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Monday, November 1, 2010

How to start your #agblog - agricultural blog

It's easier than you think

Lately, I have had lots of people ask me about my blog and how they can start one of their own. TrioAngus are some good friends of mine is Australia that just got their #agblog started.

Blogs are a great way to communicate about the importance of agriculture, and allow people to gain insight into the lives of farmers and ranchers like the Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch blog by Debbie Lyons. Or they can be an extremely inexpensive way to market your livestock like my parents are doing with the High Country Cattle blog, and the Boy has his JJB Cattle Co. blog.

1. Choose whether you will use Blogger or Wordpress
As you start to look through other #agblogs you'll notice that these are the two most popular formats. I personally prefer Blogger blogs. I find the format extremely simple to use, and it is easy for my readers to comment. Also, Blogger is owned by Google, so it ties in nicely with YouTube, Gmail and Google Analytics.

2. Start writing 
If you are going to start a blog, you need to make a commitment to write or post. When I have free time I will write a group of posts and then schedule them to be strung out during my busy time. This way my readers will have fresh content to look at.

3. Share content
If you can't think of anything to say, post a picture or video. You might even want to link to other #agblogs of interest. Social media is about community and sharing.

4. Tell people about it 
Start spreading the message. Send out an email blast to friends, family and customers letting them know about your new blog, and to bookmark your site. Also, twitter and facebook are a great way to let people know you are posting. Also, be sure that your blog is included in blog rolls like Michele Payn-Knoper's Agrifood Resources. She lists tons of Farm and Ranch Blogs and Agvocate Blogs. Cattle.com is also a good resource for cattle blogs.

5. Find out if people are reading
I believe that if you decide to start to blog you need to do because you love sharing your message. However, knowing someone out there is reading can help you stay on track. One of the biggest things I hear from other blog friends is that they think no one is readings, because of the lack of comments they are receiving. Trust me people are reading, although I find though the agriculture community doesn't post a huge volume of comments. My solution is to add Google Analytics to your blog. This will help you track how many people are coming to your blog, what they are reading and where they are coming from. This is a nice tutorial to help you install Google Analytics.


I would love to hear some your advice as well. And if you have any questions please ask away. I am sure someone is wondering the exact same thing too! And don't forget to read Part 2 of this post here and check out the How to Blog Tab at the top of my blog for blogging tutorials. 

15 comments:

  1. Great information, Crystal, as always:) I use blogspot as well and I find it's extremely easy to use also. Have a great evening!

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  2. I've been thinking about starting a blog, lately. I've hosted entire websites before so the tech side of it isn't an issue for me. I'm struggling with content. I'm not sure exactly what to write about. Or what people would want to read. Or who exactly I want as my target audience. I can go on and on about agronomy-related issues (I'm a professional agronomist), but I'm not sure that exactly going to be interesting enough to drive hits. My Twitter stream (@cornwuff) is a bizarre mix of personal content, ag content, and random content...I'm not really sure how to distill that into a blog.

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  3. Nice summary. Another important point I think is to make sure that your topic/perspective is fun for you to WRITE. Some blogs are very focused on industry/extension (eg the almond doctor) while others are casual day in the life stories full of pictures of the author's kids. There's an audience out there for every perspective, bt if it's not fun to write, you won't stick with it long enough for people to discover you.

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  4. Also, when I started my blog, I only spent half the time on it actually writing posts (1 good post a week is plenty) - what I really focused on was discovering other blogs that I thought my future audience may be reading already and making frequent thoughtful/provocative comment on THEIR posts (with my blog linked) to draw some traffic in.

    Jim - if you decide to make your blog an extension of your professional life, be sure to synch them up from both sites - e.g. advertise your blog on your faculty website, extension newsletters, at society meetings, etc.

    And I wouldn't worry too much about limiting/focusing your post topics too much - there are lots of popular blogs that are a mix of, say hard science and politics, or anthropology and cooking... Eventually, when your audience shows up, they'll let you know what they like anyway.

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  5. @ MAT k - that is exactly what I was going to say about leaving comments on other blogs that are in the same niche as you. Even on blogs that you're just simply interested in. Great point!

    I don't have it linked here yet, because it's not up and running but I have a blog idea in the works that I'm pretty excited about which I think ultimately is what blogging is about - the writer being excited to write!

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  6. Love the tips! As a new blogger I seem to learn something new everyday about how to make our blog better. Have to agree with Crystal that Google Analytics is great, we dont have many followers yet but I can see there are people out there reading it which makes it worthwhile!!!

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  7. I've written my agblog for almost three years now. I started daily entries about 11 months in. The things I think are commonplace (scenery, livestock management) also seem to be the ones that pull in the most readers and comments. Sometimes I'm very surprised at what my readers enjoy. It's a process. I use GoDaddy... and I'm OK with that, tho' I know some people prefer the blogging sites. I enjoy sharing my ag lifestyle.

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  8. Crystal, I'm honored to be an example of an agblog in your post! I really want people to know that a blog does not have to be difficult or elaborate! Just talk about what you love. You don't have to be a writer or pro photographer. You just have to be willing to share your story.

    The next step is promoting....I hope you have a post about that next.

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  9. Jim's question about what he'd write is what I'm talking to the agronomy, crops & soils societiea about today. We need people who have real connections to agriculture putting out info. If something in your news strikes your interest, something you are doing can seems mundane but could be a chance to share info with others, etc.

    I also need to put in a wordpress plug (someone had to know it's coming). I've used both but used wordpress so it feels best for me. I like that many tools are so clearly built in to customize your site and know at any point of day whether people are reading something. Helps me decide how to extend the reach -- maybe I need a new venue or to tag different words, etc. Nice to have a friend on whatever platform you use.

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  10. Thanks everyone for your comments and excellent advice! As you can see blogging is really about community. Jim I was hoping you would have an email address on your profile to get in touch with you, but I hope you have returned to find some of the comments useful.

    It looks like there is huge interest in the topic and I am hoping to have a part two soon.

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  11. So nice to "meet" you Crystal! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I'm sending your blog link to my parents; they raise cattle and would definitely benefit from blogging! Hope you have a great Wednesday!

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  12. I apparently had email display turned off in my profile. It's on, now, if you want to get in touch. Twitter is also a good way to reach me, these days. @cornwuff

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  13. is the Scheduled Post option working for you these days? I tried it a few weeks ago and doesn't seem to work. :(

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  14. Seems to be. Yesterday's post was a scheduled post. I am using it again today. .

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  15. It was great to meet you at the Women in Ag conference last night. I am trying this blogging thing. So wish me luck.

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Thanks for stopping by! I love to hear from all my readers. Hope you have a fabulous day.

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