Last month I was selected by Tripbase as one of the top ten bloggers in their World Wine category. Please bear with me as I do a little chest-thumping, because my real intent is to share with you how you can make your blog impactful.
The nominees are chosen by our team of travel experts that go out to scour the internet for the best blogs they can find. That select group is then short-listed via a rigorous selection process, taking in factors like how informative the blog is, the overall writing style, the actual blog appearance and how well that blog performs in its given category when compared and contrasted to other, similar blogs.
The award is a mark of prestige which is only afforded to the blogs that score highly when our judges review them for selection. The award is a sign that a blog succeeds greatly at what it does and surpasses all expectations, thereby indicating it as a veritable bastion of quality and information.
So imagine my astonishment at being included with blogs like Vino Verve, McDuff's Food and Wine Trail, and Jamie Goode's blog. "Is this for real?" I thought.
Because here's the surprising part--Central Coast Wine Blogs only writes for the industry (with a few side trips) and is mostly focused on one wine region--Paso Robles. I don't review wines or travel destinations. So how could I possibly have been included in this echelon of fine wine writing?
It was several days later that the answer occurred to me.
Although this is a 2011 award, it must be the result of two pieces I wrote which have gone viral since 2009. The first is How to Tell a Cork Dork from a Wine Geek--a humorous piece I actually wrote in 1992 as a newspaper column. It has since been published on my blog and enjoyed constant retweeting and backlinking.
The second piece is a five-part journalism series on shipping scams that target the wine industry--Inside a Wine Scam. This piece still draws comments, calls, and emails from around the U.S. as people searching for information on these so-called shipping companies discover the series and are warned away from the scam. I even received calls from a jewelry designer, a chef with a line of packaged spices, and a boutique cosmetics manufacturer among many others. At my last count, the series, which resulted in the identification and apprehension of two individuals, has saved individuals and small family businesses from fraud and theft totaling over $70,000.
This is why it is so important to think beyond marketing. Think about service. What can you write about that provides value to your readership? How can you help your readers, your industry, or your community? Do you have humorous insights to share? Funny pictures and videos? Light-hearted, uplifting material is always popular.
In journalism, a piece that can be read at any time, that is always fresh, funny or insightful is called an "evergreen" piece. If you can produce one or two impactful, evergreen pieces a year, your blog will gain traction and readership.
If you don't feel you have the writing chops to do it yourself, there are still ways to sponsor great writing and material on your blog:
- Invite guest authors
- Sponsor an essay contest
- Mine your staff for hidden talent
- Hire an intern on a pay-per-piece basis
- Sponsor a video contest on Poptent.net
Whatever route you choose, do not dismiss the power of a good blog. Every reader eventually becomes a fan, and most fans will eventually become customers and ambassadors for your brand.
And it all comes full circle, back to being transparent about who you are. In the highly saturated, competitive world of wine marketing, people want to know the families and the people behind the brand. They want to know that they're buying good wine from good people. Like you.