Social status: should it be a concern

Going from being an employee to self-employed and from corporate to creative, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my social status. It’s not a case of what I’m driving, labels or where I’m being seen. I am talking about my online image.In this freelance world where you feel like you hustle for the next job there’s an added appreciation of your social (media) status. I’ve become more concerned with how many followers on Twitter I’ve got, my Klout score and other social ratings. When you spend much of your day online it increasingly becomes one of your benchmarks.I noticed the other day that my blog had bounced to number 5 in the ebuzzing wine and beer chart. I should be pleased right? Well, I was surprised and pleased to an extent but then it made me think, really what had I done that differently. My ebuzzing (formerly Wikio) rating is like an erratic EKG. It bounces from highs to lows in single months leaving me baffled as to really what effects it and ultimately should I be that bothered by a fleeting online ego massage? As I may be number 5 now but next month, I’ll probably be mid table or below. What difference does it make that an algorithm ascertains that you have a higher degree of influence or status online than someone else? Does it make your online relationships and interactions anymore interesting, witty or valid? No. I don’t think it does. Does it influence someones decision to commission you? I couldn’t say. I’m told it can but to date I’ve seen no evidence of this. What’s your view on the world of online status?

Social status: should it be a concern

Blogging: how to make your millions

If you’re looking for tips on how to make your blogging millions then you are in the wrong place. If you are looking for a few tips on blogging and making the transition to writing beyond your blog, then put the kettle on and pull up a chair. There was a time not so long ago that I would wonder how people did things. How they saw blogging, writing, pitching and the like. How they motivated themselves to put out their thoughts and opinions week in, week out. The majority of the blogging books, articles and online advice didn’t hit home with me. It was a little contrived and not I felt, completely honest. So I started to ask. Simple really. I’d email, tweet and ask in person, to gleen information from people I respected and whose work I enjoyed. I’m now in a place where I get these same questions from friends and strangers alike, so thought I may as well post some of those nuggets that have helped me here.

Good blogging is not about how much free stuff you can get. I’ll put this one out first of all. I’ve heard too many stories from bloggers, brewers, bar owners, PR’s and the like. Ultimately you will have no credibility and in some cases be a laughing stock. You may be happy to be known as someone who would go to the opening of a paper bag. In effect you are a blagger not a blogger.

Accepting freebies is a finely drawn line. It’s normal and right to accept samples, but when the samples or hospitality is grossly over the top then it’s the slippery slope to being a PR puppet.

Find your style, develop it and be proud. Don’t be afraid to speak as yourself.

Lean writing wins every time. A flabby, flowery piece may display your fulgurant vobaculary (well done) but measured, lean language is ultimately more impressive. Left to run wild, I’ll wax lyrical for 1000 words when it should be 500. I first thought I had to write in a literary style, over time I found my style and you will too.

Ask. My above point, but worth repeating. Approach writers or others you admire for advice. Everyone likes a little flattery and love to impart their wisdom. Good people like to do good things.

Be brazen and take a chance. Think about where your ceiling is in terms of who you think would publish you and break the ceiling. We often underestimate ourselves.

Pitches should be short, snappy and to the point. Some books and online articles will tell you that a pitch needs to be detailed and a page of A4. It is i’ve found: bullshit. Most editors don’t have the time or the inclination to be reading it. they want it spelt out in a couple of lines. If you can’t distill your idea then rethink it.

If they’ve not said no, you may still get a yes. If an editor says i’m not sure it’s quite right, refine it. If they say i’m not sure we’ve got space right now, tell them you’ll get back in contact in a month or two. If you don’t hear back from them, respectfully chase the buggers… It’s a simple piece of advice that I’d credit to Zak Avery at last years European Beer Bloggers Conference. It’s served me very well.

People will say no, people will ignore you, some will be brutally honest… suck it up and carry on regardless, you’ll make it in the end. There’s a myriad of reasons why you aren’t right for a publication. Don’t take it to heart. Don’t blame the publication. Step back, re-read your pitch and the rejection and you should get some insight into where you are going wrong.

