Winewriters: making money on the internet?

Faced with loss of column inches (and sometimes even columns), many of my winewriting peers are now looking to see how they can make money on the internet.

Of course, this is how I (and a few others) started out in winewriting. But for many of the newcomers, they are used to being paid to write articles in newspapers and magazines. They value their work, and don’t like the idea of giving it away.

I value my work too. Sometimes I think it’s actually quite good. But my policy has been to give my writing away. I don’t expect ever to charge for access to wineanorak. Even bits of it. Now this has worked for Jancis Robinson, but she’s a legend, and came to the internet already a wine celebrity. Me? I’m just some guy who was drinking a lot of wine and who started a hobby website. I’m delighted and surprised to be actually doing this for a living. It would be madness for me to think that – faced with so much good free content on the web – that I could ever get people to pay to access my website.

My philosophy? Gather as large an audience as possible. Let people see my work – see what I am capable of – and, hopefully, then pick up work on the back of this recognition. I also make money from advertising on wineanorak, and that has been growing of late. But that is not the main reason that I put up content (if it were, it might make me too beholden to advertisers and reduce my independence).

Newspapers are facing the dilemma of having to make money on the web, as a recent article in The London Review of Books explores. John Lanchester sums up the issue well:

The internet is the most effective means of giving stuff away for free that humanity has ever devised. Actually making money from it is not just hard, it may be fundamentally opposed to the character and momentum of the net. And yet this is where the newspaper business now is.

Many newspapers are gaining readers through the net, but are losing money because of reduced sales and reduced advertising revenue. Internet advertising revenue isn’t making up the shortfall. So what should they do? Charge? Will people pay? Lanchester continues:

The industry is no longer going off a cliff, but it is still on a downward slope, and unless something happens to stop it, costs per copy will continue to rise relative to sales, and eventually newspapers will either die or (more likely) be so hollowed out by cost-cutting that they exist as freesheets with a thin, non-functioning veneer of pretend journalism. In the words of the OECD report: ‘Those writing about the developments of the press emphasise that despite the length of the newspaper history, it is relatively recent that non-partisan, independent press coupled with investigative journalism are the order of the day.’ It hasn’t been here for ever, and it could well go away.

Lanchester discusses The Times and the failure of its paywall (which I, along with most internet-literate people predicted), suggesting that the newspaper has lost 98% of its traffic, and only has 54 000 subscribers. He thinks that the future for papers, however, is online-only versions that charge for access, cutting out the immense cost of print versions, and being able to employ sufficient journalists to produce something of quality.

As for wine writers? It will be interesting to see who succeeds and who doesn’t in the rush to online publication. I suspect those who approach online from a print mindset, and value their own work too highly to be able to give it away, will not be the ones who flourish in this new medium.

38 comments to Wine writers: making money on the internet?

  • Tom

    Hello Jamie – some very interesting thoughts here. I started my wine blog, CambridgeWineBlogger, just for fun and was pleasantly surprised when people starting sending me wine to review. I never thought of charging for what I do and I have learnt a huge amount in the process.

    I think the difference is passion – if you are passionate about something, that shows through and you will find a way to make money eventually. If you do it just for the money, well … people will quickly see that for what it is.

    All the best, Tom

  • As always Jamie, another great article. In my humble opinion, you are now in that same ‘legend’ league as Jancis Robinson MW. A real inspiration.

  • Another very thought provoking piece anchored to the pivot of the new year.

  • Apparently, the more specialised an area the more willing people are to pay for the content. So maybe the future is for more and more niche print / online publications where subscribers are fewer in number but they pay premium prices, resulting in some kind of semi-stable, viable business model.

    Regarding general newspapers, their “news” becomes dated so quickly these days. I live in Ireland and during the fast-moving events of the recent IMF bailout it was almost pointless buying a broadsheet on any given day as much of the news content had been all over the web the previous day and seemed very un-fresh and irrelevant. I appreciate that not everyone is online these days, but still.

  • Excellent. Sobering thoughts, especially the fact that non-partisan investigative journalism is a recent (and sustainable?) phenomenon.

    And, ” … value their own work too highly to be able to give it away”, names?

