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Amazon $30 Gift Card Giveaway in Exchange for Feedback, Plus Rant

I was thinking the other day that it’s been too long since I did any kind of a reader giveaway, so it’s time to change that! Also, now and again, I need to rant. So I figured, why not kill two birds with one stone?

Miles and points blogging industry can be a noisy place. Not literally, of course, but in a figurative sense. It can also be harsh and cruel at times. When I started almost three years ago, nobody knew who I was. I wasn’t active on Flyertalk or blog comments sections, and pretty much did this hobby on my own for over  a decade.

Making yourself vulnerable online and writing words that people will actually read is scarier than you might imagine. I don’t think one can truly prepare for it, it’s sort of a trial by fire. So, it was quite unpleasant when total strangers started calling me an idiot, stupid housewife, twit etc. Naturally, being a lady blogger (industry term du jour for gals like myself), I ended up OVARYacting.

Your first inclination when something like that happens is to prove everyone wrong. I’m not really dumb! I’m an interesting person and not just a  housewife! Really, I am! I have dreams and might even fly in Singapore suites one day! Like me, please, like me!

I hate to admit it, but I got sucked into this dysfunctional merry-go-round  for the first few months of blogging. Some of the criticism was totally deserved, but there  was a lot of noise too. It finally dawned on me: am I really trying to prove myself to total strangers on the internet, people who I will most likely never meet in real life? Pass. To quote Alfred from previous “Batman” franchise: “Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Burn.”  Speaking of, new “Batman vs. Superman” was kind of “weak sauce,” except shirtless scenes of Henry Cavill.

I also try not to cater to other bloggers, including cool kids. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for a fight or anything.  I absolutely don’t write my posts with the idea of how much I can irritate blogger so and so. If that’s how it comes across, it’s not my intention. I try to be respectful to others and  listen to their opinions. It’s important to keep an open mind whether it’s real life or virtual one.

But one thing I don’t do is try to create content so I can impress other bloggers. They know as much as me about miles and points, and many times way more. It would be a pointless and futile use of my time. I’m here to write for normal, middle-class family, period. If that means creating content that comes across as “vanilla” to my colleagues, so be it.

I’ve actually written posts and ended up deleting them because they were too complicated. It’s not that I think my readers aren’t smart enough, it’s more like who has the time and patience for 10-step strategies? I know I don’t. Speaking of blogging Dont’s, there  are 4 things I try to avoid, in the order of significance:

Don’t be petty.

Don’t be resentful.

Don’t be stupid.

Don’t be a sellout.

But the  most important “Do” for any blogger  is listening to his/her readers. Of course, you have to be careful. There are three types of feedback in the miles and points industry:

1) Nasty trolls

These folks simply use bloggers as their punching bag, something to vent their frustration. Nothing is off-limits. They insult height, weight, gender, religious beliefs, basically stuff that has absolutely no bearing on one’s ability to write about miles and points. In real life, I have no doubt, most of these guys and gals are polite individuals. But internet definitely exposes one’s true self. These trolls are relatively harmless because they only make themselves look foolish.

2) Clever trolls

These individuals never stoop as low as the previous group. Instead, they add just enough truth into their vitriol to make it sound quite plausible. Their favorite argument is that it’s wrong to make money from blogging, that it’s a pure art form and should not be polluted by financial incentive. They point out legitimate problems in the industry and let’s face it, it doesn’t take long to find sleaze when it comes to miles and points blogs.

They go absolutely nuts when bloggers include affiliate links (not just credit cards) of any sort. Common pattern with these guys/gals is that they never offer any type of viable alternative. They sure won’t be  spending 3-4 hours per day creating original content. They are too busy  looking for things they can  hate on. Don’t be fooled, they are not out to encourage bloggers to be more honest. Their main goal is to keep The Hobby as  an exclusive club where the “herd” is not welcome.

3) Legitimate, useful feedback

These are readers who actually want to improve things. Examples include pointing out mistakes (always welcome on my blog), politely letting you know about a better non-affiliate link without automatically assuming that you are hiding  it. Making suggestions on how to improve content is  perfectly fine. I also think it’s reasonable for readers to politely voice their opinion if they feel 99% of blog’s content revolves around paying offers. Obviously, I don’t think it’s wrong to promote affiliate links when they are also good for readers, but balance is important.

