One of the great things about a blog is its timeliness, you see right up front what’s new, what’s going on now. What’s not as good is that older posts can often continue to be useful, and for sure there’s a search function which I’ve found to be pretty good but you need to know what to look for.
Over time I’m written quite a few posts, how to’s, advice on travel that I suspect readers would continue to benefit from — either because they want to be reminded, or they weren’t reading the first time through.
I’ve only just begun building these out, if you have suggestions I’d appreciate them, also questions that I ought o answer of a rather timeless variety I could do a current blog post on and link to on the best advice page.
You’ll also notice a new box on the left hand side, it was added a few weeks ago, which will let you subscribe to a daily digest of posts from by blog by email. I used to have an email list, from about 2003 through 2006 or thereabouts, and it was quite popular. With a change in blogging software that feature went away and it’s probably the single most common request that I get, some people prefer to get their content pushed via email so they don’t need to remember to check in for updates and they don’t want to miss content. Of course there are plenty of ways to accomplish this — follow @garyleff on Twitter, subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed using your favorite blogreader (I use Google Reader), friend me on Facebook. But I like to make sure that folks can read this in whatever way is most useful/convenient to them. Thanks to Randy’s staff at the House of Miles for bringing back the email digest feature.
Another slight change is that I’m testing some referral link offers, really for my own understanding. Hopefully you’re listen to my explanation, because I’m not really looking to monetize the blog in new ways. In fact, some will remember that I expressed concerns and sought advice on blogger junkets. I think it’s really important that readers be able to trust and find useful the content that I write. I’ve never taken a free hotel stay. My hotel experiences aren’t ‘the same as everyone else’s’ — they’re primarily the experience of an elite member who pays close attention to which hotels offer the best treatment and which award redemptions or rates offer the best value. So they’re replicable. Based on the number of bad hotel stays I’ve had, I’ve never gotten the sense that hotels are treating me differently because I blog though you should always consider that it’s possible even if I don’t realize it (and I don’t ever do a “DYKWIA” and try to throw blogger weight around, some would argue that I am too heavy but it’s unlikely that I would otherwise carry much weight in any case).
Personally, I find excessive pushing of affiliate offers to be aesthetically distasteful. And I wouldn’t want to offer different advice, ever, because there’s an affiliate marketing offer. It’s hard to imagine anyone being offered money to promote something wouldn’t be influenced, Daraius thought it would be an interesting business school study to look at things like frequency of posts about credit cards, comparison of similar offers and whether promoted offers are mentioned more, etc.
At the same time, banks are offering referral commissions and sending applicants to the banks while declining those commissions seems silly. Perhaps the bank money could be put to good use. Like donating the funds to charity, or reducing the amount of paid consultation work that I do and offering that time up to help frequent flyers without charge. In other words, not actually bumping up my own income, but using the referral cash to do some good. Corny? Maybe.
But my motivation here is mostly curiosity and it doesn’t represent any kind of real change in the blog. Rather what actually prompted me to be willing to put up a handful of referral links is the recent meltdown in shopping portal offers from EasyCGI (US Airways, Hawaiian Airlines) and Verizon Wireless (American, Delta), I realized just how ignorant of affiliate marketing I really was. I didn’t even understand why I needed to create a separate AAdvantage Shopping account, since I already had an AAdvantage account, I certainly didn’t realize I was interacting with Cartera Commerce not American Airlines.
I’ve criticized blogger junkets and referrals to a certain extent out of ignorance. I’m not going down the junket route, but I think I’ve done my readers a bit of a disservice in recommending shopping portals, bonuses they offer, etc. without fully understanding how affiliate marketing works. So if I can boost my own understanding, learn about better offers earlier, and use resulting cash for good purposes, it’s worth signing up for a few and seeing what I can learn. I don’t know much yet but if you have any questions about all of this, please feel free to ask, mostly I wanted to be transparent in my thinking.
I also thought I’d share some early choices in links. I have only linked to offers of credit cards that I actually carry in my wallet plus also the Southwest Rapid Rewards 50,000 point signup offer, largely because Mommy Points posted on it this morning and I realized that for some folks interested in cheap travel (I’m not personally interested in flying Southwest) it can be a really useful offer.
I do think it’s really important to never have an offer up that is less than the currently most-lucrative available. Not even just saying “don’t use my referral link, use this one instead” but actually taking down the link (which I’ll try to remember to do) whenever there’s a better one out there.
Some folks in the modern age wouldn’t ever do a bonus of less than 50,000 miles. I think of it a little bit differently, it depends on spending patterns, my wife’s business has very high spending in a bonused category for instance and I got her a credit card for that purpose, rather than waiting for a better signup bonus, because I thought that the bonus miles from spend foregone would be greater than the loss of future signup bonus miles. I wouldn’t tell anyone to sign up for a 15,000 mile bonus offer for the 15,000 miles as a signup bonus but I might describe why an offer of less than 50,000 miles might be valuable in certain circumstances.
Anyway, it’s all an experiment. Perhaps I’m too close to it to judge and I”ll count on my readers for feedback along the way. I trust and appreciate y’all!