Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Garden Blogs and Good Intentions

I am one of those gardeners for whom the new year is like a starting gate catapulting open in a horse race. Waking up on January 1st is the point at which the door is released and the prize-winning filly hurtles towards the finishing line, only in my case I'm a mare running like the clappers towards the seed catalogues, and there is nothing prize-winning about me (my track record with raffle tickets speaks for itself).

I had planned to focus solely on ornamental seeds during early January, but my head has already been turned by edibles. Pipiche is an attractive Mexican herb, so it might be considered ornamental, but Carosello looks like a hairy cucumber. Had I resolved to exercise more self-control, I would have failed in my resolution on day one. Thankfully, the older I get, the more resolved I become to never make a resolution, which is a resolution in itself. It only goes to show how unsuccessful resolutions can be.
When I started blogging I had no clear idea of what I was trying to achieve. I knew that I wanted to share the joy of gardening with nature in mind. All of the photos in this post were taken over the festive period. Had I cut back and tidied the plants in autumn instead of leaving them to provide food and shelter for our wilder friends, imagine how flat and dull my garden would have been. I might not win any raffles, but the wildlife and the sight of the plants on a frosty morn makes me feel like a winner.
It took a few months for me to pluck up the courage to publish my first post. I chose the easiest platform I could find and didn’t commit myself to a domain name. I had read blogs for some time and I really loved the blogosphere. I still do. Being part of this global community has taught me to be a better gardener. Now I want to learn to be a better blogger, so I am starting the year by asking for your advice.
If I were to change the blogging platform, are there pitfalls I should watch out for? Would adding a culinary section to the mix be a good idea? What about historical posts and comments - do they travel well? Have you ever changed the name of your blog? If so, was that an issue? What works and what doesn't about this blog? You may quite rightly be concluding that I have as much of a clue about what I’m doing as I have about growing that hairy cucumber lookalike, Carosello. Of course, if you have any advice on growing Carosello, it will be more than gratefully received.
Perhaps I should leave The Gardening Shoe well alone and go and focus on something more predictable, like selecting veggies to grow in 2017. The most predictable aspect of which will be the addition of a couple of ornamentals to the edible list. After all, there is bound to be something I forgot to order while I was getting sidetracked by Carosello and Pipiche. Such is the nature of seed catalogues and good intentions. 

Thank you for all your encouragement and support over the years. Wishing you health and happiness in 2017. I look forward to reading your blogs and salivating over your beautiful photos this year. Here's to you!



27 comments:

  1. I have never changed my blog host or name for the reasons you describe but I have often changed the look or tewaked it. I am not very keen on the name of my blog as it was given when the blog was really for something completely different but I wonder if I changed it or the URL would people still know that it was me?

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    1. That's exactly what I'm wondering, Sue. Hopefully someone will enlighten us!

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    2. What people do about the name change is have the last post on the old blog be a link to the new blog.

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    3. Thanks - I wonder if they lose readers when they do this?

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  2. Hi Sarah, hmm, interesting you are pondering the same questions regarding your blog like I do! I am blogging now since five years (this year will be the sixth year) and I am thinking about changing the platform and the title of the blog, too. I also wonder if I should write about other topics besides gardening, that I am interested in, in the future. Moving the blog to a different platform really scares me, because I don't know if I can transfer the content of my current blog and even if it would be technically possible, I wonder into how many problems I will run, when I actually do it. So, unfortunately I can't give advice, instead I would like to ask, why you are thinking about changing the platform? Are you unhappy with blogspot or are there other reasons.
    One think I can give you my opinion about though is, that I would love to read a culinary section, especially if it would be about the use of your homegrown interesting veggies and herbs.
    Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year 2017! May your blog thrive as well!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Hi Christina, thank you for your thoughts & new year wishes. I am not unhappy with Blogger - it's very straightforward so I don't have to worry about the technicalities of posting. The only thing which bothers me is that it's beginning to feel a little restrictive, so I am thinking about taking a little bit more control (but not so much that I have to turn myself into some kind over overnight coding whizz!) It does appear that we are both wondering the same things. Congratulations on your half-decade of blogging!

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  3. I started my blog with the intention of creating a photographic record of my garden and to connect with other gardeners, who might offer input and help me expand my own thinking about my garden. (My local friends, dear as they are to me, aren't gardeners.) My blog has served me well in those respects and I've no immediate intent to change directions, although I fully expect that it will evolve over time, and, in 2017, would like to add more in the way of sharing experiences on garden-related travels. I have considered buying my own domain, if only to control the pirating of posts I experienced at one point, but overall I'm not unhappy with Blogspot's platform. I've witnessed a few platform changes and concluded that reconnecting with an existing audience base requires a lot of outreach on the blogger's part - I track new posts from a feed I've set up by blog name and, if the name changes, the blog effectively disappears. As to historical posts, I read a number of blogs published by writers "across the pond" and always those interesting - it's a way to travel in virtual terms. Best wishes with your deliberations.

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    1. Thank you Kris. It seems that we are both musing the domain issue. I really should have purchased a domain name in the first place! I value my readers and I am concerned about making life more difficult for them or even losing them completely. This must be a pretty common issue amongst bloggers - I may be naïve, but I am a little surprised that it hasn't yet been resolved.

