Friday, January 4

Blog review

When it gets to this time of year I always end up trying to decide whether I should change anything about my blog (and my website too come to that).

I don't want to change the actual template as I don't use a standard template  tinkering can be a bit disastrous as changing the html can have unforeseen consequences.
Last year I made the page wider to allow for larger images. I don't know about you but I tend to be drawn more easily to blogs with large images but then I tend to like things to be visual. Give me a book - other than a novel - without pictures or with poor pictures and I find the effect to be turn off rather than turn page. So the large images will stay. I couldn't even manage to write this totally non-visual post without adding an image or two. I'm not being critical of blogs that I visit that have small photos - they must be special to attract my attention despite not pandering to my craving for the big picture!.
I do have one question though about images - can you have too many images in a post? Also do you prefer to see a lot of separate photos or for the photos to be displayed in a slideshow or video. I use a slideshow when I think I have too many images to show separately but have no idea whether people actually view the slideshow or not!
Then there is the balancing act between text and images. Again I tend to err towards personal preference in that I find small blocks of text tend to hold my interest more. If I come across a large block of text I tend to scan for bits that interest me rather than reading the lot. If my posts are long they usually have more pictures. I also like to break up my text by adding extra space between paragraphs. Maybe this is a left-over from my days of creating worksheets for primary children but is it appropriate for adults? And can a post be too long or too short? Too long that readers lose interest and too short that they consider it wasn't worthwhile to visit?

Then there is the content - this is a gardening blog isn't it so is there a place for non-gardening posts? I've rationalised that garden wildlife, cooking and gardens that I visit are OK as they are garden linked but what about when I sneak in a photo of let's say a swan which I'm not likely to have popping into my garden? If one managed to land it would have to walk away as there wouldn't be room for it to take-off again. Does something non-garden related make visitors tut at me and shake their heads in disgust. (Tanya, Jo and Mark have told me more that once that it's my blog and I can write what I like on it but what do others think?)  As this post isn't a garden related one it's possible no-one is bothering to read it and I'm 'talking' to myself. Maybe I should add yet another blog for non-gardening photos (a sort of weekly photoblog) but would that be a pain for people who like to see different photos on this blog - would they bother going to another blog? (And I already have two other blogs anyway and two websites so maybe I'll just edit my blog description!) I'm rambling now aren't I?
I'll no doubt have a ponder about whether to change my header image and to what? I do change it through the seasons but the format remains the same and I can get a bit bored of taking the same shots. Maybe I should go for something more like my Facebook header. Yes I'm afraid I've been drawn in to Facebook and Twitter!

Then there is the dreaded word verification which I have disabled, The latest version that has a photo of a number to identify is a nightmare.  On blogs that still use it, I seem to need several refreshes before I get a number that I can actually make out. I'm also convinced that sometimes when I get the verification correct, Blogger just throws me out for the fun of it! I'm sure blogs that use this miss out on some visitors commenting! If moderation is used anyway the system is really surplus to requirements. Maybe people don't realise it's there so it's always a good idea to try leaving a comment on your own blog to see what type of experience visitors have. No need for me to even think about reinstating it despite getting masses of spam at the moment. Blogger seems to do a good job of identifying it and even though spam piling into my email is a pain I can delete most before it is published.


Then should I/shouldn't I remove some of the blogs that have been inactive for a few months from my bloglist or if I do will I miss them if they spring back into action? It's easy to pick out which blogs haven't been updated recently as they are the ones at the bottom of my list. I find ordering blogs according to when they publish new posts is really useful as I can quickly see which have updates. I often wonder what has happened to blogpals who have suddenly gone quiet. Of course there will be new blogs to add to the list and new people to 'get to know'. It's always good to find a new interesting blog. Some new bloggers stick around and others like new allotment gardeners quickly seem to lose interest or maybe find they haven't time to keep going.

I really do find other people's bloglists to be a great way of finding new blogs to visit so would urge everyone to add their favourite blogs to their lists so I can find them. I already have a few that I am visiting at the moment which I think will be added to my list shortly.

Finally my thank yous to everyone who has taken the time to comment on my posts and give me the encouragement to keep posting, also to everyone who has become a follower - whether you comment or not it is good to know you are there and to everyone who has mentioned my blog in their posts or added it to their bloglists to send new people my way. 

So is it just me or will you be having the same kind of thoughts - I look forward  to seeing how 2013 turns out blogwise as well as garden-wise!




Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

29 comments:

  1. A couple of thoughts - I think that the answers to your question depends on whether you are writing more for yourself or your audience. I appreciate that most people write for both but I think most people's blog are more geared towards one or the other. If its the former then i think you can write what you like on whatever takes your fancy and then leave it up to readers to decide whether or not to read each post. If its the latter then I think it probably makes more sense to stick to a broad category ie gardening, nature but there's no reason why you can't combine the two either. Personally I like your mix of topics. As for the length of posts and number of photos I personally think a post can be too short and equally can be too long with too many photos (and I'm certainly guilty of both). The posts I enjoy reading most are reasonably concise but with a clear topic/learning point/idea that the pictures compliment. There are exceptions to this of course and those are usually where the post is on a topic I particularly want to learn more about eg instructional topics etc. Agree with your thoughts about pictures. i will be really interested to see what others think.

