This blog will reach its third anniversary in about a month. I am not sure of where that ranks among blogs in general or wine blogs in particular, but I would imagine that it places it somewhere slightly ahead of the mean. Most of the time I hope that my writing enables the reader to take her mind off her myriad problems for at least a moment or two to think about wine or at least have a chuckle. Every once in a while, though, something raises my ire, and I feel the need to rant a bit, and today it is about wine blogging. I have blogged about blogging before, much to the chagrin of some other bloggers, but…
Here we go again.
[By the way, I am not quite sure why blogging about blogging is met with so much derision, but perhaps that is a rant for another time.]
I try to read as many other blogs as I can and keep up with as much of the “industry” news as possible, but I know I fall woefully short. Recently, though, I did read a brief article recounting some of the content provided at the Digital Wine Communications Conference that took place in Montreux, Switzerland last month. I was not there, but I found an article about the conference on Harpers.co.uk with the following title:
Oh boy, here we go again.
I know I shouldn’t, but every time there is one of these doom and gloom posts about the future of wine blogging, I take it personally. Why? I am not really sure. Can I say that the article was directed at me? No, but I am not really sure. After all, these commentators treat all bloggers as if they were the same (or at least classify them into a few categories), so what should I think?
At this particular conference (like others I have attended), there were several speakers at the conference that apparently had some “constructive criticism” for me (as a wine blogger).
First mentioned in the article was Louise Hurren, a PR and marketing type who stated that it was time for bloggers to “grow up and pro up”–which she clarified as the need for bloggers to be “professional about [blogging]” and treat it as if it were a full-time job.
If I had been there and heard this, I would have raised my hand high and asked one question:
Those of you who have spent a more than a moment around me have no doubt heard my favorite question, one that drives much of what I do: “What is your goal?” There is no real way of knowing how many wine bloggers there are (that would require first a definition of what a wine blogger is and I am not sure we really know the answer to that), but it is conceivable that there are many different goals why wine bloggers blog: the love of wine, the love of writing, a desire to share knowledge, hoping to eventually get paid to write about wine (good luck with that one, by the way).
For many of those goals, why would it be necessary to “grow up” or “pro up”? Many (most?) bloggers have a day job–one that pays far more than they could ever hope to earn blogging, and they might have no desire to make blogging their profession. They blog because they actually enjoy it. So why should they have to “pro up” exactly?
Don’t get me wrong. I take my blog seriously (perhaps it is not always evident, but…) and I try to produce good content that others might want to read, but other than for my own sense of producing quality “work” why would I need to “pro up” (much less “grow up”)? I do receive occasional samples, I have had a few meals and hotel rooms comped, but no one would confuse me with a “professional” wine blogger if they had a look at my tax returns (and no, I am not about to go 1winedude and publish those).
Another speaker, Robert Joseph (described as a “wine commentator and critic who also runs his own blog”) criticized bloggers for essentially covering the same ground. Over on Alder Yarrow’s site, Vinography, there is a list of wine blogs that is well over 700 sites long (English language blogs). Is Mr. Joseph suggesting that each blog focus on a different aspect of the wine world?
Mr. Joseph also apparently classified wine bloggers into three camps: “the self-funding, rich blogger who are effectively ‘keeping a diary in public’; the blagger blogger who just like [sic] going on trips; and the blogger who is actually paid to write posts…”
Well, I am certainly not rich, I definitely do not get paid to write posts, and while I love going on trips, I have yet to get a free ticket to fly anywhere. So I can’t be the only wine blogger that wonders where I fit in.
I assume, based on my own experience and conversations that I have had with others that the vast majority of wine bloggers blog because they enjoy it–not many have delusions of getting rich–so why are others (usually non-bloggers or print media types) frequently trying to define (and redefine) bloggers by telling us how we should act, or insist on placing us into categories or boxes?