The garden blog is dead.
So I’ve been told: not least by those nice people at Crocus who tell me that vlogging, or just video in general, is where it’s at now (and I must admit my year of making how-to videos for them, has given me and my shoot/editing husband a whole new sideline). Not to mention short-form social media like Twitter and Facebook.
Well: I kind of agree. The old days are over: when we would laugh out loud at the erudite rantings of Nigel Colborn over on Silvertreedaze before meandering over to see how James was doing at Blackpitts and dropping by Victoria’s back yard. And I would hope you’d also dig a fork into the crumbly rich soil at the Kitchen Garden blog I wrote for Crocus for many a year. All blogs which have had their day.
Other blogs have just become rather intermittent: this one, of course (I think I may have won the prize for intermittent-ness, if there is such a thing), and other favourites like Bifurcated Carrots, Otter Farm and the inimitable Arabella Sock.
Of course part of that is just life: both Victoria and James have simply moved house and taken up new blogs elsewhere: Victoria’s new place is at Awkward Hill while James is busy creating (and writing about) a new garden too.
And others are flying the flag nobly for the blogosphere: VP, The Patient Gardener, Naomi Schillinger at Out of my Shed and My Tiny Plot (among others), I salute you.
I don’t want to sound like I’m chiding anyone for not posting often enough: goodness, that would be a surfeit of pots, kettles and the black stuff coming from me. But I do feel that our little garden blogging community has sort of wandered off to do other things.
From my own point of view, I know it’s all about time. I have been writing a book this year, and it’s sucked up every last second of my time, thrown all my other deadlines out of synch and made ‘voluntary’ writing such as this blog all but impossible to justify when children, husbands and animals are clamouring for my slightly distracted attention too.
But if I’m honest, I was already finding it difficult to motivate myself before I even started the bookywook: mainly because when you write a blog post, you no longer get those feisty conversations striking up in the comments section as they’re all on Twitter now. Which is lovely, and I do enjoy Twitter, but there’s nothing to cement a community more than having a good ding-dong in the comments section of a blog post.
So you can feel like you’re writing into the void a little these days. And then there’s the all-pervasive influence of video, and photos (Instagram and Pinterest, stand up and be counted).
I’m not sure I have any conclusion here: just a reflection on the state of things and how a cosy world I loved being part of feels like it’s passed on. And how I’m a little sad about that.
Still, having just raised my head above the parapet after putting the last full stop on the book, my first feeling is that I’m really missing blogging. It’s a kind of writing I don’t get to do very often: the closest I get is with my cherished column for The Garden where I get to write pretty much whatever I want to write, which is a huge privilege and great pleasure.
So we’ll see. If I can summon the discipline, I may kick off by joining Helen in the hideously named NaBloPoMo (late, of course – well I don’t want to break the habits of a lifetime). And we’ve got the Garden Media Guild Awards coming up, in which the Best Blog award is still very much up for grabs and still hotly contested. I’m not entering this year – can’t really justify it at all – but I’m thinking maybe next year. It feels like the time to start blogging again. So perhaps reports of the death of the garden blog are greatly exaggerated. What do you think?
Arabella Sock said:
I find it sad too. I really miss the sense of community we had in the ‘good old’ blogging days when I first started. Both online and meeting people in reality. It all seemed so much more ‘innocent’ fun then.. I would certainly hesitate to post much of my ‘humour’ now without knowing who my audience is any more. And there are now so many bloggers and so much to read that I rarely bother with other blogs either.. It’s lost that sense of intimacy amongst friends that made giving and getting comments so exciting. I still occasionally blog – and if Monty ever does another garden tour programme I may even feel the need to make a little ‘tribute’ Sockmovie to commemorate it!
Wot Arabella said.
I think the multitude of platforms now means any audience has too much choice, plus we’ve all been going a while now and it takes persistence to keep going. The Like button has a lot to answer for too – when people are pushed for time, it’s all too easy, just to like something and not comment.