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    1. So will I, Liz and thank you for taking time to make such a thoughtful comment. As for who do I write for? I haven't really thought about this. I write my blog as I enjoy doing it as a hobby. I tend to use our website as my notebook as it is easier to refer back to things than trawling the blog.

      There again I do write with the idea that I would like other people to read the blog as I see it as a way of making connections. So I do write with other people in mind. To be honest I'm not sure which reason drives my writing a blog most.

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  2. I completely agree with you. I love big images, it's the first thing that grabs my attention and I do exactly the same with big expanses of text - I scan it. I don't think a page of text only would keep me looking to be honest - I like visual content.
    As for the swans lol, I think that gardening is nature so anything nature related is ok, I mean I don't think photos of a bike rally (should you attend one) would offend anyone but I guess we expect our favourite gardening blogs to stick to nature, gardening, cooking etc.
    Personally I believe you have to blog in a way that makes you happy. Yes, you want to please your readers but you'll never please everyone all the time. As long as your content, layout etc is true to you and what you like then that's the best you can do.
    Personally I think you're doing great :)

    P.s how do you get those screenshots of your computer content?
    p.p.s Disabling comment verification is a must as far as I am concerned. I get so frustrated with it sometimes that I end up just not posting the comment.

    Linda
    http://thetenaciousgardener.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Hi Linda, Thanks for your views - very reassuring.
      To take the screenshots I use the PrintScrn key on the keyboard. This takes a copy of what appears on your monitor screen,

      You can then paste it into any image software that has a cropping tool and then crop out the bit that you want and save it as an image file.

      I used this a lot when I was delivering courses to teach school teachers how to use ICT in their classrooms as I created helpsheets for all the activities

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  3. Turning off comment verification is definitely a plus!!! Sometimes I think I've posted the comment but I haven't spelled the 'word' correctly, I don't notice that it was incorrect then leave the site and my comment was never posted. It's also really difficult on mobile.

    I really enjoy your blog Sue, I find it hard to make time to read everything I want to but I always come to yours. I like the big images and your stuff is interesting. Not just your gardening posts. I think when you get into a blog it's nice to feel like you know something about the blogger, you have a personality which comes through so if you post about your day out that all adds to the personal touch. I'm glad you feel encouraged to carry on posting! I for one would be gutted if you stopped. I'm really intrigued by your allotment and am really looking forward to seeing it grow and change this year : )

    Thanks for all the posts!
    Anna B

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    1. I agree about it being nice to get to know people through their blogs, Anna. I guess we gravitate towards like minded people.

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  4. p.s. as for adding links to other blogs, I am planning to do that this year. I have bought a self-hosted package from wordpress and will be launching on that end of Jan/Feb. That will give me a lot more freedom (plus I'm a total geek so will give me something to meddle with) and I will add links then. I am really grateful to everyone who reads and comments on my blog so, for me, adding links is a way of thanking them.

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    1. I'm geeky too which is why I didn't want to use a standard template.
      We also have different websites and blogs.

      You may have noticed the links in the sidebar to our other websites and blogs My husband is the same. My second career was in ICT not the technical side just the using software side of things. It was surprising how many people on my courses were just terrified of using a computer but just needed a little hand holding and being given detailed helpsheets to remind them how do do things when they left the course.

      Being older helped too as people couldn't link computer skills with a young people's skill.

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  5. I don't tend to alter my blog very much at all, I'm not technically minded and would end up deleting it or losing bits that I wanted to keep. After I'd been blogging on my gardening blog for a while, I decided that I wanted to blog about other things. By this time, I'd got quite a few followers who I thought wouldn't be too happy if I were blogging about other things when they thought they'd signed up to a gardening blog, so I started a new blog which I blog about other things on. Saying that, I wouldn't have started a new blog if I only wanted to post about something different to gardening the odd time. I really think it's down to you to decide what type of posts to include. I'm happy to read anything you write, as I find your posts very interesting. As for the slideshows, yes, I watch them all. I was getting loads of spam comments, which as you say, don't really matter if you're moderating, but I got so fed up of all the emails that I've now stopped comments from anonymous commenters and haven't had a spam comment since.

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    1. I'd thought of removing anonymous commenters too. Jo but I couldn't find an option to just remove anonymous comments. Which option did you use out of these
      Anyone - includes Anonymous Users
      Registered User - includes OpenID
      User with Google Accounts
      Only members of this blog
      I moderate any comments made on posts 5 days or more old as I was getting lots of spam from certain old posts.

      Do you know I keep forgetting about your other blog? - I must visit it and catch up.

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    2. I chose Registered User - includes OpenID. I haven't had any spam comments at all since then, but of course, genuine commenters who want to comment as anonymous can't comment either. I thought I might leave it like this for a while and then go back to Anyone and see if the spammers have left me alone.