  • One thing people have long been able to figure out is how to make money from new technologies. The key has always been though that to do so one had to think differently, something that most of todays’ wine writers are struggling to do.

    Where there are eyeballs there is money to be made, it just takes time and a bit of a culling of the old herd to see it happen.

  • I see a substantial irony in the fact that wine writing has been such a success on the inifinitely dynamic web, considering that the best of wines last for years and the infinitely dynamic world of news, politics, sport etc are still being permanently printed on paper. Shouldn’t the wine writing be on paper and the news be published electronically? What amount of faith should we put into broadsheet hold-outs with delivering pertinent insights? not much.

  • Jamie,

    It doesn’t sound like you make much money on the Internet, but view it as more of a promotional endeavor (with costs covered plus some, by advertisers), and that the bulk of your revenue comes from other sources, like print.

    That’s certainly the case for Wine Enthusiast Media, where despite the time, effort and expense put into a Web site and digital editions, the bulk of the revenue still derives from print advertising.

    The question that remains is how to make enough money online assuming those print opportunities dry up. Unless a fair proportion of print advertising dollars migrate online, it is hard to see free-access Web sites as being economically sustainable.

  • Alex Lake

    How are the tablet versions of papers doing? I find the concept appealing although I don’t yet have a tablet.
    As I get older, I’m probably more willing to pay for real journalism, but it’s getting hard to find.

  • Hi Jamie,
    I’m going to be the cold shower of economic rationalism here! I still think there is a premium for companies to have their products mentioned by a National Paper, so, even though there is a strong case for bloggers, I think they, too, have to show some sort of benefit for the product as well – whether that is a niche, or that is being first, or having a large following, or being a bit more on street level.

    Also, there are still vert big circulation numbers for Daily Mail, Metro etc, which is a bit worrying for wine, because it becomes just about what to pick at the supermarket, rather than analysis.

    As Alex Lake (above) says, there is always a place for quality journalism, worryingly, this is only read by a few. Also, I find there are some excellent cutting edge industry newsletters that are way ahead of what is in trade journals. The way forward for long copy may be the iPad.

    Personally, as a child leaving school during a bad recession, and unable to get a job even at McDonalds when I was 17, I’ve always thought of blogs as a bit like ‘zines. Specialist and cult-like. They may not have made money directly, but indirectly become something else and important in general culture. It’s sometimes not about quantity of people following, but quality. I’m very lucky in this respect as I have a very high quality readership (hello, love you!) Ps that’d be http://www.winewomansong.com – of course.

    Keep on keeping on.
    J

  • Interesting thoughts there Jamie. I agree with some other people’s comments; it’s all about passion and how you channel it. I have found that with my blog, It is merely a hobby, for family, friends and others that I know in the trade that fancy a read about wine. To make money from it will be nigh on impossible, its the influence that I am looking for. I think advocacy and endorsement from the pro’s would help us all…wink wink nudge nudge. Great blog as always Jamie,

  • I advertise on your site to support your ability to continue what you do. I do not see an instant measurable return on investment (that’s not to say there is not an immeasurable one at your cost level) but by supporting your work and in recognition of your laudable content and style, in which passion shines and your lack of self-promotion is evident, I believe you attract and inform wine enthusiasts about their interest and by growing the number of wine enthusiasts, you widen my customer base. So hopefully being an anorak can pay.

  • Do you think that if you you had the profile you have now (author, competition taster etc.) when you started your website would you have charged ?

  • Interesting subject to discuss, but not really much new on your views in this – you don’t believe in the internet as a source for revenue and yes, you’ve said that all along (albeit not everyone agrees).

    Joe C seems to have read your post closely and understood:

    What you say is that the internet is a big advertising billboard for you and for your wine knowledge, nothing less, nothing more.

    But we all have to make a living, that is what it comes down to.

    So it would be more constructive to be more specific about what you actually do make a living from. Your post is about that, what wine writers live from historically and will live from in the future, so it is not unreasonably (I think) to ask that question.

