Wine Predator Wins Wine Blogger Scholarship!

WBC13I’m very excited to announce that I was chosen by the Wine Bloggers Scholarship Committee to attend the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, British Columbia!

This will be my sixth Wine Bloggers Conference: I’ve been to three states so far–California in 2008 and 2009, Walla Walla WA in 2010, and Portland in 2012 and soon to be three countries–US, Portugal (as a guest of Enoforum Wines in 2009), plus Canada in 2013! 

Thank you to all the wonderful donors who made my scholarship possible! Especially Tom Wark of Fermentation who matched $500 of the donations and Amy Anderson Gross the Vine Sleuth who matched his match plus $1! Continue reading

WBC 2010 on Wine Writing: What’s next?

What is the Future of Wine Writing? asks Steve Heimoff, Tom Wark and Ken Payton in the next panel at the 2010 Wine Bloggers conference in Walla Walla Washington. These three will make a few statements and then open it up to the floor for conversation, debate, and discussion.

Tom Wark of Fermentation doesn’t think there’s any value in making a distinction between wine writers and bloggers. He suggests that the conference is misnamed: instead of Wine Bloggers Conference, it should be the Wine Writers Conference.

What goes around comes around, says Steve Heimoff. There will always be new wine drinkers so there will always be a need for wine 101 and writing that teaches people about wine.

But how will wine writers in the future make a living? Not likely to make much from wine blogging, but what you do with it or where you take it. More likely for bloggers to get picked up by wine companies to work for them or to do other kinds of writing that pays the bills. Some folks, like Hardy Wallace, have used their blogs to move into other areas of the wine industry, for example, wine making.

Ken Payton of Reign of Terroir makes the point that wine writing isn’t just one genre but that there are multiple genres: from people who write reviews to those who focus on environmental issues to those who avoid reviews to those who are educators. Some people are generalists and some are specialists.

Ken Payton suggests we think of our readers as people who are not customers or consumers but fellow travelers.

So who’s the audience? Consumers? Fellow travelers? Professionals? He thinks that as wine consumption increases, there will be more interest in wine, and reading about wine, more readers and ample opportunities to explore more topics online and educate consumers.  Avoid the ghetto of simple minded wine writing, encourages Ken. Continue reading

(WBC Post 6) Top Wine Bloggers Offer Tips to Improve Your Blog

Blog Tips: 2 Conferences, 2 Continents


Saturday afternoon we had two sessions focusing on blogging in the wine business with transportable ideas to other areas of blogging and three topics each to choose from:

1:30 PM  Breakout Session I
Increasing Visitors to Your Blog (Flamingo Room)
Beyond Blogging – New Technologies and Social Media (Courtyard 1)
Wine Blogger Credibility (Courtyard 2)

2:45 PM  Breakout Session II
Making Money from Your Blog (Flamingo Room)
Blogging For Your Wine Business (Courtyard 1)
Wine Blogger & Industry Interaction (Courtyard 2)

It took me a few minutes to collect myself and my laptop and my iced coffee after the drive back from Quivira so I was a bit late for the start of “Increasing Visitors to Your Blog” by Tom Wark’s Fermentation and Alder Yarrow of Vinography and arrived for number 6 of Tom’s Top 10 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Blog.

From my notes of Tom’s words with some of my commentary:

why do you deserve to be on their blogroll? make sure they are on yours
email the dude—make a list of 100 blogs you want to be on

#7 look for non-wine blogs which might be interested in your post
major blogs—posting 30-40 a day will pick up your post if they can figure out how to–they are RAVENOUS for material…do you just email them? how do you hook them I wonder

#8 link baiting –creating a post which people will want to link to
use surveys, top 10 lists (controversial), interview w/heavyweight, Tom has the American Wine Blog Awards—take nominations, do strategic blogging

#9 answer every single comment
so that people see you’re engaged in your community—Alder says he can’t underscrore this enough –gotta repay that effort. And email. Say thank you—pay them back. Most traffics are those which generate conversation—and you have to participate.

