Five Things Newbie Garden Bloggers Should Know

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One might think this presumptive, giving advice about beginning a blog when I know so little about the technical aspects of the online blogdom. I don’t even have a smartphone, in this day and age. I know! So I am not exactly up to date on things, but it just goes to show that you don’t have to be, either. Let’s say you are a gardener, longtime or new to the game. You want to write and share and learn about gardening. You might have been reading garden blogs and feel like you have something to contribute. You want to join in the fun. I suggest you do what I did in December, 2007 and jump on in. What have you got to lose? It costs nothing but your time. Remember, life is too short. Onward!

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Get started. Pick a unique to you name, make sure it has not already been used by someone else, or something very similar to it is already in use. Google it to find out. When choosing your blog host, Blogger, WordPress or others, first acquaint yourself with the themes they offer. It is free and their support can be very helpful with technical questions. If I could do it, anyone can. Trial and error is a good way to figure things out for yourself. I began blogging on Blogger and switched to WordPress after nine months. Both are good.

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Write blog posts that you, yourself would want to read, regularly. Make it interesting and personal. Find your voice, like you are talking to a friend. Use proper spelling and grammar, google it if you are unsure. Use the latin names of plants, with the genus capitalized, the species lower case and the cultivar name in single quotes. Italicize the whole name. Do it every time. Look it up. Keep good records when you buy a new plant so you will know what you’ve got.

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Get a digital camera or even use your phone if it takes decent shots. It is not necessary to take classes or have expensive equipment. It is necessary for you to learn how to read the light, know when is the best time to take pictures of your own garden. (I use a Canon Powershot AS720IS, a point and shoot, always on auto.) Make them as pretty as possible. Take hundreds or even thousands and delete the poor ones. Put your name, or blog name on the photos with some kind of photo program. I use Image Expert 2000 that came with an old Dell desktop to add text and make the contrast better, crop, etc. Practice makes you better at it. Shrink the size of your photos to help prevent stealing and allow you to load more shots without having to pay your platform for more space.


Visit and comment on other garden blogs. Always fill out the form to provide the link to your blog, that is one way to get new readers. Be generous with links to blogs that you enjoy. Add them to your blogroll on the sidebar and always provide a link to them if you are inspired by something you have read on their blog. Also, let them know when you link to them so they can come and read it and thank you. Watch out for spam. The spammers will leave links to whatever they are selling, posed in the form of a comment. Some spam has evolved to be very close to a real comment. Click on the link they use to be sure of what you are allowing to be linked on your blog.


Join in the garden blogdom. Add your blog to social media. Pin photos from your blog posts on Pinterest, be sure they link back to your blog. Particpate in things like Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and other memes that interest you. You will meet some like minded folks that way and find blogs that appeal to you. Keep improving and learning all the time. Save your pennies and attend the yearly Garden Blogger Flings. So far they have been held in Austin, Texas in 2008, Chicago, Illinois in 2009, Buffalo, New York in 2010, Seattle, Washington in 2011 and this year’s, 2012 will be held in May in Asheville, North Carolina. We even attended one in Malvern, UK in 2010. The tentative location for 2013 is San Francisco, California. Meeting the people whose blogs you read, meeting people who also blog but you are not familiar with and those who have left comments on your blog is the BEST!


This is just a short list of ideas that came to me after one of my readers began her own blog. She accidentally deleted it, but will start again, I hope. Some of the attendees for the Asheville Fling 2012 are relatively new to blogging as well. I hope this helps some. Established bloggers out there, is there anything you would like to add to help out someone who is just beginning?

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The photos were selected at random from the 763 posts that have previously appeared on Fairegarden. Once published, they can be reused without reloading again and again with a simple copy and paste.

For other How To posts written by Fairegarden, look for How To on the sidebar page listing or click here.

Frances

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30 Responses to Five Things Newbie Garden Bloggers Should Know

  1. Meta says:

    That is most informative Frances. Thanks so much for posting that. Very helpful.

    Thanks, Meta.

  2. Frances brilliant advice…although I have only been blogging for a year and a half, I don’t know I could add anything…hoping to attend the fling one day…work prevents it right now.

