Travel Blog Income Report, June 2018: $10,676.44

How did my travel blog earn me nearly $10,700 in June? How much did I spend? Find out in my travel blog income report for June 2018!

For the second (and probably last) time in my life, I earned over $10,000 in one single month. Mind. Freaking Blown. I can’t believe this actually happened to me twice (IN A ROW!) – I was sure May would be a one-off. I can’t wait to share exactly how  I was able to pull this off (again!!), but before I we dive in, let me give you the spiel about why I’m posting this income report in the first place.

I LOVE income reports. And it’s not just because I’m nosy and like to know exactly how much everyone else makes and brag shamelessly about my own income levels. I feel strongly that income reports, and the transparency that comes along with writing them, are important for 2 reasons:

  1. Knowing what fellow travel content creators are earning (and charging) helps to set realistic benchmarks for your own success. They’re both motivating AND educational!
  2. Speaking openly about the money side of this industry reduces the taboo surrounding asking for and discussing payment. That taboo hurts travel content creators by making it harder to ask brands and sponsors for the payment that your work deserves, particularly for women who are socially trained to be accommodating and self-sacrificing.

I find income reports empowering. And so, at the beginning of 2018, I wrote an income report for 2017 explaining how I earned $22,000 in my first full year of blogging on my travel blog, Practical Wanderlust. I got such fantastic feedback from readers who were inspired to monetize their own travel blogs that I decided to continue posting income reports for the entirety of 2018! I originally posted them on my travel blog, but Christina and I decided to move them over to Slaying Social where they’ve now found their forever home. You can check them all out here:

January marked my first month as a full-time travel blogger, and my goal this year – my second full year of blogging – is to see if this is a viable career path (or if I have to suck it up and get a real job again). I’m so excited to see where this crazy path takes me and I have no idea what I’m doing (yet), so come along for the ride! We can figure sh*t out together. It’ll be fun. And I’ll only panic about health insurance like, sometimes.

Psst: Be sure to follow me on Instagram and watch my daily Stories – I share my travel blogging task list every day and take you behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a full time travel blogger! (Spoilers: it’s way less glamorous than you’re imagining.)

Here’s what you’ll find in this post.

Hey, are you a travel blogger too? Subscribe below and I’ll send you a FREE email course to help you monetize your own blog in just 5 days!  Subscribe below. Yes, in that giant box. With the big button. Go on, now, don’t be shy.

All righty. Let’s do this! How much did I earn in June?

June 2018 Travel Blog Earnings

In May of 2018 my travel blog earned me $10,676.44.

LOL WHAT IS MY LIFE EVEN!?!!? Like … you guys. I’m seriously so tickled. I’m ecstatic. I’m using this GIF again:

Another thing to celebrate? My blog turned 2 this month! Yep, that’s right – 2 years ago, I published my very first (awful, terrible, diary-esque) post on Practical Wanderlust. The post is like 10 words long with a couple of awful cell phone pictures. If you’re curious and you want to cringe with me, it’s here. Enjoy/sorry!

I literally typed that post up at my desk as I was gearing up to head into my bosses’ office to quit my job. I was too scared to post anything on my blog before that day JUST IN CASE someone from my office might find it and know what I was planning and think that I was disloyal or whatever, because I fully planned to return to my job after our year-long honeymoon. (Spoilers: I didn’t.)

To quote everyone who’s ever been the Bachelor or Bachelorette, “Never in a million years did I think I’d be here today.” When I published that post, my wildest dreams didn’t even come close to imagining me as a full time blogger (because I didn’t know that was a thing) pulling in $10k a month (twice).

And yet, here we are. Wow. I never want to forget how incredibly gob-smacking this entire thing is. It’s truly unbelieveable.

OK, now that I’ve done my celebratory “can’t believe I’m here/this is a dream come true” thing (wow, I really DO sound like the Bachelorette) I’m gonna pop my own ego balloon here. For reasons I’ll explain below, I firmly believe that this is likely to be the last time this happens for the rest of the year (possibly for the rest of my life).

But hey – if it does happen again, I’ll be saving up several bottles of bargain-bin Champagne to pop, and at least 1 jar of Nutella to consume in celebration. Not like, to share. Those are just for me. #treatyoself

But enough with my Debbie Downer realism, let’s get into the gritty details and talk about how this all came to pass.