What’s the hook? I was asked this a lot when first pitching. Simply saying I went here, did this, drank this, ate that is not a hook. There has to be relevance, topicality, originality. if it’s been done to death don’t attempt CPR.

I’m sure there’s more that will come to me so I may post further points. If you’ve got tips, please share in the comments below.

Blogging: how to make your millions

Q&A: Leigh Linley, The Good Stuff

The great thing for me about the Q&A is that i’m able to delve into the experiences, likes, dislikes and tips of those that I respect in the brewing, writing, blogging world and beyond. Leigh Linley is someone i’ve followed for quite a while now and is one of my must reads. As his blog drops into my inbox, it’s the cue to pop the kettle on and stop for a couple of minutes. His mix of good food and good beer appeals to my own sensibilities. I urge you to read on and then check it out…



I’ve been blogging about beer and food since 2007 – and enjoying every minute of it. Since then, I’ve done a little freelance work with stories featured in BEER Magazine, Leeds Guide and Food and Drink Digital. Last year, I was involved in the process to choose Leeds as the location for the European Beer Bloggers Conference and led the delegates on a ‘Best of Leeds’ crawl that weekend. My main interests are exploring beer and food – be it linking brewers and food producers and supporting each other in that wa, or recommending matches and pairings for others – and pub life. It’s not all just about beer tasting! I live in Leeds.

First pub experience…

Both my parents worked in a pub when I was born; a notorious one in Leeds called The Fforde Grene. It’s not there now (its a supermarket), but I remember it being smoky, dark and cavernous, with a large guard dog. It was a little scary at the time, to be honest, but now I’m older I can understand the relationship it had with the locals. First hand, I saw it fall into disrepute in the 90’s and eventually close. That was probably my first experience of how a publican and clientele affect a pub and a community, both adversely and positively.
In terms of Beer, I recall bravely ordering a pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in North Bar circa 2005/6…and the first taste was like the scene in Alice in Wonderland when it goes technicolour. Being a self-confessed lager drinker, it was unbelievable.

Best pub finds…

We stayed at The Watermill Inn in Cumbria at the end of last summer, using it a base to explore some of the lakes. It’s completely dog-friendly and brews its own beer and we spent a lovely evening in the last rays of summer warmth drinking really good, clean, tasty beers brewed all of 10 yards away. That was a great weekend.


At the moment: Seven Wonders by Fleetwood Mac, Gimme Shelter by The Stones and Private Eyes by Hall and Oates.

Pub heaven…

A friendly welcome, staff who can tell you a little about the beer, and a little pride in appearance. Not difficult, is it?

Pub hell…

Rude and indifferent staff, bad toilets and bad beer – and by that I mean kept poorly, not range.

Favourite local…

I’m lucky enough to have four really good, ale-serving pubs on my dog walk route along Leeds Liverpool Canal: The Abbey, The Owl, The Rodley Barge and The Railway. All have good beer gardens in the summer, serve well-kept, local real ales and are dog-friendly in the main. Those dog walks in the summer do tend to be long ones!

Favourite non local…

There’s so many, but a perennial favourite is The Grove in Huddersfield. It gets everything right; a staggeringly varied beer range, good staff, well-priced and a lovely space to drink in. The varied clientele it attracts reflects the pub’s range on the pumps, and there’s no pretention at all – you want a pint of Landlord? You got it. And a bottle of De Molen? Fine. That sort of thing. I really like The Rutland Arms in Sheffield, The York Tap and The Maltings in York, The Marble Arch in Manchester…wonderful pubs, wonderful.

Beer and food…

My all-time favourite would have to be simply a plate of Calamari and Whitebait, dusted in flour and deep-fried, doused in lemon and served with either a cold lager or what beer. I’ve been known to knock that up even in the depths of winter! I’m a sucker for Blue Cheese and Stout (the stronger the cheese and beer the better!), Pepperoni Pizza and Anchor Steam…all the classics, really. We eat a lot of fish at home; pan-seared served with Black Pudding and Minted Pea puree sounds odd, but it’s delicious with a crisp IPA such as Oakham’s Green Devil.


