This subject was actually asked of me last year. I got thinking more about it with last week’s fantastic Watermelon Thump & Chef Throwdown event at William-Chris Vineyards where media including bloggers and writers were invited.
Now that I am being invited to some media events or attending conferences which bloggers and writers can attend, it made me sit back and think. For example, I went to the DrinkLocalWine Conference in Colorado where bloggers attended from around the country. I was going to write a blog post or two about the event while others were going to do the same, in addition to using Twitter during the conference. During the Twitter Taste-Off, I saw some tweets and thought, “That was good. I wish I had said that.” But did that mean I was competing with them to see who had the best tweet? The same holds true with any blog posts written for the conference.
I have read other blog posts which involved meeting a noted winemaker/grower or visiting a winery, and admittedly was a little jealous because I hadn’t met them or visited that winery first. But does that mean we are in competition to see who’s first? Most likely I’ll meet or visit the same someday.
I’m going to use my fellow bloggers and writers from last weekend’s William-Chris Vineyards event as an example. It’s usually common practice if you are a blogger and you get invited to an event, there’s a good chance you’re going to write about it. Last week there were at least 9 bloggers and writers, and more which I did not know or get a chance to meet. After the event the blog posts started appearing. Here are the bloggers with Twitter handles I know and either their blog posts of the event or their main website (in Twitter alphabetical order):
- @DeniseClarkeTX aka Denise Clarke – http://texaswinegal.tumblr.com/post/25797829529/hye-society-welcomes-all
- @JDewps aka Jessica Dupuy – http://www.jessicadupuy.com
- @MattMcGinnis aka Matt McGinnis – http://whatareyoudrinking.net/2012/07/william-chris-vineyards-winemakers-dream-big
- @SAHMmelier aka Alissa Leenher – http://sahmmelier.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/living-the-hye-life
- @TXWineGeek aka Jim Baker – https://txwinegeek.com/2012/06/william-chris-friends-food-and-wine
- @TXWineLover aka Jeff Cope – https://txwinelover.com/2012/06/watermelon-thump-chef-throwdown-william-chris
- @VintageTexas aka Russ Kane – http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=6380
- @VitisPoema aka Robin English Bircher – http://vitispoema.blogspot.com/2012/06/28-hye-society-learning-all-about.html
- @wowaustin aka Laura McCarley – http://wayoutwestaustin.com/?p=11751
So if you look above, there were at least 7 blog posts written about the event. Is one better than another? Or is it just a different perspective with a different writing style and different photos?
I’ll pick out a few people from the list. Russ Kane, the self-proclaimed Texas Wine Czar, is arguably the most experienced of the group writing about Texas wine. He has a book out now about the Texas wine industry called The Wineslinger Chronicles (http://wineslinger.net). He has a great writing style and when we write about the same topic in a blog post, I wish I could have written that way. He does have a writing background though. Sure, I have a book out too (shameless plug http://ussholt.com) but that doesn’t mean I’m a writer. Perhaps it would have been different if my major at college was Journalism instead of Computer Science.
There are others on the list such as Denise Clarke and Jessica Dupuy who have passed the first level of the Court of Master Sommeliers’ educational program. They obviously know more about wine than I do and probably will always know more. I do not have enough time to study for the wine exams, although they do sound fun, let alone try to find time to write posts for this blog. At least it takes me considerable time to write one post.
A lot of us started a blog last year or some this year so we are all determining our writing style, what to write about, and so forth. But does that mean we’re competing to see who eventually has the best blog?
I look at all this and compare it against what a lot of us are writing about, Texas wineries and wine. When I first started talking to winery owners, I was surprised to learn they aren’t competing against each other. If one has a piece of equipment break down, the nearest winery loans them theirs. If another has cold storage and another doesn’t, they’ll let the other use it. They’re all in it for one common goal: improve the Texas wine industry.
So what is my answer to the question posed at the top? The majority of us blog or write as a hobby, so I do not believe we are in a competition as we are doing the same thing, trying to help improve the wine industry. And with the Texas wine marketing budget gone, anything we can do should help.
