When it comes to blogging, anything goes. Whether it’s something you are interested in at any given moment or something you’ve had a passion for your whole life. The great thing about blogging is that it’s your own little spot on the internet and you can turn it into whatever you like.
That’s exactly what Anne Louise Bannon and her husband did with their blog. At first, they had a blog in one niche area, then decided to close it up and move on to something more interesting — wine! Learn more about how this couple continues to blog about one of their favorite passions, in this latest edition of Meet the Bloggers.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
I’ve been blogging actively since 2007, when I started a blog on television for families (now, sadly, defunct). My husband and I started OddBallGrape.com shortly after that when we were getting bored with what we saw in the wine literature and felt we could do something more readable and different.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
The focus has evolved. We always wanted to feature the kinds of wines that other folks were overlooking, such as Negrette and Blau Frankish. But eventually, we hit on the idea of letting the wine producers tells us about the different wines and the producers we wanted most to feature are the one who does not get a lot of mention in the traditional wine media, namely, women and people of color.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
We’re not actively monetizing the site. We’ve toyed with doing so but really don’t have the time. We’re open to advertising and hope to eventually build a business teaching wine classes. It’s just that with promoting my fiction projects and my husband’s work demands, OddBallGrape will have to remain a passion project for the time being.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
I wish I’d known just how very much work it is. The writing is usually the easiest. It’s all the social media and promotion (which I’m still not very good at). And then the scheduling and setting up interviews and tracking down art.
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
- Buffer – and the WordPress plugin that works with it. Makes life so much easier.
- Yoast SEO plugin is pretty helpful, but it can be a real pain to write to the machine.
- WordPress – I use it on my self-hosted sites, and it can be as complicated or as easy as you want to make it.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Know your audience – OddBallGrape.com is very female-oriented and aimed at folks just starting to get into wine rather than the established wine-drinker.
Also, get as much content in your publishing queue as you can and keep feeding it. There will be days when you don’t want to write or can’t write because of illness or whatever. You’ll still have regular posts going up.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
Keep the blog fed – more posts mean more chances for someone to find you. Also, make friends and network. Having a network of fellow women wine bloggers has really helped keep me motivated and even brought some traffic to the site.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d get a really good host and my own domain name. Yes, you can get a WordPress .com or other site for free, but you have so much more flexibility and control when you have a host and your own domain name. I invested from the first in a self-hosted site and after watching more than one of my friends go nuts moving from a free site to a self-hosted one, I am so glad I did. Period.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
- Facebook – Fb.com/oddballgrape
- Twitter – @oddballgrape
- All our other social media (Pinterest, LinkedIn) are under my name Anne Louise Bannon.
- You can also find our site at OddBallGrape.com, or check out my resume site, AnneLouiseBannon.com.
Thanks again to Anne Louise Bannon for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.