End-of-Year Mega Rant: On Justin Bieber, Pizza Rat and Placing a Stake

Spoiler alert! You can expect narcissism, navel-gazing and ranting galore in this baby. All the good stuff you’ve come to love here at Miles for Family blogging empire (of one). We are ending this year with a bang.

So, 2015 has been interesting, to say the least.  We went to Jamaica, Europe,  got to visit our beautiful Florida beaches with the kids on numerous occasions and much more. Naturally, my family would  never  be able to afford all these experiences without our little hobby.

As far as this blog goes, things weren’t quite so rosy. I quit, I came back. I’m still here, literally and figuratively. After this post goes live, I will take two weeks off  so I can spend time with my family. I’m not burned out (not yet), and told you before about my plan to take breaks from writing now and again, especially when kids are off-school. I honestly think it’s a “must” for any blogger.

The rat race can seriously suck the life out of you. Speaking of, have you seen “Pizza rat” YouTube video sensation that went viral? Sometimes I feel like that rat, pushing my heavy pizza slice (this blog) against all odds, one step (post) at a time.

Like with any business, you shouldn’t invest more than you can afford to lose. Say what? But blogging is dirt cheap! It is and it isn’t because we are literally gambling with our time. When you have a family, time is precious and not to be taken for granted. You can become a successful blogger and as a result turn into a lousy spouse/parent. In a grand scheme of things, which one is more important?

Even though he won’t read this post, I have to give a shout-out to my husband who has been incredibly supportive in letting me do this crazy thing…again. It’s hard for me to admit but at times, I’ve neglected more important things in order to crank out  posts which didn’t end up amounting to much. And let’s be honest, miles and points blogging in general really doesn’t amount to much compared to other important issues going on in the world.

Am I making enough of  a difference to justify all the effort I put into this site? What are my goals? How many more ways can I skin  a cat? No, not an actual cat, but how many times can I cover the same topics without sounding like a broken record?

Of course, I already had two months to ponder on this very subject. My conclusion? Blogging is about ideas exchange. There is something special about a bunch of strangers coming together and working to solve one specific problem. It really is a collaborative effort. This site isn’t about me, I’m just a circus ring master.

Something else I’ve realized: my blog is me, but I’m NOT my blog. As in, this site is an expression of me, but I’m not Miles for Family or MFF. I’m Leana, a person who does many things. Blogging is one of them. Here we go again: Me, me, me, it’s all about me (rolls eyes).

Anyway, I was reading this post Why you don’t have to build an audience “their” way and wanted to share an excerpt:

“The Internet has fractured society into a million tiny niches and markets. The best thing you can do is place your stake in the ground and let people see it. Those who agree with you, and there are always some, will flock to you and follow you for your courage and tenacity. Nobody wants to be pandered to, and you don’t need that many people to make a difference.”

Sure, it’s a simple message. But it really makes sense, doesn’t it? So, here I am, placing the stake again after taking it out earlier. I don’t know how often I will cut the grass around the stake or whether I’ll keep it painted and shiny, but I intend to leave it there. This is my web home, and you are always welcome to stop by for a chat.

There is a LOT not to like about being a miles and points blogger. You see things that can make your blood boil at times: Blatant lies, outright content thievery, and more! Some have made a career out of cleverly  re-packaging other folks’ posts (without ever giving credit to the original source). And they are laughing all the way to the bank.

I’m not naming names or calling anyone out. I’m simply stating the reality of The Hobby business as we know it. Don’t be fooled by the cutesy photos and clever stock images. It’s a ruthless arena, “Hunger games” style. Naturally, I view myself as a character of Katniss, just trying to survive without stabbing anyone in the back. Oh, the drama! It’s a Russian thing.

This industry is also a silly popularity contest. You have a power struggle on who is the most principled and brightest, and who “owns” any specific topic or niche. Let’s settle this once and for all. The most awesome person in the universe is… Justin Bieber.

justin b

He is the only one followed by TheTweetofG#d  who knows a thing or two on this subject. Ok, I’ll let the cat out of the bag. That guy on Twitter is an impersonator, but still.

Anyway, there are many issues in our neck of the woods.  But (and you knew there was a “but”), if that’s all you choose to focus on, you are missing the big picture. Miles and points community is comprised of many genuine folks who are willing to go out of their way to help one another. I certainly try to do my part and appreciate others’ input as well. We help each other travel for next to nothing, and isn’t it a lot of fun?

I am truly grateful that  you stop by and read my rants on a regular basis. Yes, I know, it’s a cliche statement. What can I say? I’m a super needy gal. Now Julia (my blogging alter ego), she doesn’t give a pizza rat’s behind. But your words of support give me the energy and mental fuel to keep going, to keep plugging away. It goes without saying that I’m super grateful when you choose to use one of my affiliate links. It makes no difference whether it gives me 40 cents commission on a pack of diapers ordered through Amazon, $5 referral for one of shopping portals or $$ (use your imagination) for a credit card approval. One of my readers has emailed me a Fandango movie code which was lovely.

A few months ago, someone told me that he thought my blog is a hidden gem.  I’m not going to comment on the “gem” part. I’m convinced that we as authors are not very good judges on the quality of our own content. Everyone thinks their ideas are original  and their storytelling is superb. Of course, sometimes it’s true. But many times it’s not. I honestly have no idea where my site fits in, I just know I try very hard to be useful to readers. No games, no gimmicks, no manipulation in order to sell credit cards. No shoes, no commission, no problem.

