How I Made $675 from Travel Blogging in December 2019

monthly income report - December 2019

My December 2019 income report! A full recap of how I worked on monetizing my blog for the last month of the year and my blogging income goals for 2020.  

Happy new year and and welcome to my monthly income report series!

These monthly reports are where I give you an honest look into how I’m building my blog into a business and finally monetizing it after over six years of blogging.

I wanted to start putting together these income reports for my own accountability, but also to show others how to go about monetizing their blogs – whether they’re a newbie or they’ve been in the blogging game for years.

These posts are also a good way to keep track of what I’m trying in terms of monetization and what is and isn’t working the best for my website.

My goal is to be as transparent as possible with these posts to give you a good idea of how much work goes into making a successful blog, and the different income streams that are out there for bloggers.

My main goal at the moment is building my passive income so I’ll have more time to expand my brand and make this blog better in the process.

So, let’s dive into December.

If you want to see my first, second, third and fourth income reports where I explain the different revenue streams I’m building in more detail, you can find those here: August, September, October, November

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep writing these income reports and providing free travel advice and tips. 

monthly income report - December 2019

December in Review

December brought me closer to my passive income goals. I bounced back from my fall traffic slump and saw increased ad revenue because of the holidays.

I also got inspired to write my first book and reflected on what BIG blogging and business goals I want to go after in 2020. In other words, December was a game changing month for me. 

In December, I changed my focus mid-month yet again. I know, I know, but don’t worry. I really think this is the last time I’ll switch things up and change my strategy mid-month for a while. 

The reason for the switch was to focus on writing my book more immediately.

I’ve been wanting to create my own product for ages and I was ready to take the leap and go full in with it soon after I was hit with inspiration. I think this book is going to be key to driving my passive income funnel from my content to my product (i.e my book).

Because of this, it made the most sense to get my book finished ASAP and then go back to creating more California niche content that leads directly into my book.  

I’m feeling confident with my passive income strategy for 2020 and growing the three passive income streams I’ve decided to double down on this year – affiliate posts, ad revenue, and my book. 

December was an interesting month for a couple of reasons. 

  1. Ad revenue sky rocketed because of the holidays. Advertisers pay a lot of money as it gets closer to Christmas, so this month I reached the highest RPM (revenue per thousand impressions) I’ve had yet. 
  2. Search traffic can be cyclical and one of the biggest slumps bloggers tend to see is at the end of the year. Organic traffic starts dropping at the end of September through Christmas, but then usually starts rising again the day after Christmas. That is exactly what happened this month (and for the last few months). My traffic spiked enough during the last week of December that I was able to increase my organic traffic by 17% compared to November. I’ve been averaging out to over 1,200 pageviews per day since the day after Christmas (compared to 800 per day before Christmas), which has been wonderful to see. It means my SEO work from the fall is finally paying off. 

 

This month, I saw another increase of $150 in passive income, thanks in part to increased ad revenue and doubling my affiliate income from last month.

It’s the best feeling in the world to see progress on my goals, even if it’s slow – as long as it stays steady. I’m hoping my book will help increase this progress even more once it’s published at the end of January. 

Here’s a breakdown of my stats from December.

monthly income report - December 2019

Income

In December 2019, I earned a total of $675.05 from my travel blog.

Affiliate Income

 

Total = $103.66

Display Ads

Mediavine = $571.39

Expenses

  • Adobe Lightroom (for photo editing): $9.99
  • Canva Pro (for designing pins): $12.95
  • Keysearch (for keyword research): $34
  • Ahrefs (for more in-depth keyword research and SEO optimization work): $99
  • ConvertKit (for email campaigns): $49
  • Tailwind (year subscription for scheduling pins): $119.88
  • WordPress domain renewal: $18
 

TOTAL EXPENSES$342.82

TOTAL NET INCOME$332.23

December Blog Traffic and Stats

*with comparisons to November stats

  • Monthly sessions: 21,896 (+2,810)
  • Monthly pageviews: 27,526  (+4,019)
  • Monthly users: 19,445 (+2,577)
  • Social media followers: 51,590 (-206)
  • Email subscribers: 2,120 (-125
  • Blog posts published/updated: 5 (+2)
 

November Traffic Comparison to Other Months

  • 17.10% increase in traffic compared to November 2019
  • 7.55% increase in traffic compared to October 2019
  • 15.88% increase in traffic compared to September 2019

 

monthly income report - December 2019

Review of December Goals

Write up nine affiliate posts – I started working on my book mid-month, so I only wrote up three affiliate posts in December. I’m still planning on going more full in with affiliate posts once my book is finished, but I’ll probably focus on writing up affiliate posts more gradually.

My goal is to be writing up 1-2 affiliate posts per week alongside California-related posts after my book is published. 

Publish my end of year post and reflections – I finished writing up my yearly reflections post on the 31st, so I reached this goal just in time! It was quite the year, it’s still hard to believe how much happened in 2019.

If you want to read the full post, you can find it here. This was my year of discovery, humility, and learning more about myself and what I want out of life. 

Finish all Pinterest work and have pins scheduled out through the first quarter of 2020 – Pinterest work keeps getting pushed back. I think it’s because it’s hard to stay motivated when I still haven’t seen real traction in my Pinterest strategy yet.

