Steve Bender digs up great gardening ideas in his blog: The Grumpy Gardener
Steve Bender has been writing professionally for more than 25 years, developed a large and loyal following of readers, and knows a great deal about gardening, which, for the last 2 years, has been the subject of his award winning blog “The Grumpy Gardener”. Bender has written several gardening books, including The Southern Living Landscape Book. He currently sits on the board of Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover, Alabama.
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Mequoda – Which CMS (ie: WordPress, Typo) are you using? What do you like about it?
SB – TypePad. I find it very easy to create attractive and informative pages.
Mequoda – Are you blogging for your company as part of you job (ie: corporate) or is this a personal passion?
SB – My blogging is done for Southern Living, but I wouldn’t continue if I didn’t enjoy it so much.
Mequoda – Has your blog enhanced your professional reputation? How?
SB – I would say it has, because it puts your name out there in front of an audience that’s totally different than the one that reads Southern Living. So you reach a lot more people.
Mequoda – How often do you post a new blog?
SB – I post 2-3 times a week.
Mequoda – Who is your target audience?
SB – My target audience consists of Southern Living readers as well as interested gardeners from all over the country who do not necessarily subscribe. Ages range from 25-75. A higher percentage of men read my blog than read Southern Living, because my blog helps people solve gardening problems in an entertaining way and is written from a male point of view.
Mequoda – What are you doing to grow your audience and to create customer loyalty?
SB – I start out by writing about subjects that interest a wide range of people. I update my page often and predictably. I answer every question a reader asks, even if it doesn’t go on the blog. I provide valuable links and sources so that people can find the plants and products I write about. I entertain as well as inform. I use my own high-quality photos. I give readers info they can use.
Mequoda – How are you using social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to promote your blog? Has that changed the way you blog?
SB – I promote the Grumpy Gardener on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Southern Living web page. I tout every new post on Twitter and Facebook.
Mequoda – What is your main source of referrals?
SB – Facebook, Twitter, Southern Living readers and other bloggers.
Mequoda – What key metrics do you monitor to analyze the health of your business?
SB – Growth of page views and unique readers.
Mequoda – How many sites have you linked to in the last 30 days?
SB – Probably 100.
Mequoda – What changes have you seen in your market since you began blogging?
SB – Social media keeps growing. Bloggers now realize that blogging is work as well as fun.
Mequoda – Any interesting experience you’d like to share? Has the blog led to any other interesting projects?
SB – I’ve been using the “Grumpy Gardener” franchise in talks and appearances. There may be a “Grumpy Gardener” book in the future.
Mequoda – What advice would you give a new blogger?
SB – Successful blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t burn yourself out at the beginning. Post regularly. Decide who it is you’re writing for. Differentiate yourself from the crowd. Don’t blog unless you love it.
Mequoda – What ways are you planning to expand over the next year?
SB – May do more product and catalog reviews.
Mequoda – Is there anything you’d like to share?
SB – You will not get rich doing this. But you will have fun.