365 days ago, I began this little wine blog adventure. The inspiration was a Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Crush It – Why Now is the Time To Cash In On Your Passion. The motivation was the branding of an eventual coffee and wine bar in Spokane, WA. The result has been a wild and humbling ride that has led to far more than I could have imagined. In one respect it is hard to believe that a year has already gone by, in another, it is overwhelming to think of everything that has happened.
If I were to boil the year down into one word it would be, RELATIONSHIPS. During the last 365 days I’ve met some of the most amazing people of my entire life. While there are nearly 4,000 people each on Facebook and Twitter that follow or like me, I consider many of you to be very good friends (@vinotology, @wawinereport @sipwithme @wineshopwithjen @rickbakas @wklywinejournal @suburbanwino @winetonite @stevepaulo @pmabray @seattlewinegal @catie @writeforwine @frankloveswine @troutmonster @spargo @noseyparkerinw @launchpadinw – just to name a few). Looking at the list, I’ve met all but one of you in real life (Frank we must remedy that). I’ve reached out to most of you for advice and think of each of you as mentors and friends. If I were to quit this adventure today, the thing I would miss the most would be the relationships.
365 days ago I had no idea of the amazing depth, quality, and passion within the Spokane wine scene. I knew I loved wine and I had been to a few of the local wineries from time to time. Over the course of the year, I’ve gotten to know the amazing entrepreneurs that make up the city’s winescape. Greg Lipsker of Barrister winery, Tim Nodland of Nodland Cellars, Rebecca Gunselman of Robert Karl Cellars have become friends beyond the wine. I’ve heard the inspiring love story of Davide and Stephanie Trezzi (Trezzi Farm Food & Wine). I watched the entry of Overbluff Cellars as they exploded on to the scene. Talking with Jim Van loben Sels of Arbor Crest shortly after the fire in the Cliff House mansion was motivational. Doug and Shelly Smith of Liberty Lake Wine Cellars have been so supportive and are always genuine and kind. One of my favorite interviews was with Mike Scott (former winemaker of Lone Canary). Mike and I chatted for hours and now every time I see him, I’m reminded of the friendship that developed through this blog. Each winery is a story of passion, risk and the pursuit of a dream.
Social media is powerful. I feel that I’ve been lucky to be able to tap into that power to build an audience and grow a brand. Some of it has been luck – but I’m pretty proud of the hard work I’ve put in over the last year. Not every phase of the journey has been rainbows and bunnies. I’ve been called a “bully, mean spirited and critical.” I’ve even had a local business tell me, “a lot negative thing are being said about you.” To those statements, I offer my apologies to whatever I did to cause those perceptions. For those that know me, you know that these statements are laughable. Aside from these views, the journey has been a blast.
I’m a numbers guy. I like stats. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I’m addicted to Google Analytics. Here is a run-down on some of the fun numbers over the last year.
110,000 – The number of pages viewed at NectarWineBlog.com
83,000 – The number of visits to NectarWineBlog.com
47,000 – The number of visitors to NectarWineBlog.com
12,763 – The number of tweets (or mindless drivel) I’ve sent into the machine
11,800 – The number of YouTube videos watched on my channel
3,822 – The number of Facebook fans who “like” DrinkNectar
3,724 – The number of people who follow @nectarwine on Twitter
2,876 – The number of comments that have been made on the site.
When I read Gary Vaynerchuk’s words on content, passion and branding, I knew that I had to enter the social media world. “Social media is business – period,” says Gary. I didn’t completely define my voice before I began, that grew and became more refined along the way. I didn’t fully understand where I was going when I started, but I decided to take the journey regardless.
Today is the 317th post on this blog. Those posts have contained 132 “episodes.” 250 wines have received formal reviews (and hundreds more tasted at events). Every weekday (non-holiday) since February, I’ve posted something new. There was one exception; I posted late on a Sunday night to test the new functionality of the blog. Last Friday, I barely made it by posting at 11:58 PM. I think this commitment to content (hopefully quality content, but only you can be the judge of that) has been one of the single greatest drivers to the growth. As the content grows there are greater referrals from search engines and cross references on other sites.
An example of this is my most viewed post. “A Mojito Kind of Night” has been viewed almost 6,500 times (double any other post on the site). This post must have been properly tagged for SEO and people must really love their mojitos.