This Month’s Stats & Traffic

Let’s talk traffic! Context is important, and tracking my stats is just as crucial to understanding my earning potential and growth as tracking my income.

Also, this is important: don’t go comparing yourself to me, especially if your blog is newer or you’re not doing this full time. You’re doing GREAT on your journey! You’re killin’ it. Set your own goals and celebrate your own milemarkers.

But still, context is important. So for reference, my travel blog has been in existence now for  2 YEARS!

  • June Page Views: 156,853
  • Uniques: 85,803
  • Sessions: 104,274
  • Social Media Followers: 29,847
  • Email Subscribers: 7,192

Um, so, where did this extra 20k page views come from between May and June?! Honestly, I have no idea. That’s definitely not what I had anticipated. What’s weird is that my sessions WERE in line with my predictions, increasing only 3k. What?!

Essentially what happened is that people spent more time on my site reading more pages – enough to take my average pages per session up from 1.3 to 1.5.  My bounce rate also improved.

So, did I like … do something differently? Did I install a better related posts plugin, or add a bunch of internal links that didn’t exist before?

… Nope.  I did not. Those are things I’ve been doing for like, the past year.

So we’re gonna chalk this one up to a total mystery. Hope that trend continues, though!

My social media followers grew about 5% in June, which is pretty much average for me.

Email subscribers are also growing at a healthy pace, which means if I want to keep paying the same rate I’m currently paying, I’ll need to do another big purge again to keep them under 8k. Still, too many email subscribers isn’t a bad problem to have!

I’m actually pretty pleased with my email marketing strategy generally – that was one of my goals for this year to nail down, and I think I’ve pretty much got it figured out. Which means I’ll be making a post about it for y’all real soon 😉

Travel Blog Income Breakdown

Alright, let’s get to the good stuff. I know this is why you’re here, and I’m gonna give you the goods. Here we go!

  • Advertising$3,292.39
  • Affiliate Income (Excluding Amazon): $1,626.95
  • Amazon Affiliate Income: $1,548.60
  • Paid Press/FAM Trips/Sponsored Posts: $4,150
  • Freelance Writing: $0
  • Social Media Consulting & Courses: $48.50
  • Grand Total: $10,676.44

Let’s break down what worked and what didn’t.

What Worked This Month

Once again,  my Mediavine ad revenue outpaced my traffic growth. Even though Mediavine pays for page SESSIONS, not page VIEWS (which renders my 20k page view bump pretty much meaningless in terms of ad revenue), my paltry 3k increase in sessions was enough to net me a chunky $200 bonus. My RPM for the month of June was $32, which is sky freakin’ high. You can read more about Mediavine and RPM here.

I’ve said this every month, but I’ll say it again: for those of you seeking to monetize your own blogs: hit 25k monthly sessions ASAP and apply to Mediavine. I can’t praise them enough.

And again – I’m in no way affiliated, and I get nothing if you sign up with them. I just genuinely love the cr*p out of them. So much.

OK, so other than Mediavine making all of my dreams come true (again) what else worked this month?

Both Amazon and my other affiliate income didn’t increase much at all. In fact, my passive income generally was about on par with the month before, with just a little bit of growth, all topping out at $6,467 in total.

I earned $137 with SkimLinks this month, so the tedious process of changing over my links from CJ and AWIN to my favorite excellent, low-stress affiliate network is definitely paying off!

But for the second time this year, non-passive income streams played a GIANT role in my overall income this month. In fact, they’re the sole reason I was able to top $10k!

In June, I earned a total of $4,150 from sponsored campaigns and paid FAM trips.

  • Quick vocabulary lesson: a FAM trip is a Familiarization Trip, where a member of the media is invited to experience a destination in exchange for either earned media (for traditional journalists, earned media means they might write about you in a publication… but also they might not, there’s no guarantee) or paid sponsored content in the form of blog posts and social media. Sometimes you’re paid for your time/content, sometimes you’re not – that really all depends on your negotiation skills and the budget of your sponsor.

In the past, I’ve done both paid and unpaid FAM trips, and in the month of June I did both as well.

