How did we get here AGAIN. I feel like we’ve had this conversation every year, since the year I began blogging. Initially, it was a question of bloggers, online writers, whatever you want to call us, being irrelevant because we were the unknown factor. Then it was an issue of credibility. Now, it would appear, that a few people have taken it to the opposite extreme, and make a leap to the assumption that we are irrelevant because no one is reading us due to overload.
While it may be true that people don’t read wine blogs the way they “used to”, it’s also true that there are a lot more of them out there. Many of those are noise, and not as impactful as the handful of those who have been writing for more than a year and are a known entity in the blogosphere.
According to a post by The Hosemaster of Wine (take this with a grain of salt people, regardless of where it was published), no one reads wine blogs. No one? That’s a curious statistic given my analytics and inquiries from interested parties who clearly read my content and ask questions, inquire about engagement, or ask me for ideas or speaking proposals. The industry is interested and reading wine blogs, because they are seeking ways on how to engage with bloggers; the proof of this is all around us: at the International Wine Toursim Conference in 2011, I discussed engaging bloggers, and this year at the Wine Tourism Conference, I will again be discussing who wine bloggers are, and how to work with them.
I think the key takeaways here are that you need to ensure that your blog and posts are relevant, engaging, and frankly – interesting. Clearly, people are tuning out copy cat tasting notes, badly done videos, and the like.
However, the accusation that wine blogs have turned in to online diaries of what I ate this week is missing the mark. Wine, in the context of a person’s life, is relevant when paired with life activities. Which would you rather read? This Cabernet was tasty. I had it alone, while sitting at my desk. Or, this cab went deliciously well with my steak Diane as it brought out the flavors of x, y, and z.
Clearly, people DO love a good story and are seeking that information on these blogs. Which brings me to a great segway — this year at the Wine Bloggers Conference, one of the sessions will be focusing on creating compelling content. This is a critical skill to have, and if you are finding yourself losing traffic, or not engaging your audience, then you need to be at this conference.
For me, I am all about engagement. I speak at wine related conferences regarding engagement. I tell people about engagement. I will also be speaking at the Wine Bloggers Conference about Positioning Your Blog. This is a great time to rethink what you are writing about and why, and think about how you might be tuning out your audience. Do you even know who your audience is?
I engage with people every day as a part of my job. They might be strangers, but I am required to network to be successful. Blogging is no different. I might not tell every winery that i visit that I am wine writer, but when I talk to people about wine, if the conversation comes up, yes I will mention it. I am connecting with them, and they are engaging with me. The vast majority of my readers are not wine bloggers. Most of my readers are first time visitors, who were searching for specific information.
Yes, there is wine blog fatigue. So don’t be boring! Make the story take center stage. Engage your audience in the story of the wine, and how you found the wine. I say throw caution to the wind and talk about the weather that day, if you were in the Alps, or in Dry Creek Valley. All of these factors contribute to the story, which is the central point of the blog.
Even those blogs that are purely tasting notes can still be engaging and interesting. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Search. Connect. Engage. Search for content that is meaningful to you and your target audience, in keeping with your blog’s theme or goals. Connect with your audience, whether that is on social media or directly from your blog. Engage with that audience by being an interactive part of their wine world.