Measuring “Success” in Wine Writing
Consider wine. A wine might be considered successful or useful on a scale of 1-100 or with five stars or with a fortunately combination of adjective. You can measure a wine's success by looking at its sales or its regularly increasing price or by the number of stores or restaurants in which it is found.
With nearly everything produced and nearly everyone who tries, some stick can be pointed to as a measure of its success.
I started to think about this when I retired to my room in Charlottesville after attending the Wine Blog Awards ceremony at the Saturday dinner of the North American Wine Bloggers Conference. Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog won best Industry/Business Blog and Best Overall Blog. It was a set of honors I won't forget, created a lump in my throat, and momentarily prevented me from having many words to say—not something that often happens.
So, does this combination of Wine Blog Awards confer success upon my blogging endeavors?
I'm going with, "Yes". However, as I slipped into sleep after drinking a good deal of Virginia Wine, I kept thinking there must be other measures by which I or any other writer can better measure their success than by an award, despite it being coveted.
In the realm of writing about wine, I think I can identify a number of measures of success and find examples to demonstrate.
READERSHIP: The Wine Spectator Magazine is the best read wine magazine in America. By any measure this confers some measure of success. And any wine publication or blog that sees a regularly increasing readership might also rightly admit a kind of success.
COMMENTARY: I've often judged the quality or success of wine writing (or any writing for the matter) the level of commentary that it spurs. Some commentary is clearly more in depth and considered than others. When I see well thought out comments on wine stories and posts, it makes me think 1) that the readership is more thoughtful and 2) that the story or post resulted in more thoughtful comments. Both I consider a measure of success.
PAID ENDORSEMENT: By this I mean paid advertising. Whenever anyone is willing to give you money to put their message in front of your readership, you can consider that an endorsement of the work. What KIND of endorsement is not obvious. It may only be an endorsement of the size of your readership. However, it might be an endorsement of the character of your readership. Either way, it's a measure of success.
No matter how you slice success, it has to be admitted that it is measured on a continuum; there are levels of success no matter what measurement is used.
And it seems a logical and intuitive conclusion that nearly anyone who puts their writing out for others to read is looking to succeed in one way or another. I know I am. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that most folks who are bloggers or writer or publishers on wine, like me, use a combination of those measurements of success that I mentioned above.
One thing is for certain, no matter what combination of measurments one uses to guage their success at wine writing, it all comes down to measuring how OTHER PEOPLE react to what you are doing. This is what made the Award for Best Business/Industry Blog and Best Overall Blog so meaningful to me.
There were others who found a measure of success at the Wine Blog Awards and I encourage you to investigate the source of that success:
Best New Wine Blog – Terroirist
Best Writing on a Wine Blog – Vinography
Best Winery Blog – Tablas Creek
Best Single Subject Wine Blog – New York Cork Report
Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog – Enobytes
Best Wine Blog Graphics, Photography, & Presentation – Vino Freakism