Update On Our Search For A New OMAAT Contributor

Filed Under: Misc.

Last month we put out a call for smart and savvy people who might be interested in writing for One Mile at a Time.

We of course hoped there would be quite a bit of interest, but by the time the 2-week application window closed we’d heard from an absolutely humbling number of individuals with such diverse experiences in miles and points.

Like, 2,500 double-sided pages levels of humbling.

Yes, I did go through a shopping portal to stack that 2x bonus with 5x from my Ink card on the print job 😉

Needless to say, we were floored by the overwhelming response, and it took us quite some time to go through these. We tried to look at the overall applications, and the writing samples (both stand-alone and in comparison to others on the same topic), and it was damn difficult. We found ourselves laughing and clapping at your stories and travel adventures, and the crazy redemptions you’ve come up with. Y’all are really good, and OMAAT truly has the best readers.

Narrowing the list of candidates was tough, but there were a small percentage that particularly stood out. Our original plan was to conduct a more traditional interview process, and then eventually ask folks to do some sample posts here on the blog, but there was such a strong group of people with some great perspectives on miles and points that we thought the rest of you might enjoy hearing from, that we decided to reverse the order.

Our thinking is that this will give us a chance to work with the top group of applicants and see how everyone meshes, and give them a chance to see what the actual process of blogging for OMAAT looks like before we move on to the next phase in the selection process. To be fair, we are paying everyone for their work on these trial posts, regardless of when or whether their post is ultimately published.

I’ve been working with this group for the past few days to help choose topics and find angles that are interesting without being too broad, and my gosh it’s fun! The enthusiasm for trying new things, and the passion for miles and points is delightful.

So over the coming days and weeks you’ll see posts from about two dozen people who we think could have a lot to offer in this space. We certainly are excited to get feedback from readers (as always), but because we’re primarily doing this to test the writing and editing process with everyone, we’re going to space out the publishing of these posts over a period of time. It’s even possible that we’ll have made (and announced) our final pick before all the posts are published on the blog.

We don’t want to inundate readers with a swarm of new voices all at once, basically, especially as we recognize that adding even a single new voice can be confusing, and we’re trying to handle all of this as delicately and carefully as possible.

Thank you guys so much — not just for your patience with this process, but for the consistent readership over the years that even makes something like this possible. We appreciate it so very much.

P.S. If you applied, and haven’t received an email from me this week, please check your junk folders. Everyone should have received a message from me by now, regardless of whether we’re able to move forward at this time or not.

  1. I just wanted to say considering how many people applied, it was very nice that Tiffany sent out personal letters to each candidate whether you were rejected or accepted.

  2. I hope you can get someone from latinamerica, is a really hard land for frequent travel with really few conecctions. Until last year i considered myself a frequent flyer based in Venezuela. but now from 60 international destination we are down to 10 or 14. hope to keep reading your blog i learned a lot!!!!!

  3. Please, please, please don’t become like The Points Guy! I love your posts Lucky, and they’re original and authentic. TPG has become the opposite (wasn’t always that way) and I rarely read them now. I encourage OMAAT to continue to evolve, but please don’t become like TPG!

  4. I am very glad that you are paying for the samples.
    I think small pieces of work are an excellent way of testing for working together.
    But that does not mean that they should be free.

    I try to apply the same rule when I am buying anything, E.g. make this small piece of furniture, then if it’s OK I’ll order a larger one.

    And yes, congratulations on replying to every applicant.
    It’s not difficult or expensive with email, but I am astonished at the number of companies which do not bother to send rejection notifications even when they have spent hours interviewing candidates.

  5. Regarding all the TPG comments, remember this quote from the original announcement last month:

    “One Mile at a Time is always going to be Ben’s baby, and we promise that isn’t changing. He’s still going to write 95% of the content, and will probably continue to refuse to take a day off ever.”

  6. I fourth Tim’s comments. I like reading TPG and love some of the reports on the cities, restaurants he visits but he added some obnoxious teenagers that never had a real jib in their lives to write about their experiences flying business class on points and for them it seems to be the most important thing in the world. These are basically kids that never made a single penny by working hard and feel entitled to fly like they are very fancy and know everything about food and wine while all they know is that Big Mac is the best meal and sparkling water is the only bubbly they were allowed to drink until yesterday. Please add people that add real value.

