As we approach the end of year, I thought it was about time to write a ‘hello’ type of post for the new readers that have paid a visit to H O U S E P L A N T H O U S E ! And if you have been around a while longer, thank you so much for your continued support. I’ve had some really kind messages over the last few months from people that have found my website + I appreciate every one of them.

Joking aside, I’m enjoying creating here at H P H as much as when I started — there’s something about planning a post, writing + taking the photos, then assembling it into a finished piece that I find so creatively rewarding. Unlike the ‘blink + you’ll probably miss it’ / algorithm-glitchy social media, a blog feels more permanent + timeless. To me, it feels like a virtual diary of sorts + I love how as it has grown to reflect my personality + interests over the last 3 years. It’s my very own creative space online that I can continue to build on for a many years to come.

In these uncertain times, it’s good to indulge in a hobby + I know that lockdown has lured quite a few of you towards houseplants! I created H P H in 2017 as a cross-platform hub that spans this website, my Instagram page +  Pinterest too. I did not expect that 3 years later it would have grown into what it is today. Today’s post is a little different to my usual posts + reflects on the last few years of running H P H online + touches upon the topics of community + etiquette across social media.

If you are new here, across these platforms, I enjoy documenting my plant collection + share plant care advice, as well as offering inspiration for houseplant purchases + tips on how to style interiors with plants. You might have come across my website because you are nurturing a houseplant hobby (…be careful, that’s how this all started!), you love interiors + plant styling, or enjoy a little bit of small-scale gardening.

Think of H O U S E P L A N T H O U S E a little like an online magazine where you can dip in and out of a variety of posts that all relate to fostering a connection with the natural world in some way. I have categorised these ‘topics’ under easily-navigated headings on the banner of my homepage. This will allow you to explore each area in more depth if you wish. I want to share a rounded view of my life with plants, alongside my hobbies + experiences too. If you are just looking for specific plant care guides you’ll find standardised guidance + tips under the houseplant related tabs. As a side note, my instagram feed is exclusively all about houseplants, care + styling + I pop all the other bits + bobs like gardening + interiors on my stories.

I’m always working on improving my site so if there is something you would like to see please get in touch.

Conversations around online communities (like our ‘niche’ houseplant community) have been a bit of a ‘hot topic’ in light of the last few months. 2020 has definitely felt like the year we were all online. Whether that has been trying to work from home, studying or socialising, the internet has been the space many of us have all spent quite a lot of hours on of late.

In the middle of the year, due to a technical issue, I ended up being cut off from the internet for a number of weeks. When I returned online after this enforced break, I found myself feeling quite reflective about what it meant to spend a lot of time on the internet.

How we interact online is certainly something that impacts all of us that use these platforms + having mostly worked digitally for the last few years, I wanted to share some thoughts here to consider as part of the online houseplant community.

First off, plant care is personal. This is an important disclaimer because what works for me, might not work for you. In my care guide posts, alongside detailing a general guide on growing the plant(s) in question, I also try to talk about where my plants are, what my conditions are like etc. This can then be compared to your own environment, which will help you make a more informed decision. In my post ‘A mindful approach to keeping houseplants’, I talked more about this + also how to choose plants that work for you, I’ll link it here.

For the new plant lovers out there, treat learning about your plants as part + parcel of your care routine — it’s honestly such an enjoyable aspect of plant care for me! I find it fascinating to have a readership from all around the world + I love seeing how different plant care looks for all of you. If in doubt, start by thinking about where these plants live in their native habitats + it will serve you well to try to replicate these conditions where possible.

Social media isn’t real life… but as we spend so much time on it these days, real life relations + etiquette shouldn’t disappear out of the window when conversing online. I include these observations here because I’m noticing conversations around these topics are popping up across a number of industries + for good reason. It sounds so obvious, but I always say hello at the start + thanks at the end when I’m messaging someone. When I was working in academia, we had general email ‘politeness’ guidelines to follow when talking to both our colleagues + our students + i think it would be good if there was something similar on social platforms too (that people actually stuck to).

If you have a conversation across social media in messages or in a thread in a comment section, please be respectful + kind. It’s not okay to be demanding or aggressive in someones inbox any day of the week.

Finding a balance can be a tough one to fathom, especially for small businesses, where there is the feeling that being online for hours everyday is a necessity if you want to be successful. For me personally, I’ve realised over the last few years that I work best with having a schedule + general structure to posting across my platforms that helps to compartmentalise my internet usage + not feel so hooked to my phone. What I choose to share is only a tiny part of my day + I think many of us (especially during lockdown) can struggle with the perception that we are always available online but turning off notifications + being online on your own terms is important. I have always said that I try to answer as many messages as possible, but I can’t always respond to every single one, + that isn’t really the purpose of an online platform such as this.

