First, I want to make it clear that this isn’t a rant or an emotionally-charged post. I had a few days to think about it, and truly want to hear from you. I know most readers hate commenting, but I hope you make an exception just this once.
You may have seen my recent post on Netspend and why you should sign up for this account. Originally, I didn’t plan to include my link which gives me $20 incentive and instead defer you to the person who provided analysis to begin with. However, he insisted that I insert my own referral, so I did. Here is the comment I got on that post:
Basically, in that thread few people were offering $10/$15 in exchange for using their link, effectively splitting $20 commission. I don’t mind the comment at all and actually did update the post to give people the option of pocketing few extra bucks. I want to stress that I welcome all comments, especially if they benefit my readers. Not to mention, I love DoC blog and find it incredibly useful. That’s one of the reasons I originally included personal referral link from one of its writers.
But it did make me think. I wasn’t aware that folks were offering this incentive in the comments. But if I was, should I have mentioned it? At any given time, there is a conga line going somewhere. Am I required to link to it? Is there a guarantee that those folks will follow through with payout? It does sometimes take a few months for money to get deposited.
On one hand, I absolutely want readers to get the best deal. I pride myself on linking to non-affiliate credit card offers and have directed folks to non-paying cards on numerous occasions. Of course, if the best offer happens to pay me, and very often it does, I hope you consider supporting the blog. But this area to me is somewhat cut and dry. I’m not allowed to share my affiliate commission.
But here is the thing. I’ve seen people offer incentives for using their personal credit card referral link. Am I required to link to those comments and provide an email of the person? BTW, I’m not being sarcastic. I’m genuinely curious what you think on this topic.
I actually have offered an incentive on Discover card if someone used my personal referral link. In fact, one of my readers told me I could keep it, but I insisted on sharing the payout. I made a promise, and it was the right thing to do. Should I do the same thing from now on? As in match other people’s incentive rather than link to the thread? I want to do the right thing and hope you can help me find acceptable compromise. I’ve noticed quite a few clicked on the link to DoC post where people were offering this $10 incentive, so obviously, it’s something you are interested in.
My goal from the start has been to provide value to readers. I really want to be useful. Sure, there are rants here and there but hopefully, even those aren’t totally without merit. I want to make folks laugh, cry, sometimes both at the same time.
The thing is, though, blogging is a lot of work. It really is my part-time job, and the hours I put into it reflect that. Some (not all) of my posts take three hours to write from start to finish and are mentally draining. If that’s not work, I don’t know what is. I answer emails, do research, provide free consulting service etc. I’ve also helped some readers book award tickets and charged them nothing for my time.
Over the last 4 weeks I had zero conversions, aka made no profit. The previous month was a bit better, but not by much. I would love to say that I can do this indefinitely with very little pay, but it would be a lie. Eventually, I will have to make a decision.
There is a possibility of me getting a part-time flexible job in my field when both kids will be in kindergarten. And we can sure use the money. If I accept, at that point, something will have to go. Contrary to popular belief, as a stay-at-home I have a lot of obligations. Many times, I feel like I don’t take care of them properly and stretch myself too thin as is.
This isn’t some sort of a guilt trip or a threat. Miles and points industry survived without my blog, and will do just fine if I walk away for realz. I believe in honesty and transparency. Connecting with readers is my favorite thing, hands down. But I can probably do that without posts. And it’s not all about the money. If very few are using my affiliate links, it makes me think that my content isn’t all that useful. And if it isn’t useful, why am I spending three hours on some of the posts?