We all have different followers on Twitter. From now on, if I see one of my fellow blogger’s tweets about a new blog post, I will be retweeting it. I am finally going to find an RSS reader and start following my fellow blogger’s posts and most likely learning from their experiences too.
What do you think? Are wine bloggers in a competition?
Matt McGinnis says
Are we in competition? I’m with you – no we are not. We are all passionate about the wine industry and the people involved in it (producers, somms, sales, consumers, etc.). I have really enjoyed the commaraderie of other wine writers and feel incredibly fortunate to be able to study with some of those named here for sommalier certification. Its a great group that I’m happy to support. I’ll retweet the blog posts too. The more readers we have, the more people will know about wine. What could be better than that?
BTW, my story on William Chris is pending publication on CultureMap and my blog and will be out any moment now.
Jeff Cope says
Thanks for the comment Matt. As soon as your blog gets the post, I’ll update this one with the link.
Robin English-Bircher says
I know I am the new kid out there — I only started writing in March. Before starting, I did seek out other blogs to learn. I wanted to see what people were doing for many reasons. One was so I could be the best I could be. The main reason was because I wanted to bring something else (and in essence not step on anyone’s toes).
I approached this like the many MFA workshops I was is in grad school. While at TX State, we created a community of writers that worked to build one another and build ourselves. When I saw everyone gathering at the Watermelon Thump, I saw that was already there. I have to admit I was envious of everyone. I hope to be more of a member of this great group. And I hope to learn from everyone (your High Plains post is really helping me right now), and I hope I can bring something to the table also.
I am grateful of all the writers out there, and I would be happy to retweet blog posts.
Thanks Jeff and everyone. Cheers.
Jeff Cope says
Thanks Robin and welcome to the “community”. You’re doing a great job so far. Keep it up!
Dave Potter says
Jeff, each persone brings something to the table. Might be a style or the format in which you write about your post. If you think about it each feeds off from another. I call it a “network multiplier”. People see your post from word of mouth, Twitter, FaceBook, places that add you to their list of blogs they follow you. I guess what I am trying to say is each reader follows a person for what ever reason like good book authors. They get hooked on that style and soon they share that book with others. Texas wine bloggers blog for the love of Texas wine and vineyards. Your doing a great job as are the others. One of these days I will actually take my noted off the iPad and get back in the saddle. Till then I have many Texas Bloggers to read from and support!
Denise Clarke says
Great post, Jeff! You are way more of a blogger than me! I just enjoy sharing my thoughts on wines I like and wineries I visit. You, Russ, Matt, Jessica, Laura and others provide a more thorough story and perspective — each with your own twist — than I love to read.
Keep up the good work! The more we all share our thoughts, the more others in and out of Texas will learn about Texas wines.
Laura Mc says
Interesting idea! I don’t consider myself a wine blogger per se; my site is focused on “food and fun out West,” which definitely includes wine. I love the burgeoning dynamic of the Texas wine industry, and think we are lucky to be here at this moment as it’s poised to take off. There is a supportive blog community in Austin (the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance), which is all about promoting one another, and I second your thought to do the same with wine posts. No matter our disparate styles, we all share the same enthusiasm.
Russ Kane says
My response to your near philosophic question (like why is there air) is that we bloggers are not in competition (although some are more competitive than others). Seven blogs on a subject is really small potatos; check how many CA-based bloggers hit on the same topics.
In my opinion what is more important is that in the seven blogs that you highlighted, there are many different things on which the bloggers focused and they had different approaches, ways to convey the story they decided to tell.
Since you have portayed me as the “old man” of Texas blogging, I want to continue your line of philosphy and mentioned four aspects of blogging that I think are of critical importance:
1. Bloggers need to find their eyes and voice. Eyes are what bloggers ‘see’. Sometimes its on the surface of an event, but other times it may be something diffuse or below the surface, or even something that the event evokes from past experiences that provides context of the event.
2. A blogger’s voice is their message and how they convert it to text. Some of it is style, but I feel that it is something more than that. It also contains an element of passion and personality. Mine does not have to be (and should not be) the same as yours.
3. Rarely is the story/message in the blog about you, the blogger. The story is what you hear, see and feel, and even sometimes what you remember (voices in your head). You are the conduit and at times the vessel, but most of all you are the communicator.
