The big boys have gotten the social media bug bad

Like we talked about in the last post, “I love my new (insert brand here)” it appears companies have discovered how

Product placement comes to garden blogs

useful garden bloggers are when it comes to getting the word out. Over at Garden Rant they have landed some new advertisers. Both Troy-Built,  the power tool people and Proven Winners, the plant branding people now have ads on the site. What’s interesting is both companies use garden bloggers to help get their message out. Troy-Built’s ad takes you to their “Measured In Yards, The Lawn and Garden Club”.

According to the Troy Built site, “direct from their backyards, these bloggers share their trials, tribulations and triumphs in all things lawn and gardening. Now, they’re teaming up with Troy-Bilt® to bring you their best tips and tricks to help make your Saturday in the yard a rewarding one. Let us introduce you to the Saturday Six. In coming months, you will see more from this talented group in The Dirt with how-to videos, sharing favorite lawn and gardening projects, product reviews and giveaways, as well as out and about at local Lowe’s® stores.”

So these bloggers are going to give us their best tips and tricks to help make my Saturday a “rewarding one”. Of course if they really wanted to make this nurseryman’s  Saturday a rewarding one they would send customers to their locally owned, independent garden center instead of Lowe’s and other box stores. When you visit the bloggers individual sites they of course now sport ads for the “Troy-Built Garden Club” on their sites.

Now in addition to the ad for Troy-Built at Garden Rant, they also sport an ad for Proven Winners. Interestingly enough Proven Winners recently had a event where they had 20 selected garden bloggers flown back to P. Allen Smiths home for an event called Garden2Blog. At this event according to their Facebook page, “P. Allen Smith and his Garden Home Partners gather with 20 garden bloggers for two days of garden tours and workshops.” The event was sponsored by a number of companies, including Proven Winners.  We now see Proven Winners ads at many of these same blogs.

At “Jennah’s Garden” a garden blogger and member of the Troy Built Team, the author writes, “I’ve reviewed several Troy-Bilt products on the blog before that I got from them through various promotions. I’m the first to admit that it’s a pretty sweet partnership and I love all the products I’ve reviewed for them. And I was SUPER surprised to be invited to be one of the Saturday Six for Troy-Bilt this year.  Gina of  My Skinny Garden gives a very good overview of the dealiyo. But I think this means I am no longer just a garden blogger, but actually a Garden Blogger. (Perhaps I should update my business cards?)”

So here is my question. Do blogs, by sporting ads for companies compromise their objectivity? Did they have any objectivity before? At Jennah’s Garden the author lists her creds as, “Troy Bilt’s The Dirt newsletter – July 2010 –Raised Beds and Troy Bilt’s The Dirt newsletter – June(?) 2009 – My First Garden. ”

It’s tough being a garden blogger writing away in virtual anonymity. When a company offers to buy ad space on your blog it changes everything. Suddenly there is light at the end of the tunnel. A way to make money at something you did before for free. Of course you have to toe the company line. You have to link to other like minded bloggers who also sport the same ads on their blogs. You have to remind people on a regular basis about how much you love mowing your lawn with that “Troy-Built mower bought at Lowe’s”.

These companies instead of building their own fan base, and speaking to us directly have gone to established garden bloggers to do their work for them. If they get enough of them on board they have the makings of their own network of company mouthpieces who always mention, and link to what the company is promoting.

What do you think about this trend? Am I being too hard on these bloggers and companies? Is this just the way it is going to be when it comes to garden blogging, so get over it Trey? Of course once you get the ads from Troy-Built and Proven Winners on your site other corporations will assume that’s where the action is, and soon they will be trying to get these same bloggers to represent them. So for the early adapters it may mean a windfall of advertising coming their way. Time will tell.

For those of us in the locally owned garden center world keep in mind this quote from My Skinny Garden Blog, “and you might see one of us at your local Lowe’s this summer providing gardening tips while the Troy-Bilt folks are there teaching customers about their products.  In summary, fun will be had by all!”


