Selling Out – Does Going Pro Mean the End of Credibility?

Wine blogging is a tangled vine of mystery, intrigue, passion, eroticism, and cow horns. Topics like bio-dynamics, Robert Parker’s 100 point system, the use of sulfites and stolen grapes stir the tank of controversy on a daily basis. Once one enters under the canopy of darkness…there is little hope of making it out alive (or at least with white teeth).

Since when did mixing commerce with blogging become the antithesis to credibility? The medium of blogging affords a great freedom in expression and also lends itself to a speed that cannot exist in traditional media. Bloggers were first to respond and report on the Great Grape Caper of 2010 when Grande Reve Mourvedre was stolen. You wouldn’t find stories like, “Steve Tanzer is a Jackass” in Wine Spectator. As the evolution of online publishing continues, many of these amateur bloggers are going “pro.” This begs the question, “Does the addition of commerce lessen the transparency, credibility, and passion of the posts?”

In the wine world, Gary Vaynerchuk sticks out as the John the Baptist who blazed the trail for social media success. The seeming King of All Social Media has built an empire by cashing in on his passion for wine. Many people, yours truly included, have been inspired by his story. Do you trust Gary’s daily Wine Library TV reviews any less because he is a retailer? He certainly seems genuine, and yes a little excited, but he has earned our trust. Bloggers like Joe Roberts (1WineDude) are going pro in 2011. We all followed the journey of Hardy Wallace on his quest for a really Goode job. Does the fact that he was schlepping corporate wine lessen his zany passion? A slew of other bloggers are turning pro:

  • Catie McIntyre Walker has turned her alter ego, Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman into Walla Walla’s first dedicated retail wine store.
  • Ed Thralls, of Wine Tonite, juked, jived and maneuvered from Atlanta to Santa Rosa by combining his offline talents with his online prowess to land a job at Vintage Wine Estates as the top social media monkey there.
  • Rick Bakas spent a very public and prominent 18 months as the Director of Social Media at St. Supery. During his time he grew the brand’s online presence which translated into offline accounts and sales. After writing the book, Quick Bites – 75 Savory Tips for Social Media Success, Rick is now growing his new company, Bakas Media.
  • Tamara Belgard (Sip With Me), from Portland OR, started her blogging journey with the goal to visit every Oregon tasting room in a year. The blog showcased her marketing and creative background which eventually led to her being hired by Canas Feast Winery.
  • The infamous Seattle Wine Gal (Barbara Evans) successfully leveraged her social media skills to build a brand, generate revenue through events and consulting, and eventually land a job at Seattle’s Think Space.
  • Some yahoo from Spokane, WA has taken his wine blog from zero to 60 in just over a year resulting in a regionally focused wine magazine and a brick and mortar wine tasting room.

Yesterday, WineBusiness.com featured a post from one of my favorite wine writers, Paul Gregutt. I consider Paul a friend and a mentor but I also considered a statement he made in yesterday’s post to be a friendly challenge.

 “Two leading Washington bloggers – the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman, and DrinkNectar – have opened up a wine shop (Walla Walla) and a tasting room (Spokane) in the past month. Now that their blogs are attached to commercial enterprises, I wonder what the impact will be? Will their transparency and credibility suffer? Will their blogs become more of a tool for commerce and less of a passionate calling?”

Paul, to answer your question – I am no less passionate about why I started my blog now than 12 months ago. While I may be different than others, I started my blog in the passionate pursuit of branding a business. While sooner than I expected, and also different than intended, those businesses are here. I blog about what I like and I blog from my level of wine understanding. Sometimes my wife will say, “You better be careful,” and more recently someone told me, “Josh, you can’t write those sexual innuendo posts now that you are a business owner.” To that, I say, bull shit. I need to stay true to who I am. If I want to describe a Cabernet Sauvignon as, “Your strong-willed woman who likes to show she is in charge. She likes it hot and when you get her going she’ll let down her hair and show you her kinky spicy side,” then I will.

