Even though I'm pretty sure 2020 is going to go down in history as The Longest Year That Ever Was, it's somehow already September! I didn't do much at all this summer, yet it seems to have passed rather quickly.
I guess that's just what happens when every day feels the same and each one just slips into the next. If I'm being honest, I haven't been 100% sure of the date or day of the week since April.
Since my days and weeks have been pretty tame lately, I decided to once again combine two months into one recap post. Let's take a look back at the highs and lows from July and August!
July and August: The months in travel
- Countries visited: 1 – USA
- Cities visited: 3 – Cleveland and Sandusky, Ohio; and North East, Pennsylvania
- Flights taken: 0
- Days spent on the road: 4
Lavender frolics – I'm not usually home much in the summer months, so this year I made sure to tick a couple things off my local bucket list that I normally miss. One of those things was visiting a local lavender farm in July to frolic and take some photos. I wrote about it on my Cleveland site.
Lake house trip – If you follow me on social media or if you're subscribed to my newsletter (are you? you should be!), you already know that I actually went somewhere in August! It was just a quick trip and only 2 hours away from home, but the house I rented with Elliot, my sister, and her boyfriend on Lake Erie was just perfect, and the break was one we all needed. Read all about how we planned the trip here.
Sunflower fields forever – It's sunflower season in Ohio, and I've already visited 3 fields so far! Two were just for photos, and at the second a friend and I went to cut our own bouquets. I will keep visiting sunflower fields, because I'm pretty sure it's impossible to be in a bad mood when looking at these cheery blooms.
All the borders are still closed – Canada, Europe, and most of the rest of the world is still keeping Americans out, meaning I don't have any exciting travel plans on the horizon. At this point, I'm even starting to doubt whether trips I rescheduled for next May and June will even happen. I'm trying to stay positive, but most days thinking about those trips just makes me depressed.
July and August on the blog(s)
I don't want to jinx it, but traffic is slowly starting to get back up to more “normal” levels. In both July and August, traffic on my main site was similar to what it was in the same period in 2019. (Granted, it's still down about 17% from February this year, but I'll take it.)
This uptick in traffic was driven by mostly Americans planning more local travel and road trips for the end of the summer. I'll be curious to see what happens now that it's “back to school” season – and now that we know that borders will remain closed to US citizens for at least a few more months.
A Dangerous Business traffic: 212,252 unique visitors and 280,257 pageviews in July; 209,166 unique visitors and 278,841 pageviews in August
Most popular post: What It’s Really Been Like to Run a Travel Blog During a Global Pandemic – In lieu of publishing a monthly recap post in July, I wrote this one instead that sums up all the weird truths about trying to keep a travel blog (and travel business) running during this pandemic.
Other posts published in July and August:
- How to Plan a Trip During a Pandemic
- Escaping to a Secluded Treehouse: The Perfect Socially Distanced Getaway
- 30+ Places to Learn About Black History in the US
- Zanzibar Itinerary: How to Spend 4 Days on the Spice Island
- Titanic Ties and Postcard Houses: Your Guide to Cobh, Ireland
- Where to Find the Best Skyline Views in London
- 8 Unique (and Ethical) Wildlife Encounters to Have in New Zealand
On Cleveland Traveler, I actually had my best traffic months of the year in July and August! Summer outdoor content (including posts about beaches, patios, and hiking trails) has been doing well. But I expect that to drop off as fall moves in.
Cleveland Traveler traffic: 11,299 unique visitors and 15,618 pageviews in July; 16,409 unique visitors and 22,939 pageviews in August
Some of what I've published:
- The Best Things to Do in Cleveland in Summer
- Where to See the Best Skyline Views of Cleveland
- Chase These 19 Beautiful Waterfalls Near Cleveland*
- 15 Best Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails for Hiking*
*These posts were written by my friend Kat from World Wide Honeymoon, who freelances for me over on Cleveland Traveler.
July and August on social media
It's been a weird up and down couple of months on social media. Some posts blow up, while other are complete duds. In the grand scheme of things, I stopped caring about things like Instagram likes long ago. But I still think the photos I'm sharing are good!
Most popular post on Instagram (@dangerousbiz) – This shot of the NEOWISE comet, which was viewable over Lake Erie back in July.
View this post on Instagram
When you live near a huge lake, it's tough to depend on weather forecasts for things like cloud cover – because clouds come and go pretty much as they please. But Elliot and I decided to take our chances last night anyway and headed up to Lake Erie for sunset, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the NEOWISE comet after dark. The clouds didn't cooperate for sunset, but they did cooperate afterwards, and I was able to get some shots of the comet! A few things to know, though: in this particular case, it was kind of like “seeing” the Northern Lights on a weak night; we couldn't really make out the comet with our eyes, even after full-dark. But my camera was able to capture it in a long exposure shot. So no, it didn't look like this to the naked eye. The orange in the clouds isn't from sunset, but rather the reflection of light pollution from the city of Cleveland, since we went to a park that was basically right downtown. But it's still really cool to see the comet in this photo! The weather forecast for the rest of the week doesn't look super promising for comet-viewing, so I'm glad we went out last night to try to capture this. Has anyone else seen the NEOWISE comet this week in the Northern Hemisphere?
