After six years, nearly 900 posts, and a million views, Dan Cooper at The Frustrated Gardener has learned a thing or two about blogging — and gardening on his small plot by the sea in eastern Kent, England. In his top tips for writing a gardening blog, he offers sound advice not just for gardeners with blogs, but all writers honing and growing their online presence. Here are highlights from his post.
There is no shortage of text books available to tell you how to garden the text-book way. They are largely written by people far more knowledgeable than you or I will ever be. People subscribe to blogs to get a different, personal and slightly more informal angle on a subject. My advice is to write about what you know and what you love. If you don’t have first hand experience of a subject, what are you going to offer that isn’t documented elsewhere? . . . Consider what insight you can offer that others cannot — perhaps you have experience growing a certain group of plants, or work or garden in a unique location?
I recommend you write what’s relevant to the season or the next few weeks, rather than looking backwards. My observation is that people visit gardening blogs looking for inspiration and information about what to do right now, rather than see what they have missed. My draft folder is chock-a-block with posts that I started and then the moment passed. I leave them there and occasionally resurrect them eleven months later. In the UK we live in a country which is blessed with defined seasons. Use them to guide your posts and your readers will find your writing instantly relevant . . . unless they reside in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case they will enjoy the stark contrast!
I began blogging because I wanted to stretch myself technologically and horticulturally. You will have different reasons for writing a blog, but for it to be interesting over a long period you need to be adventurous. This does not necessarily mean trekking to the top of Kilimanjaro . . . but it does help to seek out new and different subjects for your readers. I have certainly visited gardens and delved into the undergrowth where perhaps I might not have normally, in order to have an interesting anecdote to write about. . . . For example, if you’re visiting a garden and spot one of the gardening team at work, ask them what they are up to and which plants they think are looking their best. Go beyond the guide-book and your followers will lap it up. . . .
And, of course, stay safe. How ever ravishing that orchid on the cliff-edge looks, it’s not worth risking life and limb for. Get a zoom lens instead.
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