I’m not an expert, I’m just a guy. Sure, I’ve done some cool things with points and miles, and yes, my finances have some neat things attached to them, but I’m not an expert. In fact, while I find such things fun, they are just symptoms of the disorder that comes with a value orientated mind. If credit cards went away tomorrow, and I could no longer travel for free it wouldn’t bother me, I’d be grateful for the ride and looking for the next thing to keep me occupied.
I know a few things, but I am not the fount of all knowledge, in fact on a manufactured spending level I currently don’t do much at all, while I did put things on hold for the mortgage application I was going through, even at full steam ahead I am only doing 3-4 very basic and simple things each month as I just don’t have access to many options, and even when I do I just don’t have enough time or capacity to always practice what I preach.
Some months I forget to max out my Amazon Payments accounts….
Acting like an expert when you are not is dangerous ground. It frequently means you cannot take risks, it stagnates your growth and learning. Fear of making the wrong call means that you never reach your full potential, because you can never succeed in life without failure. Also, you find yourself stretched too far into areas beyond your expertise chasing false ideals. I saw another blogger do this recently when he posted about an airline program he had no knowledge of and just made a complete arse of himself.
I believe if you don’t know, say you don’t know. It’s ok. At least I hope it is because this post is me saying I don’t always know, but I feel like I am being placed in the position of expert for all things points and miles as the blog grows more popular, hence the need to warn you guys.
Beyond the subject matter (I think arbitrage is the most accurate and inclusive term) that I find interesting, I am not an expert at blogging either. I don’t mean just in my atrociously long posts with grade school grammar, but I mean the building an audience, converting people into long term readers, and creating a world dominating empire. When you start a blog, it is a hard slog, you can pour your heart out into an article and perhaps 100 people read it (80 of those views are you hitting F5 to check for new comments) and then you hit upon some gold, some posts that drive masses of traffic to you. Mr Chasing The Points and I discussed this last night, as his post on Unethical Perpetual Points machines boosted traffic through the roof.
Likewise my post on Lifemiles tricks drew in the crowds. It is tempting to give away the keys to the kingdom and bring the masses, but I have decided, in my non-expert wisdom that I don’t want the masses. I don’t want to see this site populated with the great unwashed, and I don’t want to blow up deals for people who work hard on them for the sake of page view or conversion. I think it is interlaced with the pressure to perform beyond my scope, and I would have to actively seek out ‘secrets’ to spoil and keep people happy. I have dozens of such tricks now, but they aren’t going to be posted.
The readers wouldn’t want me, they would want my secrets. Heck, they wouldn’t even care if they were mine as long as they could have them.
You can lose yourself in blogging, trying to live up to a reputation, trying to allow revenue or site visits drive your content into areas that push personal boundaries, and I’m taking note of this and finding my center again. When I think of the site as I want it to be, I see a place that helps the people like I have been in phases of my life. The guy in debt. The guy starting a business. The guy who traveled through 50 countries and lived on 3 continents before he even knew what an airline mile was.
I’m not sure what real changes you will notice. But the one big one you might see is that I will be distancing myself further from the inner workings of loopholes within the system, and striving to become a better steward of our art. I certainly want to help folk on the path, but I really want nothing to do with sharing the nuts and bolts of the next Vanilla Reload on a public forum, I still think such content just feeds people on the wrong part of the Venn.
I am seeking to find that fine line where I can get more people into the game without harming the game for the players already in it. It may be impossible to find that balance, but if I try to keep my focus on remembering I am not an expert, and it isn’t about driving traffic to my site, it is about the love of the game. Perhaps with that approach I can find the place where the value I offer exceeds any harm done.
This post was inspired by two elements combining, the first was a desire to move away from harmful secret sharing, especially with the primary purpose of making the site a ‘go-to’ resource. I’ve tried to be mindful of this in the past, but I want to improve further, and secondly I just got so excited that I booked a RT to Chicago yesterday with Avios for $10 and I thought to myself, I can’t be excited by this if I am an expert, this is nothing to me. But I actually still feel like such a big kid every time I book an award trip like that and I don’t ever want to be too cool for school.