September 2019 Valerie & Valise Income Report

September! Falling leaves, treating myself to a PSL, putting on sweaters with my shorts for the first time in a few months… (In California, autumn means sweaters and shorts; winter is when I switch to sweaters and pants.) Normally I love September – but this year, it’s been tricky and full of entrepreneurial lessons.

This month’s mantra has been This Too Will Pass, as I’ve watched my business struggle under some factors I can’t control – and some I can. On top of that, I stepped back to recover from travel burnout in September, meaning I’ve been ‘on hand’ to watch these struggles each day. Read on to see what I mean, and learn what I’ve learned this month.


  • Travel: 👌🏻
  • Blogging: 💩
  • Income: 💩💩

Travel in September

September felt like a deep, slow breath – much needed for my mental health and the rest of my life too. If you’ll remember, I was on the road for over 50% of the month for the past six months – including 65% of days in August. Coming in at a glorious 13%, September was a welcome break – especially as October and November are booking up quickly!

I took only one trip this month, for a fun, new type of work, and then eased into life at home. I’m always working to find the right balance, but this is a good correction to the burnout I was feeling last month.

  • Destinations Visited: 1
    • Boston – A super-secret project with Lonely Planet I’ll be announcing soon!
  • Flights Taken: 2
  • Days on the Road: 4 out of 30 🙏

September Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in September was… exploring the Harvard Lampoon while visiting Boston. While working on that project mentioned above, we spent one night in Harvard, including a tour of the Harvard Lampoon. It’s a super weird secret society but one of those unforgettable travel experiences – especially as you can’t take photos inside or write about it!

The worst travel experience I had in September was… nothing! With only four days on the road and no flight delays, I’m happy to report no terrible travel experiences!

Blogging in September

While ‘too little’ travel was a good thing this month, it was an entire month of ‘too little’ – as you’ll see from both my traffic and income. September is a notoriously ‘bad’ month for bloggers, especially in the travel industry. Most of us don’t plan trips in September since we’re fresh off summer vacations and saving up for holiday travel. This means we’re not searching for travel inspiration or information, which in turn means less traffic and income.

Additionally, most of my best-performing content is aimed at summer travel in the northern hemisphere. Pacific Coast Highway road tripsAlaska travel, and even Pacific Northwest travel from Seattle – all of these are warm weather destinations, and as the rain/snow and cold are returning, people aren’t traveling to those places as much. Or searching for that info. This is the trend of ‘seasonality,’ and it also hits my site in September.

It’s just a reality of doing business – but it can still be discouraging to take a major step ‘backward’ after six months of growth.

  • Pageviews: 71,135 (↓21% from August, ↑300% from September 2018)
  • Unique Visitors: 61,239
  • Traffic Breakdown by Sessions*:
    • Organic: 43,932 (77%)
    • Direct: 6,405 (11%)
    • Social: 6,028 (11%)
    • Referral: 707 (1%)
    • Email: 61 (0.1%)

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

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about seasonality in the past month, since of the two factors I mentioned above (the other is Google), it’s the one I can control. I’ll be planning more autumn and winter-specific posts in the coming year to try and insulate myself even more for next year.

Posts I Published in September

What didn’t I publish in September? In addition to five new articles:

  1. A 10-Day California Coast Road Trip: San Francisco to San Diego
  2. 10 Essentials You Need to Pack for Alaska in the Winter
  3. What to Pack for a Weekend Away: My 3-Day Packing List

I also partially or (more commonly) completely rewrote seven old articles:

  1. All the Tools You Need for Travel Blog Success
  2. 6 TSA Tips to Make Airport Security Easier & Faster
  3. 3 Days in Houston: The Best Things to See & Do
  4. The 3 Best Places to See the Redwoods Near San Francisco

So yeah, I was busy writing this month. #dies

Freelance Writing in September

I had the pleasure to work on several assignments for Lonely Planet this month, which y’all know I am always happy to do. As a result, I was fortunate to share some insights from my road trip in Nebraska in JulyWhy a Trip to Nebraska is Surprisingly Wonderful, as well as some tips on the best vegan restaurants in Seattle and in the San Francisco Bay Area. I also wrote a couple of stories that will be published in October. 🙌🏻

September Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in September was… cranking out a serious volume of content. 12 articles in a month (13 if you include my August recap) is an alarmingly large volume of words. But when Google is being nasty, the only thing you can do as a blogger is double down and write that good content you know readers need. 💪🏻

The lowlight of blogging in September was… #&*@ing Google. August ended with a big algorithm update, and there were possibly as many as four more algorithm updates in September, including a huge one late in the month. While my traffic was mostly down due to seasonality, volatile search results and rankings don’t help.

Business in September

As business goes, I was fortunate that there were some really great things that happened this month to make up for my traffic – and my income. Launching Dark Skies, landing some fun freelance work, and meeting up with blogger friend like Ashley from My Wanderlusty Life while in Boston were all ‘business’ wins in their own way.

September Income Report

  • Advertising income: $1,860 (↓20% from August)
  • Affiliate income: $1,263 (↓28% from August)
  • Product income: $17(↓70% from August)
  • Other income: $0

Total income for September 2019: $3,140 (↓24% from August)
Months I’ve been blogging: 72* (6 years! 😱)

*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.

September Business Highlights & Lowlights

The business highlight for September was… Dark Skies finally being published! Even though it’s not directly related to my blogging business, this is my first book – hopefully of many – and a huge boost to my career as a blogger and a writer.

The business lowlight for September was… the financial drought that is September. Despite six years of blogging, I don’t have a ton of historic data – but a lot of fellow bloggers say that this is one of the toughest months for traffic and money. Oh, I feel it. 😓

Upcoming in October

October is an exciting! month. In addition to trips to London and Las Vegas in the second half of the month, Mr. V and I are moving! In September, we bought a 36-foot houseboat in Sausalito named Whim, and I’m excited to start to experience liveaboard life. We’ll be moving onto our new floating tiny home before we leave for London mid-month. It’s gonna be busy around here – especially as I’ve got 12 posts planned for this month too!

Do you have any travel plans in October? Questions about this month’s report? Let me know in the comments.

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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