Over 2 years ago, in August of 2003, I got an idea. This new medium called blogging would be great for information on wine. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the first to get this idea (there was one other guy I knew about [at the time]), but I figured I would dabble here and there for a while and see what happened. Nothing did, for about a year and a half, and I was getting bored. Readership was low, and I was ready to delete the account. One day in one of my MyYahoo news feeds, I saw an article on Wine Blogging, and a list of sites that were growing in popularity. What? A whole wine blogoshere has sprouted up right under my nose and I wasn’t a part of it? Wine Blogging Wednesday’s, Wine Blog Watch, what was going on here? Needless to say my excitement was renewed. I started taking it a little more seriously, and average daily readership of Wine Expression has gone up nearly 15x what it was in March of this year.
Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about blogging, and how to get noticed, so I wanted to write a quick “how to” for those that may want to get started maintaining a wine blog, or for those that may need a little help getting noticed. If you’re already blogging about wine, you can skip the first few points.
Before you get started, define what you want your blog to accomplish. Is it going to be a news site? Are you going to provide reviews? How is your site going to be different from other popular blogs already out there? Is this going to be for profit or for fun?
Once you outline what your goals are, you’ll be ready to get the site rolling.
There are a lot of different options out there to write your blog with, from free to paid, easy to difficult. If you plan on registering a domain name, you’ll need your own hosting, and a little tech know how to get your blog set up. Some good options for this are www.wordpress.com and www.moveabletype.org.
There are also a lot of great options that are free, and don’t require setup, like www.blogger.com, www.livejournal.com and www.blogeasy.com.
Then there are some sites that have a little more functionality and charge minimal monthly or yearly fees, like www.typepad.com. All are great options, and have their pros and cons.
I originally signed up with blogger for it’s ease of use, but due to wanting to upgrade some features, I’ll be moving soon to my own hosting and utilize wordpress. It’s open source and looks and works great.
The right look and feel are important to set yourself off from the rest of the wine bloggers out there. Try and come up with a color scheme pleasing to the eye that is also unique. Here’s a link to a list of websafe colors you can use on your blog. I didn’t really do this to start, and I think branding of Wine Expression has suffered because of it. Stay tuned for my new site with a new look, feel, and some exciting new content. (Donald Trump voice) It’s really going to be great. (end Trump)
You’ll want to put links on your blog, lot’s of links. Link to other wine bloggers, wine websites, anything wine related. Then feel free to ask the bloggers you’ve linked to to return the favor, we’re happy to oblige.
I can’t stress how important links are. Google is all about pagerank, so the more links you have to your site, the more you’ll come up on searches. Readers also visit more than one wine blog, so it’s important they find your site from some of their other favorite blogs.
4 B. Update: Comments
Water into Wino makes a good point that I forgot to mention: Post comments on other wine blogs. This is a great way to show you’re taking an interest in some of the hard work other bloggers are doing, and will help you boost your pagerank when you link to your site automatically from the comment. It also gets the attention of that blogger to check out your site and leave feedback.
Comment Spam: Also, many evil people write code to automatically post comments on your blog right after you post a new page. This inflates their google ranking and drives traffic to their site. You can turn on things like word verification, or comment approval and this should minimize or eliminate your comment spam. Check your blog host for details.
Post frequently. Tom at Fermentations averages over 2 posts a day! You have to give people a reason to return to your site. If you can’t consume yourself in your blog like Tom, at least try to post a few times a week. Don’t feel pressure to post an article everyday. Post often, but only information you really feel is worthy of your site. Lame stories will probably just frustrate your readers leaving them less likely to return. The blog is just the medium and the real meat behind it is quality content.
Edit: Don’t forget to take part in Wine Blogging Wednesday once a month, host once if you can.
Writing a review on a wine? Include all the information you know about it, name, varietal, producer, winemaker, this will help you later when people start finding your site through google. Here at Wine Expression, we frequently break stories on new wine related products. I usually see a serge in traffic soon after thanks to google, and an interest in the story by the public. For Example: The Wine Scepter. About a day after I wrote that, google had me up on the first page and for the next week half of my traffic was from searches for that product.
The old adage “Build it and they will come” DOES NOT WORK for blogs. With a little thought, time, and dedication, you can have fun and build a great blog.
In Vino Veritas!