5 Tips for Wine Bloggers (and my Blogiversary)

As many of you know, I will be moving with my family this summer down to Houston, Texas. Many of you might not know, however, that as I write this I am down in the Bayou City exploring schools for our boys and trying to narrow down the housing possibilities.

Not sure I am ready for this....

Not sure I am ready for this….

I have been trying to keep up with this little old blog while I am down here, but that has certainly been tough as the boys are right on top of me most of the day and the last thing they want to see me doing is typing along on this laptop.

So I guess I should not be so hard on myself that I completely missed my fourth anniversary of writing the Drunken Cyclist (it was Tuesday).

Four years in most arenas is not very long (except, perhaps, if a certain front-runner for president gets elected), but it seems to be when it comes to blogs. When I started this blog, there were a couple dozen or so blogs that I followed, but, as far as I can tell, only a few of those remain. Despite pressures from many different angles, I have kept writing and still enjoy it.

One of the odder and more flattering aspects of my “longevity” is the relatively new bloggers that write to me for advice. As I sit here next to the pool drinking a bit of champagne, trying to make sure that my kids don’t drown, I thought I would put a few suggestions down….

  1. From thecornerstoneforteachers.com

    From thecornerstoneforteachers.com

    Take as many notes as you can on your phone. There is certainly something alluring and nostalgic about taking notes by hand, but I now try to take every single note electronically. It is just so much easier to transfer the notes and get it into a post.

  2. Write regularly. Even if you are not going to publish anything, sit down and write every day. I have found that it is a lot easier to let it slip if you take a day off. My goal is to never have two consecutive days without publishing something.
  3. Write to PR firms and wineries requesting samples. The whole sample issue is a tricky one. In my opinion, if you are writing about wine with the hope of getting free wine, you are doing it for the wrong reason. Don’t get me wrong, I also believe that wine bloggers are providing a service to the wine industry and it is a nice perk to get samples. But. I try to come up with at least a few ideas for articles every season and then send those ideas to people whose wines I would like to include.
  4. TwitterFocus on Social Media. Perhaps the single most important tip. I noticed that once my Twitter account started expanding, people would actually return my emails. Perhaps there is no correlation there, but I am pretty sure there is.
  5. Learn to say yes. Early on, whenever I got invited to a tasting within a two-hour drive (or train/bus) of Philadelphia, I would go. Then, perhaps even more important, I would be sure to write about it in a timely manner.

A different take on the five tips:

  1. You don’t have to take notes on everything. There is nothing that makes my wife more irate than when I am thumbing away at my phone when we have people over for dinner. I need to remember that I do not have to take notes on every wine that passes my lips.
  2. Don’t write so frequently. Last year, before feeling the need to get several articles published before the end of the year, I decided I would only publish on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I am contemplating getting back to that schedule as it was liberating to not feel the need to write as often.
  3. Don’t accept as many samples. There are simply some requests to send me samples that I should simply ignore. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you ever be rude, but when you get an email asking if you would like a sample of Billy’s “Cham-Ripple” it is better to just ignore it.
  4. TwitterDon’t focus so much on Social media. Social media can be exhausting. Just as I was establishing a presence on Twitter, I “learned” that Twitter is “dead” and that “everyone” now is on Instagram. I was barely keeping my head above water on Twitter and now I am supposed to focus on Instagram? There seems to be an article a month about the demise of the blog–how millennials want their information in smaller and smaller bits. That may or may not be the case, but I blog to satiate my love of writing. If “the blog” is slowly sinking, well, I am ready to go down with that ship.
  5. Learn to say no. Given the multitude of tastings that occur, there is no way that I could attend all of them, even if I lived in Manhattan, had no job, and left my family. It is often difficult, but there is nothing wrong with saying no to events.

What tips do you have that would help a beginning (wine) blogger?

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About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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29 Responses to 5 Tips for Wine Bloggers (and my Blogiversary)

  1. Beth says:

    I do all of the above in both lists except ask for samples. I remember only one time when a producer asked me to write about his wine and I said, “Well, I have to taste it to write about it!” That’s the closest I’ve ever coming to asking for a sample. 🙂 I don’t think you need to publish every day, but writing every day, yes. That’s why I do mini reviews on social media, Delectable, and Vivino sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I debated about the sample thing for a while, but I was tired of just getting random samples. It just made more sense to me to pull a few in that were connected in some way so that the article was more cohesive. For me, I am loathe to go to a winery’s website and regurgitate what someone else has already written–I just have no interest in that. I would much rather create a narrative and find wines to fit than start with a wine that I have absolutely no connection with other than the bottle before me.

