You might have noticed that I skipped publishing a monthly recap post in June. This was mostly intentional; there was too much going on in early June that far eclipsed me updating you on my (non-existent) travels and whining about the state of my businesses.
So instead of putting time into writing a mediocre recap post, I spent that time giving space to the civil rights movement happening in my country. In case you don't follow me on social media or subscribe to my newsletter, it's worth repeating that I believe that Black Lives Matter, and have supported the movement in the last month.
This month's update, therefore, will cover both May and June, just so we're all caught up. There wasn't a ton of travel to report on, but I've been fairly busy nonetheless.
Here we go!
May and June: The months in travel
- Countries visited: 0
- Cities visited: 1 – Cleveland, Ohio
- Flights taken: 0
- Days spent on the road: 2
Getting out more in northeast Ohio – We still don't feel comfortable dining inside restaurants or going shopping inside stores, but Elliot and I have tried to get out at least once a week to do *something* new.
Whether it's going for a hike to look for spring flowers, or taking the drone out to fly, or tentatively trying out a new restaurant patio (we've only done this twice), we are doing our best to satisfy our need to break up our quarantine routine while still being as safe as possible.
Spending a night in a treehouse – At the beginning of June, Elliot and I spent a night away from home for the first time in more than 3 months. We went to a secluded spot near Mohican State Park in Ohio and stayed for a night in fancy treehouse.
The treehouse had all the modern conveniences (a kitchen, a shower with hot water, air conditioning, etc.), but lacked wifi and cell signal, making it a perfect place to disconnect for 24 hours. I'll be writing about this later this month!
Filming the Cleveland BLM mural – On June 20, local Cleveland artists gathered to paint a giant Black Lives Matter mural on a street in East Cleveland. The mural was put in an area that's been plagued by crime in recent years, much of it perpetrated against Black women.
Elliot and I aren't painters, so instead we took our camera and drone and contributed to the project the best way we know how. We shared images and footage far and wide around Cleveland, and have made prints available (with all proceeds being donated to local Black-benefiting organizations).
I'm aware that painting murals on streets doesn't equal systemic change, but this project has meant so much to the local community – proven by the fact that the city kept the street closed down for nearly two weeks, and hundreds (maybe thousands) of people came from all over the city to see it. Art can be a form of activism, and being able to help document this was pretty special.
Here's the video we made of the mural:
Seeing people not take COVID-19 seriously – My business literally revolves around telling people they should travel. And yet I've been actively going against this for nearly 4 months now, because I believe that if we all sacrifice together for a little while, we'll all be able to move forward together sooner. Unfortunately, many of my fellow Americans have chosen to ignore facts and turn simple things like wearing masks into a political representation of “freedom.”
In March, I was resigned to the fact that my business was going to suffer for a while as the whole world went into lockdown. But now, as other countries are emerging successfully from those lockdowns, here in the US people are still ignoring the pandemic. These selfish people are now the ones affecting my business, and to say I'm pissed that the last 4 months have essentially been for nothing would be an understatement.
May and June on the blog(s)
Things finally started looking up in June – for both of my sites. Traffic on my main blog is still down (roughly 15%) from the same period last year, but it's been a relief to see the numbers finally start to tick back up again.
I doubt I'll get back to pre-pandemic numbers anytime soon (June was still down 34% compared to February 2020), but at least traffic isn't nose-diving any longer.
A Dangerous Business traffic: 112,947 unique visitors and 158,693 pageviews in May; 168,089 unique visitors and 225,763 pageviews in June
Most popular post: Can You Safely Plan a US Road Trip this Summer? – This post is essential reading for anyone considering planning a road trip in the US this summer. There are a lot more things to consider this summer than in any other year, and I hope people will be responsible with any travel they plan!
Other posts published in May and June:
- 25 Things to Do in the Southwest USA to Put on Your Bucket List
- 5 Days in San Juan, Puerto Rico: The Perfect Caribbean Getaway
- Planning the Perfect Island Getaway to Vieques, Puerto Rico
- Why You Need to Know About Turkey’s Turquoise Coast
- The Perfect 10-Day Scotland Road Trip Itinerary for the Whisky Lover
- Is Summer the Best Time to Visit Scottsdale?
I also updated a few older posts:
- A Peek Inside My Camera Bag: My Favorite Travel Photography Gear
- DOs and DON’Ts for Your First US Road Trip
On Cleveland Traveler, traffic also saw a gradual increase, mostly thanks to all the summer-specific content I've been publishing. The city began re-opening in May, and it seems people were ready to start doing things again in June. (Granted, we'll see if this continues into July, as COVID-19 cases have been increasing, and the Cleveland Mayor finally made masks mandatory in the city as of July 3.)
Cleveland Traveler traffic: 5,312 unique visitors and 7,513 pageviews in May; 5,064 unique visitors and 7,328 pageviews in June
Some of what I've published:
- The Best Things to Do in Cleveland in Summer
- 10 of the Best Day Trips from Cleveland
- 10 Cleveland Jigsaw Puzzles to Solve Online at Home
- The Best Beaches Near Cleveland that You Need to Visit*
*This post was written by my friend Kat from World Wide Honeymoon, who freelances for me over on Cleveland Traveler.
May and June on social media
I took some time off from my “regularly scheduled” social media content in late May and early June, choosing instead to share content to support the Black Lives Matter movement. It's a testament to the awesome readers/followers I have that that content still resonated so well!
