Thank You For 13 Years: The State of The Gate 2019
The Gate was unofficially launched 13 years ago today.
Where have the years gone?!?
Thank You For 13 Years: The State of The Gate 2019
“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.”
…and yet — before I knew it — yet another year has passed. I never did get to celebrate ten years of the existence of The Gate, as August 2019 marks its thirteenth anniversary.
I thought I would touch upon what changes have occurred within the past year at The Gate with this article — as well as at least three new projects about which I am thinking for the future.
Itinerary and Main Guide Articles
A new series of itinerary and master guide articles was launched earlier today. They will contain links to separate articles pertaining to particular destinations as part of an effort to better organize The Gate. They will also double as an impetus — and a reminder — for the remainder of unwritten articles to be written. Each itinerary and master guide article is a work in progress and will be completed once all of the articles have been written and posted.
Consolidated Article of Itinerary and Main Guide Articles
An item has been added to the main menu of The Gate which will include links to all of the aforementioned itinerary and master guide articles for a quicker search of the trip reports and reviews of many destinations to which I have been.
Please welcome a new writer to The Gate whose debut article was posted earlier today, Sunday, August 18, 2019 — exactly 13 years after the unofficial debut of The Gate. His name is Matthew Cohen. Like me, he is passionate about travel. He has been to greater than half of the states in the United States and has traveled all over the world.
I was surprised when he approached me and said that he wanted to start writing travel and dining articles — so I thought that he could contribute articles on a sporadic basis.
Lastly, Matthew is my son; and I am so proud of him.
The Gate Marketplace and Affiliate Links
A marketplace has been created in an area of The Gate which will not interfere with your reading of articles. That marketplace will not only include affiliate links to the services and products you already use — such as lodging, airfares, rental cars, and airport parking — but they will also include links to current sales.
I also plan on eventually adding merchandise. One example will be merchandise which displays photographs taken by me from various travels, as I am constantly approached by people wanting to either use or purchase those photographs.
“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 in 2016; 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
Top 100 Articles of 2019
I have updated the list of the top 100 articles in terms of readership over the past five years at The Gate as a point of reference. Instead of the top 50 articles, I decided to highlight the top 100 articles out of greater than 6,500 articles — and that does not include the hundreds of articles which still reside at FlyerTalk.
The Gate has an official channel on YouTube, which was launched in 2017 — though I have been slow to grow it, as only nine videos reside there as of the time this article was written.
I have many videos on deck — including more from my trip to Iceland last year — and although it still needs to be tweaked, I have a custom instrumental jingle of sorts already created for videos for The Gate.
Video interviews with guests are also being considered to be added.
With little advertising, I am rather pleased and encouraged that some of the videos received as many views as they have; so I plane to increase the presence of the YouTube channel through articles posted at The Gate.
Although it is still not yet a reality, I still intend to launch an audio program to supplement The Gate. I have always wanted to have a radio program; and technology has presented several ways of creating that possibility.
In addition to the aforementioned video interviews, I am also now thinking of also including audio interviews with various guests.
I do not like to use the term podcast; but more of them are appearing at BoardingArea — so why not?
Fewer Regurgitated News Stories
I continue to resist regurgitating most news stories because they usually do not affect you in terms of your travels, earning elite level status, saving you money, or collecting and redeeming frequent travel loyalty program miles and points.
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
Keeping my promise to access original sources to as many articles as possible for the most accurate information possible, I decided last year 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.
Still Keeping “Click Bait” in Check
I continue to 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.
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 13 years of The Gate is only the beginning for bigger and better things to come…
…but in the meantime — as I say every year — 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…