    Hi Donna, thanks. I don’t know about brilliant, HA, but those are some things that came to mind that might help others. I hope you can attend the fling someday, too. They are the BEST!
    Frances

  3. Greggo says:

    Short and sweet i kind. Try not to add too much information at once. Break it into multiple posts if you have a lot of information to cover. Condense photos into your best ones.

    Comment back to your commenter s. Either via their comment form or email. Visit blotanical for a listing of other garden bloggers.

    Enjoy and have fun. Garden bloggers are friendly and inviting.

    Hi Greggo, thanks. I agree about too much information, it only makes the whole thing seem more daunting and confusing. Using your best photos is always a good idea, too. Finding other garden bloggers, possibly in your area for a face to face meetup, even if you can’t go to the flings is fun and rewarding. Thanks for mentioning it.
    Frances

  4. Dear Frances – This is an incredibly useful post for new bloggers. The only thing I might have added was to do a search for “Garden Blog Directories” (or similar) and then add your blog details to the directories you think look good (I can think offhand of Blotanical, DiginDirt, but there are many others).

    I found taking part in a few blog memes really made the difference as it introduced me to other bloggers sites and attracted some followers very early on. We published a page with recommended Garden Blog Memes on our site: http://www.thegardeningblog.co.za/we-recommend/garden-blog-memes/ for anyone looking to get involved.

    Thanks for a great post! The only think I haven’t done yet is join a Fling / Meet up. Based in South Africa it is not so easy to do, but I will do it one day in the future 🙂

    Hi Christine, thanks so much for adding here. I hope the new garden bloggers will read the comments to see these good ideas. I know of several garden bloggers in South Africa, don’t know how close any of you are to each other, but perhaps a planned meetup of some kind would be fun.
    Frances

  5. Crystal says:

    Very useful advice. I’m a relative newbie to the blogosphere, so any help is much appreciated. I’d have to save up a lot of pennies to attend the Garden Blogger Fling though, unless I win the lottery. Thanks again for the advice.

    Hi Crystal, thanks for visiting. I hope you found some ideas you could use here. One thing about the flings, they keep moving around to different parts of the country. If one is ever scheduled to be close to you, the savings on transportation can be substantial.
    Frances

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Great advice and encouragement here Frances. I am really looking forward to the FLing this year since I can actually attend and not just enjoy it vicariously.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I am so glad you are coming to the Asheville fling!
    Frances

  7. All great suggestions and your blog is proof that you walk the walk. You are the master of the engaging conversational tone, your pictures are amazing, and your information is always helpful. I admire your due diligence in being accurate about plant names instead of just referring to something as the “pretty yellow thingie”.

    Hi Michaele, thanks for those kind words, I appreciate you! When I first began blogging, I was not so accurate in the plant names, although made every effort to identify them. I am a retired accountant, so record keeping is like breathing to me. What I did not know what to capitalize the genus, etc. My old posts reflect that omission. The first posts are quite stilted, not very interesting, and before I got the current camera the shots are not so good. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a macro setting. My daughter showed me that! HA The best advice about anything is to keep learning!
    Frances

  8. Layanee says:

    Jump on it is great advice…I think I am coming up on a blogaversary. I will have to check the exact date. I love that blogging lets us all share our gardens and gardening experiences across the world.

    Hi Layanee, thanks. Happy Blogaversary, whenever that may be! The sharing and making new friends with others who share the passion of gardening really adds to the joy in our lives. Makes for a smaller world.
    Frances

  9. My only word of advice is that you need to let your blog evolve as you grow. My first blog was a gardening only blog, but found that I was getting much more response when I was venturing away from gardening. After much trial and turmoil my blog has turned into something completely different – it is now much more than gardening but a reflection of my life as a whole – gardening, cooking, decorating, DIY, travel. Hence I’ve now dropped the gardening blog and am focussing on my new blog – New House, New Home, New Life.

    Never thought I would move away from the gardening theme. But my blog evolved along the way and I needed to let that happen.

