24 Nov 2010
A few weeks ago, this little bloggie turned one. In a medium where “old school” is five years, turning one sorta makes you a teenager. Armed with my new “know it all,” brooding, moody attitude, I’m putting on my skinny jeans and flannel, shuffling the iPod on EMO and getting ready for year two. The last year has been an incredible adventure of success, stumbles, and relationships. I don’t claim to know it all or be an expert on blogging, in fact I’ve made a whole mess of mistakes in year one. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others (and a fool is destined to repeat them), so here are 10 blogging mistakes I made in the first year. I hope you avoid these.
10. Don’t post your new post after 6PM – As a general rule you’re better off waiting until the next morning. I’ve been guilty of this a few times and without fail, the post in question gets very little traction in viewership and response. Twitter and Facebook (great traffic drivers) get very conversational after 6PM and promotional pushes seem to fall on deaf ears. One time, in order to keep my 7 month streak alive, I did post at 11:58PM on a Friday night. That post saw as much traffic as the path between Pelosi and Obama’s house since the 2010 elections. In a similar vein, don’t come out of the gate with your best stuff on Saturday afternoon on a sunny summer day. Just because you’re sitting at your PC still in your tightie whities doesn’t mean many other readers are.
9. Don’t spell people’s name wrong when you highlight them in a post – Blogs often quote others as reference points, additional information, or for cross promoting. Linkbacks are great for SEO optimization. When writing a post on social media, I reached out to Rick Bakas, (then the Director of Social Media Marketing for St. Supery winery) for a quote on the subject. Armed with several great quotes, I drafted my post and then sent it out for the whole world to see (by whole world, I mean the 327 people who followed my stuff at the time). The problem was I spelled Rick’s name Backas. Rick was gracious and kindly pointed out my flaw. The real embarrassment was when I did it AGAIN in another social media post, this time calling him the Directory of Social Media Marketing. What a tool I am.
8. Don’t forget proper SEO tagging – Many months went by before I realized that I was missing out on better search engine optimization. It may take a few extra minutes but I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in traffic and ranking by focusing on three simple things.
- Make sure that the title contains the key words of the topic
- Make sure the images are tagged appropriately (spkwine1.jpg is not as good as Barrister Winery Spokane 1.jpg)
- Use the SEO portion of your blog platform. WordPress has a great built in tool that lets you optimize your page and your post with key words and a brief synopsis.
7. Don’t pick fights with people – I only partially did this once (okay maybe it was three times, but who is counting) but have seen it done on many occasions. The times when I didn’t hold my tongue have always come back to bite me on the ass and have hindered my brand and my reputation. Online communities are like small towns and it seems that at some point everyone will know your business. If you have a beef with someone, take it to them directly. If you feel like calling someone out on your blog, you may generate a lot of comments and traffic, but be ready to retract any emotional statements. In one of my more popular posts (and a fun one to write), I talked about this very subject – In My Opinion, Your Opinion Sucks
6. Don’t be a recluse – One of the most fun parts about blogging is being a part of the community. When I first started, I commented on hundreds of blogs. It was a great way to get to know the writing styles of the blogging leaders, lean more about wine, and also introduce myself to a bunch of really cool people. Writing top notch stuff is great and all, and it might get read at some point, but developing relationships, sharing other people’s content, recognizing other’s hard work, and adding to the conversation will build your community quickly.
5. Don’t be everywhere – Focus. I don’t do LinkedIn, Google Wave, Friendster, My Space or many other social networks out there. When I first started in this wine community I joined a few Ning sites that seemed to have quite a few members. Keeping current on all the sites proved to be a challenge. Many of these sites still exist but don’t seem to have much influence on traffic and the community seems less engaged. I learned early on that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and local networking site, LaunchPadINW were the places to be. Find your niche and excel there.
4. Don’t be hit and miss with your content– If you want to be successful in blogging, you’ve got to have daily content (or near daily). Google likes fresh content and people on social platforms are slutty tramps with ADD (I mean that in the nicest way, so let me explain). There is always a shiny new widget on Twitter and Facebook. Your fans, followers and likers, will quickly find something else to fulfill their reading desires. Staying current on content keeps them coming back and faithful. While I let my streak lapse without any fanfare a few weeks back, I’m convinced that my commitment to content is one of the main reasons for the continued increase in traffic and recognition. If you can’t do daily content, make a goal of 3 times per week or every Tuesday, and stick with it. The same can be said with updating Facebook and Twitter. Develop a strategy and stick with it. Your consistency will pay off.