    OK, the internet is just an advertising billboard for you and your craftsmanship (apart from a bit of ad revenue), so what do you actually make a living from? (presumably sources of revenue that you find thanks to your billboard on the internet)

  • Thanks for your thoughtful, encouraging comments.
    I played down the advertising element a bit – it’s an important component of my income. If I could make all my money from this website, then that would be great, because I enjoy doing it. It’s just it would be a lot harder starting out now, as one of many, to attract wine advertising because there isn’t all that much of it.

    For example, a friend has a website with similar traffic to mine but in a different field, and makes a couple of grand a month just from google adsense advertising – there’s just more advertising income around in his field.

    In answer to Per, my income comes also from book projects (two major ones last year), newspaper column, articles for magazines, payments for doing talks/presentations, and general day-rate work (eg training, tasting, benchmarking)

  • Dan

    Very interesting post Jamie – thank you.
    Now that I’m based down under, I find that I read your blog even more regularly than I did when based in the UK as it is great, accessible, bite-size way to keep up with wines and issues in your part of the world.

    Sometimes I even check it **before** I open up Cricinfo for another day of Ashes cricketing magnificence!

  • Interesting post, Jamie. As the person who initially linked to the LRB Lanchester piece on Twitter yesterday (@timatkin) and broadly agrees with John’s conclusions, I’d like to add to the debate:

    1. Anyone who thinks that he or she will be able to make a decent living from printed wine writing in future is deluded. Newspapers are cutting back on wine columns, as I know from personal experience. Most wine magazines pay peanuts.

    2. To continue as wine “writers”, we need to broaden our scope to include education, public speaking, editing, fiction, websites, judging and even photography. I exclude “consultancy” here because I think it’s a conflict of interest, which is why I don’t write for supermarket magazines.

    3. I think people ARE prepared to pay on line for good, specialised content. Look at the success of Steve Tanzer (hardly a household name). What they don’t want (in my view at least) is a pile of undigested tasting notes or a conventional blog or wine website (prolix, long on information, short on opinion and advice). As Ryan says, we need to rethink the way we write about wine on line rather than produce a lengthier version of the sort of stuff that appears in the press.

    4. My hunch is that readers would rather pay to read completely independent opinion than look at something that is free but essentially supported by wine advertising. Can anyone really claim that advertisers have no impact whatsoever on content? If so, it would be a first in my 26 years as a journalist.

    5. I love what you do. Keep writing and tasting because you are one of the best.

    Tim Atkin MW

  • keith prothero

    I would pay to access your site as I do for at least 6 others that I use regularly.
    Maybe think about a donate button as per Wine-Pages and Cellar Tracker?

  • Thanks, Keith. A subscription model is certainly something I’m considering. How does the donate button work?

  • Interesting and thoughtful piece Jamie. There is another angle too. The interenet has made it possible for lots of people with an interest in wine to get an audience for their blogs etc. In the past you would have needed a publisher. Some writers, like you and Tom Cannavan, for example, have succeeded through good, frequent and lively content. I’m not sure what will happen in the future. I have a feeling that style will triumph over substance, at least in the short term. The internet is far more interactive than a newspaper and the more enterprising wine “journalists” will make use of these features.

    Another thought is about wine recommendations in general. We are talking about a confusing product, that cannot be sampled online, 90% of which is sold through 5 big supermarkets to people who probably don’t read any wine blogs. It’s not like a restaurant meal or hoiliday or book or music or game. Those things most people probably do a bit of research before buying. I think today’s wine critic is torn between discussing the wines they think are worth talking about and recommending the wines that are most convenient to the more average buyer.

  • Tim, I think your points are very well made. It’s hard to make a living from just printed work, as you point out.

    An 1800 word feature for decanter or harpers or drinks business pays c.£400.

    If you want a modest salary of say £40 000 (and I realize it’s dangerous to start putting figures in here because one person’s penury is another’s good salary) you’d need to write 100 such features a year. It’s impossible to get commissioned for this many, and even if you did, you’d never be able to research two good features a week.

    Books? Wine Science sold out its initial 7000 print run in the UK. UCP in California co-published it and have so far bought 8000 copies, but I only get a slice of what Mitchell Beazley sell the book to them for, not the proper price. So I reckon I made just £8500 from this book (£5000 advance plus some royalties).

