When Should A Beer Blog Pay For Itself And The Beer?

Interesting to note that there are two comments today from pro-writing bloggers (ploggers?) mentioning how their connection to the blog connects directly or indirectly to income. Jack Curtain over at his Liquid Diet states:

…I want to once again express my deep gratitude to everyone who sent me their best wishes and especially those who generously “tipped the bartender” as a result of this posting, including one very kind snail mail of a brewpub gift card to which I will put good use. It is both demeaning and embarassing to ask for money, but I also think that the time and effort which goes into this site warrants some support now and then…

Jack is a writer who brings incredible experience as a newspaperman, beer columnist and published author. Another leading beer writer is Pete Brown who also touched on this idea today when he wrote:

“…I may be using some of the answers to this for a commercial project for which I will be paid money. If this offends your sensibilities and you feel it contravenes the unwritten ethics of blogging I apologise.

I find these comments somewhat unfortunate. Not because there shouldn’t be politeness in the world of beer writing but that this should not be an issue at all. I have been a very lucky beer blogger. See, I get ads and do so in a significant part because I have been doing this beer blogging for so long and have built up an insane body of work (1,543 posts and exactly 5,000 comments as of today). And I hope that body of work is also entertaining and informative. Beer pays for itself though those ads and has done so for three years now. It’s not a fortune and I spend it wisely. I don’t go to beer fests, don’t jump on planes to Europe for all those drinking sessions with Knut or Ron or Jeff or Pete (and a whack more to be sure) or drive deep into the US with Lew and Jay and Stan (and to be sure a whack more, too) – and I sure don’t buy every $32.00 Norwegian porter that I have recently seen foisted upon the shelves of beer stores in the northeastern US. But I do buy beer and gas and hotel rooms and generally use the money and goodwill the blog generates for sustaining my interest and also – as the impending Christmas Photo Contest 2008 prize list should show – to thank you for your support (…and mucho mucho gracias to those fine brewers who have already agreed to forward prizes.) I even have to pay taxes on the revenue as business income after deducting expenses as it is not incidental. I actually think that is very neat.

But that is not the real point. The real point is that there is yoinks and yoinks of money in beerand those who write about it should be supported by those who make beer, sell beer, distrubute beer and market beer….and maybe even those who are interested in reading about beer. I am not about to hit you, my readers, up as a result of this. I am not having an epiphany of how to make riches out of this gig. I do this because I like it. But if you are that part of the readership selling a beer, wouldn’t it seem clever to you that a few well placed ads for that beer collectively costing less than one print ad might be worth your while? As far as I am concerned there is a group of perhaps teo to twenty beer bloggers who deserve serious global attention for this sort of marketing. In addition – and this is even more to the point – there are dedicated and interesting local scene beer bloggers who should be supported by that local scene. If you are a microbrewer and you don’t know who your local beer bloggers are you are missing a huge opportunity. And, to be honest, if you are a brewer launching a new beer and you are not sending out samples by courier to beer bloggers as many brewers do (thank you very much) you are frankly pretty close to being out of line. Why would you expect your fans to be doing all the new media innovative heavy lifting they do for you and your beer without some recognition and compensation? Why is the incredible opportunity they present not part of your business plan?

By the way, I am neither embarrased to point this out or expect your sensibilities will be offended. Not that Jack or Pete are wrong in having such good manners but I think we should be a wee bit more realistic about all this – realistic about how money and new media work in the new craft beer economy. Now, excuse me as I am off to Twitter this post and place a link on Facebook to spread the word.

One thought on “When Should A Beer Blog Pay For Itself And The Beer?”

  1. Knut Albert – November 17, 2008 5:23 AM
    Some of the breweries see this, and I think they will have the edge on others in the market. It’s not easy to get samples of new beers sent my way, but there are some who manage to do that as well.

    I’d be happy to accept money to cover some expenses, too. Lucklily most of my travels are covered by other budgets, but the expenses of adding an extra hotel night or the fare for the side trip add up a bit.
    We’ll see how this develops over the next few years.
    I’m surprised about the number of beer bloggers who keep on writing – this is not a passing fad.

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