Nov 3, 2009

I'm Not a Member of the GWA

In August, I attended the Independent Garden Center Show 2009 (links open in a new window) with a fellow garden blogger from the Chicago area. While walking the exhibition hall we visited the Terra Nova booth after spotting the foliage of a hardy cyclamen. As we talked about the cyclamen amongst ourselves, a gentleman working the booth asked us if we were members of the Garden Writers Association as he was handing out plant plugs to visitors of the booth. We explained to him that we were garden bloggers, but not members of the GWA. “Oh,” was his response as he turned away from us and ignored our presence as we continued to talk about his plants on display. As we walked away from the Terra Nova booth, I could not help but think we were “dissed” for not being members of the GWA.



I compared that experience with the one I had at the Hort Couture booth when I stopped by and spoke to the rep there. At the booth, I met Jim Monroe, owner of Hort Couture, who approached me, introduced himself, and talked to me about the plants on display, their marketing campaign and garden blogging. When I finished taking pictures and writing my notes, I started to walk away when I spotted someone jogging towards me from halfway down the exhibition hall waving enthusiastically. It was Jim Monroe, who wanted to make sure he said goodbye and thank me for stopping by the Hort Couture booth.

Can you guess what plants I wrote about on my garden blog?

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Troy-Bilt and Proven Winners are three large companies that I have encountered this year doing a great job of creating relationships with garden bloggers. From the publishing industry, I can name Random House, Inc., Workman Publishing and Penguin Group, Inc. Why are these companies sponsoring garden blogger events and or providing garden bloggers with products to review? They understand garden bloggers are influencers and that they now have less garden “communicators” to turn to in the print world. When I talk about garden bloggers, I am referring to people who blog about gardening because they want to; not because it is part of marketing tool to sell books, products or services. There is a vibrant community of people writing about plants and gardening on the internet and most of them are not members of the GWA or even professional writers.

This past spring I met Robert LaGasse, Executive Director Garden Writers Association, who was in Chicago for the dedication ceremony of a community garden. We talked about the GWA, garden blogging and garden writing/publishing in the digital age. After meeting with him, I was interested in the GWA, mostly because he was such a good ambassador. When the GWA symposium was held this summer, some of the writers I follow on Twitter were tweeting about the workshops and lectures they were attending. There was a session on the importance of social media and participating in the conversations online. I grimaced when I searched and discovered someone on the panel was only followed a handful of Twitter accounts and did so with a locked account. The company the person represented also had an account, but had fewer followers than most of the writers who were tweeting about being there.

I was-- as they say-- smh.

A few months ago I was talking with an individual who did not understand how someone could be a garden blogger and not a professional writer with ties to the GWA. “Oh, so you guys are rogue garden writers,” he said when he finally got it. I guess so. Our numbers and readers are increasing every year. I am not a member of the GWA. I am a garden blogger with a garden patch all of my own on the internet, where I sow the seeds of information that people are looking for because they are not turning to books, magazines and newspapers as much. Since many companies are beginning to understand that garden bloggers have influence I will remain a rogue garden “writer,” until there is a group that is ahead of the curb and can teach me some new tricks with this blogging, Twitter and Facebook thingie.

I'm a garden blogger and you'll find we're black, brown, white and colors in between. We're old and we're young. We're renters and homeowners with large gardens and small ones. We're married and we're single. We're gay and we're straight. We're religious and non-believers. We speak English and other languages too. We're males and we're females. We look just like yours customers-we are your customers- and our numbers are increasing.

Update: A perfect example of why I'm not a member of the GWA and don't fancy myself a "writer" comes from Torontoist . If I were to attempt to write professionally, notes from an editor would look just like that, ha! Thanks, to everyone who commented on this post, Twitter and on Facebook- the conversation was lively. Monica is getting the last word, but if you come across this post at a later date and have something to say, you can write about it on your blog and I'll direct people there.

36 comments:

  1. Heh heh heh. Yes, we walk among you...and our numbers are increasing. Mwah ha ha ha!

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  2. I think asking if you are a GWA member is a good litmus test to see if you are serious and decicated to the garden writing profession. Also, whether you invest time and money into improving your garden writing skills.