3. Don’t be elusive – This one is important for folks that are blogging and getting into social media with an agenda. I’ve always been honest about my intentions. When I began, I always informed the wineries, wine bars, and coffee shops I reviewed that I wanted to eventually open a wine and coffee bar. When that goal morphed into a tasting room, I made sure I shared that. While not everyone has embraced those goals, and some still look at me with a skeptical eye, they can’t accuse me of being sneaky or underhanded (well, they can – but would be wrong).
2. Don’t be a conformist – Find your voice and stick with it. I’m not always the greatest writer but I know my strengths and I avoid my weaknesses. You won’t find me producing some technical wizardry like you find on Palate Press from time to time. I am not as quick witted as 1WineDude or connected to the industry as Steve Heimoff. I’ll never give in depth winery analysis like Washington Wine Report. I’ll be me. There are times I’ve posted some serious expose and had to deal with the consequence of people not liking it. I used Twitter to get the media interested in my plight against city hall. Some say, I should have played nice. When I wrote about one wineries unsuccessful attempt to open in the area, I wrote about the irony of the opposition. I was vilified. When I wrote something very sexy about Champagne recently, one person told me I needed to be more careful now that I was a business owner. For me, I think it’s important to stay true to who you are. Keep being you and the people who like you will keep liking you.
1. Don’t have an unorganized brand approach – This is a lesson that I’m continuing to learn and struggle with. When I came out of the gate I wanted to be Nectar Coffee and Wine. I bought that URL and I also bought Drink Nectar. Drink Nectar was unavailable on Twitter, so I did @nectarwine. Over the course of the year, I’ve become the “Drink Nectar guy” locally. My Facebook page is Facebook.com/DrinkNectar. My YouTube channel is Youtube.com/DrinkNectar. Almost daily on twitter, I’m mistakenly referenced as @drinknectar (that account is a dead account with zero tweets). When I went to open a business, I didn’t want it to be called DrinkNectar. This was a huge FAIL on my part that is becoming difficult to correct. I recently decided to RE-BRAND to accommodate the opening of Nectar Tasting Room. Hopefully, after a year of successful re-branding, I’ll have solidified myself as Nectar Wine Blog, Nectar Tasting Room, Nectar Media, and Spokane Wine Magazine. So, in order to avoid the same confusion that I have, I strongly encourage you to think through the aspects of your approach before you get started.
There you have it, 10 blogging mistakes that I’ve made this year. I hope they help you avoid making the same mistakes in your blogging adventure. Now I think I’m going to post this, even though it’s getting close to 6pm.
11 Nov 2010
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.
Dennis Isip (pronounced e-sip) calls himself the Web Profit Engineer. I first met Dennis at a LaunchPadINW event here in Spokane, WA. According to Dennis’ web site, “(He) loves helping entrepreneurs overcome their challenges because he knows what it is like to struggle.” Dennis helps businesses with their internet marketing, strategy, awareness and education. Recently Dennis asked if he could interview me, saying something about a “brilliant business model.” Well, Dennis, if you say so, I think there is a fair amount of dumb luck in there.
I’ve pasted a little synopsis of the interview here to whet your appetite. I hope you’ll head over to Dennis’ site and read the summary and if you have time, listen to the interview. I tell the whole story of how I hatched this Nectar thing and where it is headed.
An Interview With Dennis Isip, the Web Profit Engineer
AT&T, Twitter and Domino’s all have something in common with Josh Wade.
But before we get in to that, let’s talk about their differences first.
- AT&T has horrible customer service (you can check Consumer Reports, but I also have my own ‘inside sources’).
- Twitter still doesn’t really have a solid business plan; i.e. it doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up.
- Domino’s Pizza was started with just $500 (business success does not necessarily require a lot of start-up capital).
- Josh Wade – well, who is he? Just a few months ago, he didn’t really have any business at all.
Now let’s look at what’s behind that one common thing that their respective competitors are jealous about…
Visit Dennis’ site for the full article
28 Oct 2010
Do you have a smart phone? Neilson studies show that 21% of Americans currently use the iPhone, Droid, Palm, and Blackberry devices, and by December 2011, that number will jump to 50%. In just a few short months 1 out of every 2 cell phone users will be Facebooking, Tweeting, Four Squaring, mobile information junkies.
The change in the way people consume information and interact with each other is happening at an alarming rate. The implications and opportunities for businesses are staggering, and while I’d love to tackle those, this is a wine blog, what does all this mobility mean for the general wine consumer? The accessibility to information means that consumers are less likely to be ignorant or uninformed. The information they need is at their fingertips. From how to fillet a fish, intubate a patient, drive from Needles, CA to Winslow AZ, or pick the right wine with your seared sea bass, the information is available…now, wherever you are.
