My Garden Blog: Improvements are afoot.

Today is the start of Blogging 201 (run by WordPress). I tried to do this online course before earlier in the year, but as Spring was such a busy time in the garden I never finished it.  (That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!)

This time around I have some clearer ideas what I want to achieve and while I may not repeat all the tasks I am certainly going to do the ones I missed first time around.

So for our first challenge we have to ask ourselves some searching questions about why we are doing this blogging thing at all and then we need to set three objectives.

The first question is:

 Why do I blog?

I think the answer to this has changed totally from before.  When I started blogging I would say my main goal was to keep a record of my garden throughout the year and especially to note down what jobs needed doing in each month. I may have done not too bad with the first of those, but didn’t get past January with the second!

Now I would say that the main reason I blog is for the great community that I have become a part of.  I love reading and learning from other gardening and photography blogs and I love it when my online friends comment on or like my posts.

The second question is:

If my blog exceeded my wildest dreams what would it look like?

I think I would like a theme that shows off my photographs better, maybe one that is only two columns instead of three.

I am certainly no expert, but I would like to put a lot more information in the static pages so that I can pass on some of the stuff I have learnt the hard way.  That way my blog would become a more useful online resource to help people starting out in gardening.

There is a lot of talk about page views and followers, but to my mind, if you create a good blog the rest will follow.

My three main goals

  1. Update and add to the static pages that support the blog.
    • Update the About Page
    • Update My Garden page
    • Update A Gardening Year pages
    • Update the Blogs I like page to include all the wonderful blogs I have discovered
    • Update the Catalogue pages to give details of plants I grow
  2. Sort out my Archives so it is easier to read previous posts and to find posts of interest.
  3. Investigate different themes and maybe consider a second blog for photography.

So now I have written them down and published this list I will have to do at least some of them!

I would like to throw this  question back to my followers or to fellow course participants.

Do you have any ideas how my blog could improve?

In particular,

Should I create a new blog for travel/photography allowing me to display non gardening photos, or could the two be combined in my present blog?

Does anyone know of a good WordPress theme that I could use that keeps featured images, but that has a wider column for displaying photographs?

If you have any further suggestions about how my blog can be improved I would love to hear from you.

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10 thoughts on “My Garden Blog: Improvements are afoot.

  1. Good luck on keeping on top of your goals Annette. I am completely hopeless at keeping up with my static pages and only yesterday was thinking about doing away with them. I find it’s far easier in winter to keep on top of them but the rest of the year they fall by the way side.
    There are some well set out blogs out there, I hope you finally find a theme and layout that best suits your needs. Being a Blogger user and no so confident in changing things, I am unable to offer you advice.
    I do like the black and white theme your blog has, it takes the eye direct to your post and it’s not lost in what’s going on round about but then now that I think about it that’s not what you are trying to achieve is it?
    My reasons for starting to blog and the reasons I continue is exactly the same as yours – I love learning from other bloggers. It’s amazing the amount of information you pick up, even without asking.
    I will be watching with interest to see how you change things.

    • Hi Angie,
      Thanks so much for all your comments and also for following me for so long. I think the things you like about my theme are the exact reasons I chose it in the first place. It is simple and clean and I too loved the black background. The only thing I want to change is to have two columns instead of three so the photos are bigger and have more impact.
      I think your static pages are great and really useful for people wanting to choose plants. (I have just reminded myself of them, and remembered reading the container one when I first found your blog). I will have a better look too so please don’t delete them. Surely they won’t go out of date too quickly, apart from the year in bloom one. Do you get many hits on them from search engines? Maybe you could draw our attention to them occasionally in your posts so we remember to look.

  2. Go girl…

    I agree with the static pages; that would suit your type of blog well I would have thought. Also, the careful control of nested categories and 2-3 layered menu can work well in terms of servicing your followers, and enabling them to search/find etc., not just follow daily posts. I have tried to do that and the feedback has improved – but still tinkering on that side I’ll admit 🙂

    For the Themes, yes, you can ‘preview’, but I hate the risks of messing with a live account, from a programmers perspective, it’s just not kosher.. What I have is a test blog, with just a couple of posts based on how I publish on my primary blog. BUT, I have kept the test blog purely ‘private’ with no invitees. What that means is that can really play around with styling changes, and particularly theme or structural changes before anything is applied to my live blog. Works for me.

    Spike

    • Thanks Spike,
      I had been thinking of creating a new blog to test out a new theme, but you have given me the idea of creating it using the same theme and then converting it to the new theme just as I would have to with my live blog. That would point out any problems. I am also pretty scared of losing material – I wish there was some way to back up what I have done already. I have all the photos which might need replacing anyway if I want them bigger and I guess I could copy the text to a Word document. I guess that would be good practice anyway.
      I have big ideas, but actually doing them might be the problem. Maybe OK if the weather is bad!
      Thanks so much for your feedback.

  3. Hi Annette – good for you for putting so much thought into what you’re trying to accomplish with the blog. I’m with Spike. I have a test blog that I use to try things out but never publish from it. I would suggest putting a bit less pressure on yourself and just letting it evolve as you do. Look how different it is from when you started out! Good luck with it and enjoy the ride 😄

    • Hi Tina,
      Thanks so much for your encouragement. I already followed Spike’s suggestion and created a test blog; one that might eventually turn into the travel/photography blog I have been thinking about. I get a bit frustrated as I have photographs that I want to publish for the various challenges but feel they don’t really fit in a gardening blog. I have a great group of gardeners who follow me, and regularly comment, that I would hate to lose if I diverged and published a lot of stuff they weren’t interested in.
      You are so right, though, about not putting too much pressure on myself – this is supposed to be fun and not a chore. I will see how it goes. . . .

  4. I can understand how you’re nervous about tinkering with the format, even the thought of changing my own brings on a nervous twitch! I wish I had some kind of insight to add, but I always thought your blog format looks polished and professional, and would be hard pressed to make suggestions… that coming from someone who hasn’t made a single update or done any more than just post since starting the blog 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind comments. Yes, I have generally been really pleased with the format, but when I see full screen photos on other blogs I know mine could look better. I do upload them at a large size, but people rarely click on them to see the full screen version. I have created a test blog and am still hunting for something I like as much.

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