    In the past wine writers managed to do it because they were salaried from their newspaper columns (say £20-40K) and then made money on top of this from features and perhaps books.

  • Richard Morris

    Apologies if I’ve got this wrong – it’s not discussed to my knowledge – but my problem with all of this is a lack of disclosure. Wine writers get free wine, they go on free or subsidised trips, free meals etc. They then write about the wines they have been given or tasted. More or less invariably, those comments are favourable. Note I’m not suggesting any corruption here, just a possible conflict of interest. I would be more comfortable if, in all cases, the writer disclosed who had supplied the wine, the cost, if any and any other factors which might be relevant, like the trips. The travel industry (mostly) do it. Then I might be willing to pay for an online subscription.

  • Interesting stuff. My income comes from writing about wine both in print and online – a paltry income, it’s true and I am certainly not going to order my yacht anytime soon. I agree that the future of winewriting is firmly online but I think it’s worth remembering the words of the CFO of Google when it comes to making money from blogs etc. She says that when Google start a new project, they never plan how they will monetize it – if they get enough hits and followers, then moneymaking ideas will present themselves. Which means that content, style, grammar and expertise will become increasingly important in attracting both fans and cash. Right now, I value the exposure I get from printed media as I hope it will drive traffic to my online work and ultimately bring me more income. But until that happens, I guess I shall keep buying the lottery tickets in hope, and keep drinking and writing about it for love, if not for all that much money!

  • elias

    I would subscribe to a independent blog, but I want to see some unknown and small boutique winery wines tasted and rated as to these big guns that has a big budget to supply their wines to anybody and every competition. There are a lot of hidden gems in this world and it seems that nobody is seeking them, it is always the same old. The less known wines of high quality cost half the price as well…

  • Jem

    Like many other I appreciate this site, the comments and the articles as it informs me – as Tim says education is important. Like Richard though I am somewhat sceptical about some writers who have a close relationship with a merchant/supermarket. Whilst I am sure the ‘free’ wine is worth £££ – do you have to declare it!- you call it as you see it, and I dont consider you bow to commercial pressures.

    Picking up on your other point viz The Times, three things:-
    1) I buy it everyday and as such strongly believe that I should get free access. Yes, I could subscribe and get them to deliver it and get access that way, but that does my newsagent out of some ££ (at least thats how I understand it)
    2) Unresticted access ensured a broad church of people commenting and reading the newspaper on-line which is appealing to advertisers. By going behind a paywall you restrict access to a certain type of person which is not appealing to advertisers and detrimental to the newspaper. I cant believe the money they have made from the paywall has compensated for loss of advertising revenue.
    3) Basic News, and the ability to comment and interact wih others should be free. I have no issue if The Times had decided to charge for ‘specialist access’ to their interactive discussions or all the other bells and whsitles they supply etc

  • Guy Chatfield

    A thought provoking article thanks Jamie.

    All the contributors’ insights interest me, in that I am very new to both writing in print & blogging about wine. I get paid nothing for either endeavour, so I support my ‘habit’ for writing by working in the wine trade in the sales function of a global branded wine company – my passion for the subject has come about through fifteen years in and around the trade.
    What I want to convey through my writing is my love of the subject and communicate something that both the wine literate & average reader might find interesting.

    What I passionately don’t want to do is, as has been the case in various newspapers/ magazines, list five “favourite” wines and in which behemoth multiple grocer to get them, padded with a bit of fluff or sometimes nonsensical tasting notes. There have been major name casualties in the cull of wine columns in the press which is very sad, but some of those who’ve gone did perpetrate this de-alcoholised style of copy and I am glad there are fewer of them in print now. As this is a rapidly declining medium, does this really matter?

    While multiple millions of bottles are drunk every year, the most reading on wine done by the punter who buys the stuff is the shelf barker telling them it is on discount. These guys are far more likely to read what the app on their iPhone tells them is good rather than pick up a newspaper – the majority those read now being the free sheets anyway. Once the ‘zero-cost genie’ is out the bottle, it will never go back in! I think Paul Kiernan’s point is the most salient for the future and where the money will be made.