About Trey Pitsenberger

Trey is a nurseryman, author, and speaker.

13. May 2011 by Trey Pitsenberger
Categories: | 138 comments

Comments (138)

  1. Try the first sentence: “In case you haven’t heard, author and TV show host P. Allen Smith has invited a bunch of bloggers to visit his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas for a whole bunch of gardening fun (AIRFARE AND HOTEL INCLUDED).” (emphasis is mine)

  2. You know what Trey. You’re right. I’m ashamed of what I did, I edited my post. I thought I had disclosed that the trip was a comp. I always disclose my freebies. But I was so angry about your comments and original post that I didn’t want to admit that you had found an instance when I didn’t make a clear disclosure. I am so disgusted with myself. I’m going to amend my post to make it clear that those changes were added today, and then I am going to sign off for awhile. Clearly I’m not grown up enough to play on the internet right now.

  3. Trey, I haven’t blogged about the Troy-Bilt event yet, and I’m not nearly finished blogging about the P. Allen Smith event, but you’re right – I have neglected to put the disclaimer on the couple of posts I’ve done, although I don’t know that they have actually done much to promote a product. I will add it to them. Thank you for the reminder.

    If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know that this was an oversight on my part and that it just may be the first time that I’ve forgotten to add the disclaimer. My apologies. It certainly wasn’t on purpose.

  4. Trey, when you noticed some new ads on GardenRant, you were a step ahead of me! Seriously, I hadn’t noticed and normally wouldn’t because that’s how Blogads work – the advertiser designs and pays for the ad and we’re not involved at all. And right now I still have no idea what duration the current advertisers have purchased.

    We did remove all Google ads because Google’s nonhuman selection of ads for us were so OFF – e.g., when we’d criticize a product, there would be a damn ad for it right next to the post!

    • I just remembered I never came back to correct my comment here.  I’m not the contact person for Blogads and didn’t realize that one of us IS informed that an ad’s been created and paid for before it actually appears on the blog.  My bad!

  5. Here’s an honest question: How do you post a disclaimer when you tweet about such events or products? 140 characters isn’t much to work with.

    • Kylee,

      That’s why I don’t like these type of brand out reach programs. Now you have to worry about all this legal stuff. What happened to just writing what we want and not giving a care whether we are following FTC rules, or hurting the image of the brand, or just ending up where we are here. I have always been a supporter of garden bloggers since I started blogging over six years ago. Frankly I have always tried to get nurseries to seek out local garden bloggers and have a chat. Get in the mix. They are not always so receptive, but we will keep working on it. Your blog is fantastic and I am sorry you had to find yourself in the middle of the horticultural world that isn’t always about digging in the dirt and having fun. It’s super serious business.

  6. Fern: We all make mistakes and it takes a lot of humility to admit wrong doing- I’m sure many of us would be tempted to do the same. There is no respect lost in my eyes for you. You are an admirable and ethical person..

    Shirley

  7. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
    You don’t jump into the frey
    You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
    And you don’t mess around with Trey!

  8. Shirley you really feel that “many of us would be tempted to do the same”? I hope not. I hope that trying to rewrite the ‘truth’ would be the last thing that most of us would think of doing.
    You are right, everyone makes mistakes. But I thought trying to cover up one’s mistakes while preaching transparency was something only the government did.

  9. Hi Kat,
    Yes, I do believe that many of us would be “TEMPTED” to rewrite the truth, that is not to say that we would all do it.

    Temptations are part of human nature, so are mistakes.

    Forgiveness is divine and so is perfection.

    Shirley

    • Shirley and Kat,
      I agree that we can all be tempted to do things that are wrong. Actually doing it, and then making accusations of someone that are false is something else. It’s impossible to re-write the truth. The truth is what it is. You can however try to embellish, or rewrite a version of your take on the truth, which is what happened.
      I have been a supporter of garden bloggers for my entire time on The Internet. I hold no grudge, and am ready to move on.
      Passion can make people do things in the heat of the moment, that in other circumstance they wouldn’t.
      Perfection? I am as far from perfect as they come. LOL!

