I started blogging over a year ago because I was growing more and more serious about travel hacking and was disappointed with the quality of the blogs I was reading. After just a few months I had already noticed a lot of problems within the blogging community:
- Blogs are repetitive. There are many more-or-less permanent features of rewards programs, and I was reading post after post repeating the same information. The Southwest Companion Pass is a great deal, but it's also a deal that hasn't changed in years: it doesn't require a new blog post, it requires a working search function;
- Blogs are boring. I love reading about tips and tricks for booking award tickets, but I have an incredibly low threshold for staring at pictures of every meal a blogger ate in Milan;
- Blogs are shills. In the United States of America in the 21st century, the finance industry is an all-consuming behemoth, swallowing everything it touches — and blogs are no exception. Credit card affiliate links are so lucrative it is simply impossible for a person of average quality to resist the kind of payday aggressive pitching of those links can provide.
That last point brings me to a post I read today on Matt's blog over at Saverocity. Matt asks the question:
"Can we create a new paradigm, where bloggers put the readers first, cut out the affiliate companies altogether, add value, and everybody wins?"
Obviously, there are a lot of people who think the travel hacking community would be better off without blogs and bloggers. While they undoubtedly have some legitimate concerns about blogs targeting people who don't have the financial responsibility to make it lucrative, those concerns are usually mixed with a self-interested belief that the fewer people who know about various techniques, the longer those techniques will remain viable for those in the know.
Personally, I blog because I want as many people as possible to have the same opportunities I do to travel the world for next to nothing, stay in 5-star hotels for the price of youth hostels, and make money taking advantage of credit card rewards programs. If 100 people find out about a technique thanks to my blog, then each month that technique continues to exist is worth 100 months of my taking advantage of it alone. My readers are my force multipliers.
This blog is not free
It's natural to think of everything available on the internet as "free," and that's certainly something I'm guilty of from time to time. But it's not true, and that's the fact underlying Matt's argument. If you want to read fresh, original content, someone has to be paying for it:
- It might be Google or another display advertising network paying the blogger for your surfing and click data, as well as any personal information stored in your cookies;
- It might be a credit card company hoping the blogger will provide less-than-objective analysis of a product if the payout is big enough;
- Or it might be the blogger paying for it by donating their money to pay hosting costs and their time to produce the content you value.
In none of those cases is the content free, just because access to it is.
Pay for content worth reading
Over 500 readers visit this site each day, and hundreds more follow me on Twitter, through my RSS feed, or receive e-mail updates with new posts. That's how they find out about techniques I've covered in detail, like:
- Unleash your manufactured spend with Walmart bill pay
I don't currently have display advertising, and I don't have affiliate links, and I'd personally like to keep it that way. That's why rather than having Google pay for my content, or have the credit card companies pay for my content, I introduced the unprecedented opportunity for my readers to support the site directly by signing up for PayPal subscriptions.
A weekly or monthly contribution of $2, $5, or $10(!) goes directly to keeping this site proudly independent.
So if you've learned any tips or tricks from this site that have increased your ability to earn money and generate value, please consider signing up for a subscription or making a contribution directly to firstname.lastname@example.org (also accepted: Amazon Payments contributions!).
If each of my readers made a contribution of just $2 each month, that would guarantee this site's sustainability and independence for years to come. That's my goal, and I hope you'll join me in getting there together.
To subscribe, just visit freequentflyerbook.com and look for the drop-down box that looks like this:
And thanks in advance.