Beertown is dropping its news website format and will continue as a blog.
Since 2015 I’ve operated Beertown.NZ as a news website with regular updates, articles and even job listings. I took on advertising from April last year, allowing me to continue to provide free content and craft brewing news.
Unfortunately this year I’ve struggled to generate enough advertising and I haven’t had an income.
Craft-beer media has changed a lot since I launched Beertown. In particular, the Society of Beer Advocates allied with Pumpt Advertising to operate Pursuit of Hoppiness magazine. Pumpt Advertising is extremely efficient, and Pursuit’s ad take has gone from less than $30,000/yr in 2015 to more than $85,000/yr in 2017 (at publicised ad rates). I simply don’t have the resources to compete against an advertising agency and continue to research and write Beertown’s articles.
And SOBA’s incorporated society status means it can run Pursuit at no profit. The Society gathers $36,000 or so in subscriptions each year on top of its $85,000 ad revenue and it’s amassed substantial cash reserves. The Society could run Pursuit at a loss indefinitely and that’s something no business can match.
This formidable combination of a commercial advertising agency fronting for the not-for-profit Society, plus Pursuit’s unpaid content, is something Beertown.NZ Ltd. hasn't been able to compete against. So from today Beertown is switching from a news website to a blog – no more ads, and less frequent updates.
I’m not blaming SOBA/Pumpt Advertising for Beertown’s financial woes. Beertown’s a one-man-band and when a one-man-band is out of tune you know who to blame. Until now I’ve treated Beertown as a full-time job and accepted the fact I’ve had no income during the start-up phase.
I love beer writing and plan to continue finding, writing and publishing the great beer news. While the free content/advertising model hasn’t worked I now have the opportunity to work on new Beertown features and develop a sustainable business model.