Welcome to the 46th entry into our monthly income and traffic report!
In this monthly update we share our traffic, earning, and spending figures for our blogs 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.
October 2018 Traffic
Our traffic for the month of October was approximately 76,650 page views. This was a drop of 6% on a per day basis from September and an increase of 40% from October 2018.
It looks like the growth from our big SEO push is finally beginning to slow down. This is something we've always expected but were never quite sure when it would come.
Historically yearly growth tends to slow in June or July, but this year was a bit odd because we saw a significant increase all the way through August, but a sharper drop in September and October. However, the traffic figures we were seeing coming to our site now (almost all from Google, mind you) are on par with our June traffic- similar to what we've seen in previous years.
Can we supercharge our growth via SEO again in January with another historic rise? We will try, but for now we are not holding our breath for growth before then.
On the Discover the Burgh front, our traffic was 100,485- up approximately 6% on a per day basis from September and up about 31% from October 2018.
I can safely say that we are moving into Christmas territory on our Pittsburgh blog and we are seeing a sharp rise in traffic to our Christmas content from search (where we rank #1 or close to it for virtually everything holiday related).
Last year we saw a 33% gain in traffic from October to December due to this, and over the course of the year we also supercharged our holiday related content as well. So while we are excited to be back over 100,000 page views, and especially are excited that we're up 30% from last October (one of our lowest months of the year last year), we have to say we're really excited for what is to come.
October 2018 Income
Our booked income for September was $5,390. The breakdown included the following:
*CPM Ads: $3,628
October wasn't the best of months income-wise for us if only because we were more or less at our baseline with solely passive income (ads and affiliate sales) coming in.
I am encouraged, however, as ad rates are rising after tanking at the beginning of the month (start of Q4 is terrible) and we're now hitting record daily ad income numbers despite having only just average traffic.
We are also negotiating a few more paid campaigns but have not had the ability to get them finalized quite yet. As such, if these go through and ad rates continue to rise as projected, we may be looking at a few nearly record months for November and December.
I am hopeful, but also more than happy to call a $5,000+ month a baseline.
Note: The above income is booked income, not received. Payments often range from just a few minutes to 90 days after being booked. Likewise, while we do promote blogging services in our affiliate programs to those who want to start a blog, nearly all our affiliate income is from travel related services (hotels, gears, tickets, etc.) which are relevant to our main niche. While we'd love to make all our money in the how-to blog field (who wouldn't?), we do not at this time.
October 2018 Expenses
Our expenses for the month of October were roughly $515, with the following breakdown:
*Social media ads: $150
*Conference fee: $100
This past month was also in line with our base spending as I did not go out of my way to make any big purchases or renewals for our site.
We have a few big ones coming up for November, plus an increase in ad spending for the holidays, but right now we'll take a low spending month as we can.
One thing to note is that we are now re-wording our ad spend from “Facebook ads” to “social media ads.” In the past I almost exclusively advertised on Facebook; however, now we are also advertising on Instagram for increased reach locally and to revive Living the Dream's account which was more or less dead due to inactivity.
Over the coming months we'll probably ramp this one up slightly to push those, but overall we are only looking at Facebook minimally at this time.
November 2018 Goals
As I mentioned for October's goals, my number one goal is to get through backlog. We have well over 200 articles in draft mode and get ideas for three to five new articles every week, and that is stressful.
I was going to wait to publish these all in January when I plan to hibernate, but realized that I should get as much out now as new content generally does well in the holidays.
So in October I started publishing four articles a week on Discover the Burgh and one to two articles a week on Living the Dream. I intend to keep this frequency up throughout November and December as well. It probably wont make much of a dent into our backlog, but it is a start and is a habit I need to sorely get into.
Beyond this, I've decided to also pause my outreach campaign, again, if only because the number of organic connections and offers we've received locally is increasing as well. My biggest fear of doing an outreach campaign when working full time was not having the time to work with every single business, and now that I am full time blogging I have quickly filled in my time through no effort of my part.
This will be revisited, but sadly, not for now.
The only other goal I have for the month of November is to finish building a new navigation system for our Pittsburgh blog which I think has huge potential for increasing our pages per visit, time on site, and helping users find content they want to see.
Even if just 10% of our readers visit two extra pages, we'll make $500 more per month in ad income alone, so you can see the potential for if we can get that number even higher.
It has been a pain point for us to develop a good interface to share our 400+ articles, and we know this because one of our most popular comments is “I had no idea you had this” (or a variant of that nature). But we finally have a clear path to this, and are well on our way to finishing the 60+ hours required to build it.
As with most of these projects, I can't talk about it right now but will be sharing the results in November once it is live!
Looking For Past Reports?
Unlike other websites who host an article series on this topic, we only have one article for our travel blog income and traffic reports.
We do this for a number of reasons, but it is mostly because we do not want dozens upon dozens of posts on our site to this one specific topic.
To compensate for this, we update this article every month based on our current data and share a graphical summary of our previous 24 months on a rolling basis. If you have any questions about data from a specific month we are happy to share more details via email at email@example.com.
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