Blog Feedback: Additional Contributors

I am, as far as I’m concerned, the luckiest person in the world.

I have the best job in that I get to spend my life doing the things I am most passionate about, and y’all have been incredibly supportive. I couldn’t possibly be more grateful.

Blogging about airlines/hotels is my absolute favorite thing I’ve ever done – I love blogging more than I love flying Lufthansa first class in an otherwise empty cabin. Which is saying something. The most relaxing part of my day is when I put my phone on silent and close all my internet browsers except the WordPress one, and just start writing. I pinch myself every day for the fact that the “core” of my job is also the highlight of my day and what I enjoy doing most.

The fact that anyone reads what I write is just icing on the cake. I blogged for two years without making a dime from this site (literally not a dime), and enjoyed it just as much back then as I do now.

Of course, the side effect to that is I am always connected, and always engaged in what’s going on in the industry and our hobby in general. I honestly don’t remember the last day I spent fewer than eight hours reading, writing, or researching something involving miles and points.

And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

A few months ago reader Gene (who does a good job of keeping me honest in general) left the following response to one of my ramblings:

Priorities

I brushed it off at the time, because I love what I do, and couldn’t imagine my life any other way.

At the same time though, I dread taking long haul flights because I’m afraid I’m going to miss something, and not having internet for two days in Beijing turned me into a nervous wreck. I want to spend more time with my parents, and travel to places that might not have great wifi connections, and right now so much of that is impossible. For example, I’m taking a two week round the world trip with my dad in November, and I’d love to be able to spend quality time with him as much as possible, as much as it pains me to “disconnect” from my hobby.

Beyond that, I want to start planning for the future. I have written all but maybe a dozen of the posts here on the blog, which equates to more than seven thousand posts over the past six and a half years, and I’m quite proud of that. But I don’t know if I can reasonably keep writing 10,000+ words a day for the next 10 years and keep my sanity, much less do any of the other things I want to do.

A few years ago I was in the same situation with my award booking service. There was literally more business than could possibly be handled, and at one point I landed in Bali to over 200 new emails asking for help with award travel. In the space of just a few months it’d gone from a cute side hobby while I was in college to a viable business, and to say I was totally unprepared would be an huge understatement.

Collaborating with other frequent travelers and mileage experts took a huge leap of faith, but bringing people on to help with that side of the business was the best thing I ever did. And I learned a ton by doing it.

So I feel like I’m at a similar crossroads with the blog.

I love writing, I love interacting with y’all and responding to comments, and that’s never going to change.

I just want to write the very best blog I can, and I feel like I’m reaching the human limits of what I’m able to do here by myself. What a lot of people don’t realize is that what you see on the blog is only a very small portion of what goes into actually writing/managing the blog. For example, I receive dozens and dozens of emails from readers every day, and I do everything in my power to respond to them.

The few guest posts that I’ve featured have been well-received, so I’m thinking of doing more along those lines. I don’t want to turn this into a free-for-all with a huge pool of staff writers, nor do I want to have ghost writers using my name and a template. This blog is my baby.

But I also don’t think having some additional contributions from passionate travelers with a different perspective would be a terrible thing, and having an additional handful of posts a month from people I trust could add some interesting color to the blog, and hopefully create a better foundation for the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to “check out” and outsource this blog. I’m looking to make it the best it can be, by potentially adding more perspectives and writing about more topics. I get requests every day for covering certain topics, and when I respond that I’ll add it to my “list” of post ideas, I mean it. The only problem is that my list of post ideas has hundreds of things on it, and it’s growing by the day.

But having some help wouldn’t hurt, I don’t think.

So, since I trust you guys with all my major decisions, what do you think about having additional contributors to the blog? If you like the idea, would you want to see them have a weekly/bi-weekly/tri-weekly series, or rather cover topics as they’re relevant? What types of topics would you want them to cover?

Thanks for the feedback, and thanks for reading. I really appreciate it more than I can express.

Comments

  1. I think I’m neither here nor there about what you would like to do with your blog (mind you, I love reading your posts and all, but this is your baby, and you should take it to whatever direction you want to)…

    But I think there’s a point in knowing that you *can* check out and disconnect for a bit, even for a few days.

    You write really high quality stuff, lucky, and while fun, you should never sacrifice quality for quantity – and not sure if you ever feel pressured to “churn out” articles – but you shouldn’t feel that way…

    Enjoy life, even if this *is* your job and baby.

  2. I think having contributors maybe even once a week would be fine by me. I enjoy your perspective a lot but wouldn’t be opposed to hearing from readers who have taken your advice and might be taking their very first long haul business/first class trip. It could give the blog and readers a look at travel through a different set of eyes and give you a small break.

  3. Guest posts are fine when they add stuff that you can’t. Like the tax issues guest posts you’ve had in the past. But you don’t need to add a bunch of regular guests just to keep churning out several posts every day. Sometimes less is more.

  4. I think guest posts are great, as long as you ensure that they are of the same quality that you produce. I think it would be especially helpful to post trip reports from people who fly airlines/aircraft/routes that you can’t or just don’t have the time to. No matter how much you travel you simply can’t keep up with all of the new products out there, so utilizing some of our travels for the benefit of the readers would be great. Other interesting 2-3 time/week guest posts could be interesting as well, as long as they weren’t simply writing the same stuff that is on every other points/miles blog.

  5. Additional contributors would be a great idea! I think I prefer the cover topics as they’re relevant over a weekly/bi-weekly etc. series just to see if it’s well received. Then, if it’s well received, move on to the weekly series etc =). Good luck Lucky!

  6. If the other contributors were as good at blogging, and as dedicated to this blog as you are I would be all for it.

  7. Guest authors, on too frequent of a basis – will destroy your blog’s identity. There are other travel blogs where this has in fact happened.

  8. Don’t do it. This blog is successful because of “Brand Ben” which is your personal style and charisma. Cut back on your posting if you have to keep the quality up. However, bringing in other contributors will dilute your quality. Your business was not based on your creativity and personal style. The blog is.

  9. I read this blog for your writing and experiences, not for a comprehensive guide to all things aviation. ‘Less is more’ is spot on, I’d rather read fewer posts than have this place turn into an SEO machine, like FTG or TPG. Once a month max for guest contributors.

