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(Get ready for a jumble of unorganized thoughts.)
Pushing credit cards on blogs isn’t a new trend. But what is new is that more readers are starting to react to the constant pushing of credit cards.
I tried to get affiliate links. I kinda sorta have them (see the front page or this link about getting a rewards credit card). I’m also kinda sorta glad I have them in a roundabout way – so no fear and/or responsibility of having 55 affiliate links in one post (yes, that has really happened). I’m grateful when people use them but there’s no expectation there, and it doesn’t drive my content. It’s a “nice to have”, not a necessity.
I appreciate how TPG has been throwing in posts centered around destinations, truly helpful tips and tricks, and other good little nuggets – in addition to the posts laced with affiliate links. I don’t mind those posts because the other stuff is worth it.
For MMS, it’s simply targeted to beginners. I respect it as a great, valid starting point for those entering into the hobby. They definitely have their voice and circles/arrows, but dang it, those circle and arrows helped me to understand what to look for as a beginner. So props to them for knowing their audience.
I’ve also seen other bloggers ask readers what they want to read about. I’m bull-headed in that way: I just write about things I find interesting. Sometimes it’s credit cards, sometimes it’s terms and conditions, getting the most value out of points, or how I spend my days while traveling. That last point is what I’d like to work up to more. Talk more about what I do when I travel, and exactly how I redeemed my points (trying to do that with the Booking Dublin posts).
Is content within this space driven my money AKA credit card affiliate links? Absolutely. Is there a way to mix those in while staying authentic? Hmmm…
Just like bloggers want affiliate links, credit card companies want “good” accounts from the people who click those links: no churners, multiple cards, no one trying to get the bonus and run. Between the credit card companies and the readers are the bloggers, and that creates an interesting dynamic.
I like TPG’s model: yes, keep the credit card posts, but reward readers with content that backs off it a little. Actual content about travel. Real writing, not sales pitches.
It’s hard to do that without sounding a bit hypocritical, but there will never be one blog (or blog post) that pleases everyone and isn’t sales-y in some way. Part of sales is educating and people want to be educated about the hobby. So at some point, it all merges.
I have a hard time saying that travel is “free.” It’s not free.
Well, it IS free sometimes – it can be free (with the right credit cards), but it’s often just “really cheap.” Not totally free.
Even if you’re paying $0, you’re still “paying” with your time, your energy, your efforts, and your opportunity costs while you’re away from home base. Is travel worth it? Absolutely, nearly every time. (Notice how I am avoiding extreme positions here.)
I’ve had underwhelming trips. I’ve had trips where I knew I’d miss out on an opportunity, and took them anyway because I wanted so badly to go. I’ve had fun getaways, long stays, business trips, and times when I left because I just really missed my Mom.
MS-ing is becoming harder. It’s there if you know where to look – and it takes time. Another opportunity cost.
Airlines are profitable now, and are cutting benefits and left and right.
Even Club Carlson, the little hotel loyalty program that could, is clawing back benefits.
As consumers, we aren’t being showered with points any more. We are paying more for the same service. Supply and demand in action. And the blogs are a product of their environments, very much so.
I’m going to try to straddle these lines as best as I know how. More focus on travel writin
Is that even possible nowadays? With all these blogs?
What is authenticity anyway? What is real writing – and what is not?
Not really sure what the answers are here, or if I can answer them for anyone else.
I’m glad we have all of the posts that tell us how we could earn points and use them – and usually it’s by opening a new credit card and using points/miles.
I’m not so glad I have to wade through a million “ZOMG it’s First Friday get the Chase Sapphire Preferred right now!!!” posts every first Friday of the month. But I still want the information before and after that.
And some people might not already know about First Friday, or it’s a good reminder for people who already have the CSP. So… where is the line?
I managed to write 1,000 words of rhetoric with no tight conclusion, which may be the point the industry is at right now. I’m not sure what feelings are in this post, but whatever they are, I’m glad to’ve acknowledged that they exist.
And at the end of the day (I hate when people say that yet it seemed to fit so well here), I’d like to grow my readership instead of alienate…
If you’re still reading, thanks for making it this far. Would anyone like to add any thoughts about the topic of authenticity within the travel blogosphere?
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