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  10. I guess it’s safe to say that these events have backfired very badly on Troy-Bilt and Proven Winners. I’d suggest that bloggers and garden writers confine themselves to socializing with industry giants at trade shows and neutral sites such as symposia and conferences. In the wild world of the internet, you can’t control the message anymore. So if you hope to retain your credibility, you’ll need to avoid even the appearance of having your favor bought.

  11. I wonder – just how much knowledge and understanding bloggers actually have. Do they have degrees in ornamental horticulture, how long have they been gardening, have they grown up on a farm, have they actually grown things on a commercial basis. How many educational classes have they taken at conferences to keep up with the latest information. When they talk about machinery and equipment – do they have engineering degree or an engineering background, have they taken tool and die machine shop cources, have they ever worked in a machine shop where things are repaired or are they just writers who grow a few things in their garden. Then if they talk about business do they have marketing experience, personnel experience, and accounting experience. If they did they probably would be running a business versus blogging.

    You see I have all of the above and based on what I see them write it could be improved. The sad fact is consumers are being misled at times by the blogging community.

    Even when I go on the Bachmans web site and look at their 500 or so fact sheets on gardening I see errors. The person doing the writing had limited knowledge and expereince and it shows.

    I have the knowledge and experience but I am trying to run a business with my wife not blog.

  12. Edward Knapton – I think that’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard. Are you kidding me?

    Yes, lots of bloggers do not have degrees in ornamental horticulture, for instance. I am one of them. However, I grew up on a farm with my hands in the soil, I ran a landscape design business for years, and have written a newspaper column for years on gardening and green lifestyle living. Before that I worked for over 15 years in sales, branding, and marketing. My blog is an accumulation of all that knowledge and a college degree could not have helped me with that.

    I think of all the garden writers I know including writers like Michael Nolan, Jenny Nybro Peterson, and Mr Brown Thumb (and this is just a few) who did not get a degree in a hort specialty, but are damned interesting and amazing writers with astoundingly helpful and knowledgeable blogs. When I think of them and then think about what you just said I realize it attacks all of us.

    I am very frustrated that bloggers that put up mean posts as well as responses to posts like this which become so downright mean and snarky. Shouldn’t we as a community BE HELPING EACH OTHER instead of knocking each other down on our proverbial asses?

    Stop insulting each other, calling each other out, and generally being mean and get back to work!!! And if you are reading this post and you want help, support, and love instead of meanness, lack of support, and insults – feel free to contact me because I will be there for you.

    Shawna

  13. Trey,
    Thank you for writing about this topic. It has caused me to look at my posts about the event and I see where I could have improved my communication about who paid for it, especially on my first two posts.

    I would like to say that I felt no pressure whatsoever to write about anything we did or saw at the event. The sponsors have provided us with promotional items and I assume they’d love for us to write favorably about them. I plan to be honest and if that means I am not invited again, or dropped from “the list” of bloggers who get freebies – I am okay with that.

    This has been my first introduction to blogging events, promotions and product reviews. I appreciate the input of both sides of this discussion.

    One of the best points I’ve read here is “How to you effectively communicate your relationships with sponsors in a 140 character tweet or FB post? – I don’t have an answer for that – except to put a page up on my blog explaining that.

  14. Well said Shawna! While I do have a horticulture degree, I have learned a lot from garden bloggers of all walks of life and experience. Gardening isn’t Rocket Science. Why do so many insist on making it so?

    I just want to garden, express myself and help others do the same.

    • Jacqueline,

      You have pointed out something very important with your comment. You say, “I just want to garden, express myself and help others do the same.” The only problem is once you, or anyone else starts to work with companies and other brands to promote their products we have moved beyond your simple desire. Someone who trying to monetize their blog, and I am not saying you are, have gone beyond just wanting to garden and write about it. I believe Garden Blogging, like the horticultural businesses are headed in two different directions. The box and chain stores, and the locally owned independent garden centers. In the blogging world you will have people who just want to garden and write about it, and others who want to monetize their blogs. Two different goals. It’s a big world and a big bloggospehere, there is room for both, and I don’t hold any grudge against anyone who want’s to follow one, or the other path. If your going to promote brands for which you have received some type of compensation be it money, gifts, or increased linking because of that relationship, your blog is not just about wanting to garden and express yourself anymore. Your in the horticultural biz!

