Yes, this blog (this blogger) has a code of ethics.
Why am I telling you? I like to keep the transparency and independence on what I do. This does not make my blog better or worse than other blogs, but I believe it is important for all of us (brands and readers included) to know what I do, what I don’t and how this affects you, beyond laws and digital industry standards.
Having said that, there are a few things I never do and certain things I only do under certain conditions. If you want to know why and how, here are my keypoints:
1.- This blog only publishes real experiences
There are amazing writers out there that would write about everything you want them too. But I won’t do it here. You will only find true travel experiences and (every once in a while) real marketing tips that I apply to real life projects.
What does it mean? At Trucosviajeros you won’t find posts about destinations I’ve never been to, products I’ve never tried or services I’ve only heard about. If some day I chose to publish something like that I would always mark it as an advertisement feature so you know in a clear, easy and transparent way.
Also, I might publish somebody else’s experience, but always with a clear authorship and a reason to do so. And as long as they follow this same code of ethics.
How it affects brands: Do not offer me to publish your texts, talk about your brand or destination, if I have never been there or used it. I just don’t do it (not free, nor paid). I don’t write about destinations just because I’ve been invited to an event or to take part on a contest to win a trip (or blogtrip) and I don’t publish press releases.
2.- This blog only writes about things other travelers can do
Every once in while, I get invited to “exclusive” experiences for press or bloggers. You won’t find them here. If I wrote about climbing to a bell tower when nobody can or getting in a library that is private, and you go there and find out it’s forbidden, how would you feel? Why would follow my “trucos viajeros” (travel tips) if I did so?
This is not just a blog of my personal experiences, but a place to discover new destinations, new things to do and how to travel better. If you can’t do it (for free or for money), it won’t be found here (I might use the photos though).
How it affects brands: If you want to attract real clients, let me try and talk about real experiences. I love to get behind the curtains and know everything about a destination or brand, it allows me to know the destination better but I won’t write about things other travelers won’t be able to do.
3.- This blog only publishes stories about destinations I’ve visited in the last 2 years.
Every once in a while I get asked to write about destinations I’ve been to long ago. You won’t find it here unless I am writing about my personal experience traveling or doing a retrospective on travels.
I’ve traveled a lot since I was born: Morocco, Mexico, US, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg… I’ve been there but they are not here. Why? Because destinations, just as the people who visit them, change through the years and I believe I should not write about Mexico city, which I haven’t been to for 8 years, just as I shouldn’t write about a place I’ve never been to in my life. Yes, I might know more about CDMX than somebody that’s never been there, but I wouldn’t be telling you all you would need to know and it wouldn’t be “real”.
How it affects brands: If you want me to write about a destination that is not on the blog, ask me about it. I might have been there but haven’t had the time to write about it or I might need to go back. Either way, don’t think I haven’t been there or am not interested just because it is not on the website navigation menu.
4.- This blog is mainly written in Spanish (but I try to have it all in English too)
This project started in 2011 as a way to test and try what I was learning about web content, SEO and social networks. With time, the blog started to grow and attracted readers on its own; and with them it also attracted some brands and destinations. That is the reason why I started writing in English, so brands could understand what I write about and how.
Truth is, English is only my second (some say third) language, so content is not always the same. Plus sarcasm and “retranca” is hard to translate, so you will find less of that in English.
Some people have also asked why I don’t write in Galician too. The reason is pragmatic: there are fewer readers and I don’t have as much time to do it properly. I would love to, but I just need to focus my attention in other things.
How it affects brands: If you want me to publish in English, let me know. Just don’t expect a perfect translation or same day publication (unless agreed). I can also give you profile and followers from different locations and languages if you need them (data is always anonymous and sources are official ones like GA, Quantcast and similar.
5.- This blog supports sustainable and responsible tourism
But true sustainable tourism. Not just ecology, not just economy. What does it mean?
- I prioritize lesser known destinations and alternative ways to explore massified destinations
- If a destination is worth visiting over all, I won’t promote it for high season. I might talk about how to explore it in low season, with resources to make it more sustainable and enjoyable
- I don’t promote events or irresponsible events. or activities. If something raises one or two alerts, I will let you know.
