I haven’t blogged for awhile. As odd as it may sound, part of the reason has been the political situation in the country and my city, which hasn’t sat well with me. To be frank, it’s got me down and taken away some of the blogging steam I had before. Blogging also takes a lot of time to write, post pictures, and edit. I remember being at FTU in Seattle years ago, and talking with one of the speakers in the hallway after she presented. I asked her if she had heard of my blog and was pretty thrilled when she said she was definitely aware of it, and had read it. I asked her what she had thought of it, and also asked for her honest opinion. She then said, “Well you probably need to proofread it a big more before before you post something”. It was her polite way of saying, your writing is no bueno amigo! She was 100% right though, as my early posts had decent content, but weren’t written well.
I’ve also felt some guilt about things that I had written. I never intended to have political content on my blog, but initially wrote some posts along those lines like Europe’s Killing Fields: Srebrenica, Bosnia (and Modern Genocide), and My Encounter with Radical Islam related to general travel and my own personal experiences too. Other points blogs like A View From the Wing, and One Mile at a Time, each of which are much larger than mine, don’t seem to shy away from those topics either. As a reader of points and miles blogs though, I’ve always read for information related to points and miles, not politics. Although it’s interesting to know what a particular bloggers general political stance might be, I’m not really interested in anything past that. People are entrenched in political news pushed to them in a variety of mediums nearly every day. They don’t need more of it from a points blog, including this one – even if I think my positions are correct. I may be overreacting too, but there is some guilt there.
I’ve also felt regret for writing about manufactured spending (MS). I remember when I first started ramping up my MS, and reading posts from Ariana at Pointchaser.com. She was nearly notorious about covering manufactured spending in her posts, and doing so with what I thought was without much conscience. At that time, I had thought that MS should be kept underground and off the blogs. Even talking about it openly in local meetups was a mistake in my view. Once in an MSP meetup a friend of mine brought in a map of MS) friendly supermarkets in the area and shared with the group. That was a surprising move, and one I didn’t really see as a positive. Not long after, that supermarket chain started making negative changes to MS.
When I started my blog I remember reading an article about an advice piece regarding what bloggers should write about. The answer was to stick with what you know best. For me, I knew about travel, points and miles rewards, and also manufactured spending. I was very hesitant to write about MS, but seeing that Ariana seemed to have credit card sponsorship on her blog, but yet wrote about manufactured spend, indicated to me that for whatever reason the credit card companies didn’t seem to care about MS. Other prominant blogs like FrequentMiler and DoctorofCredit didn’t shy away from having MS included on their blogs either. So after some consideration, I took the plunge and started writing about it too.
I remember talking with a prominent MSer several months after starting my blog. He’s a guy that I respect, and wanted his thoughts as guidance on covering MS on my blog. When the topic of manufactured spend came up, and I asked his opinion what I had written. He was direct, and told me to delete everything I had written about MS. A good part of me agreed with him, and I told him that. However, after looking over what I had written about MS, the posts seemed kind of tame. I wasn’t giving secrets away, and some of the information I wrote about was unique. So I kept at it. Along the way, I got some negative feedback from others various MS circles too, including some heavy hitters, and lost some valuable connections in some of those groups. But the freedom to write about topics I liked was more motivating than being included in this or that group, even if it made more logical sense to go the other way and set fire to anything MS related.
However, I do regret some of the MS posts. Writing about the internal workings of Walmart for example, like the company’s WIRE, and internal policies was something I probably should have avoided. Publishing corporate operating documents from Moneygram and Walmart was also not a good thing looking back. I’d even go as far as to say it was irresponsible. While I can’t prove that anything I wrote had an impact on the negative changes for our hobby over the past few years at Walmart or other area, it’s possible that my blog had an influence. I never check clicks or readership numbers, but I’m guessing that I had a pretty tiny blog, even when I was posting regularly. The odds that Walmart, Moneygram, or other company linked with our hobby found my blog and made policy from it are likely very slim, but I still have guilt in the possibility something I wrote had a detrimental effect. So not too long ago, I deleted most of the manufactured spend related posts.
Manufactured spend isn’t dead, in fact in some ways it’s thriving. But mainstream MS isn’t thriving. Instead a lot of spend volume in our hobby has gone from MS to reselling gift cards and product.
9 to 5
I also started a new (day) job. I worked at a local Children’s Hospital for a decade, but recently switched to something else. New jobs generally demand more time learning the ropes, and this job has taken new focus and commitment.
Finally, I don’t really know how to make money blogging. I started blogging, and later podcasting, for the creative aspect. I grew up drawing and writing stories when I was young and enjoyed being creative. Blogging, and then podcasting, filled those some voids for me. A big issue for me is that my time was, and still is at a premium, so pushing out new blog posts on a regular basis was really difficult. So when it’s come down to making money and earning rewards, both toward my goal of FIRE and early retirement, taking the time to sit down and write took a backseat.
I don’t have a large interest in hocking credit cards either. I do find it a big odd that most of the big points bloggers lean left, if not far left, politically. Left leaning people are generally anti-big business. Airlines, and multinational banks are about as big business as you’ll get. Do a quick search on lawsuits against the big banks and airlines; they aren’t exactly in the category of Mother Theresa. Yet they hock as many credit cards as possible, seemingly guilt free. I’ve never had an issue with circumventing the programs of some of big business tied to travel. I view those companies as tyrannical regimes who want to exploit me, and other consumers; to drain us financially as much as possible in order to bloat their bottom lines. I therefore want to exploit them as much as possible – kind of a David vs. Goliath sort of mentality. In short, if you’re not hocking credit cards, making money blogging in the points and miles world is essentially a voluntary effort.
The upside of a break has been opportunity to step back and to step away. No pressure to put out a new post, and freedom to do what I’ve wanted. It’s been refreshing. I’ve continued to work multiple jobs, to save, and to earn points for travel and cash rewards. I’ve achieved my initial goal of financial independence, and am working to maximize the numbers to my top end goal. All that takes time and effort, and all of that has taken more precedence than blogging.
This past weekend I was at a points meetup here in Minneapolis. Being back in the atmosphere of rewards based travel and meeting other similar people was great. Some people I met said they read my blog and new of the podcast too. Every time I hear that I’m instantly humbled, and also a little embarrassed. It’s really moving to hear someone would take the time and read something I wrote, or listen to the podcast. I’m very appreciative anytime I hear someone found something I created. Even though being around others the past few days has been invigorating, I have no idea if I’ll do much blogging from here on out or where this website will go from here. However, I’m very thankful to anyone who has ever read my blog or listened to my podcast. Since that includes you reading this, thank you.