      As of the mini-review, I just really have no time for that, I understand that for some, that is their main focus, but not for me….

      Liked by 2 people

      • Beth says:

        I’m tired of getting random samples, too, so maybe I’ll try something similar. I, too, like telling a story and having the wines fit a theme. As to my mini reviews, sometimes that’s all I have time for and at least they keep me thinking and writing if I don’t have time for a full-blown blog post. However, I’ve already decided that my blog is going to focus even more on experiences rather than just wine notes because experiences move me. Random samples do not.
        Congratulations on four years!

        Like

  2. wineismylife says:

    For the record, I think I started my blog July 15, 2010 so I guess I’m beating the odds!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on the move. I lived in Houston while in High School and College. Dad worked for NASA. Best of luck and Happy Anniversary, it’s my four year anniversary for the blog today as well. Look forward to more guidance and great reviews and recommendations from you in the years to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I am trying to come to grips with the whole thing. I have spent nearly my entire adult life on the East Coast and Houston is, well, nothing like the East Coast….

      Congratulations on your Anniversary! It is kind of like we were “born” in the same hospital!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This reminds me to set a calendar alert as April marks Year Twelve of my blog.

    Tips:

    Make editing as important as writing. I’d rather sit on something than publish a post with errors and redundancies. Or just lacking a certain sizzle.

    Read and comment on other blogs. Comments build relationships.

    Offer to do an interview exchange.

    Don’t be shy about introducing yourself when at tastings/events.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Excellent points all, my friend! I certainly could benefit from more careful editing… I had originally included your second, but took it out since it really did not, as you put it, “sizzle” (not that the rest of it did, but…).

      Like

  5. Congratulations on your anniversary and that is another lofty goal that you have announced this past year. That Blogging thing sounds like fun, I may have to try it out. LOL. Actually I wrote an article and published every day for the first year, just to get used to writing, and hopefully my writing has improved a bit. Now I publish every other day, and I am always behind the trends, so I may join you in a glass of Champagne as the ships sinks.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. okiewinegirl2015 says:

    Happy Anniversary! Thank you for the tips & encouragement you’ve given to me a new blogger (I’m always behind on trends so I’ll contribute a case of Prosecco as we go down). As to Social media, it’s effective but My husband had to put me in Twitter AA & now I’m allowed w very specific guidelines & no Instagram privileges.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lulu says:

    I’m in Houston if you need to consult.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hope your home/school search is going well. I have friends in The Woodlands, Katy and Kingwood. Thanks for your lists. I have never requested samples. I love the idea of creating a theme and asking PR firms or wineries for wine to pair with the theme. Can you please elaborate more on how you approach this either in a response or email? Thank you. Congrats on finally coming to Texas and on your blog anniversary!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Congratulations on your blogiversary! It seems quite a few of us had our blog anniversaries recently. Well I am still here, although I am certainly not a wine blogger. Good advice for wine bloggers, though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ChgoJohn says:

    Congrats! My 5th blogiversary was recently, too. I think we all must have made resolutions to start a blog in January. This is going to be a big year for you and your family. Good luck with the school and house searches.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great tips. I find social media a time suck, but still try an check in occasionally. Good luck to you and your family. Oh, I just ordered my 4th last bottle order. Great referral from you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Congrats on the blogiversary! Good tips (and I love how you counter argued each of them!).
    To that I’d also add (and this is my personal opinion) to improve your photography (not YOU, Jeff, just “you” in general). When I go to read a new-to-me blog I’m first motivated by quality photos. They draw me in and invite me to want to read more. When I see poor quality and blurry images it (to me) reflects on the quality of the site overall. You don’t need expensive equipment to take quality photos (iPhones take great shots), but putting time and effort into quality images is important IMO.
    Also, don’t be afraid to be 100% your true self. That took me forever to learn (and I’m still working on it with every post). People go to blogs for something different than magazines and newspapers. It’s that personal touch and storytelling. Something that can only come from YOU. You do a great job at this 🙂
    My two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Mary for stopping by and for your thoughts. I have read about your photography suggestions for some time now, and they have really struck home. I have been working on it, but I still have a ways to go, but I always have your voice in my head when I get ready to take a picture! (I know you said you were not talking about me, but I am always trying to take better pictures). As for storytelling, that is what interests me the most….

      Like

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