How to engage with fellow bloggers Part 2

My previous post about blog follower engagement focused on asking myself the same question several times over “why do I write a blog in the first place”, and I found an answer, of sorts! I also described a very special follower, Danell Nelson at Vinthropology who has recently helped me in writing and publishing my first wine book. This reflection has helped me to understand more about people engaging or not engaging with me on my blog, so time now to share my thoughts about the reasons and these Top 5 tips from many pro blogs.

The Top 5 engagement “tips”?

  1. Content interest.
    This is obvious but needs stating, so if you write about wine, and wine connected to travel, history, philosophy and art, then you might expect that people with an interest in wine would follow and engage with your blog. Not true! In the past 7 days I have visited 117 wine blogs, commented on a couple of their posts in a reasonably meaningful way and …….. only 2 bloggers even responded to my comment! I followed 29 of them and NOT one has reciprocated. So, Content Interest isn’t the sole reason for following and engaging.
  2. Writing style.
    This is a big one on all of those professional blogs that advise you how to get followers. Write in a personal manner is what they all say, tell a story, make it personal but add interest and be informative. I go along with this totally, I try very hard to do it myself, I NEVER merely write so called tasting notes on a wine like many other bloggers. I avoid wine blogs that perpetually write “here’s the bottle we opened last night and this is what it tasted like and you should buy it now”! All of the best wine blogs tell you about not only the wine, but about the winemakers, the vineyard, the terroir etc. So in a way this is mixing content with style. It’s not just about the wine!
  3. Invite engagement.
    “If you don’t ask you don’t get” my mother used to say, even though that wasn’t always true. But I take her point. This is also a standard rule on the pro blogger advice list and includes asking your readers questions in your post, actively seeking feedback on your post or a related topic, or even setting a challenge in some way. I do this regularly but haven’t tried setting one of those challenge things, but I’m scheduling a slightly different photography challenge for January, so …….. do look out for it.
  4. Post regularly.
    Fairly obvious again, and I’ve tried the full variation here, but what is regular? Once a week, same day weekly, every day? I’ve tried them all and …….. no difference whatsoever.
  5. Use reblogs and guest posts.
    Agree with this entirely, I always reblog a post I find interesting and which fits into the focus of my own blog or posts. I occasionally ask a blogger to write a guest post too, but in both cases I often find that there is little or no response or continuity from the other blogger.

You can lead a horse to water but …

So, the list above seems to be the Top 5 recommended modes of attracting followers, developing engagement and building a community for your blog. But there’s something missing, another ingredient, something that is surely vital in the mix for real engagement? You’ve followed all of the Top 5 tips, you’re passionate about your topic, you’re curious about your topic, you want to learn more about your topic, you believe in depth over superficiality, you enjoy a challenge, exploration, discussion, debate, breadth is everything rather than narrow constraint, the big picture is important but so is detail. Are you getting this? It takes two to tango, and if the horse isn’t thirsty it just won’t drink!
If the majority of wine bloggers post a photo of a wine label and write some notes on the fruit, tannin, acidity of the wine they had last night with their pasta, week after week, then that is not a blog I would comment on, follow or engage with. But, naturally the reverse is true, they are unlikely to engage with me either. It’s not about the wine, it’s about whether there are ANY shared values between us. What could they be …….. list in a moment!

But first, here’s a few examples of some comments made by my best follower and collaborator on my latest book, Danell at Vinthropology:

  1. Vinthropology commenting on a “Wine with Philosophy” post
    I don’t know how far Epicureanism aligns with Buddhism, but I would say that Buddhism and existentialism are, for some aspects, worlds apart. While a feeling of zen is, I think, a feeling of oneness with the universe (a loss of self), the existential crisis is incredibly individualistic. I also think a distinction needs to be made between objects and actions in regards to “existence before essence”. In terms of an object, it first exists in-itself: wine is a liquid, it is dark or light in colour, it contains chemicals that release odours perceptible to human beings, etc. It’s essence is successively contemplated by our consciousness, the for-itself, which makes perceptual distinctions, for example this wine smells like ripe fruit and not old socks, I enjoy drinking wine. An action on the other hand is much more ambiguous… the atheistic existentialist believes that since their is no god, he/she has no purpose given to them by a higher being. One exists first, one’s essence is then defined by one’s choices/actions/reactions. The responsibility of freedom is to act, in good faith, in accordance with a self-defined purpose. Drinking wine may help one be mindful, for example.
  2. Vinthropology commenting on a Wine Tasting Process post
    You gave an interesting example with psychology, and I imagine you would run into a lot of grey areas dealing with the mind, the subconscious, attitudes and behaviours. As to a better alternative for wine descriptions that the general public can understand, I really don’t know. The fact is that a relatively common structure for evaluating a wine does exist in the tasting sheets of different organisations. How those notes are interpreted into a written descriptions rather than list of terms is necessarily a question of personal style. I think even sticking to sweetness/acidity/tannin/fruitiness/complexity etc. does not avoid subjectivity as, while people are probably more familiar with taste than with smell, there are still varying levels of perceptiveness from one person to the other.

