There’s a very interesting thread over at FlyerTalk that started out discussing “the most useful frequent flyer blog” and then lately turned into a battleground over the merits of blogger pay, product placement, and original content.
As I begin my fourth week as a blogger, I have to say that many of the questions and complaints posted there are the same I had when I thought about how I would want to run my blog. Traffic is still climbing, and I’ve had recent inquiries regarding my interest in joining some of the travel blogger networks, so while it may be premature I’d like to think that I’m beginning to see the signs of success.
There are enough bloggers out there that it is very difficult to develop original content. I’ve certainly borrowed from a few others, though I try to include references and put my own spin on things. I am also trying to ensure that mine is not a blog full of credit card plugs and miles and points strategies. To quote User Name from post #197:
…[S]imply applying for a credit card can in no way be described as ‘hacking’ in my view. That’s just ridiculous.
If I were to advocate use of the term at all (and I don’t) then I would think at minimum it would apply to all of the geeky fare rule manipulation and FD-ing that goes on – as it requires both time, specialist knowledge and is genuinely a ‘behind the scenes and not-for-everybody’ kind of activity.
Blogs on point strategies certainly have their place. I read many of them and find them useful. But as someone who uses the term “travel hacking” in his blog’s tag line, I try to make sure I fit User Name’s requirement at least half the time. I have posted a little on fuel dumping to fan the flames and attract traffic during these crucial early times, but I can assure you I have more posts on other travel hacking topics in store for the future.
Two of the bigger complaints, however, were that some bloggers are milking their authority for credit card revenue and free perks, or that their content was simply copying what was posted elsewhere (especially FlyerTalk).
It’s becoming likely that I will be joining a new ad network much sooner than I expected so that the revenue I bring in from this site increases to a meaningful number. Right now I’ve only earned $10 in the last week. If I were to earn $10 a day I would be ecstatic, but it sounds like some full-time bloggers are earning much more. Let me be clear: I am not in this for the money. I have three manuscripts I’m working on right now in lab, and I enjoy blogging because it gives me an outlet to write something for fun. I also think it’s a cool topic and enjoy helping others.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I used to have two help pages on my blog where I volunteer to help you book either revenue or award travel for free. If at some point I go full out and start charging for this help, I promise my prices will be very competitive, and if I become part of a credit card referral network, I promise to keep it on the DL. I don’t want to be a full time blogger, so I think these are promises I can keep.
(If any of you ever played the online game EverQuest, I apologize for completely destroying the market for hand-made bags, for which I brought the price down from 200 platinum pieces to 100, and eventually 20. But I don’t regret it; prices were unreasonably high for something that required 2 platinum pieces worth of materials. 😛 )
As for content, I’m still developing my repertoire. I’ve spent some time discussing ITA and fuel dumping already. I think my posts on ITA were some of the most thorough I’ve ever seen, and while the fuel dumping exposé wasn’t terribly popular with some people, I don’t think it was any more revelatory than what can be found on FlyerTalk, some of it posted by the same people who complained to me. I’ve also rehashed some news articles and other bloggers’ posts, but part of my job, I believe, is to bring you interesting and worthwhile content. In the coming weeks I plan to discuss how to hack Hotwire and Priceline as well as the differences between meta search engines like Kayak and Hipmunk.
Lucky (from “One Mile at a Time”) responded in the thread that he sometimes re-posts information from other bloggers because even if he and many FlyerTalkers are already in the know, many casual readers are not, especially if his is one of the few blogs they read. I’m not sure how often I want to be copying other bloggers, unless there’s something you really ought to know, but I do think there are a lot of useful gems hidden in FlyerTalk and elsewhere that could be polished off and reintroduced to people who are new to the travel hacking game!
Anyway, I happen to own this little soapbox/blog and thought I’d say my piece. I don’t think anyone has anything to worry about with me, and I hope that over time I can develop a sense of trust with readers that I’ve seen shared with other bloggers I respect. If anyone has suggestions about how I can improve, today or in the future, I always welcome your comments and emails. 🙂 Thank you very much to those of you who have sent your messages of support or tweeted my posts to your friends!