  10. I realize there are only so many hours in a day, but a couple of the other popular blogs that have outsourced their posts have become unreadable.

  11. Go for quality over quantity. No reason to be the first to break news to everyone. I’ve cut back on my BA followings because I’d get 7 articles saying the same thing about a change to some airline mileage policy. If BA could get you all coordinating about content, it would make the collective stronger. It would also relieve pressure on individual bloggers chasing after the same CC bonuses, breaking headlines, …

    Focus on your core and ignore the rest. There are other BA bloggers to pickup after you.

  12. dear ben, i discovered your blog only a couple of days ago and love it. easy to write but i mean it more than i can put in words as i am german. no blog touches me more than yours! the first article i read was your trip vom fra-mia – the same route in LH 1st we are going on the 23th of september. funny store about the guys entering first class for smoking. unbeleavable! we choose for frankfurt and miami the shearaton @ the airport instead of the hilton as you recommended.

    Maybe my post is not in the right place but i just wanted to say thank you for all the hard work you doing instead of enjoying the trip. this i a huge gift money cannot buy.

    keep going and don`t feel any pressure. take all the time it takes and you need. there is nothing more important to focus just on quality and nothing less!

    Best regards from Hamburg Germany

    Mike

  13. +1 for “Quality over Quantity”. I would certainly rather the blog take a 2-week “holiday” that feature 2-weeks of inane posts.

  14. I think this is an interesting opportunity. You put out almost as many posts on a weekly (or even daily) basis as Gary at View From The Wing. As DBest commented, you don’t want to become TPG or FTG… and, I think you individually, still put out more quality content than TPG on a daily basis. So I’d offer you this: What about offering up a guest post a week or every other week, as a way to offload some of your burden but also, remember that you have a rather significant reader-base. A guest post from another blogger could help both you and them.

    That, however, doesn’t answer your biggest concern, which is being about to actually take a vacation–even if it is only 2 days– For that, you probably need to consider a similar approach to what you’ve taken with your award booking service. The risk of course is that it could dilute your brand, which you’ve really done, in my opinion, an excellent job with. Perhaps there is a way to find a compromise between the two, that would allow you to be offline for a day or two?

  15. I wouldn’t mind occasional contributor posts, as long as the person isn’t as inciteful and disrespectful as devil over at HMT. That said, I don’t want to see it anything like HMT where most of the posts are contributors.

  16. Yes – you have a great thing going. I’ll be honest with you. Leave Boarding area and start your own thing. You have by far the best blog on this network. This blog can easily be turned into an online magazine, something like Hodinkee. And talking about Hodinkee, let’s be honest, they are doing great, but how big is the vintage/mechanical watch industry compared to the miles and points… And further- the airline industry! Hire a web designer, get a couple of full time bloggers/community managers, one or two interns on rotation and you’ll have a low overhead/high profit business running. You have the user-base to get that started.

    I was recently commenting to a friend about how many young entrepreneurs have “lost the point”. Everyone is out there talking about money- about they’re going to make “$2 million in two years”, meanwhile I, a potential user, am left feeling that they don’t care about me, all they want is to bank my money. It’s the small things. For example you said “OUR hobby”, and you’re constantly talking about how much you love interacting. As a seasonal blogger, I know exactly what you mean, but most importantly, I always feel that you are leveling with your audience. You accept feedback, you adjust, and you move on. You have the values to run a great enterprise.

    Go for it!

  17. Find the balance that’s right for you. I know that I (and I’m guessing most of your loyal readers) love how much you write, but we’d still read your positings whether it was five times a day, five times a week, or five times a month.

  18. I think you just want someone to full time troll the devil’s advocate. 😉 In all seriousness, I agree with the sentiment. With all the travelling you do, I feel like you don’t spend near enough time looking around and smelling the roses. If another contributor helps you do that, I’m all for it.

  19. i think it’d be good to have occasional guest contributors. given that you won’t fly anything outside the big 3 alliances, it’d be good to have them reviewing JetBlue, Virgin, LCC’s (with an emphasis on those outside North America).

    it would also be nice to occasionally get credit card and point strategies for people who aren’t in north america.

    it’s been weird because your last 3 flights are all flights i’ve taken recently — i could have written those reviews for you 😛

  20. @Ben As you said you response email everyday I found that most of my emails ( about 99%) to you regarding blog’s suggestions or questions were never replied. I wondered I was somehow been blocked or automatically been put in spam folder. You used to be so responsive so I am very puzzled. Or should we all post our questions on “Ask Lucky” page but the problem is it won’t be proper to post traveling details to public…what’s your suggestion? Is you don’t response email anymore would you just say so to make it clear?

  21. I’ve especially enjoyed when your traveling companions have contributed their perspective of the same trip!

  22. How about taking a vacation just to relax and enjoy being with friends, a special someone, or even being by yourself. Make a rule not to review anything when you are on vacation. You need to disconnect periodically. You won’t lose any blog readers. Just put a notice on your blog that on your on vacation and live blogging will resume on “———-,” You could run a “Best of series,” and have them automatically post while you are vacation. Alternatively, this would be a great time to have guest bloggers, but you have to promise yourself not to keep checking in when you are on vacation or you will not get the benefit of disconnecting.

    Everyone needs vacations to relax and even though you constantly travel the world, you are always working so you don’t get to relax and recharge. I am a solo physician and now take several major vacations a year,thanks to what I learned from you. At first I thought I would lose my patients when I traveled,but I get other doctors to cover me, and come back recharged. My patients are very understanding of my need to go on vacation and disconnect periodically and I’m sure your blog readers will be also.

    Relax and disconnect every so often or you will surely burn out and that would definitely be a loss to the blogosphere.

  23. Ben,
    As a short time reader (started earlier this year in this hobby) but a loyal one, i wanted to comment on this for a long time.
    Your blog is the most detailed and most original one that i ever read among travel bloggers. I followed all the posts on boardingarea three months ago along with several others but now it’s down to you and a very selected few. Your posts are all of great quality and less commertial oriented. They are out of a person who genuinely loves travel, who actually travels a lot, and who loves to share his experience with others.
    It is this love and passion that made this blog unique and outstanding.
    What i do feel, however, is that writing like this is exhausting the blogger himself. This blog has at least one unique and original post everyday — let’s just say perhaps “million mile secrets” has one or two of this kind of posts per month.
    This kind of “idea exhausting” will deplete you, i feared. I don’t think anyone could keep on to post all these original ideas all the time. What if one day you feel exhausted and suddenly lose the passion? Where would we (your readers) go for great travel information and fun then?

