How To Start A Successful Garden Blog

Our guest author today is Alex McDonalds, who tells us how to get into the world of garden blogging. Alex is an enthusiastic newcomer to the world of blogging, with a particular interest in the world of gardening. For all your gardening needs, he recommends Coblands.

Shenandoah weighs in on this article as well, commenting and adding in brackets. office 3 How To Start A Successful Garden Blog Image by wonderlane

There has been a well documented increase in the popularity of gardening in recent years. Indeed, as consumer spending slowed, the gardening industry has proved remarkably resilient. More people have started to read about gardening too. In fact, at a time when sales of paper publications have been falling, gardening magazines have continued to do well.

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One of Shenandoah’s favorites, English Garden Magazine

As you would expect in this day and age, people’s desire to read about gardening has lead to the emergence of numerous gardening blogs. If you have an interest in gardening, enjoy writing and consider yourself reasonably technologically savvy, it’s possible that you’ve considered starting a gardening blog.

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Frosted Camellias from Garden Rant, photo by Saxon Holt

If you have, what follows is a few tips that might help you get started.

1. Find Your Niche

Gardening is a very broad pastime. There are vegetable gardens, landscape gardens, Japanese gardens, rooftop gardens, allotments and anyone who knows anything about gardening will know that this list barely scratches the surface. The great thing about the internet is that the potential readership is so vast, that no matter how narrowly you try to carve your niche, you should find a potential audience.

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Deciduous Bonsai from Valavanis Bonsai Blog

As most people navigate their way around the internet through search engines, and know how to use these search engines to find what they want, it shouldn’t be too difficult for this potential audience to find you.

[Choosing your niche is critical. It will lead to a name for your blog, a name for your domain (website), and the keywords that search engines will use to find you. What will your garden blog be about? Desert farming or swamp orchids? Garden tools or teaching children to garden? Write it down and work on making the title searchable and see how many other sites Google pulls up when you do your search — these are your potential competitors for readership.]

[But what would you consider “success” if you start a garden blog? All your friends read it? You get a lot of comments? Your blog is a money-making business? You write about what interests you without regard to its impact on the web? Each definition of success might take a different path in setting up and running a “successful” garden blog.]

Finding a niche that you enjoy writing about has the added benefit of ensuring that you are only writing about things you find really interesting, which makes it easier for you to achieve point 2.

2. Have Fun

If you’re not having fun writing your blog, people are not going to have fun reading it. As, if you are considering writing a gardening blog, you probably enjoy gardening, writing about gardening should not be a chore. If it is, you are doing something wrong. The added benefit of making sure you have fun writing your blog is that, if you are, it no longer really matters if the number of readers you attract never gets out of double figures.

3. Aesthetics Matter Just As Much On The Screen As They Do In The Garden

However, if you want to attract any readers at all, your blog needs to look nice. This is not an optional extra, if your looks like a error message, people will treat it like a error message, and click away. Gardening as a pastime is all about bright, vibrant colors and your blog should be too. A nice, sleek, professional look to your blog, will make it more likely that people will feel that you know what you talking about, whether you do or not.

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A rose in our garden

[I am a visual person, and photographs are vital to my blog. It is not necessary to have a professional camera to take good photos. I have had guest posters who used their phone cameras to take perfectly acceptable photos for posting. But it does take time and effort to capture pictures that others want to see and refer to in their own gardening efforts. When I am out gardening, I have to remember to capture the moment before, during, and after a project, or when weather threatens, or when the lighting is just right, and add that to my media library for later blogging.]

The way you present your blog should reflect its theme.  For instance, a blog that takes a very scientific approach to gardening, shouldn’t look the same as blog that tries to tell people the best way to recreate an old English meadow in their back garden.

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Brooklyn Botanical Garden Blog

Also, if further down the line, you start to think about monetizing your blog, people will be more likely to trust you enough to follow your links if your blog looks professional.

Many bloggers use a Content Management System (CMS) [blog hosting platform] to help with presentation. With limited coding,  a CMS can ensure that all the pages on your blog have a similar, sleek look. The most popular CMS is WordPress, followed by Drupal and Jumla! [On this side of the Pond, Typepad, Blogger, and Blogsmith are probably more popular.]

[You might want to start with a free blogging service such as WordPress.com or Blogger, and then when you’ve tried that out, move on to buying a domain (website) name and hosting your blog yourself. If you ever plan to advertize on your site, you might want to start out buying a website name and hosting your own blog, because the free service at WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to advertize for yourself on their site. I have been very happy with WordPress.org software for my site, and have used HostGator to host my site. I bought a domain name (for $15), bought HostGator hosting service (for about $100 per year), an automatic backup service at BlogVault (for $9 per month), and was able to get going. Since Blogger is owned by Google, you can advertize with Google’s Adsense and still get a free blogging platform.]

CMS’s can also help with other things, such as Search Engine Optimization.  Not all CMS’s are right for all blogs, so it’s a good idea to shop around a bit before you make any final decision.

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Introduction to blogging by WordPress

Starting a blog on any topic, particularly a topic where the field is as crowded as it is for gardening, can be a daunting process, but these tips will help you make a solid start.

Have you got any other tips for starting your own gardening blog? Share in the comments.

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