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    3. I wondered about choosing that, Jo and didn't for the reason you mentioned. I wanted to have an option that barred Anonymous but allowed anyone who typed in a name (as a machine wouldn't do this)but wasn't sure that option would allow this. I guess I could try in out on my test blog.

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  6. I agree with most of the things you have said in this post - particularly about big pictures and small blocks of text. Re the word-verification: you normally don't need to enter any of the numbers. Usually where there is text-and-numbers only the text is required, and if you are presented with two bits of text, only one of them is necessary. Having said this I hate ALL word-verification!
    I think I am blogging mainly for a small band of friends and regular visitors (many are also friends of Jane, and visit her blogs too), but I think there is a huge community of people out there who search for something via Google or some such and find my blog by chance. Evidently some of them like what they see, because my pageview stats are going up all the time (more than 30,000 in December).

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    1. I'll try out your suggestion re word verification Mark as some of the numbers are impossible to read.

      It's also amazing when you realise where all your visitors come from. I use the Clustrmaps for this. I just wish some people from some of the far flung countries would let me know who they were. I know some will just stumble across the blog and never come back but where there are large numbers of visits from the same country maybe some are regular visitors.

      Counters are really deceptive as I have a couple of counters as well as the Google one and they never agree but I think you can rest assured that your blog doesn't just have a few regular visitors.

      I wonder which bits you didn't agree with?

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    2. It worked I didn't type the number so that is going to save lots of refreshing - Thank you Mark

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  7. I think you worry too much - your blog is fine as it is.

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    1. I'm not worried Elaine - just being reflective. Obviously this weather leaves me with too much time on my hands!

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  8. It all sounds very technical to me, being a still new blogger I have no wisdom to apart. Thuough I would like to say that your blog has always been easy to read & accessible to me.

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    1. Glad to hear that, Jo. As a 'beginner' you are doing a great job.

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  9. Hi Sue,
    I think pondering changes to your blog is a worth topic to post upon. I have found that eliminating the word verification has been a great success and as my blog is not that popular, the spam in my email box has not been overwhelming.
    Regarding, mixing up types of topics and photography, here's my two cents. I started reading your blog because it was so helpful to me as a newbie gardener. I've kept reading your blog because your personality is delightful and I'd love to see even more come through. I enjoy the 'window' in your life in the UK and knowing what you are enjoying in your world.
    Some food for thought :) Cheers, Jenni

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    1. Thank you Jenni, we need to feed the mind as well as the tummy don't we?

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  10. Well after you telling me how to do a slide show, I now use it if I want to put a lot of photos in and don't want to make a comment on each them individually. I use separate photos where I'm talking about a specific thing.
    As for your blog I think you have the right balance, as others have said it's your blog do as you want.
    I've put a few things in that aren't related to gardening but are related to me so I don't see a problem there.
    Hope you have a good 2013 and have good weather. Was amazed looking at your hubby's blog on how much rain we had especially after the drought warnings. Think Mother Nature sorted that one out herself, lol.

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    1. I think you use slideshows in the same way that I do, Liz.

      Mmm - after telling us it would taken a few years to replenish our reservoirs they now need to eat their words

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  11. Hi Sue, timely as I am planning a revamp of my blog to reflect the new location. I like large photos, and prefer large chunks of text to be broken up by images. As to content, I am a passionate advocate of people writing about what interests them, as the enthusiasm comes across, rather than trying to write for an imagined audience they want to attract, which rapidly feels impersonal. And the role of a blog as a gardening notebook is not to be ignored either.

    I personally hate blogger's word verification, I usually need several goes at it as well, but then again I am lucky enough to be on Wordpress and askimet takes care of the spam for me!

    Personally I like the way you mix posts about your experience of growing veg, almost a growing diary, with posts about the wildlife you photograph and your own garden. If anything I suppose I would enjoy slightly more about your garden but I still visit regularly because I enjoy what you write! The proof of the pudding, as they say...

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    1. I guess the garden being much smaller than the plot means I don;t have as much to write about it but I have some articles about my garden here on my website here if you are interested

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  12. Hi Sue,

    As a newbie to blogging and allotmenteering I enjoy your blog very much! It's very accessible and the content is instructive and entertaining. I like the inter-action possible in yours eg when you ask your readers questions.
    I hope to add some features to my blog, and enjoy looking at your blog and others for inspiration for both blog and plot. At the moment, like my allotment, my blog will have just have to be an imperfect work in progress!

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    1. Jill as a blogging newbie I think you have made a really good start to both new ventures. You will learn and adapt both as you go along. It's a learning journey so enjoy the ride and make things your own

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  13. Hi Sue.,..not been on for a while and playing a bit of catch up. I vowed I would just right one comment on your latest post after I had read them all so that you wouldn't have too much to go through but I figured this one needed that individual comment. I think you should keep posting EVERYTHING here...I love to see your pics of whatever and it's nice to know someone else has the rants and ramblings that I have but I'm not sure I have the time to check out another blog so please keep it all here...not just for me but for all of the other readers which obviously enjoy all that you do as we all keep coming back!!

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    1. No problem reading your always welcome comments Tanya

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