  7. I agree what said above on TPG. It was the first blog I followed but I haven’t check it out for a while.

    TPG has hired or contracted a lot of writers , probably 80% articles are not written by TPG nowaday. It is not a true blog anymore. Opposed to Lucky probably wrote 90% on his blog.

    There are too many thing on TPGs are very generic and has no value. The article that make me finally stopped visiting was an article on travel tips in Japan. I was astonished by how empty that article was. You cannot tell if the author had ever set foot on Japan ( he claim he has been there more than a dozen times ) , someone can easily google around to come up with it and even that would have been a very bad research done. Why I want to read those when myself can come up one 100 times better?

    Lucky and his buddies wrote report from their own experience with a lot of personal touches. Although a lot of trips I would never made or not in the way they made it ( for example live in super expensive hotels or taking first class everywhere you go ) , I really enjoy the reading.

    So please do not open the door to be a generic “travel blog platform” kind of thing. One thing I felt bad about this hiring is the requirement of quantity of writing commitment . That is dangerous . Find someone competent but only ask them to write when they feel like to write.

  8. I’d like to see greater focus on destinations, particularly for some of the smaller cities . Perhaps that took take the form of “36, 48, 72 hours in X, Y, Z” ( similar to articles in NYT, The Guardian and other papers).
    Most people have been to NY, London, Paris , Sydney, Vancouver, Bangkok etc ( but maybe not to Edinburgh, Marseille, Nantes, Seville, Porto, Bratislava, Adelaide, Tasmania, Wellington, Chiang Mai , San Diego, Santiago etc)
    So something that looks at points, planes, hotels and sights from a more regional, path-less-traveled perspective.
    I can only read so many QR reviews before it starts to wear a bit thin.
    The tall blonde boy ( Daniel?) did a bit of this kind of thing before he got monstered by the bitter and twisted and seemed to disappear.
    Just my 2 cents.

  9. I agree with Tim Also.
    I used to read the points guy back in 2012,2013,2014 and then shortly into 2015 it just became awful, more like an adrev machine targeted on just pushing as many credit cards as possible with 100’s of junk written by interns who just want to get credit.

    Most of the articles they put out now are like awful online newspapers and there is very little to do with points collecting anymore, it’s a shame as it used to be great.

    I know you need to make more money etc and get more page views, but please don’t end up like the points guy.

  10. I am with what everyone else said about TPG not great any more OMAAT much much much better and always was

  11. I, too, agree with Tim. What drew me to the Blog is the way Lucky, Tiffany and Travis (plus all the guestswriters in the past) tell the stories of their travel and their experiences as well as tips on how to maximize the miles&points one earns to fly and travel better. (And what product is worth it or not to spend miles&points on).
    What is sad to see is that in the last couple of days this blog has not been about quality content but rather about credit card promotion (Chase anyone?) or Dogs. It’s fine to post a well written and researched article about the Dog Incidents on United or which credit cards are good options or what is a good way to get from Airport X to Hotel Y and so on.
    But what sells the tips and the promotions is the personal travel experience (!) of Lucky et al more than anything else, not empty articles about how uber cheap a credit card is or what a “great” deal xyz is. Humorous or OMG stories are fun too, but in moderation and even better if you have personally experienced it.
    I undestand that you need to earn money with this blog to keep it running but don’t loose what makes this blog different from TPG or any other commercialised affiliation blog. In short, stick with your old product, that is what made you successful!

  12. There is such a thing called Google Alerts where you can easily be notified by Google if a story is written on anything from Coal Mining to Outrageous first class cabins in remote areas. This is how most bloggers especially TPG, get their content ideas from.

  13. Please someone who writes more like Tiffany and has some useful advice on optimal accruing and redeeming of points and miles. I learn most from the educational posts. And hopefully you will select someone with extensive air travel experience. Looking forward to reading the new content. Good job!

  14. Hey guys, we definitely hear your concerns about the voice changing as we grow and it’s something we discuss constantly. So I wanted to take a minute and check to see if there are specific things we’re doing now that are inspiring those fears, or if it’s more of just a general hesitancy?

    Ben started One Mile at a Time over ten years ago as a passion project from his dorm room. The site didn’t make a dime for the first three years. It was 6.5 years before there was another byline on the site at all. This blog truly means everything to Ben, and anything related to it is approached extremely (and sometimes frustratingly) carefully and slowly.

