9 min 37 sec

Tech Employee Gets Paid to Visit Napa Wineries

This Bay Area transplant started blogging about Napa wines as a creative outlet, but she soon discovered that valley wineries were willing to pay for exposure.
Blog Niche Ideas Wine Writing

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What It's About

A wine lover connects the gap between beginners and experts.

Business Model
Skills Required
Wine Knowledge & Content Writing
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

We have looked at the role of personality in a side hustle a few different times. Especially when it comes to mediums like blogging or platforms like Instagram, people want to know about you. It’s true that the world of wine can be overwhelming or intimidating, but there are lots of ways they can learn about it. Kristen’s readers are interested in her perspective and her experiences, not just the knowledge itself.

Fun Fact

Although grapes grown in Napa Valley only represent 4% of the total grapes grown in California, the Napa Valley wine industry yields $50 billion dollars to the US economy. 95% of the wineries located in Napa Valley are family run, and 67% of these wineries produce fewer than 5,000 cases a year.

Notes from Chris

Episode 662

When Kristen Dussel first set her eyes upon Napa Valley’s lush vineyards, it was love at first sight. She couldn’t believe how beautiful it was—not to mention how delicious the wine could be—and dreamed of one day moving there after graduating from university.

And that’s what she did. She earned a degree in marketing and moved from Minnesota to San Francisco to work for a tech company. She loved the job. And she loved being so close to wine country.

She began visiting wineries on the weekends and soaking up all the knowledge she could. She was a fascinated learner, but sometimes it was just downright intimidating. The people she was interacting with at these wineries were seasoned sommeliers. The disconnect between the casual and enthusiast wine lover was clear—sometimes painfully clear.

Kristen wanted to close the gap, not only for herself but for other millennials who weren’t sure how—and just last fall, she realized the way to do it: a wine lifestyle blog.

In December 2017, Kristen launched her site, Wine Country Chick, and published her first blog: a review of Mumm Winery in Napa.

She published several more posts that month, making sure to stay active on social media. It quickly became clear that Instagram would have the most engagement for her brand since the market was so visual, so she focused on that.

She followed big names in the fashion and food world so that she could learn from their style. They posted frequently, favored certain kinds of photography, and published lots of Instagram Stories. So, naturally, she started doing it too. By early 2018, Kristen had amassed a small following of 3,000 people—and it was growing faster and faster.

In March, a local wine brand messaged Kristen and asked about the possibility of a sponsored post on Instagram. She couldn’t believe it. Someone already wanted to pay her for exposure! She quickly and excitedly agreed, celebrated with a glass of wine, and a couple weeks later, she had made $175 for something she would have done for free.

This opened up a whole new world for Kristen. The blog was just a creative project at first. But from now on, she wouldn’t just get to write about great wineries, she might actually get paid to do so.

Brands kept reaching out, and for the most part, partnerships went off without a hitch. Winecountrychick.com had its first $500 in June, and then in July the brand broke $1,000 and acquired her 10,000th follower.

These days, Wine Country Chick generates anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per month, depending on her full-time job commitments. Kristen’s 16,000 Instagram followers are highly engaged, and she reciprocates with constant engagement back. She’s thrilled that she’s built a profitable hustle in less than a year starting from scratch, and she loves that she’s helping others explore their passion along the way. Kristen is living the Napa dream.



Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Put yourself out there. People want to see the face behind the camera and the business. You will be surprised by how many people will respond positively and feel connected to you and your brand."
—Kristen Dussel #SideHustleSchool

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