UPDATE 3:25 PM EST:
Thank you to everyone who has offered their help! As of now, I’m closing the request for volunteers.
I’ve readily admitted in the past that I need my wife’s help when drawing my ethical line (see “Drawing the line“). Maybe it’s time to add my readers’ input into that line as well. When this post first published, many readers were vocally against my request for help. Many said that asking for unpaid volunteers was unethical and overly greedy.
I know that my intentions were good, but I also understand that readers can’t read my mind. I assure you that I would have been very generous to volunteers, but of course there’s no way to prove that. My goal was to make a better site for my readers, but the short term outcome seems to have been to turn readers away.
Some will say that I shouldn’t care what a few vocal readers think. Some have written their support of my approach in the comments below and through email. And, I very much appreciate that! But, I do care about the angry comments. Some of those who complained have been positive contributors to this blog for a long time. I don’t want to lose them as readers and commenters. Some will say “too late” and that’s fine, but hopefully most will give me a second chance.
I started the Frequent Miler blog over two years ago and readership has increased steadily ever since. I’m now incredibly fortunate to have this blog as my full time occupation! That said, I find that I’m having a hard time keeping up. I write at least one full blog post every weekday. I research new opportunities. I publish Quick Deals. And, I try to answer all of the e-mails, tweets, and blog comments that come my way (which I appreciate very much!). All of these things are great, but they do prevent me from having time to tackle other projects. Here are some plans and responsibilities that have been neglected:
- Actively maintaining my Free Trips and Tricks newsletter. The newsletter is designed to teach people, from the beginning, how to earn nearly free luxury travel. Newsletters are sent out week to week, in order, based on the date each subscriber signs up. So, if someone subscribes today, they’ll get newsletter #1 right away, newsletter #2 a week later, etc. The purpose of this newsletter is to have an outlet for beginners, without changing the more advanced nature of my daily blog. So, what’s the problem? Well, I’ve been slow to send out Deal Alerts to this community to let them know about new stuff going on. And, I’ve been very slow to revisit old newsletters to correct them when things change. For example, I probably still refer to “Priority Club” in a number of emails rather than the new name “IHG Rewards Club.” And, I’m sure there are all kinds of corrections needed based on the recent United, Delta, and Hyatt devaluations.
- A Frequent Miler resource site. The Frequent Miler blog has lots of good information, but not much of it is organized well. If someone wanted to know the latest information about Vanilla Reload cards, for example, it would be quite a trick to find all of the relevant posts and to figure out which tidbits still hold true today. For example, I occasionally get an email from someone with the “news” that they were unable to use a credit card to buy reload cards at Office Depot. My first reaction has been to think “Well, of course not! Didn’t you read my blog post from… ?” And then, of course, I realize that they didn’t read that blog post. In fact, they’re probably a new reader who stumbled upon my old “One card to rule them all” post and had no reason not to think the deal was still alive. So, what I’d like to do is setup a site organized into topics like Bluebird, Reload cards, Shopping portals, points programs, etc. and provide up to date information there, along with wiki-like capability so that readers can help keep it up to date.
- Frequent Miler community discussion forums. Blog comments are not the best way to hold discussions. I’d like to setup something better. The “something better” should allow threaded discussions, subscribe-to functionality, and ideally the ability to setup private topics. Ideally, too, whatever this is would be embedded within the Frequent Miler resource site in some way.
I’m looking for just a few people who would be excited to be part of the Frequent Miler team even though it pays roughly $0 per hour. Specifically, here are some skills I’m hoping to find:
- Content authoring: I’m not looking for someone to help with my daily blog (I intend to keep that one up myself), but I do need someone who can help with the newsletter (as I described above), resource content, and possibly with some Quick Deals and other miscellaneous stuff. The ideal volunteer would have excellent writing skills, good attention to detail, and thorough knowledge of the points and miles hobby and my Frequent Miler posts.
- Web site development (technical): I’m looking for someone who can help me, from a technical perspective, to setup the resource site and discussion forums as described above. The ideal volunteer would have some website development experience.
- Web site design: I’m looking for someone more on the artistic side, here. Can you help me make the resource site, Quick Deals, etc. look good?
- Other stuff? If you’re eager to volunteer, but have other ideas for how you can help, I’d love to hear from you.
I’m not looking for an army of volunteers here. If one person can help with most of these things, that would be fantastic. I really don’t want to go with more than 3 people altogether because the coordination itself would then become a full time job.
If you think you’re interested in volunteering, please send me an email with the subject heading “FM Volunteer”. In the body of the email, please tell me in what way you’d like to help out and describe your skills in a sentence or two. If you have prior work that you’d like me to look at, please include PDFs or screen capture images as attachments rather than web site links. Also, subscribe to the comments of this post (add a comment saying “subscribe” and check the box titled “Notify me of follow-up comments by email.”). I’ll add a comment here occasionally to let people know if I’ve received many (any?) volunteers and how far along I am in selecting them.
Thanks in advance!