    It’s good to read this article today. I think, should i be able to suggest anything, the business model of “travelsort” is a good one. It has one post per day and it has a obvious targeted reader group. It is a business but it serves its purpose. I know that you were a columnist with them/her a few years ago but you guys parted ways. But, what i am saying here is that we don’t expect to read a lot of great posts everyday day. Two per week is what makes me checking back with travelsort.

    Bringing other people in might be a good idea but could also be a bad one. I believe there’s another guy posted on travelsort today (only one in at least half a year i believe?), and honestly, i hate his style. So pick your cooperators carefully.

    Anyways, good luck to you Ben! You made this blog outstanding and i believe you will make the right choice.

  24. Don’t do it. I read this blog because of you, I don’t come hear to read someone else. If I could only read one blog yours is the and that’s because of you. If time is a problem, then post less often.

  25. Keep it just to yourself. I don’t like how some blogs (TPG) have diluted into posts that are all about the headline and less about the substance and I agree that sometimes fewer posts are better. Sometimes expansion is not the best route!

  26. What would it hurt? I think we read your blog bc its knowledgeable and fun. If you added contributors like other blogs im sure it will just add to your value. That said can you please make sure their articles have something substantial rather then almost nothing. You should make it a once a month to starting off, that way people will adjust slowly.

    Hey we dont say it enough but thanks for working so hard. We read you cause we see the passion that you have for what you do. Thanks man.

  27. Ben

    Would love to be a guest contributor.

    Would love to be the “in house Virtuoso guy” who writes about not-so-chain-hotels 🙂

    Contributors are good. They keep blogs fresh. Multiple opinions are good; not just those of the author.

  28. Really like the guest posts that you tee up with an intro (is on tax policy or another perspective on Lufthansa), but I also come to this site to read your writing and not others. There is no shortage of space on Boarding Area for others to write. But, in the cases where you know you lack knowledge, having others chime in alongside your analysis is great.

    I think everyone would agree that TPG has become total garbage since he moved primarily to guest editors.

  29. Don’t do it Ben. Keep your blog “yours” – I come here because I enjoy reading your unique take on things, and I sure as heck don’t want to see your blog become watered down because you feel the need to cram it with as much stuff as possible.

    As a fellow blogger, I understand the need to keep producing content. But it’s a dangerous trap to fall into, and I’m certainly guilty of falling into that pit myself. But you know what? There are countless other hugely successful bloggers who write one post a week (if that) and are still killing it. You don’t have to write every day, and you most certainly don’t have to write several times a day. That’s going to do nothing but burn you out in the long run. Ask me how I know…

  30. It seems like you enjoy writing, except it is becoming a problem, because you can’t disconnect, or else you’ll miss the latest promotion or what not. Maybe you should hire someone to write posts that are more quantitative, (eg, the latest SPG promotion, NeNe Leakes favorite airline) and leave the more qualitiaive posts to you. (Trip reports, loud sex in hotels, etc)

  31. What I was saying earlier – and there was a glitch – was the following:

    On the one hand, I love your blog and I love your take on things. Your reviews are GREAT.

    On the other hand, you’re reviewing chain hotels that are more geared towards a business traveler.

    There are a LOT of leisure travelers out there who like you, like your reviews, and like your style..

    But would it kill you to:

    1) Stay somewhere longer than 3 days?
    2) Stay at a non-chain hotel (Four Seasons? Raffles? Peninsula? Mandarin Oriental? Belmond? Jumeirah?
    3) Take routes to more interesting destinations? (India? Africa? South America? South Pacific? Australia?)

    First world problems: sick of European flights and European reviews.

    How much longer can you keep a similar theme going to the same destinations?

  32. I’ve been reading your blog for almost two and a half years now and it remains one of my favorites out of all that cover this hobby. It is your unique voice, sense of humor, and relatable age that make it so unique and enjoyable for me. Everyday I wake up I’m most excited to see what you have posted or hear what your doing. In saying all this though and guessing that there are other that feel somewhat similar, I could see how disconnecting could be hard for you. But know that I also understand how important it is to take the time to enjoy life and the moment your in. Constantly feeling you need to stay connected can become a burden I’m sure but I promise if you decreased the amount of posts you created you wouldn’t lose my readership. Like others have mentioned I’m not against an occasional guest post (I’ve always enjoyed your parents perspective) but I come here to hear what you have to say and really nothing else. I mean what are the chances that a guest post subject wouldn’t end up being covered by someone else in the blogosphere. If you feel this blog has become so big that your missing out on truly living the moments you had set out to achieve in the first place then theres nothing wrong with scaling back to what suites you. I think a lot of people live vicariously through this blog while waiting to take their own trips and to know that your experiencing the overwhelming feeling that work usually is reserved for the normal working crowd is somewhat saddening. I’d like to know that your happy while making so many others feel the same way even if that means not hearing from you for extended periods of time. After all the work you’ve done to help so many you at least deserve this.

  33. Isn’t it about time for a girlfriend? Or a boyfriend?

    I know what you’ll say… “I should do this while I still can”

    You know there are partners that are OK with this line of work and will love you for it.

    I know you’re an introvert…I am too….but c’mon!

    i bet you won’t date because then you’ll need 2x the miles to get from A to B? 😀

  34. Reading the comments up to this point, not surprisingly, boldly underlines the very personal relationship you have established with your readers, a relationship based on respect, trust and friendship. The work you put into this and the consistent quality you achieve is truly exemplary. But, as you point out, it has also evolved into a very successful entrepreneurial business, so the question, I think, is how can you begin to disengage so as to have a better balance with your personal life without undermining the business, a business on the income of which you rely. And, having given it some thought, as you know, even before today’s post, I honestly don’t have the answer. However, trying to just look at it from the perspective of why I read the blog, to wit, to get practical, hands-on advice, learn from your experiences, fantasize from some of your reviews and just plain entertainment-I would agree with those who think guest blog posts should only be occasional, opting for less frequent posts and as to those I’d say the priority would be to keep us informed of news and events that are of practical help, while cutting back on the number of trips you review as at this point you have reviewed so many flights/hotels that new reviews become somewhat redundant unless there is a major change to the product.