  15. “I just want to garden, express myself and help others do the same.”

    YES!!!

    Thanks,

    Shawna

  16. I am having a hard time with all of this! I think the post was too harsh on the bloggers, and the attendees of the P. Allen Smith event, and PW and Troy-built. If I had been invited to this event, I would have jumped at the chance;as anyone would have. You can send me tools and free flowers to trial anytime! It does not make me a compromised person. Trey, didn’t you just attend the ANLA Management Clinic for free? I won a scholarship sponsored by the Bayer Corporation. You are also planning to attend the IGC show for free, as a speaker. Are you saying that you would have turned down the invitation and sent back free flowers?
    I really do not see any problem with these companies or the bloggers. We have other worse problems we should be focusing on like the Corporations who buy our government! Just saying…We need to keep things in perspective and fight the battles worth our efforts. Happy Gardening EVERYONE!

    • Jodee,

      Yes, I would have kept the flowers. I have no problem with bloggers, or anyone receiving gifts, air fair, or anything else to help their cause. This whole FTC thing about disclosures is totally new to me, and most garden bloggers. It shows how far we have come. I wouldn’t have even bothered with it except it was brought up in the comments. Again, my post was about whether this is the right way forward for companies or bloggers. Your right, I would have traveled to the event if I had been invited. Just like the bloggers that attended I would try and offer a fair and balanced review of what happened. Or at least I think I would. Do I insult my host and write some scathing report about them? No I wouldn’t. You know the Sacramento Perennial Plant Society is a great group and if your interested you might think about joining. Oh, and by the way I was a speaker at their last event, and they paid me! I have a donate button at my blog. You should shop at so and so’s biz because they donated money to me. I receive free samples all the time from companies trying to get me to buy their stuff. If I start carrying their stuff, I would be expected to promote it. The FTC thing is what has happened as blogging went from a fun pastime to serious business. How do you disclose in a Tweet that your potentially promoting something? It sucks!

      I don’t know what to do. If I buy product from a supplier, and they invite me to a BBQ one day, do I have to disclose this next time I say something about them? The bottle of Scotch I use to get from one supplier would have to be disclosed if I post in this blog how great their products are? I don’t know. My post was never about full disclosure, or the right of garden bloggers to do as they please. It was about whether companies should continue with this type of affair. People got passionate, and things took on a life of their own.

      I am a member of the ANLA, so when I was invited to the clinic I didn’t think about the disclosure thing. I won’t make that mistake again. As a member of The Association do I have to report that stuff was provided to me for my helping, and speaking at the clinic? Maybe. Can’t take the chance anymore and leave it out . Like someone said we have to cover our asses now.

      Yes, I was wrong to drag the two garden bloggers mentioned in the article. Names should have not been used. My mistake, and I have apologized to the two people in question. I really did get their names mixed up.

      Jodee, you and I are both IGC owners, and friends. I respect your’s, and anyones opinion expressed here, whether we agree or not.

  17. Trey you make an excellent point here, “In the blogging world you will have people who just want to garden and write about it, and others who want to monetize their blogs. Two different goals.” For a short time, I wanted to monetize my blog. I even put some ads on it (I think two are still there). But I realized that I couldn’t properly monetize it and stay true to the type of garden writing I wanted to do. I starting worrying more about having a post for Wednesday, than what that post was even about. I got caught up in generating traffic rather than interacting with like-minded gardeners. I thought too much about branding and tweeting rather than just being myself. When your goal changes from just writing, to trying to make money from your writing, the focus does change.

  18. Shawna,

    I agree with your sentiment as far a having a civil discourse, and keeping our passions in check. You say, “Shouldn’t we as a community BE HELPING EACH OTHER instead of knocking each other down on our proverbial asses?”

