May 2021 Valerie & Valise Income Report

Each time I sit down to write these monthly recaps, I replace the one from a year previous. That means that for the next few months, I’m reliving the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic’s impact on my business – and reporting on my recovery (and growth). This month, like April, is one that gives me a lot of faith that my persistence has and will continue to pay off.

Throw in the fact that I was able to do some final adventures out west as part of our move to the Midwest, inspiring new content and future trips, and I’m feeling inspired and productive after a long, stressful year. Oh, and I now have an office and desk to work at, which is a great improvement from the tiny workspace I had on our houseboat all of last year!


  • Travel: 🚗
  • Blogging: 🏆
  • Income: 🏆

Travel in May

All of the travel we did this month was during our road trip from California to Cleveland as part of our cross-country move.

May Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in May was… visiting Great Basin and Capitol Reef National Parks. Both of these parks blew me away – and got me excited for future trips back out west, even though we’re now based in Ohio.

The worst travel experience I had in May was… leaving the west. While we were pretty tired and ready to get there, it was bittersweet to descend from the Rocky Mountains out onto the Great Plains leaving the great West behind.

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

Last month, I was a bit worried that my traffic levels were abnormal or unsustainable; I’d never seen traffic like that before and with so many people interested in visiting Alaska this summer, I thought it might not be consistent. After May, I’m happy to say that the traffic is sustainable – and I even grew some from April to May!

  • Pageviews: 226,865 (↑9% from April, ↑326% from May 2020)
  • Unique Visitors: 86%
  • Traffic Breakdown:
    • Organic: 83%
    • Direct: 10%
    • Social: 6%
    • Referral: <1%
    • Email: <1%

Most Popular New Post: How to Make the Most of One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park – This post continued to perform well as it lost momentum in Google Discover

Posts I Published in May

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

  1. How to Make the Most of One Day in Great Basin National Park
  2. The 11 Best Things to Do in Monterey for a Weekend Trip
  3. How to Make the Most of One Day in Yosemite National Park
  4. 3 Days on Oahu: The Perfect Itinerary for Hawaii’s ‘Gathering Place’
  5. The 23 Best Coastal Towns in Oregon along the PCH
  6. How to Make the Most of One Day in Capitol Reef National Park
  7. The 20 Most & Least Visited National Parks in 2020
  8. 3 Days in Reno: The Best Things to Do in the Biggest Little City

I updated a ton of posts too, because my traffic has been growing and it’s clear people are interested in traveling again:

  1. How to Visit Glacier Bay National Park in Summer 2021
  2. How to Make the Most of One Day in Zion National Park
  3. 10 Essentials You Need to Pack for Hawaii
  4. The 17 Best Hotels Along the Pacific Coast Highway

I also updated the posts about cruise excursions in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Icy Strait Point once it was announced that Alaska cruises would start again in July.

In my recap last May, “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.” When I said this, I wasn’t 100% sure it was the right strategy, but now I can confidently say it again. I don’t publish basically any content out my destination areas of expertise anymore – and almost every blog post I write ranks well and quickly.

May Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in May was… another all-time traffic high! I was thrilled with April’s traffic numbers, and May went even higher. It feels really great to finally be at a truly rewarding traffic level for all the work I’ve put in.

The lowlight of blogging in May was… watching all non-Google traffic sources continue to shrink. It’s so hard to get social traffic anymore, and referral traffic seems to be dropping more and more each month. While my email strategy is still working well, it’s just no match to my increasing reliance on Google.

Business in May

After the past year, it’s incredibly rewarding to see how my business has recovered and even grown. While I don’t share the exact numbers anymore, I will share that this month was the first five-figure month of the year and there are several more to come!

(Also, it’s worth noting that I shifted my bookkeeping a few months ago and now use on cash, not accrual accounting. So I’m reporting on the income I received this month, not the income I earned – which was much higher.)

May Income Report

  • Advertising income: 38%
  • Affiliate income: 50%
  • Product income: 10%
  • Sponsored content/campaigns: 0%
  • Blogging product/service income: 2%

Total income for May 2020: ↑20% from April
Months I’ve been blogging: 92*

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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… income growth outpacing traffic growth. I have worked really hard to increase my income “deployment” across my site, making it easy for people to purchase through links and providing just the right affiliate endorsements and product opportunities for my audience. That seems to be paying off. Oh, and crazy-good ad earnings from Mediavine (record high!) helped a ton too!

The business lowlight for May was… failing pretty miserably at the goal I set for sponsored content each month. It was my original goal to earn ~$1000 per month from sponsored content and campaigns, but I don’t have great funnels for that kind of income right now.

Upcoming in June

This coming month we have ZERO travel plans – not even within the Cleveland area at this point. Being new homeowners and landlords means we’re dealing with some expenses there; we also have two Alaska trips planned in August (me only) and September (Mr. V and I) so we’re saving up for that trip.

How about you – do you have any travel plans now that the travel industry is restarting again?

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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