When, where and why did you begin blogging?
I remember first hearing about blogs sometime around 2002 and I thought, “Who the *** would want to read, or write, such stuff?” Well, I started working for myself in 2006 and discovered that it can get lonely and dull, so I set myself a small goal to get me out of the house, get some exercise and learn about blogging. I started a small blog about walking every street in my area of London and I discovered that not only did I quite like doing it, but I was making lots of new friends. I then decided that I still wanted to write about wine, so I launched The Wine Conversation in June 2006.
In a few short sentences, summarize your intention with your wine blog
The Wine Conversation is meant to be about the culture of wine and what role wine plays in our everyday lives. It encompasses wine in the media (film, TV, books), wine marketing, developments in packaging, communicating with the consumer (especially blogs), and generally what happens when the wine gets into consumers’ hands. It is not about tasting notes or winery profiles. However, it is about anything that takes my fancy really, isn’t that what blogs are about?
How would you describe your readers?
Beautiful, intelligent, reliable, kind, generous and loyal.
In truth, I think my blog attracts other bloggers and some people in the wine business more that the consumer. A large percentage therefore come from the US and the UK, but the topics are general enough to bring in traffic from all over the world.
Is blogging a professional endeavour for you or more of a personal outlet?
Good question! I do not get paid to blog, but I do get paid (by some wonderful wineries that never get to feature on the main blog, which led me to start yet another blog) to communicate with people around the world about wines. So, technically speaking, I am a wine communicator and wine blogging is therefore at least partly ‘professional’.
What tools or resources have you found to be successful in marketing your blog?
By far, the most useful marketing tool has been Google. You have to write with search engines in mind - will the keywords bring in the kinds of readers you are thinking of for this article? It means any article is a long term traffic generator as well as content.
The other thing is to remember that this is all “a conversation”. All blog posts are written to generate comments, feedback and start discussions, so I join in. If you get to know the other bloggers, leave comments and help to develop their own themes, you eventually generate friends that do the same for you, and traffic grows.
How would you describe wine blogging to be different than print media?
Blogs are mainly opinion pieces. However well researched they are, they are not written with the same journalistic approach that print media require (for now). It is NOT about the technology alone. Reprinting a magazine article on a blog platform does not make it a blog post. It has to be written to engage the reader and elicit comments, and bloggers must respond! Blogging technology enables this two-way conversation, but it is up to the blogger to provide the right content.
True blogging recognises that any one post is part of a greater conversation with the reader beyond this blog. It relies on links to other content, openness to others’ ideas, working together to create a community. Too often print media is a walled garden of content, with only letters pages there to acknowledge the existence of readers.
Do you believe wine blogs have made any marked impact on the wine industry or wine culture?
Not yet. At least not in Europe. I do believe that they will have an impact as more winemakers and wineries take advantage of this medium to create a conversation with wine lovers, helping to establish the personality of the wines and differentiate them. Only a small percentage of wine drinkers will read them, but the effect will be felt throughout the wine world.
Where do you see wine blogging in 10 years?
Blogging, hearing straight from the winemaker and winery, will be much more common. The rest will split into two camps: micro-publishers, with bloggers taking the role of wine journalists to commentate on wine and educate and inform consumers (making money from advertising); and micro-retailers, bloggers dedicated to driving customers to a new breed of online retailers (making money from referrals).
What do you hope to gain from this conference?
The most important goal is to meet those bloggers I do not know, to use this opportunity to create a stronger link with bloggers in Europe and create a stronger community.
See you there!