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What Bloggists Do When They Are Alone

By Charles Olken

There is a very funny video on Huffington Post entitled “What Girls Do When They Are Alone”. If you believe the HuffPost, girls spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about themselves—boobs, hair and acceptance speeches supposedly lead the list.

I was almost immediately grabbed by the silly question: What do bloggists think about when they are alone? Acceptance speeches? Sure. But the rest of it? Not so sure.

After considerable thought—say fifteen minutes—I have come up with a plausible list, and if you are a blogger, I challenge you to tell me that I am wrong.

1. Read Your Google Statistics
Which of us is not interested in knowing if there is anybody out there? If you are not Steve Heimoff or Tom Wark, the chances are that you get very few comments on your blog. And because this blog is tethered to Connoisseurs’ Guide, not only do I look every week or so at eyeball counts, but more importantly to me, I look at “click throughs”. Where else have folks gone? Have they read other blog topics? Did anyone click on the background info about the Guide? Chances are that most bloggists want to know a little about their reception and about their audiences. Is there anybody out there?

2. What Are Other Bloggists Writing About?
It is pretty clear that blogging is, in large part, derivative. We all like to comment on the issues of the day, and occasionally we get one so right that we get lots of comments and get mentioned, or at least referenced topically by other writers.

3. Why Can’t I Make Any Money?
I don’t know who invented the word monetize. I don’t remember my professors in grad school referring to being able to charge for one’s services as “monetizing”. I think we used to call it “salary”, as in what were you offered to go to work for Proctor & Gamble or IBM or Merrill Lynch. Blogging, however, is not a salaried profession. Occasionally someone manages to make few shekels directly, but mostly, those who are making anything at all have made the jump from bloggist for nothing to paid journalist.

4. Should I Continue This Blog? To What End?
Some of the very best writers have left blogging behind as a waste of their time. I miss the thoughtful contributions of Jeff Lefevre and the dry wit of Tom Johnson. I have seen brilliant writers like Ron Washam and Samantha Dugan cut back and cut back until they are more like spare-timers than dedicated bloggists. And now, Tom Wark, the grandfather of the wine blog, has said he might well be moving on. It is not that Wark or Washam or Dugan or Lefevre or Johnson have nothing left to say. It is that saying it over and over again can be a bit of drag to the writer. And that is especially true when the audience is small and wages are smaller.

5. How Soon Before We Get Another Robert Parker Scandal?
Let’s face it. Mr. Parker is big news when he is the news. That is why more bloggist words have been expended on Mr. Parker than on any other topic. Because almost all blogging is derivative at some point, having Mr. Parker to kick around is not only desirable but it has returns in terms of readership bumps and commentaries left on the site. Absent Parker, what else can we write about time and time again? It used to be that the Wine Spectator was everyone’s favorite whipping boy. No longer. Not sure why since that publication has not substantially changed. Maybe the Spectator is just plain boring compared to Mr. Parker.

6. Is Anybody Out There?
Yes, I know. I already said that. Anybody?

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Is anybody out there?
by gabe
Posted on:12/2/2014 5:09:16 PM

I've been really digging your blog lately, Charlie.  And I miss Jeff Lefevre also

Nobody Here But Us Poodles
by Ron Washam, HMW
Posted on:12/2/2014 6:35:19 PM


For HoseMaster of Wine™, I decided that once a week was more than enough. I have plenty left to say, but am, honestly, much less interested in what I have to say. I miss Samantha's work because her Voice is unique. As is her perspective.

Your points here seem dead-on to me. Blogs are not just derivative, they're downright dull for the most part. Honestly, I keep looking for a new talent (once in a while), but, so far, I still rely on the old talents--you and Alfonso and Samantha and Chris Kassel and the legendary STEVE!. Every time I read a new blog, I shudder.

However, "brilliant" doesn't describe my work. "Slapdash" might be more accurate. Nevertheless, thanks for the kind words, Charlie.

And, Gabe, come on, man, YOU need to start a blog.

There Is Somebody Out There
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:12/2/2014 7:04:11 PM

Gabe and Ron--

Thanks for dropping by. I had a fun time thinking about how to include some of the regulars like Marsha and The Sommeliere and Sam into the discussion and even Nat McLean without making a lewd reference to their boobs. The Huff Post basically said that women alone spend an inordinate amount of time looking at the shape and perkiness of their boobs. 

The best I could come up with for bloggers was looking at our Google Analytics. "My analytics are bigger than yours" doesn't quite have the same ring, but at least it is in the narcissitic tradition. 

Somebody Out There
by Ron Washam, HMW
Posted on:12/2/2014 7:23:29 PM


Considering my blog, checking how many people are reading is checking my boobs.

I have no idea what the stats are for other bloggers. None. Nor would I trust them to tell the truth about them. All I know is that, in my case, I can hardly go anywhere in the wine world without someone accosting me about being the HoseMaster. Those are my analytics. And they're not particularly pleasant.

And maybe I'll write a derivative piece about your derivative piece. Originality, in the blog world, is highly overrated.

checking my boobs
by gabe
Posted on:12/3/2014 3:40:44 PM

I guess it is pretty obvious that for winemakers, checking your scores is the analogy for looking at your boobs.

As for writing a blog, I did write a couple blog posts when I worked at Illahe.  I wrote them, nobody read them, and I moved on with my life.  I might try again once I get settled at a new winery, but I've got more than enough new projects to keep me busy for now.

Ron, do you know why Samantha has been blogging less lately?

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