    Brian started TPG 2.5 years after OMAAT, with the express intention of building a marketing powerhouse, had a (small) staff and an intern almost immediately, along with business plans and growth projections and a goal to build exactly what he now has. He is extremely good at what he does in that context — but that’s not something anyone here is even trying to do.

  15. To @Tiffany’s question about OMAAT overall:

    – More quality, less quantity. I’d rather read 2 good posts in a day than have to sift through a bunch of filler/shameless credit card flogging. (TPG is 80% chaff these days)
    – Call Ben out internally when he’s being biased. I sat there for 2-ish years ca. 2015 rolling my eyes at his blind spot to how rotten AA was, but because the FF program was still distance-based he just glossed over the bad stuff that was going on before the infamous “lobster roll”
    – Be honest. I think the RS article was a huge hit on the credibility front. Here we all thought he’d just soured on United when in reality he’d been booted.
    – Be a bit more jaded/professional. I’m surprised how lots of the big travel blogs are like giddy schoolchildren when they get invited to airline launch events and then the coverage is written with rose colored glasses on. You’re important. THEY NEED YOU. Make them earn their rosy coverage.
    – But also, be a bit a bit less jaded. Even with all of the “free” points available out there, a huge number of people just want to find a way to get themselves and their kids to Orlando, Maui, or grandma’s house in coach. Don’t forget about them.

    ps. Tiffany, you’re a big part of what makes this blog enjoyable, so make sure you get a fat raise out of the deal while there’s all this HR stuff happening 🙂

  16. @Brian Kusler: agree!
    @Flyingfish: agree!

    My two cents:
    I wouldn’t say it is general hesitancy. OMAAT generally offers great content and is fun to read and I think we are all grateful Ben started this blog.
    But I am here for your reviews of airlines, hotels and other transportation methods plus information on loyalty programs and industry news.
    What I dislike is looking at the blog and seeing no updates on that front but a bunch of credit card blogs telling me how great a particular card is. One or two of those are fine but if that’s the only content generated over time then its not satisfying / worth to come back to the blog at the end of the day.
    Coming back to my earlier comment: “But what sells the tips and the promotions is the personal travel experience (!) of Lucky et al more than anything else, not empty articles about how uber cheap a credit card is or what a “great” deal xyz is. Humorous or OMG stories are fun too, but in moderation and even better if you have personally experienced it.”
    Don’t try to be here for fast news, try to be here for good quality news (within reason of course).

  17. And no discussion of “news” that we can find elsewhere, even if it’s aviation related unless you are adding some solid editorial content to it.

  18. @Tiffany- I’m more hesitant of what OMAAT will become. While I may not like every post, the vast majority I find intriguing. I’m my opinion, OMAAT has a strong culture, where as IMO TPG has lost theirs due to their growth and marketing plans. I’m happy to hear you guys don’t have plans to make this TPG part 2.

    I trust that Ben and you will keep up the great work! This is a business for you, so I personally expect the “credit card sale”, but don’t lose sight of the culture OMAAT has established.

  19. Wowsers! Wowsers to it all! You guys are probably putting more time and commitment to your hiring process than will be worthwhile, IMO. You certainly want top quality candidates, but how extensive is your team that you’re sorting through 2500 applicants?

    Best of luck to you.

    Regarding TPG, I had a chance to meet a couple of the team and visit their office after giving them a unique aviation tour. They’re a great bunch. I agree it isn’t very personal anymore, but I get the impression that Brian has profited significantly more than Ben. Maybe Ben isn’t particularly after becoming really wealthy, but I’d wish the best for him even if that does mean the page loses the personal touch.

    That actually makes me curious, is there a OMAAT office, or do you guys just meet up with each other on the fly?

  20. @abe – im assuming these personal letters are about as personal as the standard response BA give when you ask for compensation. It’s probably a cut and paste job with mail merge for the ones that didn’t get a place

  21. At least OMAAT has started a formal process to bring writers on. Bringing Ford in was a complete waste and a joke to the rest of the writing team who actually produce decent articles. But then again, sleeping with the boss always has perks wherever you work

  22. I might be a lone voice here but I like quantity. If this blog had only two posts a day, even if they were great, I think it would be a mistake. I wouldn’t change the current formula.

  23. @Hubs, Andrew is a mindless naive moron with about as much gloabal, cultural, ethnocentric, and environmentally travel savvy awareness as a week old pile of dog poop. Only understands one thing…..clicks, clicks, clicks.