    Does this make sense?

  35. I love reading the way you write. Like Sean M said, “Brand Ben”. Your personality and your flavour is what makes the blog great. I rarely read other blogs (including other BoardingArea blogs) as I enjoy your style. Just like everyone has their favourite writers like Dean Koontz, Stephen King and the like whilst others like Dan Brown (?), so too your blog is you on paper.

    Mind you, I also enjoyed the guest posts this past year. Tiffany did a great write up and the Champagne analysis was awesome. But those were one-offs and that was part of their appeal. In that sense, I’d say doing a regular guest post (like one day a week for instance) to give you a day off would be a good idea. But still keeping it Brand Plucky (formerly known as the blogger known as Ben).

    I sometimes wonder what the long term effects will be on your continuous writing in terms of your social life. I’m early 30’s and missed the “classic” periods that most guys meet that person and get married and settle down. So from that side, I can see the benefits in toning it down. I also think that you have a good balance between quantity and quality of posts. However, I imagine that if you took a 2 day weekend every week for your private life, then that would not diminish the blog experience much.

    Good luck with the decision

  36. I’ll echo a few of the posts above. I love and enjoy reading Ben’s blog. I’m more than happy with quality over quantity. Don’t risk the blog turning into FTG or TPG.

  37. The reality is that you do what you love but you also need to make enough money/points to sustain what you are doing.
    I know you answer lots of emails but I also think people use you as a “free source of information”, mostly because they/we are too lazy to look it up.
    How about outsourcing some of the emails you respond to? some of the answers are very standard and I see people asking the same thing over and over and you answer it over and over.
    If your award business is very busy (and I assume people are actually paying for the service and not just asking questions) then you may need to hire more staff to help.
    I would definitely accept more outside writers on your blog.
    Even though it is nice to read 6 or more postings per day, in reality you could write half of them.
    I like Gary (view form the wing) very much but many of his posts are just interesting links and other people’s information. It does not mean I read his blog less than yours.
    my 2 cents

  38. Don’t hire contributors. Your goal should be to earn page views through the quality of your content, not the number of shitty new posts. This has been the downfall of TPG. If you need tips for producing quality content day-after-day, ask Gary Leff, another guy who hasn’t yet sold out.

  39. Occasional post by someone else would be fine but I highly prefer to keep it with just you. The majority of us probably follow others as well so if we want to hear from other people we will check their blogs. I don’t usually read anybody other than yours so that shows that I am drawn to what you have to say.

  40. No, please don’t. I love this blog because it’s lucky’s blog. You can hire people for your travel planning, but please not for your blog. Maybe you could include trip reports from unique people, maybe..

  41. Don’t do it, Ben. One of the reasons I love your blog is the authenticity of your writing. Yes, we all know you get cc referrals (and you should). That said, some of the other bloggers seem like they are starting to sell out – with corporate parents, “promotional” contests and requests to sponsor them at SXSW. They’ve also upped the game with guest writers. As a result, I read the FTG and TPG less and less, as they have lost their voice.

    My vote is to keep this blog your own, albeit with reduced frequency.

  42. I only read your blog and VFTW. I stopped reading TPG and FTG because they basically cashed out and only have “contributors” doing all their posts and it sucks. If you are burnt out, then don’t post 6 posts every day.

  43. I primarily read your blog for the trip reports, though I skim and enjoy some of your other posts. I also read sfo777 and flyertalk (trip reports, BA, and AA threads, as well any airlines I plan to fly). I tend to write trip reports that are focused on the perspective of a business traveler, but it’s a very part time hobby.

    My interest is almost exclusively as a business traveler looking to optimize my time and experience. In general I hate hotels, so when I travel for leisure it’s almost always airbnb or a boutique chain.

    I enjoy Sean M’s perspective in various comments also.

    It’s a shame that you cannot coordinate efforts better with some of the other boarding area bloggers and cross post on the more news like topics. That would solve part of your problem.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that you cannot simply clone your formula, which is why it doesn’t work for TPG or FTG. So instead I would look for ways to augment it. Add a few people you trust to approach things from a different perspective, and keep the quality high. Look for ways to add to the blog with alternative perspectives if you want (rather than trying to clone yourself), and I think you could improve things and not lose your voice. And find a way to incorporate news when you want some time away, if you feel that is important.

    I’d be happy to offer my trip reports and business traveler perspective if that’s of interest to you and your readers. I’m sure others on here would be interested also. It really depends what you want to do with your blog, but I’m sure you could get help and keep the quality high with a community as great as what you have here.

  44. I genuinely enjoyed Tiffany’s Lufthansa post and think that such selective, high-quality posts with interesting perspectives could make sense on occasion. I have not read The Points Guy for a few years because of, uh, quality. He started out quite well, though. While I imagine it is insanely lucrative for him, I would not recommend such an approach if seeking to retain more informed readers.

  45. Ummm… NO! your blog is the only travel blog I read. As others have pointed out, quality over quantity.

  46. I would say keep guest bloggers to a minimum, and those who have particular expertise. The tax series last year was a good example of a valuable guest contribution. We don’t need more just to fill space (Boardingarea.com already churns out blogs). We don’t mind if you take a break to recharge. We know you’ll be back with great articles. If you want to take a break you can have a gues blogger to cover some time. All in all the frequency of posts from one mile at the time is good, more might be too much and a dilution.

  47. I only read you and VTFW as well, not the crap from TPG, but I certainly understand your predicament. Brian is one super rich man who started blogging after you and I did but used the leveraging of contributors and now ghost writers to position himself to never work again if he does not want to. I might possibly do the same thing if the opportunity arose and would never hold it against if you did. But you clearly love this blog and love writing – don’t throw it out. You can afford now to do what you want, write when you want, and you don’t need to churn out 4-6 posts per day. There are not enough hours in the day – try being married and posting a couple times a day and running an award business – it is tough and I cannot do it all right now, but I am proud of every post I put up and I think you are in that position now — don’t give it up just yet and do ratchet it down if you need some time away. When you take that trip with your father, make it a policy to have one 48 hour stretch, just one, in which you don’t turn on your computer. Give yourself that break, knowing that you can count on Tiffany and your team to watch your back.

