Who’s got 2 thumbs and had the highest earning month ever in her life ever?! This girllllll! October broke all of my records for earning money from my travel blog and I am LIVING FOR IT.
Although, if you know me, you know that I’m petty AF and salty as hell that I was only $90 short of hitting $11,000. SO CLOSE. But whatever. I am THRILLED by my October income, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But first, a lil’ background about why I’m out here shouting how much money I make from the rooftops:
I feel strongly that income reports, and the transparency that comes along with writing them, are important for 2 reasons:
- 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!
- 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! You can check them all out here:
- Travel Blog Income Report, September 2018: $10,029.90
- Travel Blog Income Report, August 2018: $10,441.63
- Travel Blog Income Report, July 2018: $6,699.90
- Travel Blog Income Report, June 2018: $10,676.44
- Travel Blog Income Report, May 2018: $10,000.66
- Travel Blog Income Report, April 2018: $5,882.77
- Travel Blog Income Report, March 2018: $5,421.36
- Travel Blog Income Report, February 2018: $4,305.96
- Travel Blog Income Report, January 2018: $4,145.99
- Travel Blogging Income Report: How I Made $22,000 in my First Full Year
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 (almost) 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? Be sure to read my MASSIVE guide to monetizing your travel blog. Or, 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 October?
October 2018 Travel Blog Earnings
In October 2018 my travel blog earned me $10,911.39. Yay!!!
I only took 1 trip in October – a super fun girls’ trip with some awesome lifestyle bloggers to stunning June Lake, California. Traveling with bloggers who write about travel but focus primarily on lifestyle was SO interesting and I learned a ton! Like for example, I learned that lifestyle bloggers are WAY better at posing for photos than me.
But seriously though: having a group of talented photographers who are also bomb models and savvy businesswomen to bounce ideas off of (and tell me what to do with my hands) was SO insanely helpful! I absolutely love collaborating with other bloggers and content creators – we can learn so much from one another.
I brought a selection of products and clothes with me on that trip for the sole purpose of photographing them for the zillions of gift guides, packing lists, and other product round-ups that I spent the rest of October feverishly writing in the hope of capitalizing on the spending frenzy that is Q4.
My one and only goal, at this point in my life, is to earn $100K in 2018. And according to my current predictions, I will be SO CLOSE, but I’m not quite … there yet.
Which in turn is causing me to frantically pump out MORE affiliate posts. It’s a vicious cycle. But I want it so bad you guys. So bad.
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 have limited time to spend on your blog. You’re doing GREAT on your journey! You’re killin’ it. Set your own goals and celebrate your own mile-markers.
But still, context is important. So for reference, my travel blog has been in existence now for 2 years and 4 months! It’s a fussy toddler blog and if it were a real human it would have just discovered Moana and probably spend most of its time tunelessly singing Moana songs. Awww.
- Page Views: 188,118
- Uniques: 116,208
- Sessions: 141,929
- Social Media Followers: 34,965
- Email Subscribers: 8,260
After my little September dip – which, again, was totally seasonal and expected – my October page views climbed right back up to almost exactly where they were in August. My winter seasonal content started to pick up in August as folks started preparing and researching for their holiday travels – and in October, it officially took off and drove the vast majority of traffic to my site. Which reminds me, I should REALLY start booking stuff for our Christmas trip this year.
My social media followers grew by 4% this month, again, which low-key feels like a snail’s pace when spread out over 4 different accounts.
And finally – after literally deleting followers by the thousands for MONTHS – I’ve resigned myself to being in the 10K tier on ConvertKit and accepted that I have to pay more every month now. Sigh. It’s time. I mean really – like, I added it up when I wrote my email marketing guide and I’ve actually deleted over 10K subscribers from my list in 2018 in an effort to keep my list engaged and neat, so nobody can say I didn’t try.
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!
