Adiós referral posts

I didn’t start this blog with the intent of earning money.  I started it (and continue it) because I love the game of travel hacking.  I love finding deals and maximizing opportunities.  And, I love learning new tricks from readers who comment or email.  So, earning money is not the reason I write this blog, but I do earn money and that allows me to keep going.  The ongoing struggle I have is in trying to avoid having the money-earning aspect of the blog influence my writing.  I believe that I’ve largely succeeded with this, but I can (and will) do more…

Since I began blogging as Frequent Miler in 2011, I’ve earned money from the blog in three ways: ads, affiliate links, and referral links.  In order to (try to) stay impartial, I don’t include affiliate links in my daily blog posts, but I do often include referral links.  Recently, a reader took me to task for this and argued that affiliate links and referral links are basically the same thing.  I agree.  From now on, you won’t see either type of link in my daily blog posts.

Ads

As a blogger on BoardingArea, ads are unavoidable.  BoardingArea sets up each blog template with space for ads and they negotiate ad rates with advertisers.  When people view my site, the advertisers pay BoardingArea a tiny amount for each view, and then BoardingArea pays me a percentage.  The good thing is that I have no idea which ads are being served up at any given time, so I can confidently state that ads do not influence my writing one way or another.

Affiliate Links

Through an affiliate network, I get links to credit cards and other products which I can display on my blog.  When people click through those links and sign up for cards or buy products, I get paid by the affiliate network.  Beginning December 27th 2011, I stopped putting affiliate links in any blog posts (see “The Referral Backpedal“).  I had tried putting links in posts before then (e.g. “if you sign up now for the Sapphire Preferred card you can earn XXX,000 points!”), but it felt wrong.  I like writing blog posts, but I don’t like writing advertisement pitches.  And, frankly, I don’t like reading them either.  So, instead, I created a few permanent pages on my blog to host affiliate links.  If people want to reward me by using my links, they can find them as follows:

  1. Best credit card offers: This page can be found under the “Credit Cards” menu on my site.  It lists all of the offers that I think are worth considering to earn great sign-up bonuses.  I always list the best offer I can find even when it means that I use a public offer instead of my affiliate link.  At the time of this writing, less than half of the listed credit cards are affiliate links.
  2. Preparing for Miles: This page lists the credit cards that are best for day to day spend regardless of the quality of the sign up offer.  This page can be found as its own link on my site’s menu bar.  As with the Best credit card offers page, I try to list the best offers available regardless of whether I get paid for them.
  3. Credit Cards: To get to this page, click the top of the menu labeled “Credit Cards” on my site.  A table on this page lists all credit cards for which I have affiliate links.  This is an unedited list, so please use your own judgment as to whether the offers are good or not.

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Referral Links

Referral links are similar to affiliate links, but usually they are intended to attract new customers to sign up (for something) for free.  Most referral links are available to anyone who wants to invite friends and colleagues to signup for some kind of loyalty program or service.  For example, most cash back portals offer a way to earn $5 or $10 by inviting a friend to sign up and use the cash back service.  Beginning today, I will no longer include referral links in my posts.  Instead, my referral links page can be found on my blog under the menu titled “Resources“.  Or, just follow this link: Sign-Up Links.  The page is currently a work in progress.  I’ll add more links over time.

Frequent Miler is on vacation

Posts have been scheduled in advance. See you in September!

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Comments

  1. FM: Never bothered me in the slightest, but obviously your call.

    HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER, like #21 and #44 said, you are doing your readers a disservice if you don’t at least let us know when an opportunity exists. If you mention a program that gets us both something but I don’t know that there’s a link to it somewhere, we both lose out.

    You don’t have to have arrows, circles and gold stars, but please alert the reader to opportunities.

    Thanks!

  2. I am ok with affiliate/referral links. I think you should definitely be awarded for all the hard work in your posts. Your posts give us immense knowledge and I really thank you for that!

  3. Once again an innovative approach. Please be sure to point out on a reg. basis, where the links can be found. I personally made it a policy long ago to not go through affiliate links on bloggers pages, unless recent postings have warranted the reward. I will say though, for the first year or two of doing this, I had never considered the payout to the blogger, thus some rather unscrupulous bloggers received payouts due to my naive nature. I appreciate frank conversations such as this that may enlighten readers to the fact their actions can encourage the endless “self” promoting of some bloggers.

