May 2019 Valerie & Valise Income Report

Is it possible to create a life and business as a travel blogger?

For the first time, this month I can say yes. After spending more than half of the month traveling and still making enough to pay all of my bills and student loans I finally feel like I’ve earned my stripes as a travel blogger – and I ain’t goin’ nowhere. All those doubts I had about continuing this blog after my 6th blogiversary (coming in October) have evaporated as I continue to grow both my traffic and income – and my love for sharing stories abides too.

For this May Recap, I share a bit more of my thoughts about how much travel and work it has taken to get this far. Whether you read these posts for inspiration or just to learn how this whole travel blogging thing works, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments.


  • Travel: 🛫🛬🛫🛬🛫🛬
  • Blogging: 👌🏻
  • Income: 💰💁🏻💰

Travel in May

When I sat down to calculate my days on the road this month, I was astounded: 54% in March, 50% in April, 58% in May… For the third month in a row, I’ve been ‘away’ more days than I’ve been ‘home.’

I’m not living a nomadic lifestyle – so this is an exhausting balancing act! I feel like I’m constantly catching up and/or preparing the next trip. In fact, I’m writing this on a plane home for less than 24 hours before my next trip starts! But let’s look back:

  • Destinations Visited: 5 states
    • Maine – Bar Harbor & Portland
    • Ohio – Hocking Hills & Columbus
    • Tennessee – Memphis
    • Arizona – Phoenix & Tucson
    • Minnesota – My Parents House in North Minnesota
  • Flights Taken: 9
  • Days on the Road: 18 out of 31

May Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in May was… a tie between a night of stargazing at the John Glenn Astronomy Park in Hocking Hills, Ohio and watching my brother graduate high school in Minnesota. Both were special in that they allowed me to spend time doing what I love or with the people I love.

The worst travel experience I had in May was… listening to some really negative comments about ‘influencer’ travel bloggers at one of the work events I went to, and having to stand up and say ‘no, we are legitimate.’ This wasn’t a travel experience per se, but it was one of the experiences that I had while traveling. It’s disheartening to face that narrow-minded view of what travel bloggers are – and of the hard work I put in to help the partners I work with. As you’ll see in the rest of this post, travel blogging can be a legitimate career and helps people make travel decisions.

Blogging in May

It can’t always be growth, right? One thing I’ve learned is that there are strange seasonal patterns that even change from year to year. While my traffic wasn’t an all-time high (it simply can’t always be!), it was a really strong month – almost the same as April –, and I’m pleased with the end result.

  • Pageviews: 79,792 (↓<1% from April 2019, ↑214% from May 2018 🙌🏻)
  • Unique Visitors: 68,418
  • Traffic Breakdown by Sessions*:
    • Organic: 47,062 (74%)
    • Direct: 9,264** (15%)
    • Social: 6,405 (10%)
    • Referral: 611 (<1%)
    • Email: 51 (<0.1%) 😂

*These numbers will not add up to pageviews, but is a more accurate representation of how I acquired traffic.

**This number grew substantially, and it took some research to figure out why. Google released a new ‘Discover’ tool and the data is now available – but it comes in as ‘Direct’ even though it’s from Google. I’m hoping they break that out better soon.

Posts I Published in May

In May, I worked to keep posting about some of my recent trips in a timely fashion. This hasn’t been my normal M.O. in years past – normally, I wrote what I wanted, when I wanted, all higgledy-piggledy and completely independent of how recently I traveled there. In the past few months, I’ve had partnerships with deadlines I wanted to meet or exceed, and that has required publishing those stories more quickly.

This month, I published two stories from my trip to Zion National Park and St. George, Utah in April: How to Make the Most of One Day in Zion National Park and 3 Days in St. George: A Weekend Among Utah’s Red Rocks. I also published the first post from my trip to Hawaii in March/April: How to Spend a Week in Paradise: UnCruise Hawaii Review. In addition to these posts about these destinations, I published other posts about the same destinations on Space Tourism Guide. I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing Utah and Hawaii notes and photos!

Freelance Writing in May

May was a good month for freelancing too, as I secured several cool assignments – including two that were published. Both were for National Geographic Travel, which felt good since I haven’t landed an assignment with them since 2017. The first was about Where to See the 2019 Total Solar Eclipse and the second about Places to See the Midnight Sun around the world. It also felt great to be writing about astrotourism topics!

May Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in May was… realizing my 2019 blogging goals so early in the year. In fact, I’ll be re-setting my goals for the remaining six months of the year in early July, because I’ve passed some major milestones and want to keep pushing to grow more.

The lowlight of blogging in May was… not seeing the same growth between April and May that I saw last year. In 2018, I had a huge jump from April to May; this year was stagnant. That doesn’t say anything one way or another about how the rest of the summer will go, but I’m hoping June and July both increase again so I can crack 100k pageviews before the end of the year!

Business in May

I am so excited to share this part of my report. I never thought I could make so much from my travel blog – I guess I never really considered at all what I could do as a money-makin’ travel blogger. Cracking this major milestone in my earnings makes me feel like other, bigger dreams might be possible too. All I need to do is keep writing! 💪🏻

May Income Report

  • Advertising income: $1,950 (↓3% from April)
  • Affiliate income: $2,753 (↓1% from April)
  • Product income: $351 (↑148% from April)
  • Other income: $0

Total income for May 2019: $5,053* (↑2% from April)

Months I’ve been blogging: 68**

*This is NOT my only income source. I don’t want anyone to think I’m living off this much while kickin’ it in the Bay Area. I have several other income streams!)

**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 May was… earning more than $5,000 in one month from this wee little blog. While I can’t guarantee this income will stick around month over month, I feel like I can officially cast off the bonds – or even the idea of – of full-time employment in my future. If I don’t want to work from anyone else again, I don’t have to. That is a great feeling. If you’re a fellow blogger reading this and struggling to continue in the face of no income, know it’s possible to struggle through to success.

The business lowlight for May was… no other forms of income. As recently as three years ago, my level of traffic would have made me a candidate for sponsored posts, social media promo, or even ambassadorships. For some reason, none of these opportunities come to my inbox. (To be honest, I won’t go out looking for them either because I am already busy enough. All I’m saying is, if you want a cool ambassador, especially for dark skies stuff, I’m your gal!)

Upcoming in June

Oh, June… why you gotta be like this? While in the past three months I’ve been on the road for 50+%, June is the first month I’ll be on the road 60%! I’m spending time in Minnesota, Arizona, and have three 3-day trips in California planned!

Thankfully, there are a few rays of light:

  • Mr. V is a saint and supports me on this wild journey
  • There is significantly less travel in July (35%) – and no confirmed trips in August and beyond!

One more month of this madness, and then I might catch my breath… or maybe not, since I’ve been chatting with partners in Mongolia, Guatemala, and more!

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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