Deals Thoughts

On mistake fares and miles blogging

If you were looking forward to sitting in one of these...
If you were looking forward to sitting in one of these…

So there was a big mistake fare yesterday – United premium cabin awards were pricing out at like $150 or less. News hit today that United isn’t going to honor these fares, I missed all of the action – I didn’t even find out about the fares until they were already dead.

Anyway, people have a lot of different reactions when these things hit the blogs. Some people love that blogs are alerting them to these deals, others hate that blogs are killing them. Of course now you have to throw social media into the mix – the reality is there are so many avenues out there to hear of these things.

You’ll even have the good credit card offers hitting sites like Slick Deals which really annoys people in the miles game because people who aren’t necessarily trying to be good stewards are hammering these deals.

I’m not gonna really dip my toes too deeply into that hot mess – though I do think these conversations are productive and fruitful to have if done right. Instead, I wanted to illustrate some of the factors that a small blogger, like myself, considers (and frankly, is torn between) when deciding whether to blog a deal like this. I’m always interested in knowing other people’s thought processes on these kinds of things – these are mine.

The factors I consider before posting a deal
The factors I consider before posting a deal

I decided to list these factors alphabetically, because although at the current moment there are some that weigh more heavily than others, I find that the weight varies from situation to situation and depending on my current place in life. My guess is a lot of other bloggers weigh these same factors when making their decisions (and probably some others I haven’t thought of).

My point of this post isn’t to espouse one line of thinking over another, just to explain my personal thinking and also to note the fact that making decisions on what to post or not to post can be influenced by any number of factors – for me, at least. Also, if you haven’t gathered, it’s another ramble post – feel free to check out right now if you hate these!

Business Considerations

This is the lowest out of the five factors for me, but it starts with the letter B so I’m touching upon it first. The fact of the matter is, many of the miles and points blogs are businesses – they are in it in large (or at least in some) part to make money. I’m a small blog, but even I have a business side and earn a small amount of money each year.

Credit card affiliates are big in this game
Credit card affiliates are big in this game

Right now business considerations are low on my personal totem pole, namely because I don’t have any credit card affiliate links (except for like Discover). But it’s simple to see how this is a factor when posting deals – there’s a United Award Sale? If you need to top of your miles, you can get the United Explorer Card (insert affiliate link here).

Now I know there are some out there who are very cynical and think some blogs are only out to make money. Maybe this is the case, but I think that thinking is a bit too binary for me. But if I were to say that my blog posts aren’t influenced by my thoughts about my blog as a small business – that’d be an outright lie, no matter how small asthejoeflies is. So the business side has to be acknowledged as one of the factors in many of these deal posts, and really posts on the web in general.

Community at Large

One of the many complaints about “deal” posts is that they harm the overall community at large. For example, if a 100,000 point bonus hits Slickdeals, the general public starts hammering it and “hurts” the points community because some people in it miss out before the deal dies.

I think there are two competing motives that often get mixed up together when discussing protecting the community at large. The first motive is simple: greed. “We” don’t want to get a deal killed by a number of rookies who don’t know what they’re doing.

This show used to be amazing (image from www.nbc.com)
This show used to be amazing (image from www.nbc.com)

Greed may seem like a strong word, but at least for me, a part of me that doesn’t want a deal killed or screwed up wants that just so I can benefit for myself. I once had a killer loadable card that was amazing and didn’t want too many people to know about it so it could survive as long as possible and so I could keep benefiting.

Another aspect of protecting the community is building it up by helping new members learn the ropes of how to not be a “fat pig that gets slaughtered.” When a deal comes along, what’s the best way to take advantage of that deal while minimizing the risk of being screwed over by that deal or killing it for future use? Stuff like that.

These two motives get confused, in my opinion, because a lot of times the means to achieve the ends of these motives becomes “avoid killing deals on blogs”. Then bloggers who post these deals can automatically labeled by some as not caring about the community at large. And bloggers who don’t post these deals can be labeled as selfish and keeping it to themselves.

The bottom line, though, is that I think almost every blogger considers their contribution to the community at large when considering whether to post something. Obviously, different bloggers fall on different sides of the argument, but the community at large is a factor.

For me, I’ve been trying to only post deals that I think will contribute positively to the community at large. Part of that, for me, is trying to outline all the risks involved with a certain deal, or spending a bit more time writing out some fine print so people don’t just follow circles and arrows. I’m not anywhere near perfect at doing this, just trying to do my best – and if I think posting a deal is going to be detrimental to our community, then I’d like to think I’d avoid posting it.

