November 2016 Travel Blog Income Report
Regulars readers of The Wandering Gourmand may have noticed close to a month rut in new posts and a three-month rut in income reports. So, where the heck have I been during that time and what have I been doing? Let me explain.
From a travel perspective, I’ve been to a lot places. At the beginning of September, we traveled out to Phoenix because I wanted Deacon to meet his great-grandmother before he turned one. Then Shannan and I traveled to Boone, North Carolina for our first couples getaway (we so needed it). And we took a road trip out to Alabama to meet our new niece. In October, I went on a press trip to Milwaukee, which I can’t wait to write about as it was such a cool destination. November brought me to Asheville for client work, Youngstown for my grandmother’s memorial service, and Tuscaloosa for Thanksgiving.
But none of that explains my lack of new posts. I am a travel writer, after all. Shouldn’t I be able to balance travel and writing? Sure, if all I did was travel and write though. But…
During that same time, Shannan went back to work fulltime, and I had to learn to balance freelance writing and blogging with stay-at-home-dad duties. Since Deacon also turned one, his nap time has steadily decreased, which directly correlates with my working time decreasing. I also moved servers for the blog to help increase speed. While speed has increased, my site has taken a dump on me IT-wise and my team of engineers (a friend helping me out of the kindness of his heart) struggled to fix it.
I also picked up several new freelance clients. Since they pay the bills more so than the blog, my priority has been freelance writing while the site bugs get worked out. So, yeah. Things have been strange around here. But, they are looking up. I’m finally at the point where we can afford part-time daycare, giving me back valuable work hours.
Travel Blog Income Report
For those new to these reports, I like to see my income fall into four buckets for proper diversification: affiliate, freelance writing, products, and sponsored posts. 2016 has seen income in all four buckets. However, November saw income mostly under freelance writing, with 1% of my income falling under affiliate.
Given that November was my third highest revenue generating month of the year at $1,384, there is definitely potential to make more money if I can start to fill those other buckets. Here are the challenges I face in doing so:
- Affiliate – Summers are typically my strongest affiliate income months as my packing guides bring in around $150 a month. I recently aligned with TripAdvisor to slowly start filling in that gap in income throughout the rest of the year. This involves a lot of back work though of updating old posts with new links like this one on Aruba. August, September, and October actually saw an uptick in affiliate income directly as the result of TripAdvisor. In November, that income nose-dived. I’m guessing because not a lot of vacation planning occurs in November and those links are more applicable to vacation planners. In attempt to augment that income for December, I’ve updated my holiday gift guide for 2016.
- Products – This is the low point for me accomplishment wise. I have a product and completed a very successful beta with it earlier this year. I have a few tweaks to make but haven’t had the time launch it. Remember, I’m far from working a 40-hour work week with SAHD duties. The little time I have is spent freelance writing and driving the machine that a blog is.
- Sponsored Posts – Traffic is my biggest drawback for sponsored posts, and my traffic took a major nosedive due to the speed of my blog. The site was so slow that Google wouldn’t even register it for SEO purposes. Thus, over the past few months, I’ve taken several measures to improve my speed like switching servers from Bluehost to Nexcess, implement an image optimizer, and add on a few caching fixes. Then my site took a shit on me mainly because of the theme I’m using. Those issues were fixed as I wrote this piece. I plan to resubmit a sitemap to Google so they can now see my speed has been fixed. Once I hit the threshold of 10k views a month, which I was close to, I can start applying to influencer programs.
I’d say November expenses fell on the high side at $560. More than half of that were travel related expenses for my trip to Asheville. While the lodging was covered through a sponsorship with the Grove Park Inn, my meals and transportation costs were not. I don’t regret spending that money though as I’ve already made $880 in freelance income. Plus, I have several outstanding pitches and I have material to update my Asheville Beer Guide, which is one of my most popular posts and earns a fair amount of affiliate income.
Travel Blog Traffic Report
I was hesitant to even include my blog traffic report because the stats aren’t pretty. But, the purpose of these reports is to be transparent, and sometimes transparency means sharing the ugly. My traffic for November was 4,013. While this is far from the 10k mark I aspire to be at, it really isn’t too bad since I only published one new blog post in November. Let’s compare that to predictions for December with now three new posts. I’m currently trending to a number of 6k.
To show you what drew people to my site over the last month with my glut in anything new, below are my most viewed posts.
- 48-Hours in Asheville, North Carolina: A Self-Guided Asheville Brewery Tour
- A Craft Beer Aruba Beer Guide
- What to Wear in Europe this Summer
- 48 Hours in Boone, North Carolina: A Boone Brewery Guide
- Are You a New Photo Rule Break
Previously, I also tracked my social media stats in this report. I’m no longer going to do that. I’m not trying to hide anything. Anyone can easily see my follower numbers by just clicking on my profiles. I decided not to list them as a large social media following is not my goal. Site traffic is my goal. Why? Because I don’t own Facebook, Twitter, etc. I own my blog and rather concentrate on building something I have control over.
I will, however, share where my traffic is coming from:
- Google – 1,367
- Pinterest – 236
- Reddit (this one shocked me) – 124
- Yahoo – 62
- Bing – 52
My December goals are outlined below. Notice that they all concentrate on filling those above mentioned other buckets.
- I want to continue posting two new posts a week while refreshing one old one with the hope of hitting traffic of 6k.
- Earn $860 after expenses and taxes. This is the cost of our monthly daycare. My venture needs to at least cover that.
- Launch my course sales page