An argument for chaos and spontaneity in blogs
Michael Wangbickler, whom I know chiefly through his work at the winery P.R. firm of Balzac Communications, last week in his blog gave advice to wineries that are thinking about blogging. “Before starting a winery blog, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind,” he began. Then he asked them to answer six questions:
1. What are your goals?
2. What is the subject?
3. How often will you post?
4. Who is going to write it?
5. How will you promote it?
6. How will you measure it?
It’s a thoughtful piece that I’m sure will be tweeted and considered by many people. But I also suspect that some winery folks who have considered blogging will read it and think to themselves, “Wow. I’m not sure I can answer any of those questions.” Then, feeling depressed and defeated before they even begin, they abandon the idea of blogging, probably forever.
When I started this blog (less than 1-1/2 years ago, although it seems like forever), I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t have answered any of Michael’s questions, either. In fact, I’m not sure I could now! Let me try.
1. What are your goals? Well, it’s hard to say. To be read, for sure. To have fun. To be able to express myself, in writing, in a way I can’t elsewhere. Since I’m not selling anything, I have no goals along financial lines. So I can’t even say I actually have a “goal” when it comes to my blog. Some things that I do are goal-less; I do them because they’re part of my daily habits and they provide interest and an outlet for my energies.
2. What is the subject? I can’t answer this either, other than to say the subject is wine, or the wine industry, or things connected to the wine industry. You see? Already I’m getting mixed up. Come to think about it, the subject of this blog is actually me.
3. How often will you post? This is easier to answer. Five days a week. I knew that when I started, because Tom Wark told me you have to post five days a week if you want people to visit your site, and I believe almost anything Tom says about blogging.
4. Who is going to write it? This is also an easy one. My blog is written by the president/CEO/janitor/chief bottle washer of my company, me.
5. How will you promote it? I never considered this from Day One and still don’t. I’m a horrible self-promoter. I’d rather stick pins under my fingernails than trumpet myself. A year ago, in a posting, I asked readers to please vote for my blog in the American Wine Blog Awards, and I was so embarrassed afterward, I never did it again. So any success my blog has experienced has had almost nothing to do with promotion.
6. How will you measure it? I didn’t think about this either when I started. Nowadays, certain metrics have been brought to my attention, and I do have some bookmarks I look at every once in a while to see how many visits, etc. my blog has. I’m happy to see the numbers continue to rise month after month, and there’s lately been a spate of articles that put me among the most widely read wine blogs in the U.S. But I’m also superstitious. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Pride goeth before a fall. I know that one of these days the numbers will stop going up, and I don’t want to suffer when that day comes. So I’m not big on measurement.
I blog as though each day were my last on earth. I blog because some people say it gives them pleasure to read my blog and that makes me happy. I blog because I love to write. I blog, sometimes, because there’s something I have to say, and, sometimes, because there isn’t. I blog for the same reason the trees outside my window grow. Blogito, ergo sum.
Hence my headline: “An argument for chaos and spontaneity in blogs.” With all due respect to Michael Wangbickler (and keeping in mind that he’s advising actual businesses, not home-bound hobbyists like me), I’d advise would-be bloggers to toss the business plan. I don’t have a blueprint everyday when I blog. It’s how I feel that day, what I’m thinking about, what strikes me as I achieve consciousness, what excites me on the edge. If you scheme out a blog with the mechanistic precision with which you construct, say, a bottling line, your blog runs the risk of having all the warmth and charm of a bottling line, e.g. with no humanity. Better to keep it (as we say here in the streets of Oakland) real.