Loyal Readers

A third factor influencing bloggers’ desire to post deals is their loyal readers. I’m not sure how many regular readers I have, but I know I do have some (hi mom!). The thinking becomes – if X deal is getting posted everywhere, am I doing my regular readers a disservice by not alerting them to it?

Personally, one of the reasons I missed the deal yesterday is because I didn’t check any of the blogs that posted it. But there is a certain element of trust between a blogger and her or his readers – I trust that blogs I read regularly will alert me to things that I might not have found on my own otherwise.

Quote says it all (image from www.rapidlikes.com)
Quote says it all (image from www.rapidlikes.com)

So I might post a deal because I want to make sure my readers know about it, in case they haven’t seen it elsewhere. And despite how small I am, this is possible (hi mom again).

There’s also the whole worry about, “man, asthejoeflies isn’t on top of any of these deals, maybe he’s not worth following anymore”. A blogger always wants to retain their readers – so the loyal ones are always going to factor into whether a deal gets posted or not.

Personal Code

When I say personal code, I mean the personal code a particular blogger lives by. Dia started an interesting discussion on her site today – she didn’t personally feel comfortable pulling the trigger on the United deal yesterday because she drew the line at changing her credit card address.

I never got the chance to explore where I’d draw my line for this particular deal, but there are deals or techniques that I don’t feel comfortable with – either because they violate my personal code or because my code dictates they are not worth the risk.

This, obviously, is going to factor into whether I post something or not. I must have made a post about something I don’t personally do in the past; I find it impossible to think that I haven’t. But if I don’t feel comfortable with the mechanics of a certain deal, it will give me real pause about whether to post it or not.

A blogger’s personal code will also of course factor into whether they feel comfortable posting a deal as it relates to all these other factors.

Site Traffic

The obvious reason to post a deal? Site traffic. If you post a deal first, you’re going to get a ton of traffic and then a ton more on top of that thanks to hat tips (if everyone is being civilized of course, fodder for another discussion). If you’re a small blog, that increased traffic is going to result in new loyal readers.

How often do I hit refresh on this page? No comment.
How often do I hit refresh on this page? No comment.

So it’s a real temptation to allow the lure of site traffic dictate whether I post a deal or not. In the end, so much on the web comes down to site traffic; it’s no surprise this is a major factor in whether to post a deal or not. To say otherwise for myself would be a lie.

Final Thoughts

First a summary of how I personally weigh these factors and then some thoughts summing all this up in general.

asthejoeflies is a small blog, almost purposely so. I don’t have a desire to do this full time, it’s just a hobby and something I enjoy doing. So in terms of how I’d rank these five factors in terms of posting deals personally, it’d probably be:

1 – Personal Code

2 – Loyal Readers

3 – Site Traffic

4 – Community at Large

5 – Business Considerations

Hopefully this image makes sense. I weighted my pentagon according to my personal preferences
Hopefully this image makes sense. I weighted my pentagon according to my personal preferences

That’s just me being honest. A post like this is my attempt to contribute more to the community at large, but being so small at the moment makes that factor fall behind increased site traffic at the moment. But really, since it’s just a hobby, I want to be true to my own personal code and help out my mom, I mean, my readers. That’s just what it comes down to for me.

Overall, I think it’s easy to get pitchforks out when people post deals and accuse them of putting Site Traffic or Business Considerations #1 and demonizing them. I certainly do so sometimes. But hopefully this post has illustrated that there are a lot of things bloggers have to consider when deciding to post something. It’s easy to villainize, hard to see us as people just trying to figure it out and do the best we can.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just being Polyanna-ish about the whole thing. If so, so be it. I’m just trying to figure it out best as I can.

And somebody text me next time there’s a hot deal.

 

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

One thought on “On mistake fares and miles blogging

  1. The RULE should be “don’t blog about means or methods”. PERIOD.

    So those yapping about REDcard, BB, Serve, Evolve, Simon and all the rest need to stop. Because almost all of that is done to convince the lazy and incompetent to click on CC affiliate links. That’s ruining the community for the sake of lining scumbag bloggers pockets. How many dozens of programs have to die premature deaths before people wake up? Just don’t click on the links and the blogsters will stop yapping about this stuff.

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