If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that we recently celebrated our first birthday. This venture has actually lasted more than a year. I’m kind of amazed myself.
Although it isn’t beer-related, here’s a quick rundown of the things I’ve learned about blogging and maintaining a website in the last year.
1. Blogging is hard. I’m a big fan of Vital Vegas. I’ve been a regular reader of them for a while and I am amazed that blogger Scott can generate so much content on a regular basis. For a while, he was posting new entries at a clip of nearly three new items a week. While that pace has slowed a bit in the last year, there is still something new on Vital Vegas at least once a week. I struggle to post something new once a month.
I’m not at a loss for story ideas. I have a growing list of things I’d like to write about (Indian School Road beer crawl, ranking AZ IPAs, and the growing list of brewery profiles to name a few). The difficulty is finding the time.
I’ve discovered that posting is not simply a matter of log-in, compose, click and BAM! Post! With photo uploads, site maintenance, and having to adapt to WordPress changes in blogging software nearly every time I turn around, it takes me upwards of two-to-three hours to post even the simplest story. And with my crazy life, I’m often too exhausted to sit and slog through it all.
Don’t get me wrong, I love doing it and it serves to help me collect my thoughts about beer and beer study (see more on this below). It’s…just…slow.
2. Spam sucks. Even though we occupy a highly unpublished corner of the interwebs, spammers wasted no time finding us. About three weeks after opening shop, we got our first comment. My heart raced as expectantly scanned the site only to find out someone wanted to sell me Nike shoes. And search optimizing. And perfume. And sex toys. During one stretch of posting dormancy (where I went nearly a month without logging in), I received 45 spam posts.
Of course, none of those make it to the actual site. I seek and destroy before they’d ever see the light of day.
The real problem is that spam casts doubt upon any comments that may be legitimate. Sneaky spam can seem real, like when I received a comment that said, “Hey I like your site and posts for information. I will check back often for more research on my topic.” I held that in comment purgatory while I considered its nature. Then, about a week later, I received a second one with the same message, awkward grammar and all. So, if you have ever made a comment that hasn’t made it to the site, I apologize. Blame the Russians. For real.
3. I’m still committed to the written word. I realize that internet trendiness dictates that bloggers must be multi-modal—that is—bloggers can’t be content with just blogging. They must have a podcast and a YouTube channel. Even the hyper-print journalism focused GetReligion has started a podcast. I’m just not that way. Other blog sites, like TapThatAZ do just fine providing multi-media content. I’m content to keep writing.
Shortly after I started AzBeerTraveler, Anthony Bourdain died. I was never a huge fan of Bourdain. I bought a copy of Kitchen Confidential maybe 8 years ago in a used book shop and it took me 6 years to read the first three chapters. Still, I liked his show. His death made me reflect upon my efforts here. I always appreciated Bourdain’s ability to turn a phrase and his skill with words continues to inspire me today. Bourdain’s legacy may be that he was able to demonstrate, through words (have you ever really listened to his monologues at the start and end of his TV show?) that food is about more than just food. My hope is that this site might demonstrate that beer is about more than just beer.
Since I clearly have a face for radio (and I guess the written page) I will continue to pound the keyboard, hoping the words mean something. Even Vital Vegas, mentioned above, has made a tangible contribution to Las Vegas tourism with nearly zero video content. Just words and a lot of photos of booze. [And the occasional unnecessary podcast (that's an inside joke, BTW)].
Writing helps me sort my experiences. I believe the author Flannery O’Connor once said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it.”
I feel the same.