So, this is where my giveaway comes in. I’m looking for feedback (good or bad) that falls into a third category. What sort of posts do you find most beneficial? What bugs you about my site? What would you like me to change? Please, feel free to also give me suggestions for future posts. Last chance to comment and be eligible for gift card drawing is April 12th, 6 PM Eastern time (next Tuesday). Thanks in advance!

Bring it.

If you found my content beneficial, look at my Support Me page  for ways you can help keep the site running. Also, please, subscribe to receive free blog updates through email and recommend me to your family and friends. You can also follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook  and download my e-book 

 

 

Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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22 thoughts on “Amazon $30 Gift Card Giveaway in Exchange for Feedback, Plus Rant

  1. you are always a good reliable help to me. I appreciate that you write about things I am interested in. I won’t do MS; and not interested about reading about it. When I have a question for you you reply promptly (While I still remember that I asked a question, and what I wanted to Know). Thank you. Keep up the good work

  2. OH, definitely do more giveaways ;). I love normal every day trip reports and suggestions for using points, where to stay, etc. I don’t read what I am not interested, and no one keeps me interested in everything so can’t really give any negative feedback. You keep it real which is what I like.

  3. What I really like about your blog, is that is a mix of quirky personal stories with lots of humor and original super-honest miles/points analysis. Whether you write one or the other is often unpredictable but that’s ok. I like it that you are always critical – so you recommended jumping in on buying the Choice points in the daily getaway, but also noted that buying them speculatively without a close redemption in mind is risky, This is the kind of original well thought out analysis that keeps me subscribed (that and the quirky real life stories), I wish that you would get the chance to travel in a Singapore airlines suite just to read your trip report, and I know if you did you would not forget to mention that Krisflyer can have large fuel surcharges and their points expire in 3 years no matter what 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

    • @Uri If I ever get to fly in Singapore suites, it will be a trip report for the ages! I guarantee it. Every angle will be covered, I will put OMAAT out of business. I definitely try to be honest in this blog and life in general. Some of my relatives and friends read this site and I promise you, there isn’t any content that I dispense only to my inner circle. What you see is what you get.
      I really appreciate you sticking around. I remember yours’ was one of the first comments I got on my site, and it was extremely encouraging. It makes a difference when someone takes the time to say a few kind words, more than folks realize.
      I think the fact that my content is so unpredictable is a blessing and a curse. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. Those who stumble upon one of my crazy posts end up disappointed when I sound totally normal the next day. I do think it’s good to mix things up. One of the biggest problems in this industry is that we (the bloggers) take ourselves way too seriously sometimes.

  4. Like most: Your sincere willingness to help your readers.
    Like least: The occasional aimless post that doesn’t get a point across or serve a specific purpose (rant posts excluded – you state your purpose up front on those).

    • @Slade Thank you so much, especially for constructive criticism. It can be tough to make sure each and every post is useful. One thing I don’t do is write stuff just because I’m supposed to crank out a certain number of posts per week. I try hard and edit as much as I can, but there will be occasional duds here and there. Will have to definitely work on that. Thanks!

  5. I enjoy your blog because there is no pretense and you give examples many of us who cannot travel more than twice a year might be able to emulate. I also like hearing about your relatives and knowing English is not your original language.

    • @Harv Thanks! I’m so glad you can relate to what I’m talking about. Honestly, it would probably be good for me to pretend now and again. 🙂 Not everything needs to be published online. But I’ve never been good at holding back, that’s for sure.

  6. As you know, I’m a frequent reader and commenter. I think what I like about your blog is that it has the “fresh made” feel to it every day. Some of the bigger blogs…when a story breaks, i.e. Alaska/Virgin, Marriott/Starwood, Freedom Unlimited, Chase 5/24 etc…they are all scrambling over themselves to be the first one to post something, even if it is just worthless clickbait. So if I look across the news feed that day, I’ll see 10 people posting the same content with similar perspectives…and then you’ll be there with a funny story about Belarus 🙂 Oh sure, if it is really newsworthy, you’ll probably post something about it with your own perspective later that day, but you’re not racing to beat someone to the punch. You pretty much say what is rambling through your mind that day and it’s a nice mix of family travel advice, personal stories, miles/points analysis, and…something like “family slice of life” content. I find the stories about Belarus quite interesting, most Americans have no idea then/now what daily life was really like behind the “iron curtain”. Other things that I like: 1) the site has become more mobile-friendly as far as how it formats a post for a smartphone (I think in the distant past, it would show the whole site as a single small page and you had to zoom in to read the post correctly. 2) the site does not have annoying popups or trick me into a newsletter subscription when I write a comment unlike some of your competition.