Thanks for the mention on my Blogaversary – I’m not intending on giving up – despite 8 years, 2,000+ posts and over a million words later! I’m one of the lucky ones – people still stop by to have a conversation 🙂
Yes I’m with both of you. I have really fond memories of when it all started, and indeed (as both of you know :D) am still friendly with lots of the people I met through blogging and see them regularly IRL, as they say on Facebook.
I wonder whether it’s just to do with time… I know that Mark (Otter Farm) is really busy at the moment and of course that’s my excuse too. It’s so hard to justify writing stuff just for you, without being paid, when you’re missing deadlines etc for paid work.
But I think that there’s definitely something that’s changed. Perhaps it’s just the scattergun effect you mention VP: just too many things competing for everyone’s attention.
And I am so glad you’re still posting and will still be posting for the foreseeable – your blog is always on my ‘must click’ list as I always know there will be something new and thought-provoking. That’s the other problem with being very intermittent – you don’t bother going back to a blog if you don’t think there will be anything new….
Anyway. All just rambly thoughts. I think the very fact that I keep coming back to blogging and can never quite give it up is telling in itself….
Odd. I was thinking about this just before I read your blog post. That Instagram is like someone honking and waving as they drive by; that Twitter is like bumping into someone briefly while walking and exchanging witticisms or a bit of news; but that a good garden blog is like spending a hour in a cafe with an old friend, hearing about what is happening in their world. Other forms, however amusing, don’t really replace the blog. Most garden video only shows ‘the outside of things’ and so is great for how-to demonstrations and garden tours, but the best blogging reveals ‘the inside of things’, whether it be the gardener. the unseen layers of history in a garden, or the thoughts and theories behind it.
And I was thinking that it is time to go seek out some new garden blogs to read, instead of sitting around missing the ones that have fallen by the wayside or are “just resting”. Suggestions welcome.
I’m not on FB, Twitter or Instagram so really miss some of those fantastic blogs, Silvertreedaze, Otter Farm and Sea-of-Immeasurable-Gravy most. I can understand that quickly tweeting or liking on FB is so much faster, but to me it just doesn’t hold any appeal, I much prefer reading a good blog post and the comments, at least on those blogs where the writer can be bothered answering comments. A really good blog I enjoy reading is Wellywoman, Real Men Sow is also good fun and interesting.
Morning all. Yes, times have changed a little haven’t they…I’m not sure if fewer people read (I don’t look at stats) or people just comment less for all the reasons noted…I suspect the latter, but comments are the nudge you need to know it’s worthwhile when yr busy and unsure if anyone’s interested. My guess is they are, but less obviously so
Hello Mark 😀 how nice, we’re all creeping out of the woodwork blinking into the sunlight.
I do look at stats and they don’t change much, even when I’m not posting: another of the dis-incentives to write regularly even though I know I should. There are the occasional spikes: I was once mentioned on a Mumsnet message board and the views went through the roof. But I hadn’t posted that day.
I think you’re quite right – people are still interested. Just less obviously. Which makes it a little more difficult for us writers; but perhaps that’s our problem. After all, who else needs such a lot of hand-holding and ‘there, we are listening really’ comments! Perhaps we should all just have more faith in ourselves and keep on keeping on without the constant reassurance of people responding. There’s nobody to tell us not to, either, of course 😀
Hello, I came across this post (and your blog) on one of my explorations into the world of garden blogs and -magazines. I’m a newbie (or more precise perhaps: extreme late-comer) in any respect: I have not been commenting on, or indeed reading much, gardening blogs before this spring and I’ve only started my own a few months ago. I intend it – apart from the fun of the subject, obviously – to be a way back into writing now my smallest started school. I’m not on any social media and would much prefer it to remain so. Reading your post about “the end of blogging” hence was rather disheartening.
On the other hand: At least I needn’t wonder if I don’t get any comments if even people like you, who have been doing it for years and seem well-known and established, do not get much in the way of comments either :-).