    Is the subject that we love too complicated and multi-faceted for the general public to comprehend? No, I don’t think it is as I believe that yourself, Tim, Jancis and Tom Canavan and a couple of others, are where wine writing should be – insightful, informative and thought provoking. The major problem is centuries-old elitism and Old World impenetrability have tarnished the subject in the view of the general public – it just isn’t sexy enough for them.
    Collectively should we realise that writing properly about wine is a niche subject and stop kidding ourselves that it is interesting to anyone other than a relatively small audience?

  • Great piece, Jamie, and well done for attracting – and presumably monitoring – so many interesting comments from highly respected wine peeps. Quite a few of the Twitterati, by the look of it.

    A couple of things. John Lanchester’s lengthy article is worth a read, in case viewers haven’t followed your link, and thankfully it’s free content. Note that the article is called ‘Let us pay’. I agree with him that the future for paid online content has to be something as easy as buying Apps through iTunes and not having to sign up to an expensive website after hitting a wall, and then a tricky sign-up process. As for wine, I would certainly subscribe to a site that pulled together articles from the best writers – far better than a free site that’s cluttered with ads. Whether there enough of us to make it pay is another matter.

    I’d be interested to know how James Suckling gets on with his new venture. I signed up for his monthly premium subscription as he’s offering a free month, and the offer ends today. The sales tactic will be familiar to UK wine club buyers, but love him or loathe him, he deserves credit (and my credit card) for having a go.

    I subscribe to a lot of the wine sites that I’m sure others do here: Jancis, eBob, Wine Spec (don’t go there much), Wine-searcher and so on, so I’m happy to pay. Yet I don’t think I’d pay for a wine blog – not unless there’s something of real value and there’s no conflict of interest, as Tim points out above. If Neal Martin left eBob, for example, I’d subscribe to his Wine Journal. Over to you, Tim.

  • Some very interesting, rational comments here. I actually read your article whilst in Burgundy where I was tasting 2009s. The conflict of interest with respect to blogging is a subject that I have been musing upon. Unless I am being asked to “perform”, either speaking or judging, I pay my own way: something I am only able to do because people subscribe to eRP. In the scenario that nobody is willing to pay for original, independent, quality-driven content, then does that make us beholden to the PR companies? Where does blogging end and PR begin?

    For that very reason, as Tim says, I think that people will continue to place a premium upon writers who offer unbiased opinion coupled with well-written prose, though I actually think Jonathan is right in that we are going through a phase where a lot of sites are style over content, including a couple of popular ones. There is room for such websites, but not the proliferation there seems to be at the moment.

    One thing I would say, is that you have to build up serious content and goodwill before people are willing to pay. Apropos Wine-Journal, I’ve worked out that including tasting notes, I’ve published around 1.75 million words since March ’07 (and that’s just one part of eRP).
    I’m not complaining, I enjoy writing and wine is a passion. But the workload as a professional is on a totally different level to when I started out and you have to maintain that relentless output to succeed. Websites thrive on momentum. If you are off tasting in Bordeaux or Chile for two weeks, you have to make sure content is still going be delivered rather than shutting up shop. Twitter has certainly helped in this respect, but I still write several articles in advance whenever I am away.

    I believe that people will be unwilling to pay for sites based on videos and only really work if you have showmanship or it is part of the communicative arsenal along with the written word. James’s website might be the litmus test for this kind of site, but thus far I find it a boring, tedious medium with respect to wine (though there are a couple of exceptions.) What I have seen is more akin to free PR rather than a challenging interview and maybe James can succeed.

    At the end of the day, you are only going to make a career of it if you can offer something that nobody else has, whether that is writing skill, access to wines few can taste or an entertaining personality. A handful of pros will succeed and a handful of bloggers will “make the leap” from hobby to vocation.
    Of course, I can always go solo and charge Gavin Quinney £60K subscription ;-)

    Cheers,
    Neal

  • A really valuable debate here Jamie, which is no doubt going to run, especially as more print column inches get chopped in future months/years.

