I started writing a post today to pimp a link, and found myself going through a great self learning experience that I thought to share in this post, I hope it will be helpful to other bloggers and to readers in general.
It all began with a swap in Affiliate Programs, I moved many of my cards over to Credit Karma from LinkOffers in the hope to receive the ‘better cards’ of Amex, Citi, US Bank, well I made the swap but I still have the standard links of Barclays and Discover – both companies offer some great cards, but every man and his dog has these link and there is only so much you can write about the cards.
One new link that appeared in the transition to Credit Karma was the Barclaycard Ring with 1% Cash Back on Balance transfers. I am not hyperlinking to it right now because I haven’t finished writing my pimp post and I haven’t decided if it is a good deal or not. And that’s where the fun begins…
Unlike many writers I don’t have a stockpile of content, I write daily when I feel the urge, and often mess up my spelling and grammar as a write it straight out and publish, my apologies. I have ideas floating around my head, but they often stay just there until I can find an angle that makes them interesting and worth reading about. I started Saverocity with the mission of sharing knowledge about Finance and Travel, and when things within this area (or even vaguely related) appeal to me I write about them. But underlying everything is my intention to do good work with the site.
I try out all sorts of things to see how they are received, and one of the good work ideas I had was to donate 25% of credit card income to Charity. Well, that was taken negatively by enough people that I am pulling it and keeping all the cash. Anything earned in 2013 will go to charity as planned. I will continue to donate to charity, both my time and my money but it will be behind the scenes. People think that if it is broadcast as I did it is a marketing gimmick and in fairness I can see that there is some appeal, I watched another blogger do something similar recently where he offered a buck to charity for every Facebook like he received, same idea. I see it as doing good, but also using it is as marketing which some people find distasteful.
OK – back to the Pimp-er-rama post today
I thought it really funny as I wrote the post that I had no goal in mind, but as I wrote the goal emerged naturally. Firstly I wanted to talk about the Barclaycard Ring, and I wanted the post to come up in a search in the future when people were looking for this card. So I titled the post (after several changes) Credit Card Analysis – The Barclaycard Ring with 1% Statement Credit for Balance Transfers. It was a wonderful learning experience writing this post, below is a paraphrasing of it; starting out something like this:
There is a super card that offers 1% back for statement credits!!! (Blah Blah)
then I naturally thought, why are they offering this, so the post continued:
Clearly the reason that Barclay’s is doing this is that they are offering incentives to get people with credit card balances on their books.
then I thought, let’s run some numbers to see the impact
I need to run an example of how this will impact you, I am going to use a test case, using the average credit card debt of $7,128 per household, and lets see how by transferring the debt from 18.99% to 8% (the Ring APR) plus a nice 1% bonus up front will benefit you. Clearly, to someone who is carrying debt at higher rate you have a winning proposition by switching to the Ring card, but we can’t just presume that this is the best option for you.
Here is where my actual Big Picture Goal kicked in – my title is Analysis, my goal for Saverocity is to help people with money and travel and therefore ending the Analysis now would be deceptive. Furthermore I like to take things to the limit when it comes to analysis and show how we can really break down numbers, it’s fun, helpful, and allows me to show off.
So I next want to compare three scenarios
Keeping a balance with no transfer
Transferring to the Ring capturing a 1% gain but paying 8% APR from month 1
Transferring to another card, eating the 3% fee to do so but claiming 12 months of interest free credit for that
That’s about as far as I have got with the pimping post, I need to now create some excel sheets to model out different payment scenarios, and my conclusion will include links to cards that offer zero fees to initiate the balance transfer plus offer interest free periods, I believe the Slate from Chase does this.
