These days I don't spend much time reading other blogs, or FlyerTalk for that matter (although I do periodically post random thoughts on savings and investment in the Saverocity Forum). I'll skim the headlines in my RSS reader for new American Express "Sync" deals, and to see if any techniques are at risk of overexposure, but in general I have better (read: more profitable) things to do with my time than read about Japan Airlines award availability.
Award availability blogging is an interesting niche, it just doesn't have the slightest interest for me.
And of course the fact that so many bloggers recycle the same hoary talking points about the same commission-paying credit cards is another of the many reasons I rarely bother reading them.
Loyalty Traveler needs your pageviews
George, who blogs at TravelBloggerBuzz, recently pointed me towards an interesting thread on FlyerTalk, where some forum members were questioning a recent change in the format and content of the Loyalty Traveler blog.
The original poster posed the following question:
"Seems like there has been a shift from a 10 year+ focus on creative budget travel bookings to very frequent posts on rather ordinary airfare deals from SF Bay Area.
Has Ric addressed this new direction in any post? What is the motivation for these abrupt changes."
Lo and behold, the blogger himself appeared and gave the following explanation:
"The addition of airfare deals was motivated by a need for more page views for Loyalty Traveler blog. Ad revenue has dropped by more than 50% in the past two years, meaning 100,000 page views pays me less than half what I used to get. I can't publish two blog posts per day anymore and make enough ad revenue to stay afloat.
I'll probably start affiliate links this year too for hotel bookings.
Too many bloggers are writing in the hotel space these days to allow me to post content in the hotel space that is uniquely different enough from stuff readers see on other blogs. BoardingArea has become the 800-blog gorilla crowding me out.
I'd love to only write about places to go, but those stories do not generate enough interest to pay a living wage. I started blogging as a lifestyle job, so I can work from home and organize my days the way I want to live my days. For eight years, I have been sustaining my self-employment without the need to sell readers anything from affiliate links."
Motivated blogging is usually bad blogging. It may still be profitable!
Ric obviously knows his business model better than I do, so it may well be that he finds his profit is greater with the addition of West Coast flight deals than it was before.
And as a gleeful dropout from your economy, I understand perfectly well the desire to blog as a "lifestyle job," in Ric's words.
But since I mostly can't stand to read travel blogging, I understand even better his readers' point of view: reading those west coast flight deal posts feels exactly like reading posts written with the sole purpose of generating additional pageviews in order to increase the blogger's revenue.
Turns out, that's what they were.
Obviously it's easy for me to sit here and snipe, since my livelihood (let alone my lifestyle!) doesn't depend on pageviews. Here's a fun chart of my all-time Google Adsense revenue:
On the other hand, it's not just some kind of insane luck that I'm able to make a living writing the posts I want to write, when and how I want to write them. Rather, I set up this enterprise that way (almost) from the beginning.
The way I look at it, I have a simple deal with my readers: I write the best blog I can write, and enough readers sign up for monthly subscriptions to make it worth my time to keep writing. And honestly, when I glance at just the front page of my site, I see a slew of posts that make me think, "damn, this is a great blog."
So here's hoping it stays that way!