It’s obvious that some of my blog posts will become commerce related. I will use the platform to keep people updated on the business. I am also committed to continuing the type of posts that I’ve done over the last year. One reason I changed to the blog template that I did is to bucket the articles that I write. The new site allows me to surface content on the home page in the categories that I want (currently Nectar Tasting Room, Wine Reviews, and Social Media). Other posts are categorized by using the navigation menus on the site.

Gregutt’s post was less about bloggers going pro and more about the Hosemaster of Wine’s retirement non-event. For those who tune out mindless drivel, Ron Washam, AKA the Hosemaster of Wine masqueraded as a wine blogger and satirist for a while. His childish humor was often deserving of a mild chuckle but usually left me thinking of the schoolyard bully who couldn’t think of anything clever to say so he rehashed the tried and true comedic sub-plots to garner attention.

Washam, through Gregutt’s post says:

“My hunch is the wine blog world will slowly begin to fade, even now it seems there are fewer and fewer comments on blogs, and wineries will eventually stop giving away wine to nobodies, and Social Media ‘Expert’ will have the same clout as Porn ‘Star’ and wine bloggers will be reduced to the level of hell reserved for Trekkies.”

In my opinion, Washam has his head so far up his hose he can’t tell the difference between a poodle and a pincher. Blogging (whatever version it surfaces as) will fade as soon as people are emasculated of their opinions.

So, Paul , how is that for controversy, passion and transparency. Thanks for issuing the challenge.

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drinknectar

Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

38 comments on “Selling Out – Does Going Pro Mean the End of Credibility?

  1. Chris

    Hey Josh, I read that blurb in Paul G’s blog too and wondered what the challenge meant. Nice response. I think the number of bloggers entering the wine business reflects a few things, # 1 a lack of money to be made directly from blogging, # 2 people passionate enough about wine to blog about it obviously can be creative in their business interests too, and # 3 a recognition by some wineries and “traditional” wine circles that social media is here to stay and that bloggers can contribute more than just pixels.

    I respect PaulG too but think his comments about bloggers going the way of the Betamax are mostly wishful thinking. Quite odd in a way, but when you can buy 3 years worth of Wine Enthusiast magazine for $12, which I did a while back, it’s obvious why those in the print media feel threatened.

    BTW a few of other bloggers turned pro to add to your list…

    Tamara Begard – Sip with Me to Marketing Director at an Oregon winery, Sorry Tamara I don;t know which one

    Paul Zittarelli – Full Pull Wines

    Mike Lempriere (maybe the original WA wine “blogger”) – Perennial Vintners

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Chris, thanks. To Paul’s credit the Betamax comment was actually Ron Washam’s.

      Thanks for the list of other bloggers turned pro. Not sure how I forgot Tamara B. In my shot list. I adore her writing and am cheering her on.

      Josh

      Reply
  2. Hardy

    Some bloggers aren’t credible whether they are being paid or not- Some are credible in spite of being paid.

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Truer words have never been spoken…okay, well maybe they have but totally agree, Hardy

      Reply
      1. Hardy

        Ha! Thanks!

        One thing that keeps someone like Gary V. credible- Is that he isn’t afraid to tear something apart that he sells and has on his shelf. While being highly critical (of a wine he’s often invested $ in inventory) he shows that he knows what he is talking about (which doesn’t mean you have to agree with him). A lot of people are afraid to take this stance– not just out of civility, but because they then have to demonstrate they know what they are talking about and be prepared to defend their position.

        Airy fluff reviews may be civil and get you samples, ads, swag, etc… but I think they undermines credibility far more than being paid.

        Reply
  3. RichardA

    “Does the addition of commerce lessen the transparency, credibility, and passion of the posts?”

    My answer: Potentially, yes.

    In my Rant yesterday, I told people to question everything, to always consider the potential motivations and biases of their sources. If a writer has a potential financial interest in a matter, then one needs to look more carefully at that issue to evaluate the truth. A blogger does not automatically lose credibility by attaching their blog to a commercial endeavor, but the questions need to be asked. Some bloggers will succumb, chasing money over credibility. Others will not, maintaining their integrity. In the end, the readers will make that decision.

    Take care.

