Don’t worry – I’m not converting this blog from airline to financial stuff. However it’s still August, and most of my regular audience is on summer vacation, so it’s the perfect opportunity to experiment with some lighter topics that I normally wouldn’t have bothered with in the past. That’s not to say that Ben Schlappig’s net worth is a light topic or anything, but it sure is fun to think about what it *might* be.
For those who don’t know who Ben is, he’s the guy behind onemileatatime.com (OMAAT). He was essentially the guy who brought trip reporting (the written kind) to the mainstream, and he was my #1 inspiration for starting SANspotter.com way back in 2011. To say he’s been influential to me is an understatement, and I can’t thank him enough for inspiring me to chase my own dreams of turning my passion for airline stuff (and travel) into a thriving business.
Just as I did with my recent post about Sam Chui’s net worth, let’s jump right into the numbers first. Then, I’ll follow it up with my thoughts on how Ben was able to find such massive success in this niche in a relatively short amount of time (along with my predictions for his future).
To begin calculating Ben Schlappig’s net worth, let’s break down his annual income:
As a reminder, I’m not a professional financial analyst (trust me – no legitimate company would want me doing *anything* math related). And just like I mentioned when I calculated Sam’s numbers, these annual income estimates are just that: estimates.
However, I feel confident when I say that I am an expert in the business of blogging so these numbers should be fairly accurate. Let’s do this:
- Blog (display ads): $400,000: Of all the things I’m going to guess about the net worth of Ben Schlappig in this post, his annual blog revenue (from display ads) is the one I’m most confident about. Based on how well he ranks for nearly every airline-related keyword in existence, I’d estimate his blog traffic to be roughly 300-400,000 user sessions per month (which is massive). And based on what I know about how much display ads can pay on a high-traffic website such as his, $30-40k per month is not an unreasonable estimate. It could be more actually – and it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
- Blog (referral links): $300,000: You know how nearly every airline points and miles blog is littered with links for credit cards? There’s a good reason for that: getting someone to sign up for a credit card pays extremely well (like, up to $300 per sign up). Anyway, with the amount of traffic OMAAT gets on a daily basis, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that at least 5 people (on average) sign up for a card every single day. It’s a massive source of income obviously, and it’s why he pushes credit cards so aggressively in every post.
- Award booking service: $10,000: Way back in the day (maybe 2010ish), pointspros.com was very likely the largest contributing factor to the growth of Ben Schlappig’s net worth. He built a name for himself as an airline miles and points expert, and monetized it by creating an award booking service called Points Pros. Based on the fact that he never talks about it anymore (and the website hasn’t been updated since 2017), I can’t imagine he’s making much money with it these days. There are most certainly costs involved (which I’ll get into shortly), so I’m just going to assume that he’s not making more than $10k a year with this business.
- Public speaking/seminars: $10,000: Ben is a very good public speaker, and seems to enjoy participating in airline points / miles seminars. He usually does several a year (his last one was in Chicago), and I’d assume he gets paid for giving talks. It probably isn’t much, so I’m just going to assume $10k per year.
Next up in the Ben Schlappig net worth calculation: subtracting annual expenses:
Again, before proceeding, I need to reiterate that these numbers are my own best estimates based on what see him doing publicly (as well as my own experience with full time airline / travel blogging).
- $40,000: content writers: Ben is an absolute madman when it comes to blogging. He posts up to 7 articles a day *in addition* to the articles that he pays others to write for him. There’s a lot of content being pumped out on OMAAT on a daily basis – and most of it is his. This keeps costs down obviously, but there is a danger of him burning out if he doesn’t let go of the reigns a bit and spend more on content writers. Tiffany is the highest paid contributor at this point, as she seems to be the most frequent person posting articles other than Ben.
- $100,000: travel: This estimate would have been *much* higher if I was writing this Ben Schlappig net worth article a year ago. Ben has publicly admitted that he’s traveling less these days, choosing instead to enjoy a slower pace of life at home in Miami with Ford (his husband) and their dog. It’s also worth noting that the only reason I estimate $100k is because he’s paying double by bringing Ford along with him on most trips.
- $10,000: Points Pros staff: Ben gave up daily involvement in his award booking service years ago, and now hires others to run that business for him. At this point, I’m not even sure why he still does it considering the costs involved. Like I mentioned earlier in the annual income section, he doesn’t even advertise it anymore – so I can’t imagine he’s making much money once he pays his staff to handle award bookings for clients.
- $200,000: home life: I know. This is exactly the same estimate I gave in my estimate for Sam Chui, but I fully believe that it works for Ben as well. I already mentioned that Ben is married, and from what we know about his spouse (Ford), he’s obviously the breadwinner in the family. Ford isn’t employed, so Ben’s income supports two people. Then there’s the house – which is safe to assume he’s got a mortgage on it (and if probably isn’t cheap based on his annual income). Note that I include *everything* in that $200k estimate: food, health insurance, etc.
Does Ben have any assets worth noting?
OMAAT is the only airline and aviation blog that I follow religiously. I’ve been reading almost daily since 2010, so I feel like I’ve got a pretty good sense of who Ben is and what he’s all about. However, he doesn’t share very many personal things with his readers, so it’s a little hard for me to guess with any real accuracy as to what his current assets are.
Considering how often he’s said that he has spent an obscene amount of money on travel over the years (more than most any sane human would), I’m willing to bet that he doesn’t have a significant amount of money in savings.
I’m not judging by the way – he’s only 30 years old, so he’s got plenty of time to catch up. Besides – he spent his 20s reinvesting so heavily in his business that he’s at the point where he’s got enough money coming in that he could easily retire today.
