TBB Mission: To Entertain, Educate and Inspire. Aim to at least do one well!

 

 

This blog has been a labor of love so far. If you like what you see here, please let others know by passing them a link to my blog, thank you!

 

This blog was started on November 9, 2012 as a personal challenge to see if I can do this for three months. At over eleven months (and counting) it has been quiet a ride! One day I may do a “What I learned after one year blogging” post.

I am still making it up as I go along and learn more about blogging. The theme of reviewing travel miles/points blogs and bringing you what I have found worthy will still be the main theme here, along with my entertaining (some say incendiary) commentary from my many years of experience of being part of this quirky community. These Buzz posts are scheduled to be posted every morning on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The other days I will do my best to get something out there but no promises.  Feel free to keep visiting my site :-)  Whatever shows up here will be an attempt to entertain, educate or inspire you.

There is a lot of action on my Twitter account, you can follow me!

 

MILEAGE JUNKIE

I am a mileage junkie. This is a disease that makes you do weird things to earn miles. It is, in a way, a way of life. I think about miles/points 24/7. Every action I take there are brain waves shooting off inside my head asking my psyche “so, if you do that, how can you earn miles? Or, even better, how many more miles can you earn doing this instead?’ You get my point…I hope. If not, it’s okay. If you keep reading here, maybe one day soon you will understand too. This disease spreads. Once you have the virus, you are a lost hope. If you can’t handle it, stay away :-)

Sooooo, here is what happens when you find a miles/points deal that you have seen nowhere else. A gazillion light bulbs start going off in your brain. It is like having multiple orgasms. I bet there are people in this hobby who will prefer a bunch of miles to hot sex. I myself prefer to have both lol. Of course I would secure the miles first you silly! So, back on point, I was going on my routine and then it hit me! Is this what I think I saw? Went around it, came back to it, yes it is omg! So brain starts thinking fast…it is time to test it. Acting cool, chatting with the cashier, pull out my credit card (the one that earns 5 points per dollar now on a targeted promo) and bang, no sweat! This was not the end. The mega aha moment came later, there was an extra zero on the receipt. I had to get the receipt closer to me to make sure I am not hallucinating. Nope. Ok, this can’t be happening, it must have been a fluke. On to the next store. I use the Chase Ink Plus card and bang, same score. Needless to say in three days I had earned almost 35k miles points and made about $150 in gift cards in net profit. THIS is the ultimate high in this hobby. The high you get from a score like this. There is nothing like it, it is a special feeling. A feeling you got something out of nothing and earned you enough to travel and (in this case) go Christmas shopping. Could we travel and go Christmas shopping without this? Yes of course. But doing it this way it is a LOT MORE FUN.

Many have offered to volunteer me to spill the secret. First, this does not apply to most of you as it is restricted to some states (mostly around Midwest). Second, the minute it gets out it will be shut down. The special angle to it will likely be fixed any day so I do not expect the gift cards to last much longer. When that happens I may just come out. Or I also expect some other blogger to figure it out and spill the beans to gain some publicity. This is the first time this happens to me as a blogger so my emotions about dealing with this issue are tormenting me. In my heart, I know if it gets publicized it will get killed. If I keep quiet, two things will happen: either the company fixes the “problem” (more like oversight) or some other blogger gets it out first. Or if I do it now (or soon) I can help more people earn some miles/points (maybe some gift cards too) before the whole thing goes down in flames anyway. It is really a bizarre situation for me. I can go either way. For the moment, I am keeping totally quiet (maybe drop a hint or two on twitter) and having fun tormenting fellow junkies :-). So let me hit it some more as I do have a family of four. You won’t believe how fast miles/points go in a family of four!

 

DIVERSIFY YOUR PORTFOLIO

Fellow FinCon attendees, this is not investment advice :-)  I am a well known passive management indexing Vanguard devotee and of course do diversify. I was talking about another portfolio: our credit cards! For financial bloggers who focus on budgeting & debt management this is anathema to you guys. Look at this!