    Hi Heather, thanks for joining in here. Good advice about letting the blog lead you where it wants to go. I sometimes write about non-gardening stuff. That is the beauty of it, you can write about whatever you want to, in as few words or as many as you like, as many or few photos as you care to post, too. You are the boss!
    Frances

  10. Sandy Bridenbaugh says:

    Guess what Frances it’s me the girl that lost her blog, but the good news is that I found it again and it is still there. I’m working on it and learning as I go so will have it back up soon. Thanks for all the advice because it is great for all of us just starting. I know I will love sharing all that I have learned threw the many years of gardening and also learning from other gardeners as well. Thanks again!

    Hi Sandy, thanks for being the inspiration to this post! I am so glad you found your blog again, too. Let me know when you are ready for it to be added to my blogroll, and don’t forget your url when leaving a comment!
    Frances

  11. Lola says:

    Very informative Frances. You should be a teacher. I love your pics.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I don’t have the patience to be a real teacher, or the stamina! I was a substitutute middle school teacher for a while. Every parent should have to do a few stints of that. It would bring new respect to the profession of teachers!
    Frances

  12. I have to remember to visit folks who come to my blog, great seeing new bloggers out there! I think your best advice is ‘to find your voice’. Too often people try to do posts that they think others will like and it falls flat.

    Hi Janet, thanks. Finding your voice is probably THE most important thing. Everything else will fall into place once that is established.
    Frances

  13. Frances – there’s always something to learn, and our garden blogging community has such a wealth of teachers. I always enjoy your posts, even though our dry Austin summers wouldn’t be hospitable to so many of the wonderful plants you have. Your turtle posts are my favorites!

    Hi Victoria, thanks so much. The garden bloggers are such a great group. Meeting them in person was life changing for someone as shy as I am. I envy your Agaves! I do love the turtles, keep looking for them, but it seems to be too early yet. One would think these summer like temps would wake them out of hibernation. Soon, I hope.
    Frances

  14. Donna B. says:

    This is wonderful information! And duly absorbed as well, as I have a garden blog in the plans… I already maintain a plethora of websites for my illustration purposes, but I don’t really discuss much about my garden than a couple of photos here and there. For me, content will be no problem… I sort of attune my sense of posting with flow like “Chiots Run”, photos like “Fairegarden”, and text/talk like “Squash’s Garden” – all my personal favorites! [and I’m NOT trying to get extra credit here! hee hee.]
    But I do not think I would be able to post daily… maybe they’ll be “wordless every-other-day’s, haha!
    I find the hardest part is figuring out a name… a lot of the good ones are taken! And I’m hardly clever… I have a thought on one, but I think it may be on the silly side.

    You TOTALLY need to add in to join along with everyone else on the 15th’s Bloom Day! I have found SO MANY new gardening blogs to read [it’s how I found the Fairegarden nearly two years ago~] and cherish through May’s post… it’s the best!

    Hi Donna, thanks so much for the glowing words. Finding new blogs is fun, and bloom day is a great way to do it. I started out posting daily, had a backlog of photos from several years. In about three months I say the light and went to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sometimes I think I will cut back to two days a week, or even once a week. Whatever best suits the particular circumstance. I do think posting on certain days is a good idea, but that is just me.
    Frances

  15. All good advice Frances. Maybe my only other advice would be to relax about it. Write and share what you want to share and don’t worry if you feel like you’re talking to a void. Eventually, after you’ve visited other blogs and left comments, you’ll have readers too. Which may or may not be important to you. Do it for yourself, more than anything. If nothing else it’s a great way to keep a garden journal.

    Hi Jean, thanks for those wise words. The blog is a great journal, especially to see when certain things bloomed and where the heck they are planted! Please yourself first, that should be rule number one.
    Frances

  16. patientgardener says:

    I would agree with all your top five points. I think the two most important are writing for yourself and your friends/family – its your blog and to make sure you comment on others, after all it is a two way exchange. I wish I could come to the US flings but finances wont allow it:(

    Hi Helen, thanks for joining in here. Writing for yourself is utmost. You need to be comfortable with your own words. I wish you could come, too! Maybe someday, or maybe someday we will be able to come again to Malvern.
    xxxooo
    Frances

  17. ricki says:

    When I started, I thought I would surely run out of material within a short time. That was five years ago. I guess that is just a little enlargement on your advice to “just plunge in”. The feedback and connection with others keeps building up one’s store of knowledge, generating new ideas for subject matter as we go. Plus, it’s FUN!

