Honestly, who’d have thought it was a Google Form? If this doesn’t prove you don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles to start a successful business, I don’t know what will.
While Kelly was still working at Morgan Stanley, he started a simple side hustle. Users would fill out a Google Form asking for help booking travel. How could they best use their miles and points to book their trips? Once the users completed the form, Kelly would charge $50 to do this for them.
Great stuff, but there was a lot of work to it.
So Kelly needed another way to generate revenue. And if possible, automate the business.
Kelly started a blog on the advice of a friend to grow his travel business faster. He started the blog in 2011. Within the year, his posts started going viral. The blog gained Kelly and TPG enough visibility for banks to call and ask to collaborate with him. The company took off, and Kelly quit his job at Morgan Stanley.
But before we get to the banks, let’s talk more about the blog.
Now the TPG writing staff splits its time crafting service stories. Half are news cycle pieces, such as (When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery) And half are detail-focused pieces. 4 easy strategies I use to earn over 500,000 points and miles a year is an excellent example. TPG publishes roughly 20 new posts per day, which drive organic traffic to the blog. In essence, it's The Points Guy news network.
A video team then turns these posts into easily shareable videos for social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram account for about 25% of TPG's traffic. Google accounts for 50%, and the remaining 25% is organic traffic.
TPG is now one of the top points and miles blogs on the internet. Want to learn how to make money blogging?
Now, credit card companies pay TPG a hefty commission for sending them prospects who they approve for their cards. This deal can be up to $120 per new customer. But for publishers that drive large volumes, the commission can be 4x that number. TPG has closed exclusive marketing deals with Citi, Chase, and Bank of America in the past few years.
At the time, their peers viewed TPG as a pioneer, albeit a crude one. Now traditional media companies regularly try to generate this same affiliate marketing revenue.
So Brian Kelly started a company with Google Forms. Then he built a blog to advertise his business. Next, Kelly forged partnerships with big players in the industry. And now, for the final step: he sold it.
In 2012, financial content publisher Bankrate acquired The Points Guy. In a 2014 interview, Kelly said, "I still have a vested ownership interest in TPG and I retain 100% editorial control". That’s true to this day. In 2017, digital marketing company Red Ventures bought Bankrate.
Last year, according to sources, the site generated more than $50 million in profit.
In 2019, TPG branched out to London, founding The Points Guy UK. And in 2020, TPG is introducing the new The Points Guy app.
No wonder he wants constant upgrades! Flying economy class must have been terrible for Kelly. He occupies the thin air at 6’7” (200 cm) tall. Legroom is paramount.
Kelly currently has about 20 credit cards. His FICO score is in the high 700s, in case you were wondering. TPG Executive Editorial Director Scott Mayerowitz has 19 cards. Katie Genter, a digital nomad who focuses on credit card benefits, has 14 open accounts.
Kelly certainly has The Platinum Card® from American Express, as we see from his videos. But here are the other credit cards TPG recommends currently:
But even more impressive is Kelly has over 1,000,000 points with his cards!
Not all of us get hired to fly around the world. So, this is a great little way to see what you can do with your already accumulated points. And a great way to see how the rest of the world flies if you don't like American airports.
According to TPG, here are 5 great ways to spend your 30,000 points:
And the big one: How much is 100k Amex points worth? The Business Insider Personal Finance Insider team thinks these options are the best:
This may be the best part. As long as you have at least one active Amex Rewards card open, your points don’t expire.
Take a well-deserved holiday for your entrepreneurial well-being. You must reward yourself! And this may be the most cost-effective way to do something big that you've already earned. In the meantime, you can check out TPG’s YouTube channel.
So, one reason so many people love reading articles like this - about people who've created massive, life-altering wealth - is curiosity. We want to know how'd they get so rich? What are they doing with all that money? What's their life like? It's almost as if there's this invisible wall we want to peer over, to see how "the other half" lives. It's as if the ultra-rich have secrets most people don't know. They DO! And that's good news, actually, because we can all learn them. Once we begin learning what they know, we can do what they did, and create the kind of life most people only wish they had. If you've got that same curiosity about "the other half" you should check this out.