20131012_173407

 

How dare you might think? Let me assure you financial blogger, this is totally normal in this hobby. We pride ourselves in our super detailed ways of acquiring/using/cancelling our cherished credit cards. And of course most of us DO KNOW how to manage our credit very well and pride ourselves in never having paid a dime of interest to a bank! We understand that the biggest bang (by far) in this hobby is the rewards credit cards. BY FAR! My point here is that what I aim to do is diversify my credit cards by different issuers: Chase, AMEX, Citibank (the big three) and then the other ones (Barclays, US Bank, Capital One, Bank of America, etc.). And keeping track like a nuclear scientist my application dates, spending requirements, signing bonuses and cancellation dates. Ok, I got sidetracked again. My main points is we should aim to be good bank customers by USING the cards at every opportunity! And we should be spreading the spending around (of course always maximizing bonus categories or special promotions). Mrs TBB left a sizeable 401k account at Chase Bank when we could easily roll it over to the brokerage company we hold our investment accounts. Why? Because we want to be good customers of Chase Bank! Perhaps this is the reason she has never been denied by Chase. This spreading of love around also helps to avoid certain spending patterns that may be deemed suspicious. In my recent deal discovery I used most of these cards above (of course I used the ones giving extra points a little more but NOT exclusively!). Ok, I think I made my point, be a polygamist with your banks, it is okay :-)

 

BLOGGING AS A BUSINESS

There were two phenomenally educational posts this weekend.

Travel Summary: The Rich Get Richer: Small Blogs Can’t Compete on Credit Card Affiliate Links

Saverocity: Professional Blogging Reality Check

If you are interested in the topic it would be a great use of your time if you read them too.

To this day my blog has not been monetized, it has been truly a (hard) labor of love. Would I love to monetize and make as much money as some other bloggers do? Of course, I can sure add more to kids’ college funds and pay off the mortgage earlier (if I do my credit score may fall—>less card signups—->less approvals—–>less miles OHHHH NOOOOOO kidding,well, not really!] But the more I read about how this non transparent business operates the less impressed I am by it. I am also wondering if the only way to survive (commercially) is to pump and pimp the crap out of the affiliate links (because if you don’t, you can’t keep them…how cruel is that!). Is there a way that will not force you to compromise your originality, credibility and integrity? Of course some intrusion is expected (and probably a good thing to comply with rules and regulations). But when is it “too far”? I guess that will depend on the specific blogger and I am certain his/her “production” also plays a big role! Anyways, this is the reason I am going to the financial blogger conference FINCON13, to learn more about this aspect of this blogging thing. I still see myself as the outsider and truly cherish my independence and not having to….keep pumping crap non stop. And, no doubt, this blogging takes a toll. Maybe the answer is indeed to join a blogger network to get the advantages that come with that…but then, I am not an original :-)  At one year anniversary of TBB I need to make some decisions where TBB goes…Thanks for the journey with me. If it was not for your support along the way TBB would have folded like a cheap suit months ago.  I still reserve the right to fold like one lol.

 

And I leave you with this:

you-so-awesome-08

65 comments on “Mileage junkie! Diversify Your Portfolio! 2 great blog posts about the blogging business

  1. Travel Summary’s rant is really bizarre, he gets all transparent and doesn’t like affiliate companies now that they’ve kicked him to the curb. What is it with bloggers finding religion only after they’re no longer part of the ka-ching club? Jared from Online Travel Review did the same thing, stick it to the man but only after the man stuck it to him. Why do we laud their integrity?

    The key point in the post isn’t the one TS intended, that you have to build an audience and put in time and post quality content. You have to be a big blog to succeed in selling out. But that doesn’t happen by accident, it takes work, it’s not just throwing up a free site and getting a Million Mile Secrets interview 12 months after getting started in the hobby.

    Some blogs get popular quickly. MMS did it. MileValue did it and screwed it up. But most take years. What they do after they reach that level is up to them, some stay worth reading and others turn to garbage. But the meme that the small bloggers ought to be given a chance at credit card pimping riches is laughable.

    • This space can sure use some transparency! At least they spoke up instead of trying to crawl back to get them like MV :-)

      You do make some great points. It takes time. Took me several years to build my business on a strong foundation to make it succeed. Now it’s on an autopilot & I get to choose who I work with. Do I have the same stamina to make it in blogging? I don’t know but I would not bet on it :-)

      Re: your last paragraph. This is undoubtedly true in ALL blogs. BUT, imho, THIS space is different because the $$$ from cc aff links are so insanely lucrative! TPG & MMS did not really take years to get to where they are now! And I am certain MV is making more money now than ever before. There is gold in pounding your readers upside the head when they don’t know any better. Just look at FTG :-)

      When I first started out in my real business, I talked to Schwab. They wanted me to have several million dollars in client assets to use their custodial services. I said what, I am just NOW starting out? I told them to go phuck themselves and went with a small outfit which appreciated me and provided excellent service. It was later bought by TD Ameritrade. I hate Schwab to this day and they had the cojones to ask me to work with them, yikes! My point: Small bloggers can grow more gradually if given the chance. Companies with integrity and not such a quick buck mentailty should seek & help them out. Instead, they kick them to the curb. It is ALL about conversions and the quick buck. Capitalism at its finest I guess.

