People come to my workshops because they’ve been told they ‘ought to blog’. But they’re rarely told why, so the idea of blogging nags away in the background like guilty feeling. ‘I ought to blog…but will it be complicated? Does it take up alot of time? And…what will I achieve?’ My workshops are often made up of already-busy people, who aren’t very technically-minded and have no time to add a new activity to their day. Blogging is the last thing they want to do. Which is how Sue Peart, editor of the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine, felt before she did a workshop I held in London this week: ‘I was a complete dinosaur about all this before Monday evening,’ she said, ‘and you can quote me on that!’
You can be blogging in less than 24 hours
So it was particularly nice to receive Sue’s first blog-post less than 24 hours later, and it was brilliant. You can read it here. She decided that an ‘editor’s diary’ blog would give readers a peek behind the scenes – Sue meets fascinating people every day, and she also has insider access to some fabulous places. Although You Magazine is already hugely successful, her chatty but glamorous blog about her life will make even more people want to read the magazine. At the technical end, she was able to ask the Mail on Sunday’s IT support to add a blog-page, called Editor’s Diary, to the current blog – as can anyone who already has a website. Adding an extra page, and calling it ‘blog’ is a quick and straightforward job for any web designer.
But you don’t have to have technical support…
Most people will find blogging is easier with technical support, and it’s not usually expensive. But if you are blogging on a budget, you can start blogging for free in less than half an hour, as my daughter, Rosie, did. She spent twenty minutes online the evening before she set off for Nicaragua, where she is volunteering with a charity called Nuevas Esperanzas. She set up a wordpress.com account, chose a theme, a name (travelwithrosie.wordpress.com) and clicked ‘publish.’ Read it here, and do scroll backwards to find the story about the beehives and the earthquake. For Rosie, blogging is about keeping a record of her six months with Nuevas Esperanzas, as well as communicating with friends and family. But it’s also a good way of honing her writing skills, and being able to run a blog will be good for her cv.
You can set up a blog for a special event…
When leading garden designer, Charlotte Rowe, got the news that her garden design had been accepted for the Chelsea Flower Show in May 2014, her sponsors asked her to blog about the lead-up. She came to my workshop in January, and sat down to write her blog the following evening. She, too, had a website set up, so, technically, it was just a question of adding an extra page, but she had the challenge of packing alot in to the early posts, as preparations for the Chelsea Flower Show start around eighteen months before acceptance. Her blog is beautiful – and fascinating, as she has based her World War 1 Garden on family memories and visits to the Somme. Read it here – scroll forward and backwards to see her other posts, as it was all so interesting, I didn’t know where to start you off.
If you’re having a blog designed from scratch, think five or six weeks…
I decided to run my The Middle-sized Garden blog in November, partly to give me an outlet for my gardening obsession. I also wanted to try out the blogging advice that I teach in the workshops, to check that tips work. Blogging is a fast-moving world, and, although you can read some great advice online, nothing beats checking by applying it to your own blog. It took me about a month to find and brief a designer (Neil Brown of Beam23), and once the design was set up, we had some to-ing and fro-ing to tweak it. I published the first post a week before Christmas – not exactly a gardening-friendly time, but it was nice to get going quietly.
Sue emailed me two days after the workshop to send me her second post: ‘You never warned us that blogging could get addictive,’ she said.
All these workshops took place in private homes, literally around a kitchen or dining room table, so I have now decided to call them ‘kitchen table workshops’. There are new dates for Faversham available – you can book them here. New London ones will going up soon, and I can come to your home, too, anywhere in London and South East.
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