September 2015 Valerie & Valise Income Report

I can hardly believe I’m back to writing another round-up post for the month — where on earth did September go? For me, I suppose it was a flurry of work and travel, which is exactly what I would hope to be filling my time with if I’m making this travel blog thing my career (though I can’t deny that I wish the “work” part had been more focused on my blog and less on the day jobs I do to pay for my travel!). I digress; here we are again, and let’s try and learn something from this month that’s flown by, shall we?

Blog Performance Last Month

  1. Gaining 500 new Twitter followers was an ambitious goal, and I probably could have achieved it with a bit more focus on the work necessary to accomplish it: Tweepi is an incredibly effective tool for day-to-day management of Twitter, and I was doing it about once per week instead of 3-4 times per week. Despite that, I had a 250 follower increase on Twitter. Not too shabby, given my shabby effort.
  2. I did pitch my first print publication! It was so nerve-wracking — I wrote the pitch and let it sit in my inbox for about a week before sending it over. Unfortunately, I never heard back from that editor, but I know the story is interesting, so I guess I’ll keep trying!
  3. Ugh. My book and mentorship program ideas are seriously the most stressful part of my blog right now — figuring out what to do with all the ideas I have and getting them off the ground. I didn’t make any progress here, but I really hope to in at least some part by my Blogiversary (October 21 — who’s getting excited?!).

I’m not surprised this month was contractionary — after a great summer, I’ve really struggled to stay focused and committed, and that’s reflected in basically every aspect of my blog’s performance. I’ve been saying that I’ll get out what I put in, and it’s totally true. For those who’ve stayed committed through this month of my own lack of commitment — thank you. I’ll be working to do better in coming months, I promise!

Blogging Lessons Learned Last Month

I think a lot of the things I learned this month are ones I’ve been in the process of learning, and I have a feeling that by stating them here, I’m admitting publicly that these are a work in progress. It’s hard to keep the “passion” in your “passion project” when you’re trying to maybe turn it into a business too. It’s especially hard when you don’t have a good map for where you’re going (see Goal #3 for October).

  1. Take Breaks – Right now, I’m writing this post from 35000+ feet en route back to Seattle after a week-long trip to New England. I couldn’t find the motivation to write each day, and I was really beating myself up about it. I sat down today and have been cranking out posts like a mad-woman — sometimes you NEED a break in order to be productive, especially in the creative arts (yes, writing is a creative art!)
  2. It’s Okay to Be Lost — Temporarily – This is actually one of my travel mottos, which I’ll come back to later… 😉 I find myself occasionally feeling completely lost about this blog and where I’m going and what I’m doing — and that’s OKAY! As long as I’m working to learn from the lost feeling and re-find my bearings, it’s all part of the journey.
  3. Don’t Let Your Sponsored Posts Pile Up – This is something I’m learning the hard way: I traveled a LOT this summer, and built up a back-log of posts for my partners. Unfortunately, that’s meant taking several weeks to do only sponsored posts. Nobody likes that!It’s best to do sponsored posts ASAP after completing the assignment — learn from my mistake on this one!

Blogging Costs Last Month

It’s hard to believe that in the business world, “Q3” ended yesterday. I wish I felt as though I had three quarters of a year’s worth of lessons from running my blog and tracking my expenses, but I honestly haven’t looked as closely at all the data as I should be doing if I consider this a business. I think a yearly financial report may be due to my investors (aka ME!) in a few months.

ItemRaw Amount% of Total
Facebook Ads$4.000.3%
Google Ads$0.000.0%
Pinterest Ads$0.000.0%
Twitter Ads$0.000.0%
Total Spent in Month$1355.12

Line Item: Administration

Nothing to see here! I predict something here next month though — my domain is up for renewal!

Line Item: Facebook Ads

This month, I spent just $4 on Facebook ads, which shows you I definitely failed on my predictions for September of sharing and boosting more often. It’s no surprise then, that my traffic was down — though Facebook isn’t the most efficient, it’s pay-to-play, and if you ain’t payin’, you ain’t playin’.

Line Item: Google/Pinterest/Twitter Ads

I skipped spending on any of these channels because of their poor past performance (and the fact that August’s spending was a bit unique). Maybe I should remove these from the table, or just combine it all into an “Advertising” line item?

Line Item: Giveaways

Okay, I marked no spending here, but I did start gathering items for a giveaway sometime in the future… maybe in the next few weeks even (hint: BLOGIVERSARY!!). Definitely will have more to report in October.

Line Item: Store

Still not spending on my Etsy store… that’s on my “Someday” list to figure out. *sheepish grin*

Line Item: Travel

I guess it’s a good thing that almost 99% of my spending is in the category I claim to be a bit of an expert in. Still, that’s a painful number — I only took one 8-day trip, and that doesn’t even include some expenses in advance like airfare and a few hotel expenses. Traveling, why you so expensive?!

Line Item: Other

Buffer, per usual, is my main expense here. I also counted a bit of spending I did in NYC at the post office, since I was buying stamps for the postcards winging their way to many of you. It seemed like the correct category in my mind.


This month was even more expensive than August in terms of spending, but not in the areas that are most necessary to grow my blog as a business. Maybe I need to think about my priorities, because saying that makes me wonder: if I’m not spending it on travel, I won’t have anything to write about in the first place, right? Existential issues are at the forefront of my mind about my blog (and beyond) lately, if you can’t tell.

Predictions for October

  1. Giveaway spending!
  2. Relaunching the store in some form!
  3. Condensing the Ads items and spending at least $30 across all available channels. Just gotta do something, ya know?

Blogging Goals This Month

  1. Plan & Execute a Blowout Blogiversary Party! – Okay, it’s not going to be a real party, but there will be real party favors! I’ve got a TON of stuff that’s been going on behind the scenes, and some really cool partners for a bunch of giveaways. (Are you a brand/company/blogger? Want to partner with me for this giveaway and gain additional promo? Email me!)
  2. Pitch TWO New Print Publications – Now that the first one has happened, it’s time to keep up the momentum.
  3. Come Up with a Project/Business Plan for Q4 and Q1 – I’ve been feeling slapdash in my blogging, and I’m tired of it… I have things I want to accomplish, and I need a plan if I’m going to accomplish them!

So that’s me… How was your month?

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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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