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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Garden Blogger = Ego-Maniac?

I've been blogging about gardening for as long as I've been gardening. I love it. Blogging, I mean. Of course I love gardening too - that goes without saying, right? But what is it about blogging that is so addicting? What are we doing here? Are we actually adding something to society on a "global" gardening level, or are we simply stroking our own overgrown (no pun intended) egos?

I'd guess that most of us started our garden blogs to keep an "online journal" of our gardens, or at least that's what we told ourselves. I mean it's just not cool to go "hey I think what I have to say is just so interesting that random Internet peeps will want to read it", right? I suppose when you think of it, we (bloggers) are a product of society just like everybody else. Reality TV has proved that real people doing everyday crap is interesting, addicting even. OK fine, so lets say I'm convinced that it's OK that I love to blog about gardening and try to be OK with the boost my ego gets when people who's gardens I think are so beautiful comment on my humble, sometimes humiliating attempt at gardening. But how do we explain our attempt to attract (lure) people to our blogs? I get the whole "sense of community" we garden bloggers enjoy. I understand getting to know e-gardeners and developing important relationships with them even in the absence of face to face contact. I'm not talking about that - I'm talking about the importance we place on exposure to our blogs. How engaged we are in finding new readers and new ways to inject our blogs into any little opening we find. What's that about? I've gotten preoccupied about it myself these days and I need to understand it.

Every time I turn around somebody's gardening blog (mostly Garden Rant those show-offs!) is getting mentioned in a newspaper. And every time I read about it I say, sometimes out loud, "YAY! GOOD FOR HER/HIM/THEM!" But, why am I so happy for them? It's not as if blogging is all that contemporary anymore and people have been gardening, well, forever. It's really because we know that the plug will bring more readers to the blog, right? But why do we want more readers?

This week Melanie over at Old Country Gardens wrote a great post about how she makes these bookmarks out of her garden photos and advertises her blog on the back. What a great idea! Hell, I'm using an old cell phone bill for a book mark as we speak! Who doesn't need a good bookmark? Put a beautiful garden photo on it - EVEN BETTER! Melanie's point was to "get the word out." When I read it, aside from loving the whole damn project idea I thought, "what a great way to attract readers to your blog." But why do we want more readers?

Then there are the posts about advertising your blog on these cute little business cards like this one. Now this makes more sense to me because the main reason this person is suggesting business cards is to have a good way to exchange information at the garden blogger spring fling. I get that. If I'm in the midst of a large group of people who are defined only (mostly) by a blog, I'm gonna need to go "I'm gina, you know, from myskinnygarden?" Why not have a nice little card to hand out, right? But come on. We order the cards, give a few out at the spring fling, then have the left overs to hand out to other people. Because we want more readers!

Today I received an email from a freelance writer for a Chicago newspaper who had read my blog and wanted to ask me a few questions about a very specific gardening topic that he was writing an article about. As it turns out I don't know much about what he's researching but do you know how flattered and proud I was that somebody like this even read my blog let alone take the time to ask my opinion about something? All I could think of is how incredibly excited I'd be if my blog was ever mentioned in any kind of article. Why? Because it would attract more readers.

Is there some blogging pot of gold that I don't know about? Is there a magic number of hits at which some Ed McMann type person knocks on the door with a big check? I know some people have ads on their blogs but I do not believe for one second that blog ads is a lucrative business for the blog owner. I imagine at most these ads might generate enough revenue to pay for the site if the blog isn't published on a free one like mine. So, my garden blogging friends, I ask you. Why do we want more readers. Are we really trying to get people excited about gardening? Or are we simply stroking our egos?


  1. I think everyone likes a little...validation. Gardening especially is pretty much a solitary exercise, yet, we do it in the public eye as well.

    I suppose we want readers for the same reason we want people driving past our front yards to say: "Wow, what a pretty place, the person who made that is really special!"

    The nice thing about a blog is that you get to make the solitary gardening a little less solitary. You get to bounce ideas and experiences with different plants and situations with others who are interested in some of the same things we like.

    And it is exciting to be recognized for something you love to do. When my blog was mentioned on, I was flabbergasted. I was also as pleased as I could be at that time. See, my "recognition" came just one day after my dad passed away. So, along with the pleasure of recognition, came the sadness of loss.

    Why do we blog? Because we can, because we like to, because sometimes, the inner conversations we have with ourselves while weeding are more interesting when shared with others.

  2. I sure hope we're not ego-maniacs, Gina!

    To find other people who both gardened and liked to write about their Austin gardens caused my original interest in blogging. That succeeded far beyond anything I could have imagined, with in-person meetings and outings and now the Spring Fling!

    Now it's a mad whirl of conversations all over the world, which is so much fun, but very time consuming.

