May 2015 Valerie & Valise Income Report

May has already come and gone, ushering in Summer while we were all heads down thinking about our businesses and blogs. My, how time is flying! Here’s the latest update on all the fun stats I’m tracking.

I’ve enjoyed the month of May as much as I have struggled with it: I’ve spent time soul searching; writing and purposefully not writing; connecting with many of you through comments, email, and social media; and much more. I’m hoping to “release my findings” soon, but until then, I figured I should do my best to keep some of my more common columns running.

Blog Performance Last Month

I had been feeling depressed about May — most of the month I wasn’t pleased with how much I was writing, what kind of engagement I was getting, and much more. Then I sat down and wrote what I thought I had succeeded at –I crossed 3,000 pageviews (by a lot!), arranged my first tourism board trip (Indianapolis), snagged a sponsored trip, and was published in Yahoo Travel. All of these things were goals I had but didn’t necessarily know I had, and which helped me see how the month was a success. There’s always room to improve, but I think I’ll keep at it… for now!

May 2015 Infographic

Blogging Takeaways from Last Month

  1. Have non-quantitative goals – Sometimes, I get so obsessed by numbers that I forget that there are plenty of things I want to accomplish — and things other people think are really cool — that can’t be measured. Yahoo Travel was one of those things; it took 8 months from first meeting to publishing, but it was totally worth it.
  2. Write what you love – I’m going to be writing more about this point soon, I hope. Just don’t forget that if you don’t love it, why are you doing it?
  3. Brag, often – feel free to brag — heck, I’d love to hear all your accomplishments this month in the comments below. Sometimes, we have to allow ourselves space to brag to realize how much we accomplished, and what really matters. So indulge, even if it’s just once a month.

Blogging Costs Last Month

Here are my expenses for travel blogging this month. For those new to the column, you’ll remember I’m sharing only expenses associated with my blog and traveling. I also work a full-time job so this definitely isn’t all I do to stay financially successful. I’m providing this to help those out there curious how much is “normal,” or how much to spend. This is just my own experience, and recommendations are solely for myself (though I’d love to hear your results if you try things I’ve suggested!).

ItemRaw Amount% of Total
Facebook Ads$30.0016.0%
Google Ads$0.000.0%
Pinterest Ads$0.000.0%
Twitter Ads$1.000.5%
Total Spent in Month$187.12

Line Item: Administration

I didn’t spend anything to keep my blog running… just my time!

Line Item: Facebook Ads

As I predicted last month, I spent $30 on Facebook ads (or will have by the time the month ends). This helped me see a ~15% bump in my Facebook fans, and tons of engagement and increased reach. I feel like I spent a lot, but I definitely saw results. We’ll see how long I’m willing to keep spending at that level though!

Line Item(s): Google, Pinterest Ads

No ads on Pinterest on Google — I know I had predicted a bit of Google testing, but honestly it never crossed my mind. I just ran out of time and had other things I was working on. Maybe it will happen next month!

Line Item: Twitter Ads

I spent a grand total of $1.00 on Twitter, testing a “follower” campaign. For me, it was totally useless — I know free ways to get followers who actually stick around, and I didn’t get any engagement to justify the cost. I’m not planning to spend any more on Twitter, unless I’m running a specific campaign I want to promote.

Line Item: Giveaways

I did a giveaway this month that cost nothing to run, but which I had to pay for in shipping the awesome prizes. I hope all the winners think it was worth it!

Line Item: Store

I added two new prints to Etsy at $0.20 a pop. Annoyingly small amounts to pay, but worth it to keep adding fresh photos to my listings there. You should check them out!

Line Item: Travel

While I was in San Francisco, I ended up using only cash while traveling… that made it mighty easy to keep track of my spending on the road! Also, I didn’t end up traveling for Memorial Day, and while I’ve got some more travel coming up, I’m not having to spend for it yet. *Spoilers*

Line Item: Other

I spent my standard $10 for Buffer, and $20 for SumoMe’s List Builder Pro… which I haven’t used once since getting it. If there’s anything I do want to try and do in June, it’s spend a few weeks testing that technology!


I haven’t yet run all the stats for my social media this month, but I’m guessing that the growth I saw there was primarily the result of spending — I greatly appreciate getting good results for my expenses, but I wish there were magical ways to grow my following, ya know? I feel like others figure out the secret sauce, but I’m still testing!

Here’s what I learned

  1. Google Trends is your best friend if you’re going to do any boosted posting on Facebook: research the topic, find the countries that look for that kind of info, and boost only to them. You’ll increase the value for those people, and improve the performance of your campaigns.
  2. Twitter is useless for advertising. I knew this already, but it’s still sad it only took $1.00 for me to confirm it again.

Predictions for June

  1. I’d like to spend $25 on Facebook ads this month. No need to get crazy, but I’ve had some good results and can keep my expenses limited to still see growth.
  2. Test SumoMe List Builder Pro to optimize my pop-up. Not that it’s not awesome, but there’s always room to improve, right?
  3. Run my first Quarterly Income report in late June — I don’t make much from travel blogging, but I figure I’ve had enough questions that it’s worth sharing. As fair warning, I am going to standardize my data: I’ll only show you the percentage of total earned, not actual dollar amounts. That’s just to protect the relationships I have with the people who help support this project.

Goals for This Month

  1. Break 2,500 unique pageviews — I broke this one this month, but I notice a tendency to alternate “good” months and “bad” months for growth… I want two in a row that are “good!”
  2. Comment on an average of 1 post per day — I did pretty well here (I commented on 29 posts in a 31-day month), but I want to continue making it a habit.
  3. Get 10 new subscribers – Please help on this one — I’m totally stagnating and will never reach my 500 subscriber goal by April 2017 at this rate. If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s a box over in the sidebar. Get to it!

What are your goals for the month? How did May go? See you 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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