In the Trenches: Failed Revenue Streams

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on July 18, 2012
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I usually write about Cranky Concierge in this space, but the personal air-travel service is only a piece of Cranky Flier LLC. As part of my small business, I also run a blog, The Cranky Flier, which is really how In the Trenches got started. Although I’ve focused much of my attention on the concierge business lately, I’m still trying to improve the business of the blog as well. Unfortunately, my latest effort didn’t go quite as I’d planned…

The way I make money on my blog is pretty simple: I don’t charge anyone to read it, but I do host ads. Most of these ads are served through Google, and I make some decent spending money that way. (It’s not enough income to live on, but it helps.) I also maintain a directory, which is pay-for-placement. But I’m always wondering if there is more I could do without jeopardizing the integrity of my content.

At a conference in March, I started talking with someone who grew his blog — and started making good money — with credit-card referrals. A lot of times, affiliate deals make no sense to me, because you only get a couple of bucks on a sale. My site doesn’t generate enough traffic (read: volume) to justify the effort. But credit cards are big business, and they pay a fair chunk of change every time someone new signs up. Plenty of people ask me about earning and redeeming frequent flier miles, so I thought this would be a good opportunity.

My plan was to add a page to my website featuring various credit card offers relevant to my audience. That meant offering cards that would help people earn miles for travel. I would write an introductory post about their availability — and leave it at that. Many bloggers have decided to shift the focus of their blogs to credit card deals, but I wasn’t changing anything. I just pitched the card offers as a way people could support The Cranky Flier if they were in the market for a new card.

People did respond, and I made a little bit of money, but the burden was too great. Not only are there strict rules around how things can be presented and said regarding the cards, but I also started having my affiliate deals canceled because I wasn’t producing enough volume. The only way to change that? Start writing more about the cards and really push the offers, without violating their strict compliance guidelines. There was no way I was going to let a few bucks influence my content like that.

When my last big affiliate walked away due to my “lack of production,” I was left with so little that I took the whole page down. Bloggers who focus on this particular area don’t have to worry about this, but for me, it would require dramatically shifting my content just to earn more. I have no interest in that, and neither do my readers.

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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