- I eat local, buy local, as much as I can. No T-shirts of “somebody who loves me brought me this from Cancun, no Starbucks (unless it is the only thing opened at the other side of the world and I desperately need wifi.)
- I don’t hide the truth of destinations. If something is ugly, is broken or is done the wrong way, you will see what I see. If it rains, you will see it like I do, not like a photoshop preset or lightroom does. When you travel a lot, sometimes it rains, you know…
- You won’t see here shows “for tourists”. If this is the only way to see a cultural resource, I might tell you, but if there is an alternative to see real “ruadas” in Galicia, “sumo” in Tokyo or mariachi at “Puebla de los Ángeles”, I will always highlight the real alternative and how to enjoy it in a responsible way.
How it affects brands: I will be transparent to you about what I see. I don’t care if taking me to a Safari costs you a lot if it damages locals, hurts endangered species or doesn’t pay taxes. I don’t care about your amazing project in Majorca if you import all the food from the UK and you never hire a local. Being responsible is not only an ecology project, it involves the whole ecosystem, so if you have an issue that prevents you to be as sustainable as possible, just let me know, I might be able to connect you with people that can help you or I might be able to help you myself.
Don’t expect me to ultra retouch my pictures or make digital compositions just to make the destination surreal. Rainy days might not be so appealing on Instagram, but my readers are real travelers and they know that, sometimes, it rains.
6.- This blog does not accept tricky promos, hidden advertising or confusing advertorials
If I publish something because of an invitation, you will see it at the end of the post. There are different “opinions” about what a blogger can and cannot do to attend a trip “invited”. For me, the difference is quite clear:
- If the invite includes a) delivery times, b) mandatory posts at the blog or social media, c) photography rights, d) links to be promoted, e) third-party content creation or any other deliverable… or a mix of them, this is WORK and it should be paid for. The trip itself is not payment, it is the tools you need to be able to do that work. My readers and followers will always have a clear way to know this is advertising or promotional.
- If the invite does not include any of the above, I’m not pressed to publish on a certain date, etc. we will be talking about a familiarization trip (a trip to show us a destination that otherwise might not get the attention it deserves). You will see at the blog post where this content comes from, but I will always choose what I write about, how, when I publish (if I do), and what I highlight. Sometimes, I might ask the destination to cover the expenses to get there (because it might be free exposure, but I doesn’t mean I should be losing money).
How it affects brands: If I am writing because we reached an agreement to do wo, my readers will know. Confidential data will remain confidential, but I don’t hide collaborations.
Also, don’t offer me to “travel for free” if what you want from me is a full advertising campaign. If you want me to reach certain goals, delivery times and so on, make an offer.
If what you want is to invite me to discover a destination or service, but giving me freedom enough to enjoy the trip and write a good article that fits the blog style, content calendar, etc. let me know and I’ll let you know how it fits my work calendar. I enjoy discovering lesser known destinations and unique ways to navigate most popular destinations. But, if the destination is far, far away from me, I might ask for travel costs.
7.- This blog does not sell dofollow links
For all of you who don’t know what this is all about, I will just let you know that for years, web development and digital marketing agencies have sold SEO services that basically involved linkbuilding through paid links. This, which is irrelevant for more web visitors, is a way of hidden advertising and became the main (if not the only) way for some blogs to get funded. But it is all wrong.
First, buying links for your clients is a fast way to position a web, but Google is always looking for newer ways to detect this (remember Google Panda and all the Google animals) just because it is a lie and it is trying to beat Google at its own game. You might get caught, or not. But if you do, your site can disappear in seconds to the last of Google’s results’ page. The brand paying for this will have the resource to rebuilt SEO from scratch, but I don’t.
Second, offering this means that they only want to appear on my site because of the link and that my readers are not important or attractive to the brand.
How it affects brands: If you think my content (and site) is good for your brand and that your brand is interesting for the people that reads these pages, write to me. Just don’t ask me to do what I won’t.
8.- This blog does not promote illegal or anti-social actions
Some people have “challenged” me because I write about graffiti and platforms like Airbnb. Yes, there are very negative sides of street art and very negative sides to the so-called collaborative economy and even travels in general. I don’t promote any of those actions. I belongs to my concept of sustainable and responsible tourism.