      That was a mini rant fueled by a third cup of coffee at Starbucks (free refills using my Gold card of course).

      Any comments on Saverocity’s post?

  2. I think there is nothing wrong in getting paid for successful work. What I don’t like how this subject became so important suddenly, it affects the bloggers, it affects the readers. Instead of enjoying the site, a reader has a subliminal pressure in his head (how much is he making out of it?), instead of acting nicely in a community of people who love to travel, a blogger is under a constant pressure of competing for limited resources. It’s really no different than a restaurant where a good waiter doesn’t want to share tips… Except somehow this supposed to be about passion for travel…

    • This subject has always been important but nobody had the cojones to blast it out in the open until this crazy guy came along and made it the main theme of its blog’s existence :-)
      I am so glad now we get other bloggers doing blog posts about it. To present in seminars of 600 people (with over 400 newbies) and not flat out say how you make money is…absurd imho. We need to bust the non transparent crap down and force everyone to compete on content alone, the way it should be.

      What passsion for travel are you talking about? Look at the big blogs. Look at most blog with affiliate links. They all need to keep pumping it up to keep getting richer.

      So Andrew, If I get the crappy little paying creditscard.com links will they still want to mess/control/censor me? I want something to pay for my costs at least damnit as I could never be a pumper to keep the “shiny” links :-)

      • George, if they do, you will drop them. I have them as the guy I deal with is nice, but the latest rule changes are incredible. Let’s see, I’m a little disgusted by this part of the blogging world and I thing I will concentrate more on what i do really well – take pictures. I’m setting up my little “photos for sale” thing, got a lot of requests from people and I think it’s a much cleaner/simpler/matching who I am thing. We’ll see how this will play out…

  3. I couldn’t agree more, there is nothing wrong with getting paid, but if your only source of income is converting readers to credit card owners, the number of regular readers you have is part of the equation when it comes to meeting quota.

    Quota= Conversions per month
    Conversions = Readers that become Card Owners

    The percentage of readers that are required to become card holders increases as a ratio as the number of regular readers decrease, therefore more aggressive conversion must be necessary to meet quota.

    Separately from that, you could just try to aggressively convert EVERY reader even if you have enough quota happening, that equation is the greed equation.

  4. dude I’ve been trying to do laundry for WEEEEKKKSSS
    No baby-with-success-face-meme for me. Have not yet achieved laundry success

    Let’s hope Vilnius has more laundry options than Kiev did

  5. 35K points in 3 days and some $$$ profit, nice :-) Regarding to the Vanguard ETFs, I look at the top 10 holdings for some of the popular ones, and I can do some DIG on those. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks.

  6. So all of the major credit card sign-up bonuses are on every of the leading and wannabe-leading blogs. Most people like myself who read an obsessive-compulsive-travel-nerd blog road other similar blogs. When the best link is available from multiple blogs, it can be difficult to select one in order to reward someone’s work, and posts on particular cards rarely add value. Has anyone established a site where credit card affiliate link earnings are just directed to legit charities? That would certainly get more than the requisite number of monthly referrals that helped derail sites such as Travel Summary. It’s not that I want to deny bloggers income, and I appreciate their efforts, but wouldn’t it be cooler if sometimes the $100-200 or whatever referral went to poor kids or something like that instead?

    • It is a fantastic idea actually! But nobody has done it because 1) Either they want all the dinero for themselves, 2) Maybe compliance wise it can not be done? 3) There is a lot of technical work behind it? 4) No transparency (meaning how do you ensure the money goes to charity? It must be completely open books and banks/affiliates do NOT operate this way!)