Although I started seeing an increase in Pinterest traffic at the end of December, that was more likely due to the usual seasonal search traffic bump and not necessarily anything to do with my strategy.

I’m putting a pause on Pinterest for now so I can double down on Google and my book. 

Reach 30K pageviews – I was so close to reaching this goal – in December I had 27,526. I really think I’ll hit the 30K+ mark in January now that my search traffic has bounced back from the typical holiday slump. 

Reach $600 in income from Mediavine – This was another goal that I was super close to reaching in December. I made $571.39 in Mediavine ad income this month, only $28.61 short of my goal.

Even though my traffic was pretty slow until the day after Christmas, I did well with Mediavine this month due to high advertiser bids for the holidays.

Reach $800 in income from just passive income from The Atlas Heart – I made $675 in passive income this month. I was hoping to reach $200 in affiliate income on top of my goal of $600 for Mediavine, but I knew this would be a stretch. 

I’m still happy with the increase in my passive income this past month, I made $152 higher than any other month in terms of only passive income.

On a side note, I’ve noticed that I’m naturally increasing my passive income by about $150 on average per month. I’m hoping this will jump up to a higher rate once my book is published. 

monthly income report - December 2019

What Worked

Mediavine 

This time of the year always brings about a weird combination. There’s a slump in search traffic but ad revenue skyrockets because advertisers know how profitable the holidays are. 
 
So, even though my traffic didn’t increase much until the end of the month, I still made a decent amount in ad revenue because I had high RPM. 
 
I averaged $26.10 RPM (compared to $22.53 RPM the previous month) and I was hitting $30 per day in ad revenue around and after Christmas. This is the highest per day amount I’ve reached so far. 
 
Unfortunately, this combination switches in January with ad revenue plummeting and search traffic naturally rising so I know my RPM will be lower for January. I’m hoping my monthly ad revenue will at least even out with my higher traffic.   

Affiliate Posts 

I reached a new high with affiliate posts this month, making over $100 for the first time! I’m not sure if this was because of the holidays, but I want to keep my momentum going with affiliate marketing as we head into 2020.

I’ll be taking a break from affiliate posts in January so I can focus on my book, but I’ll be getting out more affiliate posts in February and onward.

And, hopefully by that point, my additional three affiliate posts that I wrote up this past month will be ranking on the first page of Google and bringing in more affiliate income.   

What Didn’t Work

Pinterest 

I dropped my goal of finishing up my Pinterest strategy earlier in the month because I knew how much time it was going to take and I still haven’t seen definite results.

My Pinterest traffic was fairly stagnant in December until after Christmas, but, as I mentioned above, that’s when organic search traffic usually spikes. 

monthly income report - December 2019

What’s Next for January 

January 2020 Blog Goals

  • Finish my book! 
  • Maintain or exceed my passive income from December. Once I finish my book, I’ll be spending more time on increasing my other income streams, but until then I won’t be able to write up any new posts. I’m hoping I can continue my momentum of increasing my passive income every month with my recent increase in traffic.   
  • Reach 30K pageviews (I’m determined to make this happen in January!!)

My full focus in January will be on writing and publishing my book. My goal is to have it for sale on this blog by the end of the month.

Although I won’t have time to write other posts while I’m working on my book, I want to at least maintain or exceed my passive income from December.

In order for this to happen, I’ll probably need a few of my recent affiliate posts to reach the first page of Google, as well as one or two cornerstone posts.  

monthly income report - December 2019

What’s Next for 2020  

2020 Blog Goals 

These are my BIG goals for my blog that I want to reach by the end of 2020. I’ll probably add on to this, but these are the first ones I’m focusing on.

  • Make at least $8,000 per month in passive income (probably from a combination of affiliate posts, ad revenue, and my book) 
  • Write 90 affiliate posts and 100 California-related posts (and have all my cornerstone California posts ranking on the first page of Google) 
  • Take regular breaks and vacations (something that is hard for me to do but I want to find more balance in my work schedule before the end of the year)
  • Reach 250,000 pageviews per month

I have a lot of big goals for 2020. I want to write my first book, reach $8K per month in passive income, and become a go-to expert on California road trips and outdoor travel.

Once I finish my book, I want to start having more work life balance.

I’m thinking of doing four or five 45-day challenges throughout 2020, where I get a good chunk of posts written in 45 days then take one or two weeks off after each one.

I want to repeat that four or five times throughout the year to be able to lean into a joyful balance. 

2020 Life Goals

On a more personal level, I’m dedicated to my own personal development this year too.

2019 yearly wrap up

I recently signed up for a course about how to have better relationships and boundaries – with yourself and other people. And I plan to spend a lot of time this year nurturing relationships.

This year, I want to go on a fun 30th birthday trip with friends – potentially to Oktoberfest. I also want to become a better plant mom, start volunteering at animal shelters again, and get my yoga teacher certification before the end of the year. 

Basically, any chance I have for self improvement this year, I’m down for it.

2020 is all about working towards my dream of being a successful full time blogger, finding balance and joy, surrounding myself with healthy and supportive relationships, and becoming a better version of myself.

Here’s to leading this year with passion, business savvy, and an open heart. Happy 2020!

x Mimi

Mimi McFadden
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