June 2020 Valerie & Valise Income Report

It turns out that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the end – it’s actually looking like sunlight to step into someday.

For the first time since The Before, I finally feel like my blog and my business are in a stable place. As you’ll see, I’ve been fortunate that years of hard work are paying off: my traffic is recovering and my income was at an all-time high.

I know so many colleagues who are not yet feeling that sense of relief and I feel a lot of pain for them. If you’re reading this post and want a small piece of advice: just keep going. As we all say, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint – and includes a fair amount of luck and good timing sometimes. In the end though, self-employment and the freedom it provides is worth all the work, at least to me. Especially during months like this.

Travel in June

For the first time in three months, I actually “traveled” in June! The back story is that Mr. V and a friend wanted to try and summit Mt. Shasta – the mountain in this picture – and I tagged along on the trip. We made the multi-day trip by car to Siskiyou County, which at the time was virtually unaffected by Covid-19. (That’s not the case anymore, likely to many travelers like us and the huge number of others we met who had driven up from hotspots in SoCal.)

We spent three nights up in Shasta, and did a lot of hiking and outdoor activities. The guys didn’t end up making a summit attempt due to the weather, so we instead got to try a few other activities I hadn’t on my first trip back in January 2019.

  • Destinations Visited: Shasta, California
  • Flights Taken: 0
  • Days on the Road: 4 out of 30

June Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in June was… reaching the view pictured above at Heart Lake. Anyone who’s traveled with me knows that hiking isn’t my thing – except maybe it is? I’m starting to come around to the value of hiking, especially when it comes with views like this at the top!

The worst travel experience I had in June was… the guilt of traveling right now. I honestly don’t know how anyone can feel 100% guilt-free leaving their home for non-essential travel right now, especially after the last few weeks as Coronavirus cases continue to grow. I was especially careful to keep track of the days after our trip to try and know when we were outside the highest-probability window for worrying about getting infected.

My June travel highlight from years past was… hard to choose! I’ve had some epic journeys in Junes over the years. From Bloghouse in Scottsdale to my first PCH road trip to watching both of my brothers graduate high school in Minnesota… it’s hard to decide which memory was the top highlight. If I had to choose though, I’d say that my ride on the Rocky Mountaineer in 2015 was pretty fab.

Blogging in June

I’m delighted with the recovery I’ve seen so far for my blog, given how hard I was hit and how many others are still struggling to see their numbers turn around. I’m fortunate that my blog has the greatest authority in road trips, domestic (U.S.) travel, and in Alaska travel – which always peaks in the summer months, even this summer.

Based on the fact that I’m back to last year’s numbers, if my numbers only continue on the same trajectory as they did last year, I’ll consider that a success.

  • Pageviews: 88,585 (↑66% from May 2020, ↑5% from June 2019)
  • Unique Visitors: 77,742
  • Traffic Breakdown:
    • Organic: 80%
    • Social: 10%
    • Direct: 8.1%
    • Email: 1.2%
    • Referral: 0.9%

New Posts I Published in June

While it doesn’t feel like it, I actually published quite a lot in June – including two article updates. Here are the new articles I published, in case you missed any.

June Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in June was… seeing traffic recover to a sustainable level. While traffic is a vanity metric at its core, it helps unlock a lot of other important parts of my blogging business (trip invites, sponsorships, sustainable advertising and affiliate income, etc.). Being back to a level so soon after the catastrophic impact of travel restrictions due to Covid-19 takes a little stress off my mind. (Thank goodness, I don’t have to get a “real” job again yet!)

I’d also like to call out how my email traffic has grown in the last year. I’ve grown from 0.1% to over 1% per month! My 2020 goal is to get it to 2% which will take some real work… but inspiring hard work is why I set goals!

The lowlight of blogging in June was… seeing so many of the articles I’ve written in the past three months stalling out. I wrote a lot of articles that just won’t see traffic until some parts of the travel industry recovers (specifically a big series of articles about Alaska cruising). That wasn’t wasted energy, but I just have to be more patient about it.

Business in June

For the first time ever this month, I’m not sharing my total income; as I stated in my January recap, I won’t be sharing my income above $10k per month – only the month-over-month growth rate.

This past month I had an astonishingly good month of income. This occured for two reasons:

  1. My top affiliate partner (Tieks) ran a special campaign that drove a TON of sales. (Like 6x more sales last month than the most I’ve ever had in a month before.)
  2. There was a Google algorithm update that coincidentally happened at the same time and benefited my site, especially my Tieks blog post.

My income was looking really good without these two things, but my income was mind-blowing with them occurring. (You can check out my May income and do the math if you’re curious/nosy about the total. ?)

I don’t think this level of income will stick around – the spike from reason #1 isn’t sustainable as the campaign is short. I’m guessing it will fall back down to somewhere between my typical average and this number, thanks to the benefit that Google has bestowed upon me. That’s why SEO is king when it comes to blogging – if you do it right and get lucky, you can get a long-term sustained bump across the board.

June Income Report

  • Advertising income: 14%
  • Affiliate income: 78%
  • Product income: 1%
  • Sponsored content/campaigns: 2%
  • Blogging product/service income: 4%

Total income for June 2020: ↑300% from May
Months I’ve been blogging: 81*

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*I’m adding this number going forward 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 June was… smashing five figures in monthly income. Even if it’s not sustained, this past month made up for lost income over the past few months and make it possible for me to keep doing this blogging thing full-time. As the more financially responsible one, Mr. V is also very grateful for this month.

The business lowlight for June was… the continually precarious nature of earning income online. Because my income this month happened for two reasons I have no control over, I spent the whole month waiting for the other shoe to drop (i.e. Google to reduce my rankings and drop my traffic). It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s yet another reminder that diversification is critical for being insulated from traffic and income losses.

Upcoming in July

July is a big month: Mr. V and I are getting married this month! We’re flying up to Seattle next weekend and having a small ceremony of close friends and family – with lots of health safety precautions in place. (Masks and hand sanitizer and social distancing, oh my!) I’m also doing a tiny overnight bachelorette with a few friends in Leavenworth, which will hopefully be a nice break.

We’re also currently planning to do a honeymoon road trip at the end of the month; we haven’t booked anything yet but I’ll be working on that next week.

As I said before, I still feel guilty for traveling and will be doing my best to ensure that everyone and every community we come into contact with stays safe. There’s a lot to consider and plan ahead, but it’s worth it if we all stay healthy!

Are you planning any trips for the rest of the summer? What are your thoughts about flying or traveling right now?

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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