Yes, it’s that time of the month again, that time when people get grouchy and irritable and are prone to sudden mood swings, when something inconsequential gets blown up into an object of genuine anger… no I’m not talking about pre-menstrual tension, I’m talking about the Wikio blog rankings!
Nice to see a few movers and shakers in there. Glyn at the Rake has been devoting a lot of time to his blog when, as a newlywed, you’d think he had better things to do. And Adrian Tierney Jones’ lyrical West Country musings deservedly enter the top five for the first time. Also, it’s worth noting that there are now only two wine bogs in this top twenty of ‘beer and/or wine’ blogs.
Last time I posted the results – at the beginning of May – I suggested that beer blogging had become boring, introspective. Too many tasting notes, and too many in-jokes for other bloggers. It’s a difficult path to resist, because other bloggers tend to comment more often than readers who don’t blog, but I think we ignore a general readership at our peril.
A couple of people have asked “Well, how did we do?”
I thought about this for a while and the question made me a bit uncomfortable. To answer it in a way that discusses individual blogs would be to make myself some kind of self-appointed judge of what’s good and bad in the blogging world, and I don’t think I should do that. We’re all entitled to a personal opinion and I’ll offer some general thoughts that are just that – purely my opinion, to be agreed or disagreed with.
If you do want me to judge your work, there is an opportunity to do that: custom dictates that the winner of the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer Writer of the Year chairs the judging panel for the following year, and this year that responsibility falls to me. There is a category for Best Communication Online, celebrating the best beer writing, and/or the best use of V-Blogs, social networking sites, etc. In its first year Zak Avery won the award and went on to win the overall Beer Writer of the Year title on the back of his excellent blog, and I was runner up. Last year Mark Dredge won, with Dave Bailey coming second. It’s definitely worth entering. But I think you should enter your work and ask for it to be judged before I start making any comments on what’s good and what’s bad.
So with regard to my challenge to the blogging world two months ago, just a couple of general thoughts. Lots of bloggers didn’t seem entirely happy with me for laying down the challenge in the first place. Sorry about that – no one had any right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your blog.
What I did remain firm on though was that if the reason you’re blogging is to attract as many readers as you can, with a view to improving as a writer and perhaps making the transition into paid-for writing, then you have an obligation to constantly try to improve – we all do, no matter what level we’re at. And I took my own challenge, realising that I too had been starting to toss off quick posts that were really for the entertainment of the people listed above. I’ve gone back to writing more thoughtfully, never assuming that people are ‘in’ with the world I’m writing about. I hope I’ve succeeded in making it more interesting for the kind of people who never leave comments.
For the rest of you, I think many people did rise to the challenge. You may not have liked it, it may have been “Yeah? I’ll show you writing, who do you think you are?” rather than “Hmm, good point, Pete”, but many people did something different. It caused a lot of introspective articles about why people blog, why they write about beer, and most of those were great to read – not too navel-gazing at all, but thoughtful and articulate and above all, passionate.
Beyond that, I felt the range of writing increased, people did try to do different stuff, take a few risks, and think about what they were writing.
All I’m saying is I’ve enjoyed reading beer blogs much more.
But a few people said “Why are we now writing about blogging when we should be writing about beer?” and I think that’s an excellent point, and a good argument for finishing this post right now.