My June 2021 income report! A full recap of how I had my highest month yet in terms of revenue and traffic for my California travel blog.
It’s been a while since I’ve written an income report. My last one was published right before the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Once everything shut down, I lost 90% of my traffic and income overnight, which was disheartening, to say the least.
After deciding in August of 2019 to finally start treating my blog like a business, I saw a lot of growth from August to February as I worked consistently on growing my business.
When all of that work washed away in one day, it was heartbreaking. I could barely write for a few months after the pandemic hit, everything felt so raw.
Even though a good chunk of my traffic recovered by June (since most of my readers are from California and interested in local travel), it took me until around October of 2020 to finally get my act together again and break out of that initial slump.
And I’m really glad I didn’t give up because since the start of the year and vaccinations becoming more prevalent in the US, I’ve seen a huge uptick in my traffic and income again.
In fact, I was finally able to chase my dream of running my site full time and quit all of my client work as of May 2021 because my stats have been trending so well.
This month was a milestone month in itself, but after the year that was 2020, it feels all the more special to hit above $6,000 in revenue and over 90,000 pageviews this month.
At this time last year, I was still a hopeless mess who felt like I would never get my blog to what it once was.
To give you an idea of what that “once was”, I was making just over $1,000 in revenue per month before the pandemic hit.
This month, I made six times that. How much can change in a year!
In case you’re new here, these income 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 eight years of blogging.
I write these income reports for my own accountability, but also to show others how to go about monetizing their blogs – whether they’re new to blogging or they’ve been at it 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 running a financially sustainable blog, and the different income streams that are out there for bloggers.
So, let’s talk about June.
If you want to see my past income reports where I explain the different revenue streams I’m building in more detail, you can find those here: August 2019, September 2019, October 2019, November 2019, December 2019, January 2020, and February 2020.
June in Review
Since January 2021, my income and traffic have consistently grown by anywhere from 15-30% each month and June was no different.
In fact, I made 60% more this month than what I made in May 2021.
I know this might be an outlier month with how excited people are right now with traveling again and Mediavine RPMs being through the roof, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to hit such a high milestone.
In June, I tried out a content challenge where I tried to get out a piece of content every day for as long as I could.
I made it 13 days before I started feeling a touch of burnout and ended it.
That content push helped me get out more content than usual, with 15 posts being newly published or updated on my site in June.
I also started working with a SEO consultant to help me improve my site speed and core web vitals, and I even started changing themes this month.
Although my blog design won’t change much, I’m finally making the change from Elementor to Gutenberg.
Elementor support has gone down a lot in recent years.
This month was the last straw when I couldn’t edit any of my Elementor pages for most of the month due to a glitch that wouldn’t allow me to load their editor.
Plus, their page builder is clunky and hurts page speed so Gutenberg was an easy switch.
June was also the month where I realized a few things about my blog and business:
- I much prefer writing longer, in-depth posts and these are also better for my income than shorter posts. When I was doing my content push, I could often only get out posts that were around 2,000 or so words to keep up with publishing every day. I still want to mix in these shorter posts but I missed really getting into a topic and giving it my all.
- It’s finally time to get serious about switching my whole site to a California focus. Some of my top-level pages are still geared for international travel and this is something I want to work on fixing for the rest of the summer. I also want to create new organizational top-level pages for all of the different regions in California.
- Consistency is key. It’s such a simple concept but so hard to follow sometimes. Getting out consistent and quality content (even if it’s not every day) is the key to growth. Period. That’s what it always comes down to and the main aspect to focus on if you’re building a blog.
In June 2021, I earned a total of $6,598 from my California travel blog.
Total = $1,692.72
Mediavine = $4,905
0 Sales in June = $0
- Adobe Lightroom = $9.99
- Canva = $12.95
- Keysearch = $34
- Ahrefs = $99
- ConvertKit = $49
- SurferSEO = $59
- Shutterstock = $100
- Asana = $23.98
- Google GSuite = $12
- HARO Link Building = $366.05
- Travel = $224.89
- Phone bill = $24.98
- Upwork = $327.88
Total Expenses = $1,343.72
Total Net Income = $5,254
June Blog Traffic and Stats
Monthly page views = 91,493
Monthly sessions = 77,166
Monthly users = 68,566
Email subscribers = 2,447
Blog posts published/updated = 15
June Traffic Comparison to Other Months
- 186.26% increase in traffic compared to June 2020
- 31.30% increase in traffic compared to May 2021
Review of my June Goals
Content Challenge & Consistency
I started my content challenge in early June and lasted for 13 days. I learned a lot in the process, which I touched on in this post.
Overall, it was a fun challenge that got me into a regular writing schedule again and pushed me to write more than I usually do each day.
There’s nothing like that feeling of pressing “publish” after writing something that you’re proud of and I got to feel that a lot this month.
Plus, there’s always so much backlogged content that I want to write about, it felt good to finally get some of that published and out of my brain and onto my blog.
Morning Writing Time
This went hand-in-hand with the content challenge. Now that I’m working on my blog full-time, I’ve been mindful about giving myself a good chunk of morning writing time each day.
As I keep saying, consistency is key and giving myself two to three hours each morning to just write has been a game-changer in getting out more content and improving my writing.
I did well in June by using that blocked-out morning time for writing every weekday of this month.
