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Shifting Roots Year in Review 2018 Edition


I can hardly believe it, but this is my third year-end-review-type-post that I’ve written.  The third!!  While I know that’s not a long time, it seems like such a big milestone when almost 60% of new blogs get abandoned. 2018 has been an incredible year blog-wise, and I can’t wait to share some of the highlights with you.

The Courses That Changed My Life

When I started this blog in February of 2016, I desperately hoped that I could make enough money to one day not have to rely on income from teaching music.  While I haven’t quite reached that goal yet, I think it’s within my reach in 2019, and if not, definitely by 2020.

People often ask me, how did you figure out how to blog?  In short–online courses.  I studied as much as I could from other bloggers for free, but there just comes a point when you have to invest some money so you can learn what actually works.

This year I invested in three big ones: Adventures in SEO, Pin Practical Promotions, and Shift University.  Did it feel terrifying at the time to invest in them?  Yes.  All these courses are in USD, so as a Canadian, I’m paying “more” than the actual price because of the exchange.  Or at least it feels like it.

Was it worth it?  Yes.  So much yes.

I finally was able to get enough traffic to apply to MediaVine, the ad company that runs the ads on my site, and make an income that matches and some months exceeds my teaching income.  I sold my first ever online gardening course and more than doubled my blog subscribers.  Huge!!

Read about my full experience with Adventures in SEO here.

People Actually Made My Recipes!!

Don’t laugh, but this is a really big deal to me!!  My recipe posts never do as well traffic-wise as my gardening ones do, but I know my community enjoys them, so I continue to make them.  There’s nothing that makes me happier than when someone posts a picture of something they’ve made, or cute pics of them making it with their kids.  At the end of the day, that’s what it’s really all about.

The most popular ones?  These smooth shortbread cookies and the no-fail fudge.

The Sense of Community

One thing I’m really proud of is the sense of community that has developed over on the Shifting Roots Facebook Page and in the Growing Roots Gardening Community.

I feel like I’m really getting to know those of you who frequently like and comment on my posts, and through your feedback I’m trying to create content that you’ll find really helpful. Because what’s the point if this corner of the Internet isn’t inspiring or entertaining you?

And if you’re a lurker? Thanks for being here too! But say hi once in awhile. . . okay? I promise I don’t bite.

I fought the fear and did it anyway

You guys, I was scared this year. It’s a silly kind of fear, but there’s not a lot a lot of garden bloggers out there (especially in zone 3!! I think I’ve only found 2 or 3 others and one in zone 4) so there’s not a lot of precedent for the things I wanted to do with this blog–especially since in the grand scheme of things, my following is still on the small side.

But as my mentors constantly say, it’s not the number of the following that matters, but the engagement and how you’re serving your people.

So I swallowed my fear and wrote an online gardening course. I put out 5 different freebies out into the world to grow my subscriber list and find my tribe.

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I made Facebook Live videos. Weekly ones. Even when I didn’t like how I looked or worried that my garden was a failure and I had nothing to talk about. P.S. See all my videos here.

And when I had pregnancy complication after pregnancy complication? I trusted that my audience would understand my destroyed garden and slower pace, and did whatever I could manage to keep the blog-machine going.

I made peace with haters

As my traffic and following grew exponentially this year, so did my haters. Thankfully I don’t have a lot (in the grand scheme of things) but people often miss that I garden in zone 3 and some of my advice simply doesn’t work if you’re gardening in zone 8 (or any zone that’s warmer than mine).

Others were disappointed that I don’t have a horticulture degree behind me, or didn’t understand when I was trying to be a bit funny.

Smiling despite the haters. Photo credit:

I’ve been accused of hating gardening, hating kittens, being uneducated, and being just plain wrong. Did it hurt? A bit.

But when you put yourself out there on the Internet, you’ve got to expect some backlash at some point. So while I try to make what I put out into the world as accurate as possible, there’s just no way I can possibly get everything right for every zone in North America and beyond.

My 10 Most Popular Posts

Finally, here’s the 10 posts that you loved the most this year:

10. The 36 Best Cut Flowers for Floral Arranging

9. How to Calm Your Cough with a 4 Ingredient Hot Toddy

8. How to Start a Garden in Cold Climate

7. Why Your Christmas Cactus Won’t Bloom and How to Fix It

6. 28 Hardy Fruits You Can Grow in Zone 2 and Zone 3

5. 17 Perennial Flowers that Love Shade

4. The Beginners Guide to Peonies

3. 50 More Perennials You’ll Regret Planting

2. 53 Favourite Perennials to Plant in Zone Three

And the number one post you can’t get enough of….

28 Perennials You’ll Regret Planting

Thank you for all your support in 2018!! I’d love to know, what would you like me to write about in 2019? What gardening problem can I help you solve?

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Grow roots with us



Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!