    There are 100s of GWA members who garden bloggers too - many also write eekly newspaper columns, do pubic speaker, or film garden TV shows - it is not a Group A vs B type thing.

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  3. @WashingtonGardener,

    That's kind of my point. Because someone is a garden blogger doesn't mean they want to be part of the "garden writing profession." Being a garden blogger and a garden writer can be mutually exclusive.

    A blog is just the digital version of a paper journal. Can I keep a journal about my garden and not have to be a pro gardener or garden writer?

    I know that there are GWA member who keep blogs, but I'm talking about gardeners who keep blogs continuing the tradition of garden journal writing. I'm not talking about those professionals who keep blogs, because they are either the new thing to do or because they are part of having a "web presence" or selling of "personal brands." Unlike with chickens and eggs we can looks and see what came first, the garden writing career or the blog.

    I have to disagree about it not being about Group A vs B, I gave one example above where it seemed to be the case. I could list others, but I'd have to name names.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  4. I'm not a GWA member, and don't plan to be. I started as a garden blogger, and still consider myself to be one, though I make a large proportion of my income now as a garden writer. I spend plenty of money improving my garden writing skills, but it is spent on plants, books, magazine subscriptions, and tools -- not in association dues. I have considered becoming a member, but have my own reasons for not joining up.

    Garden bloggers are the addicted gardeners, the passionate nutcases of the gardening world. Who else would spend so much time writing about something FOR FREE? Smart companies know this, and are more than happy to build relationships with them. I should also mention that I trust the word of most garden bloggers more than I do certain GWA members, who it appears are bought and sold by certain companies. But that's another issue entirely :-)

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  5. Even though both of my parents are caucasian, can I claim to be a "color in between?" Because sometimes (read: Sept-June) my skin is so pale that it's transparent. ;-)

    Great post!

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  6. I have to echo Colleen's response. I don't plan on joining the GWA due to dues I would rather spend elsewhere. That doesn't mean I don't spend time trying to improve what I do. Every time I do something I try to do it better than I have done before. I've written seriously about gardening for over two years just because I like the subject. It's too bad that the guy at the conference didn't seem to think you weren't worth his time. The funny thing is bad press will be retold ten times more than the good. As for being garden blogger A vs B you're welcome to name my name as blogger first, I'm still waiting on the career thing! ;)

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  7. I can't believe the response you got from Terra Nova. Drives me INSANE. Cliques are everywhere and folks are foolish enough to think that if you don't belong in 'their' group you're worthless. Luckily, they usually don't last long....great post!

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  8. @Colleen,

    "Garden bloggers are the addicted gardeners, the passionate nutcases of the gardening world. Who else would spend so much time writing about something FOR FREE? Smart companies know this, and are more than happy to build relationships with them."

    I'll second this.

    @Fern,

    That must come in very convenient around Halloween. :0)

    @Rebecca Sweet,

    Getting snubbed by the rep from Terra Nova didn't really bother me. I've been snubbed by better (I'm looking at you David Schwimmer & Vanessa Williams), but I did feel bad for the blogger I was with. She seemed to genuinely be interested in learning about the plant and I guess growing it. But to the rep it made more sense to hand it out to some people who work in print, who will never write about it, than to an active garden blogger who writes about plants every time they are blooming in her garden.

    BTW, I love your URL.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  9. Very worthwhile post!
    The attitude that you encountered is one that is VERY high on my list of Business 101 "not to-do" list.

    Regardless of your status as a member of any group, each encounter with a business in a trade show setting or on the street, is an opportunity for each company to show it's best face to the world. This was a great example of this companies values, plain and simple.

    Your positive experience showed just how far apart another company can be in the spectrum of the value of each individual interaction, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

    My pet peeve on this topic far exceeds whether or not you were treated properly as a member of GWA. My issue here is the lack of basic customer service and marketing skills. This is a very small world we live and work in now and every interaction has the potential to be a great and valuable learning tool OR monetary asset.
    If the face and attitude that a business puts out to the world is one of marginalizing certain people because they "appear" not to fit into a particular category, they will lose more than monetary gains.
    It's that simple.

