Space Tourism Guide 6 Year Report
[CASE STUDY]

Sometimes, you start a project because you see a good opportunity for success. Other times, you begin something new because you just love the topic you’re working on. In the case of my second site, Space Tourism Guide, it was always a little bit of both.

Over the past six years, STG has been a very healthy and productive part of my website portfolio – little though I knew I was starting a “portfolio” when I first began publishing on the site way back in late 2017. As with all of my sites, I think it’s healthy to check in on how I’ve been doing and ensure I have a strategy for moving forward – that’s the core idea behind all of these case studies, even if nobody reads them.

STG Hero

While my love and interest in running Space Tourism Guide may be in the “waning” phase (moon reference, anyone?), I’m still committed to keeping the site active, accurate, and accountable as part of my site portfolio. Below you’ll find a look back over the last six years and specifically the past year to help you (and me) learn for your own sites.

What are these Case Studies?

As a reminder, I do case studies for almost every site I’ve created, at the 6-month, 9-month, and 12-month marks. Then I switch to every six months for the next year; you can expect reports at 18 months and 24 months. If a site reaches its two-year mark and I plan to continue writing, I’ll either continue semi-annual or switch to annual reports. Given the ages of all of my sites, I publish annual reports about each of them currently:

(Links will take you to the full list of reports about that site!)

Fast Facts

Here’s a quick glance at the stats for Space Tourism Guide at the five-year mark:

Date First PublishedNovember 15, 2017
Articles Live (as of 11/1/21)238 (↑50)
Publishing Cadence2-3x weekly
Monthly Pageviews (last month)117,045
Maximum Pageviews (all time)303,254
Average Pageviews per Post700 (↑38/↑5%)
Google Traffic % (last six months)88.9%
Email Subscribers6,314 (↑2,958)

How do I keep track of all these stats? I’ve got an organizational system!

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History & Status of Space Tourism Guide

STG 6yr Chart

I started STG in February 2017 on Medium, but technically consider the beginning of my site as November 2017 when I migrated to WordPress. As you can see, the site grew quickly; I made it into Mediavine as my first site in August 2018 – it’s one of the fastest sites I’ve been able to grow to that level.

Over the past six years, the site has sort of alternated between years of growth and years of stable traffic. Aside from August 2023 where I had a crazy good month for seasonal traffic (thanks, Perseids meteor shower!), the past year has been mostly stable but this doesn’t concern me too much: I’ve got good market dominance in the part of the “space/astronomy” industry I want to cover (“astrotourism”) and this stability in both traffic and income has allowed me to focus on my other/newer sites and projects as my interest waxes and wanes.

Content Structure & Effectiveness

Here’s a chart comparing the number of articles I’ve written in each category with the percentage of pageviews each category is bringing.

As you can see, Stargazing is far and away the biggest category of my site, and brings in the largest segment of traffic; over the past year, the percentage of articles in that category grew from 63% to 71%, and the percentage of traffic from those articles fell from 47% to 45%; this doesn’t worry me much, as the traffic was made up in my Aurora category – which is highly seasonal but really competitive too.

While I’ve wondered a lot over the years about whether it’s a risk to rely so much on this one main segment of my site, it definitely fits with my brand, has less competition, and continues to work as a strategy – so it’s where I’m going to be focusing energy in the next year too. (Which brings me to…)

Strategic Takeaways

I think it’s always important to consider what I’ve learned before setting my next goals, so here are a few thoughts I’ve had while thinking back over the last year and analyzing the data.

Follow What Works/Copy Your Rainmakers

I’ve said this many times throughout running STG (and other sites!), but I highly recommend always knowing your top-performing articles, and using those to inform your content strategy (even off-blog like on social media, etc.). I use my BOSS spreadsheet to do that for every site, and it’s definitely been effective on Space Tourism Guide over the years – hence leaning more into stargazing articles each year.

If you take the time to know your best articles, understand what works, do more of that, and you’ll more than likely see success, especially on the long-term trajectory of running a site.

It’s Okay to Lose Interest and/or Move On

I mentioned this in my five-year recap too, but my personal interest in this project has definitely waned over the past few years. This bothered me for a while, as I feel like STG and my Lonely Planet book are a really important part of my brand and expertise. At the same time though, it hasn’t really produced the opportunities I originally expected or thought I would enjoy (more book/writing opportunities, speaking gigs, trips, etc.), so I have come to accept that this was a successful project that’s smaller than I thought it would be.

My point is this: it’s okay to come and go from your projects, even your blogs, and even when they’re a really important part of who you are and/or what you earn money from. Part of the goal in having a business like this is flexibility and freedom – and that includes the freedom to walk away, if your heart isn’t in it anymore.

What’s Next

As usual in these updates, I like to share a few key areas I’m prioritizing in the next year before I write another case study. Here are three main areas that feel like plenty to focus on.

  • Keep Making Rainmakers – Self-explanatory at this point, this is a key part of my ongoing strategy both in the past and moving forward.
  • Building More Me in the Brand – Over the past year, I’ve added more of my own voice and image in my posts and emails, which I think has helped make STG feel more like a community instead of just an information source.
  • 2023 Content Updates – This is an important part of my strategy too; every year there are articles that need to be updated to ensure they’re accurate and helpful. It’s actually a ton of work, but an essential part of maintaining the site and thus the traffic and income.

So what now? Where should I focus in the coming year, with a baby on the way and less interest in this project than most?

  1. 2024 Content Updates – This is a default part of my site strategy, and astonishingly, working to keep articles updated every 1-3 years (depending on the topic) fills almost half my content calendar for the coming year!
  2. Continue Filling Rainmaker Gaps – I thought I was done with this after this year, but there are still a few more articles I think could help people go stargazing more and ensure I have an increasingly comprehensive site.
  3. Take a Well-Earned Break – As I publish this, I’ve already been hard at work trying to schedule posts for several months “off” from STG while I take paternal leave and focus on my family. I think this might also be good for rejuvenating my interest in the site as a whole! (Which is good, because…)
  4. Integrate SATW into my Site – My Lonely Planet book, Dark Skies, is being released as a second edition under a new name (Stargazing Around the World) in February just after the baby is due. I won’t be able to focus on promoting the book at that point, but do want to ensure my community is aware that the new version is out, and help promote it once I’m back online.

Okay, I’ll wrap this up here, but I’d love to answer any questions you have. Space Tourism Guide will always hold a special place in my heart, even if it’s less than it used to be. Let me know in the comments what more you’d like to know about STG and my plans for it.

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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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