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.
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….
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Focus 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’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.
- 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?