At the last minute I heard from organizer Allan Wright that I could get into the (busting at the seams full!) First Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, California. I arrived right in the middle of Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote address–and watched the plates get cleared, the creme brulee served, and the port poured…for everyone but me as I stood on the sidelines and drooled. No clean glasses in sight for water or wine–either one would have worked for me after the 7 hour long drive. Admittedly, Allan had warned me there might not be a seat at a table or food for me, but my goodness, I did expect to find a glass of wine while I listened to Gary’s enthusiastic address!
While some of the conference was devoted exclusively to wine, quite a few of the ideas transport easily to other on-line communities, and I will focus on those ideas here.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s claims to fame are broad and bold–at least in the world of blogging, and especially wine blogging. His bio on his site says:
On February 21, 2006, Gary launched Wine Library TV (WLTV), a free daily video blog in which Gary tastes and reviews wines. Gary made television appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Ellen Degeneres Show, and he has garnered widespread media recognition including features by the LA Times and Washington Post. In February and March of 2008, Gary became increasingly known throughout the Web 2.0 community. His remarks on branding within the social media landscape at FOWA, Strategic Profits, and South By Southwest occasioned praise from established web denizens including Kathy Sierra and earned the admiration of countless bloggers and aspiring entrepreneurs. Gary even made headlines with an impromptu free wine party during South by Southwest.
At the Wine Bloggers Conference, Gary suggests that
10-20% of our time as bloggers should be spent building community.
That means visiting other bloggers and leaving comments etc. Where to find the time? a winemaker asked. Stop looking at your stats, he joked, and cut back more on sleep, he said not kidding.
Now I don’t imagine that winemaker spends much time on the naval gazing phenomena of so-called “stats analysis” (at least that’s how I justify my time there!) We all have the same challenge of figuring out how to prioritize the amount of time in the day we are each allotted–24 hours, no way of cheating on that.
In order to have a healthy developing, growing blog with more and more readers, he argued, we must participate in our communities.
And we must blog regularly–at least once every day. As I reported in an earlier post, he asked how many blog. Of the 200 or so people there, about 160-180 people raised their hands. When he asked how many post daily, with daily defined as 5 days a week, only about 10 hands were raised, with my hand one of them. I try to post every day, and to have almost as many posts as there are days in a month. I have found the more often I post, the more traffic I get, and I’ve been able to develop an audience of both new and regular readers and 30,500 page views over this, my first year of blogging (my first blogoversary is election day!)
People perked up quite a bit when he talked about monetizing blogs.
Any wine blogger can make six figures in ad revenue in 2009, claims Gary Vaynerchuk.
Note that he didn’t say EVERY wine blogger can make six figures in 2009. Note that he didn’t say it would be easy. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work making $100,000 a year blogging–the drinking of wine may be a breeze but selling advertising is not. He suggests bloggers make cold calls or cold emails and sell ads on their sites.
If a potential client doesn’t get social media, then move on–don’t bother arguing with someone who is going to get left behind. Instead find those who do get social media, and cultivate that relationship. Many people in all industries are misspending their marketing budgets, using pre-web 2.0 models. It is up to us to figure out ways to sell space and pimp ads on our sites, and in the process, change the way the world does business.
Blogging is the greenest way to advertise.
Important questions for any blogger to consider include:
what’s your goal with your blog?
what do you want out of it?
global or regional?
how can I mix it up?
what’s my “real” job?
how can I kick ass and create cool shit?
Next up: Adventures with Dry Creek Valley Zins and what to do when alone in a roomful of New Zealnd wines? Scoop them up! (Let’s hope I don’t get in too much trouble for revealing these secrets from the First Wine Bloggers Conference!)