January 2020 Valerie & Valise Income Report

Sweet baby January! If you ask any travel blogger who’s been doing this for a year or more, you know that we all pretty much stick it out through miserable autumn months because January offers a bounty of traffic (and usually income) to make up for our hardships.

Last year, I wrote “I’m delighted to share that January was an all-time great month for the blog. So many of you are new readers, I received heart-warming comments and questions, and all the hard work in the past few months is starting to pay off. 2019 is lookin’ real good right now…” Aside from adjusting the date at the end of my quote, I couldn’t say it better this year. 2020 is off to a fantastic start, and I’m delighted to be reaching so many intrepid travelers planning epic trips in the coming year!


  • Travel: 🤙🏻
  • Blogging: 🏆
  • Business: 💰

Travel in January

After a two month break from travel – hello, Burnout! – I finally started getting back ‘to work’ on the road mid-month. I spent a long weekend in Palm Springs for a friend’s bachelorette party, and did another weekend in a nearby Northern California destination. I think 2020 will be a great year for exploring my home state and building my expertise as a writer here.

  • Destinations Visited: 2
    • Palm Springs, CA
    • Mendocino, CA
  • Flights Taken: 2
  • Days on the Road: 8 out of 31 (26%)

Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in January was… a tie between photographing hummingbirds in Tahquitz Canyon near Palm Springs and the fantastic meal Mr. V and I had at Princess Seafood in Mendocino County. I’ve become an old person apparently… 😂

The worst travel experience I had in January was… a three-hour airplane delay. Nothing like starting 2020 with a delay on my very first flight! Luckily I had planned a big gap between my flight and my first activity in Palm Springs, so it was no big deal.

My January travel highlight from years past was… visiting Finland in the heart of winter. Back in 2013, I spent the first week of the new year exploring Helsinki and visiting family further north in the lake district. I still miss those fab Finnish pastries and how sauna is a necessary part of life.

Blogging in January

January, you lovely thing! Thank you for all the traffic! This month I came within a sliver of breaking 100,000 unique visitors (I’m counting it anyway!) and saw growth across the board. I also started to see social media traffic growth – a good sign for reducing my reliance on Google, which is one of my 2020 goals!

  • Pageviews: 118,034 (↑56% from December 2019, ↑112% from January 2019)
  • Unique Visitors: 85%
  • Traffic Breakdown by Sessions:
    • Organic: 77.3%
    • Social: 11.1%
    • Direct: 9.1%
    • Referral: 1.2%
    • Email: 0.3% 
  • Most Popular New Post: 7 Days in Alaska: 2 Weeklong Alaska Itinerary Options

Posts I Published in January

Omigosh I wrote a lot in January – 15 posts in all!

I wrote a series of personal year-end/new year posts to start things off:

I published some new posts, too:

I also started a new series of posts, focusing on where to travel this year and month:

And I updated a ton of old posts:

Freelance Writing in January

With all that writing (plus the posts I published on Space Tourism Guide and another new site I’ve started), the only story I had ‘published’ actually ran in December for SkyNews, a Canadian publication. You can read it here: Between Earth & Sky

Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in January was… cracking 6 figures in traffic! It’s been a long time comin’, baby, and I’m really excited to be here at last.

The lowlight of blogging in January was… missing 100,000 unique visitors by 0.1%. No, I’m not kidding. I only needed about 2 more hours of the month to break 100k. Maybe in March! (February is too short of a month unless some serious blog/Google magic happens!)

Business in January

I’m starting something new this month/year in my income reports. There are two important changes:

  1. I will no longer be sharing my specific income for each category. Going forward, it will always be a percentage of the total. For fellow bloggers, I think it’s more important to show A) my blog is diversified, and B) how my blog is diversified and what the breakdowns are. I’ll still continue to share how much I’ve grown month to month on all categories.
  2. I will continue to report my total income until it breaks $10,000 per month. Between now and then, you can easily do the math if you want to see exactly how much advertising or product/service income I earned – but after crossing the $10,000 per month line, I’ll switch to only sharing the percentage growth from month to month.

I’m making these changes to protect my own financial security. Part of me loves being completely transparent, but even this income report isn’t a peek into 100% of my financial life; I still make a healthy amount of money through Space Tourism Guide, freelance writing, and even a bit of freelance consulting. I also don’t share any of my expenses – personal, business, or travel – so you’re not really seeing the full picture as I’ve been sharing it anyway.

In the coming year, you’ll (hopefully) see my site grow from a healthy five-figure blog to a six-figure blog in gross revenue; never forget:

  1. This isn’t the full picture!
  2. Diversify your income both within your blog and outside it!

Okay, onto the monies.

Income Report

  • Advertising income: 38% (↓1% from December)
  • Affiliate income: 52%  (↑51% from December)
  • Product income: 1% (↓22% from December)
  • Sponsored content/campaigns: 2% (↓92% from December)
  • Blogging product/service income: 7% (↑0% from December)
  • Other income: 0%

Total income for January 2020: $7,371 (↓6% from December)
Months I’ve been blogging: 76*

*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 January was… really healthy growth in non-sponsored income streams. 25% of my income in December came from sponsored content – and I really didn’t want my income to drop by that amount in January. Instead I’ve been able to continue growing the income I make from my readers (through ads, affiliates, etc.) to make up almost all of the difference!

The business lowlight for January was… not selling a single copy of my travel journal. After running ads on Amazon in December to help drive holiday sales, they seem to have completely buried my listing – this is the first month ever that I haven’t sold any copies. Damn you, Amazon! *shakes fist at internet*

Upcoming in February

February promises to be a busy month around these parts. While I’m starting to feel a little burned out on writing so much, I think I have at least another month of creative energy in me before I’ll need a break. I’m hoping to publish at least 8 blog posts in February, and I’m getting back into the groove with freelance writing.

I’m also going to be on the road more in February! I have trips planned to Moab (for a freelance writing press trip), Rhode Island (for a friend’s wedding), and Alaska (for some winter travel research). Busy busy busy 🐝

Do you have any travel plans in February? Questions about this month’s report? Let me know 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.

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