  48. maybe have guest contributors when you are on vacation? You know, as in taking a real vacation 😉

  49. Having contributors in and of itself is not a bad thing. But it’s a slippery slope, so watch out. Don’t let it turn into The Points Guy, who basically now just runs an “empire,” while he’s out attending the Cannes Festival and the Oscars. 🙂 I used to love him. Now he’s sort of irrelevant.

  50. Having people who help you makes life easier. There is a fine line though… Do NOT trust people that make your website too big.

    Your punny, yet extremely developed writing is very fun to read, and deserves a break!

    When you are with your dad– do not answer email or this blog for a day or two, it will let creative juices flow.

    I would be more than honored if you were to accept guest reports, as I am extremely interested.

  51. Ben, it’s OK if you get contributors. There are a lot of talented writers out there, just look at Devil’s Advocate series on Hack My Trip. The guy is brilliant and stirring a lot of discussion with his quirky posts, though readers are a fickle bunch, as he just learned first hand! 🙂
    Spend time with your dad, meet a girl, get married. This hobby (and job in your case) can take over your life. It’s unhealthy to read and write about nothing, but miles and points all day. Not directed at you personally, because many bloggers in this industry suffer from the same problem. you have more to give than just posts about miles or fancy suites. Live your life, the real kind.

  52. There are really two separate questions that you are asking here even though they are related – 1) can you take a break from the blog and 2) should you have contributors? The answer to #1 is definitely yes. Schedule a few posts in advance and take a week off. We all need a vacation. If some news story breaks during that week, who cares? There are other bloggers who will cover it and you won’t lose readership just because you missed a little blip about a new hotel promo or an airline changing its seat assignment policies.

    As for #2, I offer a qualified yes. I’d love contributors that would fill a niche that you can’t cover (like the tax series). Or a regular post on a scheduled day once a week from a guest writer. But like many others have said, the blog still needs to be about 95% yours. I haven’t read FTG in many months because there is just no consistent voice there anymore. If you are writing too much right now for it to be sustainable, write a little less. I’d rather have high quality but less content from you than more quantity from a lot of people.

  53. Ben,

    I’ve been an avid reader of the blog for the last three years or so (and only just flew Lufty first class for the first time a few weeks ago!). This is actually my first comment. I would lean against bringing on regular contributors. I really like your take on all things travel and that’s why I have gravitated to this site and away from ones like PointsGuy, which seem increasingly filled with contributions from randos. I’d vote to bring on contributors only occasionally, and when they have something specific to offer (e.g. tax issues). But the content should stay mostly yours, even if you need to reduce the output for your own sanity.

    Best, TJ

  54. I think a weekly trip report from a different perspective would be fun to read. Perhaps someone who loves BA and HATES Lufthansa? Spice things up? Each week you could have different person and have then on monthly rotating bases? But obv Lucky should be the main person , as you said it’s your baby.

  55. There are hundreds of travel blogs out there. New ones starting all the time. No matter how much knowledge they have they won’t have one thing. That is you.

    You are the reason people like myself read this blog. The way you write is what I like. You make it easy to digest. You don’t come off as a stuffy old dude.

    I believe you post every day. First thing I’d suggest is to stop doing daily posts. Cut back to twice a week or even three times a week. Your readership won’t go down I’m sure. More importantly it frees up your time. So I’d first stop doing daily posts if possible.

    As for contributors, they can be helpful. Of course you have to decide if that person’s knowledge and their voice is a good fit for this blog. You are the curator. But be selective. Like others have said, I’ve stopped reading TPG because it’s all seems like pitching and contributor these days. Just too commercial for me.

    But mainly think about cutting back on your posting schedule. No one will get upset. If they do, that’s their problem. Then you can free up a lot of time.

  56. Maybe do like the talk show hosts and have a guestblogger(s) for a week or so to fill in while you’re gone? Please don’t do like some bloggers and have the pre-packaged blogs that you simply post while you’re on vacation w/ your family . . .

  57. You can always hire someone to help answer emails and use scheduled posts to fill in gaps while you are going to be offline.

    I come to your blog multiple times a day because of your unique perspective, experience and content. And you have plenty of content each day. If you want to scale back then focus more on the posts that count and less on those that have little to know comments. This is especially true on your blog where I feel that the posts I care the least about usually have very few comments. (i.e. the lady found dead at the hotel post, etc…).

    If you allow others to contribute content it will change the product/experience you offer here which is not the same as scaling out your award booking service to meet demand.

    Other bloggers in the travel/points industry have hired additional contributors and it changes their blog completely. I used to read them daily but now just check in on them once every few weeks.

  58. I’ve loved the guest posts you’ve had so far like Valerie, Your Dad and the guy who won the trip with you. But a lot of the reasons these were interesting is because they looked at your world through the eyes of others and because they didn’t seem cranked out by people looking for a paycheck.

    I would rather you just took time off every now and then than fill the blog with generic writers for hire. Just go on a vacation from the blog and run a few “Best Of” posts like Frequent Miler does when he is out.

  59. i’d rather see your site go dark for a bit. i come here to read what you have to say–my feedly feed has hundreds of other blogs i can check out if i’m looking for a different viewpoint.

  60. I currently love the blog the way it is because I know what I am getting 99.9% of the time (there are a few surprises here and there!). You have a great reader base that trusts what you write, and I think the best way to do it is to keep doing what your doing with one exception. I think it would be great to have little series of articles every month or so. Maybe one month have a four part special in which an old airline exec talks about how the aviation industry has changed since his time. Maybe a different month have a short special from an experienced business flyer and what his expectations are when he flies multiple times a week. All in all you can still keep writing 99% of the articles, but having short projects along the way from other people I think would be a lot of fun. Keep up the great work!

  61. I think it’s always great to spread the love and have guest writers — but only from time to time. The guest series you had with the taxes was awesome; whereas the jetblue one was rather awkward (the photos were less than desirable and, IMHO, did not live up to your blog’s standard.) If you do have guest trip reports, I suggest they be of guests who you travelled with (i.e. your dad’s perspective, Tiffany’s perspective, Andrew’s perspective, etc.) since at least they’re providing a different perspective of the same flight you took!

