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January 27, 2009

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rick

Mike,

Agreed on the domain name. I'm not sure about Blogger but I know wordpress.com and Typepad both allow you to map your domain to the blog for a small fee.

HOWEVER.... I'd probably still recommend hosting your domain on a regular hosting service. WhY? Well you want your email address to be @mywinery.com... and you might want to hook up commerce software to sell from the site or mailing list signups or... you get the picture.

If you're really strapped for cash and just want a site up then a hosted service that can map to your domain and that can provide email addresses would be fine... but if $100 per year is really a lot of money for a winery, you're going to have more serious business issues.

Mike Duffy

Why *do* wineries use Blogger? One theory is that they just want to try it, and Blogger is free (of course, so is Wordpress.com).

If any of my readers are wineries with a blogspot.com address, how did you choose it and what's keeping you there?

Avi

Ah, but what about blogs that have their own domains but use blogger? Actually, I'm working with a wine company and am trying to get them to switch off blogger, but it requires technical things that self proprietors don't want to do.

rick

Avi,

You mean they have a site hosted on mywinery.com and have a blog on mywinery.blogspot.com? There are 2 options... install something like Wordpress on their winery domain and import the Blogger content (I've not done this, it might be seamless or problematic) or to register something like mywineryblog.com and have the Blogspot blog resolve to that. Alternatively, you could redo the entire site to be managed under WP and integrate the blog then.

The problem is that if the blog is updated and ranks reasonably well for the winery's name and other terms... it's actually leeching traffic away from their main site. You really want to consolidate traffic and have people who are looking for your site find it, not find just your blog and hope the click over to the main site.

rick

BTW when you say "it requires technical things that self proprietors don't want to do." that's why there are people me - if there's a benefit to doing it it's worth paying someone to make it happen.

Whether the proprietor sees that value or not is a matter of education and their particular business

Fabius

Hi Mike,
We corresponded briefly last October, re my plans to publish a webpage and blog for my winery. (http://blog.winerywebsitereport.com/2008/10/starting-a-winery-web-site.html)
I've been working on it since then (both following your advice and that of your readers and also doing a lot of research) and was almost ready to publish when your post of today has made me slam on the brakes again!!!
I have to say that I agree entirely with you and Rich Brooks about the disadvantages of using Blogger for business purposes.
I guess it's back to the drawing board again!
Maybe I should just go ahead and 'invest' that €100/year in getting someone to make it happen for me. What do you think? It's taking me a long long time to do it myself, and even though I've learnt a lot over the last 4 months, I am really busy with other vineyard and winery activites.

Anyway, thanks again for making me stop and think!!!

rick

fabius,

It sounds like you're overthinking this. What you want is to have a site up and have the information live at your domain. You can do that in a variety of ways but do NOT make the mistake of 'must get content perfect!' The most important thing is to have a site, have it under a domain that is your winery name and to GET IT OUT THERE. You can always add more content later, but if you have the basic stuff there now and it looks decent and you own the domain for your winery, then put it up.

I'm not familiar with Blogger, but I know Typepad and Wordpress both offer ways to create a free blog then map your own domain to that blog so that people go to 'mywinery.com' (or whatever your domain really is) and see your site.

A final note - The $100 Mike mentions is, I believe, the hosting fee for hosting your own site. Designing a site from scratch (visual design and coding) will be much more. Helping you get your content up on Wordpress in a template with some branding customization will be somewhere in between, but probably a few hundred dollars depending on what you want. But If you're thinking you can toss content at someone and have them manage it over a year for $100, well, no. Unless the job is VERY minimal, that just doesn't work economically for anyone who builds sites.

Avi

rick - I mean they have a custom domain so it's still winecompanysite.com/blog or /blogger on their own domain. Blogger FTPs into the domain But it's accessed via Blogger and looks like a Blogger blog (whereas WordPress blogs don't have a singular look and is much smoother). Still not recommended (least of all b/c Blogger is technically backwards and buggy).

rick

Avi - My experience with Blogger is minimal, but I do believe you can choose from some templates. Not sure if that's an option you have to pay for etc.

