Who’s a Pro?

I’ve been thinking about what makes "professional" ever since reading Ryan’s Post and the following comments over at Catavino.

Ryan’s query was: "Does it make someone more of a professional if their (wine) reviews are only
accessible through payment? Does the exchanging of money make a
person’s opinion (what any review by anyone really is) worth more?"

I’m not sure if the question is different if it’s applied merely to blogging vs. wine reviewing. I don’t think it is. Nonetheless, I started to wonder if I’ve become a professional "something" as a result of my blogging. Let’s look at the details:

1. The work on Fermentation is mine.
2. I take money in exchange for the placement of advertising on the blog
3. I often consult for money specifically on the issue of blogging
4. I give talks to professional organizations on the topic of blogging
5. I regularly receive press releases based on my blogging.
6. I get invited to events based on my blogging.
7. I spend about a half hour to an hour a day focused on my Blog in some way.

Is it possible to be a professional anything if you only spend an hour a day working on that thing about which you presume to possess professional knowledge?

Clearly it is possible.

Does it come down to whether or not one makes a "living" based on this thing you profess to have professional knowledge of? I think so. I think this is the hard, cold fact. Unless you can support yourself financially based on your blogging, your are not a "professional" blogger.

I’ve often wondered what would become of Fermentation if I worked 5-6 or even 8 hours a day on its content and services. I think that would make me a professional wine writer working in a blog format. However, I’m still not sure what it would look like or what it would become. It would be interesting to know.

At this point Fermentation is an outlet for my personal thoughts and opinions, a place to encourage the growth of a publishing format inside the wine industry, a promotional vehicle for Wark Communications and an advocacy vehicle for change I think needs to occur. But, one thing it is not is a venue for a professional wine writer.

The comments and the post over at Catavino are very interesting. Take a look.


5 Responses

  1. Derrick Schneider - October 16, 2007

    I disagree that you need to make a living at something to be a professional. I stick with the strictest term, a person who makes money at their task. You are a professional blogger, because you make money on your site. I am not, because I don’t take ads.
    I call myself a professional writer, a professional teacher, and a professional programmer because I make money at all those jobs. I only make a living from one of them.

  2. Oenophilus - October 16, 2007

    I agree with you in that “Professional” is rooted in “Profession”. While we all do many things with our lives these days, I would hazard to say that few of us have more than one profession. My profession is a vintner: I own a company, I make wine, I market wine and I sell wine. That is my profession.
    However, professionals are not the only experts and a professional is not necessarily an expert in the entire field. I am a winemaker, but I definitely do not consider myself an expert in enology. I am a blogger, but I am neither an expert in writing nor am I an expert in computers. I am an expert in Roman Catholic liturgy. I am an expert wine educator. I am an expert masseur. I am an expert bed-time story teller. Are there angles dancing on the head of this pin? Probably. Professional or expert may just be a semantic discussion.
    To the meat of Ryan’s posting: If a site charges a subscription fee or is supported by a print publication that does, they should pay you for your EXPERT reviews whether or not you are a PROFESSIONAL. Should any of us bloggers -expert or professional or otherwise – charge curious surfers? I think that might be a step over the thin line that makes US better than THEM.

  3. Jill - October 16, 2007

    I am a professional…a professional dilettante. I will accept money for anything I do, no matter how poorly. I will write with authority about any subject, no matter how much (or, more accurately, how little) I know about it (for those of you who don’t know me, which constitutes most of you, I am *mostly* joking).
    Okay, so I am probably not even qualified enough to speak to this topic.
    But there has been a lot of discussion about this whole ‘what constitutes being a professional’ question — especially as it relates to the blogosphere.
    Perhaps the most taked about and controversial text on the issue is “The Cult of the Amateur” by Andrew Keen (http://andrewkeen.typepad.com/).
    Personally, I can’t comment on the Keen text because I haven’t read it. I’m too busy reading and writing blogs.

  4. Derrick Schneider - October 16, 2007

    Here’s another thought: I’m sure you know lots of respected winemakers who have “day jobs.” For that matter, I’m sure you know lots of writers.
    But if you can think of any, I’m sure you wouldn’t say they weren’t professional makers or writers, would you?

  5. ryan - October 17, 2007

    What about the fact that because of the work on do on Catavino, I know I have working helping wineries access the internet? Without Catavino, and the work with do with it, we wouldn’t have a job working with wineries…Odd! I bet this is somewhat true with you Tom, your blog probably adds to your work outside of blogging, even in a small way.
    I think we have many “Professionals” blogging right now who deserve more than they get from Google ads. I want to find a way to get more bloggers at the very least a higher level of respect.
    This week we are in Jerez as wine professionals, no pay, but that’s how we are billed! We’re here to learn about Sherry wine. I’ll ask around with the other invitees(many who are “professional wine writers”, as to what they think…Should be interesting.
    Thanks for the comments Tom.

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