The Tired Wine Writer
First…All wine bloggers are wine writers, but not all wine writers are wine bloggers.
Wine blogging isn't dying. But it is tired. Enthusiasm for the platform and for the practice is on the wane.
The same can be said for blogging in general. While the wane in blogging in general is an interesting phenomenon, I'm more interest in the state of wine blogging.
Consider this chart created at GoogleTrends that indicates the search interest in the term "Wine Blog". If you run a similar analysis on "Blogs" and "Blogging" you see the identical trend. Searches on the terms "Wine Blog", Blogs" and "Blogging" hit a high toward the end of 2009 and following this we see a wane in search interest in the terms.
It should be no surprise that if you do a GoogleTrends analysis of the term "social media" you begin to see a big upsurge in searchers on this term at the beginning of 2009. There is a correlation.
Clearly, the use of a blog is being replaced by the use of social media to communicate with friends, colleagues and the world at large. It begs the question, what will happen to the Wine Blog as this continued move toward social media for on-line communications continues.
The first thing to note is that social media is gaining interest among potential, current and past wine bloggers due to the relative ease of communicating via social media versus blogging. Pure and simple: the effort it takes to blog is substantially greater than tweeting 140 characters or creating a few sentences for a Facebook update. In addition, the immediate gratification that comes with social media posts is far greater than that coming from posting on a blog. Don't underestimate the role that self gratification played in the upsurge in wine blogging that came between 2006 and 2009. I believe its a huge motivational factor in the creation of a wine blog.
So, as fewer wine blogs are created and more hit the dustbin, what is the future of the wine blog? My thought is that this will be an important topic taken up at panels and sessions at the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference in August. My view is the future of the wine blog is as follows:
1. A smaller group of wine bloggers will gain a larger number of readers, establishing themselves as bonafied and important and courted members of that general group we call "The Wine Media".
2. Wine Blogs will remain and probably enhance their reputation as one of the most important sources of in-depth analysis of wine industry and wine consumer trends.
3. Established wine bloggers will be the overwelming go-to source for writer/editor appointments at general interest magazines, websites and even daily newspapers.
4. The number of new wine blogs emerging each year will diminish significantly.
5. The one category of wine blogs that will decrease precipitously is the Winery Blog.
6. The quality of the writers of new blogs that emerge will be far higher than the average quality of most bloggers that took up the platform it the past.
What must be clear to many wine bloggers who started out enthusiastically in the past few years is that continuously feeding and updating a blog is very hard work that requires a kind of dedication unconnected to outward reward. My feeling from speaking to a number of wine bloggers of late is that this lack of immediate reward in terms of readership, interest and income is the deciding factor in letting go of blogging and jumping into the the much more satisfying world of social media where one's thoughts are "liked", "favorited", responded to, and retweeted more immediately.
I personally remain devoted to writing via the blogging platform. For me it remains the only viable platform for intellectual engagement in the larger wine world. I'm blessed however in that there is a certain amount of immediate gratification that comes my way through my work on this blog. And while I recognize that a reduction of the number of wine bloggers benefits long-time bloggers like myself, I find it disheartening to see the interest in blogs and the emergence of new blogs diminishing.
Why does this seem like Conan’s old “In the year 2000…” bit?
“… continuously feeding and updating a blog is very hard work that requires a kind of dedication unconnected to outward reward.” Yes, it is, and thank you for your continued effort!
It is hard for me to keep up with more than a handful of blogs but like many who are pressed for time, I look for consistently thoughtful topics and great content. My first stops of the day are typically here and Heimoff because there is solid information or hot-button issues. One of the problems with wine blogging is some of it is just painful to read. I still remember what Gary V. said during his keynote at the first WBC – it was something like “90% of you should go home, now” followed in a few sentences of “if you aren’t making $100K a year with a blog, something is wrong”. Neither comment was completely accurate, but what I took away from that was that if you aren’t contributing something that is relevant, its just noise.
Last year Heimoff wrote on his blog that it was next to impossible for any new bloggers to emerge since everyone of any relevance was already on the scene. However, I believe there is still plenty of opportunity for an online writer to come in and ‘own’ a particular niche and be the “go to” expert on it, As your post from yesterday illustrated. How successful they are in developing an authoritive voice depends on to what degree people value the content. It does take time and dedication, no question. I am still waiting to see if online writers figure how to place a value on their content and stop giving it away.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I do think there is lots of room for new entries into the arena. However, I do not thing we will see the kind of massive number of new wine blogs that we saw in the run up to 2009.
I also think that now, more than ever, new wine blogs will be judged quickly by readers as to whether or not they are worthy of a repeat visit.
Are the social media killing the blogs? it’s the question we asked ourselves in the last European Wine Blogger Conference in Brescia (October 2011) We all agree that currently Facebook, Twitter and other platforms seems to be more interesting than a boring post in a blog. But, I stress, “a boring post”. Because interesting post are yet precious… enfin: we all need a landing page. I can twitt million times in a day, but if I do not insert a link in some tweet, where are all my infos going? I repeat: a landing page is still required. The blog is my personal landing page. My duty is make it smart.
A quick perusal of your Bloggerview category confirms that this is not a medium for the weak of heart. Quite a few of those you have showcased no longer provide new content. Very interesting..