Why would I accept an unpaid FAM trip? Well, there are a few reasons. Sometimes it’s because I want to visit a destination, sometimes it’s because it’s a place I know my readers would really enjoy, sometimes I’m looking to build a long-term relationship with a tourism board, sometimes it’s because I know I can monetize the content I produce on my own with ad revenue and affiliate links. Usually, it’s all of the above.

I went on 3 total FAM trips in the month of June, and they were all a LOT of fun. But they were also a lot of work, which leads me to my next section …

Misses This Month

I mean, look: this month was AMAZING in terms of income. I really don’t have anything to complain about there.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t make some mistakes. I definitely did.

But in June, I said YES to too many opportunities. I went on 3 separate FAM trips, and I ended up feeling overworked and exhausted. From now on, I’m making a commitment to myself to say NO to unpaid FAM trips for a while.

I know there are lots of travel bloggers and content creators who travel constantly and spend more time on the road than they do at home, but that’s not the life that I want. It’s too exhausting for me, and it makes me feel like I’m forever behind and can’t take the time to really create high quality work – or to create content just because I enjoy it.

So from now on, I’m limiting myself to 1-2 FAM trips max per month. I also decided to significantly increase my rates. Like … by double.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure I’ve been undercharging, although it’s impossible to know because in this industry everything is made up and the numbers don’t matter.

But I’m setting myself a number that I feel is both worthwhile of the quality of work I produce, and also accounts for the amount of time & effort I prefer to devote to each trip and the content I create afterwards.

You may remember that in May, I was completely overwhelmed with stress. … That didn’t improve in June. In fact, I spent most of the month fighting panic attacks and feeling that uncomfortable tight chest feeling that you get when you’re panicking and anxious but can’t do anything about it.

Not fun.

I needed a break. I needed time to sit down and catch up. But instead, I had about a week at home before I went traveling for 3 weeks in a row, and then a grand total of 4 days at home to “catch up” and prep for our next trip (Bali! … Which is where I am right now as I type this. July is looking up already).

During my time traveling AND my time at home, I was attempting to juggle both work and spending time with family & friends, which mostly left me feeling like I was failing at both. In the month of June, I was pretty much spread so thin that I was kind of just a sh*tty partner, a sh*tty friend and family member, and not exactly killing it at my job, either.

It did not feel good.

I did, however, finally have a chance to train my Virtual Assistant on more tasks, so I was able to shrug off a portion of work onto her capable shoulders. I started her off with a task that really shouldn’t stress me out as much as it does: email management. Like .. answering and deleting emails. Basic, basic stuff, you guys. Why am I so bad at this?!

But you know what? She took my inbox from like, 300+ down to 10. And as that number dropped, the tightness in my chest relaxed a little bit, too. Phew.

I’m looking forward to training her on more tasks when I return from our trip (more about that next month…) and hiring more help as well.

I’m REALLY looking forward to not being a miserable stress case, you guys. I don’t even remember what work/life balance feels like. I miss it!

So, for the rest of the year, my goal is to say no to more things, prioritize my time better, and commit myself to regaining my work/life balance.

Travel Blog Expense Breakdown

How much money did I throw away this month? So much! Something about earning more money just like … makes you want to spend more.

But in all seriousness, I did actually make some good, important purchases this month which will benefit me in the long term. Let’s break it down:

  • Google Apps: $20
  • ConvertKit: $128.20
  • Virtual Assistant: $210
  • Adobe Creative Suite: $31.78
  • Slaying Social Services: $39.00
  • Keysearch: $8.45
  • Social Media Management Tools: $35
  • Hosting: $125
  • Travel Expenses: $1,369.86
  • Total May Blog Expenses: $1,967.29

Even though I spent nearly all of my income last month, this month was much better in terms of my net income. Many of those travel expenses were for our Bali trip in July, and the rest were pretty much entirely food, gas and a rental car for the few weeks we spent visiting friends, family, and doing FAM trips.

All in all, I’m taking $8,700 to the bank this month. Which is, yes, more than our rent 😉 it’s also enough for us not to feel panicky about our spending in Bali – in fact, we didn’t even stay in a single hostel! Amazing.

But even though it was a REALLY good month, I know that leaner times are coming soon, and I’m storing this away to help us cover for the months that AREN’T this successful.

