready.

    I haven't been on blotanical much for awhile, either. I do discover new bloggers from time to time, and get them on my blog roll of over 100 blogs. It is impossible for me to keep up. I like your ideas, and wish I had time to read what other people said about them. Maybe I will be able to another time.

  85. Excellent post Jodi! Clearly you've struck a cord.

    Blog reading could, indeed be a full-time job! I had no idea two years ago when I started mine, how many garden blogs there are, or that I would find such a wonderful community of caring, supportive friends. And since then, garden blogging has continued its exponential explosion.

    I agree with you and others who mention the embedded comments thing - it's frustrating, and I'm sure I've lost comments with all the windows I tend to jump between.

    It's been awhile since I've visited Blotanical. It's nothing against Stuart - I'm grateful for all the work he's put into the site, and appreciate how it's opened up the world of garden bloggers to me, and I've seen lots of support for, and between garden bloggers. The dark side of it, for me, is the competitiveness.

    We live in a competitive world, and it's not surprising that it affects (infects?) the garden blogging community to some degree.

    I was, on one hand, happy and proud to receive a Blotanical award last year. On the other hand, I'm uneasy with the idea, and felt weird about it. I have mixed/conflicted thoughts on Blotanical, yet applaud Stuart for creating and maintaining it, and think it's one of many ways new garden bloggers can get noticed. It certainly helped in my case, even if I didn't realize when starting my blog that I'd be writing it for anyone else besides myself.


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