  62. Ben, I read your post bc you are the most interesting and (especially) entertaining blog writer. So why would I want some guest blogger? There are lots of those on BoardingArea.

  63. From a reader ‘a perspective I view this as a very slippery slope. Very occasional guest submissions where you heavily frame the content like sometimes appear now are one thing, but if this becomes ‘lucky and friends’ blog I’m much less likely to visit every day. I’m much more in favor of you just posting less when you feel like it. Otherwise, if I need a different perspective I can just click the Boarding Area header – I see no need to bring those typically far inferior sort of voices in house.

  64. I agree with Matt. I’d rather just see less frequent posts rather than posts by other contributors.

  65. ok if STRICTLY limited in quantity and of high quality. TPG went way downhill when he started posting random crap content like city guides with no personality. people read this blog for Lucky’s personality.

  66. I’m on the side of not messing with your brand, but I’d also like to think there are things you can do to take the pressure off yourself. What would happen if you 1-2 days off a week? Maybe you’d miss an occasional breaking news story. But those tend to get picked up by other bloggers anyway.

    And then a few weeks off a year? While many don’t seem to think they’d like outside contributors, if I knew you were on vacation I’d bet we’d manage to survive with outside output somehow–particularly if it meant that we’d get another few years of great blogging.

    On a personal note, what would your vacations be like? Would you go home and not travel for two weeks?

  67. Love your blog but also your commenters (well most of them!) So trust what most of them are satin to this post – you are the reason they read and they’ll cope with fewer posts. I am sure you schedule some posts to appear anyway and a slow down will only make the heart grow fonder of you know what I mean!

  68. I don’t think you need contributors to line up a break from the blog. I have enjoyed some of the random series in the past that contributors helped with (the tax one for example), but at the end of the day I come to OMAAT for Lucky’s voice and consistency. When two people review two different products it’s hard to really be able to compare them. When I go to book an itin I know that if you have been on a specific route, flight, or hotel and I read the trip report I will know exactly what to expect.

    The reality is the other Boarding Area blogs are your contributors. If you are not around someone else will keep us readers satisfied, although probably not as much as you would, but I don’t think you need to devalue your brand by trying to make a contributor model work just to justify a vacation.

  69. What are you trying to create?

    If you want to create a brand, then stick to being just you, take time off for yourself (ultimately nobody really cares whether you don’t post for a day or two).

    If you want to turn this blog into a 2nd full scale business you’ll have no choice other than to get others to write for you.

    For what it’s worth, don’t do it. If you want to go down that route, start a new site, chose your contributors and use your existing brand to promote it.

  70. I think a few contributors can be a good addition, and a nice way for you to take a bit of a breather every once in a while. The key would be having people who are able to write things that are of use to your readers (ie. no TPG filler stuff). And the quality of the writing should be comparable to what we’ve become accustomed to from you.

  71. Lucky, your blog is one of two I read every day. It’s the website I go to when I get a break from work. When I’m in the elevator. When I’m sitting on the toilet. Know what’s incredible? That you do all this work yourself. I really can’t imagine one person taking on all this. So while your relentless productivity is great for me, I’m all for adding some sanity back into your life and getting someone to cover you when you need well-deserved time off.

    On the other hand, I want to let you know one of the reasons for my loyal readership is if I post a question, I know you will read and answer it. Thank you so much, and I hope you find a way to continue that without sacrificing your personal life.

  72. From my perspective, you DO have the best job in the world! Just don’t let it burn you out. Your readers are telling you it’s ok to cut back on volume and/or frequency which I agree with. Always enjoy posts written by your travel companions. Take more friends and have them write! One idea to source content that someone else could pen could be to examine and repurpose some of the intel you gather thro the booking service. I bet there’s lots of gems there. You need a regular and predictable break…find a way to get it before you stop having fun.

  73. Nooooooooo……. just look at your competition’s site. I rarely even look at the Points guy or Frugal Traveler anymore because their contributors are not the voice I want to hear. If you need to go this route (for sanity) , once every couple of weeks is okay.

  74. Glad to see that you listen to me… 🙂

    Anyway, I agree with many of the posts above. Don’t be afraid to have fewer posts some times. Don’t dilute your blog with inferior content.

  75. Ben- No guest bloggers, please. We know where to go to get that already, and If they had anything great to share, wouldn’t they have their own blog??

    What about not posting anything on weekends, except for “urgent news”? I think we all wouldn’t mind that if it meant keeping the quality high. Then if you still wanted to work a weekend, you could just save and release that material during the week when you wanted/needed some time to do other things.

  76. An occasional blog post by a guest-contributor (weekly or bi-weekly) is not going to kill your brand especially if it’s written by a person who knows you well and/or has a similar tone (like Tiffany); you can also edit posts and/or insert snarky editor’s comments in the text.

  77. First of all, I applaud you for trying to figure out how to have a little more balance. It’s good for the soul. For the blog, here are my thoughts:
    – Don’t dilute the brand. This blog is so popular, I believe, because you have great content, are honest and helpful, and seem to care about what you do and how you can teach others. There are several other blogs who got big and now they have contributors who don’t provide good content. I’ve stopped reading those.
    – Be very specific about what you want contributors to cover. I like the idea of a small number of people who each have a specialty, and/or a trip reporting function. You need to retain your voice and there’s nothing worse than having that voice change drastically.
    – Make it very apparent who is posting. Maybe have an intro section where you’ve written a short bio for that person in front of each post.
    – Consider having pre-designated slow times. I’d love to know in advance when those are, and I think most would rather have that than a big blog personality dilution as in many comments above.
    – Not really related, but be sure to appreciate all the kind words. We love your blog. It’s the only one I really read any more.

  78. I agree with the other readers of quality over quantity. Once in a blue moon a special poster is ok, but we come here to read your work so maybe cut down on the amount of posts rather then outsource.

  79. The most important thing is to live your life and be with the people you care about. Your parents aren’t getting any younger. You have a special window of opportunity right now. You don’t know how long that window will stay open. So, use your passion and your skill for time with family. If you and they love traveling together, then go for it.

