Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Never Complain, Never Explain -- Blog in the New Year

The first two lines in your blog should be the best part. Why? That's what we see in the posts lists. Invite us to come see what you're blogging about in the first enticing sentences.

You need not waste a post to say you haven't posted in a month. We noticed. We want to see what bloomed while you were gone, or what you were doing.

Never Complain, Never Explain.

I saw that on a needlepoint pillow once. The quote has been attributed to Henry Ford II, Kathryn Hepburn, Sir Francis Bacon and Benjamin Disraeli. William H. Seward said it to the father of President William H. Taft, who took it for his own motto.

Mention the pretty blossoms you're showing, not the ugly trash cans in the background. If it was impossible to move the camera slightly to the right, or crop the offending unpleasantness, then ignore it. Talk about your flowers. Everybody has a garden hose. Don't mention yours unless it is truly unusual and you are inviting discussion of it.

Plant a tree or a structure near you, in the sight line between you and an offending neighbor. Leave a path behind shrubs for pets to run along the fence. As the shrubs grow they won't be distorted on one side by the fence. They'll hide the pet run and everybody can be happy.

Apologies are not necessary for less than professional pictures in the blog of an amateur. Show the plants and hardscape of which you are proud, offering discussion. If pics are truly out of focus, consider whether to do them over or omit.

Please do explain when pictures you are posting are not your own. Give credit where due.

Make lemonade of your lemons. Instead of ranting about your cracked patio, explore possibilities with other bloggers for making it an asset. See Tara's example about Knowing Who to Ask.

Winter is the time to explore evergreens, seed pods, buds on the witchhazel, tracks in the snow, new tools, plant lists. Do give the dates of bloom when you show out-of-season plants, so those of us who use such things can plan.

Camellia 'Mathotiana' December 28, 2009

When I included a question about advertisements in one of my polls, nobody said they bought from commercial ads in a blog. One person of 69 responding said they bought from an Etsy shop. So why do so many blogs feature advertisements ahead of the best parts of the garden blogs we're visiting? Who is buying? Could they find those ads nearer the bottom? If you came to my house would I meet you at the door with a request to buy candy from the softball team, or would I tell you my best news first?




Happy New Year!

40 comments:

  1. Good advice to follow, Nell Jean! I'd like to add houseplants and other indoor gardens as potential topics for winter discussion. And for those who live where you can garden all year round, keep posting photos that let us up North dream of summer!

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  2. Great lesson for us all whether it is blogging or just living our daily lives.

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  3. This all is very true. I don’t like advertisements; they make a blog so impersonal and superficial...

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  4. Great, helpful post Nell. I just changed my welcome thoughts on my blog after reading your posting.

    Thank you for always being so helpful in different areas.

    Love your camellia.

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  5. Well done Nell Jean! I love your no nonsense approach in writing. I laughed out loud more than once. I love the lemonade and greeting your friends at the door with requests ... great metaphors for your important points! Happy New Year! Carol

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  6. Once again, lots of great tips for all of us new bloggers. We tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive, and that is a great New Years resolution, to try and change that.
    Happy New Year

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  7. Great points, Nell Jean. This is a great reminder on the importance of those first few lines. Whenever I write anything whether it be for my blog or otherwise, solving problems in the final draft can be a bit like putting an octopus to bed. Challenging, but so important!!
    Happy New Year!! Your Camellia is gorgeous!!

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  8. Well said, Nell Jean. Might I add to your helpful hints to think about your post being read for the first time by someone a year from now, without having read what has been written before. Will they understand what you are talking about? Make each story able to stand alone and be of interest in the future. Just a thought to add to your good advice. :-)
    Frances

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  9. P.S. ~ A blog question for you. How do you set up the blogs that you like with their pictures on the right side?

    FlowerLady

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  10. Thanks for dispensing a bit of blogging wisdom. I hope your New Year is both happy and healthy.