  24. My 2 cents:

    – This blog is called One Mile At A Time, but sometimes I feel more like is should be called One Thousand $ At A Time. I understand that Ben want to review ALL premium cabins in the world and that is great! He is the only one doing that. But my interest, and the interest of most people reading this blog, is to fly with miles. So is great that he can pay thousand is dollars for a ticket, but at least add “I paid 5000 for this ticket, but if you want to do it with miles you need to do this and this”

    -Ben is the best reviewing flights and hotels…but there is always very little information about the destination. So the new contributors could do that…travel and write about the destination, what to do, explore atractions, etc

    – Lastly, as everyone said, please, don’t became TPG. His website is TRASH 99% of the time. Be you like always.

  25. @Donna I agree with you. Yes, things have gone to the dogs a bit lately, but the mix is ok.

    Andrew/Lucky – Don’t listen to the haters. Andrew, I appreciate your reviews.

    As for transioning to becoming another TPG, every review would need at least 5 pictures of he writer sitting smugly in luxury. I don’t mind TPG, but those pics get annoying quickly.

  26. Ben might also consider a policy on limiting credit card type posts. Every time I see the preview on the home page, not only do I never click, I’m thinking “Ben is trying to meet his affiliate/referral fee quota for the month.” That erodes credibility one post at a time.

    Explore other ways to monetize.

  27. I think hiring several new writers that can produce 1-2 quality posts per week would be a good thing. Quality and quantity. I wouldn’t mind seeing several new voices on here, even all at the same time.

  28. I agree on OMAAT lacking articles about the DESTINATION itself. Obviously the focus is the plane ride and all, but since you’re there, might as well explore the city and write up more “7 things to do on a layover in Singapore” or things like that. I feel like that would add so much more to the content of this website.

  29. Agree all the way with Tim on the TPG piece. TPG has gone a bad route and OMAAT is the only blog I still read and look forward to every article.

  30. As many have said, quality is what makes OMAAT stand out. My feed gets far too much from Boardingarea as it. I wish I could purge posts from certain bloggers (Martini first head in the guillotine.).

    While we are at it: how about revisiting that really cool tax series that OMAAT produced a couple of years ago. Focused content like that is makes good space for a guest writer.

  31. Get a grip: TPG’s “economic model” is different from OMAAT’s and that is what I believe Tiffany was trying to convey.

    I, for one, believe that OMAAT got it just about right. There is something for pretty much everyone. I skip what does not interest me; I read what does. There have been semi-regular contributors to the blog (I agree with others that Tiffany is scary good), but 90+% of posts on this blog have been and will, without a doubt, continue to be Ben’s, who, despite my giving him a “hard time”, I find to be one of the more thoughtful and consistent travel bloggers out there [no, I am not drunk].

    Bottom line: OMAAT trying to get another contributor is not going to alter anything about the blog’s “philosophy” on travel blogging. It will not alter what has been the blog’s model all along: Ben writes the lion’s share of posts, and his collaborators. including the new hire, chip in from time to time. What seems to be lost on everyone too eager to express a concern about things changing to their disliking is that, in OMAAT’s usual thoughtful way of doing things, they are actually setting up this hire in way that allows you, the reader, to contribute to their decision-making process. They will let you have a taste of each potential hire’s stuff and you decide whether or not like you it (it would help if you state why/why not!).

    I for one, won’t be bothered by a new voice here. S/he’ll get a pass when the ‘presentation’ passes muster, or s/he’ll get to hear a very loud dissenting voice when it does not.


  32. Not sure why people are bitchy and mean about certain writers on this blog. If someone gets on your nerve, it’s call “don’t read it.” Plain and simple. It’s an easy click. There is no need to be snarky. This is a free blog after all. A hint to those who complaint about credit card posts….has it ever occur to you that if not for those posts, you won’t have OMAAT to read on your downtime? Just don’t click on the article. It’s that simple. There is no need to bitch and moan about those articles. The title of the article is self explanatory most of the time. Just move alone to the next one if you don’t want to read more about how great Chase Sapphire is. As for dog articles, well, those tend to generate tons of comments and google search favor those pages (high engagement). So I don’t blame Lucky beating that dead horse over and over again. One thing I would love is for Tiffany to write more as most of her content is extremely useful for explaining best usage of miles to go to places that one actually wants to go. So my only gripe is lack of regular biweekly articles from Tiffany. Congrats on getting so many applicants. That’s amazing. I hope new writer writes like Tiffany.

