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Beyond blogging


I was glad to see that Jeff LeFevere, the author of Good Grape: A Wine Manifesto wine blog, now is writing an column for This is a big step for Jeff, whom I’ve come to know through the tight little world of blogging, and I congratulate him. His first post was to introduce Forbes readers to what he calls “the best of the best” of wine blogs, and I’m pleased to say he included Jeff wrote:

By day, Heimoff is the longtime wine critic for Wine Enthusiast wine magazine. By night, he’s the author of his eponymous blog that tweaks the empiricism of wine criticism. His is a thoughtful look at the frailty and foibles of a career that appears to many wine lovers as the pinnacle vocation.

Thank you Jeff! I love that phrase “tweaks the empiricism of wine criticism.” I’m not sure what it means, but it sounds like something I’d do. As for the “frailty and foibles” of  my career, that”s for sure; there’s plenty of it–frailty–and them–foibles in this job. Too many, sometimes, for my comfort level. But that’s life. What I don’t know is if I’m really at “the pinnacle” of my chosen vocation. There may be peaks I have yet to scale.

One thing that’s interesting about Jeff’s new gig, in the context of how to make money blogging, is that Jeff didn’t monetize his blog. Instead, he used it to get well-known and respected, and then launched out with a paying gig from a mainstream source, in this case Forbes. (I am assuming and hoping he’s paid!) Joe Roberts, at 1WineDude (who also made Jeff’s list), also is taking this approach. I doubt if his blog is making much money, but Joe is using the fame he garners from it to get paid for doing other things, like speaking engagements and who knows what else. I have a hunch–hell, it’s more than a hunch–that Alder Yarrow, at Vinography, and Tyler Colman, at DrVino (both of whom made Jeff’s list), are doing the same thing. They may make a few shekels from paid advertising on their blogs, but it’s not gonna buy them a house in the Hamptons. Yet they’re probably both doing fairly well in ancillary areas.

I’ve said for a long time that a wine blog can’t make money. Well, we now see a few writers who have launched full-blown websites that go well beyond blogs, and who hope to make serious money, such as James Suckling and Steve Tanzer. Their sites aren’t just blogs, they’re theme parks you can visit and go on different rides, eat different foods, and in general decide how much you want to spend and how long you want to stay there. (This is also the New York Times’ new approach.) We can’t really know if Suckling or Tanzer are making a profit off their new sites. Tanzer, of course, has his safe and presumably lucrative job as editor of his newsletter. Suckling appears to have no other job, but is reputed to be financially backed by big money (and his daughter is some kind of rock star, I’m told). But it will be interesting to see if James’s gig, which appeals to Big Snobs, is still around in a year or two. He’s taken a lot of ridicule, most of it well deserved, but he may be laughing all the way to the bank.

Anyhow, way to go Jeff! We are seeing before our very eyes the next generation of famous wine writers emerging from the ranks of blogging by going beyond blogging. “Many are called but few are chosen” and it looks like Jeff is one of the chosen few.

  1. James McCann says:

    I believe Suckling’s daughter is a 13 year old choir girl singing classical music.

  2. Congratulations to Jeff along with all the really fine writers he references in his first piece. In particular, Jeff deserves more opportunity…his writing is insightful and the way he sums up the online wine content landscape in his piece is indicative of Jeff’s cut-to-the-chase pithiness that always provides fun and valuable context.

    Any wine blogger I know personally can comfortably say the steady act of content creation has lead to opportunities, once unavailable to them, to advance their involvement and appreciation in the world of wine. That’s the beauty of committing untold time creating social content and developing their voice, and it’s unleashing the once untapped drive living in so many smart and creative people that never would have seen the light of day before the blogosphere exploded.

  3. Adam nailed it (as he often does in his comments!).

    Content is pretty much a commodity now, and a free one. So trying to make a living through content alone is very, very difficult and isn’t a good long-term strategy. It’s probably not even a good medium-term strategy.