It’s all about participation, for me. If you become of a community, you’ll find blogging both interesting and rewarding. I think you’ve also got to work prolifically to maintain a semi-successful blog; people have short attention spans and if you don’t blog for a long time, often, people will drift away, no doubt. Saying that, bloggings what you make it; that’s the beauty of it – if you just want it to be a notebook of thoughts, then so be it. I’m proud to be a blogger.

Yorkshire beer is…

Incredibly varied and vibrant Yes, we have the traditional Yorkshire beer that we do so well…but hidden amongst that we have smaller brewers producing every style you can want. We have Yorkshire lagers, saisons and barrell-aged stouts. We have international award-winners. We have brewers forging strong links with communities and other independent food producers to bring great food and drink to your table. We have some of the countries best pubs, run by amazingly devoted publicans, for you to enjoy these amazing beers in. We have brewers pushing Yorkshire beer across the world and setting up links in Spain, Italy, America and Australia.

What’s on the horizon…

Well…Great Yorkshire Beer! The book’s out in May, and we are launching it on the 30th at The York Tap. I’m currently spending a lot of time working with the brewers involved to get the book promoted. Blog-wise, The Good Stuff will be focussed on beer from the UK, and my new year’s resolution was to see more of the country; so now on our little drinking jaunts we are getting on the train instead of the bus, and seeing more of what’s on offer around me. I’m also looking forward to more collaboration with Food bloggers this year, and trying to bring some fresh ideas to my own blog from outside the ‘beer bubble’.

How did you choose the breweries to feature in Great Yorkshire Beer…

It was difficult, to be honest. I clearly couldn’t interview every brewer in the region – the book would have been like the Yellow Pages otherwise. So, first and foremost, the book is about modern beer in Yorkshire; the brewers that have been the catalyst to amazing growth and interest that has then rippled out across Yorkshire beer as a whole. So brewers over ten years old were out in terms of specific features. Then I looked at the geographical area, and tried to get a selection from north to south, east to west. I looked at availability; the book had to be useful in terms of interested parties simply getting to your beer – the beer had to be widely available across Yorkshire and the UK, and also, in most cases, bottled. And of course, the beer had to be good!

That last part is obviously subjective, but I believe the line-up I’ve chosen to represent the region, overall, are incredibly highly -regarded – and the book being successful will be good for every brewer out there. The book mentions (such as in the food section) many breweries that don’t fit into that criteria, so hopefully I’ve been able to highlight as many in there as I can!

If you want to get hold of a copy check out this link

Q&A: Leigh Linley, The Good Stuff

Year of Manning Up: Changing Direction

This isn’t one of those “hey guys, how did you cope without me” posts that I see so often. I’d hope you had better things to do than wonder why I hadn’t posted in 3 weeks. It’s been a busy, even momentous, time and a little breather from blogging here was required. It’s not like I’ve had my feet up though with the submission of my first piece for a newspaper in Western Australia (on pubs and beer – hopefully out before long), publication of my first magazine piece in the UK (in the latest edition of New Empress about B Movies), another imminent, again in W.A. (on eating and drinking in Perth) and I’ve been writing a stack of reviews for View London again on pubs and restaurants. There’s more in the pipeline but I won’t jinx it by saying too much. Ok, i think that constitutes trumpet well and truly blown, let’s continue.

When I look back at that list I’ll admit that there’s a small amount of pride. At the beginning of the year I wrote about a Year of Manning Up, of getting out and about and being more involved offline as well as on. Here we are at the mid point of the year and I’m glad that I pushed myself, as the experience has been nothing but positive. Through the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds, British Guild of Beer Writers, accepting invitations that I previously would have declined and just simply introducing myself, I’ve met people – beery and otherwise – that offer me inspiration and direction. Ok, this maybe sounds a little bit Oprah but it’s the truth. If you’re reading this and are maybe where I was 6 months ago, skirting the edges of the water, considering dipping your toe in, take my advice: dive in.