    Things that I don’t like: 1) the new font 🙂 , 2) the ad service that is located at the end of your post, above the comments. Sometimes it will just start playing videos with sound, which is incredibly annoying/interruptive when you are browsing the site as a diversion during a boring conference call, 3) trying to use your credit card links is a laborious process. We recently got a SPG Amex thru your site. First, it was confusing to know which link to click (there is no mention of Hotel cards – I think I picked the airline link). Then, after being transferred to creditcards.com, the card was not shown until I scrolled down and clicked “See More”. I know there is nothing you can do about it, but…if you have a chance to do a direct referral and it is economically beneficial for you (example: Amex, Chase, and Cit have allowed you to generate “refer-a-friend” links from time to time), please consider this alternative.

    • @Erik First, thank you so much for getting Amex SPG through my site! I know you have many choices of blogs you could support instead (many, many choices :)) I’m very sorry about how hard it is to find relevant application links. Believe me, I would make it easier if I could. Let me see if I have “hotel” cards in my profile. If so, I’ll add the link.
      I’m simply not allowed to insert individual card links into my posts. They did change the rules that I can link to the main page when mentioning certain banks, but it’s still an extra step. Sometimes I do have personal referral links, so will try to include them as you’ve requested. I actually did that for Southwest card in one of my posts.
      I try to mostly stick to my company’s affiliate link with the thought of that regular conversions will make it more likely for me to stay in the program. I don’t have the pressure of the big bloggers with direct links (no set quota), but I’m sure if I don’t deliver some results, it could backfire. Still, I want to make it easier for readers, and will do what you’ve suggested if I have the option.
      On font: I’m sorry again! I do plan to change it, but right now can’t find anything that looks right. Thank you very much for letting me know about the ads! I was debating on whether to take them out, so your comment sealed the deal. I am very close to $100 threshold needed for payout, so please, put up with them for a month or two. As soon as I reach that mark, I will turn them off. They hardly make any money, and I certainly don’t want to irritate loyal readers.
      As always, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I’m sure you are a very busy guy! I enjoy our conversations, though have to confess, I feel a little dumb after reading your comments. You usually break down the topic better and more succinctly than I did in the post. 🙁
      As far as not rushing to post on breaking news, I definitely don’t want to play that game. For one, it’s not my specialty. Also, does regular American family really need to know the minute New York- Singapore (or something similar) direct route is added? I don’t think so. Ditto for naked airport sightings and guests booted for pooping in hotel pool. If it doesn’t affect my life, then chances are, my audience won’t care either. I don’t want to bombard my readers with trivial news items. like I said, it mostly has to do with my niche.

  7. I honestly think your blog is one of the most entertaining ones! While you can find good info on the more well-known blogs, I find many times that either the writing is dull, they are trying too hard to be “politically-correct”, or just sounds like a “copy&paste” job from a template. Yours on the other hand, has personality in spades!
    I would like to see more in-depth analysis of airline miles programs, showcasing “sweet spots” in Economy. Most of what I read on the other blogs focus on business/first class awards, and although I realize that’s where you get the most bang for your points/miles, for regular families like us who are not big spenders or fly regularly for work, flying economy makes the most sense.

  8. I love reading your posts. You don’t have a commercial edge, I enjoy your family stories (both home and international), and how you insert diversity into your blog. I get a kick out of it, even though a lot of it doesn’t apply to me (no kids, lots of MSing). No suggestions, I’m afraid – keep on doing what you’re doing!

    • @Tscateh Great! MSers are always welcome here. I hope I’m not too hard on you guys/gals. 🙂 I actually enjoy reading MS blogs and those that deal with luxury travel, so I understand. It’s nice to have a diversion from the normal now and again. Escapism is a big draw of this hobby, though it’s ironic that stories written by a thirtysomething mom with a minivan would fall in that category. Though my minivan is a Mazda5, the cool kind!

  9. Your approach is very straightforward and I find some of your stories are quite entertaining. You are also very interactive with your readers. The comment section of this post is a great example.

    • @Eric Glad you like my wacky stories! I definitely enjoy interacting with readers and hope it shows. I view you as individuals, and not just a collective “blob” from which I can make money. 🙂

  10. I missed the deadline. But wanted to tell you not to change anything. i love it as is. One story at a time is what I most appreciate. And not the same one over and over. I love how the stories are personal and have a sense of humor. And I love how helpful you have been. All good!

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