Blogging is dead...sort of...

Wine blogging is dead

I have been blogging about wine since June 2001. These days I blog pretty much every day. It’s an important part of what I do.

But I’m not wine blogger.

Blogging is dead.

Blogging is alive, and will continue to be important. But it is dead.

I am a wine communicator, and to communicate effectively, you need to use a number of tools. I write articles, books, blog posts, I tweet, and I post on Facebook. [These last 3 are particularly important, because they are about a conversation; interacting with others.]

I also give talks, host tastings, take part in panel debates and lecture.

I can’t be defined by any one of these activities, although I can be described by them (I am a speaker, a book author, etc). I don’t mind being called a blogger in this sense, but it doesn’t fully capture what I do, so I don’t want to be defined as one. There’s an important distinction here.

So why is blogging dead?

Clearly, this is hyperbole. I will continue to blog, as will many others. What I’m trying to say is that blogging had this golden age where people were happy to be defined as bloggers, and there was a sense that the blog was supplanting other forms of online communication. Blogging was cool, it was sexy, and it seemed to be the future.

But the golden age of blogging has passed. We’re left with the sense that blogs have never really fulfilled their promise. Within a short time, I don’t think we’ll be describing people as bloggers any more, the way we have been doing for the last few years. Blogs will still be with us, and some will be very important, but they’ll not be centre stage.

Look at wine blogs. There was a time when people were organizing wine blogger conferences, and PRs were reaching out to bloggers, inviting them on press trips specifically tailored for the blogging community, and sending them samples.

But with a few notable exceptions, wine blogs haven’t really achieved any sort of noticeable reach, certainly with regular consumers.

Bloggers have let themselves down a bit, too, lavishing praise on frankly mediocre wines just because the producer has thrown a blogger tasting, or is keen on social media and attends blogger conferences. Some bloggers have sold their souls pretty cheaply, too, when subjected to commercial advances, in part because it has been very hard for them to monetize their activities.

Very few wine blogs have generated any significant traffic levels. And if you look video blogging, you can see from the YouTube viewer count that there aren’t many people who want to watch videos of people tasting wine, unless they are Gary Vaynerchuck, and he’s stopped doing it now.

So should people stop blogging? Not at all. Blogs will continue to be an important communication tool. Blogging is still dead, though.

It’s all about communication. Communicators have never before had access to so many powerful communication tools. In an admission of the way things are changing, the European Wine Bloggers Conference has been renamed this year as the Digital Wine Communications Conference.

Let’s not forget good old-fashioned websites, too. I have maintained my main wineanorak.com site alongside my blog because while the blog is good for some things, it doesn’t work for longer articles. And blogs are spectacularly bad at organizing information in a logical way for later retrieval.

I hope by my slightly hyperbolic assertion about the death of blogs that I haven’t upset you: my intention is to get people to think a bit more about how they communicate. The availability of powerful, free blogging software and the glamour attached to the term blogger has led too many to go straight down the blogging route when it comes to communicating online.

But a blog is just one communication tool, and it suits daily journaling, with small, frequent entries. This is not optimal for some forms of communication, or for some writers. Perhaps you can express yourself better in other online publishing formats? Too many people are trying to make the foot fit the shoe. That’s the wrong way round: find the shoe that fits your particular foot.

I’m in the business of communicating, and to do my job effectively, I need a full suite of communication tools. I am a blogger. But I am not a blogger. Blogging is well and truly alive. But blogging is dead.

13 comments to Blogging is dead…sort of…

  • I do understand where you are coming from, when expressed in “long form” like this – and I suppose that is part of the objection to the “blogging is dead” assertion, because we REQUIRE blogs in order to fully express ideas like this – there is no real other means of doing this effectively.

    One clarification, if I may; the change in the name of the EWBC is not because we are moving away from blogs or blogging, but because we felt it was simply too narrow a title. It excluded more than it included. Blogging itself, the act of communicating via blogging tools, is alive and well, we simply need to rethink how we do that, and what it means to be a wine professional who does this as one part of our regular activities.

    Thanks for encouraging the conversation though, and I look forward, as always, to reading your thoughts on this wine communications and publishing platform (aka blog)

  • Agree with all. My blogging went from intense to very occasional, and meanwhile the notion of blogging has rapidly become as uncool as usenet. Which is not a reason to stop blogging… But now when people blog, most comments come back from the social networks, defeating the only feature that made blogs different from unilateral plain websites: the ability to accept comments.

  • Samuel

    Whilst I whole heartedly agree, could you have communicated that in 140 characters….however I now rarely access your blog directly, preferring to click on a shortened link.
    Keep up the good communication.

  • Hyperbole indeed…
    Samples are still being sent to bloggers (I actually feel increasingly so). Conference still being organised. Press trips increasingly include bloggers -alongside- non-blogging authors.
    On the other hand nobody ever pretended blogs will supersede everything else. From the beginning it was perceived as just one communication tool. So my feeling is, in order to substantiate your theory, you are claiming something that never existed.

