The first Friday of every month in the beer blogging world is “Beer Blogging Friday”—aka The Session, a collaborative blogging event where participants write blog posts (loosely) themed around a given topic, selected by a host for the month. This month’s host is Angelo De Ieso of the excellent Brewpublic blog (one of my favorites), and he’s come up with a good topic: What Drives Beer Bloggers?
But why do people decide to start a blog (Okay, so not all “blogs” are personal. Many breweries have recognized the value of social media in modern society)? One thing seems true of most blogs: they are easy to start. All you need is a a computer and a rudimentary understanding of the Internet to initiate your meanderings. The difficulty resides in keeping up with content and reaching an audience. What draws folks to your site? And, what makes you think people want to read what you write?
Your mission as a craft beverage blogger reading this post, should you choose to accept it, is to compose a post on the topic of “What Drives Beer Bloggers.” There are no rigid guidelines about how to write about this topic but we’d certainly love to hear about the history behind your blog, your purpose in creating it, its evolution, and/or what your goals in keeping it going.
This is a topic that resonates with me as I’ve been thinking really hard lately about what this blog is, and what I hope to accomplish with it, and how I can turn this “beer blogging thing” into something lucrative enough to do full time. But before you think it’s all about the money, some context:
I’ve been writing this blog since 2004 (making it, as Jeff Alworth has pointed out, the longest-running American beer blog) and for that entire time it for all intents and purposes might as well have been a hobby blog (for as little as it earns). I never started out thinking, I can make money on this. Yes, I’ve been running Google Ads for a long time, but at best it really has only ever paid for hosting fees for the website (i.e., minimal). And yes, I get freebies because of the blog: beer samples, media passes for the (occasional) festivals I attend, occasional perks like a free night’s stay in Silverton for the Oregon Garden Brewfest later this month. The ad revenue and freebies are enough to allow me to write off my beer expenses on my tax returns—and trust me, I spend more than I make, so it’s still a bit of a loss.
Now, though, I would absolutely love to be able to do this, for lack of a better term (because it’s still “blogging” after all), professionally. Maybe not via the blog directly, but using it as a launchpad for writing or something else in the beer world—or maybe something online entirely new (what with social media, and mobile apps, and ebooks—who knows?). So I’m trying to figure that part out.
But here’s the thing: even having said that, I will still blog about beer, because I love doing it. And because of the community I’ve become a part of: a network of other bloggers and beer writers and brewers that having this blog has opened up to me. And because I love beer, and I’m a blogger, so why not blog about beer?
To answer Angelo’s questions I quoted above, frankly the most-searched post to this site comes from searching “best cheap beer”—so clearly the big draw (as with anything online, I suspect) is writing from a practical perspective, the kinds of things most people are interested in. No, that’s not the only search bringing people here, but it’s a consistent one. And for what makes me think people want to read what I write—well, except for a few examples (like Apocalypse Beer) where I actually do think people want to read what I write about, for the most part I just don’t worry about that. I don’t. I personally enjoy writing about it, and that’s what counts for me.
(Though—because it’s the internet, there’s always an audience, no matter how small, who will be interested in what we write, no matter how obscure. The old long tail, you know.)
So I’m a bit of a purist, when it comes to my own blog, but I’m not opposed to making money off of it either—the catch, of course, is figuring out a way to make money off of it, keep doing what I love, and staying true with it. So that’s what drives me.
But I’ll still blog about beer even if none of that pans out. I don’t think I can’t not at this point.