what it takes

Friday, December 18, 2009

A number of lists naming the year's best blogs have been showing up – the blogosphere is nothing if not opinionated – and a number of traits seem to link them. There is no particular manual or roadmap for wine blogging, which is part of its appeal. It's a journalistic wild west – unbounded, wide open, and a bit unruly. But like the actual Wild West, it is rapidly getting explored, its territory claimed and settled. In the process, it is defining itself in many ways large and small.

The competition is for hits - eyeballs - searches - page views. That's the currency by which success is measured. In the old print days, getting into print was difficult, but once there, the eyeballs were guaranteed. These days it’s quite the opposite. Anyone can post up a blog. It’s getting the eyeballs that is the challenge.

So, what works? First of all, consistency. You have to be dedicated to blogging. It takes a lot of time and effort. But if you want to be seen and heard, you have to be there day in and day out. Almost all of the top blogs got an early start and have been at it awhile.

Second, you have to be transparent. It's fine to have a nom de plume, but behind that alias there should be a real, identifiable person, who is unafraid to let you know who they are, what their wine-related credentials are, what their palate preferences may be, and where they draw the line on such things as free samples, junkets, employment in the industry, and other forms of payback. Bloggers who refuse to identify themselves cannot expect readers to offer them allegiance.

Third, you have to be interesting. In the beginning it was enough for a blogger to be brash and controversial, but the days when attitude alone would bring eyeballs have pretty much come and gone. Bloggers should be opinionated, but behind those opinions there should be solid facts or some compelling line of reasoning.

Fourth, you have to be engaging. Understand that your readers want a conversation, not a lecture or a rant. This is true of all media today. With Twitter, Facebook, etc. even cable television is interactive (see Rick Sanchez on CNN). Blogs are enlivened and enhanced by good dialogue. There is always room for disagreement, but I believe that civility and respect for each other's point of view is essential as well.

You won’t find this blog on any of this year’s “Best Blog” lists. My own career as a blogger has had its ups and downs, and hit plenty of bumps in the road. Technology has never been an easy taskmaster for me. This blog, in fact, will be re-tooled over the holidays and transition to a new platform early in the new year. I'll keep you posted on that. But rest assured that I will be blogging regularly for the foreseeable future, and doing my best to live up to the goals of being consistent, transparent, interesting and engaging. I look forward, as Rick Sanchez would say, to continuing the conversation.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I must say, as a newcomer to your site, and to trying to find how to accurately get my own voice across in blogging, I find your site very well put together. Your opinions are stated quite clearly as just that, and that facts are researched, but not always flawless. Most of all, I admire your output and consistency. After all, to be a writer, one must write.

As it is, going through the archives, I think you are building a treasure troves of well thought out pieces that will serve others well when investigating wine. Especially those of the NW. See you on one of the precious lists soon.

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