It feels a bit strange to write my December recap after finishing my 2019 review – like I’m duplicating my thoughts a little bit. But, these monthly recaps cover a lot more than my annual review and focus more on the professional side of travel blogging…. hopefully that makes it a worthwhile read anyway!
To round out the year, December was a month of extremes: my least amount of travel and my greatest amount of income. While this isn’t exactly what I had planned, you’ll hear no complains from me!
- Travel: 🏠
- Blogging: 📈
- Business: 💰🤑💰
This month’s photos were all taken around Sausalito and the San Francisco Bay Area while exploring this month.
Travel in December
Officially, December was the only month that I didn’t travel anywhere – which was a very welcome chapter to end the year. I had been facing burnout since my trip to Central Asia in August; it was aided some by fun trips to London and Seattle (two of my favorite destinations) in the months since. But, there’s nothing like rest to help weary muscles – even psychological ones – recover.
- Destinations Visited: 0
- Flights Taken: 0
- Days on the Road: 0 out of 31
December Travel Highlights & Lowlights
The best travel experience I had in December was… none! As I was home all month long, I didn’t have any travel experiences. And I’m quite okay with that.
The worst travel experience I had in December was… not traveling? Except sometimes you need to take a break and step away to rejuvenate and invigorate yourself for the future. That’s exactly what this month was all about, and it wasn’t the ‘worst’ by any stretch.
My December travel highlight from years past was… seeing the Orion EFT-1 Launch in Florida in 2014. This was my first NASA Social and my first rocket launch, and the last piece of evidence I need to be sold on writing about space tourism and astrotourism.
Blogging in December
After a tough September, very tough October, and mind-numbingly tough November, I’m so glad to be moving back in the right direction. This is primarily buoyed by an increase in search volume after the holidays – but I was seeing signs of life earlier in December that gave me hope.
I have no intention of giving up on my site in 2020, but it’s hard to stay motivated after three months of business contractions; now I’m confident about moving forward in the new year.
- Pageviews: 75,735 (↑24% from November, ↑96% from December 2018)
- Unique Visitors: 86%
- Traffic Breakdown by Sessions:
- Organic: 80.4%
- Social: 8.4%
- Direct: 8.5%
- Referral: 1.5%
- Email: 0.5% 👈 this is 5x more than September!
- Most Popular New Post: 10 Travel Essentials I Never Leave Home Without
There are some changes in the metrics this month that I think I should address. First, I switched to a percentage of sessions by channel instead of a raw number. I’m not sure there was any more value in a number than there is in a percentage – but my goals in 2020 are focused on the pie chart breakdown of how I earn traffic, rather than the total numbers.
Second, I’ve changed my ‘Most Popular Post,’ to be about my most popular new post – as in, the best performing post in the last three months. I think this is a more varied data point to show how topics can rise and fall in popularity.
Posts I Published in December
As part of my yearly recap, I discovered that there is absolutely no correlation between how much I travel and how much I write each month. Even on busy travel months, I write quite a lot – and on months like this, I wrote basically the same amount!
- 2020 Travel Inspiration: 20 Amazing Places I Visited in the 2010s in partnership with Expedia
- 10 Away Luggage Alternatives for Any Budget
- 7 Days in Alaska: 2 Weeklong Alaska Itinerary Options
- One Day in Seattle: 2 Ways to Spend a Day in the Emerald City
- 5 Reasons Why to Visit Alaska in Winter
I also updated my all-time most popular post, The Ultimate 10-Day Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide, and my guide on How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland. And, of course, I published my 2019 review: 2019 in Review: A Year of Travel, Stories & Life.
Freelance Writing in December
After falling off on pitching and writing in November, I didn’t really even try pitching stories in December (most editors have limited budget at the end of the year anyway); I’ve recently joined a group to try and pitch (and get rejected) more in 2020 – so this will likely change next month.
Blogging Highlights & Lowlights
The highlight of blogging in December was… working on my first sponsored campaign for Expedia. You might notice I don’t do many sponsored campaigns; I recently started using a network called Clever to find and apply for opportunities. It was a lot of work (it included so much social media promotion!) but it’s nice to find opportunities that fit well with me and my brand and also help keep this business sustainable.
The lowlight of blogging in December was… traffic still being low. After reaching a peak in July and August, I’m still down about 15% since the summer. It’s great that my traffic is growing again and not falling, but I really want to reach that six figure traffic milestone!
Business in December
If there’s one thing I absolutely can’t complain about even one iota, it’s my blog as a business this month. December blew it away and I am so grateful for months like this which make up for and sustain me through months where I don’t earn as much.
Heck – I set my goal to reach $8,000 in a single month before the end of 2020, and for a while there I thought might achieve that goal before the end of 2019!
- Advertising income: $2,827 (↑47% over November)
- Affiliate income: $2,551 (↑136% over November)
- Product income: $111 (↑327% over November)
- Sponsored content/campaigns: $1,850 (↑66% over November)
- Blogging product/service income: $500 (↑0% over November)
- Other income: $0
Total income for December 2019: $7,839
Months I’ve been blogging: 75*
*I share this number so you can see how long it has taken to earn this much. ‘Overnight success’ usually requires years of hard work – this blog is no exception.
Business Highlights & Lowlights
The business highlight for December was… dollah dollah billz y’all. While I’ve definitely worked to optimize my affiliate income and have worked hard to experiment with diverse income streams, I was not expecting success this soon – but I’m endlessly grateful to my past self and the opportunities that the travel blogging industry affords.
The business lowlight for December was… being just $161 from my 2020 goal. I won’t be anywhere near this number again for a while (because my sponsored income is not consistent enough to count on each month), so it really might take me until the end of the year to reach this level again.
Upcoming in January
January is starting off slowly for me – I have just two trips planned before February’s three and running my tour in Jordan in March. The first is a combo work/play trip to Greater Palm Springs for a friend’s bachelorette party. The second is a (hopefully) stargazing filled weekend on the Pacific Coast near Mendocino. I guess – just like 2019 – January is all about exploring my home state of California!
Do you have any travel plans in January? Questions about this month’s report? Let me know in the comments.
Until next month! ✌🏻❤️✈️