    The big question is: HOW you are going to communicate wine if not through a blog/website? (The distinction between the two is really blurred).

    If anything is dead in wine communication, I’d say it’s printed articles. I don’t see anybody reading those 4-page reportage things anymore.

  • RE: “I’d say it’s printed articles. I don’t see anybody reading those 4-page reportage things anymore.”

    Only because you don’t work for a wine wholesaler, Worjciech. My wine clients still swear by the written word, because wholesalers and their on and off premise accounts still read wine magazine and swear by them as the word from God above.

    The public and wine bloggers (including myself) are different animals than the wine pros I know… I know tons of wine pros. My PS I Love You group (www.psiloveyou.org) and my Oregon Pinot Gris group (www.oregonpinotgris.org) keep me in touch daily with a lot of wine professionals/winemakers, viticulturists, and owners, besides our wine clients. I interface with many wine companies daily. Those magazines you’re referring to are alive and well in the wine professional world… as much as they ever were… If not more so.

    We all live in different world and have different perspectives. Above is what I’m witnessing, whether or not anyone wants to believe it.

  • As you pointed out your blog is a better format for shorter pieces than your website where you have a wealth of technical knowledge. But to those that think a FB or Twitter entry will replace a blog entry are under 28 and suffer from ADD real or invented by the school system. Information needs to be in more than 140 character tweets, I still read the broadsheets on the weekends and tend away from blogs that are nothing but someone reblogged tweets.

  • Jamie:

    I agree with this:

    “But with a few notable exceptions, wine blogs haven’t really achieved any sort of noticeable reach, certainly with regular consumers.”

    However, I don’t think this is a measure of the promise, utility or perceptions around the blogging format. I think it’s a measure of the lack of marketing that has surrounded the wine blogosphere. You just can’t build it and think they’ll come.

    The fact is, few publishing efforts I can think of succeed without a real marketing effort, be it a publication, magazine, book, website or blog. We know that there are numerous very successful blogs that command significant advertising dollars, just not in the wine arena.

    That great blog may still be out there.

  • Darren Syzling

    Generally I can see your point although I largely object to gaining access to content through social media sites such as Facebook. I suppose my ideal is for tools to allow people to self publish – in long and short forms and tools for consumers to consume that content (and subscribe) in the form they are most comfortable reading – i.e. flipboard, google reader (or other news readers). I’d prefer to build a subscription list of sources that I want to read and treat it like my custom newspaper. Except I want to be able to customise that experience and choose the best reading format which can also support multiple devices.

    Largely RSS and collation of news feeds has supported this model with proliferation of tools both for client consumption and publishing. However it is not always supported by certain web site tools.

    Does the wineanorak site support for an RSS feed (like your blog) for the articles? Otherwise I would generally find it difficult to consume this content on a regular basis – after all anything posted to twitter will roll off in a few days and I’ll generally miss older articles.

    I am a huge tech user and have been for 20 years, most of my content is read through Pocket/Instapaper and my collated google news feeds (via flipboard and reeder), however I still enjoy the reading experience of sitting down with the World Of Fine Wine and wouldn’t buy this magazine digitally.

  • I’m involved in WBC12 this year as I have several winery clients attending the Thursday opening reception sponsored by Oregon Wine Board. My vetting process is turning up a surprisingly small percentage of ‘online wine writers’ that actually have business goals for the conference. Many of the participants seem to be using the conference as an opportunity to visit and enjoy Portland and Willamette Valley (many for the first time). Let’s hope this years event creates a platform for everyone to address the importance of marketing (to Tom’s point) and creates an opportunity for wine writers to coalesce.

  • Segment the market, as you might say! I read your blog and your website (and sometimes make purchases accordingly), but I don’t go to your talks/seminars because I’m not really in that loop. From my perspective you’re a blogger, although from someone else’s (or indeed your own) you may not be. Perhaps the utopion vision of a hugely influential wine-blogging community hasn’t materialised, but it was a bit of a misty-eyed dream anyway, right? Tom

  • Thanks for this.

    People come to the internet to be entertained, to feel important, to get answers and to make buying decisions. Because of this, tasting information is incredibly useful but not as a page-long monologue. wine tastings should be placed on crowdsourced locations like cellartracker.com where it will have a greater effect.

    It’s time for wine writers/bloggers to be more creative on their respective sites.

  • Interesting write up. Personally, I don’t think blogging is dead, as it still is quite useful (at least for me) to get my word out to interested parties. However, I will say that blogging alone isn’t enough. One must enter the realm of social media (facebook, twitter) and videos, and like Madeline Puckette mentioned – be creative.

  • Great write up, Jamie and I mostly agree with what you’re saying.

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