WBC12, the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Portland, Oregon, was a fascinating experience. Kudos to the folks from Zephyr, who get better at this every year. So many have written about it already that I feel no need to do a “best of,” review, or post-mortem of the event. Rather, I’d prefer to offer a few observations, and then some opportunities for wine bloggers from Palate Press.
My first observation, one shared by many of the old-timers (people who were in attendance way back when WBC was held in Santa Rosa), was wonder at the sheer number of new faces in the crowd. Some of that was certainly due to the large number of wine bloggers in the Portland area, people who were able to attend due to proximity. But there is little doubt that the world of wine blogging is growing, and that is good. Every new voice is welcome, and as the crowd grows, the skill and talent pool grows with it. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of wine blogging means so many voices, even the great new ones, have a harder time being heard in the cacophany. We think we can help.
My second observation is that wine bloggers, like good writers everywhere, are interested in writing as well as the possibly can. Everybody writes with their own “voice,” and no one style fits everybody. That said, every single one of us (and me more than most) can write something tomorrow that is better than what we wrote yesterday. We think we can help with that.
My third observation is that many wine bloggers would like to make money, or at least not lose money, with their writing. One of the hottest break-out sessions at every Wine Bloggers Conference is always “monetization,” and this year was no different. We heard several suggestions, from “write a book” to “market yourself, not your blog.” Speaking from the peanut gallery I offered a suggestion of my own – “don’t give the good stuff away when there are people willing to buy it.” What’s the good stuff, and how do you sell it? We think we can help with that, too.
Palate Press LLC has an offer for wine bloggers. The goals is to increase your exposure, improve your writing, and create a mechanism to identify the best work and get paid for it. The keys to the project are concentration through cooperation, editing, and sale and syndication.
Concentration through cooperation
There are a lot of wine bloggers out there. There are three basic ways to get your voice heard above everybody else’s. The first is a long slog, write and write and write, and get recognized for your talent. When it works it’s great. When it doesn’t, though, it is not really an indictment of your writing. You might be great, but never noticed. Another is to scream so loud everybody hears you. The blog equivalent is sh*t-stirring, from a diatribe about the 100-point system to attacks on fellow bloggers. That may get you noticed, but only until the echoes die down. The last way is to increase the chances you get seen. That can be done by concentration through cooperation. Put ten wine bloggers on one page and they will all get seen from one visit. You might attract viewers for people this week, while one of the other bloggers might bring people to you next week.
Palate Press LLC will host group websites. The goal is simple – put more people in one place so they are more likely to be seen. Front pages will look like Palate Press, with header art that rotates through all the individual websites. Each website will have its own page with all your stories, and new stories will post on the front page. Palate Press will pay for all the hosting, saving you the cost of a hosting site. Palate Press will also, for the first time, add links to its front page to the new group websites.
Palate Press has always started with the assumption that everybody benefits from editing. Hemingway had an editor. Shouldn’t you? Yes, of course you should. If you choose to participate in the Palate Press group websites, one requirement will be that every story be reviewed and edited by another website member. Everybody’s writing will improve from the experience.
Sale and Syndication
Palate Press: The online wine magazine is always looking for great stories and great writers. With the creation of Palate Press group websites, we will have a ready group of writers and stories producing quality content, content that already went through one level of editing. By participating in a Palate Press group website, you agree that Palate Press may select a story from the group website, assign an editor, and work with the writer to move it from there to Palate Press. We will pay our going rate for stories. In 2012 we are paying $150 for every Feature Story and $25 for every Short Story.
The Palate Press Story Bank is always looking for new content to sell in syndication. We will pay authors of any story sold in syndication the same rate as stories sold from the pages of Palate Press: The online wine magazine.
Palate Press Group Websites
Each Palate Press group website must have five to ten dedicated wine bloggers, producing, among them, an average of one story per day. Every story should include the author’s name and the editor’s name, and no story should be posted without editing by another site member.
Wine reviews can be in any format the authors choose, but should include a standard Palate Press shelf talker following the Palate Press format. The template will be included with the new website. Wineries and wine stores appreciate shelf-talkers, and every one of them is an advertisement and endorsement for your writing.
Stories will post in order of publication on the front page of the group website.
Every group website member will have their own dedicated internal page on the website. They are encouraged to send people to the main website to increase visibility for everybody, but will have their own page for dedicated fans.
Palate Press LLC reserves the right to sell advertising space in the sidebar and in stories posted on all Palate Press sites.
Palate Press LLC reserves the right to move stories from Palate Press group websites to the pages of Palate Press: The online wine magazine, in exchange for payment of our standard rate to the story author. Authors agree, by participating in Palate Press group websites, to sell those stories and to work with Palate Press editors to create stories for final publication.
That’s the whole thing. We will increase your visibility by concentrating the work of wine bloggers in one place and by linking them to each other and to Palate Press: The online wine magazine. Cooperation with other site members, including editing and review, will improve everybody’s writintg skills. And we will identify, buy, and syndicate your best work ourselves, without any additional effort by you other than, perhaps, some work with an editor.