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There Is a Story Behind Every Click…

I wasn’t sure if I should publish this post because it probably will come off as a bit preachy and self-serving. I assure you, it’s not my intention. Yesterday, I got an email from a reader and just couldn’t stop thinking about it ever since. Here is the gist of it:

“My mom lives in Uruguay, where I’m from. I had 56K United miles that I didn’t see a use for in a near future, so  I made an impulse reservation and went by myself to surprise her. I wasn’t too excited about leaving our short Minnesota summer for the damp Uruguayan winter, but I know now that I’ll never regret my decision. I just stayed for 6 days, but had a wonderful time. I have to thank you one more time because I followed your advise to wait for a 50K United offer, otherwise I’d have only had 30K miles which would have been as good as nothing. I topped the 54K or so miles I had with some UR points and off I went.”

We live in a society where  instant gratification is king. Affiliate bloggers aren’t immune to it, unfortunately. How can we be? Many of us depend on commission and have a quota to meet. This topic is complicated and I’m not here to take sides or point fingers. I’m certain that constant pressure to push credit cards has to take its toll. Remember the ABC’s of sales? Always be closing.

Not to sound patronizing, but I genuinely feel bad for many top bloggers in this industry. Most started out with the best of intentions, and because they were so helpful, their sites grew big. With traffic came huge monetary rewards. Ironically, now they constantly face a choice of either misleading their readers or losing those rewards.  

I remember the email from this particular reader. She was asking me about the 30K miles offer on United card and was ready to use my affiliate link. I told her not to. It was a stupid decision, business-wise. I don’t know how much longer I’ll  have my affiliate links, so logically, I should Always Be Closing. But I simply can’t treat my readers as faceless customers and this follow-up email has confimed it. If I were to knowingly mislead her, it would have cost her a trip to see her mother, who is 70 years old BTW.

It’s easy to rationalize this and say that when a reader applies for an inferior offer via affiliate link, it’s simply a payment for knowledge provided by the blogger. I mean, it makes sense if you think about it logically. Some bloggers have teams of employees and ghost writers. Someone has to pay them, right? There is no such thing as free lunch.

But how do you explain it to a person who wanted to visit her elderly mother (maybe for the last time), but simply couldn’t because of the bad advice from a blogger? Applying for 60K instead of 80K points offer on Chase IHG MasterCard isn’t inherently bad, since it’s a great card with or without the bonus. But those 20k extra points could provide a 4-night PointBreaks vacation for a poor relative, maybe their only vacation in years.

To be clear, I’m not saying  that readers should constantly attribute bad motives when it comes to bloggers’ advice. That’s how the atmosphere in this industry has reached current levels of hostility. Bloggers get trolled for even mentioning their affiliate links, which is unreasonable. I think there should be some sort of a middle ground and mutual respect.

That said, as bloggers, we should always remember that behind every click there is a real person, a potential vacation, maybe a family reunion. We can’t just take those away.

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.

6 thoughts on “There Is a Story Behind Every Click…

  1. Great post, and thank you for being so open, honest and thoughtful. You have been (and I’m sure I speak for many readers) incredibly generous with your time and knowledge, and I appreciate knowing that it is done with the best interest of your readers in mind. Thanks again!

    • Doug, thanks for your comment! I didn’t mean to toot my own horn. I genuinely want readers to get a good deal, and I hope your trip to Hawaii works out as planned. I’m kind of living vicariously through your plans because I’m a little jealous. Can you tell? 🙂 Feel free to contact me for advice.

  2. Thanks again for your advice! Yes, really, I went to visit her because I had those miles as I don’t like getting into debt for things that are not emergencies. I do value bloggers that put the time to give those personalized answers that sometimes do not benefit them at the moment. However, whenever I apply for cards I do go through my list of favorite bloggers and apply through their list. Sometimes I use links from bloggers that have not been very responsive when I asked them questions or made comments but as I still benefit from the information in their posts I use their affiliate links instead of going directly to the card site. I understand that once their blogs get all that traffic it must be hard to answer individual questions but after all, they get all the traffic because of each of those individuals and it would be nice if eventually they could get to every comment. You do a great job and it is certainly appreciated by your readers. 🙂

    • @Leticia I hope it’s OK that I featured your email. I probably should have asked first. It did really make me think about this industry, our role as bloggers etc. It’s easy to forget that we are dealing with real people, not just potential customers. In fact, I need those reminders myself.
      As far as big bloggers not responding to emails or comments, that’s a tough one. I’m at a point where my site is still small and manageable, and I kind of like it that way. I want to provide good service to readers. That said, I’m sure it would be much harder if I had thousands of them. Thanks for all of your support, as always.

  3. Very well said. One famous blogger just posted the top 10 credit card offers and guess what, the Amex platinum 100k didn’t even make it to that list. It’s a no brainer when it paid commission to them. Very shady and if they can do it to those readers, I don’t really want to support them any further.

    • Kenny, thanks for commenting! I totally agree that Amex Platinum 100k points offer should be mentioned in the top 10 list. I’m not sure why bloggers would hide it either, it’s all over the web at this point. I think Rapid Travel Chai found it first, but it caught on quick.
      I feel this hobby is at the crossroads. On the one hand, I do understand the need to pay employees etc. I don’t have that kind of a burden, thank goodness!
      That said, there is an issue of journalistic integrity. Readers put their trust in bloggers, and it’s wrong to betray that trust for monetary gain.

      Of course, like I’ve said before, some things are an individual call. I don’t cover all cards myself because there is a risk of choice overload. I really want to keep things simple for readers and encourage them to contact me via email. Thankfully, I’m at a point where I have the time to follow up with each individual.

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