The could do what I suggest above and import the content into WP or something that can either manage the whole site or be styled to match it, but I suspect that they don't see their site as a business critical thing else they'd not be satisfied with what they currently have. That education is the hardet part in many cases.

Fabius

Rick,
Yes, maybe I am over-thinking all this, but the fact is that all this is so NEW to me (and I've read so MUCH stuff lately) that I don't know what's important and what's unimportant. But you're right - I need to get something out there now, and improve it later.
What I'd like to do (I think!) is:
1) publish a webpage, which could be fairly simple this year. Basically 'brochure' type pages, ie articles about our wines, the vineyards, etc, with photos. And a way to capture emails, as we plan to edit a bulletin every few months. Don't need sales capability this year. I have enough content to start (even tho' it's not perfect, as you say!)
2) publish a blog too, in order to tell our story, generate interest, participation etc. But that can wait till the webpage is up.

So, as I understand it, the first thing I have to do is register a domain name for the webpage. OK, I've got one (and it's available) so I can do that (today!) at 'register.com' for example. Then I'm lost! Do I have to get it 'hosted'? who with? what do I have to consider (apart from the price)? what about software to write articles and formatting? should I just do it at 'register.com' itself and stop fretting about it?

rick

fabius....

hosting is just a term for renting space on a web server somewhere that holds (hosts) your web pages. It's separate from registering a domain and you can (and probably should) use different companies for each.

I prefer dotster.com to register but both are good and either will work just fine - there's no functional difference.

For software, I prefer Wordpress since it's got a pretty easy to use interface for editing your pages. It's known as blogging software but I've used it to build several sites that are just regular business sites and you'd never know they're built on Wordpress. Wordpress is free.

You might be able to signup for an account at Wordpress.com which is a hosted version of the software and get what you need. The one issue I'd have to check on is email - you really want to be able to have people email you at, e.g. fabuis@fabiuswinery.com since doing that reinforces that you're a real winery with a real business.

If you want to talk details, ask away here or if you want to talk privately you can email me at rickgregory at gmail dot com.

Bob Dwyer

For me, anyone thinking about blogging should focus their energies with the following priorities:

1) Quality of Content (Does the author have a unique perspective on the subject? Is the information useful?)

2) Aesthetics (Does the site look legitimate? Does it align with the subject matter? Is it pleasing to the eye?)

3) Platform (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, etc)

I'd hate to see a local wine shop, a winery, or even a fellow wine blogger delay getting their message online for fear of not getting it just right the first time. This new media stuff is an evolution, and the only way to figure it out is to get in there and start playing with it.

The things that Rich points out as negatives about Blogger are defaults that can be changed or overcome. While I agree that self-hosted WordPress is "the way to go" I wouldn't make the generalization that all Blogspot blogs are amateurish. If a winery was cranking out good content with decent aesthetics using Blogger (and this *is* possible) I think it could be a big positive for the business. If they find they like blogging and keep it up over the long haul, they can always migrate to self-hosted WordPress.

Just my two cents...

rick

Perhaps I wasn't clear. Blogspot's fine as a place to have a blog and yes, you can use templates etc to make it look nice.

The problem for any business online, though, is identity and traffic. If you have a winery web site at somewinery.com and a blog for that winery at somewinery.blogspot.com you're splitting your audience and you do NOT want that. You want everyone who's interested in your wine, who wants to know more, etc, to go to one place, your main domain. Since blogs tend to rank better for the same terms than a less frequently updated main site you'll actually be pushing your main site DOWN in the search rankings, thus giving up one of the key advantages in even having a blog.

Any winery or small business considering having a site on the web needs to understand what they want from it and walk through a checklist. Some of the items will not affect how you build or host your site. Others (selling off of the site, installing mailing list software, etc) will.

Yes, Blogspot is free... but if you can't afford a $100 for a year's worth of hosting and maybe another couple hundred to get someone to setup Wordpress or something on it... then you have larger business issues.

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