I haven’t blogged much in the last year or two, so announcing my retirement may be a little redundant but… I’m done for now. I may post the occasional trip report in the future, and I’ll still hang out on Twitter, but it’s hard to imagine being as fully immersed in blogging as I have been in the past. As you all have noticed, the points and miles scene is both a lot less interesting now compared to when I first started the blog years ago, but even beyond that I’m starting work on a master’s degree in statistics while still working full time and I don’t anticipate having the bandwidth to even think about blogging in the future. I haven’t taken a rigorous math course in about two decades, so… it’s on! Let’s see how this goes. No guts, no nerd glory.
Anyway, this is as good a time as any to write a self-indulgent “Nick’s got opinions!” column. So here goes…
The Credit Card Blogger-Industrial Complex
I’ve had a theory for a while now that customers who sign up for credit cards via links from bloggers who carefully explain how to game the system are less profitable than customers from other channels. If that were true, however, you would think the banks would have figured that out by now and cut off the flow of marketing dollars to bloggers. There are a few possible explanations as what’s going on:
- There’s the TravelBloggerBuzz theory that clueless newbies are roped in and end up paying interest on their credit card charges.
- Or maybe banks have dropped the ball on measuring their channel ROI. Anybody who’s worked for a big company knows that’s certainly possible.
- Or maybe blog marketers are a low-cost marketing channel (if memory serves, the typical acquisition cost for a new credit card account is a few hundred dollars) and it’s easier for banks to break even.
Or maybe it’s some combination of the three. I don’t know. Still, the business model used by the likes of BankRate and TPG is fragile: if a couple of big players decide they don’t like that marketing channel, the business model vanishes. I’m curious to see how this ends up.
A Bias Toward Action
Not blogging anymore is the right thing for me now, but I’m really glad to have blogged. When I started blogging I was in a rut, careerwise, with a string of dysfunctional job situations (I had about ten managers in the course of two and a half years, plus a layoff–it was quite a run). I started the blog first and foremost because I figured if I was spending all of this time tracking all of this stuff, I may as well try writing about it as well. But I also started it because with all the chaos going on in my professional life it was nice to have a venture, however small, that I had some degree of control over and could put my creative energy into. That’s why things like, for example, a certain large bank getting annoyed about the “Ask the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard” advice column amused me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have some extra spending money, but I was never after a second job with this thing, I just wanted to shoot the breeze about credit cards.
And you know what? It was a great experience. I learned new things (WordPress plug-ins! AdSense!) and met interesting people. So if there are any impressionable youngsters reading this, I encourage you do think less and do more. Try new things. It’s fun to daydream and toss around ideas in your head, but it’s a lot more rewarding to get off your butt and do something. Especially if you get in the game early like FTG, TPG, or MMS.
Greedy Bloggers Killing Deals
And about those guys: look, I know a lot of you reading this (assuming anybody is reading this, I think I only have about six readers left by this point) don’t like the big-name bloggers for various reasons, but here’s the thing: of all people, we should know that people respond to incentives. I mean, if credit card companies give people the incentive to buy gift cards and then cash them out, it’s a no-brainer that that’s going to happen, right?
Well then if credit card companies give people the incentive to promote a luxury travel lifestyle while surreptitiously acting as credit card salesmen, it’s a no-brainer that people will do that too, right?
So while I’ve called out people for blogging excess once or twice, I don’t get as perturbed by it as others. Getting annoyed at “greedy bloggers” is like blaming gravity for a plane crash. I mean, sure, maybe they are greedy, but so what? If any particular blogger didn’t exist, another one would step up to fill the void. It’s, like, the system, man! I have all the respect in the world for Will at Doctor of Credit for doing what he’s done and I think the world would be a better place if everyone followed suit… but at the same time, given the world we live in, I respect how others (though not particularly the big names mentioned above) balance sales vs content. It’s not easy.
Finally, thanks to anybody who’s read this blog over the years, and special thanks to all the other bloggers who have linked to it and/or shown up in the comments over the years. It is a privilege to write stuff and have strangers read it, and I deeply appreciate it. Happy churning!