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Well, that’s a wrap! With this post, I’m officially done writing about 2018 and fully present in 2019 with all the opportunity it holds.

For this last monthly recap of the year, I thought about adding a yearly recap of lessons learned… or maybe doing one on my blogiversary each year. I didn’t put anything together because I don’t want to overload you, dear readers. If you do have an interest or opinion, let me know on my Twitter poll (open until January 9th).

Without further ado, let’s dive into December data!

TL;DR:

  • Travel: ???
  • Blogging: ?
  • Business: ?

This month’s photos were taken in Rancho Cacachilas, where I spent five days consulting on their astrotourism programming for 2019… and stargazing a lot!

Travel in December

January Recap - Hiking in Rancho Cacachilas

I had a busy travel month in December! I wasn’t expecting it to be that way, but two trip came together at the last minute and it was too good to pass up… so I spent more days on the road than I intended. As a result, I had to cut the number of posts I planned to publish in December. I did this to ensure that I could produce great content and do a good job experiencing each destination/taking notes/photos, etc.

  • Destinations Visited: 5
    • Los Angeles, California
    • Lompoc, California
    • Pescadero, California
    • Rancho Cacachilas, Baja California Sur, Mexico
    • Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Flights Taken: 8
  • Days on the Road: 21 out of 31 ??

December Travel Highlights & Lowlights

The best travel experience I had in December was… seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavour for the first time.This was a really tough choice! I did so many amazing things this month, including several nights of great stargazing in Mexico and making friends in the frigid cold while waiting for a (scrubbed) rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc. But the wow moment of seeing the Endeavour does take the cake!

The worst travel experience I had in December was… changing money too late at the Guadalajara airport and having to run to my gate.

It turns out the airline Volaris is really fast at boarding. I thought I had time to change money after they started the first boarding call… I ended up running to my gate and being the last one to board!

Blogging in December

I was feeling great in November, but December blew way past my expectations. I had my highest traffic month ever – even before the post-Christmas traffic bump most travel bloggers experience. It feels good to be back in the groove and growing here.

*cracks knuckles and starts typing new blog posts furiously*

  • Pageviews: 38,669 (↑44% from November, ↑283% from December 2017)
  • Unique Visitors:  34,371 (hey, everybody!! ?)
  • Traffic Breakdown by Sessions*:
    • Organic: 21,289 (76%)
    • Social: 4,086 (15%)
    • Direct: 1,710 (6%)
    • Referral: 890 (3%)
    • Email: 18 (<0.1%) ???
  • Most Popular Post: The Ultimate 10-Day Pacific Coast Highway Guide

My PCH guide continues to be my top post, which is a bit of a vulnerability if I lose ranking position… but also feels great as I have lived on the Pacific Coast for over five years and love promoting travel here.

(Do you think anyone wants to sponsor me to drive the PCH again? I haven’t driven the whole thing since 2014…)

*These numbers will not add up to pageviews, but is a more accurate representation of how I acquired traffic.

Posts I Published in December

December was originally planned as my “Pacific Northwest Month” where I would be sharing new and updated posts from Seattle and the surrounding region. With all my travel, I pushed my content calendar out a month, and only published a few posts early in the month that I had written in late November:

I also posted my 2018 recap, which turned into a behemoth! In years past, this has been two posts – one about top meals and the other about my travels. This year I put it all in one post, which ran 4,000 words with 100+ photos in the end! (The craziest part is that I didn’t even travel every month in 2018!)

Freelance Writing in December

I worked on some really cool articles in December – but they haven’t been published yet. Instead, I had just one story about the Feast of Seven Fishes published on FoodieTravelUSA.

December Blogging Highlights & Lowlights

The highlight of blogging in December was… breaking every traffic record I’ve set.At the beginning of 2018, I set a goal to break 20,000 pageviews for at least two months of the year. In the end, I broke 20,000 eight months! I also broke 30,000 one time!

The lowlight of blogging in December was… not being able to focus on my blog due to travel.

What nobody tells you about being a travel blogger is that there’s a constant tension between traveling and writing about your travels. It’s really hard to write a lot while you’re traveling, especially for short trips (3-7 days) where you’re there as a blogger for work and supposed to be experiencing the destination fully so you can write about it later.

I think that’s why you see a lot of bloggers never taking press trips and only traveling on their own/where they want to go. It’s much easier to balance when you don’t have a partner PR/destination expecting you to be fully switched on 16+ hours a day plus writing and promoting blogs during and afterward.

Business in December

January Recap - Cactus at Night in Rancho Cacachilas

Traffic and income move together, so it’s no surprise that a great traffic month will also be a great income month.

Income Report

  • Advertising income: $689 (↑91% over November)
  • Affiliate income: $317 (↑88% over November)
  • Product income: $572 (↑166% over November)
  • Space Tourism Guide income*: $829 (↑30% over November)
  • Other income: $0

Total income for November 2018: $2,407 (↑75% over November)

*Starting in January 2019, I will no longer report on STG income here. I am splitting the two businesses apart and incorporating STG as an LLC, which means its income isn’t related to the income I earn here.

Business Highlights & Lowlights

The business highlight for December was… ca-ching!That’s the sound of money being made. My two sites don’t make enough for me to live on yet, but they’ve improved substantially in the few months I’ve been focusing on them since I left my full-time role.

If you’re curious how I do make enough money to survive, the quick version is that I continue to work part-time/contract/remote for Go Overseas, and I’ve worked a large book project that pays me monthly installments for several more months. All together, that’s enough to live on here in the stupid-expensive Bay Area.

The business lowlight for December was… a low sales month for my Travel Journal on Amazon.

I normally make about $650 per month, and this year I made $572. I want my $80, please!

Upcoming in January

January is off to a great – but less traveling – start! I don’t have a ton planned this month, with the exception of:

  • A staycation here in San Francisco
  • A trip to northern California for the lunar eclipse (mark your calendars, January 20th!) (still in planning)
  • A trip to New York City for professional development (IMM and NYT Travel Show)
  • A working trip to Salt Lake City while Mr. V is there for work

Actually, that does look like a lot of travel! I’d better get to work now in the early part of the month so we have new blog posts all month long. ?

Until next month!

4 comments

Reply

Glad to hear your numbers are finally adding up! I overachieved my goals (or some of them at least) as well. Need to scale it up a bit yet to make a full living of it as well, tho ;/

PS: The submit your comment button is not highlighted and only appears via mouse over

Reply

Sorry I didn’t reply here, and thanks so much for checking this post out — and flagging me on the comment button (fixed!). Here’s to a great 2019 with full-time income-earning blogs! 🙂

Reply

Cool website. Enjoyed your recommendation for how to make the most of a day at Harry Potter Universal. I live in Orlando and haven’t gone yet. You’ve inspired me to go. Thanks.
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Reply

Thanks so much, Gail! Glad you enjoyed it – Universal Orlando is a great time, and you can *easily* spend a whole day in the Wizarding World. The park-hopper pass is definitely worth it!

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