And some other examples from a post about the Wine Tasting Process

  1. Noelle at Outwines
    Incredibly interesting and thought provoking post! I’d rather know about the wine’s structure – body, acidity, tannins, etc. – than read a “fruit salad bingo” list (a term of yours I love!) That being said, I don’t see traditional tasting notes going away anytime soon. But it would be nice if they were more relatable to the average consumer. (And Tim Hanni’s book is on my “to read” list . . . ) Sure, a tannin and/or acidity scale would give some valuable information to consumers – assuming they understood what these terms mean. If I had a nickel for everyone who when they said “dry” wine meant “tannic” . . . But even with these scales, I think descriptors like “floral & bright red fruit” or “tart cranberries and earthy” would describe the wine more accurately as these would help one differentiate between a Gamay and a Pinot Noir – both of which would rank very similarly on an acidity/tannin scale.
  2. Kate at KateLaak
    We took a tasting class in Rome two years ago. The Sommelier who ran it was a wonderfully knowledgeable about Italian wines and very generous with the bottles he kept pulling from the cellar so that we could taste the differences in vintages and how the aging process contributed to the flavor of the wine. I took copious notes…the funniest of which are in regards to a particularly unique bottle he shared around the table and then had a competition among the guests as to who could write the most ridiculous “tasting notes.” The winner was something along the lines of “Notes of my grandfather’s tobacco saturated breath after he has taken cough syrup. Floral hints of my grandmother’s perfume linger in the finish like they might linger on his collar.”
Shared Values

Shared Values?

So, back to why I believe people engage with you and your blog, it’s a case of birds of a feather flock together, shared values! I really believe that my most loyal, regular, and in-tune followers would say that they had all of these personal characteristics generally and about wine specifically:

Depth over superficiality
Challenge oriented
Outward looking
Experimenter
Passionate
Curiosity
Explorer
Learner

I believe that I can follow those top 5 blog tips above when I write a blog post, but unless it’s read by fellow bloggers with similar values and characteristics to those listed ……. it will get me nowhere. I can write comments on other wine bloggers posts, and likewise if they don’t share the same values……. silence, or at best …….. “Thanks for your comment”. That leaves the final question ….. “How do I find those bloggers with similar values?”



Categories: Wine

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20 replies

  1. Your “Content” discussion was a shot in the arm for me! So few “comments” or “likes” even though I am slowly reaching more readers. It’s nice to know it’s not necessarily poor content. Many thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A great article, thanks for these tips. As someone fairly new to the wine and drink blogging game, I find your advice very useful and will be thinking about it when I write my next post. I had previously used blogging as more of a diary rather than focusing on connecting with others that share my same interests. I enjoy writing with personality and passion for my chosen topic, although I had never thought about shared values in too much depth, this is a very interesting point. Check out my blog if you have chance.
    https://headinaglass.com/

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Anna, glad you found it helpful. It links to what I recently commented on your own blog, I have 1000+ followers but less than 5 who I would call my community who “engage”. I hope you’ll join in, we argue and disagree on many things, but we never fall out!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your thoughtfulness here, and I appreciate your questions in part one of this post. As a new blogger it is helpful to have a basis to consider what I want from my reader (first and foremost, I guess I want to have a reader), but also what my reader needs from me. And it’s good to know that there is no right or wrong way to do any of it, but instead build people around me who have shared values rather than simply a shared interest. Unfortunately I think the only way to find the intersection of shared values and interests is through following and commenting and seeing where that takes you, which it seems is mostly to the vast empty space of the internet.

