I have been writing informally about wine for several years now. Whether for academic purposes or to describe my numerous photos of all things related to wine on Facebook, I was in fact exhibiting a form of penmanship as I documented my experiences. Looking ahead down the academic wine road I’ve realized that I need to develop those writing skills in order to succeed in my future studies. Thus after years of saying I’d never succumb to having a wine blog, I’ve decided to cross over to what some consider “the dark side of wine writing”.
A blog is an online journal. Just as in a printed version of a journal, a blog allows an individual to make regular entries onto a website. It is a method of publishing thoughts and articles related to a particular topic. Blogs force transparency in writing as they offer an unfiltered point of view of the writer. Unfortunately this method of publication on the internet has created thousands of so-called experts and critics within the realm of wine. There are no requirements to be a blogger about any given topic. Credibility may be compromised and this leads to the age old question of why some view wine bloggers as unprofessional. Let’s review some of those negative thoughts associated with wine bloggers, and reasons why they may exist.
Some wine industry folks are of the impression that wine bloggers just want everything for free, whether it be free wine, event tickets, or trips to visit wineries and wine regions. They believe those who self publish (blogs, e-books etc) don’t really know anything about the industry, and are amateurs. Some wine bloggers are only concerned with their own self promotion and view the blog site as a way to move into the wine business. There is also the issue that bloggers won’t write objectively about the wines they review because they have received them for free, and they are worried that if they report back in a negative tone they might not continue to receive freebies. Guaranteed there is no shortage of those types of individuals. Fortunately the general public can choose to follow a blogger based on content, as opposed to brilliant headlines and those whose sole motivation is self-serving.
Wine bloggers are frequently compared to journalists who publish for magazines. They are always ranked behind them and bloggers are seen as people who share their casual musings on a subject with the public. Journalism is communication in only one direction, whereas a blogger can promote feedback and discussion so it is a two-way form of communication. Most journalists are paid for their work and bloggers are not. Journalists are governed by restrictions imposed by those they write for and bloggers are unregulated. There is a view that bloggers are unable to influence their readership the way journalists do. The issue of followers and how this translates into brand familiarization and wine sales also arises as some believe bloggers lack this ability.
So given all these negative thoughts on wine bloggers, why would I want to go down that path? Well, it all comes down to sharing my passion with others and having the desire to inspire and educate others about wine. Bloggers can influence their readers which translates into increased brand awareness, sales and better educated consumers. Remember wine bloggers are consumers too. Bloggers can provide information to consumers about market trends, where to purchase wines, and also they help to validate consumers choices. SEO rankings can increase if the blog links back to your wine. Disclosure of sources of all freebies addresses credibility issues. Sharing the stories of producers and providing information about wines and the regions they come from drives me to become a wine blogger. If the credibility and content is good then the negative impressions of wine blogger will dissipate. Wine blogs are not the ugly stepsister of wine writing: they more like the opportunity to create one’s own Cinderella story.