Wine Blogging of the Future?
Today Palate Press launches.
This venture, called a blogazine by its editor W. R. Tish, attempts to coral some of the top blog voices in the business to produce not an aggregation of content, but a wine web site that delivers original content with a distinctly blog-oriented voice and perspective.
This is an idea that I've been approached with or consulted on by various folks, most of whom have in the the back of their mind the idea that some how, some way, bloggers need to find a way to monetize their efforts. I understand this concern perfectly well. Here's what I know about blog monetization:
It can only be accomplished around a relatively large and devoted audience.
I don't care what your monetization model is: subscriptions, ads, affiliate marketing, wine clubs. Without lots of eyeballs looking at your content no monetization scheme will work. This means one thing and one thing only: Palate Press and any other wine blog publishing effort must spend considerable time and effort marketing its content.
Now, it's not as though this kind of online wine magazine idea hasn't been tried before. Some of you will remember WineToday.com, a remarkable and early on-line wine magazine-like effort rolled out and run by the New York times. It was superb. It failed.
Wine Review Online, started by long-time wine writer Robert Whitely who rounded up a number of top American wine writers and reporters, continues to this day. I can't speak to its monetary success. It takes advertising. And I see six or seven ads currently running.
I wrote for a similar effort begun in 2006 called Wine Sediments, a "channel" on the "Well Fed Network" of collaborative blogs. There was extended the possibility of a bit of payment for my efforts. Nothing.
I'd love to see Palate Press go gang busters, attract a huge audience, be profitable and, in the process, bring a slight change to the on-line wine media world. Its line up of writers/bloggers is impressive. It's format seems reasonable. Time will tell if it can produce significant and regularly updated content, but for now I have no reason to believe it wont.
Still, I can't emphasize enough the poverty of the "Build it and they will come" strategy of on-line publishing. So much has been built already that the key now is directing the crowds though the maze of buildings to their destination. My hope is that Palate Press has at least one person devoted entirely to sales, marketing and public relations. My hope is that there is a certain amount of capitalization to sustain even a small initial marketing campaign.