December 2020 Valerie & Valise Income Report

Here we are: the end of 2020. I can’t say the end of the year because 2020 definitely felt like many years to me, including the Normal Time (January & February), the Quarantine Years (March, April, May), That Time I Planned a Pandemic Wedding (June & July), the One Month That Felt Like A Year (August), A Semblance of Normal (September & October), and The Precipice of A Dark Winter (November). Oh yeah, and this month!

December was a mixed bag for me, as you’ll see in this recap. I’m proud of how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come as a business owner/solopreneur on this site, but there’s still so much more I want to accomplish. Read on for this month’s recap – and don’t forget to check out my whole 2020 recap if you want even more!


  • Travel: ✈️🏠
  • Blogging: 😑
  • Business: 💪

Travel in December

While this may definitely make some of you reading really uncomfortable with me, I did travel in December for the holidays. Mr. V and I did quarantine and I got COVID tested before spending Christmas with my family in Minnesota. It was nice to see my family for that time (or for any time) since my dad had a medical emergency earlier in the fall, and we live so far away and can’t even do drive-by visits.

  • Destinations Visited: 1
  • Flights Taken: 2
  • Days on the Road: 6 out of 31 (19%)

December Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in December was… traveling. Literally anywhere. I so miss flights with their tiny seating spaces and tray tables and watching movies on planes and the slow wifi and catching up on work… It’ll come back someday, but for now, I really miss it!

The worst travel experience I had in December was… maskholes while traveling. Most people were complying with mask requirements and keeping distance, but it’s probably no surprise that we did see people not keeping their masks on nearly enough or wearing ineffective covering (like gaiters).

My December travel highlight from years past was… seeing the Orion EFT-1 Launch in Florida in 2014. This was my first NASA Social and my first rocket launch, and the last piece of evidence I need to be sold on writing about space tourism and astrotourism.

Blogging in December

For the first time in years, December was not a growth month for this site. Historically, the final week of the month is what I call the “December Traffic Bump.” This is when traffic starts to rise in advance of January (historically the biggest traffic month of the year) – but this year was… meh.

Instead, it was definitely not the kind of trajectory I hoped to see (though maybe I don’t hope to see it since travel is definitely not helping us defeat this virus!). That probably means it will be a very mediocre January, which I’m preparing mentally for now.

Anyway back to December – it wasn’t a bad month for the most part, but there is definitely! room to improve.

Posts I Published in December

It was actually a productive month despite it being I wrote several new posts this month, if you didn’t see them yet:

I also updated a bunch of posts to get ready for the new year, including:

And I shared some insights into my travel blogging strategy for 2021 if you are curious about that.

Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in December was… creating even in a low, (literally) dark month. I’m so proud in 2020 that I stayed mentally tough and kept creating all year long. It was so challenging at times – including this month when my own seasonal depression came on in full force – to keep focusing on creating content that you, my readers, really want and need. But I still believe I was right that putting my foot on the gas for myself, my mental health, and my business.

The lowlight of blogging in December was… a lackluster final week of the year – and a harbinger of 2021 traffic to come. While travel and traffic will likely grow throughout the year rather than peaking in January and July (for me), it’s definitely going to be tough and frustrating to not use past years’ data patterns to help understand how good my year can be.

Business in December

Despite the fact that I chose not to travel freely like some influencers and my traffic continues to struggle, I’m grateful that my business is solid. For months now, I’ve been able to continue having a solid income due to all those mind-numbing tasks and spreadsheets I use to optimize my income.

*While I am physically and financially able to travel more freely, I believe it’s irresponsible to do that right now and can’t do it in good conscience.

Income Report

  • Advertising income: 43%
  • Affiliate income: 40%
  • Product income: 4%
  • Blogging product/service income: 6%
  • Sponsored content/campaigns: 7%
  • Other income: 0%

Total income for December 2020: ↓2% from November
Months I’ve been blogging: 87*

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*I share this number so you can see how long it has taken to earn this much. ‘Overnight success’ usually requires years of hard work – this blog is no exception.

Business Highlights & Lowlights

The business highlight for December was… income holding steady to carry me over six figures for the year. We’ve done our bookkeeping for the end of the year and with a strong December, I was able to be solidly above that coveted six-figure mark from this site alone. After seven years, I’m really proud of what I have built here.

The business lowlight for December was… ya know what? I don’t have one. My business did well this month, and I want to feel okay with that without looking for something bad that happened.

Upcoming in January

I’ll be honest: there is nothing on my calendar for January. No trips, no major events. We’re hunkering down at the beginning of the month to ensure we weren’t exposed on our trip; after that we’ll be planning for a big 2021, whatever that form may take!

How about you: what do you have on the calendar for January? Anything fun? Give me some FOMO/inspiration in the comments!

Until next 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.


  • Norman

    Glad to hear your numbers are finally adding up! I overachieved my goals (or some of them at least) as well. Need to scale it up a bit yet to make a full living of it as well, tho ;/

    PS: The submit your comment button is not highlighted and only appears via mouse over

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      Sorry I didn’t reply here, and thanks so much for checking this post out — and flagging me on the comment button (fixed!). Here’s to a great 2019 with full-time income-earning blogs! 🙂

  • Gail

    Cool website. Enjoyed your recommendation for how to make the most of a day at Harry Potter Universal. I live in Orlando and haven’t gone yet. You’ve inspired me to go. Thanks.
    Add me to your email list.

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      Thanks so much, Gail! Glad you enjoyed it – Universal Orlando is a great time, and you can *easily* spend a whole day in the Wizarding World. The park-hopper pass is definitely worth it!

  • Renuka

    This is such an inspiring post. I need to learn a lot of new ways to increase traffic on my website and consequently increase my income. Thanks for sharing insights into how you have been working on your blog!

    • Avatar photo


      Thanks for reading, Renuka!! If you want to chat, I’d love to hear from you (hit me up on Twitter, or Facebook). I also have paid services we could discuss if they seem like a good fit. Best of luck for you and your blog in 2020!

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