Yup, that’s the first time I ever typed those words. Reader Kevin sent me a reminder to look at the latest Starwood Moments. As usual, there are some great options (including a pair of Lady Gaga tickets for a cheap 5,000 SPG points). Highlights from United include football games and golf auctions. My favorite from Delta is probably the New York Mets fantasy camp. As always, there are good deals mixed in with some ripoffs on all 3 pages. I think Gaga is probably the standout offer right now. And, yeah, it feels weird to write the word “Gaga.”
Didn’t pay attention much attention to this email, but I should have. Air Canada and Accor hotels have teamed up for a killer deal. Earn 5,000 Aeroplan miles for every stay through the end of the year here. There aren’t many of these hotels in my neck of the woods, but you can do it very cheap in Asia. Here’s the Flyertalk thread.
Man, a ton of emails came in yesterday. Probably the most I’ve gotten in a year. Lately, when I write something long-winded, the response is so big that a followup post is needed. So here it is. One last post and then we move back to our regularly scheduled deal talk. As always, 90+ percent of you guys were incredibly supportive. I’d say my favorite email was this:
“I think your post is right on, thank you for writing it, and thank you for not allowing people to comment on it — it makes it even better. I enjoy your blog, I enjoy how much time and energy you put into your blog and into this craft, and thank you for continuing to do so. Thank you for doing top CC list and actually listing all best deals (i.e. FT ones as well), I respect you tremendously for that. If you are ever in NJ, I’ll take you out for dinner, I’ll even pay cash and not make any miles/points on it — that would be a sign of how much I like you blog.”
Amazing, right? That last sentence cracked me up and more kind words kept coming in throughout the day. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue to do this, but man do I appreciate the responses. Your feedback is a big part of the reason I keep posting. Of course, as always, a small minority of people missed the point. Oh well. Reading comprehension isn’t for everyone. But I do want to talk about one thing/person…
A few of you mentioned someone named Drew. To be honest, I had no idea who the hell he was. But a lot of you guys really seemed to like him. Hold that thought. Let me paint a picture and put you in my shoes for a minute. You have 2 jobs with no fixed salary, so you have to hustle to get paid. Fun jobs, but very long hours. Then you try to run a blog, respond to readers, and keep up with constant family/friend obligations. Occasionally, you attempt to squeeze in a trip or two. Sure, it’s a good life, but there aren’t many free moments in the day. It’s pretty damn busy in these shoes. So I don’t have the time to keep up with blogger politics. I’m a lot more focused on my blog than anyone else’s. When people email me something, I click. And I read. Here’s a deal. Click and read. Here’s a rant. Click and read. Occasionally, I feel something and share my opinions here.
After reading incredibly similar piss-poor blog rant after blog rant for months, I was annoyed enough to write yesterday’s letter. People loved it. I’m proud of it too. But I kept getting emails about this guy Drew. I kept hearing about what a nice person he is. Finally, I (captain obvious) realized that this mystery Drew is the writer of the blog Travel Is Free. I’ve read it a few times and was always impressed. Well, it just so happened that his rant was the last one I read…the straw that broke the camel’s back. But, as (almost) everyone realized, I wasn’t speaking to one person yesterday. There was a long line leading there and I was responding after a craptastic stretch of rant-reading. This was clear to the majority of readers, as my post began “Dear Blogger.” The sentence before that introduced an “open letter to bloggers.”
I didn’t single anyone out because I wasn’t talking to an individual. As always, I’m happy to point fingers. There are plenty of once-great blogs I now hate (see: MileValue). But, in this case, I was writing an open letter. Again, just about everyone understood that. Still, supporters of Travel Is Free wanted to make their voices heard. They emailed me, talking about how Drew is a great guy, how he’s open with his financial challenges, and on and on. So, I took an hour out of my insanely busy day to read through his blog.
And what did I find?
Actually, I found a guy who writes a lot like I do. And his content is much better than most. Really useful stuff for mile nerds everywhere. I’m a fan. True, his attempt at ranting was awkward/embarrassing/misguided/not his specialty, but everything else there is pretty great. As an artist, I felt inspired reading about someone with such a unique life. If you look on the right sidebar, I’ve added Travel Is Free to my very short list of blogs I like. Not many of these clowns deserve my limited time. This Drew guy does. If his blog is new to you, give it a read and let me know what you think.
Back to deals tomorrow!
A few of you are quick to send me links whenever a travel blogger tries to “rant.” I don’t read many blogs, but always click the links you guys send. Frankly, these so-called rants are an embarrassment. As a public service, I’ve decided to write an open letter to bloggers about their attempts at ranting.
