Tea Bloggers Roundtable at World Tea Expo

The full panel of tea bloggers, as well as Gary Robson in a kilt at the far right and Nicole Schwartz live-tweeting at the bottom left

Jen Piccotti speaking, while the full panel of tea bloggers looks on, as well as Gary Robson in a kilt at the far right and Nicole Schwartz live-tweeting at the bottom left

Yesterday, a panel discussion was held for tea bloggers at the World Tea Expo. The third annual Tea Bloggers Roundtable at the World Tea Expo was an opportunity to hear from and meet some tea bloggers. Moderated by Gary Robson, the panelists were Naomi Rosen, Chris Giddings, Jo Johnson, Geoffrey Norman, Jen Piccotti, Rachel Carter, and Nicole Martin. Also, fittingly for a bloggers panel, they even had someone up front, Nicole Schwartz, live-tweeting the panel discussion. The panel functioned effectively, with the gregarious moderation of Robson, who posed questions to the panel, the panelists answering the question, and Robson adding in his contribution.

One question I found particularly interesting was “What do you find are the most-read/most-successful posts?” Martin said that she found how-tos, solving problems, and answering questions got a lot of traffic, especially her YouTube videos. Piccotti said that she has found that focussing on a tea or a tea venue and getting to know the person behind it as well as what makes the person interesting (to her) has been popular. Rosen, too, has found that telling a story about people, such as tea growers have gained her a lot of traffic. Giddings says that his product reviews of various tea technology and accessories have gained a lot of traffic. Robson summed up the responses with three keywords: Unique, Passion, and People. “Have a personality”, said Robson, “and have a voice that is uniquely your own voice and connect to people you’re writing about.” As an example, Robson said, “Most of my posts are either about something I’m really excited about or something I’m really upset about.” And people like the rants.

Rachel Carter speaking while the rest of the panel looks on

Rachel Carter speaking while the rest of the panel looks on

Another question of interest was “Do you post on a schedule?” While a couple of them have rigid schedules, such as a new post, Monday through Friday, most, it seems, have haphazard posting, whether that be a new post once a week, a few times a month, or whenever seems convenient. Robson said he began in January to schedule his posts to go live on Fridays at 8am like clockwork and he got a lot more followers and readers. Conversely, he then let it slip for a few weeks and saw a reduced amount of readers. He saw definitely saw results from having such a schedule. However, he pointed out, “It’s hard to do creativity on a schedule.”

Another question related to using different social media platforms. Piccotti said that she has found that “Twitter is a good place to build a community.” Also, she has found that “Instagram is teaching me how to become a better photographer”, which, in turn, is helping her take better pictures for her blog. A couple other panelists echoed Piccotti’s sentiments about Twitter, such as Giddings and Rosen. However, Rosen pointed out, once she started getting more into Instagram in the last half-year, she has seen a huge amount of traffic from that. Robson pointed out that Facebook has yielded the most traffic for him, however, Twitter is bigger in reaching a broader tea crowd.
Like most panels, this one had a time limit and there were some questions which Robson had at the ready if need be. While the questions focussed more on the blogging aspect than the tea (examples of the latter could be: “How do you write about tea?”, “How do you decide to write about different teas?”, or “What have been ways that you have found to help you describe teas?”), I wonder if part of that is on account of it being at a tea event. By that, I mean, since the main focus of the expo is on tea, this panel is more focussed on the blogging aspect than the tea, per se. Then again, perhaps it was simply the limits of time.

In sum, it was nice to be around and listening to other bloggers, especially from a particular niche group, as well as to gain insight into their blogging community. It was definitely a nice touch for the bloggers roundtable to have been included at the World Tea Expo and to have their voices heard.

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