It’s simply a case of the right thing to do. Cutting the analysis early when I know that pushing it further may harm my conversion rate would suit my short term goal of getting an affiliate transaction, but going right through with things would allow me to share knowledge, and perhaps find a couple of real, honest to goodness, value sweetspots that do promote the Barclaycard Ring – I am sure that they exist, and tackling it in this manner allows me to feel good about pimping that link, because it is congruent with the big picture goals of Saverocity. Saverocity does not exist to make money, it exists to help people get the best out of life, pay off debt, and travel like a rockstar without breaking the bank – if the site makes money whilst covering those basis then fabulous, because I am not pretending to be North Korea here and I do have a lot of expensive tastes in life!
The opportunity to earn income from the Ring motivated the post, but in reality, what I really need on my site is stellar content that is great for the reader. So by using it for the motivation, but not allowing it to override the big picture I can benefit greatly from this opportunity.
I just read another post on Millionmilesecrets about another new blog, these guys have the Avios card or something – cool. I appeared on that site a while back myself (I actually asked Daraius to be on it and he graciously agreed) and think it is really nice of him to host people starting out in the business and giving their sites a boost. It of course leads to the question of why there are so many bloggers emerging, especially who seem to be relatively inexperienced in the area that they are supposedly experts about.
Clearly the attraction is money, and there is nothing wrong it. Go for it, make a killing. I really think that it is great that people can find ways to earn money, put their kids through college, pay off their mortgages and retire happy. But we have to keep the eye on The Big Picture, which is to do right by people. Don’t fall into the trap of seeing just revenue, and don’t hide behind the anonymity of the internet to do harm in the pursuit of wealth. Integrity is key in this life, don’t sell out your principles when you see the opportunity to make some money.
I can understand that goals will change as things develop with a blog or other business, but Principles should never change. I hope my Principles are clear from this post, and I invite you to comment on anything you see that you feel is incongruent with them, I will certainly listen and take them onboard. I hope to wrap up the Ring post shortly and will post it up soon, with my affiliate links in it if I think it is a good deal.
Andy Shuman @ Lazy Travelers says
Great post! And you’re right, the Ring is not a good card for its intended purpose (and unintended, as well).
Thanks Andy, I just finished the review, I did work out that there were times the Ring is better, but it is in unique situations requiring a very specific repayment schedule. In general though, it would be better to apply for something else to achieve this goal.
I like this post. Here’s where coming from deals/product perspective really helps, and where I really have pushed George (TBB), I’d like to think to some success.
Thinking out loud, I’m realizing I have enough for a post on this topic…will ping yours with a HT shortly!
Thanks for stopping by, I look forward to reading your perspective on this.
Changed my mind…tis NOT the season for navel-gazing. Bottom line question should be “Would YOU buy it?” If yes, blog it. If no, don’t. That simple!
Wait….where’s the link so I can sign up? Did I miss that somewhere? 😉
I have similar thoughts, and have actually just avoided writing CC review posts….but on the same token, I’m also keeping some valuable info form readers who may actually benefit from a sweet CC sign up bonus.
What has worked for me is just talk about my personal usage of a certain card/product/service, and just be straight up honest. I have though about doing a few bad reviews on products I hate. 🙂
That sounds like a good idea, I like to write from personal experience whenever possible as that’s a lot more concrete too. And there is nothing wrong with a good rant 🙂
Hi, Matt! I have actually decided against commenting on other blogs, at least for awhile. But will make this one exception. You have helped me tremendously when I started out and I will always be grateful to you for that. So please don’t take any offense at what I am about to say. This is only my opinion.
Your post feels to me a bit self-congratulatory. Yes, I think you are an honest guy. But did you really need to write a whole post showcasing it? If you think the card is a good deal, review it. If not, don’t. What is the dilemma?
I also would like to suggest, you use a simpler language and cut your posts’ length a bit. Again, just my opinion. I think a lot of people simply have no clue what you are talking about and unfortunately your very good content does not get the attention, it deserves. Cheers!
Thanks for breaking your vow of silence, I’d have thought you would like this one. But I guess I can’t please everyone… I’ll take what you say onboard.
Please, don’t take any offense. I think you are an incredibly talented blogger and one of the smartest people I know. No digs whatsoever, I promise.