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  10. @Christina,

    Thanks for the very thoughtful comment. Nice to read something from you that is more than 140 characters long. :0)

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  11. Christina--So true! Whenever I come across horrible customer service, I wonder what those businesses were thinking? Don't they know about Yelp? When a car dealer tried to sell me a car for 4K over the sticker price because the upholstry was scotch guarded and then lied about the dealer's invoice price, the first thing I did when I got home (after walking out) was write the dealership a bad review. Same thing when my (former) dentist was 90 minutes late for my appt for no good reason.

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  12. Wait a minute... I seem to remember a conversation on the El about joining vs. not joining and a certain someone said they were once a member and it was worth it just for the perks.

    Just today, I joined the GWA, and not for the perks. I have my reasons for joining, but they really have little to do with those that are mentioned here. And BOO to those with attitudes - both those who have attitudes because you AREN'T a member as well as those who have attitudes because you ARE.

    I became a blogger because I'm a gardener and I live and breathe gardening. I simply LOVE it and I love writing about this love of mine. I also love the relationships and friendships I've made with other bloggers. You won't ever see me snub anyone because they do this or that, and if you think I have, then you really don't know me very well and are gravely mistaken.

    I will first and foremost be a gardener and secondly a writer. Call me a blogger, call me a writer - in my book, they're one and the same. I don't get paid to write and if by chance someday I do, then good for me, but I'll continue to write no matter what. It's what I do.

    I don't care who you are or what you do, or what organizations you belong to - there are no excuses for being treated rudely. That's just poor manners and my mama taught me better than that. Too bad that happened to you at the IGCS.

    And good response, Christina. I feel the same.

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  13. Wanted to add that I echo Colleen's statement about being a passionate nutcase. That's the nicest compliment I could ever get and I hear it regularly from my aunt. She just doesn't get it. I love that I've found "my people" in the garden blogging world. :-)

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  14. @Kylee,

    Yes, I thought about adding the El ride anecdote to this post, but left it out for some reasons. I do recall someone saying it was worth it just for the perks and Beth Bott (GrowingInChicago.com) saying it a bit more tactfully by saying something along the lines of; "If you are interested in garden books and periodicals, the GWA is the place all publishers go to."

    I was thinking about you while I was composing this post because you're the only blogger that I know that was thinking of making the move to join and after you launched your latest blog, I wondered if you did.

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts of joining when you've been in it for a year and hearing what you gained from being part of it.

    In that same El ride convo I mentioned that when I talked to Robert LaGasse, what appealed to me was that he said it was a good way of meeting other people and having some support if you were researching and article or book.

    Thanks for commenting.

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  15. There are several bloggers that were at Spring Fling that are currently members of GWA (at least 10, counting me now). Not sure how long the others have been members, but maybe they could chime in and answer the question you've put to me to answer in a year. I'd be interested in hearing what they've got to say, too!

    I count it all as a learning opportunity. Every single person I've ever met has taught me something, whether it was about gardening or something else. And I'm willing to bet I'll meet even more people to learn from as a result of being a member of the GWA, just as I have via blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. That's my hope anyway.

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  16. People have different reasons for blogging about gardens. Some are doing as an outgrowth of keeping a garden journal and as a form of personal expression and interaction; others are doing for reasons that are primarily professional.

    GWA is a professional organization of people who make money from writing about gardens, in various media including the web. It's one of several professional organizations I belong to. It's worth it to me to belong--and to attend the annual symposium--because of the contacts and relationships I develop there and the information and ideas I get that lead to paying work.

    IGIA also is a business-to-business event--a wholesale marketplace, not a consumer or retail event. The customers of the business that exhibit there are retailers and catalogs, not consumers. Those businesses paid a lot of money for booth space and they want to spend their time there on conversations for which they can see a clear business advantage, such as selling, writing up orders or explaining the product to someone who is in a position to publicize it and improve sales. A blogger who wants a business person's time at a business-to-business event should be prepared to explain to them why being mentioned in a blog can give their business or product an advantage.

    Functionally, one of the advantages of belonging to a professional organization (in any business) is that it's a shorthand way to get cred as a part of the business, as demonstrated by your willingness to spend money for dues. Bottom line: if you can't think of the dues as a professional business expense, it's probably not worth it to belong to GWA. But then be prepared to explain to garden businesses the advantage to them of dealing with you.

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  17. Sorry, I should have said IGC, not IGIA. The disadvantage of having no editor.