Judging by my own inclination: I love reading and browsing blogs but I am very reluctant to comment – time definitely being an issue, but not the only reason. But then – as said above – I’m a dinosaur when it comes to socialising the digital way. And yes, I too have heard of the “end of writing” in general: just as Crocus suggested to you, content in video form only is the future apparently – for ANY website or media.
Well, we’ll see. This woman would be very sad because she truly is a written-word addict (and a printed-word addict more than anything, really). But I’m not abandoning hope just yet. I believe things go round in circles – or rather: swing like a pendulum perhaps. Hence the growing popularity of Slow Food, old (hand-made) crafts and lots of other things in recent years. Who knows, social media might become less attractive, too (for whatever reason) a few years down the line.
Well, wishful thinking on my part, I guess :-), but at least I found this article in yesterday’s Evening Standard quite interesting: http://www.standard.co.uk/search/site/Tweet%2520tweet%2520to%2520who%2520Rosamund%2520urwin
and Amazon is opening its first bricks-and-mortar bookshop! So – to finish this rather wide-ranging reply off: just as newsletters, long said to b dead, are now back in fashion, blogging (and commenting) might be, too, when people tire of the “honking and waving” and “briefly bumping into” as Kathryn wrote above. I for one enjoy reading blogs now, even if I do not usually leave comments on your sites :-).
Oh, and just in case you care: I blog under http://www.lifeinplants.com .
Hi Stephanie, and good to find you here! Really interesting to find out about your experiences – and I think you’re probably quite typical. I know from my stats that there are a lot more people looking at my blog than commenting on it: so that includes you! And perhaps we shouldn’t get too hung up on an actual response – I’m pretty sure it’s only my insecurities playing me up there.
I do hope you’re right about the future of the written word – and given the continuing popularity of old-style books in the face of every prediction going that ebooks are going to take over the world, I think you may well have a point.
Such an interesting article too. I think my experience of Twitter is a little different from most people’s – probably because I’m only on there talking to gardeners and gardeners are such lovely people there is very little in the way of the much-vaunted nastiness you hear about! In fact I can’t really remember anyone being anything but delightful to each other on my twitter feed. I may just have been lucky though…
Swings and roundabouts, I guess: wonder what the next big thing is going to be. Hopefully it’ll be blogging 😀
Hi Sally, I think I’m also typical in that I do not regularly check on other people’s blog posts but will stop by from time to time and then read either everything posted since my last visit or those posts that interest me. Likewise, I often check out old posts from an archive if I like a blog I found – and I don’t think that’s uncommon either. Rather, as there are so many blogs out there, I suppose this happens quite frequently. So in addition to a circle of loyal and faithful followers who have been with you for some time, there will likely be a fair amount of “passing trade”, so to speak.
All of the above combined would account for the fact that there are occasional spikes, even if – as you wrote in your reply to Mark – you haven’t posted on that day. Makes perfect sense to me, and my own statistics suggest likewise: no spike pattern in correlation with postings. But then I’m still a very “unknown” and more likely to be found “by coincidence if not mistake” :-).
So as long as your stats are good – and no spammers included, such as crawler spam on “referring sites” (I’m looking at you, rankings-analytics.com !) – all should be well ;-).
And should I ever consider joining Twitter, I’ll turn to you for advise on where to find good company! 🙂
I agree that circumstantially it seems to be lack of time and directional changes of life that seem to be hitting many of the forerunners of garden blogging. For myself, only blogging for five years, it’s the birth of my son that has definitely taken its toll on the frequency of my posts, reading and commenting this past year. Good to see I’m in such good company!
Too great a coincidence to be the sole culprit across the blogosphere though, and I think you’re right that the rise of other platforms, particularly the rapid-fire twitter, have had a large impact. I don’t intend to stop writing or seeking out other blogs though, albeit little and often for a while . Hopefully not dead but merely relaxing a little…