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Well spoken, Richard. In the end, the reader / customer decides! Definitely things to keep in mind.

      Josh

      Reply
  4. The Sediment Blog

    If anyone would like to pay us for blogging, we would be delighted to comment on any subsequent decline in standards…

    Reply
  5. Claire McCool

    Josh – I think that as long as you stick to your guns you will be fine! Considering that your business has grown so quickly as well as your followership I believe that people have a genuine interest in what you are saying and doing. GO JOSH, GO!

    Reply
  6. Jameson

    Josh,

    Like Tamara I turned writing for my personal wine blog, Sparkling Vouvray, and writing (for free) for Foodista into a full-time job: Social Media Director for Esquin Wine Merchants. I agree 100% with you; why change the style and personality that comes through your in your blog? It’s what got you followers and interest, and I think the same people who read your blog want that same enthusiasm to come through when they walk into the tasting room.

    I don’t see how transparency will suffer writing a blog for a brick-and-mortar business. It’s pretty clear that since you are writing for a business that you probably want to sell wine, provide information about the wines you carry, and/or get people excited enough to pay you a visit. My criteria for posts has not changed: I write about the wines that I find unique and interesting.

    I look forward to more posts liberally sprinkled with innuendo.

    Jameson

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Thanks, Jameson! Congrats on your success! I’ll have to think through my next innuendo filled post.

      Reply
  7. Seattle Wine Gal

    Well done Josh! My opinion is that a blogger, like anyone else, needs to ‘follow their Northstar’ and go with their gut. The less I listen to people’s advice and follow my heart, the more my brand thrives. Someone suggested that I start doing intensive wine reviews on my blog. I asked my followers what they thought and the reaction was a big fat NO! My demographic of followers may be completely different than, say Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report (@wawinereport)or Paul G, but hey- aint that awesome? Any nasty comments I get about making money from my SWG campaign I chalk up to jealousy. My response to this type of attack is well… meh. We are all giving our followers what they want, or we wouldn’t have any!

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      SWG, I follow Northstar, I like their Merlot, they’re on Twitter, right? :)

      J/J – I agree with you, friend. You’ve got to stay true to you cause at the end of the day that is who you’re laying in bed with (and hopefully a significant other).

      People who are bitchy to you are sad. I’m sure we’re not done offending people, but the internet is an opt in place…you don’t have to read what we write, right?

      Cheers to you and your success, Barb!

      Reply
  8. Steve Paulo

    Hey Josh, I have to agree with essentially what Hardy said… the act of getting paid / associating your blog with a business, on its face, does nothing, positive or negative, to your credibility.

    The problem is, a lot of people, once they start getting paid to do it, or even moreso it seems when they have invested their own money in a business, forget (or perhaps never knew in the first place) what attracted people to them. They become shills for themselves, and nobody likes a shill.

    Keep doing what you do, and the rest will work out. And mazel tov on the tasting room (and magazine. and redesign. and, shit, what else? did you cure cancer yet?)

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Steve, thanks! I look to friends like you to keep me in line if I start to sound too much like a shill.

      P.S., didn’t you hear, wine cures cancer!

      Reply
  9. Ed Thralls

    Josh,

    Thanks for the mention, I think. Unfortunately, we’ve all just been sucked into Paul’s trap (again). A trick many writers rely on, moreso it seems these days, by commenting on/criticizing the hot topics of the day only to create controversy in order to get comments, exposure and traffic trying to keep themselves relevant. It’s all they know how to do. And it’s probably what the demographic of their audience feeds on. Nobody wins. It’s for this reason I don’t really read Paul, HMW or Steve Heimoff for that matter anymore. It only results in negative energy which doesn’t benefit anyone in this industry and certainly not me as I go with my heart, as SWG so wonderfully states, and develop the next chapter in my life/career.

    Since my job is not connected directly with Wine Tonite! I am able to do my job and still maintain my brand separately. Though frequency of posts may reduce a bit at first. Of course I will use the online influence I have developed to share information to/from my VWE brands when it seems appropriate. Is that losing credibility? I don’t think so. It’s smart and useful social media marketing. As far as transparency… there will still be transparency in the brands I manage, though with a different voice and message, that is all. The brand is center stage, not Ed Thralls. The audiences are completely different as well.