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  18. Well said, Beth, and when she writes that this businesses paid a LOT to exhibit at trade events -- think several mortgage payments. Put yourself in their shoes and think how you want to spend your precious booth time.

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  19. @Beth,

    "...A blogger who wants a business person's time at a business-to-business event should be prepared to explain to them why being mentioned in a blog can give their business or product an advantage..."

    That's kind of the point of this post and this blog in general. To promote the act of garden blogging. This blog isn't called garden writers for a reason. It is here as a teaching tool for garden bloggers and as promotional material for practice/hobby etc of garden blogging.


    @WashingtonGardener,

    "Put yourself in their shoes and think how you want to spend your precious booth time."

    Sorry, I don't buy this argument for a second. People can't walk into the IGCS off the street. You have to register as "press" to get in and you are given a badge indicating you are press.

    We were worth his "precious" time when we were talking to him about being garden bloggers, but then weren't worthy of his time after he asked if we were members of the GWA, and we told him we weren't?

    That reeks of elitist nonsense to me.

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  20. After an email conversation with someone I want to make something clear(er).

    This post is not about conflict between garden writers and garden bloggers. That doesn't exist, that I know of anyway. This post is about how marketing departments of companies in the garden category see or are beginning to see garden bloggers and what they do.

    Again, this is not about conflicts between two groups of people who write about plants.

    Hope that is clear.

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  21. I find it ironic that another blogger pointed me to your blog and I was shocked by your comments.
    I'm an owner of Terra Nova, and the buck stops here. First, if I or one of my people slighted you, I apologize. I must also point out that there are oftimes too many people at our booth to give each and every one full attention. We do try. I make a point to our sales people to watch for people's needs, but you can't please all the people all the time. The samples you spoke of were offered to anybody on the show floor including yourself. It is a limited entry event. I could give a fig if you belonged to the GWA. I think it's a great professional organization, and I see the greatest perk in the networking. I welcome bloggers of any ilk, as I believe we develop great and interesting garden plants and we even built the Media Professionals category in our website to support ALL media professionals offering information and photography. Again I offer my apologies, and hope we can meet on better ground. -Dan Heims

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  22. As the garden blogger who was with MBT at the IGCS this year I'm naturally interested in this conversation.

    My blog is an outgrowth of my lifelong love of gardening and wish to connect with other gardeners. I have no ads on it and am not in it for money or perks other than as stated above. I am also a professional garden designer, consultant, and coach, and work as a horticulturalist at one of the Chicago area's top-rated greenhouse/nurseries, where my opinions and expertise have on more than one occasion influenced buying decisions.

    Although I occasionally mention that on my blog, I have a separate website where I promote my business.

    Some astute horticulture-related companies understand the influence garden bloggers can and do have on their marketplace and offer even us lowly bloggers who aren't GWA members product samples with either the expectation or hope we'll review their products on our blogs. As it happens my current post is on a new book from National Geographic. They asked me to review the book. I love National Geographic and love the new book - Flora Mirabilis, and was happy to review it. I asked for a copy to give away on my blog, and they graciously provided one, recognizing that even my measly little blog reaches enough readers to make that investment worthwhile. Since I'm not in it for the money, my readers can trust that if I give a positive review to a garden-related product it's because I really do believe in what I'm saying.

    Aside from whatever influence I may have in the garden blogging/reading community, I'm not just a garden products consumer - I'm also a garden business owner. When I like a product or plant my clients are likely to hear about it, and the converse is also true.

    I was struck by the beauty of those hardy cyclamens at Terra Nova's both at the IGCS this year. And this fall I added some to my own garden and to the gardens of more than client. Oh, and guess what. . . they didn't come from Terra Nova.

    Being the garden blogger in question at the IGCS, I can tell you it wasn't just a matter that the booth was too busy with other possibly more influential customers who were there to help pay someone's mortgage. Rudeness is rudeness. period. I have clients who pay me thousands of dollars in a season and clients who use my services sporadically, or only once. Across the spectrum, I promise you they don't know the difference when it comes to the quality of service I provide.