    While that is a GREAT sentiment it’s not true anymore. The garden blogging community is no longer one community. Just like the box stores and IGC’s both sell plants, we are in competition and it’s not a community we share. Edward and other IGC’s are in serious competition with the box stores. It’s a serious business and people’s livelihoods are at stake, both on the bloggers side, and the garden center’s side.

    I have watched the garden blogging community from almost the beginning. It was a community then. That’s why I sometimes sound like a “old hippie” wishing for times past. Never the less things change, nothing to be done about that except adapt. Considering the passions and comments this post has elicited it’s obvious that the community has splintered. I share your wish that we can all get along, but that’s like me saying to Wal-Mart, “you really should try to get along with us IGC’s, we are after all in the same plant business.” I have no doubt how Wal-Mart will respond.

    You will find that amongst the people in the Independent Garden Center world there has been no greater advocate of working with the garden blogging community than me. From the very beginning I have promoted garden blogging and garden bloggers. I still do.

  19. Trey,
    I write the blog for an IGC and I encourage my readers to support IGC’s in my personal garden blog. That in itself is an endorsement on my part, and I am paid to write it….so I guess I am in the HORT BIZ after all!

  20. This is a big and tricky topic and I wish I had more time to get into this at greater length. This post brings up all sorts of questions that I’ve been pondering for years. I’ve had lots of opportunities to “monetize” my site over the 11 years I’ve been running it. I’ve been on all sides of the fence, but I am still uncertain and wary about it. As garden companies actually become interested in garden bloggers I am finding myself pulling back and reassessing. We recently pulled out from the ad network we’d been using for years and I only have ads running that promote my own books and products.

    Accepting review items from companies and now accepting “free” trips… we’re entering Mommyblogger terrain and it’s a sticky place to be. Good content is time consuming and expensive to produce. Like any other medium, I believe that website producers should not be ashamed about seeking compensation for that work. That said, it can be a very slippery slope. “Free trips” and review products aren’t really free. There is an expectation there and frankly if you’re using social media and your own site to gush about the sponsors (and many do GUSH), in the end who is gaining? Some bloggers come off as a little bit too grateful for that “free” product that is actually very good advertising for companies. It’s a business exchange and should be treated as such, but between the trips and the “free stuff” and all of the goodwill going around… we get lost and caught up in it. In turn, we become unwitting spokespersons for these companies but without the paycheck one can make as a paid spokesperson.

    The more opportunities companies have to shell out a few bucks to get that kind of quality word-of-mouth the less likely they are to seek out straight-ahead advertising. What’s more valuable for you as a content producer? Some free products and a promotional trip or an ad/paid job that puts money in your pocket and food on the table? The more we accept these sorts of exchanges, the less likely we are to find companies that will pay for real sponsorship. It’s far better value for their dollars.

    Something to think about.

  21. Jodee,

    Please don’t assume that ANYONE would have jump at the chance. I was invited to the P. Allen event but did not attend for various reasons both personal and professional. I was not the only one who turned it down.

  22. Trey, Are you making the following analogies:

    gardeners who just want to enjoy gardening and blog about it = independent garden centers

    gardeners who monetize their blogs = big box stores?

    If so, then I disagree. Independent garden centers are for profit businesses too. In my opinion independents and Big Boxes all exist along a big continuum with each store finding its own place, somewhere between the two extremes of everything-for-profit-regardless-of-ethics and no-money-involved-ever. I think its up to each store to decide where they want to sit along that continuum and its up to each of us as consumers to decide who we are comfortable doing business with.

    I think the same is true for blogs. Its the responsibility of the blogger to be transparent about any potential conflict of interest. But after that it becomes the responsibility of the blog reader to decide how he or she feels about whatever business relationship the blogger might have. Personally, there are several bloggers who I am aware have some sort of monetary relationship with some companies, but I still trust those bloggers to be honest in what they write. There are other bloggers I probably do not trust for the very same reason.