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  4. If you are thinking of changing the url, I would recommend letting it be very known that you are revamping, so that your readers can find you. You could keep your original blog and have links redirecting to the new domain or another option is that you could add new pages to your existing blog, such as a culinary section. Sometimes just doing a little face lift can change the look of a blog, without changing the web address. Just some thoughts. Good luck with your endeavor.

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    1. Thank you Lee. That's a good point, 'a little face lift' and some additional pages would be a safer option.

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  5. Hello Sarah - I have created a series of blogs over the past 10 years and each time readers have been kind enough to move with me. Each blog has been distinct and written for a different part of my life : children at home/at university/leaving home. This is actually quite unusual in blogging and most people keep the same blog address but gradually change the blog to reflect their current interests. If you enjoy your current blog you should keep it - I have observed that when bloggers spend a lot of time changing platforms or doing complex redesigns the joy of writing leaves them and the blog withers away. Don't get too hung up on the name - I think that your readers will enjoy your writing whatever you call your blog and if you want to expand the scope of topics just do it!

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    1. that - lots of excited posts about shiny new ... then fading away to silence.

      I did start a second blog when we moved. The last post on my old blog is a very deliberate - We Have Moved - with the new URL and subscription options.
      You can also be seriously techie and set up an automatic redirect from the old to the new.
      But you do need really good reasons to move.

      I am happy with Blogger / blogspot.
      Wordpress is more difficult to use (ask your webmaster to ...) and I have seen issues around security hacks which have utterly put me off.

      Bring on the culinary. No reason why your blog shouldn't change, people do.

      You can change the blog name, but keep the URL so your subscribers continue to find you. That is part of the appeal of a blog being virtual. Nothing written in stone - unless you choose that.

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    2. Thank you Alice and Diana - that's a very good point about making all the changes then disappearing. I wonder if that happens because the blogger becomes discouraged at the loss of readers, or if changes were made to the blog because the blogger's interest in posting was dwindling, and they thought that a souped-up blog might reignite their passion for blogging? Perhaps there is another reason.

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  6. I like the idea of a resolution to give up on resolutions, it is a bit like the Department of Redundancy Department. I have played around with the theme of my blog but not much beyond that. To me the most important thing is the personality or voice that comes through in the writing, and on that point your blog is a success in my book. Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement and good wishes, Jason.

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  7. I love the name of your blog and wish you'd pop up at the Fling! Leave your blog exactly as it is. It is just wonderful - authentic and relatable.

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    1. Thank you. I REALLY want to come to the Fling. I even got prices on flights. Then the school diaries arrived and I realised that it was not going to be possible for me to be away in June. Next year will be more achievable. I look forward to seeing plenty of posts and photos of this year.

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  8. You have a special style of writing, authentic and witty, that always makes me smile, Sarah, and I love the name of your blog, so I don't recommend big changes. It's always fun to give the blog's appearance a 'new do' for example by choosing a different template. I don't want to change my platform because I'm happy with Blogger although it's not perfect. I'm in the process of expanding my blog to include several more pages. That's the extent of the changes I will make. I don't think you need to change anything -- your blog is very special. Happy New Year! P. x

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    1. Thank you Pam, that is so encouraging. I look forward to seeing the new pages on your blog.

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  9. I think your blog name is ideal. I have read that those with a domain have the most difficulties when problems occur. ( see Rusty Duck). I am putting together another blog about my photography, I decided to use Wordpress for it. I do like its blog reader and comment section which blogspot doesn't have, also the ability to post in different categories. That said I haven't found it as easy to use as blogspot. You could do as I have and experiment with a new one but not publish, keep private until you are sure. The other consideration is the time it requires!

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    1. I forgot to say that since you changed your template I have difficulty scrolling down the blog and accessing the comments section. This is using a mini iPad.

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    2. Thank you for letting me know about that, Brian. I was wondering if I should change to a simpler template. I will have a look and see if it makes a difference. Please let me know if the problems continue. Your comment about Wordpress and categories is interesting. I would like to be able to post in different categories.

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    3. I have taken the plunge Sarah and merged my two blogs into a word press platform with my own domain. I think for me having only been blogging for two years it is not too risky? The new blog is: brimfields.com

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    4. Wow! I'll pop over and take a look. How is it going, Brian? I still want to change the domain here. I have now got a simpler template. Is it any easier to scroll down on a mini iPad?

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  10. If I could change one thing about my blog, it would be the name. "Deb's Garden" is hardly exciting and is unlikely to entice unfamiliar readers to join. I had never read another blog before I started my own, so I was really ignorant! However, after seven years, I have enjoyed a certain amount of success and a great deal of personal satisfaction. I did establish my own rules, for me only, that keep me focused. Most important, I think it is important to write about what you are passionate about.

    By the way, I love your blog! I enjoyed your photos in this post.

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    1. Thank you. I think Deb's Garden as a name does attract readers, not least because many gardeners love to see other gardeners' gardens. Seven years is a great achievement!

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  11. Hello Sarah, my blog started with and is still with Wordpress and still with the same hosting company. The theme has changed a few times and it might change again soon too as I'm hankering for a refresh. The blog has always been about gardening. I started writing when I was learning to garden in a much smaller garden than the one we have at the moment. The blog focus changed from learning and discovery to restoration and process of a large garden.

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