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Do Wine Bloggers Know What They Are Talking About?

by Tim Elliott on February 2, 2011

No they don’t, according to a study referenced in yesterday’s post over at Vinography that is bound to ripple through the wine blogosphere in a rare meme-like fashion. And I have to agree with Alder’s key point that most mainstream wine consumers do not trust online sources as much as personal recommendations from friends and wine professionals or from established wine critics.

While I’d like to take a look at the source report to analyze their methodology, I don’t have a spare ¬£1,300 handy for the privilege. All I know is that I make buying decisions based upon blogger reviews but it’s almost exclusively from bloggers I know and have tasted the same or similar wines before with over an extended period of time (like on Twitter Taste Live, at a large tasting or the Wine Blogger’s Conference). Since there are so many wine bloggers coming into the medium, I find it difficult to calibrate my palate to most so I can imagine the average consumer casting a wary eye on the lot of us.

via Vinography

Update: Robert and Ryan across the pond at Wine Conversation has taken a closer look at the study press release. This garnered some great comments including one by an author of the report in question. Good stuff.

Can A Wine Blogger Make A Living Blogging?

by Tim Elliott on January 13, 2011

One of my predictions from 2010, as yet unrealized, is that a wine blogger would figure out a financial model that would make our efforts more than just a labor of love. Fellow blogger Joe Roberts at 1WineDude is blazing the trail on this at the moment but Tyler Colman, who blogs as Dr. Vino, looked at this question in a thoughtful post yesterday and has concluded that side gigs (books, speaking, consulting, teaching) are the only ways to make a living wine blogging. Later in the post he speculates that app stores might be a way to make some money but is somewhat skeptical about this opportunity.

Drawing by Hugh MacLeod, gapingvoid.com

Drawing by Hugh MacLeod, gapingvoid.com

Tyler may be right but in the comments is a link to Jamie Goode’s blog and a post about this subject from a couple weeks back. Jamie starts off with similar conclusions of giving away content to boost his personal brand and reputation to get side gigs but then compares wine blogging with the plight of the newspaper business. And while it is true both need to figure out new business models I don’t think wine bloggers will find the same path as newspapers and, by extension in the same financial quagmire, magazines.

That brings me back to Tyler’s “ray of hope”, mobile apps. The success of Apple’s app stores for iPhones, iPads and more recently Macs shows that consumers are willing to pay for convenience. And they will tolerate some level of advertising even after paying a dollar or two for the app. So for wine bloggers, making our content available on the app store opens up some interesting opportunities even if the app is free. The trick will be to make the app experience better or more useful than just hitting your site on the mobile web browser.

Another way to make money is to go down the path of Allen Meadows, the publisher of Burghound, and to develop a niche for a newsletter. In order for this to work, however, the wine blogger would have to spend a considerable amount of time (and probably money) tasting and writing up thousands of wines each year. And if someone did this, there is no guarantee an audience would develop for their paid content. Sort of a ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma. That said, I think fellow bloggers like the teams at Catavino and New York Cork Report are best positioned since they have established brands and credibility in their respective niches.

The bottom line for me is wine blogging is in the early silent movie making period of development. There have been some successes but we have not yet established the new language of digital wine writing. Once the wine blogging equivalent to a zoom and tracking shot are invented, we can see if wine blogging can actually be a business. In the meantime, I’m experimenting with different monitization strategies to see if they work. For the past 6 years, the “side gig” has been the only thing I’ve found personally successful.

via Dr. Vino’s Wine Blog

When Did Popularity Become Quality?

by Tim Elliott on March 21, 2008

Tom Wark of FERMENTATION has announced the nominations for this year’s American Wine Blog Awards. My work here didn’t rate a nomination this year which didn’t surprise me as my output over the past year has been substandard for such accolades, to be quite honest. So I think that puts me in the position to be somewhat objective and comment on blogging awards in general and these in particular.

American Wine Blog Awards logoMy main concern with the American Wine Blog Awards is not the name, although I’d prefer something more international, no it’s the voting process. If the Oscars used the same system as these awards, ‘Spider-Man 3’ or ‘Shrek the Third’ would likely win Best Picture as they were the most popular movies last year from their box office receipts. Both are well crafted films but they are not in the same league as ‘No Country for Old Men’ which finished 36th in 2007 ticket sales but took the top Oscar this year.

Why this discrepancy? Because only those in the film industry vote on the nominations and final awards.

So I propose that wine bloggers consider an association that creates an independent awards program modeled after the Motion Picture Academy Awards. As a placeholder, let’s call it the “Wine Bloggers Guild” but we’ll change the name if the discussion warrants. I’ve started a new thread over at Open Wine Consortium for wine bloggers and podcasters to discuss this idea and see if there is consensus for my proposal.

My intention is not to criticize the American Blog Awards, just create an analog to the Oscars to Tom’s People’s Choice Awards. I think there’s room for both. What do you think?

Surprise! I’m on your Google Reader!

by Tim Elliott on December 15, 2007

Google Reader Shared FeatureI’ve been catching up on my blog reading today and noticed an interesting new feature of Google Reader: friends shared items. As I read wine blogs, I “star” notable posts but always wondered what the “share” choice was for. Now I get it and am enjoying reading links shared by friends, listeners and readers.

If we’ve crossed paths via Gmail or Gtalk, it’s likely that you will see my shared links automatically appear in your Google Reader. I’ve also posted the widget to the right sidebar of the blog so you can see what I’m reading. Because I went back and shared all my previously stared items today, most of what is there now is a bit old. Going forward, you can keep up with the best posts from wine blogs in my shared feed.