The Trauma of Changing a Wine Blog

FermentationblogThis wine blog is old.

That is, in terms of the history of wine blogging, it is old. It sits on a "Typepad" platform, without its own, proprietary domain name. Its appearance is dictated largely by what an unaccomplished coder can do with the Typepad platform. It is somewhat difficult to read. It's not the best looking blog in the world…by any measure. Its capability to serve up information is limited.

That's going to change here in the near future.

With the help of professionals, FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog will soon be getting a new look, a new feel and, importantly, a new address:

The process of redesigning a blog is not unlike the process that I've helped a number of wineries undertake: changing their label. This can be dangerous ground to tread. For the winery, particularly the small and medium sized winery, the label is a personal statement. It is the image into which owners invest a great deal of themselves, their desires, their self understanding. Changing it can be traumatic. Helping an owner through this trauma is something that has to be carefully maneuvered.

I'm finding that some of that trauma is involved in finally updating and changing this website. After eight years of blogging and 2,500 articles, a great deal of me sits on this blog. A part of my identity resides here. FERMENTATION has been the place where I've deposited by thoughts, ideas and observations—both industry and personal. I know it represents me and I know that when people read it, they are interacting with me. Hence, the hint of trauma. However, unlike a label, I don't have to appeal to someone scanning a shelf filled with other blogs. If I want a readership, and I do, I have to create compelling content. But the fact is, if that content can be displayed in a more appealing fashion, I've done a better job.

Of course, the biggest change that is coming to this blog is the change of the address, the URL. This is a big deal. You'd be surprised what 8 years of blogging and 2,500 articles do for your SEO efforts. I expect my exposure to be considerably reduced for a time. So be it.

So, if you are inclined, keep a watch for changed and, eventually, for a new address for FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog. And no worries…by the time it happens, I'm sure my trauma will have passed.

Posted In: Personal, Wine Blogs


18 Responses

  1. Todd - VT Wine Media - June 18, 2012

    You’ll at least be able to commiserate with Lenn Thompson at the New York Cork Report during the process. I think he’s happy to have moved on from TypePad, but has required a Herculean effort on his part. Hopefully your professional help will ease the transition. I’m sure we’ll still manage to find you, and the search engines will too.
    Cheers, and good luck.

  2. Jamie Goode - June 18, 2012

    You will lose a lot of traffic from search engines. Sad fact of life. Will be hard to get it back.

  3. Lisa Spangenberg - June 18, 2012

    If you’ve got professional help moving your data, ask them to use an http 301 error code to redirect pages–this will tell the Google bots where the new pages are, and make your traffic loss/google juice issues far less painful.

  4. janet majors - June 18, 2012

    If anyone can go through this process successfully… it’s you Tom. Can’t wait to see the new look.
    Janet Majors

  5. tommyterroir - June 18, 2012

    Five years is easily a lifetime for a website. No matter the platform a site needs a complete re-birth. If for no other reason, one needs to reexamine your own goals and objectives, successes and failures.
    Five years ago people were still creating annoying flash landing pages and creating their sites directly in html. Platforms like WordPress were still a little limiting. Social networking was something for teens, and the streaming of content was just an idea. Platforms like WordPress and Drupal have improved and expanded and kept pace. They now can do most anything you want. So it is a good time to reexamine exactly what you want. This should be a fun, creatuve and exciting time for you. Hope you enjoy the process.

