I haven’t written much for a couple of weeks. I’ve got some new work contracts, I’ve been busy.
It got me thinking about the obligation economy, and how nobody is really on anyone's radar except their own.
We put pressure on ourselves to write and post Instagram reels, and reply to stuff on twitter, but why?
Who do we do it for?
I saw this from Libby Brodie.
It made me wonder if anyone really cares if I write this email on time every week, or if I just hold myself to account for these goals.
The engagement rates stay pretty similar* regardless of when or how often I post here. I guess, you just drop off people's radar eventually if you don’t keep it up.
The real issue for me is that this newsletter directly funds my Master of Wine studies, I even have it connected to a separate bank account so the monthly and yearly subscriptions just tick over.
The dosh is ready for when I need to pay for stuff like trips to study days and wine samples for practical practice, as well of course, the biggest cost, the study fees.
How much does it really cost?
The IMW site for the study fees is a little hard to decipher, so if you’re thinking of studying and have had a look at the costs, and thought it looks expensive, let me just break it down for you a little further.
Stage One Course Fee: £5,100.
This includes sitting the Stage 1 Assessment (S1A), and all seminars and study days. If you fail the S1A and need to re-sit, as many people do, you need to pay the £5,100 again. Potentially, getting through Stage 1 can cost you £10,200 in fees.
Stage Two Course Fee: £5,100
This cost is for each academic year you register for Stage 2, this covers the seminars and study days, but not the cost of sitting the exam. If I complete the year Oct 2023 - Jun 2024, and decide I’m not ready to sit the exam, I have to pay the £5,100 again for Oct 2024 - June 2025, and each year after that.
Stage Two Exam Entry Fee: £2,232
I need to pay this each time I attempt the full 4-day Practical & Theory exam.
Stage 2 Failure and re-sits all get a bit complicated, and a little bit cheaper**.
I hope that’s all cleared that up, sorry for really hammering the point home on that.
The MW on a shoe string
Obviously I’m not moaning about it. I’m ludicrously fortunate to have spent a very small proportion of my own money on this process so far. I’m also being incredibly frugal.
In Stage 2 however, not only does the amount of study and knowledge and skill required to pass increase, so does the pass mark****, as well as the potential costs.
The cheapest way of passing Stage 2 is to smash through it first time, in the first year. That is my current plan***.
If you want to be in the program, but skip sitting the exam one year, that is an expensive decision, as you have to sit the exam in a year when you’ve attended the seminars, so you can’t just defer a study year, and sit the exam when you choose to.
I need to keep up the momentum
What I’m really saying, is that I hope and pray that I’m not just shouting into a vacuum here, and that holding myself to account to write this newsletter (almost) every week is proving worthwhile to you all.
For the above £7,332 required Stage 2, by my calculations I need 180 people to subscribe, with an average of £40 for the year.
As of today I’m falling a quite short of that, a fair few of you have chipped in £20 for the year, and about the same again chip in £5 per month. I’m ever grateful to any of you that have paid enough interest in this so far to actually commit to paying.
I’ve always said that once I pass, and I will eventually, that anyone who pays can figure out something they'd like back in return.
This newsletter is a rather elaborate way of explaining why I give people the option to pay to read it. I honestly hope that you find it useful, and if you have the means, then I’d love you to consider contributing.
* Around 65% of email subscribers opening the email is considered pretty high.
** If you pass the Theory and need to just re-sit the Practical, you still have to pay the full £5,100 again, as well as slightly reduced ‘Practical Only’ exam fee of £2,016 totalling £7,116. If you pass practical, the Theory Only course fees are only £3,284 plus a reduced ‘Theory Only’ exam fee of £1,188, totalling £4,402
*** An audacious assumption, I know. I know.
**** Stage 2 pass mark is 65%, not 55% as with S1A.
A recent post from Katie Mather, about a lovely book that she’s put together for Wine52’s Glug Magazine. I’ve written a few pieces for Glug recently.