Why Are You Following Our Blog was the title of an article I posted here over 2 years ago in which I traced how I had changed our blog focus over the years from being about our education aid work in Nepal, to sharing our globetrotting travel adventures, and then onto wine tasting, collecting and visiting wine regions. Probably like many other bloggers I compared the number of followers with the number of readers of a post, the number of likes and the number of comments about a post, and found the usual tapering off to get only 1% of followers who commented. At that time I had about 300 followers, today I have closer to 1100 as I focus mostly on wine, but the usual tapering still exists, maybe even worse!
When I wrote that article I said that it made me reflect on why I blogged about anything, because realising that you are posting into an echo chamber is not a pleasant thought. But it also made me think about WHY I was blogging at all! It struck me that I enjoyed writing and that in a way it was a shared personal diary instead of being a daily journal that nobody ever saw. Since then I have spent a lot of time tracing back several generations of my ancestors, visiting where they lived, researching the social history of the times they lived in, taken a genealogy course, had a dna test to trace ancestors, and blogged about all of it. It’s my record! This prompted me to follow this with a series of posts entitled Ego Integrity in which I looked back across my whole life of 72 years using Erik Erikson’s 8 stages of psychological development. This helped me as a template to understand how I had “grown” as a human being. This was earlier this year, 2020, and it then acted as a trigger to write a book about a 10 year episode of my life in which I worked hand in glove with my wife, Dr C, attempting to transform the primary education system in Nepal. It wasn’t a long book, only about 70 pages and published on Amazon as a kindle edition, An Englishman In Nepal
Writing that book was a heck of a learning experience, I have always been a bit of a “learning machine”, full of curiosity, always trying new things. Our staff in Nepal would run for cover whenever they heard me say “I have an idea ….”! Anyway I even blogged about what I learned from writing that book so I won’t repeat it here, take a look at The Learning of a Novice Author . But as we all know, one thing leads to another quite often and the experience I gained from writing that first book made me consider writing another about ………….. wine, although it’s called ………. It’s Not About The Wine! My first step was to trawl through all of my wine blog posts, rather a lot, from which I realised that I rarely wrote tasting notes but instead wrote on many things connected WITH wine such as history, places, people, science, philosophy and occasionally with art. Hence the book title. But I also was reminded of something else, that my best follower, commenter and often a collaborator in sharing posts, writing for each other, and even helping to buy specific wines was Danell Nelson who blogs at Vinthropology.
Danell is an American, a qualified sommelier living in Italy, also trained in Art and Dance and who studied for her degree in London. Her blog posts are very different from my own, partly because she is professionally trained in wine tasting so detects and discriminates far more aromas and tastes than myself, but also because of her aesthetic related education and experience. I find her artistic drawings/watercolour paintings extremely interesting as a mode of describing a wine instead of or along with a verbal description. It interests me as a wino naturally, but also as a psychologist. Is a visual sensory stimulus better than something verbal to describe a different sensory experience? So can a picture convey a sense of taste? Is it a personal preference issue such as personality? Does it have any connection with Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) a theory stating that we each have a preferred mode of communication and understanding via Visual, Auditory or Emotional stimuli. I re-read a number of posts made by Danell and myself over the last couple of years and realised just how much we had commented on each other’s posts with a steady stream of banter, agreement, disagreement, sharing ideas, encouragement and advice, but never “argument”. This led me to contact Danell about my new book and ask for her advice and help. She agreed, and we’ve had a heck of a time in recent weeks collaborating on a chapter, designing artwork for chapter headings, designing a book cover and then wrestling with the vagaries of Amazon publishing. The book was published yesterday on November 30th and we probably BOTH breathed a huge sigh of relief …… before we start collaborating in building Danell’s wine club business!
Now, this brings me back to the beginning, why do any of us blog in the first place, what do we hope to gain and how can we achieve it? My recent experience with Danell has given me some answers to this which I will share in a few days …… I need to get my thoughts in order. While you’re eagerly awaiting these answers have a look at Danell’s posts about her own experience of our collaboration starting here with Designing a Book Cover: Act 1. In summary my post is all about building a blog community which, I must admit, I haven’t been very good at. I have asked myself some questions that you might like to ask yourselves too:
- Why do I write a blog?
- Why do people follow my blog?
- Why do some people “engage” and others don’t?
- What caused the “engagement” between Vinthropology and myself?
- What sustains it?
To help my thinking about blogger collaboration I would be very interested to hear your own thoughts, do you have regular commenters and collaborators on your blog, what led to the collaboration, how do you sustain it, why does it work?