So Year of Manning Up, mission complete, right? Not quite.

Buoyed by all of the above it made the next step all the more sensible; to quit my job with an employer of over 10 years to spend a couple of years travelling in Asia and living in various parts of Australia. A plan that’s been a long time coming but didn’t seem quite real. Writing it down makes it more solid. So with the next part of the Year of Manning Up beginning lets see where it ends up. Any guesses?

Year of Manning Up: Changing Direction

Blogging not Blagging

I joked on a few occasions this week that I feel like I was “coming out” – as a blogger. Some, but not all of my friends and family know that I write a blog. My initial reticence to talk about it was borne out of wanting to develop my style of writing without the self conscious thought of what people would think. It’s been over two years since my first post, I’ve had work published elsewhere or pending publication and I feel happy with the way I write and the reception it gets. So it seems like the time to be a bit more forthcoming, get out and meet folks who I read and communicate with via Twitter. You may be in my position or considering writing a blog yourself. I hope my random thoughts on a very random week hit the spot.

First there was the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds. When I told people that I was going to a beer bloggers conference they looked at me with an expression half between amusement and bemusement. “Beer Bloggers. Have. A conference?”. usually followed by “but what do you do at a beer bloggers conference?”. I’d tell them it was educational, which draws a wink, a nod or a full on belly laugh. “Ohh it’s a piss up”. I may sound like I’m protesting too much and won’t deny that there was lots of beer but what I took from the conference was more than some Spiegelau glasses, that infamous Pilsner Urquel shirt (sorry, an in joke, but ask me nicely and I may model it one day) and free beer. I took some great advice from figures who I look up to (Adrian Tierney-Jones, Zak Avery, Mark Dredge, Stuart Howe) and to sound terribly new age, the energy of a room of people who were all on the same page but writing it in different ways.

On Wednesday I attended a food matching dinner at The Parcel Yard at Kings Cross. The dinner was hosted by Fullers Head Brewer, John Keeling and around the table were bloggers, journalists and entrepreneurs. I’ll be posting about this later in the week but mention it as again it offered some valuable insight. A theme from EBBC was around blogger ethics and how Brewers and Publicans react to social media and the blogosphere. It’s obvious from Fullers’ approach that they are relatively adept at this, having a small dinner rather than large event. Doubtless this wouldn’t be the only such event they hold but it was slick without having the air of corporate PR and there was a real feel that they know they’ve got something special in The Parcel Yard and intend to keep it that way.

Thursday saw the Zagat, 30 Under 30 awards held at The Gilbert Scott, St. Pancras. Marcus Wareing canapes (and the anti-Ramsey himself walking the room), cocktails and a who’s who of young food and drink talent. This wasn’t the place you’d expect to find a beer and pub blogger but i’d been invited as I’d given some advice on engaging with beer bloggers – doing my bit to dispel the beard and sandals image and as I’ve demonstrated above I seem to have become partial to a freebie! Blagger more than blogger could be the accusation this week. As I planted myself at the bar the small space was full of familiar faces who I’ve tweeted over the years but never met in person. Nerves overcome I tapped Niamh (of @eatlikeagirl) on the shoulder and introduced myself. Lou stood to my side said later that she wished that she had filmed the reaction. A puzzled look (as anyone would be if a perspiring man taps you on the shoulder) to start and then a smile of recognition; while I just looked relieved that I’d not made too much of a fool of myself. I think if this week has taught me anything it’s that you need to be less concerned about nerves and face – and just get out there, introduce yourself and be unapologetic of being a blogger or having a lack of knowledge. The point is to meet people, ask questions and learn.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts whether blogging or not. You know where the comments box is.



F*** your blog

Anyone who regularly blogs, whether in a space like this or via Twitter will have those moments where they’re challenged by family, friends, co-workers or total strangers. The question will often be variations on why and what? Why do they blog, what do they get from it, why do they think their opinion is valid, why they do something which is essentially unpaid (I often get asked whether I make money from blogging… My answer is a piggy snort and a I wish). It’s often those who don’t read blogs, whose only exposure to Twitter is mainstream reports using tweets, whether that be the Arab Spring or a D-Lister flashing his bits via DM. Where I can, I try to explain and without sounding pompous, educate. I was once a sceptic myself but now I’m an advocate for social media – done well. Which is to say interesting and engaging.

