May 2016 Travel Blog Income Report (And Traffic, Too)
Maybe April showers really do bring spring flowers!
Last month, I looked at my travel blog income report with panic as both income and traffic slipped backwards in April. I wasn’t sure if “April fools” or “April showers bring May flowers” properly described the results.
I tried to remain optimistic as I knew April was an abnormal month since I:
- Went on two press trips (I normally only do one)
- Assumed the role of fulltime stay at home dad (that means less time working)
- Spent a lot of time working on the beta for my e-course (no immediate income)
I felt like I was cultivating something great though, and I was right. For the first time in 2016, I met both my monthly income and traffic goals in May!
However, instead of celebrating and breathing a sigh of relief, I continue to look forward for areas of improvement. Perhaps this is because I just came back from TBEX North America in Minneapolis and my head is swarming with ideas on what I can be doing better from an improved use of affiliate links to Facebook ads.
I also hit two other milestones in May that deserve recognition. First, I appeared on Charlotte Today for the second time. It looks like this will be a regular appearance. Second, I made print for the first time! I am now a regular contributor to Charlotte Happenings and just completed my fourth assignment with the magazine.
May Goal Summary
So, how exactly did I fare goal-wise in May?
- Make $2,112 from freelance or otherwise – Success!
- Hit 8,000 in monthly traffic – Success!
- Fiction Writing:
- Edit one third of What Lies at Home – Success!
My income came in just shy of my goal at $2,019. It was bolstered largely by income from beta sales of my ecourse – 15 Steps to Sponsored Blog Travel. While this is awesome as it shows not only an interest in my course but also a diversification in my income streams, it also presents my greatest challenge for next month. I don’t plan to open the course up again for sales until after the beta is over, I’ve analyzed feedback, and made changes. I’m targeting mid-July. This leaves a huge gap in June income that I’m not really sure how to fill.
Thus, I plan to look towards my other two areas of growth– affiliate income and sponsored posts. Both are catching up to income from freelance writing with sponsored post income actually surpassing it. This is huge as it’s been a goal of mine to diversify income channels and shrink my dependence on freelance income.
For sponsored posts, I plan to continue to maintain my relationship with IHG and Hipmunk. Longtime followers of my income reports may recall that I dropped Hipmunk last year as I felt the amount of sponsored posts was distracting from the voice and mission of my blog. However, these latest campaigns allow more freedom to write about topics that my audience is interested in – food and craft beer travel. Other than the titles of the posts (they’re corny and dictated by Hipmunk), I’m proud of the content. Besides, they’re driving a ton of SEO traffic. To add to IHG and Hipmunk income, I have several sponsored post opportunities from TBEX to pursue.
Affiliate income is where I can experience my greatest growth potential. Let’s look at an example. A majority of my affiliate income in May came from a single evergreen post filled heavily with affiliate links. At the end of April, I made a few adjustments to that post for readability and SEO. While traffic doubled, income increased by eight fold!
As I learned at TBEX, I’m barely skimming the surface when it comes to affiliate income. I encourage you to follow my income reports as I implement new tools throughout the blog to further drive affiliate income. I plan to share not only my success, but also the specifics tools I’m using.
Business Operating Expenses
While my income for May was quite high, so were my expenses. Like almost equaling my income high. This was due to extraordinary expenses from TBEX for lodging, meals, and marketing materials. Another large expense was my plane ticket to NYC.
One large regular expense I picked up in May was hiring a virtual assistant. I am already pleased with her results and feel confident it is more than worth the investment.
Traffic was up by 2,500 unique views in May. For the first time in a long time, I’m able to keep up with my regular posting schedule. This is a direct result of my virtual assistant. I send her my articles and photos, and she polishes them for publication.
The other area I hired a virtual assistant for was to manage my social media. As she’s only been onboard for two weeks, we really haven’t started to dive into this area quite yet as we’re learning to gel on my style and voice elsewhere. I do plan to work with her quite heavily in June to help grow my Pinterest following. The little tweaks I’ve already done to Pinterest on my own are already yielding tremendous results traffic wise. Now that I have an expert on board…
Top Posts in May
Once again, my top five posts are remaining relatively static with the exception of 15 Surprising Vendors You’ll Find at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment. I’m not really bothered by this as two of the posts are evergreen posts designed for affiliate income purposes and the other two are craft beer travel related which continues to reinforce the direction my blog is moving in.
- What to Wear in Europe This Summer
- 15 Surprising Vendors You’ll Find at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment
- 48 Hours in Asheville, North Carolina – A Self-Guided Asheville Brewery Tour
- What to Wear in Europe
- A Craft Beer Guide to Aruba
- Earn $2,390
- Hit 9,000 in monthly traffic
- Fiction Writing:
- Finish editing It’s Always Personal.