  33. @Tiffany please reduce the clickbait “OMG” type articles. Over the last few months there seems to have been a focus on increasing clicks by posting more content. Sadly, to me, this appears to have been at the expense of quality. A few examples are :
    1. Lucky not standing up for himself when he is being treated poorly, and then asking :What would you do, or do you think I was right
    2. Flights being discussed ad nauseum prior to the TR actually coming out. See the gap between TR episodes on the latest SQ suites TR, or the long winded narrative about Angola Air.
    3. An obsessive focus on the price of champagne & wine. Just because something is expensive, does not necessarily make it better. Eg, see the Medusa line of crockery by Versace. Its expensive, but bloody hideous.
    4. Exploring other hotel options. There are local chains which are transfer partners for SQ, and other airlines. How about moving beyond the boring world of SPG, Hyatt, Marriott.
    5. Multiple posts about someone has been let down by Lucky not involving himself in that persons cc strategy.
    6. Please, please, stop the 10 pictures pre Trip Reports.

  34. I don’t think you’re always going to make everyone happy. When people complain about a certain type of post, you can bet that there are other readers who enjoy it. I think the vast majority of OMAAT readers come here because of the authentic feel. Agree or disagree with Ben, you’re usually getting the real him. Same goes for Tiffany. For example, did I really need to read a year ago about how Tiffany positioned to Europe in order to make it to JFK during a snowstorm? Absolutely not, but it’s 100% pure Tiffany, and that’s what made that post gold.

    I’ve noticed over the years that Ben seems to be sounding more “professional” in his reviews and holding back some of his funnier or snarky comments. My guess is that it may have to do with the backlash on the comments section any time he steps on anyone’s toes. But I wound venture to say that the vast majority of readers–save the ones who always seem to get offended regardless–appreciate the personality. Yes, information is important but I think personality gets overlooked.

  35. I think some of the remarks about Andrew point to a few things you need to consider when choosing and breaking in new contributors:

    * He came to OMAAT with a pre-established following on YouTube, and didn’t seem to understand the difference between blogging here and vlogging (or whatever) there.

    * One of his first posts was an abysmally disgusting story about him getting to the airport late and being a self-centered douchebag, cutting in line and treating other people like crap. This really soured a lot of people on him immediately, and readers remember things like that.

    * Many of his early posts also showed a complete lack of education on how to handle comped travel. Nothing wrong with comps, as long as you have strict disclosure, as the rest of OMAAT’s contributors do.

    The quality of his posts has improved over time, but the damage is done with a lot of OMAAT’s readership. Which leads to a couple of suggestions:

    * Concentrate on writing skills, not photography. Hopefully we’ll see a few potential contributors who have a small body of well-received work already, if not on their own blog then with trip reports on Airliners.net or somewhere like that. (I would have applied myself if I used to travel as much as I did back when I posted TRs on A.net, but these days I’m doing well to get on a plane once a year. (Yeah, sad, but when you’re dealing with $50k of of out-of-pocket dental expense, travel’s out for a while.)

    * Unless they take no comps at all, make them read OMAAT’s disclosure rules. Then make them go over and read Brett’s on Crankyflier (the only website that I think has even better COI rules than OMAAT does.) Then make them read both again and tell them ONE failure to disclose properly (not buried in passing well into the article like Andrew did a few times) gets them bounced off the site.

    And as for the people complaining about the credit card reviews,

    1) They are important to a lot of this blog’s readers, as they form a big part of many people’s travel strategy, and

    2) Ben has to pay the bills, you know. Some of the FREE site’s income, which lets you read it for FREE, comes from credit card referrals generated by the FREE credit card reviews/advice/news. The credit card articles are clearly titled as such, so if you don’t want the FREE credit card news, just skip over them and read the rest of the FREE postings on this FREE site.

    These complainers are like the old joke, “Waiter, this food is terrible! And such small portions!”

  36. @ CraigTPA — The details you’re pointing out seem to refer to Daniel, not to Andrew, but I think we’re very much on the same page in terms of the feedback in general.

  37. @Tiffany, that’s right. Andrew just promotes the captivity, abuse, and exploitation of wild animals. Clearly only a minor offense as compared to Daniel’s follies……

  38. Thanks for giving us a look into the process. I find it really interesting and look forward to reading posts from the new authors. You should put a poll on each of their posts so we can easily vote them up or down (man, that would be brutal).

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