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  11. My motto is "do good, feel good" but I think I'll add Never Complain, Never Explain.

    I need to go back and read your profile. Are you or were you a teacher? Because you're teaching me a lot.

    What a pretty Camellia.

    donna

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  12. To be fair, I do love that World's Greatest Chocolate bar that the kids seem to sell every year. This is a great post. I never though about the first two lines of my blog being what some people see when they've browsing for reading material. I've made a mental note.

    On my blog, the title is what is shown for the blogs I like and link to.

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  13. Happy New Year to you too. I'm enjoying your posts and found your advice interesting. There's lots to learn from other experienced garden bloggers, as I'm finding out. Barbara

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  14. Lots of good advice here, Nell. One correction -- at least for those using Wordpress. It's possible to choose an excerpt to represent your post (use edit post feature in Dashboard); you don't need to rely on the first two sentences. Because my writing style involves introducing the topic before I get to the nub of my post, I use the excerpt feature all the time. -Jean

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  15. Very good advice, and there is always something new to learn from you.

    I tend to read most of my heavily advertised blogs in google reader, it is much less distracting.

    I had never thought about dating the photos from the summer in the winter. Food for thought.

    What I would love to see.....
    Is bloggers putting their names on the porfile, not just their blog names, and bloggers with multiple blogs letting us know which one they would like us to direct replies back to.

    There is nothing more frustrating for a time crunched reader than trying to figure out the correct name, and which blog to comment back on. I do read a lot of blogs, and that is my choice, some bloggers don't, that is their choice.

    But if I could easily put a name, and a blog to each comment, I would love it.

    Jen

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  16. Oh my, I can't spell, my grammar is terrible, whoops!!!

    Bootsie kept us up all night, I am working on 3 hours of sleep.

    Jen

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  17. And your 'first 2 lines' rule also means = don't START with a photo, or the first 2 lines is a hole. Not A Hole. Or 'a hole'. Just, nothing. Start with a few words.

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  18. Enjoyed your post, Nell. I like reading your blog because you tell it like it is...no nonsense. I tend to gravitate toward people who have that characteristic. I think it is a good quality. -Amy

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  19. If no-one is buying, why the ads anyway? Diana of EE

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  20. P.S. I forgot something. Every blog should have a search option. It is very frustrating when you go back to look at a post and you have to go through several pages to get to the one you want. Or, if you would like to see all of the posts on one particular topic, but there is no categories menu. Very frustrating!

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  21. I really look forward to this kind of feedback and progress reports. As usual, you have done it well. The notes and pointers will definitely help. You have added a post on the polling. Can this be the reason, you blog post does not appear for picking at your Blotanical plot? Now, Wishing you a Very Happy New Year 2010!

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  22. Some excellent advice Nell especially the reminder never to start with an apology. I tried to pick this post on Blotanical too but with no joy. Wondered whether the post has a title. Happy Blogging in 2010 :)

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  23. Thank You for the great tips! Being somewhat new to blogging, they were very helpful. And I'm afraid to ask (because I don't want to look stupid) but who is Stuart?
    Cindee

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  24. Hello Nell,

    Great words of wisdom. I think we are all guilty of only showing the best parts of our gardens and trying to pretend the other parts don't exist. I will take your advice and be at peace with it all :0)

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  25. Good advice! I find myself trying to apologize sometimes for things that really don't need any mention.
    BTW I've loved these polls you've been doing. Very interesting to see what other bloggers think or do.

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  26. Very helpful tips for blogging Jean. I would add my own tip of checking out how your blogs and posts look in browsers other than the one you edit in (Safari, Firefox,Chrome) to see if things still look the way you want them. I have found my picture borders cut off in some browsers but not others. As a question, is it better to have your real name as your profile name? My profile is gardeningAngel, but I sign my comments with Kathy.

