By Kathy Purdy
As a garden blogger and writer of fifteen years, writing where the winters are long, I’ve faced this challenge more often than most. The solution is straightforward. You need to:
- Understand your audience and
- Understand how search engines work
What is your audience doing now?
Who is your audience? Why are they reading your blog? My audience gardens in a cold climate, and they are:
- Reading catalogs and browsing websites for anything garden-related
- Reading gardening books
- Making plans for the upcoming gardening season
- Trolling the internet for garden pictures
- Tending houseplants or perhaps forcing bulbs
- Going outdoors on nice days and looking for the first sign of plant life.
If your readers are doing the same, you can respond to their needs by providing:
- Seed, plant, and tool recommendations
- Book reviews–either current or your all-time faves
- Garden design help, problem-solving, or by sharing your own plans for the upcoming season
- Garden pictures! For example, best images from 2017, one garden bed through the seasons (or through the years), a gallery of one kind of plant (all daylilies, for example)
- Profiles of unusual houseplants or instructions on bulb forcing
- Reports of your own mild weather activities
Of course, if your audience gardens in a warm climate, or if you have a different focus to your blog (perhaps only native plants, or all about roses) you will have to modify your list of what your audience is doing and respond accordingly.
What are gardeners searching for?
It doesn’t matter to a search engine when you write on a topic. No matter what the time of year, if someone searches for information and your website provides it, the search engine will send them there. Winter is the perfect time to write “timeless” posts—information that could be relevant at any time of year.
Think about what questions your readers would like answered. Consider a range of skill levels. A reader new to your topic might need vocabulary defined and basic techniques explained. An intermediate gardener reading your blog will want to know “what’s new” or best practices. And, of course, readers of all skill levels like to be let in on your secrets—the things you do better than anyone else, those little tricks of the trade that set you apart.
Recall yourself as a beginner. What questions did you have? What mistakes did you make? What information should everyone know if they’re going to venture into your niche? It can be as basic as understanding the hardiness zone map or figuring out the orientation of your garden relative to the four directions. Address common problems (eg. Japanese beetles on roses) in a blog post and you can refer to that information when the gardening season is in full swing. If you have a pet peeve, this is the perfect time to rant about it.
Finally, take a peek in your draft folder. Just because you didn’t get a post written when you first thought of it, doesn’t mean it’s not worth writing now. You can frame it in its chronological context: “Last summer, I did this . . .” or “I had this problem in spring, and here’s how I solved it.”
There’s no shortage of topics to write about in winter, as long as you think about what your readers are doing and what they want to know.
Meet the Author
Kathy Purdy is an award-winning writer, contributing articles and photographs to numerous gardening magazines, including The American Gardener, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, and Upstate Gardeners Journal. She has been blogging at ColdClimateGardening.com since 2002, and was on the panel discussion that first explained blogging to garden writers at the Oklahoma City symposium in 2007. She gardens in Oxford, NY.