    I really don’t see why this is so difficult for some to understand. I’m talking the basics of successful social media marketing here, of which blogging may be only one component. Often it easier for those who don’t understand to criticize, then truly try to understand.

    As for more positive vibes: I am totally psyched my plan is coming together and I was able to land this opportunity and begin moving my family to wine country. These are the great moments in life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for everyone’s support here as well! We have all been through a lot in the two years and it is because of YOU I have kept at it and was able to succeed.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Totally, Ed! I have huge respect for you and have been following your journey closely. It will great to have your whole family in California (don’t forget that Washington is Wine Country).

      Good luck with the new gig, you’ll knock it out of the park.

      P.S. Monkey is a compliment :)

      Reply
  10. Catie

    I suppose I should be heard, since my name is up there a few times. First of all, I didn’t view this as a “challenge” from Paul. I viewed it as more “stuff” he needed to get off his chest about wine bloggers – - and another way to increase his own blog readership. IMHO he has a love-hate relationship with us. For years PG was one of the few wine writers in WA State. His columns make wine discovery easy, fun and thoughtful; and he doesn’t talk over your head. The truth of the matter is now there are several wine sources to read in the State of WA. Although there are more sources now, PG probably gets an even bigger slice of the readership pie now that the wine audience has grown.

    He is still very much “old guard print” and with good reason – it pays the bills and he has earned his place there. However, unlike some of his fellow print moguls, PG is still very much young at heart and contemporary. I just think once in awhile the old print media monster vs wine blogging monkey climbs on his back and he has to wrestle them off. And my pretties, that is what we just witnessed.

    What can I say about my own wine blog? I have been writing stories, poems and diaries since I was in grade school. In 2005, I was taking Web Design and HTML 101 at the college and was just finishing up the Eno/Vit program. I was going on my fifth year of working in the wine industry (and now on my 10th) and wanted a source to keep a diary about my new found wine knowledge and wine tastings. My original goal behind my wine blog was not to make a splash or a branding around WA State. For a long time, I thought I was my only reader – my biggest fan. I had nothing to prove to anybody and I still don’t.

    Will my credibility of my wine blogging suffer, as Paul suggests, now that I have opened a wine shop? Nobody can answer that question other than my readers and it’s because of my readers I am here and doing what I love. Time will tell.

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Nicely put, Catie. Paul is a very creative writer and one of the most respected in the state. A collaboration and teamwork between traditional and social media is where the sweet spot is.

      Josh

      Reply
  11. Margot

    Great post, Josh – informative, witty and wise!

    Personally, I think people sometimes take things much too seriously. Blogging is a forum to express thoughts and ideas, a method to share information, and a way to build relationships with like-minded people. I’ll read a blog if I find it interesting or informative and if its intentions are transparent. If it’s not, or if it’s annoying, I won’t read it. It’s as simple as that.

    As for my own blog, I have fun with it. It’s a way to share my positive opinions on wine and events. If people think I’m a cheerleader, that’s fine. If they don’t want to read my blog, that’s fine too. If people think it’s wrong that I help some wineries, too bad – I always disclose that information in my blog. If people have similar palates and choose wine based on my opinion, that’s great.

    I used to be a national wire service journalist, so the freedom brought by social media was a little daunting at first. But that was four years ago. Now it’s the way I roll.

    Cheers!
    Margot

    Reply
  12. PaulG

    Josh, I’ll just add a couple of thoughts to this discussion. I truly did not intend my post as a “challenge.” I put forth a question – I don’t have a pat answer to it. I do know that transparency has been a big deal as far as blogging goes. It does seem that selling wines via a blog is a real issue, certainly equivalent to the ongoing debates over tasting blind vs. open, tasting free samples vs. purchasing wines, and so on. As for Ed’s disingenuous comment, there is no “trap.” I am not sucking people in with some trick. I do the blog to generate interest and readers, so what? I don’t need to practice writing and show it to my wife and my cat. If Ed (or anyone) finds me boring, great, read someone else. And yes, I am aware that you and Ron are oil and water. I am pleased that I can enjoy each of you for your very different contributions to blogging. And by the way, good luck with the tasting room!

