With Labor Day weekend now behind us, my brain is teetering on the edge of full-on Fall Mode. Despite it still being warm here in Ohio, I've already had my first pumpkin spice latte of the year, and have informed Elliot that I may be putting up our fall decor sooner rather than later.
None of this has anything to do with travel, but I haven't been on a plane in more than 18 months, so maybe cut me some slack.
Read on to learn about some short trips I took in August, and what I've (hopefully) got on the calendar for this fall.
July and August: The months in travel
- Countries visited: 1 – USA
- States visited: 5 – Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan
- Flights taken: 0
- Days spent on the road: 7
After traveling a bit in May and June, I stayed close to home throughout July, and only took weekend trips in August. Highlights from the months included:
Getting historical in Parkersburg – Elliot and I went back to West Virginia in August, this time to work with the West Virginia Department of Tourism and the city of Parkersburg. Parkersburg is an historic Ohio River city close to some nice state parks. We spent a long weekend visiting some cool historic spots (including the island where Aaron Burr plotted to basically commit treason and start his own empire) and doing outdoor things like cycling and kayaking. Read all about it here.
Summer in Ohio – We had some oppressively hot and then some very rainy weather in northeast Ohio these last two months, but there were enough breaks in to get out and do some fun summer things like frolicking through a lavender field, cutting sunflowers, going to the Asian Lantern Festival at the Zoo, and visiting some favorite patios. I even got to play tour guide around Cleveland one day for some out-of-town friends!
Spending a weekend in Detroit – Towards the end of August, we drove up to Detroit for a long weekend. Partly because I'd never been there before, and partly because I'm starting to get anxious about the fact that I'm running out of things to write about here! We had a really great time exploring Detroit's architecture, art, and food scene. It's yet another Midwest city that often gets unfairly stereotyped.
To travel now, you gotta WANT it – Nevermind international travel with all sorts of changing entry requirements… even just traveling domestically by car can be trickier than normal right now. Going to Detroit on a non-holiday weekend (we purposefully avoided Labor Day), we had no clue we would need to book EVERYthing in advance, from museum tickets to dinner reservations. Thankfully it all worked out, but if you're planning a trip right now, be prepared to actually PLAN just about everything.
July and August on the blog(s)
With multiple Google updates and another surge in COVID cases in the US, late summer wasn't great for me traffic-wise. Numbers aren't down nearly as much as they were in the early days of the pandemic, but things definitely are nowhere close to being recovered.
In my last update, I was looking forward to being able to publish more as the world began to open back up, but I feel like we've been taking strides backward instead of forward in the last month or so. At this point, I'm not really expecting traffic to recover until maybe after the holidays.
(Summer traffic dips are actually pretty normal in travel as people return from summer vacations and move into back-to-school mode, though, so that coupled with new COVID fears at least means none of this is surprising!)
A Dangerous Business traffic: 196,875 unique visitors and 280,044 pageviews in July (down about 8% from June), and 182,461 unique users and 257,008 pageviews in August.
Most popular post: Climbing a Via Ferrata in West Virginia: Crazy Fun or Just Plain Crazy? – I finally wrote a post and made a video about the via ferrata course we did in West Virginia back in May. This was fun to write, and has tons of photos.
Other posts published in July and August:
- A Summer-Lover’s Guide to the Outdoors in Madison, Wisconsin
- How to Spend One Day at Indiana Dunes National Park
- Turkey Encompassed with Intrepid Travel: A Great Intro to Turkey
- Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting Parkersburg, West Virginia
On Cleveland Traveler, things have stayed fairly steady throughout the summer traffic-wise, and I think will pick up again soon as we move into fall and then the holiday season.
Cleveland Traveler traffic: 38,217 unique visitors and 50,241 pageviews in July (up roughly 10% from June), and 37,638 unique visitors and 49,580 pageviews in August.
If you want to see what I've been up to on Cleveland Traveler lately, visit the site here.
July and August on social media
I feel like social media is just full of ups and downs recently; as soon as you feel like you've “cracked” a new algorithm or way of doing things, suddenly everything changes and platforms like Instagram go back to not showing your content to anyone.