- Affiliate Income (Excluding Amazon): $2,519.45
- Amazon Affiliate Income: $1,163.98
- Paid Press/FAM Trips/Sponsored Posts: $1,800
- Freelance Writing: $580
- Social Media Consulting & Courses: $51
- Product Sales: $115.87
- Affiliate Link Placement: $200
- Grand Total: $10,911.39
Let’s break down what worked and what didn’t.
What Worked This Month
Let’s start with Ad income. I had my highest earning ad income month ever! Whee! This was thanks to an RPM spike, giving me a rate I haven’t had since JUNE – except my traffic has grown by 30K page views since June.
In terms of comparison to last year, RPM’s are still nearly double last year’s rates – which makes me so, so, SO excited for Q4, when RPM’s rise for everyone … but my ad provider Mediavine makes it rain like a freak November hurricane caused by climate change (oof, that … wasn’t as peppy as I wanted it to be).
My affiliate sales overall were down, which is to be expected around this time of year because everyone starts spending all of their money on candy and costumes instead of travel gear. They also do this thing where they add stuff to their carts and then sit and stare at it for nearly 2 months until Black Friday, when everything explodes. So I’m not alarmed that my Amazon income and other affiliate sales programs were all down.
I’ve got a breakdown on all of the Affiliate programs I use and recommend over on my Travel Blog Monetization guide, but I can tell you that by far my best performing affiliate network this month was SkimLinks!
This month I had some rad partnerships! I had an Instagram campaign, which made me feel like a real ~~influencer and not just a blogger who sometimes vomits hashtags onto a blurry selfie, clicks Post, and then throws her phone across the room and cries. *sobs uncontrollably*
I also created a sponsored blog post in partnership with one of my all time favorite brands! This post was a double whammy because not only was it sponsored, but it’s also a fully monetized affiliate marketing post – which means it will continue to pay me for months and years to come, AND it has the potential to show my brand partner how well our audiences align, which could turn into exciting opportunities in the future. I’ve been dipping my toe into that pool a little this year and I’m really, really liking it.
I also wrote a couple of freelance pieces. I did them in part because I’m like, CENTS away from my $100K goal for the year and also because the destinations I wrote about are places I’ve visited in partnership with tourism boards/DMO’s (Destination Marketing Organizations). When I visit a place I REALLY love, I genuinely want to drive more tourism to it – plus, I like to make my brand partners happy. One way to do both of those things is to continue to give those destinations exposure in the form of “earned media,” AKA articles that the DMO didn’t have pay for, in major publications. Not only does this make my DMO partners happy and engender mutual feelings of love, but it puts positive karma out into the travel industry that I’m the sort of go-getter travel blogger who usually overdelivers, which is ALWAYS my goal.
Word of mouth is pretty much my favorite sales tactic, because as we now know thanks to Christina’s post about in-person networking, I’m also the sort of travel blogger who collects business cards at conferences and then never follows up with anyone. Sigh.
I also accepted an affiliate link placement fee. First of all: NO, it was NOT do-follow. I never accept money for do-follow links in any form, so if you’re a skeezy marketing company who’s rying to figure out what happened to thet 296267286 emails you sent me with the subject line “aMazinG OprtuNiTy” offering $5 for a link, I deleted them. All of them. Go away, please. Lose my email address.
No, this was not a skeezy do-follow link placement. This was a no-follow affiliate link placement. Basically, this company that I haven’t personally used recognized an overlap between my audience and theirs, and asked me to place an affiliate link in my posts for their product. You know, that typical “you COULD earn $20 per sale” thing – I get those emails a lot and I delete 99% of them (the other 1% I reply, asking for a product sample).
So I was like “nah, I’m not about that” and they were like “we will literally just pay you to put in some affiliate links” and I was like “oh okay in that case, DEAR READERS, I have never used this product, but upon review it actually looks pretty legit.” I’m being flippant, but actually I did do my due diligence it does look like a rad service. I would never recommend anything to my readers that didn’t legitimately seem useful and relevant to their interests and align with my values – even when I’m being paid to place a no-follow link in my content.