If you have read me long enough, you have already seen I don’t like people who destroy private or public property, I don’t promote Tagging (those signature graffiti you can see at most destinations) and I always write about legal or commissioned projects, artistic interventions where writers work with local owners and local economy to boost a destination area. As in most things in life, there are ways to do things right, even from alternative and underground points.
Same happens with Airbnb, free tours, booking platforms, etc. If there is a new way to do something that does not damage the local community, the environment or local resources, I will talk about it here. If there isn’t, I don’t.
How it affects brands: I don’t worry about how the mainstream feels about a new product or service. Just let me know about it and why you feel I should go against what other think (or against what I already think), I will build my own opinion with different sources of information. What I won’t do is promote what I believe is against the law or might damage others (see the sustainability point above, for example.)
9.- This blog does not copy content or publish factory writing
I get pretty mad when somebody copies my content, I don’t care if they mention me or not. That’s why I added a copyright notice on each and every page of this blog and my pictures always have a watermark. That does not stop someone trying every once in a while. When I find out, I ask for revision and I let Google and my legal team know.
Just for the same reason, I don’t copy others and I don’t publish factory content (pre-written content that brands and other bloggers offer me to publish.) Why? It’s cheap and it doesn’t help me at all (not even to have more fresh content per month), specially since I talk about real experiences.
How it affects brands: Don’t offer me this kind of deals. I don’t care if it’s written by expert writers or not. There are other ways to work with me. And, please, don’t copy.
10.- This blog has some affiliate links, but non of them is at an extra cost for brands or readers
As I told you above, every once in a while I am invited to free press trips, but most of the time I pay for my own travels. One of the ways to be able to pay for all of this (and the cost to have this site up and running) is to have affiliate links. Afiiliate links are links that, if you click on them and end up buying from the site linked, pay mea small commission for the sales that arrive from my website.
All of these are nofollow links and I try to choose among those that do not project abusive monopolies or do things that I believe are wrong or plainly illicit (for either users or tourist agents). Plus, I always link to services I have tries (like the hotels where I sleep) and products that I use (like the things I pack for my travels) and some alternative activities I have been positively referred to (and always telling you whether I have done it or not).
And these do not increase the price if you ever choose to buy anything from them (they only pay a commission if you buy in less than 15 or 30 days after you click on the link and if you don’t click in somebody else’s link afterwards.) Also, the decision to buy (or not) is always yours, since you can look for another provider of the same hotel or product. And I don’t have retargeting codes on the site (those advertisements that follow you around the web) nor provide any personal data from my readers. They don’t tell me who bought either.
And… having these affiliate links is one of the best indicators of how useful this site is for you and the brands that want to work with me. But only to a certain point, since it’s only you who choose where, when and what to book and/or buy if you ever choose to follow my travel tips.
How it affects brands: Don’t offer me to write about something in exchange for an affiliate link. Convince me to use your product or explain why your affiliate program is better than the ones I use, but the rules above still work when talking about affiliates. If you want me to write a sponsored post, make a real offer, don’t tell me to write for free in exchange for (maybe) potential money. Or catch my attention, make me use your product and get free exposure (and maybe an affiliate link).
Plus, analyze the things I write about. I keep getting offers to talk about things that don’t fit, I haven’t visited or that would have me building tons of content to ever get any money through it. Plus, if you want to take control on what I link to, you should make an offer or truly convince me why that link is wrong for you, me or my readers.
11.- This blog is against blackmail
Every couple of months I read something about how bad influencers are and how dare we ask for products or services in exchange for exposure. I am not against this kind of behaviour, as long as the one making the offer explains that the blog is doing advertising in exchange of the product / service, and the brand is free to accept or not to have exposure under the agreed conditions (and the readers know).
Many of the people who is shocked by this sort of proposals are not usually shocked when CocaCola or Pepsi offer bars to give them branded furniture or branded fridges “free”. Come on, we are all adults now, if you don’t want that agreement just say no.
Having said that, sometimes a so-called blogger or influencer tells the provider that if they don’t give this or that for free, they will rate them poorly at their platforms or on Tripadvisor. This si wrong and illegal and if anyone does this you should call the police.