    Do what it takes to balance work with time for family and friends. It will keep you fresh. I trust you to find good contributors. But, please, choose contributors who add something new instead of being a Lucky-wanna-be (sorry, but Andrew was a snarky, pale imitation who provided no useful info). There’s only one Lucky. Find contributors whose knowledge you respect and who will help you to take your blog in new directions. Change is inevitable. Just stay in charge so it is good change.

  80. Count me as a vote against guest contributors (look at what happened to TPG- content has massively declined since he brought on a staff). If you have to write fewer posts as a result so be it- quality over quantity.

  81. Quality over quantity, I simply wouldn’t bother posting much of the content on promos etc that every single Boardingarea site, plus every other frequent flyer blog in the world posts unless you have a unique point of view on it that’s not represented on the other blogs. Oh, and please please stop using the meme pictures in some of your posts.

  82. Work – life – balance, my friend. You should do some reflecting and figure out what you would like your days to look like. It seems like most people all have the same opinion, which is we like you. A lot. We want to hear your voice. Occasionally, as you have done, you can throw in someone else, but please don’t make it a habit. It is okay to disconnect and even do it once a week routinely. We will still love what you have to say. What no one wants is for you to burn out and to stop all together. If you are looking for permission from your readers to slow down your pace of life a bit, I hope you get from these comments that the answer is a resounding YES, it is okay.

  83. It’s good to think about the future but 10 years down the line, if you’re not blogging, what else would you be doing?
    Also, it might be worth taking a few days off because it does feel like you have been churning out articles (despite you mentioning that you try bit to). Personally I felt a lot of the posts recently have been quite ‘samey’ so maybe a few days off just to refresh your mind would be good. Check out a nice spa or something but this time, don’t blog about it :p
    On another note, I only really come here to read your posts, allowing others to right on your blog could dilute the content. Would you also share some of the monetary gain from their posts too? It seems very complex to me.
    So after this ramble I guess I’m saying…take a break, or perhaps a chocolate bar

  84. I think its a good idea. You need to stop and smell the roses. I love your blog, in fact I just linked to your blog in one of my postings. You have been very helpful for travel personally, which fuels my blog in the long run. Keep up the good work, and if that means having someone fill in a piece here and there, then bring it on. I hope you do this and really enjoy the trip around the world with your dad.

  85. You really should have added a voting option for this one!

    I am happy for guest posts but like others have suggested, I would make sure they keep the same ‘vibe’ you use.

    I enjoy reading your reports for the quality of the photos, the detail and lighthearted nature. Keep those and I would keep reading…..

  86. The risk is that it becomes another tripadvisor, but a friend of mine has started a website which is like an edited and curated tripadvisor, where anyone can contribute, but where they edit the content before listing it. If it doesn’t fit the criteria of the website (which is a travel website too) it doesn’t go on. They also correct typos and reserve the right to edit it down if they feel it’s too wordy. It’s a small website but very good looking and good fun. jov.io (if you want to check it out). Cheers. The Gaffer.

  87. Hey Ben,
    Enjoy reading your reviews, especially the relaxed writing style. I’m dangerously close to retiring, but was among the first male flight attendants back in the early 70’s with TWA. (flew on and off for 27 years). There’s not a book in me, but have interesting story’s as well as able to shed insight into the F/A job from an insider perspective. (Yes, they are talking about you behind that closed curtain). In my current job supporting the hospitality industry, could also shed some unwelcome light on hotel hygiene, industry news, etc. Currently, as an 850K miler on a major carrier, I could also share some insights there as well. Can’t rival your current F and J experiences, could only share what once was…not sure if there’s really any interest for this, but let me know.

  88. It’s interesting to see the wide range of yay’s / nay’s in the comments to your post. I enjoy your blog very much but also empathize with the fact that you simply can’t keep doing this for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week much longer. I think all of your readers would agree that the last thing we’d want is for you to get burned out and stop doing this altogether.

    A lot of other commentors have referred to other blogs who have gotten to a similar point you’re at, brought in contributors, and then the blog has “lost its way.” I see that as being less of a risk with you – frankly it wasn’t the new contributors which made other blogs go downhill, but rather more of a case of their founders simply losing interest, turning too much of the day-to-day over to somebody else, etc. I don’t see that happening here.

    So I’ll add my voice to those who would encourage you to bring outside contributors to here, particularly if they can focus on other products/services/parts of the world which you traditionally haven’t.

    Keep up the great work!

  89. Ben, we read your blog for you, not guests…….. to me not posting every day would not be an issue.
    Like many non USA readers there is a lot that we do not bother to look at as it does not apply.

    Internet:

    Remember that a lot of the third world has very poor connections, you are missing out of some wonderful places if you do not go there as there internet is poor!

  90. Agree that I read this for your POV and that less entries would be fine. A few thoughts:

    1. Guests are ok once in a while. Just clearly marked as guests.
    2. Maybe publish on a schedule so we know when to come? Mon, Weds, Fri, Sat?
    3. Consider a shorter format for the easier/newsy stuff. When Qatar delays the A380 for the 14th time, you can just note it and post the “eye roll” emoticon. Would save you some time.

    It’s totally fair for you to want more time to enjoy the world.

  91. Ben,
    If you are feeling like you need breaks from the internet or true vacations, you need to take them. I have enjoyed the few people you have had write guest posts on your blog. I am sure you could pick a few guest posters that would not change the quality of your blog.

  92. Ben If you write less often, my work productivity would increase! That said, I’ve enjoyed your occasional guests (go Andrew B!) and wouldn’t object. You should feel like you can go off-line at times and take a break when warranted. We’ll somehow survive (ok, barely). 😉

  93. +1 for “Quality over Quantity”. While I’ll miss the frequent posts, I will certainly get a lot more work done throughout the day & I’m still going to read regardless of how many posts you make in a day/week/month.

    Sean M stated it best: your blog is “Brand Ben” don’t dilute your brand.

  94. Everyone else has already said it, but the answers are:

    Yes, you should take a vacation. You’re not going to piss people off if you take a vacation and have scheduled posts.

    No, you should not have regular guest contributors. I used to read FTG & TPG every day until they both became completely worthless to read. They have no original content (all just regurgitated stuff) and most of they time they have errors in their posts that have to be corrected by the readers/comments. It’s just low quality stuff. No, in conjunction with my answer above, if you wanted to have guest posts while you took a few real, actual vacations a year, that would be fine. But, to have one or several every week/month would eventually turn into more and more guest posts. That’s exactly how those two I mentioned above started… Occasional guest posts turned into occasional “owner” posts.