There are lots of mobile wine applications. A quick search on my Blackberry App World shows only a dozen or so, but search results on Apples app store return over well over 20. Since I don’t own an iPhone, this isn’t a review of these apps, it’s a recommendation of one specific app. For month’s Hello Vino has been the go to wine app for iPhone users. With over 500,000 wine recommendations every month, Hello Vino is among the top wine apps around. Recently, they introduced the launch of their app on the powerful Android system.
“Android is the fasted growing mobile platform,” says Hello Vino’s Rick Breslin. “We’re excited to assist millions of Android users with their wine selection during the holiday season.”
Hello Vino can suggest a certain varietal for your dinner, specific wine for your tastes, or even a dinner to go with the wine you have selected. The easy to use interface makes locating the perfect wine fun and simple. One of the coolest features of Hello Vino is the integration of wine reviews from uber cool writers like Elizabeth Schneider, (Wine For Normal People), Joe Roberts (1WineDude), Wark Kadel (drXeNo), Thea Dwelle (Luscious Lushes), Steve Paulo (Notes From the Cellar), and yours truly, Josh Wade (Nectar Wine Blog). For everyone who has wanted to, now you can take me with you wherever you go! All kidding aside, the app is well done and makes locating what you need fun. Aside from me being a featured reviewer on it, the best part of Hello Vino is that it’s FREE.
The Broke Wino calls Hello Vino, “One of the most powerful apps for making wine suggestions.”
Recently the Hello Vino app was featured as a “staff favorite” on the iTunes store. That is quite an endorsement!
If you’re a mobile user and have an iPhone or Droid phone, go to your app store and download Hello Vino. The next time you’re out to dinner and you’re confused about what to order with your Greek Spanakopita, you’ll only be a few taps away from knowing.
21 Oct 2010
I’ve come to realize that we don’t celebrate life enough. Why do we wait for the “special occasions” to break out a bottle of bubbly? Isn’t every day a miracle and an excuse to celebrate? I have a co-worker who has been out on long term disability for nearly a year. At the age of 32 she had a massive brain aneurism that altered her life forever. Her husband and two small children have rallied around their wife and mom but life isn’t the same. She was getting ready to come back to the team this month but I recently learned that she “took a turn for the worse” and will probably never come back. While I was at music practice at church, one of the singers shared that her mother-in-law’s house burned to the ground last week. They lost everything and are now scrambling to put the pieces of their lives back together.
A day that we are alive, healthy and with those we love is a day to celebrate. Everyone needs a little more sparkle in their life. To this, I say, let’s get it poppin’ – the corks that is! My Twitter friend (I hope I can call him friend) Dale Cruse is on a mission to drink bubbly every day for a year. More than 3 months into his quest, he is still going strong. I encourage you to take a break from your routine and join the world wide celebration on Friday, October 28. Together, we’ll pop the cork on thousands of bottles of Champagne to celebrate…LIFE!
My good bud, Chris O (trust me, just O because you can’t pronounce his last name), is hosting the event and participation is as simple as 1, 2, 3.
- Register at http://champagne-day.eventbrite.com – This keeps you in the loop of all the latest happenings and event update.
- Call all your friends and invite them over (make sure you have enough Champagne) – If you want to get all formal about it, you can organize your own meet up here >> http://www.meetup.com/Champagne-Day-Meetup/
- Pop your cork on some “real” Champagne (I’ll explain later) and talk about it with millions of people (well at least 1 or 2) on Twitter or Facebook. To keep up on the Twitter machines use the hashtag #champagne. To go “old school” on Facebook you can use the Taste and Tweet page.
See how easy that is! Why wouldn’t you want to pop your cork?
Friday October 28, 2011 ALL DAY!
This is a Champagne day celebration. While many people make sparkling wine, only the French can make Champagne…to be precise only wine that comes out of Champagne, France can be called Champagne. While it might sound like French snobbery to some, they developed the process, so I think they deserve to lay claim to the name. Check out the history of Champagne and how they make it from our super cool all knowing friends at Wikipedia!
What Are You Celebrating?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, every day is worth celebrating. What do you have to celebrate? Let’s try something cool, I would love to hear what deserves some sparkle in your life. Did you get a new job? Are your children succeeding in school? Did your teenage son actually smile? Let’s celebrate together. Leave a comment so we can all be inspired.
See you on October 28 for a massive cork pop! For inspiration, check out this video!