Monday, October 09, 2006

Judging Gardening Blogs

Blogs are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to get their thoughts and ideas out there for others to read. Gardening is no exception. Because gardening is what is known as a high-dollar keyword, meaning that companies pay big bucks to advertise their gardening products, many people are interested in sharing their experiences with their own gardening in hopes of gaining some readers and making a little money.

While it seems wonderful to earn money from your hobby, you as the reader of these blogs need to be careful that you are not being taken in by someone simply trying to make money. There is nothing wrong with making money from a blog, but it is important to question whether the blog offers anything substantial.

The first test for a gardening blog is whether the author describes in any detail the look of the flowers, trees, or shrubs he or she has planted. An excellent blog will have pictures because that is the best way to share the garden with others, but at the very least, a quality gardening blog will give you a clear idea of how the plants look. Watch for these kinds of personal messages because they will help you to discern the real gardeners from the ones who are just trying to make a buck. Real gardeners will share their stories of gardening with you.

Second, a true gardener will have problems. Some plant will get infested. A neighborhood dog will trample the flowers. There will be something that will go awry in a garden because it is an outdoor hobby. Be leery of any garden blogs that always are upbeat or that never discuss any issues with any plants. Part of the benefit you will get from the gardening blog is that you will be able to find out how other gardeners deal with their problems so that you can learn more for your own gardening efforts.

Third, you should look at the ways in which a garden blog talks about the hobby. Does the gardener use jargon that you understand? Does he or she refer to flowers by their common names, i.e., the ones everyone knows? Are you listening to what sounds like encyclopedic knowledge of a garden, or is someone sharing wisdom that cannot be found in books? Use the language and context of the posts to determine whether or not you think someone is sharing a genuine passion with you.

A good blog of any variety also should include links to other gardening sites and preferably to other blogs. Now, just because a blog has no external links does not mean it is bad. It just means that the gardener probably does not spend a lot of extra time reading other blogs. Otherwise, he or she inevitably would find something worth linking to the blog in question. Bloggers who are experienced and are writing about a topic that they truly enjoy will want to share as much information with you as possible, and you will find scores of links to gardening pages and blogs of note.

The final measure of a good blog, and again this advice applies to a blog on any subject, is that it needs to be interesting to you. Sometimes you will read a blog that you think offers valuable information or that shares interesting anecdotes, and you will find that you cannot wait to get back to reading the next installment. Other times, you will read a blog and then move on without giving the blog a second thought. You will know as you are reading which blogs offer information that is beneficial to you and which ones just are not appealing for your situation. Perhaps you are a novice, and the writer is an advanced gardener. Or maybe you live in a tropical climate while the blogger lives in a harshly cold one. With hundreds of gardening blogs available to you, it should not be a problem to find one or two that will pique your interest and provide you with cyber-companionship and information to help you have the best garden you can.

And who knows? Maybe you will be inspired to write your own blog.

By Julia Mercer


kblog said...

Using pictures can be difficult as these are often copyrighted and unlicensed publication can result in problems. Most gardeners are not Master Gardners who have researched topics in depth and have extensive learning concerning gardening topics. Finally, some gardeners really have perfect growing conditions and there experience is more up beat than gardeners who have challenging conditions or have worked challenging gardens. Each view point offers something to the gardening community, and gardening articles written in layman's terms are more understandable than those written in Horticultural terms. Writing for money is not a sin, it may just be a way of supporting a hobby that can become quite expensive if you are not willing to wait years for results.

Adapt said...

Good thoughts, all around. Thanks for posting this.