One of the main reasons for creating H P H was to provide a free resource for plant lovers to read + learn about houseplants. I write new posts weekly so the site is always growing. I love to write + I hope you enjoy reading my posts.

I realised last week that a lot of my spam messages say things like ‘hello houseplanthouse team’ + I wanted to just stress that in case you are new here, it’s actually just me (Laura) writing, photographing + running my H O U S E P L A N T H O U S E platforms! There isn’t a plant care ‘customer service’ team behind the scenes or anything, just one person with a big love of plants. I have to remind myself that this is really a hobby that has gotten out of hand somewhat, but I do love it!

Lastly, I want to address photo sharing across social media because it’s our collective responsibility to keep the community a space of integrity. If you are an account that shares other creators posts (commonly called ‘re-post’ accounts), please be aware that there has always been a certain etiquette to follow when doing this. Alternatively, if you are new to the world of social media + wondered how your photo appeared on someone else’s feed, this might explain things a bit! It feels like standards have slipped a little this year on sharing content, so here is a friendly reminder how to politely ‘re-post’:

  1. HASHTAGS MEAN SOMETHING: For new accounts getting to grips with using tags in their posts, this can be confusing. If you use a hashtag created by someone when you post a photo (eg. one of my hashtags is #houseplanthouse), by using that tag, you are sharing your photo within the community of people that also use that tag. The purpose of tags is to connect your photo to a network of images that have also been ‘categorised’ by the creators in this way. You can ‘follow’ tags you like too, so photos from those tags will appear in your feed even if you don’t follow the account that posted the photo. SIDE NOTE: Following tags is a great way to find new accounts to follow!
  2. CHOOSING TAGS: There are a few ways to use tags; some people like to use them humorously, others like to choose a few relevant ones depending on their photo + there are also accounts that don’t use them at all! It’s entirely up to you. It’s generally accepted though that by using these tags in your posts, you are giving ‘permission’ by the creators of those tags to share your photo if they want (hopefully following the re-posting etiquette!).
  3. IF IN DOUBT, ASK: Sometimes accounts you’ve not come across might find your post + choose to re-share it on their feed. This happens a lot when brands are trying to increase their reach through the posting of ‘user-generated content’, sometimes in combination with original posts. Many accounts choose to look to photos that already exist online that suit their ethos or aesthetic to share on their account. If this happens, or if you are an account that posts in this way, generally it’s polite to ask if you can share the photo if the account hasn’t tagged you or used any of your hashtags.
  4. CHECK THE ORIGINAL SOURCE: It’s common for certain photos ‘do the rounds’ on re-share accounts + it can sometimes get a bit confusing to ascertain the creator of the photo. There becomes a bit of a knock-on effect from re-post account to re-post account where the original source can get obfuscated. If you want to share an image, just double check the source + you can always DM someone to ensure you are using the correct information. If you recognise a photo that is incorrectly tagged, let the account or the creator know.
  5. CREDIT + TAG, ALWAYS: This is the most important point! As a complete minimum, re-post accounts should always credit you in the description box of the post, but they should also tag you as a person on the actual photo. Some brands use re-sharing apps where your account name is within your image in the bottom corner, but as the original creator, you should still have your account clearly linked in the description box + also tagged in the post. If accounts don’t comply with these two simple aspects, you can either request for your tags to be added, or your photo to be removed.
  6. DON’T HIDE THE ORIGINAL ACCOUNT BENEATH LOADS OF TEXT: This is also something which has started to happen more frequently this year. Re-post accounts might share your content + mention you in the description box… underneath lots of their own ‘self promotion’ text about following their accounts etc etc. So most people who just see the photo on their feed won’t know it’s yours unless they open up the long description box + read the whole thing. The creator should always be clearly identified close to the top of the description box so that even before the description box is expanded, it is clear who made the work, it’s the decent thing to do.

I love the space that I have grown online over the last 3 years + I really do appreciate all your support. I’ve made some great friends from all over the world in this time — all through a collective interest in houseplants! It really does make my day to hear that you have stumbled across my little place on the internet + enjoy what I post.

There are some exciting things in the plant blogging pipeline which I look forward to sharing with you soon! Hope you are all staying safe.

Posted by:Laura / House Plant House

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