Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sharing the platform: some notes on collaborative blogging

When I first started HEYBREWTIFUL, I did it because I really wanted to talk about beer. And not just to myself. 

I wanted to know if there were other women like me out there, passionate about the craft, science, and stories behind this glorious beverage. Turns out, I'm definitely not alone. As an outsider to the craft beer community, I still had misconceptions about beer being a "guys thing," but I quickly discovered that adding the word "craft" to the beer scene meant a whole lot of women were also eager to partake. 

I started a series called "Ladies Who Love Beer", highlighting passionate female consumers of craft beer. To date, it is the most successful content for engaging new readers and is now published monthly, with a 6-12 month advance schedule.  

The goal of the series was and continues to be to highlight that women are present, not as anomalies, but as fellow leaders, enthusiasts, and eager participants with the same range of tastes, levels of education and interest in this elegant and diverse experience that craft beer has to offer. 

Fortunately, there's always going to be someone who knows more than I do, which is possibly the best scenario for a writer. It means there will always be more things to learn. More adventures to have. More stories to tell. And that's really awesome.

For me, collaborating with others on content creation is a way I stay accountable. It's the way I stay inspired, and connected to that first wide-eyed feeling of being uninitiated to the world of craft beer. However small an act of activism, being present and visible as a woman in a historically male-dominated realm, invites and encourages others (men and women) to participate as equitable contributors to the craft beer conversation.

Writing can be kind of a lonely enterprise. And although the ease of online publishing means just about anyone can potentially find an audience, grabbing the attention of readers in a climate where anyone and everyone is saying something online, can sometimes be a challenge. By sharing the podium, I have the opportunity to not only uplift others, but connect with those who have experience and expertise that excites and uplifts me and inspires me to keep writing.

Increased visibility, as likely anyone who has an investment in engaging an online audience can tell you, is a currency. And in many ways, you're only as credible as the people you surround yourselves with. Fortunately for me, there seem to be super smart, super creative, super plugged in women around every corner.

One of them is my friend Karie, a talented pastry chef who has a real love for craft beer. I've been wanting to do food and beer pairings for a while, and although I'm really into food (I eat. A lot. Unashamedly.) I'd also already worked with Karie on setting up her website (which included getting her some usable images of her work, some headshots, and a logo design), and we enjoyed working together, so naturally I thought of her when I made the decision to start a new series on food and beer.

I wanted the pairings to be credible, creative, and have a value that extends beyond my personal desire to consume excellent beer and food in one sitting. So naturally I thought of asking Karie if she'd be interested in working together on a series, which I've dubbed "A Brewtiful Pair".

Karie contributes her talents in baking and pairing knowledge, writes a "Chef's Notes" section and drafts the recipe for sharing, and I contribute pictures of the finished pairing, polish up the post with an introduction, links, and then initiate the link sharing and promotion of the content (including posting or submitting the link on sites such as Foodgawker, Reddit, and

It's a win-win. Karie gains exposure for her new business, I get to hang out and eat her desserts. And we both have a reason to spend time enjoying beer in each other's company. Which in a world that is increasingly connected in virtual ways, is refreshing. It's sort of fun to think that with all the brewery collaborations going on out there, that Karie and I are brewing up a beer-related collab of our own. 

What kinds of collaborative projects are you doing with your blog? Are you interested in working with me on a collaborative project too? I'd love to hear from you! 

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