In terms of our expenses, we spend roughly the same amount on our usual blog services each month. Here’s a quick rundown of what we spend money on every month:

  • Google Apps: I use Google for all of our website services, including email and a shared drive for both Practical Wanderlust and Slaying Social. I’m actually only supposed to be paying $10 each month, but I set something up wrong and now it’s a lot of work to fix, sooooooooooooooo….
  • ConvertKit, my email host, is one of the most expensive items I pay for each month, because I’m paying for both Practical Wanderlust and Slaying Social’s email lists. As our email subscribers have grown, the expenses associated with it have, too. I recently did a massive clean-up to remove non-active subscribers from my list to help slow this rapidly rising cost. But I firmly believe that email subscribers are a worthwhile investment!
  • Virtual Assistant: I currently employ 1 Virtual Assistant, and I’ll be increasing her hours as much as I possibly can while I search for new help. I expect to be spending a lot more on assistance for the rest of the year as I seek some work/life balance!
  • Adobe Creative Suite: I pay for Lightroom, Photoshop, and Premiere. I use Photoshop all the time for my pins. I’m learning how to use video, so hopefully I’ll use Premiere SOON. And I’ve been learning to use Lightroom! It’s been saving me a LOT of time photo editing.
  • Slaying Social Services: We are currently paying for a course hosting platform and a webinar platform.
  • Keysearch is my SEO tool and I love it. It’s worth it’s weight in gold, but it’s actually pretty cheap each month!
  • Social Media Management Tools: I am currently paying for both Tailwind and Boardbooster for Pinterest and an auto-scheduler for Instagram.
  • Hosting: My host is Performance Foundry. They provide fully managed hosting, which is like having a team of tech experts at your fingertips. In addition to hosting, they handle things like site speed optimization, plugin updates and fixing broken plugins, making sure my site is never down (and getting it back up when it is, without needing to be called and yelled at), and even basic, minor coding fixes. If you have a larger blog, I highly recommend them!

One last thing before I leave you: I want to stress that this was an unusual month, and next month, I’m anticipating a huge drop in income. Next month, I’ll probably be relying entirely on my passive income, and July is traditionally a much slower month than June. I’m expecting to earn like, half of what I earned this month.

So please keep that in mind as you set your own goals – dream big, but dream realistically!

Hey, are you a travel blogger too? Subscribe below and I’ll send you a FREE email course to help you monetize your own blog in just 5 days!  Subscribe below. Yes, in that giant box. With the big button. Go on, now, don’t be shy.

Well, that’s all, folks! What questions do you have about travel blogging, monetizing a blog, or starting a blog? Drop me a comment below!


How did my travel blog earn me almost $10,700 in June? How much did I spend? Find out in my travel blog income report for June 2018! #blogging #travelblog

Comments (8)

Way to slay it, girl! I just got my Mediavine acceptance this week and I can wait to get started with them 🙂

YAYYYYY!!! Join the Facebook Group ASAP, Christina and I are doing a Live in there on Thursday 😉

FWIW, I LOVE your income posts. LOVE. I’m not actively seeking to monetize yet (I have 3 young kids and actually literally just missed a birthday party by a whole day, so organization is a little out of reach at this moment in time), but LOVE numbers stuff? I mean, I love the excitement behind it, seeing the nuts and bolts, and sort of living vicariously through your awesome self. Totally doesn’t come off as bragging. You can tell you’re totally surprised and delighted and living your best life. Cheers!

Aww, you’re so kind! Thanks, Jennifer!!

Yay!!! So proud of you for slaying your income goals! Also, hoorah for raising your rates. It’s so important not to undervalue our services, especially as women. Enjoy Bali!

Hey Lia! I’m so happy that your travel blog is experiencing so much success! I was just wondering about SkimLinks. Would you recommend to ditch all other affiliates programs for SkimLinks? I already have an account with SkimLinks but haven’t actually looked into it much yet.

Honestly, I’m ditching them all for Skimlinks for every company that Skimlinks covers, and they cover a lot of my faves. I’m keeping my old brand relationships for one-offs with exclusive affiliate relationships. But for like, Viator, say, which is on SkimLinks and also every other affiliate network in the world, I’m sticking with SkimLinks. They have better tracking, better rates, and are just better generally in my experience.

This is really good and motivating me to starts a travel blog. Thanks a lot for sharing it. Keep rocking

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