    In a previous life I was the corporate director of a large chain of women's health clubs, and handled the most difficult of customer service issues when the customer service manager needed someone with a fancier title to help her. I recognize good customer service when I see it and have realized for many years it's not good business to be rude to anyone regardless of how many of your mortgage payments they may cover with their hard-earned dollars. When people are happy with your service or product they might tell a few friends. When they're not happy, or even worse when they've been treated rudely, they tell everyone they know, and while that may be hard to quantify, it definitely cuts into the mortgage payments. Rudeness is always a bad strategy, and never more so in these tough economic times when there are less mortgage payments to go around. As for me and my business, I will continue to spend my precious time wisely and will never be rude to my clients or potential clients, including those who use my service only once for an hour consultation or to design and plant their containers in the spring.

    There are also hundreds of garden bloggers who own horticulture-related businesses, influence their professional market, and are very serious and dedicated to their professions.

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  23. . . . meant to say there are hundreds of garden bloggers who own and/or work for horticulture-related businesses.

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  24. Mr. Brown Thumb and all,

    Although you make some valid points, I would offer the following about GWA, and it's commitment to writers who write for online and print media. (I am one of those by the way.)

    For the first time this year, there will be a blogging award at the GWA. I pushed for it, and one of the people organizing the awards put a lot of time into developing the criteria.

    GWA, although heavily print focused, had more bloggers last year at the 2009 symposium. Three years ago, they had their first panel about blogging. It is what made me start a blog. Two years ago, I spoke as a newbie blogger on what to expect. I was on a blogging panel with more experienced bloggers like Susan Harris, Amy Stewart, and Doug Green (who has many blogs and other types of online media). We were told it was good, solid info. I certainly hope so.

    Last year, GWA had a panel about Gen Y'ers and how to attract them. They had a full day workshop run by Jean Ann Van Krevelen about social media. There were also two (I think) other panels on social media.

    I don't think it's fair to label an entire organization based on a couple of meetings, and I would encourage anyone who wants to experience GWA to join. It's great organization and further my own career.~~Dee

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  25. I think there may be a misunderstanding here due to terminology (or maybe not). The title of this post is "I'm Not a Member of the GWA." That leads me to think that the post that follows will be about why you're not a member of the GWA.

    To judge an entire organization (of which you're not a member) on the basis of the acts of one is, to me, like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    It's too bad that this experience has soured you on the organization, but my own opinion is that the Terra Nova rep should be judged on his own merit (or lack of it), without giving him more significance than he deserves.

    The GWA has many members, each as individual as what they do, whether it be for pay or for free.

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  26. @Dan,

    Thanks for commenting. If you don't already you may want to set up Google alerts for your business or the names of the owners and staff so that when people online write about them you can be notified. Lastly, I appreciate the apology but it wasn't necessary in my case since I wasn't that interested in learning about the plants as much as Garden Girl, who commented below you, was. Above I joked that I'd been snubbed by a couple of celebrities, so that kind of stuff doesn't bother me in the grand scheme of things. But like I said, I appreciate the sentiment behind you coming here and saying that.

    @Garden girl,

    Thanks for adding your perspective on the interaction.

    @Dee,

    Thanks for adding your thoughts.

    @Kylee,

    "I think there may be a misunderstanding here due to terminology (or maybe not). The title of this post is "I'm Not a Member of the GWA." That leads me to think that the post that follows will be about why you're not a member of the GWA."

    The post is titled "I'm Not a Member of the GWA" and in the first paragraph and second-to-last paragraph there are two examples of where I recalled explaining what a garden blogger was and I had to make the distinction between what a garden blogger (in my book was) and a garden writer who is a member of the GWA was.

    Between those two paragraphs I A)Gave an example of a business owner who seemed to understand the value of garden bloggers and who went, IMO, out of his way to engage me, a garden blogger, and talk up his business. Which resulted in me writing about and recommending his plants. B)I also talk about how companies are turning to garden bloggers as part of their marketing campaigns because they realize the value of engaging with so-called "influencers" even though they aren't professionals in the garden category or even members of a professional organization, like the GWA. All of that to serve as a contrast to the example of the rep who decided to stand there in front of us and look over our shoulders like we didn't exist when we explained we were not members of the GWA.

    "To judge an entire organization (of which you're not a member) on the basis of the acts of one is, to me, like throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

    I don't see where I'm doing that at all, if anything I'm passing judgment on the idea that if you are not part of an organization that somehow you matter less because you don't want to pay dues and prove you are "serious."

