Thank You For Eleven Years: The State of The Gate 2017

“As for The Gate, I never did quite figure out how to celebrate its tenth anniversary. Although I am proud of that achievement, I ironically am not a stickler for when to celebrate anything — contrary to the purpose of posting this article. I have celebrated my birthday two months after the fact. I partook in Thanksgiving one year during the summer instead of in November. When the time is right for me, I intend to celebrate ten years of the existence of The Gate.”

Thank You For Eleven Years: The State of The Gate 2017

That paragraph is an excerpt from this article pertaining to what is the first official article written for The Gate once it became available to the public…

…and yet — before I knew it — another year has passed. I never did get to celebrate ten years of the existence of The Gate, as August 2017 marks its eleventh anniversary.

I thought I would touch upon what changes have occurred within the past year at The Gate with this article.

Fewer Regurgitated News Stories

The purpose of The Gate when it was first launched was to be the official weblog of FlyerTalk — which it was for eight years. Although I enjoyed finding discussions posted on FlyerTalk worthy of an article — and I still do occasionally do that today — when The Gate returned to BoardingArea on Friday, August 1, 2014, I wanted for it to be more of my “voice” and not reliant on FlyerTalk for information…

…but one of the types of articles I started doing were news stories which already existed elsewhere because they seemed to interest readers. I wanted to report more on my travels and experiences and increase the amount of original content at The Gate — not simply regurgitate news stories which other people have reported — so I quietly phased out many of those articles. I will still write articles on certain news stories if I can add enough of my own thoughts or if the information can potentially be helpful to you. Promiscuous drunk naked women getting thrown off airplanes is a sure-fire way to get “clicks” and “views” which do help to increase my income — but I realized that that is not how I want readers to remember the content I post.

As with eschewing pushing credit card affiliate links, I may be leaving a significant amount of money on the table with this new policy which I am trying out — but for now, I believe that the content which I have posted has generally improved. If the comments left by you in recent months are of any indication — they have been civil, informative, and even thankful in some cases; with a simultaneously significant decrease of comments which are far from constructive — The Gate seems to be moving in the right direction.

I will always be the first to admit that the content which I write can always be improved; so please tell me about what you would like to read. I am always open to constructive criticism.

More Original Sources

I have found that when I link to sources from which I first learn information, they more often than not do not link to original sources — this includes articles from mainstream media — and that could lead to inaccurate information…

…so I decided to expend some extra effort in finding the original source of information for each article which I write. For issues dealing with the federal government of the United States, I search from information from the official Internet web site of the appropriate agency. For weather updates used for travel alerts, I use meteorological sources — such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States for radar information and data. For articles related to points and miles, I attempt to get the information directly from the frequent travel loyalty program.

Those are only three of numerous examples of using better sources for information posted in articles at The Gate — and the information provided in articles written for The Gate in general does seem to be more accurate as a result.

When applicable, I will also credit where I first found out about the information.

YouTube Channel

The Gate now has an official channel on YouTube — though I have been slow to grow it, as only three videos reside there as of the time this article was written.

With little advertising, I am rather pleased and encouraged that two of the three videos received as many views as they have; so I have been thinking about increasing the presence of the YouTube channel through articles posted at The Gate.

Affiliate Links

“As you may already know, credit card and affiliate links have never appeared during the entire history of ten years at The Gate; and that is by design, as I do not like them. Articles are not sponsored by a company; and of the extremely rare times — think fewer than the fingers on one hand — in ten years where a company will pay for my expenses, I ensure that I am absolutely clear that that does not sway my opinions and that I will remain completely honest about what I write.”

I learned more about how affiliate links worked late last year; and I realized that I could still write the same types of articles I have always been writing — but instead of direct links without affiliate income, why not use direct links with affiliate income?

After a lot of soul searching and discussions with many people who are knowledgeable about how affiliate links worked, I finally reluctantly dipped my toe into the world of affiliate links as of Sunday, January 1, 2017. My biggest concern was how you would react about seeing affiliate links after my avoiding using them — and publicly proclaiming how proud I was of that fact — for ten years.

With the exception of a few basically constructive comments which might add up to the number of fingers on one hand, you have not complained. In fact, you have been supporting the affiliate links — and I greatly appreciate that. I would like to attribute that to the thought that I am doing something right.

I view income derived from affiliate links as gravy and not mandatory income. If I do not earn anything from affiliate links, I am no worse off than I was before — but if I do earn income from them, it is a nice surprise for which I am thankful.

I set up a few parameters to which I keep myself when including affiliate links in an article:

  • Ensure that the affiliate links are of interest to you and beneficial to you
  • Do not try to actively attempt to sell anything to you — keep the affiliate links as passive as possible while informing that they are being used in the article
  • Whether or not the article contains affiliate links, simply report information with articles as unbiased as possible, as I always have strived to do
  • Include constructive criticism in the article despite it having affiliate links — if an advertiser does not appreciate that my criticism can actually be helpful, that advertiser is free to discontinue its affiliate relationship with The Gate

Keeping “Click Bait” in Check

I attempt to avoid “click-bait” headlines as much as possible — although I am not always successful. I dislike click bait as much as the next person; but I still attempt to consciously avoid it.

A fine line exists between a catchy headline and click bait — but there is one major difference between the two, in my humble opinion: the content of an article supports the catchy headline with information which is intended to satisfy the curiosity of a reader; whereas the content of of an article whose information significantly falls short of the headline which attracted the reader in the first place renders the headline as merely click bait.

I still occasionally am accused of writing click bait for headlines — but I strive to ensure that the content of each article speaks for itself and supports the headlines in question. I would like to think that further improvement has occurred during the past year.

Minor Design Changes

The drop cap — that large capital letter which used to be at the beginning of each article — has itself been dropped.

Colorizing subheadings has stopped as well — except in rare cases where differentiation is needed.

In addition to increasing the number of original graphics and photographs used in articles — instead of using those from elsewhere — I have also quietly been improving the quality of the photographs taken by me and used in articles at The Gate.

Top 50 Articles

I have updated the list of the top 50 articles in terms of readership over the past three years at The Gate as a point of reference. Instead of doing this twice per year, I have decided to update the list of the top 50 articles only once per year every August.

Summary

Once again, I am asking a simple favor: I want to increase readership and interest in The Gate in order to allow me to travel even more and bring you articles of trip reports, reviews and experiences from around the world. Although subscribing to the free newsletter of The Gate is one way you can help, I would rather grow readership organically based on the quality of the content of the articles I write. What topics would you like to see me cover in future articles? About what topics should I avoid writing? Where would you like to see me travel next? In addition to the channel on YouTube, should I dabble more in multimedia, such as audio and video reports in addition to written articles? What interests you the most that you rarely or never see at other weblogs? What keeps you coming back as a reader of The Gate?

I am hopeful that the first eleven years of The Gate is only the beginning for bigger and better things to come…

…but in the meantime, thank you so much once again for your support. Mere words cannot ever convey my expression of gratitude, as I am grateful to you — more than you will ever know — for without you, there would be no The Gate

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *