08 April 2020

Hitting the 25th Podcast Episode Mark

I still remember sitting and struggling to research podcasting mechanics 3-4 years ago and trying to wrap my head around podcasting (if you must know, I was having a hard time understanding where to deposit the podcasts and how podcatchers work),* and thinking that I basically understand recording and editing, but was struggling with exactly doing those things. However, a larger struggle I was experiencing at that moment was what the podcast would be – my mind was heading towards a Star Wars podcast.

For those who know me, I am excited about sharing my knowledge of Star Wars and discussing it with fellow fans, and have even appeared on another Star Wars podcast, yet I had concerns: there are already so many Star Wars podcasts out there – what would my podcast add? Also, why? Just because I wanted to do a podcast? That’s enough of a reason for beginning a podcast – why would anyone want to listen? Also, I’m not the most on-top of Star Wars news, etc. as I know I could be and that others out there are already doing.

Last April, I posted on this blog that I was thinking yet again of podcasting and had no longer been desiring to podcast about Star Wars, but was turning to Jewish textual topics. Here, there is a wide-open space for content, as I could easily come up with a dozen different topics that are both interesting and that I could speak knowledgeably on, get guests, and that are not being handled elsewhere (e.g. an entire podcast about Pirkei Avot).

Finally, September rolled around and I was inspired to create JewishDrinking.com,** but was mainly thinking about the written content, especially what I had previously published elsewhere, which I imported to the website. However, I was dragging my feet on other media until a phone conversation on September 13th with someone who urged me not to worry about technological concerns, which could either be solved by purchasing equipment, renting out equipment, or finding spaces with equipment available. I then realized I didn’t need fancy equipment for podcasting – I could just shoot a video, edit the video (which I’ve done before), take the audio out of the video and figure out some podcasting website to publish it. That night, I then shot and edited my first episode, which I then published.

On a Skype call with a guest for the Jewish Drinking podcast
Since then, I began reaching-out to potential guests, scheduled our Skype or Zoom sessions, recorded them, edited them, and, as of yesterday, hit the 25th podcast episode’s publication! (All 25 of them are available here.)

One of the coolest aspects of these episodes is both connecting with other people seriously thinking about these drinking aspects in Jewish history, tradition, and more! Whether they are academics, fellow rabbis, or others, it’s been enjoyable to both connect with them, learn about their fields, and, above all, bring all of these disparate conversations into a single place where people may not have known about such matters. 

Weirdly enough, in the half-year since beginning the podcast series, I’ve been surprised to see that this is the main content I am publishing on Jewish Drinking – who would have thought that I would be less interested in blogging than in producing audio and video content?

I am excited for what’s coming down the pipes for Jewish Drinking and am excited to have crossed this milestone, and looking forward to more podcast episodes!

06 April 2020

A New Coronatine Project Yields Unexpected Byproducts In First Week

One week ago, while out for a walk, I was listening to a “Tea with Gary Vee” episode and got inspired to do something new during this “Coronatine” era we are currently experiencing.

“Tea with Gary Vee”
While I have written before about my newfound appreciation for Gary Vaynerchuk’s content, he has a new daily show called “Tea with Gary Vee”, which is a two-hour “call-in” show, where people Skype/Zoom/whatever tele-call in to ask them their questions about what they can be doing for their businesses/professional aspirations during this challenging time. It’s a clever idea.

More Videos?
While listening to it, one of the callers had asked him about building her business/brand and he said start a podcast, do something new, just like he was doing. While I already have a podcast going, I decided I don’t need another one. While I do weekly videos, do I need more video projects?

“A Few with Drew”
However, it dawned on me, what if I just do a simple video, without any editing and just publish that? I then came up with a simple concept: daily 3-5 minute videos of me chatting about a few topics, including what’s going on with me, but also open to listener/viewer questions. I went with the cute moniker, “A Few with Drew”, referring both to a few minutes with me, but also a few topics.

Live Zoom Chat
So, one week ago, I began this project, and, after the first video, someone commented I should have a live Zoom meeting where we get together and drink and chat, so I created a Zoom meeting for last evening.

Keeping the Conversation Going
Amidst the chat, which actually got a few people to attend(!), we discussed a few things, including Star Wars and more and...it was suggested we continue this group beyond the Zoom meeting chat. Someone else suggested we use Discord to keep the conversation going!

So now, there is a Discord server with separate topics, including Star Wars, Jewish Drinking, and there will be more. Oh, and we plan on continuing the Zoom meeting chat on a weekly basis.

It’s unexpected what can happen when trying new things!

31 March 2020

After Several Years, Hanging Up My BierBuzz-Writing Hat

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have wound-down my writing for BierBuzz, as I published my final post for the publication today. It has been a great experience writing for BierBuzz these past several years, beginning in earnest with a post in March 2016, a post in April 2016, with hundreds more posts to follow.*

Gaining Great Experience
Throughout my writing time for BierBuzz, I not only gained a lot of writing experience, having published over 300 posts, but I specifically gained a great confidence in dealing with press releases. While I composed several press releases for BierBuzz events in my first year, which furnished me with valuable experience, I was able to develop an eye towards evaluating the hundreds of press releases I then saw come my way – I could discern the quality ones from those lacking in quality.

I also developed navigating around press releases and utilizing them in ways that I saw fit. Sure, I loved dropping in my tasting notes in a paragraph and running the press releases for the rest of a post, but I rarely did that, as I liked to move the content around in the press releases and provide the information in different ways.

I certainly developed a certain writing style when it came to beer, but also learned a lot about the contemporary craft beer scene, as well as various trends, such as light IPAs, hazy IPAs, the rise of canning, especially 16oz cans, and more.

One of the most valuable takeaways for me was developing a lead-generation system and method for tracking both beers out there, as well as following-up with breweries (whether their internal marketing people or their PR firms), and then developing my internal time-tracking of when beers would arrive and how many days it would take to publish their reviews.

Another aspect of my experience that really could be applicable to all of my blogging experiences was gaining a comfortability with meeting people who are in different walks of life than myself, as well as meeting people and having conversations that I never would have otherwise, which was so enlightening and pushing me out of my comfort zone.

Gaining Great Beer
Okay, let’s be honest, there was more that I gained than simply the experiences, skills, and connections, but there was also a lot of beer. While I attended some festivals and visited some breweries and received a bunch of free beer, there was also a lot of beer that came my way for review purposes. During the first few years, I was reactive: if there was beer offered and/or a press release came my way, I would request review samples. However, in the past 11 months, I realized I could be proactive.

In these last 11 months, I have had a lot of beer and wrote a lot about it. In fact, of the over 300 articles I published on BierBuzz since March 2016, I published 175 of them in the last 11 months, alone, with 165 of them being beer review posts(!). It ended up that while over 100 of my posts were on beer news, nearly 200 of them were beer reviews.**
This increased activity has been great for my experiencing of the national landscape of craft beer, not to mention the amount of beer arriving at my front door step (yes, literally), and it was so much that I had a few events to host folks to help me drink the beer, as it was more than I could drink. 

Moving On
The big catalyst for me to cause me to realize that I needed to move on from writing for BierBuzz was that I was spending time every day writing and publishing posts for the website, but was that really how I wanted to be spending my time? I looked at how I was spending my time every day and realized that I was spending a consistent amount of time writing about beer, yet not on writing about other interests of mine (e.g. Talmud, Star Wars, etc.). 

Let’s be honest, I am going to publish written content online, why not something I really desire to have me be seen as an expert? Furthermore, it hit me one day after this realization that consistently working on something day in and day out is a great way to become an expert at something, but do I really want that? It’s basically reverse-engineering the notion of working at something for 10,000 hours and becoming great, but what if you have no intention of becoming great and end up becoming great at it?
What if I can deploy that time elsewhere in my writing and develop my writing expertise elsewhere?

What next?
For now, I have no plans of continuing on as a beer blogger, but will it stay that way?
As I mentioned in the previous section, dropping beer-blogging out of my life frees me up to write about other passions of mine, which is great. Also, I sometimes have a feeling of being pressured to drink beer, write about, and publish the material. Sure, sometimes, it can lead me to drink beer when I wasn’t planning on it just to keep up with what’s coming in, which is really unfortunate, as one should want to drink beer rather than feel compelled to do so, in a quasi-obligatory fashion.

That having been said, beer-writing is something I know how to do, I know how to get the beer, write about it, and publish about it. And, best of all, I can get not only a lot of beer, but some really tasty beers out there that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise buy.
If I were to return to beer-blogging, it would be to write in a niche, as I have shared my thoughts elsewhere on a couple of possibilities. Nevertheless, I need a break from it for now.

Stay tuned….

* My first post was published in October 2015, before officially joining the publication.
** Which means that, prior to 11 months ago, more of my posts were on beer news than beer reviews.

13 February 2020

Winding-Down As a Beer Blogger?

It hit me a week ago while I was driving on the highway that I needed to wind-down my beer-writing. 

While there are, perhaps, dozens of different reasons as to why anyone would want to stop such an endeavor, for me, it has mainly to do with the time and energy I spend on it versus what I get out of it.

But I can’t deny how cool it is it see packages arriving at one’s front door, filled with liquid goodness! When I tell people it arrives at my front door, they are pretty surprised that such a thing occurs. It is, indeed, a fascinating phenomenon to reach out to breweries after they put out press releases about their newest beers and having them sent to one’s door!

However, sometimes for me, it seemed to be daunting when several boxes would arrive on a single day – that’s a lot of writing I would need to put out for those arrivals.

Look, I still very much enjoy drinking beer, as well as discussing it, but between spending time on the tasting notes, writing up a post, then publishing it, and sharing it on social media, I’ve begun to wonder about what my ROI is for all of this time and effort. 

Having dropped one enjoyable, yet unnecessary piece of my life a few months ago due to my taking on both real estate and JewishDrinking.com, I know that my beer-writing is taking up too much time and energy and that it needs to make way for those other endeavors.

For some background, I had written dozens of posts on Matters of Interest in 2014-2016, which led me to beginning to write for BierBuzz.com that year (I also wrote several columns as the beer columnist for a Long Beach paper, as well as having written an article for Beer Paper LA). For a few years, I wrote up some stories, including writing beer reviews when receiving emails about releases – who would say “no” to free beer samples?

However, last Passover, I realized I wouldn’t ever have to pay for beer: why should I only be reactive to offers of review samples for beers, when I could be proactive and reach out to breweries when they send out press releases? Since May 2019, I have constantly had new beers from around the country arriving to my house, which has been great!

It has been very educational, starting even with the packaging - to see which breweries know what they're doing with sending out beers to those who don't know what they're doing [and everything in between]. It has been really neat to see the rise of 16oz cans and the diminishing of bottles, whether 12oz or 22oz. Finally, it has been great to experience the current craft beer trends and to gain a survey sense of the newest beers and what's going on out there in the market.

Trying to keep up with the supply, I have largely striven to publish a post a day, Monday through Friday, mostly succeeding, but, at times, still somewhat falling behind. Yet, what does it get me? While it is really neat to receive review samples of beer, it also generates for me an obligation to write about it. If all I get out of it is more beer, is it really worth it?

I will say one thing that has been great from this year of reaching out to breweries for review samples: developing a system for reaching-out and tracking where the brewery was with getting samples out. It, basically, was lead-generating and following that system on a Google spreadsheet! That helpful system is something that I am taking with me into other endeavors, including real estate.

While I still plan on writing about the review samples I currently have at home, my winding-down will involve no longer reaching-out to breweries for samples, as well as not responding to breweries when they say there are samples available. If they decide to send them, so be it.

Then again, I still have a place to post any more beers coming-in: my beer Instagram account….