Bloggerview #7: Tim Elliot
Name: Tim Elliot
My respect for Tim Elliot goes beyond WineCast, one of the first wine-related podcasts. I’ve had the opportunity to do some work with him in a professional capacity when we both worked with the same client. What strikes one most and first about Tim is his thoughtful nature and his real passion for wine. Both these things are on display in his podcast as well as his blog. It’s also on display in this Bloggerview with him. Besides being a prolific commentator on wine, Tim is also among the very few bloggers that publishes a code of ethics on his blog. Its existence goes back to his thoughtfulness. Finally, it should be noted that Tim’s wine blog ranks in the top ten of the top 100 wine blogs ranked at A La Wine.
1. When did you begin blogging and why?
I first heard about podcasting in September 2004 and started listening to several early shows. When I first heard one of them, Reel Reviews Radio, it got me seriously thinking about doing my own podcast. I searched around and there were no wine podcasts so I registered winecast.net and recorded my first show in December 2004.
Since podcasters use the same software as bloggers (I use WordPress), blogging became a natural extension of my podcasting. After a while, I started to blog more than I recorded podcasts. So I guess at this point I have a wine blog with a podcast and not a podcast with a wine blog.
I do it because I enjoy the interaction with readers and listeners. I’ve learned more about wine in the 2 and a half years I’ve been blogging and podcasting than the previous 20 years. Blogging and podcasting gets me out of my wine ruts and comfort zone and almost forces me to try new wines all the time.
2. In two sentences describe the focus of your wine blog.
Wine talk, education and recommendations in both written and audio formats. I also try to comment on wine news and the intersection of Web 2.0 and wine.
3. What sets your wine blog apart from the pack?
I do both text blogging and podcasting which you don’t find with a lot of other wine blogs or podcasts. I also have a keen interest in the intersection of technology and wine, where my interest in all things Wine 2.0 comes from. I think this diversity of content makes Winecast different than other wine blogs.
4. How would you characterize the growth in your readership since beginning your blog?
It’s gone up by geometric proportions but I’m not obsessed by statistics so, to be honest, I don’t check them very often. Like a lot of bloggers, you follow your stats closely when you get started but then after it levels off to more of a gradual increasing rate you tune the stats out.
5. Do you accept sample for review?
Yes and I disclose this on each review from samples. Most of the wine I review I buy at full retail.
6. What kind of wine rating/review system do you use and why?
Both the traditional 100-point scale (Parker version) and the 5-star scale popular at Web 2.0 sites like NetFlix and most wine notes sites. I think scores are important to many readers but I always concentrate on giving a full text or audio review for context.
In the future, I will probably just use the 5-star system as I find this rating scale to be easier for more people to interpret than the 100-point scale. It also brings up some interesting community rating scenarios that I’m not sure are a good or bad thing at this stage.
7. How do you fit the maintenance of your wine blog into your daily schedule?
I get up early each morning and check messages and the server for any problems. After my work day, I generally read wine blogs and make some notes for posts. After dinner I usually spend at least an hour writing and posting. On weekends I try to carve out a few hours to record and produce podcasts but I have not been doing well on that over the past few months (but hope to rectify soon).
8. Have you utilized any particular techniques to successfully market your blog?
I think it’s best to participate in the conversation with other bloggers who will often post and link to your blog. So that and participating in Wine Blogging Wednesday are my two "demand generation" techniques. I just received a $100 AdWords coupon so I will be experimenting with that once I finish some updates to my site.
9. In your view how, if at all, is blogging different than traditional wine writing for print?
Wine blogging is personal and immediate. If there is a story or post that attracts my attention, I can post about it now and not wait for print deadlines. Wine blogs also tend to be unfiltered and honest. I don’t think all print publications have this freedom (with the possible exception of Parker and Tanzer).
10. Which other wine blogs do you read regularly?
I subscribe to about 75 wine blogs but avidly read the following:
Good Wine Under $20
REthink Wine Blog
tales of a sommelier
Wine Direct Shipping Compliance
FERMENTATION (who doesn’t 😉
11. Do you believe wine blogs have made any marked impact on the wine industry or wine culture?
Not much yet on the wine industry but I think this will be changing in the near term. We’ve already seen some wine bloggers and podcasters move over to the mainstream with Tyler (Dr Vino) writing for Wine & Spirits magazine and Gary (Winelibrary TV) appearing on The Late Show with Conan O’Brien and Ellen. I think we’ll see more of this type of thing and these people will have a lasting effect on the industry.
I think we’ve already had an effect on wine culture as wine blogging starts to influence buying decisions. If I sell an additional 5 cases of a wine I review, most wineries wouldn’t be too interested. But if 200 wine bloggers like the wine and a similar effect occurs in each of their communities, then it gets more interesting. Look at how Stormhoek has grown over the past two years via blogging, for example.
12. Vacation: Paris or the Caribbean?
Paris, most definitely. The wine selection is better than in the Caribbean 😉
13. Pet: Dog or Cat?
Dog. I’m allergic to cats.
14. Airplane Reading: New Yorker or People?
People, given these choices, but most likely you’ll see me reading Decanter.
15. Car: Prius or BMW?
BMW. Beautiful machines no matter how much fuel is consumed.
16. Chablis or California Chardonnay?
Chablis. In fact, 90% of all the Chardonnay I drink today is Chablis with the balance split between lightly or unoaked California Chardonnay and white Burgundy.
17. Describe what you would have at your last meal?
I’m assuming I’m not on death row here so it would be a feast of my favorite foods. Roast beef, Coq au vin, fresh salmon complete with several vegetables. I’d enjoy some rare Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy to match with each course. For dessert there would just be fresh fruit with Ch. d’Yquem, TBA Riesling, vintage Porto and a rare PX Sherry.
I don’t plan on having this meal for a long time 😉
18. What is Heaven Like?
Are you channeling James Lipton here Tom? Or is it Bernard Pivot?
I’m sure Heaven is wonderful but I’m not sure how this relates to wine. If it’s a spiritual repository for the soul then wine will probably be the farthest thing from our consciousness. Then again, I could be wrong.
19. If you could invite 4 people dead or alive to your fantasy dinner party, who would they be and who would you have bring the wine?
Theodore Roosevelt, André Tchelistcheff, Thomas Jefferson and Robert Parker. Bob would bring the wine.
20. What advice would you give to someone considering starting a wine blog?
Sign up for a blog at WordPress.com or Blogger.com and post as many times a week as you have something interesting to say about wine. Don’t worry about format for a while as you will figure this out by just doing it. Read a lot of other wine blogs for inspiration and join the conversation. Just getting started is the hard part