Why not stick with the things you know how to do? Take pictures of hotel rooms. Talk about your favorite champagne in First Class. Maybe write more of your wordy “articles,” which are really cleverly disguised advertisements. But this ranting thing…it’s not for everybody. And it’s clearly not your specialty. Why would I say such a thing?
- It requires writing talent – How do I put this? Oh, yeah…you’re not a good writer. A rant is an expression of emotion. Which means you need to have a strong point-of-view. Unfortunately, you’re not very interesting. Sure, you can spew some facts. And you can definitely take some pretty pictures. But your personality is bland. You’re just not brave enough to be interesting. That makes you a bad writer. And a terrible ranter.
- Fear of making enemies – You talk about a travel blogging “community.” You can call it whatever you want, but I’m not a part of any buddy system. And you are. I don’t share hosting, I’ve turned down offers to speak with people I don’t respect, and I do my own thing 100% of the time. You, on the other hand, worry about preserving your friendships with other bloggers. Again, this contributes to your uninspired rants.
- Having your hands tied – Between relationships with bloggers and limitations from your advertisers, you can only say so much. Even if you were a better writer, you still wouldn’t be allowed to express what you wanted to say. That fact is death (in the world of rants).
- Debating something obvious – Not everything needs to be debated. Some things are clear to anyone who opens their eyes. Most of the rants I read are related to money. Yes, some bloggers have sold out. Obviously. This is a tired rant subject. It has been talked about to death. Let’s break it down one last time:
- Making money is not a bad thing.
- Affiliate links on a blog aren’t automatically evil.
- Advertisements disguised as blog posts are shady.
- Do you make posts you wouldn’t normally make just to post an affiliate link? Slimy. And it makes you a sellout.
- Do you tell readers about the “best credit card offers” for them while hiding better bonuses (because those don’t pay you money)? Many bloggers do it. And it’s slimy. Major sellout material.
- Being a polyanna – Most crappy rants use phrases like, “There’s too much hate on the internet.” It’s a cowardly tactic. Think about it. If tons of people are pissed at something you’re doing…maybe it’s actually your fault (gasp). Maybe you should feel bad about it. You’re inspiring anger in some way. Aren’t you interested in exploring why? Or would you rather plaster a robotic smile on your face? Funny how the people who do something worthy of hate are the ones so tired of hate.
- Idiot readers – Everything until now has been your fault. But you’re not fully to blame. No matter how much you improve, you’ll never make everyone happy. Look at me. I make it hard to be criticized. I’m pretty much bulletproof here. I’ve worked at this for years and have spent more money than I’ve made. 99.9% of my readers get it. They know I always try my best to help. They see it and appreciate it. But even for me, it’s not enough to make everyone happy. No matter what you do, it will never be enough for some morons. For example, if there were free Uber airport rides this weekend, I’d post that deal. I’d use my Uber link because I was going to make the post anyway. Nothing wrong with that. But someone might say I didn’t disclose the link. Well, here’s the thing…it’s their rule, not mine. I’ve earned full trust. Other bloggers like you are making six-figures a year by selling out your integrity. I’ve earned the appreciation I get. But I still hear the occasional whining. So, if your rant is intended for that very small minority, don’t bother sharing it. Most readers will be confused and morons will continue to be morons.
- Fear of seeming arrogant – The biggest problem with your rants is that you don’t keep it real. Listen…people can sense when you hold back. They know when they’re being manipulated. So don’t worry about seeming “humble.” Just keep it real. Again, almost every single person who reads this blog trusts me implicitly. They know I would never screw them over. Is that arrogant? Not if it’s true. So for an effective rant, don’t censor yourself. Get to the point, even if it comes off as cocky.
Look, you might not ever be a skilled ranter. And that’s ok. People like TravelBloggerBuzz have turned ranting into an art form. You should stick to your specialties. Worry about advertisers, Google rankings, pageviews, and all the bullshit I don’t know anything about. But let’s agree to stop with all the watered-down rants. Deal?
4 deals to start the week…
- Amex gift cards with a bonus on Monday. Bigcrumbs says: “Thanks to the support of our incredibly awesome members, we’ve been able to arrange higher rates with American Express Gift Cards! Cash back is set to increase on Monday, October 20th and will only last for 24 hours.”
- Free money this week for buying Visa gift cards from Staples.
- Wells Fargo customer? Go to a local branch by November 16th to get your credit score and report for free.
- Qantas fan? Read the last few posts on this Australian blog to pick up a ton of easy points.