Travel Blog Income and Traffic Report #36 – December 2017

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial policies.

Welcome to the 36th entry into our monthly income and traffic report!

In this monthly update we share our traffic, earning, and spending figures from the previous month so you can get a glimpse inside the business of travel blogging. In addition to sharing these for your use, by publishing our information we are also able to stay on track with our own goals for our business.

December 2017 Traffic

Travel Blog Traffic

Our traffic for the month of November was approximately 49,500- down approximately 6% on a per day basis from November and up 17% from December 2016.

We saw a rise in Google traffic towards the end of the month like we see every year, but it was not large enough to overcome the previous drop in holiday traffic. We expect to see a good rise in early 2018, so we will be holding steady here to see what happens.

Local Blog Traffic

On the Discover the Burgh front, our traffic was 101,500 page views- up approximately 5% on a per day basis from the previous month.

Our Christmas articles gave us a substantial amount of traffic here (about 40,000 page views) and other popular search terms were lower quite a bit as a result. Like Living the Dream we noticed an up-tick in Google search traffic for non-Christmas keywords at the end of the month; however, here we did see a drop overall because our Christmas traffic was so high to begin with.

In any case, Discover the Burgh saw a 600% gain in search traffic over the year and we’ll take that. Time for a repeat in 2018?

December 2017 Income

Travel Blog Income

Our income for December was $3,775. This is down a fair bit from our November earnings because we had a large sponsored post month with one-off sales that did not repeat in December. In any case, we’re not complaining.

Our breakdown was the following:

*Sponsored Content: $150
*Affiliates: $575
*CPM Ads: $3,050

Note: The above income is booked income, not received. Payments often range from 12 hours to 90 days after being booked.

We had a record month for CPM ads and finally broke $3,000 in earnings (or a pageview RPM of $20.20). This was primarily due to the high earning month that is December (hooray holiday ads) and we thoroughly expect a dive upwards of 33% come January, sadly.

Our affiliates were also down slightly, if only because we did not have any big commissions like we did in November. Ignoring these, we’ve seen a small rise in affiliate sales over the past few months that we hope will continue more into January. Fingers crossed it wasn’t all holiday shopping!

December 2017 Expenses

Blog Expenses

Our expenses for the month of December were $1,890, with the following breakdown:

*Hosting: $200
*Mailchimp: $75
*Programs: $20
*Facebook ads: $265
*Staff Articles: $150
*VA: $105
*Lens: $1075

We had all intentions of returning to our baseline spending in December; however, we received a 2018 payment a bit early and decided to go shopping.

We ultimately decided on a 24mm-240mm telephoto lens for our Sony a6000 camera. We’ve been eyeing a lens like this for quite some time for a vacation we’re taking in late 2018. We were not wanting to buy it just now, but the early payment we received made us jump on it.

2017 in Review

In a way, 2017 was the year we finally got serious. I know that this is a fairly common cliche in the world of blogging, but bear with me.

On Living the Dream we increased our traffic by 25% and on Discover the Burgh we increased our traffic by 142%. Notable gains supported primarily by a drastic rise in search traffic thanks to our SEO overhauls performed over the last 12 months.

On a more crucial note, we increased our gross income from just under $11,000 to $28,600- a gain of 160%! In fact, most of our gains on the income front were in the second half of 2017, so we’re already projecting a 50% gain for 2018 right out of the door through no added effort on our own ($42,000 projected baseline for 2018).

If calendar year 2016 was categorized as focusing on our SEO game, the calendar year 2017 would definitely be categorized as benefiting from this via our CPM ads. We went to Mediavine as our preferred ad network in April and increased our CPM ad revenue (at times) by upwards of a factor of ten.

It was a decision we languished on for a long time, and now regret not going after all that now missed revenue when we had the chance. But as we said, 2017 was the year we finally got serious, and our income certainly reflected this.

2018 Goals

As noted above, 2017 was our goal of realizing the potential of our traffic and generating revenue via CPM ads.

If we follow this mindset for an overall goal for the new year, 2018 is going to be the year of affiliate marketing. Our goal for 2018 is to get our income from affiliates to be a 1:1 match with what we are earning for CPM ads.

So if our traffic does not grow at all, we’re hoping to increase our affiliate earnings from around $400-$500 per month to $2,000 to $3,000+. This would increase our overall income by 50%-100%.

Ultimately this would give us two solid income streams that would be tied to our page views, and once we get both to solid levels like these we can continue our eternal push to get those page views up. After that, its all gravy.

As for January in particular, we’ve been dragging our feet at our final Pinterest push- creating Pin It images for our top 100 or so posts on each site. We’re hoping to finish this by the end of the month.

By having Pin It buttons on our posts we’ll accomplish two things. First, we’ll have an outlet to allow our ~150,000 monthly readers to pin our most popular content. Second, we can then use this to update our Tailwind approach in 2018. Our approach here will be the same as outlined in our Tailwind review, but just more robust and targeted.

On the Discover the Burgh front, we are planning a massive outreach campaign to get in touch with each of the 300 or so businesses we’ve featured on our site to date. So we’ll be sending out a mass email campaign throughout the month to say hello!

We’ll let you know how it goes in February!