On the other side of things, I’ve seen many friends of mine being invited to a trip and when they get to the airport, somebody hands them out a list of non-previously-agreed must-dos that they need to sign in order to board the plane (yes, a contract). This is wrong too (and in so many ways) I always recommend fellow bloggers to say no. Why? you don’t have a lawyer with you to review what you are agreeing to, they had time enough to properly do this, most of those “must-do” are real work you should be charging them for, they have made you incurr in expenses to go to that trip and now they are breaking a previous agreement (in Spanish law you don’t need a written agreement to have a contract ruling), etc.
How it affects brands: I am clear on what I offer in exchange for what I do (if I ever make an offer). And if anyone tries to blackmail (me or someone else) I’ll be clear about it.
12.- This blog does not sell contacts
Privacy and data protection are important for me. If you subscribe to my mailing list, I won’t use it for anything but sending you those emails you subscribed to. If you send me an email, to answer your email. If you take part on a contest, to give you the reward… You get an idea.
If a brand wants to build their client list or a mailing list, it should work for it. Which also means that I don’t take part in contests where you have to signup so I can win something, or promos where I must give away data or any other things like these. It’s included on my data protection warning, but it won’t harm to explain it here too.
How it affects brands: Don’t ask me for my database, it’s not on sale. There are plenty of options to collaborate just let me know your pain points.
13.- This blog does not accept product gifts with a value over 250€
And even if there is a value under that, I might as well return it.
Many press and marketing teams use “gifts” as a mean to let us bloggers and press representatives to know the brands they work with and, in the end, get you to write about it. I do believe there are alternative channels to reach this goal in a healthy and transparent way, but if a brand chooses to be nice to me, they should know that:
- any gift with a value over 250€ will be returned to sender
- any gift over 50€ I accept, will be published here, from now on (and for the next 3 months)
How it affects brands: The message above is clear. so, if you want me to test your product or service, please let me know, you may be convincing enough and the product good enough to catch my attention and get exposure. Once I test them (if trying them does not damage or finish them), they will follow the rules above.
14.- This blog does not buy followers or fake traffic
I firmly believe that follower count is the worst indicator for brands. You should add message, communication style, engagement and so on if you want to truly reach the right people. But since this is a reality, many bloggers take shortcuts like buying followers or using bots that pump up the follower count.
I don’t. I don’t buy followers, don’t own bots, don’t use pods, etc. I have tested them to know what the fuss is all about (not with my official accounts and not for my clients) and to be able to tell my clients what they should do or not. That’s the same reason why I know they hurt more than help and are not the good way for brands.
So, I don’t use them and my numbers might be smaller than others, but they are real.
How it affects brands: The numbers you see are small but real. If you want to audit my analytics and results, I have several ways to do so, I will be transparent and I can explain data peaks, trends and changes.
15.- Comments at this blog are moderated
This means that when you send a comment, it doesn’t show right away. There are three reasons why I do so:
- some people use comments as link farms, even when what they post is irrelevant or disconnected with the post they are commenting
- I want to avoid spam, offensive replies and trolls
- I try to answer each comment personally and on time, but this is harder when they auto-publish (believe me, I’ve tried)
How it affects brands: It doesn’t affect you much, unless I need to take away a link that is completely irrelevant. Any way, I don’t know why you would want to keep it unless you are trying to fool Google.
16.- This blog pays its taxes
Yes, in the real world nobody needs to clarify this, but since some people offer to pay me in “B” and some others think that this is only a hobby, I prefer to clarify.
No, I don’t earn the 5.000€ per post that TV says influencers earn, my reach and “size” is not that. Not better, not worse, just different. But, as far as I can all I do is legal.
Does this make me a better blogger? No. Some people don’t earn a thing by blogging, so they don’t need to pay taxes. But smaller or bigger income, if I want to promote responsible tourism, I must declare all of it and pay.
How it affects brands: I issue invoices with their taxes and all the beautiful things. Not doing so does not help me at all. Yes, there is a 21% difference for local brands and European VAT for brands in Europe, so remember it when you do an offer ;)
Doubts or questions? Please contact, if I am able to explain 100 times how to reach T1 from T4S at Madrid Airport, I can also clarify what you’ve read above.