I was glad to see that Jeff LeFevere, the author of Good Grape: A Wine Manifesto wine blog, now is writing an column for Forbes.com. 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 steveheimoff.com. 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.