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Old Apr 17, 13, 8:24 am   #1
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The points and miles blog business model

Sprinting through ORD yesterday, I saw the usual contingent of somewhat-sketchy-looking people huckstering the United Chase credit cards. It got me wondering: do those folks work for wages or commissions on each sign-up? And if the latter, can they really make a living at it?

Which brought me round to the subject of this thread: I wonder if anyone knows and is willing to share the 'business plan' of a points and miles blog?

What are the various sources of income for a points and miles blog? How much per source? What are the expenses?

I know a few folks (in addition to Randy) have made serving points and miles hoarders their full-time job...what does that look like on an Income Statement?

Last edited by kokonutz; Apr 17, 13 at 1:18 pm Reason: to use a gentler if less accurate description
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Old Apr 17, 13, 8:35 am   #2
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These bloggers make anywhere between $15 and $75 per CC approval. You do the math. As a small site, there is little money to be made, but a large one can certainly pull in a decent chunk of change.

If you have a decent site with good traffic (>25K uniques/month), you can probably also find some flat rate banner sponsors for $150-$200/month. Pop in the usual crap like Amazon affiliate links and you have yourself a business.

Bottom line - there is definitely some money to be made.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 9:25 am   #3
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These bloggers make anywhere between $15 and $75 per CC approval. You do the math. As a small site, there is little money to be made, but a large one can certainly pull in a decent chunk of change.

If you have a decent site with good traffic (>25K uniques/month), you can probably also find some flat rate banner sponsors for $150-$200/month. Pop in the usual crap like Amazon affiliate links and you have yourself a business.

Bottom line - there is definitely some money to be made.
Hm. Hard for me to do the math because I can't even guess at how many cc applications a blog generates a year. I mean, I guess I would guess like maybe 5 a week? So 260/year = $13k?

I hear that some cc affiliate programs have quotas. Anyone know what those are? That might make the math easier!
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Old Apr 17, 13, 9:30 am   #4
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Hm. Hard for me to do the math because I can't even guess at how many cc applications a blog generates a year. I mean, I guess I would guess like maybe 5 a week? So 260/year = $13k?

I hear that some cc affiliate programs have quotas. Anyone know what those are? That might make the math easier!
On a larger site, they could do upwards of 25/day when there is an attractive promotion for signup. Now do the math again

Some programs also offer persistent cookies, which means you will get the payment if someone gets approved within a 30 day window. If you are lucky, you may score an Amex Platinum business approval, which could mean between $150 and $200.

FWIW; I have never participated in any of these programs, and find the whole explosion of CC affiliate blogs to be quite disappointing.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 1:21 pm   #5
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On a larger site, they could do upwards of 25/day when there is an attractive promotion for signup. Now do the math again

Some programs also offer persistent cookies, which means you will get the payment if someone gets approved within a 30 day window. If you are lucky, you may score an Amex Platinum business approval, which could mean between $150 and $200.

FWIW; I have never participated in any of these programs, and find the whole explosion of CC affiliate blogs to be quite disappointing.
Hm. A grand a day. Yeah, that does add up rather more quickly.

I'm still curious about he quotas though. That would certainly reveal a bare minimum on the income side.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 1:36 pm   #6
  
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Originally Posted by ScottC View Post
These bloggers make anywhere between $15 and $75 per CC approval. You do the math. As a small site, there is little money to be made, but a large one can certainly pull in a decent chunk of change.

If you have a decent site with good traffic (>25K uniques/month), you can probably also find some flat rate banner sponsors for $150-$200/month. Pop in the usual crap like Amazon affiliate links and you have yourself a business.

Bottom line - there is definitely some money to be made.
The numbers for the banner on a popular blog can be a lot higher than that...

Personally I'm happy making 0.43 cents per day from adsense
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Old Apr 17, 13, 1:59 pm   #7
  
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I don't have any insider stats but 5 cards a week is grossly underestimating the number IMHO.

If you are some spod at LaGuardia pimping Delta cards my guess is you can probably get maybe 2 or 3 or maybe even as many as 5 a day. My guess is those folks get paid around 50-100 per approved sign up. So a decent amount of money but no career but then those are not exactly career types you see there.

Now let's look at the big blogs. I think the one with the clearest insight is MMS who shows us that his distribution list is over 10,000 readers. If you think about it most of the readers are likely to be focused on credit card sign ups. And there will be a huge variety of cards that they apply for and obtain. So let's say on average each sign up he gets earns $100. If he gets 10% of his readers to sign up for just one affiliate card per year, that is $100k. My guess is the conversion rate on a blog like MMS is significantly higher. Probably more like 10-20% of readers getting 2-3 cards per year, which at the top end could put revenue close to 7 figures. My guesstimate is that the big bloggers - MMS, TPG, VFTW and OMAAT are in the mid six figure range on affiliate revenue.

However it's a steep pyramid, in that the next rung down I'd guess income is substantially less and all the little guys get little to nothing.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 2:19 pm   #8
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I don't have any insider stats but 5 cards a week is grossly underestimating the number IMHO.

If you are some spod at LaGuardia pimping Delta cards my guess is you can probably get maybe 2 or 3 or maybe even as many as 5 a day. My guess is those folks get paid around 50-100 per approved sign up. So a decent amount of money but no career but then those are not exactly career types you see there.

