WBC12 – Observations and Opportunities David Honig September 12, 2012 Extra Features 25 Comments 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. Observations 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. Opportunities 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. Editing 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. Conclusion 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. Who’s in? http://ancientfirewineblog.blogspot.com/ Jason Phelps Great observations and I’m definitely interested! Jason http://www.wild4washingtonwine.com William Pollard I’m in. Group websites, an intriguing idea – esp. the group editing. Keep me in the loop. Cheers http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ Richard Auffrey I think a significant issue is that many bloggers have enough difficulty finding time to write, so adding editing responsibilities to their plate may be too much. http://www.dallaswinechick.com Melanie Ofenloch I’m intrigued. Tell me more. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003441534361 Vlasis Thank you for sharing surpeb informations. Your web-site is so cool. I’m impressed by the details that you’ve on this site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched everywhere and just could not come across. What a perfect site. http://www.wineywomen.com Kim Kolb I’m game! http://wine-blog.bacchusandbeery.com Roger Beery Sounds good… Certainly interested…. http://winevalet.blogspot.com Catherine Whelan Very keen! Please keep me posted. http://www.DrinkWhatYouLike.com Frank Agree – WBC improves each year thanks to Zephyr’s commitment to continual improvement (soliciting and acting on feedback). Concentration through cooperation… interesting. Erika Szymanski I love the editing angle of this, David, both because everyone’s work improves with an editor and because I think that we learn to become better writers through editing the work of others. I’d love to be involved perhaps primarily for the editing. http://lifeofvines.com/ Marie Payton I’m intrigued also – would love to join up with others, but also need a home for #winechat schedule. Agree with Richard’s comment re:editing time on top of writing time. http://palatepress.com David Honig Richard and Marie, I agree, time is precious. This might not be for everybody. We’ve been running Palate Press, though, for three years this week. I’m going to London Sunday because we’re finalists for Roederer awards for Best Emerging Wine Writer (2 finalists, Erika Szymanski and Evan Dawson) and Best International Wine Website. I haven’t a doubt in my mind that any success we enjoy flows, as much as any other factor, from the initial decision that we would not publish anything that wasn’t edited by somebody other than the writer. Editing makes the story better. It also makes both the writer and the editor better writers. It is truly a marvel to see the improvement from one story to the next, as writers and editors work together. http://palatepress.com Ryan Reichert I can’t agree more with this. I’d rather write less and edit more, personally. It helps my writing reading others, and certainly having my own work edited has been a blessing thanks to several very good editors who have been patient with me. Quality over quantity, and we’re all better off for it. http://www.missinwine.com Caroline Henry Totally agree – editing makes a big difference!! I really like the fact Palate Press edits – it makes for easier and better reading!! And I think we try harder when we know we are being edited!! Am definitely interested to become further involved! http://www.winehooch.com Michele Carreira Haid (Winehooch) This sounds very interesting to me. I would love to be kept in the loop as more details emerge. http://www.vineyardadventures.com Robbin_G Keep me posted! http://www.winerabble.com Michele Francisco I’m interested too. Please keep me posted as you firm up the plan. http://vinealvixen.wordpress.com Jules Gauvin I’d love to be apart of a group website for wine bloggers! You can count me in! http://wandering-wino.com Shawn Burgert You have my attention. Editing is (IMHO) a critical piece missing generally and something I’d likely benefit from most. I’d be interested to know if a story could be offered for sale as feature, if it is not able to fill the spot, the writer would then have the opportunity to market the story elsewhere? Pingback: WBC12 – Observations and Opportunities | How To Make Money From Writing Blog() http://tastingroomconfidential.com Mari Kane I’d be interested too and am wondering how the grouping will occur. Will the bloggers group themselves or will PP organize groups? http://palatepress.com David Honig Mari, Once we see enough interest generated (and I think that is happening), we will work with people to help them identify people with whom they would like to work, whether because of region (regional group sites would be great, don’t you think), attitude (how about a kool kids site?), interest, etc. http://www.TheFrugalWineSnob.com Carolyn Blakeslee Sounds like a great idea. Count me in! http://arnoldwaldstein.com/ Arnold Waldstein Thanks for this…. So you basically pay $150 per post. Please confirm. If that is so, the real value to the writer than is personal brand and fallover to whatever other online or offline work they do. Makes sense. I guess my request which is normal amongst the open blog press is to open up your stats. Monthly uniques. Traffic sources and the like. Normal procedure. What you would do for advertisers and would be interesting to set the scene for writers. If you have done this prior, I apologize and simply give me a link. Thanks! Helene Hi, I’d like to be kept in the loop as well. I can always benefit from editing! In fact, I’d probably write more if I knew there were a couple extra eyes reading it to catch bad syntax, etc. Thanks!