    I have been writing on wine online now for over 10 years, and have been generating an income through advertising for many years now. Nevertheless it is a small sum that comes in every month, and it certainly would never be sufficient for me as a sole source of funds. But it hasn’t been easy; it has taken time (I have never really measured how much time – but I would guess well over 20 hours per week – I think the real number might really shock me so I don’t want to know!) and persistence. I have always followed the maxim of content first (this is a passion, after all) and worry about revenue second, and even well-established writers and MWs need to consider this. You may bring a strong reputation to a new site, but do you have the time to generate the content needed to be of interest? How long do you think it will take to build up the body of advertisers needed to provide even a modest income, especially given that most merchants work with limited budgets for online advertising.

    The other obvious alternative is a subscription set-up, but I really feel taking this path requires – for all but a few – an unhealthy optimism. Few have the weight to pull this off. Jancis – clearly she has succeeded, Parker and Tanzer too, but which other independents have revenue from independent sites? Even Suckling’s success is not taken for granted. And what is more, both Jancis and Parker are no longer operating independently, as both now have established a team of writers. So single-handed subscription sites seem unlikely to succeed to me – unless you happen to be at the absolute top of the pile this isn’t a viable path to take.

    As for ‘donate’ buttons, although Keith and similarly generous souls will voluntarily hand over some cash, most will I suspect just view your content as free. And even then, this does not provide the *regular* income which can be found through advertising or subscription.

    As Ryan suggests, writers need to find new ways of working online. I suspect even leading writers will need to work together to generate a flow of content that will be interesting enough for visitors to hand over a subscription fee.

    There is no clear and obvious path to follow with regard to online revenue generation; if there was, many would already be walking it! So I disagree with Tim’s third point on the predicted styles of future online wine writing – we just don’t know what will succeed online in the future. And in addition, different punters want different things. Some writers will succeed through use of captivating and elegant prose, some through being energetic, entertaining and accessible, reaching out to new audiences perhaps through new media (a few years ago this would have meant videoblogging of course), some through use of humour and demystification, others through producing extensive, fact and content-rich sites. I’m sure we can all think of online wine writers who fit these different categories, all of whom are currently very successful (and presumably generating at least some income!).

  • Very interesting discussion. As someone who’s been a journalist for 25 years and a wine journalist for … can’t remember, but over 10 years … it would be fair to say that it’s a lot harder to make a consistent living out of the mainstream print/online press than it once was. Especially because syndication is much harder than it used to be; most papers now want to syndicate your work themselves, for no extra fee. I digress – except to say that the trend is either your friend or your enemy, and for mainstream journalists it’s most definitely not your friend.

    Nine years ago I started http://www.winefront.com.au as an unknown. It was subscription based from the start … which I see as a godsend. If you turn the tap on for free, it’s almost impossible to then start charging for the service later – people feel duped, and walk away. Looking back, I’m proud of the early days of winefront … but simultaneously astonished that I thought people would pay to subscribe. They did, the rest is history, winefront has been financially successful ever since … with normal ups and downs of course … and until six months ago, it has been so completely advertising free … though I suspect that if I started winefront today, I might not be quite so lucky, simply because the ‘marketplace’ is ever so much more crowded.

    I started winefront.com.au for a simple reason: I couldn’t find any outlet that would allow me to write about wine in the way I wanted to write about it. I still can’t. I charged for winefront from the start, but the genesis was quality and freedom. If it’s only about money, you’re doomed.

    Advertising – we’ve started allowing it on the site in the past year simply because we realised we were throwing money away; people kept asking of they could advertise, and we kept saying No. Winefront has a rule though: wineries aren’t allowed to advertise on our site. I reckon we’re probably being cute with this rule — because it wouldn’t matter who advertised, we’d never be compromised, we’ve been on the side of independent journalism for too long to succumb now — but it’s just not a good look to have a winery ad in one part of the site, and a positive review of their wine in another. Every print wine magazine in the world of course would disagree with us on this view.

    Interesting times. We haven’t seen anything yet – there’ll be an explosion of new wine sites in the next 3-5 years, from established players and new – some of which will fail spectacularly, others of which are bound to add something new, and enriching.

    Campbell.

  • A topic that is at the forefront of my brain activity, given I’ll be trying to make the leap from “extreme hobbyist” to “pro” in this space in the latter half of this year.