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Paul – even if you didn’t intend it to be a challenge, I appreciated the friendly reminder. I certainly don’t want to lose any credibility or transparency. It’s a good point to ponder as I move forward.

      If you ever see me being a softy blogger wimp, let me know!

      Thanks for being a leader in our community through your actions and creative posts

      Josh

      Reply
  13. Catie

    Paul, We all sell wines, no matter if it is via blog or traditional print. If magazines and newspapers are not “selling wines” with their articles, and even at times with wine advertisements, then what are their motives for printing articles about wine? Certainly it isn’t philanthropic. I sell wines. Josh sells wines. You sell wines. Sure, we can call it education, promotion, awareness, a paycheck, whatever … but the bottom line is this – - somebody, somewhere is going to buy the wines that we are writing about.

    Today, with all of the social media for us to take advantage of, we are seeing more and more wineries blog and microblog with Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools (Just this am I received an email from a local grocery store seeking help on their social media). If a winery wants to promote themselves and set themselves up for a new generation of wine buyers, social networking is the key. So, with that said, why do you feel our credibility will suffer? Would a winery’s credbility suffer, as well? So what is good for one biz is not good for another, like mine and Josh’s?

    Paul, you also pointed out that your “hunch is the wine blog world will slowly begin to fade …” However, Robert Parker was interviewed by 1WineDude (Joe Roberts) a few weeks before the WBC and Parker had this to say about wine blogs

    “I think wine blogs will continue to exist because many wineries see them as a way of inexpensively promoting their brand by participating and perhaps lending a few ads to the sites that accept them. Secondly, I think conscientious wine bloggers have a chance of becoming bigger and bigger, drawing a larger audience, and being gratified by their success in the number of people they reach. They are certainly not going away, and even the worst of them may hang around longer than they deserve because of our low brow culture that feeds on scandal, controversy, and polarization irrespective of any merit to these issues.” – Robert Parker

    Paul, my friend, you and Parker should discuss this over – well, how about a few glasses of wine? Afterall, he was the original wine blogger. Now stop being a hater of wine blogs and come on over to the dark side. We’re waiting for you.

    Reply
  14. Catie

    One more thing Paul – - While Josh and I may talk about our new businesses on our wine blogs, I have to ask this question? Has your credibility been compromised since you have been promoting your business on your blog – your new book? I notice that your new book is even your profile photo on your Facebook page. And if you weren’t promoting your book on your blog and Facebook, you should be. However, can you explain to me why your business doesn’t have the capability of hurting your credibility and mine and Josh’s business does?

    Reply
  15. Weekly Wine Journal

    Maybe the wine blogging thing will die down a bit. It seemed to totally explode in the after math of WLTV and Crush It, and maybe some people will find something else to be passionate about. Maybe some people will find their time is consumed with raising families and starting business ect. Maybe they will get bored with not crushing it and getting rich and famous.
    I blog because I like writing and I like to tell stories and because I want to get better at writing and telling stories. I also love the wine experience- the sensory experience and the social experience so blending the two together seemed like a good idea. As for monetizing my blog, yes that would be a worthy goal at some point. People have suggested I do that by selling banner ads. What can a blog like mine expect to charge for a banner ad? $25? It doesnt seem worth the hassle. I am reminded of some scenes from The Social Network, where the CFO wants to start selling ads right away, and instead, they hold out until they can do it right but not messing with small potatoes.

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Tim,

      A lot of maybe’s in there. Keep doing what you’re doing and keep doing it for you!

      Reply
  16. emily resling

    Note for Hardy up there…. Your writing has always been credible!

    signed,
    a long time fan
    aka emily resling

    fullpullwines.com

    Reply
  17. Mike Lempriere

    I can’t help but chime in with my comments on this… I guess I’m honored to be referred to (by the first blogger “Chris”) as “the original WA wine blogger”, however it’s really not quite accurate. A wine blogger nowadays is typically a critic, typically of wine. MikeL’s WA Winery Guide was always intended to be an encyclopedic factual representation of the industry. To me, this is an important distinction.

