I am not a Beer Blogger, sure I have a blog – that much is clearly obvious. I do blog, therefore I am a blogger. However I believe there is a creature I’ll refer to as a capital-B-Blogger. I met many bloggers over the 12th and 13th of July – some whom, in my head, I’ve not honoured with a capital B, a handful of others I think may deserve a full on shout to the heavens of THOU ART BLOGGER! The lines are, as always, fuzzy – but here I loosely outline what I am on about.
I blog – I have blogged on and off since about 1999. Beer didn’t become a major theme of my haphazard writings until about 2009 and the advent of the BrewDog phenomenon and my acquisition of some of their shares. Prior to this cooking and coffee were as close as I had to a “theme” as well as being a general journal and travelogue. Your run-of-the-mill personal blog really. Beer started taking over and I created ale.gd in 2011 to re-home my torrent of alcoholic musings. It has, as ever, been an on-and-off affair – with twists and turns as inspirations come and go. I don’t pay attention to my hits or stats, and SEO is just a dirty TLA to me. I write for a very small audience of family and friends – since we’re all so far-distributed. (My family in West Australia, Kat’s in Sydney, and a small collection of friends the globe-over from the Aussie tech diaspora.)
Thanks to EBBC I have developed a picture of what a real Beer Blogger is. Firstly they’re bloggers who’d actually go to a European Beer Bloggers Conference - a conference for bloggers? Just odd. (I was not intending to fit it into my schedule, though I’ve been vaguely interested since hearing great beery things about the 1st one – then craziness happened.) Other features bubbled out fairly quickly. Bloggers care about their “reach” and pay close attention to their stats and work on their SEO. They leverage social media to drive traffic to their sites. They’re basically following two hobbies – beer writing and online marketing. Please note that I say this with no derogatory note at all! These folk are important beer champions – their marketing efforts are for a great cause: spreading the beery word.
Oddly enough there wasn’t actually a load of content geared to this side of the Blogger personality. One facts and figures round-up from the organisers, with some coverage of leveraging social media platforms. A talk from BrewDog Sarah focused on the use of social media to build audience – it can certainly be said that BrewDog have had a lot of success at getting attention through these mediums. Susanna Forbes’s gave an interesting talk about style and audience – useful to get tips from a real writing and editorial professional. I found them all this content thought provoking – but was glad it was a pretty light touch on these technicalities. To me it was just the right amount.
The rest of the conference content was really just good solid beer fun. Much of both days involved sampling beer – but at the same time the sessions were informative. On Friday Garrett Oliver’s keynote was engaging, the Pilsner Urquell dinner was theatrical (though I’m not really sure about the cask Pilsner Urquell), and the Stewart Brewery trip a perfect “piss up in a brewery”. On Saturday Sophie Atherton’s introduction to being a beer sommelier was perfect for my own area of interest – as it’d be something I’d consider trying to become (just for fun?) The round-the-world global-blogging panel was an interesting window into the Polish, US, and Irish beer scenes. The manic speed-dating/blogging/drinking thing was a bit much for me I must admit – I don’t do speed. Saturday’s dinner was particularly good… note to self: and if I have time I will try to dredge my memory and write up a few notes about the foodie elements of the weekend. (It is my modus (h)operandi after all.)
So – what about the BLOGGERS? They have business cards! They’re semi-professional writers really and some even derive some income from their writing. These folk are one small step away from being journalists – or beer marketing professionals of some sort. Some have a huge passion for beer, and others seem to have more of a passion for self-promotion at times (important if they hope to make some income from their passion for beer). I’m not sure that this great fun vibrant beer conference served these power-bloggers as well as it might have. Though I doubt they’d complain given the constant stream of beer and food.
Outside of the truly great schedule – stupendous value for the £95 ticket price – the highlight for me was putting faces (and whole bodies) to many faceless Twitter-handles I interact with regularly. Twitter is a big part of the coming-together of the UK beer scene, I may not be a Blogger but I vomit forth tweets incessantly. Not promoting, rarely trying to “drive traffic”, mainly just because it is a fun community – but also, as a beer fest organiser, a finger on the pulse of what’s up in the beer world so I can get some great beers.