Ben also spent many years living out of hotels, which meant that it’s only been recently that he joined the world of home ownership (which means that he probably hasn’t built up a decent amount of home equity yet). With that being said, I’m going to take a completely wild guess of his current assets based on the things that we already know:
How does $200K in retirement savings and $200K in home equity sound? I could be way off, but I’m just going to go with those numbers to help calculate his total net worth.
Based on all my completely wild guesses above, I calculate Ben Schlappig’s net worth to be:
$2.5 million. Now, I’ve got to admit that calculating Ben Schlappig’s net worth was actually a little bit easier than calculating Sam Chui’s net worth. With Sam, it was harder to put a value on his biggest asset (the YouTube channel) because there’s no telling what he could sell it for if he ever decided to do so.
However, blogs and websites are different. People (and large businesses) buy and sell websites all the time, and the most common formula for calculating the value of one is to take its monthly revenue and multiply it by 36. Doing a little math, that puts the valuation of OMAAT at $2.5-3 million. That’s not shabby at all.
Keep in mind that Ben may not be able to get that much money for the blog if he ever decided to sell it, since without him, it has less value. But I’d argue that it isn’t as big of a deal as most people would think.
Heck – when Brian (The Points Guy) sold his blog to The Man, the website has done nothing but grow like a mutant weed year over year with no end in sight. But that’s a topic for another post…
IMHO, Ben‘s net worth is based entirely around the value of his blog. Everything else he’s got going on in his life doesn’t contribute all that much to his bottom line, and that’s OK. As a young kid who built a multimillion dollar business out of a hobby right out of college, I’d say he’s doing pretty darn good for himself.
Want to be an airline / travel blogger as successful as Ben? Here’s how he did it:
I’ve already mentioned several times that Ben has been a huge inspiration for me. And I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never secretly dreamed of getting SANspotter.com to the point where it gets more traffic than OMAAT.
I know. Pipe dreams, right?
However, I learned very quickly that it’s never going to happen without a drastic lifestyle change for me (which I’m not willing to do at this point). To replicate the success of Ben Schlappig, I would have to do 3 things:
- Write multiple articles totaling 3 to 4000 words every day (for years on end with no breaks). EVERY SINGLE DAY. For those of you who don’t write very often, let me just say that even 3000 words a day is superhuman. Yeah, I could probably do it for a week, but my brain would be jelly after that point and there’s no way I could continue. For the record, a typical airline review for me (such as my latest LATAM 787-8 review) is 3-4000 words and it takes 2 full days of laser-focused concentration to put together.
- Have no other passion in life other than airlines. One of the biggest keys to Ben‘s massive success is his obsessive-level passion for the airline industry. It’s very obvious that he lives and breathes this stuff, which is understandable considering the dedication it takes to write 3 to 4000 words a day on the subject. In contrast, even though I also have a deep passion for the airline industry, I have other interests which distract me (often). As a matter fact, I’ve got six other blogs besides this one that I’ve been tinkering with over the years. I can’t stay nearly as focused as Ben can.
- Be Lucky. If you know who Ben Schlappig is, you’re very likely aware that his nickname is (very appropriately) “Lucky”. He’s very open about the fact that he’s been blessed with a little bit of luck with the success of OMAAT, and as an experienced blogger myself, it hits me square in the feels when I see a successful blogger admit that they’ve been hit with the lucky stick on the way up the mountain. Ben was extremely lucky to have started OMAAT when there were very few other blogs in existence like it. Because of this, he’s arguably the godfather of the airline miles and points blog concept – and by being first, it has set him up very nicely as “king” after all these years.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that if you’re itching to start an airline miles and points blog just like OMAAT, you’re going to need extreme amounts of dedication, persistence, focus, and luck. It’s not easy! Although I consider myself to have all of these things (except the luck), I haven’t been able to focus it all on one thing at the exact same time. I guess I’m just not wired that way.
The airline miles / points niche is extremely oversaturated at this point, and making inroads is going to be extremely difficult unless you approach it from a slightly different (non traditional) perspective. I know I can’t do it, so I quit trying a long time ago.
A few final thoughts
Now that I’ve had a deeper look at the net worth of both Ben Schlappig and Sam Chui, it’s interesting to see them succeed in very different ways. While Sam is an extremely social individual who focuses on video to build his brand, Ben takes the opposite approach. He’s a lot more introverted, and is far more comfortable writing than he is being on camera.
The most interesting thing (to me) is that Ben’s net worth seems to be higher than Sam’s. We all keep hearing over and over that blogging is a dead medium and it’s all about video now, but…I don’t agree. Yes, video it vitally important for building online brands these days, but there is (and always will be) a place for written content.
As a matter of fact, I can only see Ben’s reach (and net worth) continuing to grow over the next 10-15 years. As long as he stays on top of current trends and maintains his status as an expert in this niche, his success will continue. And who knows? Maybe he’ll start putting a lot more effort into his own YouTube channel? If he can do video content as well as he writes, he’ll remain the king of this niche for a very long time to come.
I believe he makes a lot of money from affiliate program. But It seems that 40k from just banner ads by ad sense is a lot. Because the people who look at his blogs aren’t very compelled to click on the banner ads. And he doesn’t have many posted per page.
@Jack – If you think he is using Adsense alone, you are wrong. There are many higher paying agencies out there. You might be seeing Adsense for 2 possible reasons
1) He has Adsense as a fall back when higher tier ads are not displayed
2) His network utilizes both custom and higher paying networks and Adsense.
Based on Ben’s 12th year celebration stats (posted in February), he made a reference to gaining as much traffic as the busiest airport in the world (aka ATL). Atlanta saw 110,500,000 million passengers in 2019. Assuming that’s based on page views and using a very conservative RPM of $10 per 1000 page views, that’s just over 1 million in ad revenue for 2019.