Most popular post on Instagram (@dangerousbiz) – Since I'm covering two months, there were a couple photos that came close, but this one posted for Pride Month was the most popular.
View this post on Instagram
When it comes to travel, it’s important to remember the privilege many of us have to explore the world. It’s equally important to remember that not everyone experiences travel in the same way. There’s been a lot of focus within the travel industry in the last few weeks on the Black travel experience and the representation (of, rather, lack thereof) of Black faces and voices within traditional travel media. And this is a very important conversation to have! But I would be remiss if I failed to mention that it’s still Pride Month, or chose not to acknowledge the challenges that go hand in hand with being an LGBTQ individual who loves to travel. I am incredibly privileged not just as a white person, but also as a straight, cisgender female. Why does this matter? Well, it means I never have to do research on whether I will be discriminated against in a destination based on how I look, whose hand I want to hold while walking down the street, or who I want to share my hotel room with. Those are very real concerns for a large group of travelers, as the world is not as open and accepting of all people as we’d like to believe it is. I’m a firm believer that travel should be for everyone, and that certainly includes gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, and transgender people, too. So, happy Pride Month 🏳️🌈 (even though it’s a bit late). Enjoy this photo of probably my favorite metro station in Stockholm, Sweden. Do you ever sit down and think about how travel is different for people who don’t look or live or love like you?
Most popular post in Instagram (@clevelandtraveler) – By far this post about the BLM mural was my most popular post on my Cleveland account.
View this post on Instagram
Support and allyship can take different forms. Yesterday, Elliot and I spent some time filming footage of the Black Lives Matter mural being painted on E 93rd Street. We're not artists that work in paint, but documenting this project in video form was something we *could* do. It was amazing to watch this project come together (they planned it in less than 2 days, and it was painted in just 10 hours). Each letter was designed and painted by a local artist, making the final mural a uniquely Cleveland work of art. Swipe to the second slide to see an aerial view a bit closer up. And note: This is the first of 3 street murals like this planned around Cleveland. We hope to be able to film the others, too! UPDATE: Because people have asked, I’ve made prints available of some of the aerial views. Link to buy is in my bio, and I’ll be donating all proceeds to local non-profits.
Most popular post on Facebook – I love my Facebook page because it's such a great way to interact with people. My most popular post was this one, where we talked about our last pre-COVID trips. This post was also popular, where I asked people what the lockdown situation was like where they live.
May and June business update
Even though traffic was on the rise in May and June, income is still down substantially. This is because people still aren't booking travel (bye bye, affiliate income!), and also because of how my ad income is earned/reported.
I report income when it hits my bank account, but it's often earned months previously. So, for example, the ad income coming into my bank account in June was actually earned in March – you'll continue to see it dip in the next couple of monthly reports.
You'll also see how far my affiliate income has fallen – yikes!
A Dangerous Business May income report:
- Advertising: $8,427.40
- Affiliates*: $1,378
A Dangerous Business June income report:
- Advertising: $3,791.29
- Affiliates: $232.27
- Course sales: $89.2
- Consulting: $975
(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! And since you can see how much I make each month, hopefully that's proof enough that I kind of know what I'm talking about. You can check out my affiliate marketing for travel bloggers course here.
Cleveland traveler May income report:
- Advertising: $172.51
Cleveland traveler June income report:
- Advertising: $124.61
(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 6 months.)
Launching my Round Door Media site – Since I had some time on my hands in May (and because I wanted to learn how to build a site using Squarespace), I decided to finally make a website for my media company. Round Door Media, LLC has existed for more than two years as my official business entity, but it didn't have its own website until this year. You can check it out here!
Taking on some consulting work – I've offered affiliate consulting/audit services for the past year and a half, and took on a new client towards the end of May. This was actually really good timing, because I have plenty of time to do this kind of work now. (Anyone else need affiliate consulting? You know where to find me!)
Having our drone footage go a bit viral – Elliot was super proud of this one. I mentioned above that we filmed the Black Lives Matter mural in Cleveland. We ended up sending footage to all the local news channels, and both Round Door Media and Elliot got on-screen credits. This wasn't something we got paid for (and I was absolutely fine with that in this case), but it was still pretty cool. And hey, maybe we can leverage that to turn aerial photography into a side hustle for Round Door Media in the future!
Because, PS, Elliot has his Part 107 license from the FAA, and also got clearance to fly in Cleveland in May. Expect more shots like these:
Waving goodbye to affiliate income – I know, it's weird to say I offer consulting services for something that earned me less than $250 in June, but it is what it is. Affiliate marketing has been ROUGH for travel sites in the last quarter; many brands either slashed commission rates or shut down their programs entirely during the pandemic. And of course people just aren't booking much right now. I know it will eventually get better, but some days it's tough to look on the bright side of this one.
Upcoming in 2020
Every time I feel like maybe it would be okay to start planning some travel for the future, things completely change again. It's nearly impossible to plan anything more than a week or two out, especially with the US handling things so horribly and Americans now being the pariahs of the world.
I don't have any upcoming travel plans. Elliot and I have talked about *maybe* planning a road trip this fall, but it's too soon to make a call on that.
Maybe in the next update I'll have better news about upcoming plans!
Also, how do you feel about me combining multiple months in these updates? Anything else you'd like to see included now that I'm grounded for a while?