    A blog can make you some money, but there are limits: e.g., advertising is limited by the traffic you get in your niche.

    But your personal brand? Potentially limitless, if you can really deliver the goods and provide value for people, and if you really give a crap about those people and prove it to them in tangible ways.

    Of course, I’m not saying this having arrived at any milestone or achievement point – I’ve just been fortunate enough to get time with people who have arrived, and they’ve convinced me that I am just barely getting started, just getting my foot into the door in all of this stuff. It’s scary and exciting and fun and amazing stuff. Who wouldn’t want to dive into that kind of pool?

    Jeff is a real talent and a very, VERY good person. He’s going to wow the readership and totally hit this out of the park, and he deserves every bit of it. And it stands as another reminder of how powerful the social media tools are – and they are only tools, they’re not the message – when wielded in talented and powerful enough hands.

  4. Steve,

    Tyler Florence is a celebrity chef. Tyler Colman is the publisher of Dr. Vino.

  5. Right. Water on the brain. I made the correction.

  6. Dale – And Tyler Durden makes and sells soap.


  7. Interesting how there are no women are in his list, which proves the study that men read men and women read women… Hum…

  8. Steve,

    There is nothing about the blogging platform and the act of wine blogging that prevents someone from making money doing…even REALLY good money. In fact, the method for doing this is pretty straight forward: Increase your readership. Get 200,000 unique viewers readinb your blog each month and your advertising dollars will easily allow most bloggers to quit any other job they may hold and never look back.

  9. Tom, your analysis is correct except for one thing: No wine blog in the English language I’m aware of has anywhere close to 200,000 uniques a month, and I doubt if they will anytime soon. Maybe Gary V. is the exception. I don’t know what his uniques are. But he’s making his $$ from writing and speaking and of course also from his family’s wine business, not from his online thing.

  10. Jo, good point! I wonder how Jeff would reply, if he’s reading this.

  11. Dude, thank you for acquainting me with Tyler Durden’s bootie site,

  12. Steve,

    Thank you for pointing out my new Forbes column. On a personal level, it’s gratifying in that as much as bloggers want to talk about credibility, etc. the fact remains that a well-regarded masthead is a premiere level of validation and a bigger platform — much more so than I could or have achieved in 5 years of scribblings at my own site.

    In regards to Jo, I could have written a list 4x longer and included her site as well as Alice Feiring’ (amongst others), but the point was to thin-slice the 1% of wine content online, not be inclusive of everybody that deserves merit (and there are a bunch that deserve merit). Maybe I’ll do a second edition — it might be a nice segue into original content.

    Regards to all on this comment string,


  13. Thank you Steve (and commenters) for accurately explaining the value of blogging and letting me know I’m in good company when patiently answering the question, “how do you make money?” My old answer, “writing is what I do with my pent up curiosity and need to communicate. I’ve chosen a subject that is infinite and global with an insatiable audience. Oh, and my husband is very supportive.” My new answer, “you should read Steve Heimoff’s post about that. And by the way, I’m looking for paid opportunities in the global wine market if you know anyone.”

    Lastly, I’m excited to read Jeff in Forbes. Way to go Jeff! I’m feeling pretty passionate that Jo Diaz should have been on the list, she is in the top 1%. Anyone know who might pay for a story about female wine bloggers?

  14. Hum…Sour grapes Jo? What are African American or Asian women supposed to say? No women and no colored people on his list? Not only is he sexist he’s racist? Camman! It’s 2011, and although there are still a small percentage of neanderthals out there who do think this way, it would be impossible for Jeff to not only be hired by Forbes but also to have such a successful blog as If he actually thought this way, he would have been eaten alive by the blogosphere a long time ago. It is entirely possible that the blogs he mentions are in fact better than yours, and has absolutely nothing to do with gender, age, race or anything other than the content. This is not to say that your blog is poor, just not in the elite 4 in one person’s opion.

  15. Jo,
    You spoke my mind…
    Check “The Count 2010”
    where “Numbers don’t lie…”

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