May 2020 Valerie & Valise Income Report

Another month of 2020 has slid by; we’re now into June, approaching the halfway point in the year. When we look back, will we remember much at all about this time?

Cognitive psychologists suggest we won’t, though there have been some critically important touchstone moments and milestones – and basically none of them have been good. But that doesn’t mean we should look away, or try to forget.

I personally need to keep some semblance of normalcy, including this monthly recap, as a way to mark that yes, another month of my life and business has gone by. And this is what happened in it.

Travel in May

  • Destinations Visited: 0
  • Flights Taken: 0
  • Days on the Road: 0 out of 31

Like March and April, I didn’t travel at all in May. But unlike March and April, May was the first month where it almost felt a little okay to envision a world with less travel in it. I’m not sure the future will have less travel – or just more inconvenience on the same amount of travel – but personally, I’ve started to shift my mindset about traveling.

For starters, I think travel professionals will need to rethink gaps between our trips, to ensure that any pathogens we bring back from our travels aren’t carried on to another destination. As you might recall, last May I spent two weeks on the road – I went from California to Maine to Ohio to Tennessee to California. That kind of trip puts a lot of people at risk if I happen to be sick and not know it, or if I happen to pick up and carry a bug from one place to another.

So going forward, I’m not necessarily considering how I might go on a two-week back-to-back-to-back trip; I’m thinking how I might plan discreet trips that bring me back home with a gap to recover physically and psychologically. That also feels more sustainable to me as a human, since I complained a lot about being on the road “too much” last year.

All this to say: not traveling sucks. But it’s also allowed me the time to think about how travel will fit into my life in the future.

May Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in May was… a small day car trip to Marshall, California. Mr. V and I planned very carefully to take a few hours’ road trip one day in late May; it was incredible to be on the road, windows down, going… literally anywhere.

The worst travel experience I had in May was… not traveling. But again, I’m gaining a more nuanced appreciation for how travel is part of my life, not the whole of it.

My May travel highlight from years past was… my UnCruise in Alaska in 2017. This was a tough choice since I’ve visited some incredible other places around the world in Mays’ past (Jordan, China, Maine…), but I remember this beautiful sense of calm in the vastness of Alaska that I hadn’t appreciated while growing up there.

Blogging in May

I’m really excited to report signs of life on all of my sites in May, but especially here on V&V. Traffic started to recover this month, as people impatiently researched Alaska travel and road trips down the PCH. Heck, my PCH post alone produced half of the traffic increase between April and May; road trips are so in right now.

  • Pageviews: 53,292 (↑73% from April, ↓33% from May 2019 )
  • Unique Visitors: 87%
  • Traffic Breakdown:
    • Organic: 79%
    • Direct: 9%
    • Social: 9%
    • Referral: 1%
    • Email: 2%

Posts I Published in May

I kept myself busy this month producing a large amount of new content:

You’ll notice some trends here: road trips and cruises. Though I think some travelers will be averse, I’m guessing that the prime Southern US market will be eager to cruise again soon, and road trips are the predicted top summer travel trend right now.

You should also take note of the destinations I’m covering… it’s only the places I’m an expert in (Seattle/PNWAlaska, and SF/California). For my blogger friends reading, I can’t underscore this enough: destination expertise is going to be critical in search engine success going forward. Use your data to understand where you’re an expert, and lean into that.

As you might have seen above, my top new post (last three months) was “Should I Cancel/Keep My Alaska Travel Plans This Summer?” Here’s What I Suggest. After getting a ton of questions about Alaska summer travel, I put this hot take together – it’s a new type of content for me that won’t have a long shelf life, but lets me answer questions through content instead of 5,000 email replies.

May Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in May was… seeing traffic start to recover. After the disastrous and distressing descent from mid-March to late April, I started to notice signs of life on my blog as we moved into May. In the end, May closed out higher than I was even hoping for – and gives me more hope that I’ll be able to get back to January/February traffic levels… by next January/February. ?

The lowlight of blogging in May was… being down year over year. A lot of us bloggers compare our traffic year over year to understand our growth in the long term. Unfortunately, that metric is pretty useless for the rest of the year (and will be next year too, since we’ll likely be way up next March/April/May compared to this year). It’s a bit of a vanity metric – it doesn’t say anything about what actually matters for my business, but it’s a bummer that it’s down.

Business in May

Like traffic – thank goodness! – income began to recover in May compared to the dip in April. What this means in practical terms is that July/August will be the most financially tight months for me, since that’s when all April payouts will be made. But for now, I have the financial stability to weather that storm and look forward to August/September when realized money (i.e. I’m actually seeing it in my bank) will start to improve.

This month’s income is also within the range of what I was normally earning in late 2019, so I’m feeling more like I can “survive” on my blog again.

May Income Report

  • Advertising income: 22%
  • Affiliate income: 54%
  • Product income: 2%
  • Sponsored content/campaigns: 8%
  • Blogging product/service income: 15%

Total income for May 2020: $5,067 (↑103% from April)
Months I’ve been blogging: 80*

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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 May was… seeing income recover faster than traffic! I always say that income falls faster and rises slower than traffic – but I stand corrected by the data this month. This is thanks to amazing affiliate performance, a rapid ascent in ad income (still plenty of room to improve back to pre-Covid levels there though…), and offering a special on blog mentorship that has me working with three amazing bloggers (BrieMarissa, and Jenn!).

The business lowlight for May was… poor product income performance. I’ve diversified to add a lot of products to my site and email funnels in the last few months – including launching a Patreon! – but they aren’t gaining the traction I hoped. As I have a goal to get my ‘passive royalties’ to $500/mo by the end of the year, I’ve got some work to do! (For the record, that number this month was $22… LOTS of work to do.)

Upcoming in June

At this point, I don’t have much planned for June. I’ll be staying home, as Marin county slowly re-opens and ? non-essential travel is allowed again.

It’s my hope that by mid-July, Mr. V and I can travel to Seattle for our wedding. It will be the first trip in five months, and really the first time seeing any of our family or friends in person too. Stay home, wear masks, stay safe – so we can all get back to traveling soon!

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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