It was an excellent weekend – intense – and I could go on forever about it. The beers! (Toccalmatto! Wow!) People! Beer Stars! EDINBURGH! I fell in love with the city when I first visited a few years ago and with the weekend’s weather and beers it is now etched into my mind as paradise. Edinburgh’s craft beer and pub scene! I put it to you that it is a better craft beer capital than London – by a clear margin. I’m sure I can fit in a few more exclamation marks here… How about: The Hanging Bat! Chris Mair is one of my personal UK beer heroes – not in a creepy, stalky way I swear.
#EBBC14? I’ll give it serious consideration – and whether you are a mere blogger like me, or a serious Beer Blogger, I’d highly recommend you give it a chance as well. Especially for the amazing range of beer available and the brilliant people you will meet. I really hope the return on investment for the sponsors is good enough to keep this ball rolling. (Some of them had a tougher time than others… *ahem* clear glass *ahem*.)
Don’t take my vague word for it though. This was a conference full of bloggers of all varieties and it has been blogged to death. Check out the #EBBC13 hashtag on Twitter for a lot more.
Meanwhile – maybe if I pull the old finger out and write more, start playing with social media as promotional “platforms”, ogling my stats, and whatnot… perhaps I can graduate to being a Beer Blogger. I suspect I’ll have trouble taking it all seriously enough though. :)
An interesting take on things. I was a first timer, just starting out and wannabe blogger. I must say I was surprised at how few of the audience reported that they wanted to make money out of their activities or looked at their stats much. The majority seemed to have a passion for beer, enjoy being an influencer and if some free beer came their way then that was great. Certainly I enjoyed their company and I agree, stupendous value. When I tell my friends that there was a lot of beer drunk they look at me strangely – well what did I expect? Well, not as much as that actually so tremendous thanks to the generosity of the sponsors. What do I want out of it? I’d like to grow a following outside ‘the beer bubble’ and if I can gain some credibility then sure I’d like to make some money in beer with my marketing expertise – I’ll need to with the time this hobby is taking.
Time is the big problem I find :)
As for the conference – as a total finger-in-the-air guess I think >50% of citizen-bloggers are simply enthusiasts who operate out of passion and as part of a community. A sizeable handful have stepped it up a notch on the way to Blogger and only a scattering were on the BLOGGER level (and mostly through blogging they have actually found themselves close industry involvement and some paid work – but hadn’t yet left “the day job”).
When we surveyed beer bloggers, 90% said they blog about beer because beer is their passion. That is the first and last thing to know about beer bloggers. But there is lots in between, too.
We actually decrease the amount of “hard” info at the European Beer Bloggers Conference compared to other blogger conferences we run. In fact, in 2011 most bloggers at EBBC had never heard of SEO (I asked via a show of hands). We find most European beer bloggers decidedly not concerned about making money or their stats.
The problem is, one of the major reasons a blogger considers him or herself successful is whether they have a strong following. Makes sense – if a blogger feels he is writing into the wind with little audience, he’ll soon stop. Successful bloggers, those who continue blogging, generally do have an audience. So we the conference organizers have pushed things like social media and SEO because we think it is good for bloggers – they are more likely to be content and continue blogging if they have an audience.
Just my perspective.
Thanks for the info! I think for most of the audience, myself included, the mix was just right. (My impression of the make-up: Mostly just everyday bloggers who love beer – as you indicate. I thought the serious SEO/etc-keen bloggers would be <50%, and the near-pro bloggers just a scant handful.)
I’m surprised to hear that few were aware of SEO in 2011, I had a gut feeling many bloggers were from the IT/tech scene – but may be totally wrong there. (The demographic slides at in Cindy’s talk didn’t go to that level of detail IIRC.)
I wonder: Is there more “hard info” at the US BBC? Is the US beer-blogging crowd a bit more professional-blogger focused?
TBH – EBBC has got me thinking about SEO/stats myself, an easy thing to fall into as I’m a bit of a data-nerd ;)
Nice round-up, Yvan, and I like the more personal take you took on it. Thanks for the shout-out, too. Was a great weekend and I’m still finding my self sifting through my memories of it and pulling out more gems. See you soon, man.
It would have been interesting to see the blogger stats broken down by Europe and North America, my gut feel is that motivation to blog might be very different. Regarding the responses to the survey I believe that you have to respond that it is your passion if you wish to be taken seriously. Funny old word passion, imho, it can be demonstrated only – just saying you have passion means nothing. Certainly several of my new friends had some type of IT background and/or technology savvy which made the setting up of the blog relatively painless.
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