I had a great time being a panelist on the Wine Blogging panel at Inertia's Annual Direct Symposium at Copia this afternoon. The panel was chaired by Tom Wark, and I was joined by Dr. Debs and Julie Ann Kodmur.
For those of you who attended (and those who didn't) here are the points I covered.
- Don't roll your own blogging software. Choose one of the big three hosted blog providers: Typepad (the software I use here), Wordpress (used by Inertia for their blog), or Blogger (used by many, including Dr. Debs). Wordpress and Blogger are free, TypePad costs $15 bucks a month, which I feed perfectly reasonable price for the features and convenience.
- Don't use a separate domain for your blog. If your domain is AcmeWinery.com, your blog's address should be either http://blog.AcmeWinery.com/ or http://www.AcmeWinery.com/blog/. this helps accumulate search engine mojo for your entire domain (i.e. all your pages).
- Do read other wine and winery blogs (and comment on their posts). To do this effectively, you'll need to know how to use a "feed reader" (which allows you to subscribe to blogs and receive notification when they are updated, as opposed to visiting each blog every day to see if anything new has been posted).
I use Bloglines.com as my feed reader, since I don't need to install anything to use it. Internet Explorer and Firefox both have built-in feed readers. You can also use Google Reader, or add feeds to your My Yahoo! or iGoogle pages.
I maintain a comprehensive list of winery blogs, which I affectionately refer to as The List. Please let me know about your winery blog so I can add it to The List.
- Do link from your blog to your Web site, and your Web site to your blog. I recommend adding "Blog" to your Web site's main navigation menu.
- Do sign up for Feedburner to track your blog activity. Feedburner allows you to track how many people subscribe to your blog. The orange RSS icon with "Subscribe to my feed" at the top of the left column on this blog lets you subscribe to my blog's feed via Feedburner.
- Do back up your blog content regularly. It's just good practice.
- Do give "link love" to other sites (I forgot to mention this during the panel). You don't have to overdo it (for example, this post is pretty full of links, which can be distracting), but it never hurts to link to other interesting content. Do preview your post to make sure the links work.
And don't forget to set up Google Alerts for your winery, your name, etc.
Here's a link to the Small Business Blog Marketing: Pajama Market which El Jefe mentioned during Q&A, and their week-long series on winery blogs. I also humbly recommend So You Wanna Start A Winery Blog by yours truly.
This straightforward video, Blogs in Plain English, may help you explain blogs to others. You may also find RSS in Plain English of interest. RSS, which underpins the "publish and subscribe" model of blogs and blog readers, can be used for other things, like feeds for press releases and new wine releases.
Thanks to all who attended for your great questions, to El Jefe for his "from the trenches" insights, and to Tom and Inertia for inviting me to participate. I had a great time.
Please feel free to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions. I'm happy to help (new) winery bloggers figure out the technology side of things.