  4. As usual, you continue to be a cut above the rest of the travel hacking blog community. Thank you for what you do.

  5. Good logic, sound reasoning. A few of the bloggers here are nothing more than graffiti artists, i.e. Delta Points, loads up page with ridiculous amounts of Card referrals and does not allow negative feedback of any type while seldom providing any genuine news for Delta flyers. I like your approach and will proactively use your referral links.

  6. Awesome stuff FM. I never used any blogger’s affil links before. It takes just a few minutes to find the best offers in FT, but from now on I will use your links if I find they are at par with the best free links. Just because honest should be rewarded.

    To the obvious other bloggers posting shill shit, go away please. Go back to the holes you have crawled out of. FM is not saying he is completely abandoning the links. He just has them in a corner which takes 2 clicks to find and is not going to pimp out to anyone.

    It is funny to read the “capitalism” shill posts.

    @Jonathon, post #46 -> Brilliant.

  7. Classy move. Unnecessary as far as I’m concerned, but hey its your blog.

    As you can see from some of the stupid comments above (say James for example) people are gonna bitch no matter what you do.

    The vast majority of us appreciate you for the things you do and can’t blame you for trying to make a living. Ignore the stupid haters. Its an internet thing you can’t avoid.

  8. I don’t see the problem with using links for products that you genuinely recommend. If it’s a good product that you use, it shouldnt’ be an issue.

  9. I love you FM. To me it doesn’t even matter how many links a blogger has. In fact, if I’m not in the market for a CC, I don’t even see the links. I know a lot of people have problem with the links, but I frankly don’t care. You have great content here and a lot of followers. Keep up the good work.

  10. I agree with everyone else. Your content is refreshing and you don’t make credit card posts, which is why I use your affiliate links when I sign up for cards. As for referral links, I don’t have a problem with them. And you clearly state you get a referral. If the reader wants to click your referral or go directly to the site, it’s their decision. It’s your site; put back the referral links if you want (just don’t start with the credit card links).

  11. I think it is a mistake to let one naysayer dictate how you run your blog. Affiliate and referral links are how you make your living. I use your links because of your content and the money/points you have helped me earn over the last year, not because HT has scared you into hiding them.

  12. None of any of the bloggers’ links bother me a bit, but it’s your blog, so get rid of the links if that’s what you want to do. My only interest in this is the great information you provide. And I want you to have as much time as you need to run your experiments and give us all of this wonderfully lucrative information that you generously provide for free. (And you show little concern for popularization ending the deals for you, although you’ll still have to deal with those mad at you for “killing deals” with this generosity.) So of course you should do whatever you want on your blog, but I hope that your decision to give up this revenue doesn’t mean you have to spend more time earning a living and less time selflessly helping all of us.

  13. Jonathan – I don’t expect him to decide based on what I think or what anybody else thinks. It is because I value the work that he does that I would prefer that this is lucrative enough to keep him interested. My point is that most people with average intelligence can tell if someone is writing from an influenced position. In fact most of the bloggers I read are quick to point out when they do and don’t receive compensation. To assume that we (the readers) cannot research and make decisions on our own is condescending and insulting.

  14. I’m sorry I don’t have time to answer individual comments today. I’m in D.C. with a bunch of frequent flyer related things going on, including Frequent Traveler University. I’ll be presenting this weekend and need time to finish my Powerpoint! Anyway, thank you all so much for your kind words about my blog! Please understand a few things:
    1) The decision was my own. Ever since I stopped listing credit card links I’ve been happier for it. I can concentrate more on content. I expect the same result here (but on a smaller scale).
    2) I will still make money. When relevant, I’ll include a link to the new Signup Links page (found under the Resources menu). I believe that people will be willing to make an extra click or two if they want to give me credit for a signup. We’ll see!
    3) Of course I’ll continue to point out good signup deals for readers! When it comes up, I’ll simply link to the Signups page. The new Signup Links page already has a number of deals listed where you can earn cash back (or points or whatever) for yourself. Please take a look…

    http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/sign-up-links/

  15. I gave you a refferal for TCB when I signed up and used the info on your blog to get amex giftcards. I feel it is only fair as your blog informed me of the TCB deal.
    I like the fact that you don’t “pimp” offers and will let us know if a better link is out there. If you make money off of links it’s no skin off my back, and I feel good about giving you a refferal since your not constantly promoting cards and have useful content.