    Hi Ricki, thanks for adding in. As with so many things, waiting for the perfect time will end up with you on the sidelines watching and not enjoying all the fun of being a part of the garden blogging group. I am so glad you made the plunge!
    Frances

  18. Elephant's Eye says:

    (small whinge, very small whinge – I find your blog tricky to read, on a dark background. Which is sad for me as you have a garden I love to visit. Other blogs on the Dark Side I can cheat with Google Reader, there I get vanilla black text on white. But your feed is set so I have to click thru. I know, the dreaded SCRAPERS! Enjoyed this post today, will need a moment for my eyes to recover, so I can read the next blog) Going to feed a hungry cat, who has bobbed up for dinner ;~)

    Hi Diana, thanks for making the effort to read my difficult to see blog. I hope it didn’t mess up your vision too awfully bad. I have looked at other themes, but without the dark background, it just doesn’t seem right to me. The stealing of material is quite serious, and I do everything I can to prevent it, including the partial feed. Pet your cat for me, anyway. I am sorry about this problem for you and others, truly.
    Frances

  19. Nell Jean says:

    Some ‘tips’ that I learned on your blog years back by way of imitation were to visit those who visit and reply to each comment — I don’t always do that but I’m working on it.

    I have a question: How often do you update your blogroll? It’s a tedious job but I despair of those names hanging on the end of mine once prolific who have not posted in months. I wonder about them. Are they ill? Was blogging too much a burden? Are they coming back after spring breaks?

    Hi Nell Jean, thanks for visiting. I don’t have the time to visit as much as in the beginning, but that is still the way for newbies to make friends and find blogs they like. As for the blogroll, it is a behemoth! About twice a year I go to each and every blog listed to see if they are still active. If they have not posted in a year, I delete them. Sometimes they have switched to a new url and I fix the link on my sidebar. I will read a few posts to see how they are doing, too. It is VERY time consuming and takes several days of doing nothing else. About the time I get to the bottom, it needs to be done again! Oh well…
    Frances

  20. indygardener says:

    I’m sure glad I took the plunge and started a blog way back when… good advice!

    I am sure glad, too, Carol. Yours was one of the first I ever read, and I visited every blog on your sidebar, too. There were so few back then! Now there is no way to even know about all of them!
    Frances

  21. Sharon says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’m a pretty new blogger (started in January) so I need all the help I can get. Next time I get a little extra time I think I will try to figure out how to add a blog roll in the margin as you suggest — since there are so many great blogs out there I enjoy reading! I think the photos you picked are quite lovely and of course I understand why you broke your own rule about naming them in this case 🙂 but what is the plant in the third photo? I’m very curious. Or is that two different plants? The flowers look a bit like muscari, but the leaves look like something else, maybe hellebore.

    Hi Sharon, thanks so much and welcome to the blogdom. As a blogspot user, you can add the blogroll easily. It has changed much since I used it, so I can’t help you figure out which buttons to click. I suggest you google it. You have a good eye with the plants. That is indeed a Muscari latifolium hiding behind the foliage of a hellebore.
    Frances

  22. wow it seems to be that time of year – I just posted “Does blogging make you a better gardener?” I feel as though blogging has opened up my back fence to so many gardeners around the world that I can chat to, discuss problems with and share the joys. A meet up with other bloggers sounds great – hope you post about it.

    Hi AfricanAussie, thanks for adding to the conversation here. Blogging certainly has opened my somewhat closed world, that is a side effect that was a surprise, and such a wonderful one! There have been several posts about all of the meetups with other bloggers. I finally put them together on their own page for easy viewing. They are listed on the sidebar Pages category under Garden Blogger Meetups, or click here.
    Frances

  23. Lyn says:

    I agree completely, Frances. I’ve only just started doing the plant names the way you recommend, and it was because I saw and appreciated how you did it on your blog! But I still sometimes forget, so I’m going to try harder now that you’ve reminded me. And I wish we had Flings in Australia, but there aren’t many garden bloggers and we live a long way apart, so it’s difficult. Maybe one day. Or maybe I’ll make it to one of yours.

