In yesterday’s post, I explained what an affiliate link is and that Emily and I are very grateful when you click on our affiliate links! That’s because we get a commission on some credit cards which pays for maintaining the blog.
But I also mentioned that not all affiliate links lead to be best offer, so here’s how I use affiliate & non-affiliate links on Million Mile Secrets.
Should the Buyer Beware?
I go about life not expecting others to present me with the best choices for my specific situation, but to usually make suggestions which are in their best interest. “That’s a bad long term business strategy for the recommender” you say. Sure it is, but most folks don’t think about the long term and short-term opportunism pervades many parts of life today.
So I ask Emily to get a second opinion when the dentist suggests breaking her metal crowns and putting in shiny new white ones. I don’t sign-up for a more expensive cable package, despite being told that I’ll “save money” by bundling services. And I’ve shopped around for low interest rates on student loans.
The Mother-In-Law Rule
But I use affiliate links on Million Mile Secrets in a very different way.
My goal is NOT to maximize my income, but to make sure that my mother-in-law won’t be led astray or click on a link which leads to a lower offer.
Emily’s mom grew up poor and didn’t go to college. But she worked hard at the phone company and had a good middle-class life. Except that a few years before her retirement during the financial crisis, she sold all her retirement investments, at almost the lowest possible point at the urging of a person who earned commission from the sale.
Of course, she should have been more diligent and researched the situation more, but she didn’t know any better. So I want to be as transparent as possible should she apply for a travel credit card on the blog.
How I Use Affiliate Links on the Blog
I want to make it as easy for anyone to know – up front – while reading a post, if a link in the post pays me a commission.
As a marketer, I know that this disclosure on EVERY post with an affiliate link will definitely decrease conversions i.e. reduce the number of folks who are approved for a product using my affiliate links. That’s because you are aware that I earn a commission from the links in the post, so you’re on-guard to see if the affiliate link benefits you as well.
If I wanted to maximize my income from affiliate links or have a cleaner blog post, I wouldn’t have disclosure in every post. But I follow the “mother-in-law” rule.
That said, having disclosure in every post is messy, so many websites don’t disclose in every post, but rather disclose in one fixed location. Sometimes that location is easy to find and stares at you because there is a tab which says “disclosure.” And sometimes the disclosure is in every post or hidden away.
Note that the FTC does require disclosure if you are paid for endorsing a product, but doesn’t appear to require it on every page containing affiliate links.
2. BETTER NON-AFFILIATE OFFERS
As I wrote yesterday, there is a very clear conflict of interest if one link (with a lower sign-up bonus) pays the website owner more than another link.
But the “mother-in-law rule” means that I always try to list better offers to credit cards even if these don’t pay me a commission.
Sometimes the links with the higher sign-up bonus have technically expired, but still work (like the Citi American Airlines card with 50,000 miles). Or require you to attempt to make a hotel reservation (like I wrote with the Marriott or Hyatt cards).
I will usually update links in the Credit Card tabs (i.e Airlines, Hotels, Bank Points etc.) within a few hours of a reader commenting or emailing me with links to a better credit card offer, but no later than 72 hours in case I’m traveling or scared by the size of my inbox!
Yes, I will earn less when you click on a non-affiliate link instead of my affiliate link.
But folks who use those links will also earn more miles or points or statement credit. I know my mother-in-law would be upset if I clicked on a link which had a lower sign-up bonus, so I wouldn’t want it to happen to you!
That said, I can’t always keep up with all the changes to all the offers as soon as they happen. But I try to! So please continue to email or comment if you find links to better offers.
Sometimes, I’m approached to sell the space on the blog sidebars and below the blog header. I reject many of these proposals.
Some are for terrible cards (Visa Black card anyone?) and sometimes there is an alternative non-affiliate offer which is much better than the affiliate offer.
So I’ve never accepted money to place ads for the Citi Hilton cards (there is a better non-affiliate version for 50,000 points), the Citi American Airlines cards, or the United credit cards etc. because there are better non-affiliate links in the credit card tab. I tried to negotiate a proposal where I could mention the better non-affiliate link along with the ad, but I wasn’t able to.
So I’ve walked away from months of guaranteed ad revenue because of my “mother-in-law rule.”
But I can’t always promise to do this, though I will try my best! That’s because I could sell an ad slot and since the minimum term is for 3 months, there could be a better non-affiliate link available before the 3 months contract is up. In those cases, I will write a blog post telling you of the better link and, as always, it will be in the Credit Card tab.
You’ll always find the best links, that I’m aware of, in the Credit Card tabs regardless of the ads on the main page.
4. PAID PROMOTIONS, ENDORSEMENTS OR LINKS
I’m often asked if I will accept money to write a product review or mention a product or include links in my posts. I stopped replying to those emails (it bumps down my response time to genuine reader email) and delete them.
I’ve never accepted money or products to write a review. However, if the product really is travel related, I may consider accepting the product, writing a candid review and giving away the product in a reader giveaway on the blog.
I’ve also turned down writing about travel where the travel was arranged & paid for by the travel provider.
Emily and I are very grateful that we can earn money by doing what we love! But we don’t use affiliate links in the blog to maximize the amount we could earn from the blog.
Instead we’re happier sharing ways for readers (and my mother-in-law) to make better decisions when it comes time to apply for travel credit cards.
So don’t be shy to email or comment when you find links to better offers than what is on the blog!
PS: I’m traveling over the next few days, so won’t be able to get to the comments on time.