    Now to address the topic at hand — in my case, going commercial did indeed have a dramatic impact on my web presence. MikeL’s WA Winery Guide is pretty much defunct now as I no longer longer have the time in my life to track the WA wine industry, let alone to update a website about it. I don’t have enough time to update my own vineyard/winery website let alone the other 750-some-odd guys. Does that make me less credible? Somewhat, in that The Guide may have out-of-date material, however it does stand firm as a historical online snapshot of the WA wine industry circa the year 2000.

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Hi Mike. I did indeed intend my comment as a compliment to your seminal work on the MikeL’s guide. I too appreciate the distinction you made and I put “blog” in quotes when first referencing your on-line work. To me the on-line part of it, really started before Al Gore’s toy became common practice, makes me tip my cap to the WA wine info contained there-in. Cheers!

      Reply
  18. PaulG

    Catie,
    Please try not to take everything I write (and quite a few things I don’t write) as personal attacks! The “blogging will slowly fade” comment is from Ron Washam. I never said I agreed or disagreed; I merely asked the question. I am not accusing you or Josh of anything; I just asked a reasonable question. Credibility issues arise for me in particular because of my decades as a print journalist. The newspapers and magazines for whom I work have enforced extremely strict guidelines as to what I can do or not do with the influence that a byline affords. Yes, my newspaper columns sell a lot of wine, but not one nickel from those sales has ever gone into my pocket. A little different when you are the owner of the wine shop! And please forgive me for promoting my book. God knows, if it happens to sell moderately well, I might work my way up to minimum wage for the thousands of hours I put into it. But I doubt it. Believe it or not, that book (and the ones that came before it) are my way of giving back to the wine industry in this state. They will in fact become part of the legacy of the history of the development of this industry, and that is why I poured heart and soul into them. Not for the money, such as it is. Now please, keep blogging, run a successful business, and stop turning me into the enemy. I’m not the enemy!

    Reply
  19. Catie

    Paul,

    One big “sigh.” I didn’t feel it was a personal attack. However, your questions of “credibility” captured my attention especially since you also have a business (your book) which you discuss on your blog. And stop with the “forgiveness” on promoting your book, because if you will read back to my last comment I wrote: “And if you weren’t promoting your book on your blog and Facebook, you should be.”

    And that is what I believe, you should be and need to be promoting your book on your blog, on Facebook, Twitter et al. Because this is the point of social media – promotion. So with all that said, I was a bit perplexed in the fact, that you are promoting your book on your blog and you still remain very credible. So I wasn’t understanding why Josh and I couldn’t remain credible, as well?

    However, I will beg to differ with you on that your print column (or anybody’s print column) doesn’t get a nickel off of wine sales (or dog food sales, shoe sales, whatever sales). What is advertising? Wine ads meet the magazine payroll. That’s the livelihood of print.

    One more thing – I don’t think of you as an “enemy.” If I did think of you that way, I would ignore you and not waste my time because I don’t have time for “enemies.” That’s negative crap. However, I will take the time to try to understand (and even question) people that I value and respect. And that – - is how I roll.

    Reply
  20. PaulG

    OK, Catie, one more try here. You wrote “Now stop being a hater of wine blogs and come on over to the dark side. We’re waiting for you.” How on earth do I take that? I am so NOT a hater of wine blogs. I write a very successful blog – in fact, I’m now writing two different blogs. I truly enjoy blogging – why else would I do it? My point vis a vis newspapers is that I am absolutely forbidden to cash in on my recommendations. Of course the newspaper sells ads, that is not the point. The point is that it’s a little different when the blogger is also selling a product and pocketing the profits directly. I am NOT SAYING IT’S WRONG. I’m just asking the question – how do you deal with it? I would love to hear your thoughts on that, which is actually the topic I was trying to introduce. So roll on, and I wish you all good success, and ask only that you not misquote me and not categorize me as a hater of blogs.

