Three Lessons from P. Allen Smith's Garden2Blog 2014

In May, 24 bloggers were invited to P. Allen Smith's fourth annual Garden2Blog, where they were wined, dined, and treated to two days of southern hospitality. Proven Winners has enjoyed a great partnership with Allen and his hardworking team for several years, so Jeanine Standard and I were treated to the fun as one of the event's sponsors. While I could write essays on how wonderful everything was, I encourage you to visit the bloggers' sites to read about the experience in their own words (list below). I did take home a few lessons from Moss Mountain Farm that I hope you can apply to your work as a garden writer.
  1. Audience is everything. | Jeffrey Rohrs kicked off the keynote address with this Bruce Springsteen quote: "The audience is not brought to you or given to you; it's something that you fight for. You can forget that, especially if you've had some success. Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time." If Springsteen has to work that hard to capture and maintain the attention of his audience, what do we as garden writers need to do?

    Rohrs explained how an audience - your most important asset - can be divided into three groups, and interaction with each is different. SEEKERS are those casually looking for information and entertainment. AMPLIFIERS are in it for the thrill and social recognition gained from sharing content. JOINERS are the most valuable members of an audience, the ones who follow, subscribe, and engage. The G2B garden writers are P. Allen Smith's JOINERS, and he certainly knew how to make them valued. What are you doing?

    I'm only on the third chapter of Rohrs' book, "Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans & Followers," but I would recommend it for ideas on how to work with and build each section of your audience.

  2. Stay true to your style. | P. Allen Smith gets it. His list of accolades is miles long, from designer and TV host to founder of the Heritage Poultry Conservancy. All this aside, what impressed me the most were not his amazing gardens nor his never ending wit, but that he is genuine, staying true to himself across all fronts. It first struck me when he mentioned that when planning the farm, he wanted to prove that you could build a traditional home in a sustainable way. Let's face it, environmentally responsible typically reads modern, yet every inch of Moss Mountain Farm oozes southern charm from the Poultry Palace to the clover-filled lawn. Allen, as a person and as a brand, is a great reminder that keeping your values and passions at the center of everything is the key to success.
  3. Step Dance out of your comfort zone. | The group of bloggers in attendance varied from rose aficionados to backyard chicken farmers, and everything in between. The DIYers took selfies with chickens. The edible gardeners put together beautiful containers of Proven Winners annuals, perennials, and shrubs. The chicken folks drank wine in the rose garden. Yet even with adventure embraced, there were a few sideways glances whenever Allen's producers broke out the speakers and asked us to dance to Pharrell Williams' "Happy." You want me to what? While you film it?

    When the finished video debuted during our final meal together, it was obvious that our trust in the Garden2Blog crew was well worth it. (You can witness my sweet moves at the 3:18 mark.)

Read more about G2B and visit the bloggers:

Julie Thompson Adolf | Julie’s Garden Delights 
Steve Asbell | The Rainforest Garden
Kylee Baumle | Our Little Acre
Jan Bills | Two Women and a Hoe
Stephanie Buckley | The Park Wife
Teresa Byington | The Garden Diary
Janet Carson | University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
C.L. Fornari | Coffee for Roses
Susan Fox | Gaga’s Garden
Jerusalem Greer | Jolly Goode Gal
Robin Horton | Urban Gardens
Lamanda Joy | The Yarden
Linday Ly | The Garden Betty
Michael Nolan | My Earth Garden
Jenny Peterson | J. Peterson Garden Design
Kenny Point | Veggie Gardening Tips
Kathy Purdy | Cold Climate Gardening
Christina Salwitz | Personal Garden Coach
Mary Beth Shaddix | Mary Beth Shaddix
Lisa Steele | Fresh Eggs Daily
Rebecca Sweet | Harmony in the Garden
Kelly Smith Trimble | DIY Network's Made + Remade
Chris Van Cleave | Redneck Rosarian
Tina Wilcox | Ozark Folk Center 

Shout out to our fellow sponsors:

Bonnie Plants
Hubbard Life
Jobe's Organics
Le Creuset
Little Rock Convention & Visitor's Bureau 
United Solutions
US Foods

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