  16. I’m not that concerned about you adding referral links especially since you do all that work for us with these experiments. You always post a that it is a referral so I have no problem with it.

  17. Same here…this is your blog ,I don’t see any problem with referral links for products that you review and recommend ….I think the majority of your loyal readers don’t care …really

  18. Smart move Gregg.
    .
    The key to any product is differentiation. This move just adds to yours. I do think you are walking away from new reader easy clicks but I’m sure you’ve found that your blog’s value builds frequent and loyal readership. This group of people (me and most of the commentators) will go out of our way to use your referral links in recognition of what you do for us.
    .
    Bravo!

  19. Yup it is in-your-face differentiation, something that is not sitting well with shills who keep on asking “why are you doing this?”. If it is a honest supporter of FM, they would 110% support FM for doing this. He didn’t say he is getting rid of referral or affils, just that he finds them annoying and created a separate section for it.

    I’d rather have that, than someone posting 30-40 CC signups and then “disclosing” that he will earn commission and is appreciative of anyone using it to sign up. Those kind of mine fields need to go away but a lot of bloggers will suddenly find this very disturbing since FM towers over them.

    If you care for FM then support this and use his links to sign up and stop posting crap that he needs to pimp and tell him how to make a living. Now THAT is condescending and insulting. Leave that to shilling bloggers posting here.

  20. So…why aren’t other BA bloggers imitate your approach?

    I also agree with dhammer53. If not once a week, once a month post the obligatory post “If you like what you read here and want to keep me going focusing only on improving the content please consider signing up through my links featured in this (click) page”.

    Good luck at DC and say hello to them addicts from me:-)

  21. Hands down! The best blogger with excellent and fresh information & tricks to capitalize on miles and points. Kudos to you.
    FM, as you have said several times that you are very very much interested in raking miles and points I agree with the style of content and posts from you. But the best karma for all these miles and points is one’s knowledge to make best use of them. I really wish you can some award booking tips or guidelines.
    That said, given an opportunity I use your links half the time and those of others whom I read for understanding the award booking on any alliance/airline.
    I am proud and happy that I used your Ink Bold link.
    Hope you rock the FTU floor in DC. Miss all the fella junkies. :)

  22. Makes no sense to me. All bloggers are putting time and effort into content they publish and being read for free are entitled to make money out of their work. Nothing should be for free.

  23. Hey FM,

    I recently got the CSP for my wife through your link, I went to check the sign up terms and conditions and didn’t see the CSP card there any more:

    1. Did Chase pull your cards before you decided to drop referral posts?

    2. Do you remember the signup terms?

    3. Hope you still get paid out by them for this one, the app took a week or so to approve.

    Matt

  24. I don’t begrudge you at all for having a link or referral in your blogs……..ultimately I have to have enough brains to decide whether I think the offer is going to get better or is the best I can get………..you have to make money if you are going to continue to find great deals for us so making it harder for you to fund the operation seems illogical………

  25. As a personal finance blogger, I understand the hard work it takes to put posts together. I don’t fault bloggers from trying to get paid for their hard work. I don’t mind if you include affiliate or referral links.

  26. FrequentMiler wrote, “The ongoing struggle I have is in trying to avoid having the money-earning aspect of the blog influence my writing.”

    You’re a liar, FM. Dont think for a minute that everyone believes this nonsense. What struggle? There’s no struggle. You are no different than any other blogger trying to make a quick buck. How do I know that? Read further.

    Tell us why you waited a week to mention in your blog when the Ink Bold card reduced its spend requirements from $10K to $5K for 50K bonus points late last year? Explain why you waited to announce the new spend requirements only AFTER your affiliate links were updated to reflect the new offer. Why didn’t you notify your precious followers about the new offer that was available via the Chase website. Your readers don’t deserve to know when a great deal was available? Your readers would love to hear your explanation, if you even have one.

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