Blimey! My wine blog is a year old. I’ve reached that first crucial milestone. A. Whole. Twelve. Months.
While that doesn’t exactly get me a golden ticket into the wine blogging hall of fame, I feel it’s quite an achievement to have churned out 45 posts – almost one post a week – while holding down a day job running a communications business. Despite their best intentions, many bloggers fall by the wayside in the first year.
So, as I start year two, what have I learnt?
It’s A Big Web
The most important thing I’ve learnt is to plough my own path and write how I want, about what I want and to the length I want. At the end of the day, while it’s great to know people are visiting my site, I do this for me. I do have a target audience though: my friends who like wine and want to know more about it.
There is a lot of opinion out there about what makes good wine writing, and whether the so-called traditional ways of describing flavours, aromas, balance and so on is alienating Generation Z. Maybe it is. But I say it’s a big web and there’s room for all styles.
Online, people will always seek out and engage with what works best for them. It’s now about niche not mass. I’m for anything that encourages people to enjoy wine and not feel intimidated by it – or brand anyone who likes good wine as “snobs”. It’s only soil, climate, grapes and chemistry people!
I’ve learnt what fun it can be to be a bum-on-a-seat for PRs who need bloggers like me (i.e. new to the game) to produce coverage for their clients. With such limited opportunity for wine writing in the mainstream media, I play a part in that all-crucial report back to the client. I know because I’ve been on the other side. Let’s face it, there are only so many launches that Jancis, Tim, Victoria et al can go to.
I don’t blog about every event. Sometimes I don’t have the time. Sometimes even I don’t have enough to say. But if I don’t like something, I will say so. And I put effort and research into what I produce, and get enormous satisfaction from doing so.
Thanks to Google Analytics, I’ve learnt that StumbleUpon sends me the most traffic, even though I haven’t found much wine content across the service. Maybe that’s why – and the reason for StumbleUpon recommending my blog to me every week.
Hit Biscuit And Tin Shower
I’ve learnt that doing rigorous SEO (search engine optimisation) is a total mind-numbing chore. But boy, does it pay dividends in how people find my site. Quite often, my site pops up higher in Google searches than the website of a winemaker I’ve written about. I’ve tested this with other people on other machines to help offset the ever-increasing personalisation of search results by Google.
It’s always fun to look at the keywords people have typed in which has lead them to SipSwooshSpit.com. Here are some of the repeatable ones:
* bad coffee websites
* smiley wines
* sip and get naked
* malvasia and fish pie
* best natural thillers
* cat enough du pape wine
* cheapest PG tips
* concrete and tin shower
* great wine websites that do not use Flash
* hit biscuit
* Tich and lips
Stop Yakking And Start Wine Blogging
I’ve learnt what lovely people wine producers are. From boutique to big brand, the ones I’ve met over the past year have been so friendly and welcoming. I’ve met some lovely people serving and selling the wines too. But, sorry boys, there is still a strong streak of braying chauvinism out there. If you think I’m exaggerating, read this post by Oliver Styles.
I’ve learnt that bloggers are less of a pack and more of a community. As a former journalist, used to friendly rivalry, I’ve been gobsmacked at how encouraging some food and wine bloggers can be. After all, it was a food blogger – Mathilde of Mathilde’s Cuisine – who told me I should stop yakking and start blogging. Not in those exact words, but you get the gist.
I’ve learnt that it is quite possible to bore the pants off people about wine – and Mr. SipSwoosh has strict instructions when we’re in company to tell me when enough is enough.
Finally, I’ve learnt a lot about wine. Not only did I pass my WSET Advanced certificate, but almost every piece I write requires research and copious amounts of fact checking, which is a constant education in itself.
So, happy birthday SipSwooshSpit.com and here’s to the next 12 months. Time for a glass of something nice to celebrate.