It’s official: blogging doesn’t make money
We — the wine blogosphere — seem to have reached a tipping point in 2009. The realization has finally sunk in: blogging doesn’t make money and never will. You hear it in off-the-cuff remarks such as one from Joe Roberts, AKA 1WineDude, who commented on WineDiverGirl’s blog the other day. WineDiverGirl was wondering if some kind of certification for bloggers might be a good thing, which led 1WineDude to disagree. Instead of a new blogging certification, he wrote, “it would be far better…to get a recognized cert., such as WSET or SWE. That way, when they realize that they can’t make any $$ from blogging, they might be able to get a job in the wine industry!”
Pity the poor bloggers. Just last October at the Wine Bloggers Conference, everybody was gaga over breakout sessions with titles like “Making Money from Your Blog.” Blogging had the look and feel of an Initial Public Offering: get in on it early, then ride the wave as the value soars and you get rich.
Some IPO! The last quarter of 2008 will be remembered as the Period of Brutality in which many dreams died a horrible death, and one of those dreams was the one about making money from your blog. We have learned — it’s official now — that it just can’t be done.
Why not? Because of the fundamental nature of the Internet. Its basic weltanschauung (one of my favorite words) is free. Nobody wants to pay money for online content. They get really angry when you try to force them to. The Internet was born as a subversive revolution against the for-profit system, and any time someone tries to launch a counter-revolution, they get their butts kicked. The perfect example of this was when the New York Times, which offers a free online daily edition, tried to get people to pay for special access to the columnists, like Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman and Tom Friedman. The public refused; the Times was embarrassed, and now, the columnists are once again free.
Blogs won’t make money because there’s no model for a revenue stream. If you charge readers for access, they’ll simply go elsewhere. (There are obvious exceptions, such as Ms. Robinson and Mr. Parker.) Advertising revenue, so far as I can tell (and my blog doesn’t take advertising), might give a blogger some chump change, but nowhere near enough to live on. Beyond subscriptions and advertising, there’s no other revenue stream. Or am I missing something?