September 2020 Valerie & Valise Income Report

It always happens in late September – I realize I’m just one month from my blogiversary and start to get all pensive about my blogging career so far and future path. It’s just like in the final weeks leading up into your birthday or the new year, ya know?

This year, I’m about as excited as I’ve ever been to be a blogger full-time. I quit my last full-time job about 16 months ago and have been able to dedicate the time and energy to turning this site into a success in almost every way you measure it. (In fact next month should mark my first 12-month window above six figures!)

Looking back on the time warp of 2020 and September in particular, I’m glad to be getting back to the “travel” part of my “travel blogging” “job.” Everything else went quite well, and I’m excited to check in later this month to celebrate my 7th blogiversary!


  • Travel: πŸ‘Œ
  • Blogging: πŸ‘Œ
  • Income: πŸ₯³

Travel in September

September is typically a travel-heavy month for me; I’ve regularly planned adventures domestic and international during this time. This year was obviously different than in the past, but I was happy to do a few trips – one for work and one for family. Now I just need to plan some trips for fun!

(Obviously, I did have some fun, as shown in the picture on the right. This is me celebrating this year; the photo on the left is me in Munich in 2016!)

  • Destinations Visited: 2
    • Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
    • South Seattle, Washington
  • Flights Taken: 4
  • Days on the Road: 8 of 30 (27%)

September Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in September was… celebrating Oktoberfest-at-home with friends in the Seattle area. Using my friend Ashley’s homebound Oktoberfest guide, Mr. V and I celebrated his best man’s birthday and Oktoberfest in one go. This was with the two friends we attended Oktoberfest with back in 2016, too!

The worst travel experience I had in September was… having to sit next to someone on a plane. Not to be a prima donna, but Delta swears they never make people from different travel groups sit together – and they basically strong-armed me into doing so on my flight to Wisconsin.

My September travel highlight from years past was… my first international trip to London and Oktoberfest in 2011! It’s hard to choose with so many great September-travel memories, but my first trip to London obviously has to be the tops! Other memorable trips include Barbados & Dominica (2018), Dubrovnik & Kotor (2016), and my first TBEX in Cancun, back when I was a baby blogger!

Blogging in September

All things considered, this month went surprisingly well for blogging! It’s not uncommon for me to see a moderate traffic drop in September as the Alaska travel season ends (the biggest destination I cover) and everyone heads back-to-school/work (i.e. no more summer road trips on the PCH). This year wasn’t too bad though – the first two weeks of the month looked rough, but the second two weeks stabilized.

Posts I Published in September

My angst about falling traffic usually compels a giant binge of new articles each autumn, and this year was no exception. I published 7 new articles and 1 update!

I can’t remember when I decided to focus my effort solely on the American West, but I can confidently say that it was a smart move on the part of my past self. I love writing about this region and never have a shortage of ideas for trips and stories.

September Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in September was… having a solid barely-sub-100k month despite the seasonal slump. Past Septembers have been notoriously devastating even though I have no control over the seasonality of my posts, but this year felt comfortably uncomfortable.

The lowlight of blogging in September was… struggling with social traffic. I set some goals to reduce my reliance on Google this year, and they’re just not materializing no matter how hard I work at Pinterest and other social channels!

Business in September

I chose this picture for this section because I think we all need to be a bit more zen this year… but to be honest, I can’t complain at all about my business growth/income this month.

Airbnb rolled out their new Associates (affiliate) program in mid-August and it has been a huge windfall for my income this month. I’ve long promoted Airbnbs here but when I went back to swap out links and optimize my promotion, my audience was even more receptive to them than anticipated.

It’s wort pointing out here that I report my income using an accrual method; I show you what I earned, not what I was paid (also known as cash accounting). So not everything I report each month ends up in my bank account – but the majority of it does.

September Income Report

  • Advertising income: 30%
  • Affiliate income: 49%
  • Product income: 2%
  • Sponsored content/campaigns: 7%
  • Blogging product/service income: 7%
  • Other income: 5% (Photo Licensing)

Total income for September 2020: ↑13% from August
Months I’ve been blogging: 84* (7 years! πŸ’ƒ)

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*I share this number so you can see how long it has taken to earn this much. β€˜Overnight success’ usually requires years of hard work – this blog is no exception.

Also, I’ll remind you that I’m no longer reporting dollar amounts as I’m consistently at or above $10k per month. (I discussed my thoughts behind this in my January recap.) I know everyone wants to see the $$$ amount, but I don’t think this is super informative since we’re all at different levels of traffic and income leverage. Pay more attention to the diversification of my income each month.

Previously, I’ve been nervous about my reliance on affiliate income, but with the addition of Airbnb Associates, I’m more diversified within that category – helping me be a little more secure if anything changes in my affiliate income category.

September Business Highlights & Lowlights

The business highlight for September was… that Airbnb money. They haven’t IPOed yet, but I’ll take what they give me!

The business lowlight for September was… very low sales on my products. I’m looking forward to being able to promote my itineraries and ebooks again next year!

Upcoming in October

I chose these two photos as they represent the majority of what I did in September – and what I plan to do in October. (That is: running a lot, going out from time to time with Mr. V, and staying home most of the time.)

I do have two work trips currently planned, and a couple of other ideas in the pipeline. Stay tuned on my Instagram if you want to follow along!

Do you have any fun plans in October, at home or further afield? Let me know in the comments. Oh, and don’t forget to fill out the annual community survey! It’s the chance to win prizes from moi!

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.


  • Jenn

    Hi Val! Thanks for your interesting and in-depth monthly review. As a still aspiring to monetize blogger, your success in September is still highly impressive to me. Looking forward to meeting up in London in a couple of weeks!

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