    For me , this (as with most things in life) is not a simple yes or no question. In other words, just because a blogger takes money or products from a company, doesn’t mean that everything they write from that point on should automatically be discounted.

    For full disclosure, I am a good friend of Gina at MySkinnyGarden and I do not believe that her blog has lost any integrity due to her participation in the troybilt program. I also won a tiller from troybilt at the Chicago Garden Bloggers Spring Fling a few years ago. So, I may not be a completely impartial party. Decide for yourself.

    • Jessica,

      You ask,”Are you making the following analogies:gardeners who just want to enjoy gardening and blog about it = independent garden centers
      gardeners who monetize their blogs = big box stores?”

      No. If that’s how it was taken it’s not how it’s meant. I am just saying like the horticultural industry which as fragmented, the same can be said of garden blogging.

  23. Edward Knapton’s comment raises some good points, but unfortunately they’re overshadowed by being wrapped up in an attack on garden bloggers. While those experiences are good to have, they are not necessary for garden blogging. The word “blog” is a contraction of “web blog” which at its core is digital diary or journal. A gardener doesn’t need a degree in ornamental horticulture, an engineering background, or experience in a machine shop to write their thoughts in a garden journal. Neither do those of us who decide to keep our “garden journals” on the internet for the world to see and comment on.

    This thread of comments is a good example of problems that arise when people who are positioned (or position themselves) as experts, leaders, gurus, professionals, influencers don’t have a moral compass pointed in the right direction. But in this case there is no misleading being done by the blogging community, none of us were asked to have them represent us. Horticultural and botanical mistakes can and should be taken up with individual bloggers in the comments section or through direct contact via email. I wouldn’t want for the “community” to look bad because a mistake I may make.

    But to answer your question, Mr. Knapton; I have a degree in marketing. Why am I not running my own business? I’m getting there. I’m available for consultations. I can work with you to make your website more readable, help craft content for your newsletter (that goes beyond the East 62nd Street Lemon Cake and Easter Egg Pie recipes) centered around the knowledge attained in getting your degree in ornamental horticulture, that provides a value to customers of the seller of “America’s Best Flowers.” In addition, I could provide you with a royalty free stock photo library to illustrate your newsletters so you don’t have to use out of focus photographs like the one used in the herb and pansy salad recipe.

    Call me.

  24. Gayla – Excellent points – I tend to agree with you and will be thinking about what you have said and how it applies to my blogs.

  25. Funny how Lowes Depot et al pretend to be the experts in a field but have no talent on board to draw from. I thank Trey for bringing this to the forefront.

    Just take a look at Garden Rant. One a fine blog but just reviews of their own books, other products and now mouthpieces for for other auhtors. There is very little garden content save for the self promotion

  26. Trey – Looks like your post has been quite a conversation starter… one of the many joys of blogging and social media.

    This new communication tool allow us the ability to reach out to each other and have a two way conversation. We think that this was the most successful aspect of the just completed Garden2Blog event. The event was loads of sharing and loads of fun thanks to all the bloggers and our partners. Next year will be even better based on what we learned.

    Happy Gardening and Blogging to everyone.

    Mimi
    Chief Marketing Officer

  27. If you read the book “Crush it” you will understand what I mean by gaining knowledge. Gary V. spend almost every waking moment of his life for years aquiring knowledge about wines before we started talking about them.

    Their are a few great bloggers that have done the same with gardening.

    What about the thousands of folks that are blogging, writing newsletters, and posting information on the web about gardening, plants, and products

    My concern is the customer will get the wrong information.

    Great article in Green Profit about treating customers like Toddlers written by Nathan Lamkey. We may think customers spend hours reading our blogs and searching for information on gardening but they don’t.

    Toddlers don’t understand big words
    Toddlers have the attention span of a fly
    Toddlers are amazed by bright colors
    Toddlers love new stuff.

    Gardening for most people is a small part of their life if it exists at all.