Solid SEO & Longer Posts
I’m thankful for my SEO consulting background and how many SEO courses I’ve taken because having a solid SEO strategy is truly a game-changer.
Focusing on SEO and going after keywords that are the perfect combination of difficulty and monthly search volume is what’s helped me grow so quickly.
And focusing on longer posts has helped my income grow as well.
My RPMs are super high for my lengthier posts (sometimes upwards of $70 per 1,000 sessions – to give you an idea, an average RPM for most people is around $30-$40 per 1,000 sessions).
The longer posts also work in my favor by giving positive signals back to Google.
The longer people stay on my pages, the more Google sees that people are engaging and liking my content, which in turn helps me stay high in first page rankings.
One thing to note – I don’t create long blog posts just for the sake of creating long blog posts and adding a bunch of fluff.
I purposefully choose content and topics that I know I can write a lot about and will still meet user intent, even if they’re 7,000 words.
Another thing that has been working well for me is having a consistent editorial calendar and getting out content on a weekly basis.
Yes, quality is better than quantity, but consistent content is still super important if you want to grow a website.
It takes anywhere from 3-6 months, sometimes a year depending on how competitive a keyword is, for content to start ranking on the first page of Google.
Because of how long that timeframe is, it’s important to keep putting out content now that will benefit you six months from now.
I’ve always known this, but I think I’ve finally taken it to heart in a real way this year and in the last month.
My affiliate marketing strategy really came through this month.
It was the first time I’ve hit over $1,000 in Amazon commissions and my other affiliate networks are starting to bring in more income as well.
Most notably, that big group of affiliate posts I published six months ago are now starting to rank on the first page of Google, which has been a big driver for my affiliate income.
It’s given me the green light to create more of these affiliate posts on a regular basis to keep getting those income jumps every time a new post starts ranking higher.
I’ve been much better about consistent email marketing in 2021 in general and June was no different.
I sent a newsletter at least once a week, if not twice a week, to my list to promote new or updated content and connect with my readers.
The biggest success was my Amazon Prime Day email that garnered 70+ click-throughs and a lot of sales from my product recommendation blog posts.
Focusing on Less Things
I realized earlier this year that in order to grow, I needed to do something that seemed counterintuitive – cut down on the many things I was focusing on so I could fully dive into one or two things that were clearly working.
As a blogger, you can get bogged down with a million tasks you could be doing, but if it’s not bringing in revenue (especially in the early stages), it’s probably something you can drop for the time being.
One task that always stressed me out but didn’t really affect my traffic or income all that much was posting on social media.
I now do a Facebook post or an Instagram story when I have new content, but I don’t spend more than five minutes on it.
Social media just isn’t my growth strategy and I get so much more back (including enjoyment) from my newsletters and Google SEO, so that’s what I’m focusing on.
What Didn’t Work
HARO Backlink Building
Backlink building is something I’ve dabbled with on and off throughout the years, sometimes going full in with it and other times ignoring it completely.
Although I don’t think it’s a waste of time (I’ve seen how well it can work first-hand with clients), I’m putting a pause on backlink building for the time being.
It’s a long game for sure but it’s not what I need to be focusing on right now.
Personally, I think it’s quicker and easier to focus on keywords you can easily rank for without backlinks and then invest in quality link building once you have the budget for it.
I hired a HARO writer a couple months ago. She’s a talented writer and managed to get us a handful of backlinks, but it’s not something I have a ton of budget for right now so her efforts didn’t make too much of a difference in terms of site authority.
Instead, I’d rather invest that money on the aspects of my business that really affect top-line growth right now, such as getting out more quality content.
*Sigh* My E-book still hasn’t quite gotten off the ground since I published it in early 2020.
I started getting more sales in the first few months of 2021 but those dropped off again in May and June.
I know I need to spend more time on marketing it for it to truly be successful and maybe even optimize it to be put on Amazon.
Because it’s not a main income stream though, I haven’t made time for that yet.
I also think that I may have been too broad with this first E-book with focusing on the whole of California.
It might be more successful to create individual E-books for different regions and parks in those regions.
This is something I’m still brainstorming, but for now, I’m putting it on the back burner until I reach a certain traffic and income threshold.
I don’t want to lose sight of the main things that are helping my business grow the most and right now that’s not my E-book.
What’s Next For July
July 2021 Goals
- Publish or update 10 quality blog posts
- Redo my site organization and refocus it on California travel
- Do a full internal linking audit of all my current content
- Finalize my site speed and core web vitals optimization
- Make over $6,000 in revenue again
- Hit 100,000 pageviews
I probably won’t be doing these income recaps on a monthly basis like I used to, but I would like to do them whenever I feel like I have something to share.
A lot of running a blog involves slow growth and heads-down work for months at a time before you start seeing traction.
At the very least, I want to give updates at the end of each year on growth, maybe making it a bi-annual post to update you on how everything is going.
In terms of my business, there are a lot of exciting goals and projects I’m working on this month and for the rest of the summer.
Most importantly, I’m going to be putting a lot of time into re-organizing the site for California travel, improving site speed, and creating a whole new group of top-level pages to make the site easier to navigate.
I also want to get back into vlogging and doing more local trips around the Bay Area.
With that said, I still have so much content to write about (probably around 30 posts or so from previous trips and experiences).
I’m trying to get through that before jumping into too much more travel and content creation, but my feet are itching to start exploring again soon.
Until next time!
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