July 2021 Valerie & Valise Income Report

After a few months of limited travel as we adjust to life here in Ohio, July finally saw my return to the open skies and open roads – just in the nick of time!

Not being able to travel has been hard for my mental health and my business, and sneaking in a few trips before the Delta Variant began sweeping across the country helped soothe that discomfort some. While I have a few more trips coming up, it was nice to be on the road and feel like things were almost getting back to normal… for a minute there.


  • Travel: ✈️🚀🚗
  • Blogging: 📉
  • Income: Also 📉

This month’s photos were taken in New Mexico & New Jersey, as well as at home in Ohio

Travel in July

Since moving to Ohio, we haven’t traveled much. It turns out that 1. Cleveland is a really bad place to get direct flights to basically anywhere, and 2. our finances are still recovering from the move and new budget of homeownership. But it wasn’t entirely travel-free: I had a chance to take a last-minute once-in-a-lifetime trip plus head out to the East Coast – a new destination within our reach!

  • Destinations Visited: 3
    • Albuquerque & Las Cruces, New Mexico
    • Cape May, NJ
  • Flights Taken: 2
  • Days on the Road: 6 out of 31

July Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in July was… seeing the Virgin Galactic launch in New Mexico. I took a last-minute and short trip to New Mexico. I put in 500 miles of driving and saw a lot including the awe-inspiring launch. I put together a highlight of the trip on my Instagram profile.

The worst travel experience I had in July was… driving 8 hours each way during a short weekend trip to Cape May, NJ. That’s a lot of driving, but the rest of the trip was great.

My July travel highlight from years past was… celebrating the Apollo 50th Anniversary in Houston last year. I didn’t even have to check my calendar of past travels – that one will always be a highlight!

Blogging in July

Exploring the Cleveland Museum of Natural History – we became members, so I guess we’re staying a while!

After three banner months clocking over 200,000 pageviews each month, the downward trajectory I saw in June continued into July. I can see now that I was affected by the June Core Update that Google rolled out, plus a new wave of increased concerns about travel safety and the natural slowing of interest in Alaska travel planning contributed to my traffic losses. That said, it was still a great month, and I’m proud of how far this site has come since the pandemic hit and travel disappeared.

  • Pageviews: 187,041 (↓7% from June 2020, ↑90% from July 2020)
  • Unique Visitors: 157,627
  • Traffic Breakdown:
    • Organic: 80%
    • Social: 6%
    • Direct: 12%
    • Email: 1%
    • Referral: 1%

Most Popular New Post: The 23 Best Coastal Towns in Washington on the Pacific & Salish Sea

How do I keep track of all these stats? I’ve got an organization system!
Check out my course:
The Blogging Organization Success System

New Posts I Published in July

I didn’t actually publish many new stories in July, though my BOSS spreadsheet is certainly full for the month – thanks to a bunch of updates I’ve been working on. Here are the new posts I did publish though:

Following a survey to my newsletter subscribers, I’m going to shift my efforts to 25% new stories / 75% updating old stories for the remainder of 2021. While I don’t love taking my foot off the gas, I need a break and to make sure my site is updated and accurate for … whenever … we get out of this pandemic and travel returns in full.

July Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in July was… almost doubling my traffic from last summer. I never imagined I’d get this much traffic for real (I mean I dreamed about it, but didn’t ever know it really would happen!), and it feels great to see the returns from all the work over the years. (Even more validating are the emails and comments I get from so many readers!)

The lowlight of blogging in July was… realizing I’m burned out – again. Here’s the thing about burnout: it will always come back if you don’t find a more sustainable way to work. As I haven’t taken much of a break in almost a year, and now run 3x more websites than I did a year ago, it’s no surprise that I’m feeling the need to ease up a little bit. Luckily I have some travel coming up which should help with that!

Business in July

Signing copies of Dark Skies at Barnes & Noble – still part of the job!

As we all know, traffic and income move together, so it should surprise nobody that my income fell as my traffic did. This month,

I’m sharing my raw income amount for the next few months at least, to encourage people to continue working hard toward these real numbers (rather than percent). Please remember though that I run a ton of other sites and freelance too, so this isn’t my only income – though it’s certainly not shabby!

July Income Report

  • Advertising income: 75%
  • Affiliate income: 21%
  • Product income: 4%
  • Sponsored content/campaigns: 0%
  • Blogging product/service income: 0% ← with the impending launch of Site School, I’m going to stop reporting this since it won’t be part of V&V anymore!

Total income for July 2021: $13,002

tRPM: $69.52 (↓14% from June) ← This is a new metric I’m sharing, that I use to compare the value of my traffic month-over-month.

Months I’ve been blogging on V&V: 94 ← Repeat after me: no site is an overnight success.

Business Highlights & Lowlights

The business highlight for July was… staying above 5 figures in income for the sixth straight month. For many of you reading, I know that a five-figure month is a huge goal – it was for me too. It’s equally important to be able to build sustainable income month over month. It’s nice to see that’s possible, especially as I have some pretty strong seasonality in my site (due to Alaska travel being concentrated in the summer) and the next few months might not be so strong!

The business lowlight for July was… decreased income (of course) and increased reliance on advertising. It’s never smart to have so many eggs in one basket, as they say. I’d love to find a few more affiliates that can help diversify my income – and start building stronger product and sponsored campaign income.

Have any questions about this month’s recap? Let me know in the comments!

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Valerie has been blogging since 2001, and has been running her oldest travel blog for a decade. You can find her across the internet on her various niche sites, but she started Site School to help fellow bloggers grow and create better content.

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