August 2015 Valerie & Valise Income Report

Summer is sliding right on by here in Seattle; with hellaciously hot days, long hours at the full-time gig, and plenty of fun things happening outside, it’s been a busy month! I’m happy to report that July was a good month — not a great one, but good enough. Here’s a look at the month behind, and looking forward to the month ahead.

Blog Performance Last Month

I went three for three in August on not accomplishing goals! Ouch!

To be fair, these goals were more qualitative, and required bigger time commitments. During my current state of malaise and poor discipline, I’m honestly just starting to try and appreciate that I managed to keep my blog up and running at all. It was a challenge at times, let me tell you!

  1. My GoPro lessons were plagued by GoPro problems — the camera and card weren’t working well for much of the month. Also, I found that while learning to shoot photos well wasn’t too difficult, I don’t naturally think about situations/travels from a storytelling perspective. Based on the recommendation of Elizabeth at Something Saturdays, I bought a book titled ‘How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck,’ and promptly read the first 10 pages. So much work to do still!
  2. & 3. Outlining books and programs and things sucks, let me tell you! I guess some people might have the skills to just organically understand how stories and things fit together in a compelling way, but I’ve always found the concept of short stories and novels difficult to wrap my head around. More on both of these projects in the future.

Following a breakaway June (thanks, The Muse!), July was subdued, while August begins to recover. Actually, I’m understating things: June had ~5100 views, whereas July was roughly equal to May at ~3800, and August is up above ~4100. So really, July was in line with predicted growth, and August is great!

Also, in terms of site growth, August was awesome — it was the first month where all of the stats I track on my site showed positive results. It’s not a lot of growth in each area, but it counts, dammit. And it feels good, especially in light of how blah I felt all month.

Blogging Lessons Learned Last Month

I love doing these posts, because they require me to look objectively at my work and results, and what I learned from them. Even if they’re not helpful for other people (which I hope they are, because they don’t take a small amount of time to write), they’re really helpful for me.

  1. Instagress is the bomb — I picked up this tip in a travel blogger group I’m in on Facebook, and I’m all about this site now. Some people don’t like the feeling of using a tool to manage Instagram, but the growth I saw this month is directly the result of using Instagress to help manage my followers and engagement.
  2. You do you — I’ve been struggling a lot in the last few months to wrap my head around the ways that some fellow travel bloggers choose to travel. The hard part is that we’re all ‘vying’ for a piece of the pie, and the pie is definitely not big enough for everyone. At the end of the day though, it’s all about what you feel comfortable with and are happy with. I’m trying to learn more acceptance — not only for others, but for my own place in this crazy web of people doing this work.
  3. Say yes! — My Jordan bucket list post was written for a chance to win a trip to Jordan; it was a risk I took in doing free publicity for travel companies without much hope of reward. At this point, I think I might have a good chance of winning, but I also know that I did good work: when I push hard on a piece, I can make it successful. That is my most successful blog post of all time!

Blogging Costs Last Month

Waking up this morning, I couldn’t help but look forward to the fact that September is fast upon us and with that comes autumn colors, cool air, warm scarfs and stews, and “magnificent transformation.” Looking back over the last few months, I feel I’ve been unfocused and lax; while my audience has continued to grow at a respectable rate, it’s nothing close to the performance I’d like my blog to have. Like I keep saying: I get out what I put in. But we’ll come to that tomorrow in the ‘month-in-review’ post — for now, let’s stick to the finances.

ItemRaw Amount% of Total
Facebook Ads$11.001.0%
Google Ads$0.000.0%
Pinterest Ads$5.000.5%
Twitter Ads$5.000.5%
Total Spent in Month$1093.11

Line Item: Administration

Nothing to see here!

Line Item: Facebook Ads

This month, I spent $11 on Facebook ads, primarily to promote a few posts (notably the one about my Jordan Bucket List). I meant to promote more, but I find that the best use of my Facebook budget is on boosted posts, and my own commitment to posting (even organically) on Facebook is tenuous at best. Nothing posted equals nothing to boost!

Line Item: Google Ads

I’m working with Google Adwords during my Day Hustle, and let me tell ya, it’s not easy! I won’t be spending my own money on it for a while, I think… though there’s definitely opportunity to get more exposure on some search results if done right; there don’t seem to be many travel bloggers spending on Adwords ads!

Line Item: Pinterest Ads

I spent $5.00 on Pinterest promoting the pin for my Jordan Bucket List (noticing a theme?), and they seemed to do okay… weirdly the social shares from that campaign (or any of the engagement on Pinterest) aren’t showing up in the counter, so who knows how successful it really was. The fact that I don’t know means I’m likely to hold off on more advertising on this platform unless I’ve got a good case for it.

Line Item: Twitter Ads

I decided to try Twitter ads again just promoting the Jordan Bucket List post — part of the competition is based on social shares and I wanted it to receive as much reach as I could. Per usual, Twitter was pretty useless for advertising, but it was only $5.00, so I cant’ complain too much.

Line Item: Giveaways

Still none. I need to get my butt in gear for my 2nd Blogiversary giveaway though!

Line Item: Store

No expenses here, I don’t think. Memory is not at its best, but I don’t have any expenses noted in my budgeting software.

Line Item: Travel

Hello spending! I traveled a lot in August (four of the five weekends) to different parts of western Washington, and these short trips added up to a lot of expenses… especially on food! Eating out is seriously budget-breaking business, folks.

Line Item: Other

Ye olde Buffer, how I love thee. Also, I learned how to schedule pins for Pinterest on Buffer, which is basically the best and again makes up for what I spend on it (in addition to all the other benefits)!


You’ll notice I don’t really set a budget for my travel — I just take note of what I spend. This isn’t the way I used to travel, and not the way I prefer to travel. I like to know roughly how much I’m going to spend, so I don’t get frivolous. I might try making budgets in 2016 and comparing them with my expenses, so that I actually keep my budgets in mind when I’m on the road.

Predictions for September

  1. I’d like to make sure I share at least 75% of my posts on Facebook, and do relevant boosting… I was very bad about this in August, and I feel the pain with virtually no page growth.
  2. Lots and lots and lots of travel expenses for my upcoming New England trip. #worthit

Blogging Goals This Month

  1. Increase my Twitter following by 500 — Twitter growth has stagnated, and it’s really annoying. I’d like to work on this using Tweepi in the coming month.
  2. Pitch my first Print Publication — The hardest part about pitching is finding the right story, matching it to the right publication, and pitching it correctly. I’ve got a few publications in mind, and I’m hoping to have a go at my first pitch by end of month.
  3. Outline and plan the Mentorship Program & Homesickness Book — Blah. I didn’t do any work on these projects last month. I’m hoping to spend a good weekend day in the coming weeks putting hard work in to figuring out what the ideas are, if they’re viable, and what they might look like.

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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