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  27. Choosing a name is pretty personal, Kathy. Some, who write professionally, want to use their name as it is known to others. Some of us use a nickname for some small bit of privacy. It is easy to maintain anonymity in a city of 100,000; those in a town of 2500 souls may not want to list their city. I learned too late that having your blog name and your user name on Blotanical would cut down on identity problems.

    Donna wanted to know if I'm a teacher. No, I'm just an old woman in the garden, blogging from the center of the universe. Somebody sent me a video of a yellow labrador doing the merengue. Now I aspire to being a doggy dance teacher. Buffy thinks dance lessons are just a license to jump up on people.

    Good point about insuring that people will understand the topic of a blog a year from now, Frances. I always wonder if they're going to understand what I wrote while it is still fresh!

    Jen made a good point about the profile -- I put Name/URL when I comment, if it is an option. My profile shows you a long list of blogs that I add to on occasion, but not regularly like I do the Seed Scatterer. Using Name/URL when choosing an identity opens you directly into the blog. Maybe I should put a note in my profile.

    Liisa, did you find my Huge, huge Label cloud at the end of my posts? Alphabetical, so it's easy to search, but so big it just didn't work on the sidebar where I have all of you -- most of you -- tell me if you are not there. I chose the Thumbnail option for the blog list because it is so colorful and has everybody's latest pic from their blog. Not their personal photo, the last pic they put in a post.

    All of you just say the nicest things, and I do appreciate it. We're about to have a hard freeze after the coming rain. I'll be hard pressed not to show blackened little plants that had so far escaped minor freezes, but I'll find something.

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  28. The "never explain" bit reminded me of one of the most sensible onscreen heroines ever, Julie Andrews, as Mary Poppins. I think she said something similar to George Banks, her uptight employer, when he demanded she explain her behavior: "I make it a point never to explain myself about anything." I had to laugh! Maybe one of my New Year's Resolutions will be to be more like Mary Poppins. Thanks for the excellent post ideas. Especially the idea of writing a couple of exciting sentences at the beginning as a sort of teaser. I know with my limited garden blog reading time, the intros that are the most interesting are going to catch my eye better than some mundane thing like, sorry I haven't written in two months,etc.

    Christine in Alaska

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  29. Interesting advice NellJean, sometimes those very things you said to hide are the topic of the post. Think it shows we are all human.
    I do not like the ads on blogs. Sometimes I don't visit one if there are so many ads that I can't find the posting.

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  30. If I come across a blog full of ads I usually don't stay too long - they are quite distracting - I want to escape from commercialism when I am reading gardening blogs. Happy New Year

    Rosie

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  31. Excellent advice. I don't like to see a blog all cluttered with advertisements - that makes it hard to find the good parts!
    Thanks for your own interesting and informative posts.
    Happy New Year!

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  32. Good--and fun--advice for blogging, gardening, and living, Nell Jean. I hope you have a very happy new year!

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  33. That is all very good advice we should all follow even outside of blogging. I enjoyed reading your recent posts

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  34. Quite an informative Blog for amateurs like myself! Loved the tit-bits along with the Roses. Thx for Sharing n A Very Happy New Year ahead...Cheers! Radhika

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  35. Quite an informative Blog for amateurs like myself! Loved the tit-bits along with the Roses. Thx for Sharing n A Very Happy New Year ahead...Cheers! Radhika

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  36. An eye-opener. Thanks! I learned something valuable here.

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  37. I like that! And as usual Jean-the-no-nonsense epitimizes the mentality of the true gardener - even when she aint gardening! ;)

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  38. Oh, I so agree about the ads! Now let's hope everyone listens to you.

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  39. Happy New Year, Nell Jean!

    Excellent advice. However, sometimes its fun to play with the negative - Karen at Artists Garden challenged us to show the bad bits of our gardens a couple of years ago. It was quite shocking to see how much junk such as piles of pots and compost we'd artfully hidden from prying eyes in our blog posts. A bit like sweeping everything under the carpet before our guests arrive ;)

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  40. Simply foundational advice!

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I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.



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