    In my academic pursuits I have studied literacy and representation, in that I looked at a literary theory called “Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors” (Sims Bishop, 1990). This theory stems from work in children’s literature and talks about the need to see yourself, or be represented, in what you are reading. As I was reading this post I saw a lot of connections between your thoughts and this theory. It read to me like you found a window in other blogs about wine, where you knew about the topic, but you were looking in on the post rather than feeling included. You’re not likely to engage here because you don’t have a lot of footing to engage from. I do not blog about wine (right now, maybe one month it could be something I try), but I appreciate your writing style, thoughtfulness, and learning, so although for me “it’s not about the wine” I can find a mirror here. Where I can see myself reflected in your community and writing, with enough inclusion that I do not need to enter into all of the aspects of it in order to engage and have a point of entry. Then I read your connection with Vinethropology to be a sliding glass door, where you can walk right into each others writing and welcome one another into the writing space. But of course, sliding glass doors are a much sought after rarity. While this doesn’t answer any of further questions you pose,I found it really interesting how your thoughts and insights lined up so beautifully with the theoretical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Elise and thank you for your “engaging” reply. A perfect demonstration of a sliding glass door from yourself. I’ve had a quick peek at the theory online and will read more for further insights. As a psychologist this is of general interest to me anyway and, although it seems to have initially been related to children and diversity, it has relevance. I think that many blogs I come across are much too niche oriented for my taste, or too narrow in their writing of a particular post. What a wine tasted like has no exclusive interest to me. Your list of challenges however is very broad in its appeal, some of them interest me a lot, others not so much. I commented on your Investments post because it interested me and stirred some memories. A window was opened! One way we might engage more is if say, learning about wine and learning about and having fun with photography were on your list. I don’t write exclusively about wine and from the new year I’m kicking off a weekly photography challenge. I’m no expert, I use my iPhone mostly wherever I go so thought I’d share a bit and challenge myself!
      I’ll let you know if I make any major discoveries about the Windows etc theory from more reading 👍

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that you’re exploring this topic – and I wish I had some answers for you!! I think for my blog, content interest has been key for gaining followers, but not necessarily for gaining engagement. Lots of people read my wine study tips and outlines, but only a handful actually comment. Something I’m pondering as I consider revamping my blog/website . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very well put and informative. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as I’ve just returned to blogging after taking a break and I’m reflecting on my strengths and weaknesses and the best way to go forward. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with quality over quantity in terms of followers, and it’s the conclusion I’ve come to with both my blog and Instagram profile. Instagram is the prefect example actually- you post a picture, all someone has to do is double tap to like it, some people will comment and some people will follow- but it’s really not set up for in-depth reflection and the engagement is often times quite superficial at best, so if that’s you’re only source of feedback, it’s easy to feel dimly disappointed. You would think with a blog there would be opportunity for more reflection and deeper engagement, but sometimes I wonder if the majority of people just want something immediate and quick to digest like instagram, we all have such busy lives! That being said, some people do still read, and write, and engage with others in a meaningful way, so I’m curious to read about finding bloggers with similar values!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, I had thought about that for a long time. However I’m nowhere near a comprehensive answer to where to find similar people. All I can think of at present is to read someone else’s blog or post, “take” what you can from it, then try to judge if they’re worth the effort. In my case it doesn’t have to be about wine. Someone new to blogging followed me this morning and I was quite captivated by their first post. I wrote a long comment on it, and also on another of their post about learning about stocks and shares investments. Not a technical post! I wait to see what happens. The other blogger I followed, recommended by you, and commented on recently hasn’t followed me back so I’ll give up on her in a few days.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry forgot to say the blog I followed is https://yearofnewstarts.wordpress.com/2020/12/03/year-of-new-starts/ but my comments haven’t been moderated yet

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think your “immediate and quick to digest” comment is spot on. My IG posts are a few paragraphs long and usually there’s great (read: authentic) engagement on them – even though my follower count is relatively low. Truth be told, I’d much rather have this than a bunch of meaningless “likes” and “great wine!” comments.

      For blogging – I’m still trying to figure out what speaks to people. And focus on what *I* enjoy writing. Wine students seem to like the study tips and advice, and I while I like writing those, they’re admittedly for quite a niche audience.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If you’re looking at my blog you will see two things. First, I’ve just published a book called It’s Not About The Wine. Second yesterday’s post about engaging with other bloggers. There’s a connection. My book, and a lot of my posts now are about Wine with History, Wine with Philosophy, Wine with Art, Wine with Travel. It’s these connections that interest me and it’s what gets better engagement. I’m sick of reading other people’s tasting notes, looking at photos of bottles and labels. There’s a lot more to wine than drinking it. Danell at Vinthropology agrees and we have a lot of fun communicating. She’s an American, a trained sommelier living in Italy. I’m sure we would BOTH engage and support you new blog 👍

        Like

      • Good for you, writing Instagram posts and blog posts! I guess if you write about things that are practical and useful to someone personally, they’re more likely to engage. I read some blogging advice that said you should figure out your “voice”, be that teacher, philosopher, one who inspires, a mentor- but when I sit down to write, I don’t think of that, I just think about what I want to say. It’s a difficult balance, just like a niche- it can’t be too broad or too specific. But yes, at the end of the day, I agree that a few followers authentically engaging with you is better than thousands who don’t.

        Like

  6. Thanks for sharing such informative article,

    Liked by 1 person

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