Jack Keller [jackkeller]
What is your blog address? What subjects do you deal with?
Jack Keller's WinBlog is at http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/wineblognew.asp. While my major focus is on home winemaking, I often throw in other sujects that interest me. If someone is not interested in a topic I assume they will skip it. These other topics have not affected my readership numbers, which continue to increase.
What was it that made you create your blog? On what date did you start it?
Back in 2002 Brian Smyth of Homebrew Adventures in Charlotte, NC asked if I would write a wine blog for their website. My plate was terribly full at the time and I said maybe later. On April 7, 2003 we posted my first entry of Jack Keller's WineBlog. When Homebrew Adventures was sold, I transferred the WineBlog to my own domain and there it remains.
What blogging system have you adopted and why?
There weren't any blogging systems that I was aware of when I began.. I simply wrote my blog in HTM and posted it. I had no way of incorporating viewer comments and when blog authoring tools and sites arrived I was comfortable with my system and did not change. I still hand-code all of my entries. I enjoy the total control this affords me.
How many visits a day do you get? What type of comments do you receive?
I don't post daily -- more like every 5-7 days but sometimes longer due to life happening. On days I post and the day after, I get around 5-7K visits. As days pass without a new entry, that drops to around 3K per day.
My website, the Winemaking Home Page (http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/) gets between 140K-300K a day. Obviously, I get more hits in the late summer and fall, when people are actively making wine.
Comments come by email and phone calls from friends. Very, very few are negative. Most just want to thank me for my site, need guidance, seek clarification, need to solve a problem with their wine, or want a recipe for a type of wine. A few even offer corrections. I'm not perfect and sometimes make mistakes.
How has 'having a blog' contributed to your life?
Well, it makes demands on my time that are somewhat intrusive at times, but I enjoy it terribly and simply allow things to sort themselves out. I had the first wine blog on the internet (I was informed of this by a very respected and much more successful wine blogger) and that actually generates some notoriety and respect, but I am much better known for my Winemaking Home Page than my WineBlog. The website is the largest in the world on home winemaking.
Have you created relationships with other bloggers or readers of your blog?
Absolutely. There are a few wine bloggers I consider friends, but I don't attend the wine bloggers conventions so it is not as great a number as it would be if I cultivated it. But many, many readers have communicated with me for so long that I consider them friends as well. Several have visited me from many states and from as far away as England, Israel, Germany, Australia and India.
How often do you post? Does regular posting of your blog require a lot of effort on your part?
As I said, I like to post every 5-7 days -- more frequently when I have time. But life happens and sometimes that slips. I don't post when I travel, at least not yet. It really doesn't require a lot of effort but sometimes researching a topic to expand it beyond what I've posted on my website can be time consuming.
Does blogging bring in income for you? Can one make a living from posting?
I run Google ads on my site that generate some income, but it isn't all that much. It could be more but I don't work at it like Google would like me to. And I have a donation button on my blog, through PayPal, that helps pay my expenses associated with maintaining my sites.
I suppose if I wanted to approach this as a business I could double my income from Google, but that would take the fun out of it for me. Many wine bloggers who do little more than review commercial wines receive quite a lot of wine shipped to them for review. I rarely mention commercial wines and have only received four bottles, I think, and I mentioned three of them. I have hundreds of bottles of my own wine to drink, so I don't need more.
How do you promote your blog?
I really don't. My primary website enjoys the top unpaid-for position on almost every search engine there is, so it and my blog are spidered almost daily and that keeps it up there when people search. But word-of-mouth is my greatest promoter.
How would you define your readers? Have you got a faithful audience?
My readers are overwhelmingly home winemakers. I believe I have a very faithful audience. My site has occasionally gone down for reasons beyond my control and was hacked once, and each time I have received a flood of email informing me of it.
Are there any blogs you follow daily or regularly?
None daily, but about a dozen I read as time permits and others less frequently. Time is my most precious commodity and controls much of what I do.
Have you ever received gifts for blogging about your opinion of products or services? What do you think of bloggers who do that?
As I said earlier, I've received four bottles of commercial wines, a few wine kits and samples of new yeasts and additives over the years. But far more home winemakers have sent me samples of their wines and I enjoy those more than anything. Many of the homemade wines I've received are much better than many commercial wines and I don't hesitate to say so. Since I am a certified home wine judge, I like to send evaluations of the wines to the winemakers who send them to me. They aren't ALL great, but when not I try to suggest problems and solutions that might help them improve.
I once met a blogger who only reviews commercial wines. He said he never has to buy wine anymore. Personally, I was sad for him because he doesn't select what he drinks. But different strokes for different folks. I try not to judge people.
How do you see your blog evolving in the future?
I suppose it will evolve with technology. I really don't keep up with changes in HTML, XML, ASP and CSS the way I should. Some day I'm going to have to have a come-to-Jesus moment with this and update all my code. Since that will be a monumental task, I'll avoid it as long as possible. But I know it's coming. I don't see my format or content evolving very much, but who knows?
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to begin a blog?
Just do it, using whatever tools you're comfortable with. Stick to what you know and don't assume you know it all.
Above all else try to maintain your integrity and remember that respect begins with the self. No one respects narcissism, BS-artists, purveyors of hate, or plagarists. I have seen them all.
Respect copyrights. If you don't you can be sued.
And have enough guts to post under your own name. I don't read blogs posted by phoney screen names or pseudonyms.
Pleasanton, Texas, USA