  6. doug wilder - June 18, 2012

    The answer to Question 20 (“What advice would you give to someone starting a blog” of my unpublished Fermentation Bloggerview included the following:
    “Own your domain name. There is no substitute for putting [email protected] on a card or the bottom of your work.”
    After using Blogger for the first four months of my online journal, I realized it was pretty limiting so I bit the bullet, rebuilt my website and journal on Squarespace using my own domain name and have not regretted it. Although not faced with the same debacle you are, Tom, people will quickly adapt to the change, and welcome it, i trust. Frankly, I always wrestled with the .typepad. I thought why is Tom Wark of all people screwing with this platform? Good luck with the change.
    I noticed my traffic completely went off a cliff when I switched from the online journal to the subscription platform but it returned stronger than ever within about 8 months and the statistics are more meaningful now since they represent what my subscribers look at.
    I will be honored to be one of the first to add a link to the “refermentation” online journal. btw – If you are not familiar with it, is a decent reality check to see how your site is performing + ways to improve it.
    doug wilder

  7. Tom Wark - June 18, 2012

    Yep…should have done it a bit ago. But, it is what it is. Those who enjoy fermentation will find the new site. It will be an adventure to see what can be done with a new site.
    You are kind.
    While somewhat traumatic, it is fun and exciting.
    I’m prepared. But you are right.

  8. Wine Gift - June 19, 2012

    This is really a delimma that running a wine blog is going to be so hard now that you need a severe and instant update to get in the track with the competition and grab some high traffic.

  9. [email protected] - June 19, 2012

    Best of luck with the transition. I went through a little piece of what you’re doing when I moved my site from a free WordPress site to my own domain (after the original blog was up for a little over 4 months), and I know that was painful and very time consuming, so I can just imagine what you’re going through. It will be worth it though.
    I assume you’re building it on WordPress this time?

  10. Tom Wark - June 19, 2012

    Thanks….Yep…Isn’t everything in WordPress today?? That’s where I’ll be.

  11. sao anash - June 19, 2012

    I’ve really enjoyed your blog and look forward to more informed and intelligent articles at your new URL address. Make sure to let all of your blogger friends and the editors over at Wine Business Monthly know what your new address and location are, so that they can link up your site, as they’ve been doing. I would assume that these types of links help to drive traffic, as well.

  12. Jeff - June 19, 2012

    Woot! Advance congrats on the new digs.
    I wouldn’t worry about the SEO. Fly-by readers are really only good for monetization on ads and such.
    Your readers will follow, for sure.

  13. stacie - June 19, 2012

    Hey Tom, I’m putting my confidence into you, too! You’ll not lose any audience that counts on your philosophies and fabulous rants. Instead, a whole new cadre of fans will find you simply by randomly googling words like “fermentation” and then “voila!” you’ll come up with your NEW look and they’ll be hooked. Congrats on a big move and rearranging all of the “furniture”!

  14. Fredric Koeppel - June 20, 2012

    looking forward to the new design….I’ve been thinking of a redesign and format change for Biggerthanyourhead for the 6th anniversary in December.

  15. doug wilder - June 20, 2012

    Tom, You may want to look at this analysis of Squarespace v WordPress before deciding:
    It is a toss up for some stuff but in key areas, like support, Squarespace is way ahead. I host pdwr on SquareSpace and never fail to be amazed by what I can do and how responsive they are in tech support.

  16. JohnLopresti - June 23, 2012

    Sometimes I miss the former banner at Fermentation, the one with a blurred image of a person who might be a wrestler; especially, when reading some of the three-tier posts.
    I also like what Stu Smith’s designer did with the biodynamicsisahoax homepage initially, as I studied some optics and physics, which is where she must have found a drawing fitting the former professor’s theme.
    Some of the photos of the honeymoon had a unique character, as well. Fermentation has a tradition of posting interesting visuals.

  17. Kris Chislett - June 25, 2012

    For what it’s worth, I think this site is just fine as it is. It’s the content that speaks for itself, not site design. I find so many websites that are beautifully designed, but feature such “thin” content.

  18. Claudia - July 25, 2012

    Oh my, you are not joking. A website revamping, or rebranding is very complex. Aa a webdesigner/wine lover I so sympathize with you. No one really realizes what a huge mess that can be. I agree with Kris, this site is good as is, the content is fabulous and I have spent several hours here. If you really want to change the look, consider just changing colors..but Tom, the site is perfect! I just redid my site and am still suffering! Good luck!

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