While at Tales of the Cocktail I participated in the Cocktails and the Blogosphere session. Paul did a great job of rounding things up and doing all the prep work, while the rest of us just blathered on about our blogs. Being bloggers, we are naturally long-winded, and love when people listen to us. Really, blogging is a cry for attention, well that’s what my wife says anyway. I believe that information should be free and opinions matter, so I share what little I know and give you my opinion on all things drink related. But when four people share a stage and only have 75 minutes to divulge everything they know about cocktail blogs, we inevitably ran out of time. So here is a summary of some things we discussed and some things I would have liked to discuss. ;
Each member of the Blogosphere panel took some time to talk about their respective blog. For my part I basically stated that this blog originally went through a number of iterations before actually becoming a blog in October 2005. It was created as an independent thought project. It was a way of documenting my drink related adventures and a way to help me memorize products and recipes.
Eventually, for some unknown reason, people started reading the site and it grew, and grew and grew. Once the comments started rolling in, it became a communal thought project where your comments influenced what I thought about. The comments also direct what I write about.
The name of the site “The Art of Drink” was inspired by Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”. Many people say the name of this blog as “The Art of the Drink” which, to me, focuses too much on just drinks. When I think of Drinks, I think about the master distillers, the bartenders, cola manufacturers, baristas, brewers, oenophile’s, coffee roasters, authors, historians, and everybody else involved in the art of making drinks an enjoyable experience. The name was more “all encompassing” instead of being focussed on drinks alone. Much like the Art of War looks at the whole concept of war, not just the soldiers.
Posting frequency is one thing that everyone who reads a blog is interested in. Posting monthly doesn’t really make a blog interesting, weekly is better. But if you can do it, posting multiple times, or even daily, helps develop a dedicated viewership. But this becomes hard, especially since blogs are usually done “gratis”. They are free, but not worthless. The income generated off most cocktail blogs is pretty low, so there is no reward, other than community recognition, for writing them.
Writing opinion blogs is easy, you say white, I say black. For cocktail blogs it is a bit harder. Doing the research, creating new drinks, writing the copy and taking decent pictures takes a lot of time. You can do all that work, or you can play your X-Box 360, go for a walk, spend time with your children, watch TV, play sports, go for a drink with friends, etc. Eventually some blog posts seem more like work, and the fun can disappear if you start to take it seriously. Sure, there are some blogs that are basically “news aggregators” that post daily, but it doesn’t take a lot of creatively to cut and paste. Original content is much harder, almost like writing a book page by page, without the pay cheque.
When it comes to posting, this site is relatively prolific. I try to get at least three articles posted per week. This is the 266th post on the Art of Drink. I’ve had people ask how I can get so many posts out, considering I have a day job and a five month old baby. Well here’s the secret; Screw the fine detail writing work and take your photography quickly, write like you are having a one on one conversation with your reader.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you realize that I probably have the most grammatical mistakes of any cocktail blog. When I write, I write like it’s an inspired conversation. When you talk, you make lots of mistakes, but most people don’t notice. If I start acting like a newspaper editor I ruin the inspiration and my topic suffers. I get my post written, do a very quick review, run the spell checker (which can be problematic if I’m not paying attention) and post. Then I don’t look at the post until the next day. This allows me to post more frequently without getting bored.
If someone paid me for writing, I’d spend a lot more time making sure my writing was perfect because that would be a job. Paul, over at Cocktail Chronicles, has impeccable writing, but he’s actually an editor. His online posts reflect on the quality of his work. I’m a bartender / chemist and how I write doesn’t seem to affect my existence.
I like writing (blogging), actually I like doing research and writing about it. I’m not sure I want to write for a living, that might take the fun out of it. But, blogging is a good mid point. I’m my own editor and I’m the easiest boss around. The Cocktail Blogging community is growing nicely and I hope more people decide to do it regularly. I actually love reading other cocktail blogs.