    "It's too bad that this experience has soured you on the organization, but my own opinion is that the Terra Nova rep should be judged on his own merit (or lack of it), without giving him more significance than he deserves."

    I'm not soured on the organization and I don't think the TN rep in any way reflects on the organization. May I offer that perhaps all of the people who have responded to this post with the need to defend the GWA, take a step back and see if they are not, as you stated, "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" and ignoring the points I raised in the post and in this comment?

    Perhaps, given my background, I should've expected this reaction since I've often found myself in the spot where I felt the need to come to the defense of a group I belong.

    I thought the point of my post was pretty clear from the examples given and even in the label used for this post.

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  27. I DO understand your point (or at least part of it). I too know what it's like to be "Pretty Woman shopping on Rodeo Drive." And my point was that no one should dismiss a single person at an event such as this, simply because they don't belong to the GWA. Yet that was clearly part of the issue here.

    But thanks for your comments of explanation. Perhaps the reason you got so many responses defending the GWA is because it was mentioned in the first place and appears to some that you are being critical of the organization rather than just a member of it.

    This is exactly why comments following a blog post are important. I doubt I'm the only one who read what you wrote and thought what I thought. This discussion about it does help clear the air a bit.

    I think Dee's post about what the GWA is doing in regard to bloggers goes a long way in helping to bridge the gap between professional writers and those of us who write simply because we enjoy sharing our love of gardening. I'm glad she responded and shared that information. That, to me, shows that the GWA at least, knows the value of garden blogging, even if some businesses haven't yet gotten that memo.

    ...there are two examples of where I recalled explaining what a garden blogger was and I had to make the distinction between what a garden blogger (in my book was) and a garden writer who is a member of the GWA was.

    Hmmm...wonder which one of those I am. Oh! I'm both! I'm glad that's allowed.

    Peace.

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  28. "But thanks for your comments of explanation. Perhaps the reason you got so many responses defending the GWA is because it was mentioned in the first place and appears to some that you are being critical of the organization rather than just a member of it."

    What member of the organization am I being critical of? Are you talking about the rep at the Terra Nova booth? I don't even know if the person at the booth is a member. I suppose it is possible, but I have no idea.

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  29. I just joined GWA this year and went to the convention for the first time. I have to say that I was blown away by the friendliness, generosity and collegiality of the GWA. It was fantastic to be in large rooms and gorgeous gardens filled with excited and excitable garden people.

    The sessions I went to were all really interesting, and the people who were on the panels were the real deal. I have no patience for exclusion and attitude. I truly didn't see any at the GWA.

    I certainly think not everyone should join, but it is truly joyous for me to be a member of a group that is so wildly enthusiastic about writing and gardening.

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  30. Digital Media is the future. Hort Couture knows this and wants to embrace it. Wait until you see the digital products we are getting ready to announce!!!

    We love to see the reaction that our super cool new plants and ideas have evoked on Garden Rant and other blogs. This is fun! Keep up the good work guys.

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  31. I want to chime in and say that in my experience the garden blogger has come a LONG way within the last 5 years.

    When I started my site 10 years ago (it was called a "Web Zine" then) I could not get a publisher to send me anything whether it was for review or a giveaway. It didn't matter how large my readership was -- they wanted nothing to do with me. Anything I wrote about or gave away I bought myself and as a result of those early experiences I have never made much of a move to enlist help/support from these sorts of companies since.

    When my first book was published nearly 5 years ago, my publisher would not send review copies to bloggers nor would they advertise on blogs. It was print, radio, and television media ONLY.

    My second book is coming out in Feb and I am noticing a remarkable difference in the attitude my new publisher is taking to bloggers in respect to review copies, advertising, and giveaways. The difference is like night and day.

    I only became a GWA a year or so back (didn't know they existed before then) and I haven't noticed a difference in how I am treated by companies. The only difference is that my name is on more lists. In short, I receive more junk mail and I am invited to the odd PR event.

    I have other reasons for remaining a GWA member but I've been running my site for 10 years and worked full time as a web designer and running my own project sites years prior. To be honest, I can't imagine this organization would have anything to teach me about working in/with new media. And as far as more traditional forms of media goes, well, we're all in the same sinking boat together as far as this rapidly changing landscape goes.