    As soon as I see that happening, I’ll be moving from a daily reader to a former reader.

  95. I put off reading this post for a day and a half to let the comments build…just finished reading it and all of the comments…several valid points on both sides, but I’m definitely in the camp of LESS POSTING more LIVING when you need to…your blog is IMO unique and just so damn enjoyable to read…It was not my first points blog, but now it is the first and last that I go to in the morning and at night…I would rather pull it up and see that nothing new has been added to it for a bit then have the quality and your style/sense of humor/”branding” jeopardized…With that said, you must do what you feel is right, of course…fingers crossed that it works out for you either way…

  96. Taking a break to reevaluate your future is a smart move. In my opinion, work/life balance should be more life and less work. You are in a unique position though as one of the top BA bloggers – you could easily go out on your own and build your own network if you wanted to – a sustainable business for the future with various revenue sources. As evident from the many comments above, you have a loyal base supporting you. I’m not sure what your BA requirements are but I can’t think they require 5-6 posts a day – maybe one, although you may have a page view requirement elsewhere? So it all depends on what you want in your life – build your life out and then fit the work in. You are lucky that you can do that – most of us have the work and need to fit our life into that.

    As for the guest posts – I’ve enjoyed them as they give readers a bit more insight into your other roles – as a son, a friend, etc. and are more personal. If you add outside contributors they won’t be personal, but will show some insight into other bloggers you like/want to help, appreciate their views or highlight your readers who want to share their insights (as many have offered above).

    Your blog is the only one I read consistently and I marvel at how you can sustain it each day – I can barely post three times a week but I now schedule posts when I travel and can easily disconnect while away (no laptop, no posts, etc) but then again, I remember the days before mobile phones and internet so it’s not that hard for me to do a digital detox. I do hope you find the answers you were seeking – either way, I’ll still be reading.

  97. I agree with the “less is more” group. I love your posts, but I think that if you cut back on them you would maintain the readers and writing/quality.

    I also think that a guest every week would not be out of the questions, especially on a low traffic day.

    If you can get to a point where you don’t mind a long haul flight and can appreciate the beauty of the internet free parts of the world you’ll be a lot more relaxed.

    Good luck!

  98. This is a really tough decision.

    People come to a blog for a specific perspecitve, voice, and opinons. There are obviously a lot of people who like your perspective, voice, and opinions. Guest contributors, no matter how good, are not the same, and are not why people come to the blog. Even though the guest contributors you have had are generally very good, they are not you. (We make an exception for your parents; they are amazing — I will read anything they write.) You’ve carved out a niche in the travel blogs world, and people come back for it.

    Generally, I agree with the people who say quality over quantity. But I recognize it’s hard to balance the breaking news parts of being a travel blogger (SQ reservations are being transitioned to a new system and J/F are wide open! LH flights to YYZ/YVR are wide open! JJ is releasing/eliminating F!) and the detailed trip reports that build up a library of good advice for travelers.

    I think you could reasonably expand to other areas that are outside of your general coverage, particularly in hotels (groups like Four Seaons, Ritz Carlton, Banyan Tree, Aman, Six Senses, LHW), but I generally don’t think your reader base wants to hear about Jet Blue, Southwest, Ryanair, or Air Asia. A good idea might be to ask for guest posts in areas you don’t cover, but with no promise to actually post them unless they are good. Level of detail and photography in guest posts is generally not good. Also, we need to know that you think the content is worthwhile for us. If you do, and it is, and you vouch for it, we will read it and like it.

    The more travel blogs you read, the more you realize that there is a lot of garbage out there. I trust you’ll figure out a good balance between good content and frequent posting. (Please do… all your readers want to keep reading this blog.)

    Tom

  99. As someone who started reading you casually a few years ago while reading other blogs more, I can testify your unique style is why it is now the inverse. I skim other blogs, but if I miss a day of yours, I go back and read every post I’ve missed, even ones on topics that aren’t really relevant me. I enjoy your writing that much. I would hate to see this blog turn into a Million Mile Secrets “interview” of the week with hardly any of your content any more. I have enjoyed your few guest posts, but wouldn’t want to read those weekly.

    Maybe you could try doing what Frequent Miler recently did when he went on vacation – he scheduled some “best of” posts to rerun while he was away. You could also schedule a few new pre-written ones to post in your absence. I also support the idea of getting someone to help filter the emails you get – maybe the simpler, repeat ones could go to someone else, while the ones that are more in your wheelhouse would be worth your time to answer.

  100. I would rather have access to less posts (all written by you) than have a bunch written by other people. You are the only blogger I follow. I have read various other but they are just not for me. I really didn’t enjoy any of your past collaborators, other than you dad and mom in their bday trips, those were real and fun to read. The other ones in my opinion just tried too hard to be funny in the first lines of their posts, and that for me was false.

  101. I’d say if you do bring someone new on, make it be someone you trust and is knowledgeable, who can still have his/her own identity and brand of posting, and can still keep the content quality up to where you have it. Have it only be one person at first and have a trial period. I’d stagger the posts so we get a constant stream of stuff rather than have it come out in huge lumps or none for a long time, and that should give you some more time for yourself and your family. That’s how I see it, at least…

  102. Enjoyed reading everyone’s perspectives here. My thoughts are:

    – If you do have guest bloggers, maybe have some way of quickly/easily identifying posts that are written by them (a graphic/special title/etc.)? That way, folks who don’t want to read it can just skip.

    – If you’re going to cut back, maybe try taking weekends off every now and then, and see how that goes.

    – Don’t become TPG! (I think you already know this.) Your blog is great because it seems like it’s written by a human and not an SEO robot.

    – I may be a bit biased, but I think Tiffany is a great guest blogger because she knows her stuff and is a great writer.

  103. You’ve already got the right formula. FTG was the original, but now has become a joke. TPG used to provide good content, but now is very pretentious and out of touch with his readers. He jumped the shark when he got his dog. I wouldn’t doubt if he starts signing autographs and has his dog write some posts.

  104. TPG and FTG are unreadable. Less is more. Don’t dilute the “Lucky Brand”. I like the idea of “Best Of” posts.

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