    Reply
    1. drinknectar

      Okay you two (Catie and Paul) – play nice. I don’t think Paul would be classified as a blog “hater” and I don’t really think there is any jeapordy of Catie having her integrity compromised. In the end, like Charles Smith of K-Vintners says, “It’s just booze, drink it”

      I respect the both of you and Walla Walla if better for having the two of you there!

      Cheers!

      Josh

      Reply
  21. Catie

    Paul,

    And one more try here … How do you take? “Now stop being a hater of wine blogs and come on over to the dark side. We’re waiting for you.” How on earth do you take that?

    You take it with a large dose of humor and me trying to break the ice.

    Yeah, newspapers sell ads and that IS the point. I realize that jouralists are not allowed to “cash-in” (duh) but my point is that directly or indirectly (via paycheck) money is made. There are certainly several wine bloggers out there who are “blogging” online for newspapers and magazines with ads on their blogs (via newspapers/magazines). So therefore, my point is money is being made when we write about product. Period. Traditional print writers may not be getting the cash from the ads directly, but in a sense traditional print writers are getting the dividends via paycheck. That’s called commerce, economics, merchandising, whatever … The point and purpose of advertising. In the mean time, the old print media (in general) have been ruthless at criticizing bloggers for having a google ad or any kind of advertising to “make money.” And blogs get beat over the head time and time again about it from traditional old guard print media. It’s been a pure case of “Do as say. Don’t do as I do.”

    Paul you said: “The point is that it’s a little different when the blogger is also selling a product and pocketing the profits directly.”

    You are assuming I am “pocketing profits directly.” Well, first of all you are assuming that I even have “profits.” When I sell a bottle of wine, whether I blog about it or not, the so-called profits of my new business goes to pay my rent, utilities, more product and payroll. Hmmm…sound familiar doesn’t it. Just like newspapers/magazines who have to pay rent, utilities, more paper to print ads on and payroll.

    Since you are a blogger and not a hater of blogs, it would be great to see you write on your blog the more positive side of blogging. After the bloggers conference I felt you were pretty hard on the bloggers especially pointing out how many of them were “skipping carefully-planned events to nurse a hangover, etc.” I didn’t feel that was fair. We shouldn’t assume that bloggers were hungover and skipping carefully-planned events. As far as we know, bloggers may have been at other functions that were being held during the same time as the carefully-planned events.

    Thank you for the good wishes and I wish the same success for you and your book. I also ask the same, please don’t misquote me or put words into my mouth that aren’t there.

    Reply
  22. Catie

    Josh,
    If playing nice means that I have to shut up when someone assumes my credibility could suffer because I am “selling” a product, then I guess I won’t be “playing nice.” Paul poked the stick and questioned our credibility. He pokes the stick, but doesn’t like the stick getting poked back at him, is how I see it.

    I don’t know about you Josh, but I was surprised at the emails I received from readers of Paul’s blog and mine, wondering where did the “credibility” issue even come from. Many felt it was an attack on you and me personally and some were just stunned and wondered what our credibility had to do with the Hosemaster’s Farewell. The day that I read the issue about our credibility on Paul’s blog, I wasn’t all that fired up about it. But come mid-week, as I received emails from my readers,and when I saw they were upset, is when I started thinking about it differently – and a little more seriously.

    The truth of the matter is this and there is no denying it. Everybody is selling something. You might be selling a bottle of wine, a book, a Google ad, a print magazine ad or even just selling yourself or your brand, we are all “selling” a product. We sell ourselves every day.

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  23. 1winedude

    I have to chime in on this, knowing Paul a bit the last thing that comes to my mind when I think about him is “hater.” But I don’t see wine blogs as fading – I see them as eventually starting to fall into a few categories, such as those who are “new wine pros,” those who are “passionate consumers,” etc.

    I also have to say that Catie is totally right in that everyone is selling *something*. You do not earn one thing (credibility, money, etc.) without selling, even if the thing you’re selling is yourself.

    My bro-mantha Hardy is also tre wise when he points out that getting paid has little to do with credibility. The successful brands out there – and I include wine blogs in that list! – find the happiest marriage of both.

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