    Hi Lyn, thanks for joining in here. I am sometimes lax on the plant names, but often go back and fill in the entire name as time allows. It helps people know exactly which plant we are talking about that way. BUT, don’t get me started about the changing of the botanical names by taxonomists with too much time on their hands, taking a perfectly fine name like Sedum and making it into something no one can remember, spell or even pronounce! It will always be Sedum, Aster, etc. to me! It would be grand if you could attend a blogger meetup here in the states, but also wonderful if you or others could put one together in your neck of the woods!
    Frances!

  24. Great ideas Frances. We learn as we blog, not too long, comments to blogger friends and large photos.

    Eileen

    Hi Eileen, thanks. Keep learning, we must do that in all aspects of our lives, is my philosophy.
    Frances

  25. Rose says:

    Excellent advice, Frances; I wish I had read something like this when I first began. I think visiting others’ blogs and leaving a comment on them is very important, but it is hard to keep up with it all sometimes, especially this time of year when the garden beckons. One of the aspects of your blog I’ve always enjoyed is your unique voice, Frances; I always feel as if I’m having a conversation with you instead of reading some dry prose, and I love your sense of humor:)

    Hi Rose, thanks. I wish there had been some quidelines when I began blogging, too. But really, I learn best by doing it myself, mistakes included. I appreciate your readership and support, Rose, it means a lot to me. Especially since you were an English teacher. I like to please the teacher!
    Frances

  26. commonweeder says:

    Lots of good advice here, from you and the other commenters. It is hard to keep up with the commenting side, and I can’t comment every day on my favorite blogs, especially as we go into high gardening season, but I make the rounds every day. Pretty much.

    Hi Pat, thanks. Visiting and commenting take time, that is why I appreciate my readers and those who leave a message so very much!
    Frances

  27. Victoria says:

    Fantastic post, Frances. Yes, it’s not about the technology but about sharing your thoughts. That’s why I love your blog – your voice comes through so clearly, it’s almost as if I’m standing next to you in your garden in Tennessee. (I wish I WAS standing next to you in your garden in Tennessee!)
    I’m not nearly good enough at leaving comments and visiting other blogs. I’d love to do it in theory but don’t always get time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t value the contacts and the friendships I have made through blogging. Friends – virtual or real-life – are always to be treasured. Love Victoria xoxo

    Hi Victoria, thanks so much. How I wish you were here in my garden, too, or I in yours! It is the friendships formed, as you say, that have been the very best thing about blogging, face to face or online. Miss you!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

  28. I took the leap–almost a year ago….though I have only a handful of followers and readers….they are people who get me and my love of a garden….great post, I am going to keep writing and posting.
    Stacey

    Hi Stacey, thanks for adding in here and welcome to the blogdom! I am glad you are going to keep writing and posting, it is a wonderful journey.
    Frances

  29. amberh2k says:

    Hello. Very new to blogging–I don’t even know how to follow people, but I started my garden blog in February. I found your page by Googling. My blog is “Garden Everything” at gardeneverything.wordpress.com – I’m just trying to get up some regular posts to lay a foundation, and hopefully will be able to write more often (and shorter posts) when things get going in the garden. I’m such a perfectionist–I don’t want blogging take over all my time! Everything I read says you should post often (i.e., as close to daily as possible) to get people to check your page, but I don’t see that as realistic. I’ve also seen friends start blogs, then abandon them after a few posts. Looking for a happy medium! Thanks for your resources, I think I signed up to follow you, and have bookmarked your page just in case 🙂
    ~Amber

    Hi Amber, thanks and welcome to the Blogdom! I hope you enjoy blogging as much as I do, but don’t push yourself too hard. Posting every day is not something I wish to do, and I don’t think it necessary to have a following of readers. Do what you can, write for yourself and don’t stress out about it at all. It should be fun, not work, unless someone is paying you to do it. You can subscribe to get an email every time there is a new post here by clicking on the button on the top of the sidebar and filling in the info of the email address you want it sent to. Thanks!
    Frances

  30. penrync says:

    Thanks for this. I’m switching from WordPress to Blogger and trying again… you see, there really are people in this world for whom techie is difficult. But I’m still out here… taking photos and playing in the garden… the techie stuff WILL happen!

    Hi Penryn, good for you and keep on trying! Trial and error is how I did it, being a Luddite and all. If you want it badly enough, you will do it.
    Frances

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