  28. Nobody said anything about it but the use of the word “gushing” has been bothering me all day. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with gushing about a company or a product. It is often a real and true emotional response to something nice and often comes from an honest place. My use of that word reads too harshly. I should have said “pandering”. Very different meaning. It’s the pandering that I have seen that worries me. Most of this has beenin the larger blogging community but with these sorts of relationships it has inevitably shown up in the garden blogging world. This is of course where my own personal judgement & moral compass comes into at & why I can see it is a tricky thing to talk about.

    • Gayla,
      It’s the pandering that worries me also, and part of the purpose of my post. “You are the summation of all your social media outlets“. You may be careful to word things just right on your blog, but if on your Facebook or Twitter your presenting a different picture, which one to believe? It’s actually at those places where so often people in their haste to socialize, gain friends, or network, say some of the stuff that makes you wonder. The other day when I read at your Facebook page you said, “Hi Friends, Between YouGrowGirl.com, the You Grow Girl Forums, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and a barrage of email I am overwhelmed with questions. I just can’t keep up anymore. I’ve had to turn off posting questions to the wall to save my sanity… and so I can keep up with paying work and afford to keep a roof over my head. Thanks for understanding.”

      When I read that it made me think about myself, and others who are attempting to keep up with all the noise coming at us. It’s hard, and I would suggest un-productive. Sure you might miss an important Tweet, Facebook post, or Flickr message, but at what cost? I would love to let go of some of these things and concentrate on a couple of the most important, but at this juncture I can’t decide which ones.

  29. Edward Knapton: This problem exists outside of the gardening community as well. There are plenty of garden writers out there who spread misinformation and many who hardly do any actualgardening at all. Singling out bloggers only is unfair. They’re just easier to see because the information remains I’m rotation and available to find than print media that is less widely available for any length of time (and inevitably many writers use this misinformation and spread it out even further).

    I agree with Mr. Brown Thumb regarding positioning yourself as an authority / guru etc. I don’t see why anyone shouldn’t be encouraged to write about their experiences and engage in a public dialogue about gardening at any experience level. Everyone has something to bring to the table. The problem is when people present themselves as an authority before their time (although I have a problem with that terminology regardless. We are all leathers and it is arrogant to think we can ever know it all).

  30. Edward Knapton,

    With few exceptions the only thing that can be done to combat poor information is to create good information and diseminate it. I was being snarky in my previous comment, but I honestly was dumbfounded when I looked at your website and read your newsletter. It was mostly recipes. Are you a cooking magazine or nursery?

    I got curious about what plants you carried and I clicked around and saw you’re using the Plants Navigator* which pulls up a stock photo and boilerplate info on the plant and growing requirements. If you have a degree in ornamental horticulture, why aren’t you providing custom information on the plants you carry for gardeners in Madison?

    Similarly, your blog doesn’t provide customers much information. It hasn’t been updated since last summer and you only have 8 posts. With your background and experience you have a perfect opportunity to provide good information, but you’re not doing it. Why? Who knows.

    I’m not sure what’s worse, having the information and not using it so that at least your customers benefit from it, or the “thousands of folks that are blogging, writing newsletters, and posting information on the web about gardening,” without having all the facts.

    *Which I’m sure is a fine product, just mentioning it to make a point.

  31. The one thing Mr. Knapton doesn’t have is snark. Which is what everyone else seems to have here. Just because youve got snark and you seem to be rather hip with the blogging and web promotion doesnt mean you know much. I get it, you just discovered gardening, it’s fun. Just because you’ve just learned how to garden, something that generations of people before you have known how to do, doesnt make you an expert. There is a fine line in expressing your love of something you do in a blog, and professing to suddenly know everything, but I suppose if you know slightly more than your readers you are an expert….. guess you just need to be careful who your readers are.

