We're already a week into a new year, but there's still one more month from 2019 to wrap up!
December is usually a slower travel month for me since things quiet down around the holidays, and this year was no different. I mostly stayed at home in December, catching up with family and friends – and eating way too much food.
Having a slower and stress-free end to the year has propelled me into the new year feeling super motivated!
Here's a look at the month:
December: The month in travel
- Countries visited: 1 – The US
- Cities visited: Scottsdale, Arizona; Cleveland, Ohio
- Flights taken: 4
- Days spent on the road: 5
The best thing I ate: My favorites from my trip to Scottsdale were probably the Brussels sprout nachos from Diego Pops, and the blue corn-crusted calamari I had at Civana's Terras restaurant.
The coolest thing I did: Going on a sunrise balloon ride over the desert in Arizona has to win this prize. Ballooning is always magical, and this ride over the desert near Phoenix was no exception. Totally worth the 5 a.m. wake-up call!
December travel highlights
Returning to Scottsdale – I visited Scottsdale for the first time in June 2019, and was pleasantly surprised by everything there, from the food to the arts scene to the abundance of outdoor activities nearby (that, yes, I enjoyed even in the heat of summer!). I've been working with Experience Scottsdale since then to put together a return trip. I got to go back in December (Scottsdale's “secret season”), and I enjoyed the area even more the second time around!
December travel lowlights
Nothing to report this month!
December on the blog(s)
Last month, I asked whether you would be interested in also hearing how my second niche site, Cleveland Traveler, is doing in these monthly updates. I got some positive feedback on that idea, so I figured I'd start rolling some of that CT data into parts of this recap.
December was an excellent month for both blogs. On my Cleveland site, a Christmas post went viral in late November, and carried me on a nice traffic wave through the holidays. On A Dangerous Business, I ended up having one of my best traffic months ever, helped in part by the annual day-after-Christmas search traffic spike.
And even though I took some time off this month to hang out with family, I still got quite a bit accomplished!
A Dangerous Business traffic: 249,603 unique users and 347,709 pageviews
Cleveland Traveler traffic: 9,627 unique users and 14,279 pageviews
Most popular post: Year in Review: My Top 10 Travel Highlights of 2019 – My annual year in review post is always popular, and this years' was no exception. Check it out to learn what made my top 10 from 2019!
Other posts published in December:
- Why You Need to Visit the Incredible Island of Islay in Scotland
- 3 Delicious Things to Do in Rome if You Love Food
- The Perfect 10-Day Itinerary for Portugal (Without a Car)
- 75+ of the Best Things to Do in Cleveland
December on social media
Most popular Instagram post (@dangerousbiz): This photo from my best-of-2019 countdown caught some eyes. It's from the Sahara Desert in Morocco, and I really love it, too.
View this post on Instagram
I’m counting down my top 5 travel highlights from 2019 from now until the end of the year! ✈️ Coming in at number 3 is the overnight trip I took into the Sahara Desert in Morocco. The adventure began with a camel ride ? through the orange dunes to our camp for the night. We then climbed a dune to watch the sun set over the sand, which is when I captured this image of the shadows the setting sun cast across the sand dunes. Can you spot the two camels in this shot? Afterwards we returned to camp for dinner and then songs around a campfire, stopping every now and then to soak in the silence and look up at the stars. This was such a highlight that I’ll be doing it again in 2020! And don’t forget that you can join me on my reader tour of Morocco ??- find the link in my profile! Have you ever spent the night in the desert? Would you ever want to?
Most popular Instagram post (@clevelandtraveler): This photo from the fireworks/tree-lighting at Winterfest (downtown Cleveland's annual holiday kick-off event) was the favorite.
View this post on Instagram
It’s officially the Christmas season in Cleveland!! ???? Last night, the city’s Winterfest celebration culminated in the Public Square tree lighting, followed by fireworks. What a show! And while Winterfest and the fireworks are done for the year, the downtown holiday decorations and light displays can be enjoyed for the rest of the season. Check the link in my bio to learn about all the Christmas goodness that can be enjoyed in Cleveland this year. What makes it feel like the holidays for you? Did you go to Winterfest?
Most popular Facebook post: You enjoyed telling me about your favorite trips from 2019 – and I loved reading about them all!
December business update
December was another record month, business-wise. I'm really motivated going into the new year because so much is happening! My income this month was boosted by getting a few payments from fall campaigns all at once (end of the year accounting, and all).
A Dangerous Business income report:
- Advertising: $6,466.35
- Affiliates: $3,843.72
- Paid campaigns: $7,950.00
- Consulting: $750.00
- Course sales: $60.10
(Note that this is my income before deductions and taxes.)
I'll start sharing income info from Cleveland Traveler in another month or two!
Getting Cleveland Traveler accepted to Mediavine – Mediavine is the ad network that serves up the in-content display advertising on this site. Getting Cleveland Traveler accepted to Mediavine was a stretch goal for 2019, and by November it didn't look likely that I would make it. (There are certain traffic minimums you have to achieve, and even though they lower the required number for second websites, I still was off by at least 35-40%). But then my Christmas in Cleveland post went viral locally at the end of November, and my traffic skyrocketed. I applied to Mediavine right away, and to my surprise got accepted! Here's to having 2 monetized websites in 2020!
My Morocco tour is still on sale! – Did you hear? You can totally travel to Morocco with me in March 2020! I've teamed up with my favorite tour company, Intrepid Travel, to plan a 10-day trip around southern Morocco including a food tour in Marrakech, hiking in the High Atlas Mountains, an overnight in the Sahara Desert, time on the coast, and more! There are only a couple spots left and only ONE MORE WEEK to book a guaranteed spot, so if you're interested in coming, learn more here!
Instagram is totally demoralizing – I know I complain about Instagram a lot in these monthly updates, but it's a platform that destinations and brands still really care about – and therefore I still need to care about it, too. I worked on a really great partnership in December in which Instagram posts were contracted, and most of those posts absolutely BOMBED. Like, Instagram basically showed them to no one. Instagram claims it wants influencers to be transparent about sponsored content, yet it seems to punish people who actually take the time to go through all the steps of disclosing properly. It's SO frustrating.
Upcoming in January
It's time to get back on the road in January! Here's a look at what's coming up:
Paso Robles, California – Right after the New Year, I headed out to California to meet up with some blogger friends for a small group mastermind-style weekend to talk all things business and blogging for the new year. Starting the year off right!
Ann Arbor, Michigan – You might remember that I visited Ann Arbor for the first time last summer (remember?) and really loved it! Elliot and I will be going back during the winter to explore even more of the fun things to do in this college city. A creamery tour, cat cafe visit, speakeasy, and more are on the to-do list.
New York City – At the end of the month, I'll be headed to New York City for International Media Marketplace (IMM) and the New York Times Travel Show, where I'll be speaking on a panel again during media day. If you're going to be there, be sure to say hi!
And remember that you can follow along in real-time with all of my adventures through my IG Stories on Instagram!
Amanda Williams is the award-winning blogger behind A Dangerous Business Travel Blog. She has traveled to more than 60 countries on 6 continents from her home base in Ohio, specializing in experiential and thoughtful travel through the US, Europe, and rest of the world. Amanda only shares tips based on her personal experiences and places she's actually traveled!