4. The end game in blogging is rarely blogging. Some bloggers have done so and been successful, but in all the bloggers that I’ve had the pleasure to meet, blogging is usually a path to something else. Enjoy the journey and help your raders do the same.
OK, to get back to Jeff’s question of competition. To some it is competition: if you blog about something, it takes away from my blog on the same subject. But, you know, as in the case of the William Chris event we all highlighted, each of the blogs gives the reader a slightly different point of view (voice) and focus (eyes).
Jeremy Parzen (@dobianchi) in Austin who also blogs for HoustonPress once said that what Texas bloggers lacked was a spirit of community found in other more developed wine regions. He also encouraged us in Houston and in Texas to work harder on “Community”. I believe what he meant in terms of community was a feeling that we are contributing jointly to a greater awareness in our readers to what Texas wine has to offer and that we are supportive of each others activities (through retweeting, linking, etc. which I think, at times, we don’t do often enough). I guess that if we don’t demostrate a spirit of community, we are, in fact, in competition.
Jeff Cope says
Very well said Russ with some very good points. I like the idea about doing more linking and will try to do so in those circumstances which it would prove appropriate. For those interested in Russ’s continuing thoughts, please see his blog post: Manifesto: To Texas Bloggers…Together We Are A Community
Jeremy Parzen says
as per Russ, forget the competition and embrace the community! 🙂
cool book, btw, Jeff… I love stuff like that… very cool…
Jeff Cope says
Thanks Jeremy, it was my father’s ship.
Now we just need to let the “old man” of Texas blogging lead us to form that community. 🙂
Alissa Leenher says
Although I am new to the blogging community, I have never felt anything but warmth and encouragement. To echo some comments above, we each have our own styles and point of view that appeal to certain audiences. We can all learn from one another and help promote and educate about Texas wines. I don’t have any formal education in the wine industry, but began writing simpy because I love wine and wanted to make it approachable for some friends that found wine intimidating. I have loved learning from each of you and am honored to be included in this group.
Jeff, now that we have power back on on the east coast, I finally had a chance to read your post. You raise a very interesting point. For most of us, there isn’t any competition and if there were, my response would be that we are taking ourselves too seriously. And I like Jeremy’s point – we all should be a community – yet I have heard of some competition and bruised egos among the Virginia wine blogging community.
Jeff Cope says
Todd, glad the power is back on. I too like the community idea.
Kim Kolb says
When I first go into the “Social world” about 5 years ago, I became a Certified Inbound Marketer..It was truly who could write the first article on the latest thing to do. After awhile people were saying the same thing over and over and worse, they were regurgitating stuff that was already said, just in a slightly different way. With that said…
I love writing about wine and reviewing wine because it is REALLY about each of our perspectives. The difference, is one thing you pointed out as well as Russ… It is our voice, our personality, and our writing style that captures our audience. I really don’t think we are in big competition with each other. Like you said. It is getting the word out.
Hope to see you at the Wine Bloggers Conference in August in Portland!
Jeff Cope says
Thanks Kim for your comment. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the Bloggers Conference this year even though I would love to. There’s the TEXSOM conference the week before here in Texas and two weeks in a row would be too much. Hopefully next year!
Alana Gentry says
I live and blog from California, but I blog about the whole world of wine. (My interests are emerging and re-emerging markets and wine and food pairing.)
I just wanted to join the conversation here by saying that the more bloggers/writers in Texas the better.I know very little about Texas wines except that they exist. The more you all write/post/tweet/join/educate/share, the better for all of us who are not in Texas and want to know what is going on.
As far as competing with each other, in a way you are, but it’s best not to focus on that in my opinion. I’ve found that be focussing on delivering honest writing (everything that Russ points out), a rabid fan/readership just happens. And isn’t that what we all want in the end? To serve and share with others?
Great question Jeff. (Btw, I found this post on Alissa’s FB page.)
Jeff Cope says
Hi Alana. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I think most of us agree that the community aspect which Russ brought up via Jeremy is a great idea. In fact even Joe Roberts from 1 Wine Dude brought up community at 1WineDude TV Episode 48: Tough Luv For Wine Bloggers.
Thanks to Alissa for leading you to here!