I’m learning and at times I’ll get it wrong but I try to stick to a few basic rules and often censor myself. It is what I’d call my f*** your blog moment. The reference being to a t-shirt I saw a few years back which said just that. It comes down to the fine line between blogging output which satisfies your audience and output which is just self satisfying. The sentiments of that t-shirt have spread. With the launch of a new burger range, Grill’d, an Aussie burger chain, are declaring war on Foodies and celebrity chefs. The company say on their website (of the their burgers) that foodies love them but we really don’t care what they have to say…because we made these delicious burgers for YOU.

courtesy: mumbrella

It’s tongue in cheek – the PR stunt not the burger – but opens an interesting debate about how we blog, what we blog, how much we blog and whether it’s relevant to our audiences and those we blog about. I’d like to hear your views whether a blogger, or not, you own a business, or not… You get the picture.

F*** your blog

Q&A: Sid Boggle

This weeks Q&A brings us back to London to speak to Egomaniac and exposer of Spoogebeerians, Mr Sid Boggle.


Your blurb…

Londoner who moved seamlessly from lager lout in late teens to lover of good beer by middle age. Nowadays, a retrosexual scruffy bastard who is thankful London re-joined the world of beer at just the right time, or I’d have a lot less to blog about.

Beer epiphany…

Ooo, good one. Went to work in Germany in 1989 as a Guinness drinker, came back two years later with a love of German beer and desire to learn more about our native ales. I can still be transported with a few sips of altbier. The next bit of foundation-shaking happened on the first US trip in 2002, when I drank my first American IPA. I woke up dreaming hops for months after.

Best beer find of the last year…

In a broad sense, Brodie’s. I didn’t know them at all before the 2010 London Brewers Showcase, but this year I’ve tried loads of their beers and enjoyed pretty much all of them. They’ll win this year’s Boggle Award. For a one-off beer, and this will give ammunition to those people who think I’m an extreme beer fanboy, but Oakham Untouchable Double IPA was fantastic.

What sounds are to be heard while blogging…

Flatulence, BBC News Channel, occasionally I listen to music, usually something electronic or industrial. Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle are favourites.

What brought you to blogging…

Egomania. And to warn the world about spoogebeerians.

What have you taken from blogging…

Some nice comments from friends, the occasional compliment, a few knocks, and of course a month as Number One Beer Blogger thanks to my musical idol Frank Sidebottom.

Are beer bloggers frustrated brewers…

Well, since blogging seems to provoke invites to brew, there might be something to that. Personally, when I have time then I mean to eventually homebrew. That’d probably do for me.

Which brewers would you hold up as the way it should be done…

Controversial. I’m not sure whether I’d say one brewer was an exemplar over another. I remember visitng Cantillon a few years back. A couple of months before that I’d been at Victory Brewing in Pennsylvania. One was a virtually a working museum, the other a brand new shiny brewhouse with computer control and heat recovery systems. But as brewers, how far apart would they be in attitude? I suppose if you mean setting the bar high for quality, then Kernel. I also really like their ‘non-brand’

Pub heaven…

No bloody kids.

Pub hell…

Bloody kids.

Favourite local pub…

Zeitgeist in Black Prince Road.

Favourite non local pub…

Tricky. I love The Rake, The Harp, Cask… London’s doing really well for good pubs so choosing places to go is a happy problem.

What advice would you give any aspiring blogger…

Pick a distinctive name that is easy to remember so you come top in a Google search.

What’s on the horizon…

The Shard. It’s nearly finished, you know…

Finally, can you tell us a joke about beer…

Beer isn’t funny. However, Johnny Depp did this one on the telly the other week. Skeleton walks into a bar, says to the barman, I’ll have a beer and a mop.

Q&A: Sid Boggle