Thursday, 15 July 2010

'be part of the community'

Just watched Gary Vaynerchuck, Kevin Rose, and Jesse Jacobs talk tea and wine at, and I want to take a different tack than I normally do. There was plenty about different teas and how to prepare them, as well as wine (that's what Garyvee does after all), but at the very end they talked about tips dealing with social media and getting a product/idea out there.

The thing that's often said is 'scratch your own itch', which is something I take really seriously here. The whole prospect of this teablog lark was set in motion because I kept seeing people on twitter obsessed with tea like I was. I thought if I documented what I was learning, it'd be interesting to someone other than just me. At first I was daunted by how little I actually knew about tea, but eventually decided I'd let that be a plus. I'd be really upfront that my knowledge was limited and the blog was a record of my search.

I was obsessed about numbers of visitors to a degree, and I still gauge how much people enjoyed the post by how many people comment on it. Rationally, I know people read the blog without ever saying anything, but I still judge my performance by reaction. I really do.

But here's what I liked most about what was said at the very end of the video: 'be part of the community.'

I used to write my blog and make snarky comments at twitter about anything but tea. I'd make a teanote at, and see what was said at leafboxtea. Might even go read a wikipedia page about a tea I didn't know about. But I believe this really started to work for me when I read other blogs. Mostly teablogs, but I read a lot of other stuff too. And I really try to comment when I can. Sometimes the only thing I have to say is 'great post-thanks for writing this,' but I try to make it more than that.

The thing is that I'm really part of my little corner of the teaworld. I really get excited when I read about the World Tea Expo, write about it, and then I find out Sir William was there. He's part of my tribe here, and when things go well for him, they go well for me.

Although I really make a point that my content is original, I will credit when I find something interesting and want to write about it. I still think there's so much opportunity for growth in this Web 2.0 thing. If I try to make this blog like anything else I see out there, it won't sit right with me.

The more I inject my kookiness into it, the better response I get and the more people come looking for more kooky.

So the other thing that gets good response is when I ask questions. Here goes:

Do you feel like a part of a community with tea sites and teablogs? Is it a bit overwhelming when you see the obsessive blogs that're out there? I stay focused on black tea partly because it seems like most tea freaks are obsessed with green and Oolong, but I love those as well. I write about what I know, and I try to leave more than I take. How about you? Are you in my tribe?


  1. Being mentioned in the blog, I suppose I am part of the community!
    I try to be as responsive as I can to other people's blogs just because I know how it is to receive feedback. It is a good feeling!
    When no one comments on something it kind of makes you wonder if anyone is even paying attention to the blog. I try to switch that around!

  2. I'm afraid I am turning into one of the Oolong freaks but I am very new to all this malarkey and am still at the stage of wanting to try everything. I am also liking the blacks, including the tea champagne, Darjeeling and hope, one day, to be a member of the tribe!

  3. Since I comment from time to time, I must be a part of your community (I don"t know which one yet but does it really matter?).

  4. Hi Lakimajoe thanks for another thoughtful post!

    When I started my little tea blog 2.5 years ago, my wife gave me two great bits of advice: "if you want anybody to comment on your blog you better comment on their blogs." and "blog readers want to feel like they're friends with the authors they read." Your post also seems to share this same wisdom and that's good because it still hasn't occurred to a lot of people for one reason or another.

    It is so rewarding to help cultivate this vibrant and inclusive online community of tea lovers who love to share their stories, poems, photos, and other interests outside of tea!

  5. Sir Will-it's no exaggeration that your participation is greatly appreciated. I miss Asiatic Fox.

    Barbara-you're already one of us...whether you realise it or not.

    Ice-the same goes for you. What you say here means a lot to me.

    And Brett-thank you, too. Your wife is right. It astounds me when people expect to be read when they don't participate on other blogs. Although I already follow yours, your comment prodded me to go give it another look. Am glad I did.

    I've made an effort to gear this blog partially towards those new to tea or even tea-curious. Have had some particularly good experiences with this. Thank you all for taking part.

  6. I really like that advice too--"be part of the community"...and not just for blogging. I think American society would be better off if we focused more on community. Heck, I recently decided to make a drastic move from the east coast to the heart of the upper midwest. One of the key aspects for me was that I felt that the midwest had a much stronger sense of community...I recently took a road trip and I noticed it in the smallest towns and the biggest cities like Chicago and Minneapolis.

    But...back to the tea thing, yes, I do feel part of a community when interacting with tea bloggers and on various tea websites! That's what I like about them, besides that I like tea! =)