    My going-in philosophy has for some time been similar to Jamie’s – “Let people see my work – see what I am capable of – and, hopefully, then pick up work on the back of this recognition.” That’s primarily how I’m focusing my efforts.

    Neal makes a great point as well: “One thing I would say, is that you have to build up serious content and goodwill before people are willing to pay.” In my experience, this is true not just for one’s work in terms of the written word, but also in terms of having the influence and voice to capitalize on other opportunities that present themselves. I.e., you don’t get hired unless those hiring view you are a “somebody” in your niche.

  • Jamie,

    You can also use affiliate advertising on a blog such as this through legit 3rd party sites like Shareasale and Linkshare among others. Additionally, if you keep an email list of some type a wine club such as my own would love to partner in order to market to that list (we pay ongoing commissions for similar projects).

    I think this entire conversation which I saw started over at Dr. Vino is an incredibly interesting one because Bloggers are becoming more and more important, but there isn’t any real fair compensation out there for you guys, which is unfortunate.

    I just don’t think many people are going to be willing to simply pay for bloggers content with the amount of choice out there (Sorry!)

  • Anyone who devotes significant time to a wine blog or website, must have a passion for wine. Although there are ways to make money, it’s not worth it unless you love what you are doing.

  • It is so nice to see that someone else shares my sentiments when it comes to the monetary future of wine writers! I have had so many people who are starting website look at me like I was crazy when I said that my number one priority with my wine site was CONTENT, and that I would look into ways to make money from the website later… but that I didn’t expect to make a dime. I like to look at my website as a free “gift” to the public: a nice reference site. And it’s great that I can use it to showcase my works in hopes of getting future freelance jobs. Thank you for spotlighting something that has been on my mind for quite some time. Cheers! MT

  • Robert Hodge

    I’m a bit late to this which is odd as I read your blog often!

    Seeing no-one has mentioned it I thought I’d bring it up: part of the problem with charging is the *subscription* model IMHO, ie the lack of a good well established cultural practice of online micro-payments.

    In an online world where many sites had “voluntarily pay 50p for this” buttons that worked as smoothly as amazon’s one-click ordering I think people would pay especially where the content is emotionally engaging and if the paying was published as being supportive of the site/article/yada in question. Then paying would be a bit like “Like” in facebook…Top supporters could be shown (as they are in theatres) and given extra access/benefits…

  • I agree with Robert here. To back this up, I wanted to share the thoughts of Walter Isaacson, who wrote an article for TIME in Feb. 09 about “How to Save Your Newspaper.”

    He said then that, “The key to attracting online revenue, I think, is to come up with an iTunes-easy method of micropayment. We need something like digital coins or an E-ZPass digital wallet — a one-click system with a really simple interface that will permit impulse purchases of a newspaper, magazine, article, blog or video for a penny, nickel, dime or whatever the creator chooses to charge…. Under a micropayment system, a newspaper might decide to charge a nickel for an article or a dime for that day’s full edition or $2 for a month’s worth of Web access. Some surfers would balk, but I suspect most would merrily click through if it were cheap and easy enough.”

    What I don’t understand is why someone hasn’t yet come up with a Paypal sort of click-method for people to just charge their account and read. I think a company with the resources of Google or Paypal could implement that, especially since they’ve found a way to put their products on websites around the globe. Is it that hard to figure out? If self-publishers and bloggers are able to put Adsense widgets on their sites, why not put a Click-pay widget on the articles that people with the appropriate account could use?

    Of course, it does come down to content and what people are willing to pay for. So not everyone could get away with doing this. But it would be a real game changer for those that have the chops.

  • Really interesting article Jamie. I wholeheartedly agree with you about giving away work and work stemming from that.

    I started up by cricket blog and within 9 months, i’ve been given a part time role being multi media editor for a monthly cricket magazine.

    Now, I suspect some of it may be that in a male dominated world of cricket, a woman who writes about it and commentates on it is something of quirk and it may be that helped a lot although I hope some of it was on merit.

  • Vere interesting article .Thanks for sharing with us.

    Cheers :)
    VinoEnology.com

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