Yesterday evening I participated in #AgChat which is a conversation on Twitter for anyone interested in being a part/is a part of the agriculture community. It takes place every Tuesday from 8 PM to 10 PM ET and is always quite inspiring. A moderator guides agvocates toward productive conversation and a series of questions is posed by the AgChat Foundation. For those interested about the food side of things there is also a #FoodChat. Last night most of the questions surrounded resolutions (of course to help bring in the new year) and also about advice for new agvocates. So, here’s the deal: I’m not an expert blogger. But, I do have some experiences I would like to share with those who are thinking they might want to blog about agriculture (or I guess any other topics really). This is what I’ve taken away from my path to starting Dare to Cultivate and my former blog. Hopefully my hours and mistakes will save you some time, money and self doubt!
Use WordPress: Seriously, just do. I know that it might seem complicated in the beginning. I just started playing with it January 1st so it’s not like I know how to use all of the features quite yet. But I’m learning. I can tell you from experience with other website builders that before you commit to a space to blog and invest time, money and resources you need to make sure it has all of the features you’re going to want as you grow as a writer/photographer and establish a following. It takes more time, but it’s worth it in the end. If you choose to switch which web builder you’re using oftentimes (to my knowledge) you can’t move content from one to the other. I’ve also found that WordPress has a much larger and more responsive community of Bloggers. I have the number of followers in one week on Dare to Cultivate that took me four months to accrue on my former blog.
Love it: If you’re going to pay for something – you better love it. If you’re not getting butterflies from a logo you design or a business card you’re ordering and so on and so on that requires capital investment then I would recommend not investing in that particular item in that way. So often we are driven by this thing called life and it makes it seem like doing something as fast as possible will do for now. But this is an investment. When you are starting a blog if you want to be successful you need to also realize that the moment you begin you are starting a personal brand. You want a successful personal brand that will resonate with your audience for a long time. Not just as a way to throw tidbits of ideas together to meet a deadline.
Diversify! Diversify! Diversify!: When I started my first blog I wanted to incorporate other things that weren’t agriculture driven. But I had my reservations. I mean, if I blogged about things other than my main focus (agriculture) did that make me any less of an agvocate? Would my blog be taken less seriously than other agvocates in the community? The answer is no. In fact as agvocates we are encouraged to diversify. It helps build a broader audience than just other agvocates (because yes that’s great and all, but don’t we want education about agriculture to be accessible to everyone else?) So yes! Diversify! Diversity will help you reach more people that are of varying demographics than the typical farmer/rancher/agvocate. This goes for any blog. For example, diversifying content from just photography to travel and food might just entice people to check your blog out.
Time is of the essence: So you want to blog! That’s fantastic, we’d love for you to blog! But it’s important to remember that time is an important factor too. First of all – it’s important to be realistic about how much time you can spend on your blog every week. Rather than just what time you want to spend on your blog. Then you need to plan. Plan where you’re going to find the time. It could be in the morning, on lunch break, when you get home from work. It could be when you’re waiting to pick up the kids from school or the weekend. It can be whenever you want. But you need to incorporate time. Otherwise you’ll end up like I was last semester – publishing blog posts midnight or later and being exhausted. Also – I don’t know that I would promise a post or commit to a blogging challenge one or several posts already ‘scheduled’ unless you are one hundred percent sure you will be able to publish. Also one of those things that as a college student I was pretty bad at last semester. It makes you seem unprofessional when you don’t deliver and we’re all advocates for our own personal brand aren’t we?
It’s pretty nifty to learn how to photograph well: If this is the format you’re comfortable with in advocating for agriculture. I’ll be honest with you – citing is important. You need to give people credit for any content you take from their site. This includes photographs and in all honesty not only have I grown to love photography but I’ve found that unless the photograph you choose to use is from a more legitimate publication chances are it can be very difficult to give credit where credit is due.
I hope this gives anyone who is considering starting a blog (agriculture driven or not) some answers to questions. If you have any other questions for me about my experience be sure to comment below:)
Thanks for reading!