Sep 27, 2013

To BLOG or not to BLOG
that is NOT the question

Photo: Lisa Nielsen, The Innovative Educator

About 4 pm at any conference, I have had it.  Enough already I want to say.  I can't absorb another word.  I hung in there, because Amy Stewart was about to speak.  Her topic. "A Botanist Walks Into A Bar:  How to Turn Any Topic Into a Lively and Sharable Story."

Enriching the Gardening Community with New Media
September 22-24, 2013
Hours of listening to well-known bloggers and digital marketers cajole me into thinking that content, clarity, consistency, strategy and most of all Google Analytics were essential elements of any good blog, I was ready for the anti-christ:  Amy Stewart.

Amy responded to the experts with humor. She described her blog, Garden Rant, written by a quartet of women in the following way:.

The Things We Don't Do:
  •     We don't do DIY
  •     We don't avoid politics
  •     We don't avoid profanity
  •     We don't think about what our readers want
  •     We don't look at analytics
  •     We don't know what SEO
  •     We don't talk to each other
  •     We don't have a plan
  •     We don't make money
  • and we embrace controversy.
In the funniest way possible, Amy gave her assessment of what makes a blog worth reading: it tells a good story. What makes a compelling story: suspense, drama, conflict, characters, suspense, comedy and the unexpected.

Listening to Amy was like  drinking a glass of grappa. The warmth goes through your entire body. I temporarily felt better about myself and my blog.  This didn't last long.
Soon it was back to inbound marketing. 
  • I did not know that content was an opportunity to market.  
  • I did not know that creating content creates energy around "my business."  
  • I did not know that creating an editorial calendar was essential.  
  • I did not know that one should always tag images.  
  • I did not know that comments are a measure of a person's engagement with your site.  
  • I did not know to drive traffic is to build a community. 

Does the reader feel they receive value from your site? 
That was another one of those zingers.  It was time for a cup of coffee.

 I did know that in our current digital environment IMAGES are more powerful than words.  In fact, if you've received the New Yorker this week, you can see that the magazine, we all hoped would never change, has changed.  It's more visual.

 One of the most challenging questions asked at this conference: What am I willing to unsubscribe to?

I wasn't going to attend the Garden Bloggers Conference.  I felt disloyal to Garden Writers.  This conference unexpectedly was a kind of therapy.  It was an opportunity to take a good hard look at what I want from my blog.  I clearly fall into the Amy Stewart "column."   You will not find plant of the week, recipes, contests, tips or advertising.  You might find a good story.


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