But I will say that this person was spot on with the “hidden” reference. But you, the readers can actually change that. Please, share my content on your social networks if you find it beneficial. Pass along  the name of my website to your family and friends. Refer them to my Free Consulting Service page etc. Every little bit helps. Speaking of, thanks to all the bloggers who re-tweeted my posts or linked to my site. I want you to know, I don’t take it for granted and appreciate your support immensely.

So, readers, I would like you to suggest topics for future posts. Tell me what’s on your mind or tell me off, it’s your call. Share the stories of your travel adventures and how miles and points made them possible. Let me know what you like/don’t like about my site. But please, don’t  tell me to tone it down. I’m crazy and proud of it. Oh, and don’t ask me to include less stock photos of black people. Julia and I love black folks. Always have, always will.

My main blogging  goal for 2016? To stay true to myself without being  a jerk but most importantly, continue putting your interests first no matter what. I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff over 2.5 years of running this cookoo’s nest, but I’ve never intentionally tried to mislead my  readers for personal gain. Not once.

Ok, folks, I’ve been talking all year. I’m tired. Your turn.

P.S. I recommend you follow Doctorofcredit and LoyaltyLobby  if you want to stay up-to-date on all the main news.  Of course, feel free to email me with your questions or reach out via Twitter. I’m not going off-line and will be here for my readers just as I was before. For your homework assignment, I would like you to read Milenomics Even though Sam isn’t currently posting, 90% of his content is evergreen. So start at the beginning. It’s good stuff, for realz.

If you found my content beneficial, look at my Support Me page  for ways you can help keep the site running. Also, please, subscribe to receive free blog updates through email and recommend me to your family and friends. You can also follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook  and download my e-book 

4 thoughts on “End-of-Year Mega Rant: On Justin Bieber, Pizza Rat and Placing a Stake

  1. OMG…a post with a picture of Justin Bieber and awesome in the same sentence? Has this blog jumped the shark? Some new scheme to raise your blog’s search engine ranking? LOL.

    Just kidding! I don’t know about you, but the last 6 months in the miles/points world have been a bit of a bore. Just not a whole lot of terribly exciting things going on. I have really cut down on the number of blogs that I read on a regular basis and the ones that I find myself actually visiting (as opposed to just perusing the “headlines”) tend to be family-oriented topics that frequently involve travel or content about actual destinations (rather than the plane ride to get there), some #AVGeek stuff, and the occasional good deal/strategy post from someone like FM or DoC. But if the headline is “8 great ways to exploit the CSP for maximum benefit” or “I flew in the Residence and took a lot of pictures so you don’t have to” – meh – I move on.

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    • @Erik Ha! What are you talking about? Justin Beiber is AWESOME! It’s funny you’ve mentioned the whole “jumping the shark” thing. Originally, I included the reference to “left shark”, but felt this post already had too many pop culture memes. Basically, I said this site is like a “left shark,” dancing its own crazy dance out of tune. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see this video of Katy Perry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmcWZ2Bzoho Anyway, I think by all accounts, my blog jumped the “left shark” a long time ago. And yet, here I am, still typing away, regardless.
      As far as your remark on recent lack of interesting developments in the miles and points blogging community, well… I have to be careful how I word the following. Honestly, it comes down to “different strokes for different folks” kind of thing. Everyone has certain preferences and topics they are interested in. I’m certain many hobbyists feel my blog is crap, and I respect that. I don’t feel like I have to prove anything, not anymore. In the beginning, I got caught up in this whole “high school” aspect of blogging, and it was a huge mistake.
      I think as newbies we tend to be desperate for attention and channel our energy in the wrong direction. I remember someone commented on DoC and said that Will needs to call other bloggers out for bad behavior. His response was something along these lines: “My posts speak for themselves. I focus on good content instead of drama.” There you go. I also have very little interest in CSP posts, but I’m not a newbie. For many who just came across this hobby, it’s totally new information. Therein lies a challenge: How to balance the needs of existing readers and newbies who just came across your blog. That’s not easy and frankly, I probably should do more posts on CSP. Those tend to do very well on Google. But truth be told, it’s just not something I’m interested in. So, it comes down to writing about things that hold my attention and get me excited. If I’m not enjoying writing, it’s going to make it hard to sit down and crank out a post on a regular basis. So, yeah, there will be rants now and again! Basically, this blog is about my family’s journey.
      I don’t know if you saw the last post on http://www.travelisfree.com on how he became a travel hacker. It’s really an enjoyable read and I hope Drew sticks around because his site is such a gem. Interestingly, one of the commenters complained that he isn’t posting often enough and sited examples of other prominent bloggers. By the same token, he remarked that his posts are well-researched and feel genuine. Hello? Maybe the reason they feel that way is because he isn’t writing 10 posts per day and is actually living a life? It’s not a snipe at those who do write 10 posts per day. I have a lot of respect for hard work and tenacity, but bloggers shouldn’t be expected to do this.
      P.S. Thank you so much for all of your feedback! Please, don’t ever hesitate to contribute a post. I saw that you visited Paris recently, so if you feel like writing about it, I would love to publish it. I can’t pay much, but I did give my previous guest poster Leticia $10 Amazon gift card. I know it’s a lot of work for such a low amount, but hopefully, you’ll consider it.
      End rant.

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