If I have learned anything in the last few years as a blogger, it's that I would never, ever recommend relying on a single social platform to make a living. Whether it's Instagram or TikTok, you never really have full control over the platform or your content on it!
Most popular post on Instagram (@dangerousbiz) – My most popular photo was this carousel from the Viceroy hotel I stayed at in Chicago. But I've also been playing around with Reels on Instagram, and this one from Chicago and this one from Madison also did really well.
Most popular post on Instagram (@clevelandtraveler) – My Cleveland Instagram has been doing super well recently! This photo of 4th of July fireworks over Lake Erie was the most popular, but technically this Reel about the announcement that the Cleveland Indians baseball team will become the Guardians next year got the most views.
July and August business update
I mentioned in my last update that ad rates have been absolutely *insane* this summer. And, because there's a lag in advertising payments (I report my ad earnings when they hit my bank account, but they were earned two months earlier), the results of those insane RPMs are just now starting to show in my income reports.
As with everything in this industry, though, these sorts of highs are not really sustainable, and I'm already starting to see these earnings dip. You can also see that affiliate sales are on a downward trend again, likely because the global tourism reopening hasn't really gone to plan thanks to the delta variant.
A Dangerous Business July income report:
- Advertising: $17,621.84
- Affiliates*: $3,730.51
- Paid campaigns: $1,613.45
A Dangerous Business August income report:
- Advertising: $17,937.90
- Affiliates: $3,691.48
(Note that this is my income before deductions/expenses 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.
On Cleveland Traveler, income is also continuing to rise, and I'm now consistently earning $1000 per month from that site. (2021 goal: achieved!)
Cleveland Traveler July income report:
- Advertising: $1,050.16
- Paid campaigns: $1000
Cleveland Traveler August income report:
- Advertising: $1,686.67
(Note: A Dangerous Business was started in 2010, and has been monetized for more than 8 years; Cleveland Traveler was started in 2019, and has been monetized for less than 2 years.)
Hitting big income goals in the last couples months has definitely been a major business high. But the business lows listed below overshadow some of those warm fuzzy feelings.
COVID is back – Well, I mean, COVID never really went away. But in my last update (which was published in early July), numbers in the US were a lot lower, borders were opening up, and travel planning and projects seemed to be on the rise. I actually even reported that I had TOO MANY offers landing in my inbox.
Well, if this pandemic has taught me anything, it's that I should always be prepared for the worst. (How sad is that?) With the delta variant causing surges in the unvaccinated populations across much of the US, everything is kind of up in the air again.
I HATE that we are back here, and that the few trips I've been really looking forward to in the fall are now causing me stress all over again. I'm tired, friends. I've done everything I could possibly do for the last 18 months, and now I really want (and need!) to get back to work. Just because I've had some great income months lately doesn't mean I can continue to not work indefinitely.
If me saying GET YOUR ASS VACCINATED offends you… well I really don't care any longer. Feel free to stop following me. It's thanks to the anti-science misinformation peddlers that we're where we are right now in the US, and if you are one of them then I don't want you here anyway.
More industry shut downs – A few months ago, one of my business lows was the fact that Airbnb had ended its affiliate program, which was a big blow to many travel creators. The hits just keep on coming; in the last couple of months, more travel affiliates have shut down, and even the company who hosts this website has decided to close up shop.
This pandemic is affecting those of us in the travel industry far beyond just not being able to travel, and it's not over yet.
Upcoming this fall
September: Florida Keys – Elliot and I were supposed to go to the Florida Keys back in spring 2020, but, well, you know what happened there. We are still rebooked for late September, and as of right now are still planning to go. We've obviously been keeping a close eye on the COVID situation in this part of Florida, but thankfully it's an area with a higher vaccination rate and lots of outdoor activities.
October: Finger Lakes – Elliot and I went to the Finger Lakes 4 years ago for a “mini-moon” after we got married and loved it! This year, I'm hoping to go back so I can write a full detailed fall road trip itinerary for you.
October: Austin? – We have tickets to go to the Formula 1 USGP in Austin, Texas at the end of October. But it's not yet confirmed that the race will still go ahead thanks to Texas' current COVID surge, so we're playing a wait-and-see game with this one.