So, everyone wins: I maintain honesty and transparency with my audience and readers by disclosing that I was paid to place the link and have never used the product – but highlighting why I would have used it and why it seems rad – and the brand gets exposure to my audience and hopefully earns some business. This could also be another foot in the door to a long-term relationship if our audiences and brands align.
So yea, no-follow links CAN ethically and legally be bought. Just not do-follow links. Seriously, SEO creeps, lose my number.
Misses This Month
I actually felt pretty great about this month, all things considered. I got a lot done but still managed to take most weekends off, I earned my highest amount ever, and I worked hard to get myself set up for November and December. Overall the only things I’m disappointed about are:
- I didn’t follow up on every brand who reached out to me for inclusion in my gift guide posts, because I was overwhelmed with the amount of pitches I received (which is a great problem to have, if you’re on top of your sh*t and better at this sort of thing than I am). The ones I did follow up on mostly all panned out, and it may not be too late to follow up on the rest if I can just get myself to do it.
- I still haven’t followed up with every brand I met at TBEX because I am the worst in-person networker follow up-er in the whole world
- I didn’t write every post I wanted to write in advance of November – the earlier the better to get them circulating before the Black Friday craziness hits, and I’ll be cramming a little bit kinda late in the game.
Travel Blog Expense Breakdown
How much money did I throw away this month? A fair amount!
- Google Apps: $21.99
- ConvertKit: $144.20
- Virtual Assistant(s): $772.98
- Adobe Creative Suite: $32.84
- Slaying Social Services: $39.00
- Keysearch: $8.45
- Social Media Management Tools: $30
- Hosting: $125
- Co-Working Space: $130
- Travel Expenses:$556.12
- Total September Blog Expenses: $1,257.11
All told, we’re pocketing $9,654.28 this month.
I only took one trip in October and bought only a single plane ticket, so our travel expenses were pretty low. I spent the whole month focusing on work, and even treated myself to several days in a Co-Working Space to help boost my productivity (I’m low-key hooked, I miss real offices so much).
I also did quite a few paid trial runs with various freelancers and Virtual Assistants, seeking to find someone who could work with me on a regular basis. That hiring process is … on-going. I’m getting a lot of emails about it now from folks following up on their applications, which makes me feel overwhelmed (this is a pattern in my life) so that’s where that’s at. If you applied and I haven’t responded, I’m sorry, it’s not personal, it’s just that every time I look at my email inbox my heart rate speeds up and I start to panic and I have to go soothe my nerves with a nice relaxing scroll through Pinterest and a cup of tea or something.
Yes, I realize I need help. Yes, I realize I have to respond to those emails in order to GET help. I’m a flawed, flawed person. *Anxiously sips tea and clicks on thousands of pictures of home decor*
Anyway, now that I’ve had my daily existential crisis, on to our expense breakdown.
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 with cloud hosting for both Practical Wanderlust and Slaying Social. I also upgraded my cloud hosting for a whopping $2 a month which is well worth it for peace of mind and having a 3rd way to back up my photos.
- ConvertKit, my email host, is one of the most priciest business services 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. However, I firmly believe that email subscribers are a worthwhile investment! Ooh, and I finally wrote a whole post about it, too.
- Virtual Assistant: I expect to be spending a lot more on assistance in the months to come as I seek some work/life balance. I’m very excited to throw a LOT more money into this category. I’m seeing it as an investment in my own time and sanity.
- Adobe Creative Suite: I pay for Lightroom, Photoshop, and Premiere. I should really stop paying for Premiere. I’m never going to use it.
- Slaying Social Services: We are currently paying for a course hosting platform for our courses 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 thanks to a Black Friday deal I snagged last year!
- Social Media Management Tools: I am currently paying for Tailwind for Pinterest and a tool 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!
Hey, are you a travel blogger too? We’ve got a massive guide that breaks down exactly how travel bloggers make money. You can also 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 or monetizing a blog? Drop me a comment below, or head over to the Slaying Social Facebook Group to start a discussion!
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