  32. Re: gushing. I’ve been using that term too, for lack of a better one. To me, it means a kind of over-the-top praise for a product or company. There’s nothing wrong with spreading the word about a product you like. But saying something like “This Bonnie Plants Sweet Banana Pepper plant is the BEST pepper plant EVER!! #g2b” or something like that seems a bit much to me. It’s hard to define, but I know it when I see it :-)

  33. Trey: Yes. There are lots of places to be online and while it often starts off as a bit of fun, it can quickly become overwhelming. I had to pull back somewhere for my sanity. This is gardening season. I want to be gardening. I need to garden. It is a requirement for living.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about taking too much on, especially when it comes to social media and how sometimes this can stem from a fear that if you are not everywhere at all times that you’ll be forgotten and left behind. I don’t want that sort of fear to dominate the choices I make in my career or how I live my life. I want to be okay with taking breaks and disappearing to recharge for a while.

    So I’ve begun pulling back. I will likely pull back even more even though the timing is all wrong and most would think I am ill advised in doing so. I have known for nearly 2 years what I want to do next (when this current book is done), and yet I have found myself saying yes to too much, which is starting to get in the way of what I WANT to be doing and how I would like to spend my time.

    • Gayla,
      I will be interested in knowing if you plan to drop some of the media outlet’s completely, ie. Twitter, Facebook, or just reduce the amount of interaction, but keep all the present accounts.
      Either way I hear you.
      Sometimes less is more.

  34. Pingback: There is no garden blogging community « The Blogging Nurseryman by Trey Pitsenberger

  35. Pingback: Social Media Shenanigans « THE DESERT NORTHWEST [blog]

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  39. I was referred to this site by Doug Green.

    I am sorry, but I do not have the time to read 62 pages (including 7 pages of promotional stuff) about advertisements on my favorite blog sites.

    Personally I would prefer to have no advertising[period] But it can contribute to the livelihood of those that I wish to ‘listen’ to.

    I just simply ignore it. It should go without saying that if the quality/quantity of information deteriorates, I have the choice of no longer perusing the blog.

  40. I cannot read all the comments here, but I thought I would add my two cents. I blog as a journal, a way to “remember,” but also for others -to be inspirational or instructive, sometimes thought provoking, or to just show a good lookin picture, oddity, or peeve.

    I think what is very important is to be a local source of local information. In gardening that is key – to me. I have a google map of all the independent nurseries in the NYC metro area for people to find local sources of plants. I review them if and when I can, especially if in a “district.” Always ‘just my opinion’ too, never any payola involved. Credibility counts and it is important for me to own my platform.

    There have been times when I felt national blog like GR were dishing out controversy so they would ramp up their numbers, like the native/invasive stuff. When ads look at such stuff, suddenly numbers matter.

    Blogging is a little OCD, a little its own reward. Not always on topic, sometimes poorly edited, but you get better at it with experience. As long as its free (minus my labors), I will keep doing it without ads. I’ve never clicked a blog ad, so naturally I think others don’t.

    • Frank,

      Well said. Flatbush Gardener, 66 Square Feet, and your blog are great examples of regional garden blogs. I love it when you post about local resources like garden centers, nurseries, or secret gardens. It’s a taste of a city I have yet to visit. The blogs above are written with passion, and little monetary incentive. That does make a difference. Perhaps someday if you wish you can even make money through your blogging. Until then write for the passion. That’s what I do.

  41. This is a fascinating discussion, beginning with social media and ending with full disclosure on a garden blogging… http://fb.me/VUf1fXlW

  42. Pingback: Doug Green – a writer’s tale

  43. I do believe there are some garden bloggers that are just in it for the money or free products, but as a source of exposure companies are using more and more bloggers to recommend their products. It takes a lot to maintain a blog especially a popular one with a following. These companies are not offering just anyone these opportunities they look for someone with a track record. I have reviewed products before everything from garden gloves to lawnmowers. I did received these items in exchange for the reviews and I think that my reviews are always honest based on my 38 years in the gardening business.One thing I have always done is to disclose any compensation not only is it morally and ethically right it is also the law..

    You will not get rich doing this but you will quickly loose your following if you are not honest and above board.

  44. Pingback: Is this nursery catalogue insensitive? | The Blogging Nurseryman by Trey Pitsenberger