    When we Austin garden bloggers were in the local paper it was a heady experience - maybe Nancy's "validation" is just the right word. Most people equate gardening with 'hobby'... we deeply need to connect with people who understand it is not a hobby, but a calling.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Gina,

    I don't blog...yet..Although I admit I am gaining interest, and may soon. I am interested in your blog not so much for your expertise as much as your willingness to try new things. You are fresh, adventurous, and willing to experiment and fail and learn and we get to learn right along with you. That gives you a unique niche that an expert gardener can't compete with.

    There is nothing wrong with carving out your own little corner of the blogging world and attracting the readership that enjoys your blog! Go for it!

  4. Well, as one of the show-offs (ha, smiley), I think I started blogging as a way to document my garden. Now I blog largely to emphasize that gardening is important. I have to tell you it was kind of cool that of all the bloggers in my town (all guys mainly, writing about sports and politics) I was the first to be mentioned in a paper like the Post. In fact, one of those bloggers posted on it, wondering how the word "gardening" got associated with "feisty" and "rant." "It's almost an oxymoron" he mused. So yeah, now I blog to show how gardening connects to so many other vital things.

  5. Gina, I hope we aren't all blogging just for comments, but to share with others our love of gardening.

    As noted by Nancy and Annie, gardening can be quite solitary, so to be able to connect with other gardeners is a real treat. And I know in my "real life" I'll never meet as many gardeners as I've met "online" who share in my passion, obsession for gardening.

    I can hardly believe that I'm actually going to Austin for the spring fling. But I am!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  6. nancy - thanks for your perspective on this. CNN??? WOW! Thats great!

    annie - thanks for stopping by and giving your opinion. you austin gardeners are a big ole group all your own from what I can tell. That's great.

    wendi - wow! thank you so much! I'm glad you are enjoying all my misery (ha ha) and if anybody can learn from my mistakes (do not ever start bush beans indoors in feb) then that is just fabulous!

    EAL - thanks for stopping by. just so you know, we are all wannabe ranters! you guys are awesome and deserve every bit of the press you get then some. keep up the good work.

    carol - the spring fling sounds like it's going to be tons of fun! i have seriously thought of joining you. maybe i could hitch a ride with MMD - we'll be like thelma and louise!

  7. In my opinion, it's like a popularity contest. Maybe you weren't cool in school but in the blog-o-sphere you can be a god (or goddess). It's also validation, that your writing is good or you are interesting.

    But for me, I would be stressed out if my blog were in a paper and that meant I had to A) write more often B)Think before I write and C) always write something fabulously interesting. STRESS!!

    I like laying low.

  8. I liken garden blogging to talking to another gardener over the fence.

    I have plenty of gardeners that are friends I can talk to, and often do. But with reading blogs, I feel as though I can listen in on other conversations and not have to get involved (and show off my gardening ineptness and in-expertise) if I choose not too.

    I can always chime in if I have something to offer, at the very least a (hopefully humorous) wise-ass comment.

    I have learned a tremendous amount from reading these blogs. My own blog is a way of sharing my travel photos of gardens, as well as promoting Buffalo's gardens and Garden Walk Buffalo. (I'm not ashamed of that fact!)

  9. rosemarie - don't kill me but i gave that writer your blog address because he wanted to know about growing edibles in containers and i told him you'd grown tomatoes in buckets last year. ;)

    jim - thanks for stopping by to give your perspective! its because of all you bloggers that i now long to attend the buffalo garden walk. i love reading all about the 2007 one.

  10. Long before the internet was a household word, before blogging was invented, I was a writer. Not a published writer, but a writer nonetheless. Once the garden bug bit, I wanted to be a garden writer. But I started blogging about my garden because I was lonely. I wanted to meet and become friends with other gardeners, and share what I had learned about gardening in a cold climate.

    I would still like to meet more local gardeners, so I always keep some cards (the cheap kind) in my purse, to stick on public bulletin boards (like the grocery store) or to hand out to people in the library.

  11. Heather's GardenMarch 2, 2008 at 8:21 PM

    I'm a little late to the conversation, but my 2 cents...

    I started blogging because I was taking a lot of digital photos of my first garden to share with my mother (I was in CT, she was in NC). I found myself creating on-line photo albums with long (paragraphs) labels and distributing them to my mom and then others in my family. I had stumbled onto a few garden blogs while searching for information and discovered that I could get a free trial on Typepad.

    Here I am less than a year later with some fantastic blog gardening friends and, to my astonishment, people other than my mom reading my blog -- on a daily basis no less (or at least they were when I was still posting more than once a week)!

    It's also fun and helpful for me to organize my photos with a narrative and dates to remind me what I've done. I would blog even if no one was reading, but boy does it feel great to know that people are reading and enjoying it enough to comment!