#10 use social networking tools
open wine consortium  for example

Today there are maybe more blogs but there are more eyeballs, too, they point out.

From Alder:

1) blogroll—recipricol linking works until it doesn’t
he has 400-500 links! so he moved them to a singe page

2) writing good content is the #1 way to increase traffic and the only way that matters

3) understand how google works: it sucks up your site and looks for tags: description, keywords—to site and to the page, the title of page and tile of blog as well as text tells google what it’s about, pays attention to headers, what links w/in pointing out, and coming in tells how important (generates page rank 0-10 download google tool bar and it will show rank of pages visited—also on firefox plugin)
70% of traffic from search engines

4) be sure you are listed on various directories and search engines—submit to get listed

  • consider: what you title your article is what google will think it is
  • search google webmaster guidelines and follow them all
  • sitemap??? WP? Xml doc for google to read
  • rss fed—make sure you publish it (check–is mine?)
  • email newsletter—subscribe with links to articles
  • participate in blog events like wine blogging weds link baits
  • make sure out going links are concise and complete

5) traffic doesn’t matter since you can’t make a living or quit your day job (read his post on his site)

6) so figure out your reasons why you do this—

  • enjoy it
  • to practice being a good writer–10,000 hours of practice in order to be competent—
  • to prove you can do it

For Snooth’s presentation on Monetizing your blog, I direct you to the Snooth site which has the presentation on their blog!

Essentially, to monetize your blog you will need to work your butt off selling ads yourself or with a dedicated sales team or by finding affiliates or doing contextual ads or by some other creative method which may not be invented yet… But there is money to be made, as Gary Vaynerchuk said in the opening address, and someone is going to be making it so why not you?

Mid-presentation I took a stroll and found the session by someone important from Stormhoek (but not Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void–he was at Blog 08 with other Rock Stars of the web in Amsterdam where he reportedly said “Blogs aren’t dead, people are!”) and drew this cool cartoon photographed by Anne Helmond…

photo by Anne Helmond

cartoon by Hugh McLeod; photo by Anne Helmond

Here are some of the main points:

  • using social media for brand identification
  • social media makes everything happen quicker
  • branding arc moves fast–up and down
  • the market makes us smarter

Jason from Stormhoek used lots of cartoons and one-liners by Hugh McLeod to illustrate his points like this one:

So tell me something interesting about yourself.  Lie if you have to. Hugh McLeod

What’s the story? Traditional wine story: Where it came from. Who.  Everybody tells the same story to argue why theirs is so good. It’s only about me the producer. Droning on about the same stuff. Same discussion all over the world.

What a lovely grain of sand you are. Too bad you’re lying on the beach. Hugh McLeod.

It’s a sea of sameness and we expect them (consumers) to study our product enough to understand what we’re talking about. So how to use 2.0 to DE-commodify yourself and create a unique product? when we all have the same social lubricant–wine–to sell?

Social media can disrupt the status quo because the costs of publishing is next to zero. So how to subvert?
Impact the info silos—distribution/communication and regulation of info.

Social media allows the winery to directly communicate with the consumer and bypass layers of gatekeepers between the winemaker and the drinker.

How to engage people and create grassroots interest in the brand?

Stormhoek hosted wine dinners by offering to consumers to sponsor a dinner and they’d hook up people with the wine. 100 days, 100 dinners was the goal and they had 90 attended by 4-5000 people, ultimately changing the  conversation about wine.

How to harness social media? If you wanna have a cool product you gotta do cool shit!
1. Great product a given
2. It’s even more important for having a reason for being: a purpose.
3. Start a conversation
4  Use all the tools/toys/play try it see what happens
5. A global microbrand can be created online and at little cost. It’s about creativity not budget.

Can’t look at direct return on investment—it’s longterm brand building.

So there you have it in 1100 words–some of the highlights of blogging conferences on two continents during the same weekend!

Whew. Now really to increase my page views, I should have broke this down to 4 posts averaging 250 words each as seems to be the common practice…

Upcoming: commentary on this social media report–“FEED: The Razorfish Consumer Experience Report”