Friday, April 5, 2013

In Defense Of Credit Card Affiliate Links

The original point of my blog was to say things that were on my mind. Only later, after I started writing professionally for several outlets, did I have a place to express my thoughts on a range of subjects.

But lately, I have been reading and engaging in some debates online about travel blogs and credit card affiliate links. For those who are not aware, many blogs have links to credit card applications, and these sites receives a commission when the applicant is approved. In fact, affiliate links are available a wide variety of products. For example, I occasionally use affiliate links from Amazon on my Go Tubeless blog about bicycle tires (Which is the best bicycle tire blog on the Internet!).  I have been so successful with this blog that over the past three years, I have earned several dollars. And while I haven't totaled up my vast wealth, I estimate it is enough to pay for a decent dinner, but not enough to purchase a fancy bicycle tire.

Anyways let's take a look at the pros and cons of affiliate links:

  • The blogger makes money which can even allow him or her to make a living.
  • That blogger may hire editors, writer (like me), and others who make money and earn a living.
  • The blog can offer valuable content to readers at no cost.
  • As advertising goes, affiliate links are about the most efficient and unobtrusive form their is. 
  • A site may be tempted to alter its content in order to push more links.
Where I stand

Having researched and written thousands of articles on the subject, I consider myself an expert on credit cards and travel. Also, I am fully aware that most of my income as a writer comes indirectly from affiliate links. But, other than my Amazon links to bicycle tires, I do not directly receive any commissions based on my work.Therefore, my writing is inherently uncorrupted by these links, at least until my editors get at it.But even when my editors do add links, it doesn't bother me. It is their blog, their business, and they are my clients.So long as they don't do anything immoral, unethical, hurtful, or illegal, I expect them to maximize the profits of their business, just like any other for-profit enterprise.

But of course, any broadcast television show that I watch is constantly interrupted by commercials, which are far more intrusive than that hyperlinks.In fact, I can't even watch a movie that is broadcast with commercials without using some sort of commercial skipping device. If web authors got upset about hyperlinks, god forbid a television actor would see his or her show broadcast with commercials!

As for those blogs who tailor their content to push links, they are easy to spot. They offer poor advice and are constantly pushing inferior products. If you feel a blog is doing this, my advice is to simply stop reading them rather than go on a crusade. There are far worse things in this world worth spending your time crusading against.

Where the critics stand

What is really getting old is the whole backlash against bloggers going on out there on Flyertalk and elsewhere. Some people continue to make their tired anti-link arguments over and over and over again. Naively, I have tried raise the level of the debate by shedding light on this industry, using my perspective as full time, freelance writer for online outlets, such as with this guest post. But at this point, there are some who display such bitterness and incivility, that they appear to be fanatics engaging in a political conflict rather than a discussion of Internet advertising techniques.

These fanatics need to get over it. Affiliate links are not going away, and the people who make a living producing content are not going to give up and move on because of a few detractors. Ask yourself: Would you abandon your career because someone somewhere on the Internet objected? Besides, these detractors don't seem to realize that more they make the same point over and over again, the less people are listening.

But what also irks me are those who rate blog posts solely on the presence or absence of affiliate links.I welcome constructive criticism, lively debates, and different points of view. Yet I could offer original, invaluable content that shows my readers how to travel for free, but all I will hear from this peanut gallery is complaints about the existence of links . In fact, I believe that I have uncovered the secret to unlimited free travel with points and miles and written about it. Well, almost all of it! There are also those who have complained about my content being too valuable and disclosing too many secrets, but that is another matter.

There are tens of thousands of people out there who blog about where they went and what they did on their vacations, without including affiliate links, or showing you how to travel for free.

Those who hate affiliate links should probably just be reading those blogs.