I have never been married to the term “Wine Blogger” as I think the term Blogger was much more relevant and necessary a decade or so ago. I have had many experiences in wine both professionally an non-professionally and have applied the many wine terms I have experience with as appropriate per situation.
The Wine Bloggers Conference may change it’s name next year and that will be determined I am guessing by the survey issued by Zephyr Adventures. I do know a few people who are married to the term wine blogger and would be disappointed by any disuse of this term.
More to the point of this article is that attending the past Wine Bloggers Conference I was less than thrilled with both the expense (and yes it does cost more than the registration fee)–I keep saying I could have bought a Burberry jacket with all of my capital outlay for past conferences. But whether I go to a future wine bloggers conference I am impressed with the online wine writing community regardless. In the old days there were so many nay sayers of ‘wine bloggers’ and I hardly think those people have changed their minds.
The criticism of wine blogging has been that the community is self appointed and there are actually more criticisms than that. I’m not going to list the people who criticize–they don’t need more clicks. But the self appointing is not just mutually exclusive in the wine category. There are vloggers and bloggers in every category imaginable and most have selected themselves as opposed to being appointed or anointed.
The online wine writing (OWW) community has a large corps of people who are committed to excellence in writing about wine. I think there is a notion that OWWs are only in it for the wine samples, parties, dinners or even travel. And I would say most of the OWWs are not in this for a “free” bottle of wine. I do not believe there is a free lunch. I do believe, however many OWWs have a taller purpose to be the best writers they can be–to be insightful and to be truth tellers and to enjoy their craft. If there is a person who isn’t a good painter do we call all painters bad—no of course not. I believe the OWW has taken a bruising over the year and I hope to chip away at that a bit.
And back to the anchoring of this article. When I was in Lodi I did see many online wine writers that I know and so many that I have great respect for. I felt that in the past couple of years I have become closer to many other writers and I have felt a sense of cooperation and collaboration versus competition.
I think there is a great value that OWWs serve in the wine world and I think it is recognized some of the time and another part of the time we are taken for granted. I remember half a decade ago I gave a talk in Rioja and ‘talked about social media as something we have been waiting for’ insofar as it is free. Even in the room I posed this question–several hundred people in the room–there was a nominal hand raise for each social media I mentioned as well as how active they were in each respective media. The sum of this story is that few people were actively engaged–who doesn’t want a free media and on top of that a way to speak directly to a customer or potential customer?
I think the same holds true for OWWs who often work for free. And when I know of an online wine writer has a paid gig–good for them–they have often done quite a bit of free work to get that opportunity to be paid for their writing. This unfortunately doesn’t happen that often for the entire community. Maybe free anything is always under appreciated. I think some people think that producing articles for free is just paying dues.
I had someone recently who kept asking for things from me in both video and in my written pieces. I almost wanted to say and I should have said “you know everything I have done for your brand I have done for free.” I have been asked to give video files that I created for my YouTube channel to a very successful retailer….. to format that in a certain manner, etc. Basically this retailer has metrics that they won’t share with me…. and I need to do this because?!?
To an exporter, I was asked to send a video file to an unknown website so they can host from that site as YouTube was not viewable in their respective country. And this is just the beginning of asks and demands. I did have one producer send me a pocket sized journal–what a kind gesture and I really appreciated as it said to me this company appreciated my time. I am not asking for gifts of anything like this as it is just an example.
I can only devote so much time to one particular label or wine subject matter content. I think the OWW has not articulated how much is done for free and I hope this article gives that inform. I know many of my fellow wine writers give a lot of themselves and do so with a smile, with grace and with exacting professionalism. I think many people think I have a limousine lifestyle–and oh I wish that was true! There is a notion that I get paid to write my articles or I make a killing doing video. But sometimes it is important to make these comments to build that awareness.
I hope this is read by fellow writers, PR agencies, wine producers, marketing and on and off premise businesses. And I would point out that I have a great relationship not just with a PR agency, wine producer, marketing agency but also with people who work in the field, people who read my articles or view my videos.
I plan on more James the Wine Guy Interview Series (either video or written articles). I like how I get to know someone or know them better and there I hope to highlight many great people that have a touch on a bottle of wine. I think this is a good series to learn about writers, Sommeliers, wine producers, winemakers etc. and to highlight their talents. So stay tuned.
James the Wine Guy
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
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