Apart from the mojito post, here are the top five most viewed posts on NectarWineBlog.com
#5 – What Makes a Good Wine List? Size Doesn’t Matter, 804 views: A little sex, a little sarcasm, and a little controversy helped this post receive views.
#4 – Spokane Wine Tour, 1108 views: I love that this is in the top 5. It shows that my efforts to shed a light on Spokane have worked.
#3 – Introducing Nectar Tasting Room, 1144 views: The support behind this post was mind blowing. According to tweet reach analytic sites, the hundreds of re-tweets and Facebook shares generated over 150,000 impressions (potential views).
#2 – The Guys Guide to Wine Part 2 of 4 – Got Grapes?, 2407 views: This series, and my Rock n Roll Wine List posts are two of my favorites and also two that started getting noticed. The longevity of this post (posted Dec 28, 2009) is what excites me. It still gets several page views per day.
#1 – 7 Creative Uses to Recycle Wine Bottles, 3004 views: This post became the definition of viral for me. I posted and tweeted and then stepped away to get some day job work done. I checked back into the Machine a few hours later only to see that the post had been re-tweeted nearly 50 times in a two hour period. As the day progressed, the numbers kept climbing and climbing. By the end of the day over 200 people had shared the post. The follow up post, Getting Crafty with Cork, sits just outside the top 5.
My Favorite Posts:
Apart from the previously mentioned Guys Guide and Rock n Roll Wine List posts, my favorite posts in the last year include some controversy and one from a guest writer.
The Tipping Point of A Maturing Wine Blog – The catalyst for this post was quotes from two respected wine writers who essentially say, “Wine blogs won’t make money.” The comments are more interesting than the post (as is the case with some of the controversial posts).
Kiona Wine Collaboration with The Wine Whore – Regardless of your stance on the oft maligned Wine Whore, Randy Watson is a genuinely nice guy. I enjoyed this post because we tried something different. Randy and I were each sent the same bottles of Kiona wine. The creative video shows a wine review separated by 3,000 miles and ends with a killer jam session (Randy on the drums and me on the guitar).
Seduce Your Palate – Why Food and Wine are Better Than Sex – One look at the opening image and you’ll see why this post is popular. Tamara Belgard, from the wine blog Sip With Me (now on hiatus because her blog led to a marketing job for an Oregon winery) was always one of my favorite writers to read. She never pulled any punches with her playful posts and whimsical style.
The Sport of Speed Wine Blogging – Inspired by the events at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference, this post introduces a new sport to the ESPN family of channels. Wine bloggers go glass to glass through seven rounds of grueling tasting. The results are pretty frickin’ funny (and shocking).
Is Facebook Tweeting Hurting Your Business – I’ve done quite a few social media posts over the year and this one was birthed out of the annoyance of people who automatically sync their Facebook status update to twitter. In the post I explain why this type of practice could hurt business and be counter-productive to your efforts.
As this post crosses the 1500 word threshold, I’ll end with the highlights. While I’ve enjoyed the media attention (both in print and on TV), I’m particularly proud of four things:
- Being nominated for “Best New Wine Blog” – while I didn’t win (that honor goes to the fine folks at www.swirlsmellslurp.com, it was exciting to be considered.
- Being featured in the Hello Vino wine app. To be included with the talented group of writers that are featured on the app is very humbling and inspires me to step up my game with every wine review.
- Rankings. Like I said before, I’m a numbers guy and I am excited about the high rankings on sites like Wikio.com and Postrank.com. While they don’t mean a ton in the grand scheme of things, they serve as validation points that someone is reading and watching.
- The launch of Spokane Wine Magazine and the anticipated opening of Nectar Tasting Room are the greatest tangible results from starting this blog. A year ago, neither would have been possible. Today, they are reality – all because of the relationships I’ve developed over the last year.
That brings me to the reason I sit on my ass every night, often times until well past midnight, tweeting, writing, editing video, and Facebooking…YOU! I have grown to love the interaction we have. YOU are what inspires me to keep doing this. So, here is a hopefully not too cheesy, “Thank you!”
Here is to another adventurous year. Enjoy life with friends, Drink Happy.