      I am thinking of doing something along those lines…

      • I wonder if a charity could itself have a webpage with affiliate links but in a way disassociated from the organization’s main site. FTs who love to snark in the various be-mean-to-bloggers threads could spread the word, and some smaller bloggers (uh, bloggers with smaller audiences) might suggest readers use those links when they review certain cards. An issue would be ensuring that only the best offers were posted. Another would be a charitable organization having a financial interest in pushing certain financial products. I guess I could only imagine such a direct approach maybe working with a smaller, more DIY charity. Perhaps it just wouldn’t work at all, but it would be cool to sometimes direct what is plainly just easy money for some entity toward poor kids or something.

        • Just for the record, I announced that I would be giving 25% of all Credit Card income to Charity off the top. That’s for my links only. That means if I am running in the red, the Charity still gets cash.

          Now, I could also structure the site as a full not for profit and it might appear more generous than that, but in doing so I could also very validly slip in a salary and benefits for myself out of that profit, and in turn give a lot less than the 25% gross. Indeed, if I was running in the red for hosting and other costs zero dollars would reach the charity, and it would be a legitimate structure.

          I took this route as I think too many people are making too much money off the links, too little is being done for society, and too many NFP organizations are hiding what they are really offering in Return on Invested Capital to their charities of choice.

          The three Charities I currently support are:

          Covenant House – helping at risk teens and young adults escape troubled homes and homelessness
          The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
          Pack For A Purpose

  7. I really enjoyed both those “blogger business” posts, great insights to the inner circle from both Saverocity & Travel Summary. I wish I could comment on Saverocity but Disqus & I don’t seem to get along and I stopped commenting on blogs that use it. What I hate is the whole dirty business of affiliate links. Surely in this day and age, they can come up with some kind of affiliate link that can be used by anyone and has the compliance built in? It’s frustrating that the “pump” blogs just keep doing it over and over again and getting rewarded while smaller blogs with better content can’t get an edge in, or get kicked out like Travel Summary who does have a good blog.

    @ Brendan, I suggested that on Flyertalk a few times about the charities but I guess someone needs to get a charity to apply for affiliate links. Anyway, I am out of the AOR game due to a changing situation in the USA for me personally. I got my bonuses for my last AOR, now I have to concentrate on retention bonuses and category multipliers.

    George, I am going to go out on a limb and guess that your mystery deal won’t work in Australia?

  8. Pingback: How may we hate you, mindblowing photo of space walk, Fukushima, Asia Miles, Blog Business, Goldman Sachs man | TravelBloggerBuzz

  9. You have said enough to figure out the deal. Please nothing more. You don’t want to be the next deal killer. Works great, BTW!

  10. If you thought this deal could not get any better…it just did! I am talking legendary proportions now folks! The bad thing about the scaling up is it will take some time to finally get it to work…and there is a small chance that this baby is still alive by then!

    Two people have been told, one blogger I trust and the other a good friend for more than ten years. Both have told me not to kill it. TBB is not in the blog business to generate traffic to sell credit cards (or other stuff). You need to start thinking creatively and open your eyes. You know, teach a man to fish teach him to eat well or however this saying goes. So, before you contact me to tell you what it is…DON’T. I just can not respond anymore, I am drowning in cries of “help another brother (or sister) out”. Hey you S…come on, you will do “ANYTHING”…really? Get yourself together, this is just miles/points we are talking about.

    I am giving a lesson what to do when something like this happens. The speed of this getting shut down from the moment it gets posted on the blog is faster like a bullet out of James Bond’s gun! The game has changed.

    All I need to tell you is both the folks I talked to approved in the MOST glowing terms.

    This is the stuff legends are made of.

    • No, buzz, this is not what to do with something like this. You are acting like a child with this “look what I found” – keep it to yourself until it dies and then do a nostalgic post. Until then, you are nothing more than a Mr Pickles (and I am not in midwest so I could care less what it is, so no jealousy on my part). Have fun with your hoard.

      • Exsqueeze me? Have I made a blog post about it? I gave some hints and am having some fun with it. You don’t like it? You don’t need to play along you know:-) I appreciate you sharing your point of view. Actually I was expecting a lot more push back on this!

  11. Thanks for all the comments. THIS “deal” happenings and how they all work out is a very common event in this hobby. SOMEONE always gets pissed off, you just can’t please everybody…it’s the nature of such activities. I am trying to have some fun and thank you to all who play along. I don’t do pics and arrows, I don’t have the time to learn how to place them so neatly :-)

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