Now let's look at the big blogs. I think the one with the clearest insight is MMS who shows us that his distribution list is over 10,000 readers. If you think about it most of the readers are likely to be focused on credit card sign ups. And there will be a huge variety of cards that they apply for and obtain. So let's say on average each sign up he gets earns $100. If he gets 10% of his readers to sign up for just one affiliate card per year, that is $100k. My guess is the conversion rate on a blog like MMS is significantly higher. Probably more like 10-20% of readers getting 2-3 cards per year, which at the top end could put revenue close to 7 figures. My guesstimate is that the big bloggers - MMS, TPG, VFTW and OMAAT are in the mid six figure range on affiliate revenue.

However it's a steep pyramid, in that the next rung down I'd guess income is substantially less and all the little guys get little to nothing.
But there must be lots of folks like me who subscribe to blogs but do not use affiliate links to churn cards.

I would be shocked to learn that any blog is making mid-six figures on affiliates. But as I have proven over and over, I am relatively ignorant about getting rich on the Internet.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 2:23 pm   #9
  
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But there must be lots of folks like me who subscribe to blogs but do not use affiliate links to churn cards.

I would be shocked to learn that any blog is making mid-six figures on affiliates. But as I have proven over and over, I am relatively ignorant about getting rich on the Internet.
People like you make me sick! Just kidding

FWIW, that CSP banner ad you see on TPG can easily fetch 20K per year (no clicks required)
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Old Apr 17, 13, 2:28 pm   #10
  
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But there must be lots of folks like me who subscribe to blogs but do not use affiliate links to churn cards.

I would be shocked to learn that any blog is making mid-six figures on affiliates. But as I have proven over and over, I am relatively ignorant about getting rich on the Internet.
Out of the example I gave you - MMS's 10k subscribers - you are the minority. The majority are guys who don't have time or inclination and will use his sign ups. And as I point out he only needs a 20% conversion rate with 3 cards per year and you are doing big dollars.

I'd say there is a 100% chance the guys I mentioned are doing $100k per year, 90% chance they are doing $200k and I'd go all the way to say there is a 10% chance they'd be doing $1m.

You are certainly vastly underestimating how much the big boys are getting.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 2:30 pm   #11
  
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Hm. A grand a day. Yeah, that does add up rather more quickly.

I'm still curious about he quotas though. That would certainly reveal a bare minimum on the income side.
I do not get the impression there are clear quotas. What happened is a number of smaller blogs that weren't producing sufficient volume - where that volume requirement was not disclosed - got cut off.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 2:51 pm   #12
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Out of the example I gave you - MMS's 10k subscribers - you are the minority. The majority are guys who don't have time or inclination and will use his sign ups. And as I point out he only needs a 20% conversion rate with 3 cards per year and you are doing big dollars.

I'd say there is a 100% chance the guys I mentioned are doing $100k per year, 90% chance they are doing $200k and I'd go all the way to say there is a 10% chance they'd be doing $1m.

You are certainly vastly underestimating how much the big boys are getting.
Ok. But when you said mid-six figures I assumed you meant $500,000...? At $50 a pop, that'd be 10,000 approved cards.

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I do not get the impression there are clear quotas. What happened is a number of smaller blogs that weren't producing sufficient volume - where that volume requirement was not disclosed - got cut off.
Ah. That sort of makes sense. The problem, of course, is that the CC companies want strict confidentiality about affiliate payout amounts as well as quotas....so I guess we will only get solid answers from disgruntled former bloggers.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 3:17 pm   #13
  
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Ok. But when you said mid-six figures I assumed you meant $500,000...? At $50 a pop, that'd be 10,000 approved cards.
More like $100k a pop on average so 5,000 approved cards. I think that is very viable


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Ah. That sort of makes sense. The problem, of course, is that the CC companies want strict confidentiality about affiliate payout amounts as well as quotas....so I guess we will only get solid answers from disgruntled former bloggers.
There are other ways and means. Plenty of loose lips on the circuit. You won't get the exact number blogger xyz gets for card abc but you can certainly get good ballparks. And of course there is variation across the board. But there are real reasons you see certain cards get pimped more than others.
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Old Apr 17, 13, 3:25 pm   #14
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My question is if this blogger business model is longterm enough for one to neglect/park/abandon/not even start a classic brick-and-mortar career. So fine, you captivate 0.5-1% of your readership enough to do their periodic churn using your affiliate links for the past one year, but who is guaranteeing you that the CC firms will continue to pay you 20/30/50/100/150$ per card for the next years? Who will put the food on the table (that you bought with your current six figure earnings) to feed your family in 2015-18? The market is dynamic enough to change by a dramatic enough degree...?
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Old Apr 17, 13, 3:48 pm   #15
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My question is if this blogger business model is longterm enough for one to neglect/park/abandon/not even start a classic brick-and-mortar career.
No way. But if you are a stay-at-home mom, you already decided to park your career for a while. I get the impression that a large majority of bloggers are essentially hobbyists who intended to operate their blogs on the side. Only the very top bloggers get the option to go full-time and quit their day jobs. Even among them I haven't heard of anyone who did it.

If you ask bloggers (e.g., at FTU or other event they attend), they will tell you that the days of large credit card bonuses will end as playing the game becomes more popular and begins to look more frugal than weird.

In my opinion that corner has not been turned. The few times I have mentioned to seatmates that one can earn hundreds and hundreds of thousands of miles with credit card bonuses, they're not interested. They presume that it must be impossibly difficult or dishonest or something; there must be a catch. Only when someone they already know as a friend explains it will they take the time to investigate. Even then most people won't bother. They can't believe that free money exists.

What will it take to kill credit card bonuses? Probably a major sitcom character explaining the techniques to his or her friends, then follow-up press articles demonstrating that you really can do it. Either that or a reality show called Flip This Credit Card.
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