This rant was inspired by Point Centric post on what bad blogging is and how to identify it. I debated on whether to write a commentary, but feel this is a good chance to re-state my message and goals. So here it goes.
If you head on over to read the post, you will see that Ralph has a problem with the fact that most affiliate bloggers wrote about Hyatt “cash+points” redemption option, but failed to insert links to non-paying Chase Hyatt Visa. The affiliate links for Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus were included in most posts.
I actually completely agree with his viewpoint and even made a comment on the post. Personally, I don’t have a problem with bloggers inserting affiliate links. Obviously, when it goes like this: “text-affiliate link-text-affiliate link,” that’s obnoxious. But few relevant links in one post is not something to go crazy over. I know many disagree, and I respect that. I don’t have any direct links, just a generic one, so there is zero incentive for me to defend the other guys.
I also understand that many absolutely despise affiliate credit card links of any kind. Once again, I respect it. I understand the implications of having the “big elephant in the room.” But I also want to make a little bit of money from my blog, and credit card links allow me to do it. My site is very small, I’m not affiliated with a major blogging network, and I write in a narrow niche.
I want to address (again) the assumption that credit card affiliate links=big money. That is simply not true. Let me give you an example. As you know, few months ago, the offer on Amex SPG was increased to 30K points. I had one approval/conversion from it (thanks to whoever used my link!) If you are a non-affiliate blogger who promoted a personal referral link that gave you 5K points, and you got more than one reader to click on it, you’ve done better than me. BTW I’ve written exactly one post about this offer.
Affiliate money doesn’t just fall in my lap, I work hard for it. And yet, I still make less than minimum wage after doing it for more than two years. I’m not writing this to complain, not at all. I’m simply asking readers and bloggers who are “anti-affiliate links” to be rational on this subject. Sure, there are all kinds of problems in our corner of the universe.
I see current situation as sort of a “Occupy The Hobby” movement (without political overtones). Only time will tell if it will gain momentum, but sites like Doctor of Credit became game-changers, no question. But you have to remember, those guys don’t just sit around, they work very hard. In the end, it’s about being useful to readers. Period.
I think all of us affiliate bloggers would do well to ask ourselves this question: “Am I a journalist first, salesman second?” It’s not that it’s wrong to sell (everyone is selling something), but are you doing it at the expense of being transparent with your readers? It’s good to ask this question now and again and be honest with the answer.
Something a fellow blogger mentioned in the comments of Ralph’s post: “You are darned if you do, and darned if you don’t” referring to backlash when it comes to mentioning (or not mentioning) specific offers. That is very true. It honestly feels like people are constantly questioning your motives. It can really take a toll on you.
What I would like to encourage all bloggers to do is be civil towards one another. We don’t have to like each other, but name calling and hostility are not productive. Let me give you an example. Back in the day, I used to work with a lady. Remember the character of Dwight in the “Office”? She was like that, but worse.
She didn’t know how to do her job, and I frequently had to clean up her messes (which I didn’t get paid for). She talked about skinny dipping with her boyfriend (plus other inappropriate stuff) and she smelled like a dog. It only made sense because once I saw her driving around town with her shaggy canine companion in the front seat.
Why am I telling you this? Well, in spite of all of her “quirks,” I never yelled at her in front of the clients or in private, for that matter. Why? It would be unprofessional. We are all co-workers in a sense. Let’s not forget it.