Prediction: within five years, Tom, you’ll be posting an entry about the waning of social media.
Only items of substance can survive at all, and they enjoy a minuscule audience.
Like the photo…
As usual, the two Thomases have it right.
Blogging is demanding and can be done only for reward of some sort. For professionals in the field, blogging has become, for better or worse, part of the minimum requirement. For others, it is simply an opportunity to engage whomever is listening on their favorite topic–it is a hobby, and all of us with hobbies devote plenty of time to it for no reward other than psychic.
Ultimately, that is where blogging was going to have to go. The pros would have their places and the hobbyists would have theirs, but the number of amateurs who thought they could have fun and reward through blogging has been and will continue to diminish because very few blogs have any kind of remunerative reward attached to them.
I agree that it’s a real shame the interest in blogs is diminishing. You can’t say what needs to be said in a soundbyte, but it seems our busy lifestyles and our short attention spans demand pithy one-liners rather than interesting prose. I’m sorry to say, I predict it will only get worse…
Who on earth does a Google search for “wine blogs”?
People don’t search for “newspapers” – they search for the content within them, or the name under which they’re published.
Surely the whole point about the growth of wine blogs, as with any other blogs, is that now the platform has been established, it is the content which people search for, not the platform! And if people are searching for “social media”, it’s because it is a newer platform and term, which the public are still trying to understand, and researchers are trying to analyse.
Its not AT ALL surprising that fewer people are searching for “wine blogs” – indeed, it is an indication of how well the platform is now accepted.
“Pithy one liners?”
Now that’s a debatable tweet.
We all agree that currently Facebook, Twitter and other platforms seems to be more interesting than a boring post in a blog. But, I stress, “a boring post”.
Can’t wait for the annual Wine Writer Facebook/Twitter Conference. It could take as long as thirty-five minutes to complete, and then we can all move on to the next great communication advancement.
As somebody brand new to wine blogging and the wine blogosphere in general, this article is very informative and thought provoking. I’ve found the drain on time is pretty substantial and I literally just started last week. It is especially cumbersome when you have a day job and have to fit blogging in on the side.
But my motivation for beginning to blog about wine is not to make money via writing, but to have content that I could associate with the website of the winery I hope to open one day. Whether that is a good strategy or not remains to be seen.
And although I’m still as green as they get in the wine blogosphere, my experience with other parts of the blog world is that so much of it is about quantity rather than quality. Your number 6 prediction puts the emphasis on quality and I think you hit the nail on the head with that one.
Imo, one of more challenging aspects of approaching this endeavor is that the writer is not the one who designates quality and value; that judgment is reserved for the reader. And seeing that there is literally hundreds of of wine blogs, original content is a must. But it’s a bit of a catch 22 for me because there is so much content out there already! I want to write original content but don’t have the time to find out if it’s truly original.
I started reading finance and economic blogs after the global financial crisis hit and accumulated a ridiculous amount of bookmarks. Over time that list has dwindled and dwindled to only what I consider the very best content for my personal taste. Right now I’m in the beginning of this process with wine blogs. I see your blogroll to the right and it’s pretty daunting. There is no way in the world I could ever get through all those links. But nevertheless, I’m sure I’ll acquire a bookmark or two. And going forward I’ll check everything I bookmark once in a while, but will eventually narrow it down to a couple blogs that I really enjoy and stick with those, maybe even participate a little bit.
That being said, I hardly know any people personally that participate in blogging. People just don’t have the time. Facebook/twitter are faster and more convenient. People that blog have to be genuinely interested in learning about whatever the subject might be. I guess that’s too much like work for most people. Frankly, that approach seems pretty reasonable given the stresses of day to day life.
To sum this comment up: so far I’ve found wine blogging to be fun, but I could easily see getting burnt out on it fairly quickly. Your points are strongly noted. Thanks for your dedication.
I fall into the ‘Amateur Wine Blogger’ category and find it so much more satisfying than Twitter. Indeed, I struggle to see the attraction of Twitter. With a blog, one can still be brief – but far more in depth. And there are different kinds of wine blog – with room for them all. Mine is about how to make country wines (the most recent being the frankly unlikely Celery Wine) and my reactions to the bottles I drink (quick plug: http://bensadventuresinwinemaking.com) but I recognise that isn’t to everyone’s taste. And in response to one of the comments above, just yesterday I had two people stumble across my blog by using the search term ‘wine blog’.
I agree, there are going to be some mainstay wine blogs (“Wine Media”)that will emerge. But, I have gone to several blogs, and they are turgidly written lists of wine tasting notes. Boring!
I believe you need to give someone a reason to visit; yes they like wine, but they would like it framed in such a way that it is entertaining as well.
For example, I have my blog, Wine and Sheets where I discuss wines, and how they pair with other things in life. It is maybe a bit irreverent at times, but it’s a fun way to look at life and wine.
It shouldn’t matter what you search for whether it be wine blogs, wine media, wine etc. its what they are looking for that they find with in a search, this meaning having your many keywords and search words, in reality bogs these days are becoming more competitive, and what should be focussed here is wine, so how about the rise and fall of wines through Oz?
It would seem as though you are correct on this one. Social media is a lot more gratifying with their immediate likes, but what the tweeters and facebookers will not realize is that all the time and effort that they put into their social media is just going to waste because they don’t own it.
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