Most popular post in Instagram (@clevelandtraveler) – This shot of one of the “Guardians of Traffic” on the Hope Memorial Bridge with the Cleveland skyline in the background was the clear favorite.
View this post on Instagram
Do you have a favorite spot to gaze adoringly at the Cleveland skyline? ? I have several favorite spots – including this one on the Hope Memorial Bridge. Some other favorites include: North Coast Harbor, Superior Viaduct, and Edgewater Park. If you want to see my full list of favorite Cleveland skyline views, check out my latest blog post (link in profile).
Most popular post on Facebook – This photo of me wearing a mask sparked lots of debate – and lead to me banning quite a few people from my page! This poll about whether people should be traveling or not was also a conversation-starter.
July and August business update
Traffic is on the rise, and income is following – but much more slowly. With borders still closed and travel shaming running rampant, people still aren't booking much travel at the moment.
My ad income from July and August was actually earned in April and May, which were the worst months for ad earnings in 2020. Things are starting to normalize again now, though, which you'll see reflected in the coming months.
As for affiliate earnings and other miscellaneous things… affiliate bookings are starting to trickle in again, and I got paid recently for projects finished earlier in the year. But my earnings are still way down from where I would expect them to be mid-year.
A Dangerous Business July income report:
- Advertising: $1,434.31
- Affiliates*: $322.98
- Sponsored/partnerships: $2,860
- Consulting: $975
A Dangerous Business August income report:
- Advertising: $1,973.48
- Affiliates: $467.70
- Course sales: $224.52
- Other: $416.58
(Note that this is my income before deductions and taxes.)
*Curious about how I make money with affiliates? I actually have a course on that! You can check out my affiliate marketing for travel bloggers course here – and save 20% by using the code ADB20OFF.
Cleveland traveler July income report:
- Advertising: $62.02
Cleveland traveler August income report:
- Advertising: $96.60
- Product sales: $90.85
(Note: A Dangerous Business was started in 2010, and has been monetized for more than 6 years; Cleveland Traveler was started in 2019, and has been monetized for 8 months.)
Launching my Cleveland merch shop – I spent some time during lockdown working with an illustrator friend of mine to design a unique Cleveland image that I'm now officially selling on posters, mugs, and tote bags in my Cleveland Traveler Shop! I'm really excited about these products, and legit love them all. But now comes the challenge of getting the word out about them.
Teaching myself more about web design – I launched my Round Door Media site earlier in the summer, and found Squarespace so easy to use that I decided to switch my sister's yoga studio site (which I manage) over to Squarespace, too. I did a total revamp/redesign of the site, and I think it came out great! If anyone needs a simple business site like this built… well, you know where to find me. 😉
Trying my hand at portrait photography – I've struggled a lot with being creatively motivated during the pandemic, so when the chance to try some portrait photography fell into my lap, I jumped on it. Both my sister and her best friend are pregnant right now, and I did some maternity photos for the friend last week. They came out really well considering I don't usually shoot portraits! I'll be taking my sister's maternity photos sometime next month.
Income diversification is hard – So many people have been encouraging bloggers to pivot and turn to other ways to make money when ad and affiliate income have been so low. But pivoting is HARD, folks. Even if you have great ideas, it doesn't always mean those ideas will result in a lucrative new income stream. I'm trying, though! Between the merch shop and photography and maybe even some basic web design, I'm hoping I can make up for some of the losses I had in the first half of the year. But it's a long road, and making money online never really happens overnight.
Where has my motivation gone? – I've been struggling a lot lately with feeling motivated. I've still managed to eke out one new post per week on each of my sites, but it's becoming more and more difficult to get motivated to write about old trips. It's been even harder to find new things to share on social media. I don't have a solution to this one; just gotta keep powering through.
Upcoming this fall
October: Michigan road trip – Even though it still feels super, super weird, I am *tentatively* planning a trip for next month. Elliot and I celebrate both our birthdays and our wedding anniversary within a couple weeks in September and October, and we usually try to go somewhere together to celebrate. This year, we're feeling confident that we can safely and responsibly take a trip up to northern Michigan for some fresh air and fall colors. I'm doing a TON of research, and for now only booking things with free cancelation. Stay tuned for more updates next month!
So how are YOU? How have the last couple of months been?