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  32. To answer your question, yes, you're right, he may or may not be a member of the GWA. I see what you're saying in regard to that and it would seem that I misunderstood. My apologies! I'm not trying to be antagonistic. I'm trying to understand all points of what's being said here.

    I do agree with much of what you've said here in regard to garden bloggers and the influence they have in spreading the word about gardening and garden products. You won't get any argument from me there. After all, that's all I am - a garden blogger.

    Garden blogging has undergone some great changes since I first began writing mine in January 2007. The sheer number of them now as compared to then is astounding. Their role in the online community and in the gardening community is still changing.

    Bloggers are just beginning to get the respect they deserve, but we can expect that during this time, we will encounter those that dismiss us as "just bloggers." That may be their loss and there are plenty of business owners who know better and will benefit from it.

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  33. @ContainerGardener,

    Thanks for the comment and for expressing your thoughts. I probably sound like a broken record by now, but make your profile public so people can visit your link. If you don't want to make your profile public at the least take advantage of the Name/URL option in the comments so people can visit your blog too. I appreciate it everytime you leave a comment on a blog of mine and want you to potentially get some visitors for your troubles.

    @Jim @Gayla

    Thanks, to you both for taking time to comment and giving your perspective. Appreciate it.

    @Kylee,

    Honestly, I wouldn't mind it if you were being "antagonistic." What fun is life if you go through it with everyone agreeing with you and never having your views challenged. Thanks for the lively thread. :0)

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  34. @WashingtonGardener said:

    "Well said, Beth, and when she writes that this businesses paid a LOT to exhibit at trade events -- think several mortgage payments. Put yourself in their shoes and think how you want to spend your precious booth time."

    -----

    I can appreciate that businesses would want to target their time and resources to a specific group of people who they perceive to be best positioned to help the business make money, but:

    (1) Any business that doesn't get how much buzz they can create by being the darling of the blogging world has serious marketing department problems, and

    (2) Even if MrBT and his friend didn't fit the demo the business was looking for, there was a better way to send them on their way that wouldn't have left a bad taste in their mouth which has now resulted in "bad press" in this post.

    I don't care how much money the event participants spent on their booths, providing bad customer service is never a good business strategy. Tera Nova could have given MrBT and his friend a smaller amount of plugs than they were giving to GWA members and invited them to review the plants on their blogs. It would have cost them pocket change, and might have gotten them rave reviews by a couple of well-positioned bloggers. Much more valuable than the sour grapes they got for free by dissing MrBT.

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  35. I just want to follow up Fern's comment by saying that for me it wasn't about getting a free plant. Hort Couture wasn't giving out free plants, but they were talking about them even- going so far as to recommend which plants to photograph in the booth.

    The growers/distributors/manufacturers were there to sell plants & gadgets, the buyers to buy them, and the people who had to register as press were there to discover these products and write about them and expose them to the end consumers.

    I just remembered that Patti Moreno (sp?) (who is a blogger too) was there representing a tool company and when she saw our badges she pulled us out of the isle and into the booth to demonstrate the tools to us.

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  36. I was a member of GWA for a few years. I joined for one reason: their list of garden pubs/editors. Which it turned out hadn't been updated in 7 years. I've been making my living as a writer and editor (in the dreaded corporate world) for 23 years, s it's not like I'm not a dedicated professional. But I didn't renew my GWA membership because, to me, it wasn't worth the cost. Sure, companies sent me a few free things, but they weren't things I would have bought, has someone handed me $80. Also, I think a lot of bloggers join to give them the sense of being somehow more "official." That's not how I roll. I did attend a GWA regional meeting once, which was AWESOME, but it cost me about $400. So, all and all, I'd join a professional group for one reason: to make contact with people who might buy my work. For me, GWA had a lot of members wanting to pitch products to writers and a lot of writers, but not a lot of publishers. The icing on the cake was when, over a year after I stopped being a member, I was contacted by someone I'd never heard of, saying I'd been recommended by someone I'd never heard of, to run for regional vice president. Now, you just know an organization is hard up for officers if they want me full stop, let alone if they want a non-member!!!! ;-)

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