Can you believe that we're more than halfway through 2021 already? I swear, this year is flying by – which is kind of crazy, because I feel like I haven't *done* very much yet.
The last couple months have seen summer arrive in Ohio, and travel demand really start to pick up again. I was briefly looking into planning a July trip out West, but one look at prices for flights and rentals cars had me reconsidering that real quick.
BUT, I do actually have travel to tell you about in this update! Let's get to it.
May and June: The months in travel
- Countries visited: 1 – USA
- States visited: 5 – West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio
- Flights taken: 0
- Days spent on the road: 18
I actually went on a couple domestic trips in May and June! And let me tell you: it felt incredible to be out there traveling again!
Road tripping through West Virginia – The biggest trip I took in the last two months was the weeklong road trip Elliot and I did through West Virginia in May. West Virginia is a really underrated state, but it's absolutely perfect for a road trip since there are lots of unique things to do within a relatively small area. We spent time at New River Gorge National Park, went whitewater rafting, and had some other really cool outdoor adventures.
Climbing a via ferrata – One adventure I had my mind set on for our West Virginia trip was tackling a via ferrata in the mountains. A via ferrata is kind of a marriage between rock climbing and hiking, where you use a series of metals steps and cables to climb around in mountains. The via ferrata we did was at Nrocks, and had us climbing all over these really cool fins of rock. Elliot wasn't a huge fan of the heights, but I thought this was just about the greatest thing ever.
Staying in an old train car – On my way to a work project in Madison, I decided to stop for one night in Chesterton, Indiana, so I could make a quick visit to Indiana Dunes National Park. I had a fun day exploring the dunes, and even more fun enjoying my accommodation at Riley's Railhouse. Located in a renovated train station, this spot is hugely popular with train lovers since some of the rooms are in old train cars, and freight trains still regularly pass by right outside. I made a video of my stay here.
Exploring Madison, Wisconsin in summer – My first work trip of the year was a super fun one in Madison, which is the hip and green state capital of Wisconsin. I spent a few days soaking up all the outdoor activities, from paddling on a lake to visiting gardens and enjoying some patio dining. I really enjoyed Madison, and will have a blog post up about it soon!
Solo in Chicago – After Madison, I spent a couple nights on my own in Chicago, just days after the city fully “reopened” after its COVID restrictions. Chicago is one of my favorite big cities in America, and it was so fun to enjoy a few sunny days on my own in the city. I went on an architecture river cruise, watched sunset from an observation deck, and spoiled myself in a really nice hotel.
Road trip traffic – All my travel so far this year has been by car. And I had definitely forgotten how tedious driving around big cities can be. The drive from Indiana Dunes to Madison should have taken me 3 hours, but because of construction, accidents, and general traffic in the Chicago area, that trip took me 4.5 hours. Hot tip: always allow some extra time on road trips!
But if that's the biggest lowlight in the last two months, I'm doing just fine.
May and June on the blog(s)
After a banner month in April, traffic took a slight dip on my main site in May, and then I think was affected by a Google algorithm update in June. BUT, numbers are still up from where they were last year, so I can't complain too much.
I think it's also time to get serious about publishing new content more often as the world starts to open back up again.
A Dangerous Business traffic: 255,461 unique visitors and 346,198 pageviews in May (down about 8% from April), and 216,378 unique users and 301,566 pageviews in June (down 11% from May, but up about 30% over June 2020).
Most popular post: The Perfect One Week West Virginia Road Trip Itinerary for the Outdoors Lover – These detailed road trip guides take me a long time to write, but I'm always really proud of them. They include everything you need to know to plan the same trip I did, and this West Virginia one is no exception!
Other posts published in May and June:
- 10 Awesome Things to Do in New River Gorge National Park
- My Travel Essentials: 12 Things I Can’t Travel Without in 2021
- The 5 Best Tours in Aruba: These Day Trips are Worth Taking!
On my Cleveland blog, summer has brought a nice bump in traffic that seems to be sustaining. It's been fun to watch this site grow this year! I'm kind of in maintenance mode with it now, where I'm publishing some new things every month, but also spending time updating posts that I published last year or the year before.
Cleveland Traveler traffic: 34,407 unique visitors and 43,500 pageviews in May (up roughly 25% from April), and 34,146 unique visitors and 44,914 pageviews in June.
May and June on social media
Whereas in my last update I was whining because I didn't feel like I had much to share on social media, now I feel like I have the opposite problem. With some travel under my belt again, now I feel like I'm playing catch-up, especially when it comes to editing photos and video (because apparently we have to share more video now).
Most popular post on Instagram (@dangerousbiz) – Some of my West Virginia photos did pretty well, including this one from my favorite sunset there over the New River Gorge.
Most popular post on Instagram (@clevelandtraveler) – This photo of me in front of a local mural was the most popular, followed closely by this photo taken at Edgewater Beach (did you know Cleveland has beaches?).
May and June business update
I'm not sure this is even interesting to the non-bloggers out there, but May and June were absolutely *bonkers* when it came to ad revenue. Ad rates were the highest I have ever seen them, and this will translate into some of my highest-ever earning months later this summer (remember: I report my ad earnings when they hit my bank account, but they were earned two months earlier).
The rest of my income streams are starting to come back, too; you can see affiliate revenue is definitely back, for example.
In these months, I also worked on some projects with brands (including a campaign with Booking.com!) and destinations, and it's so great to have that income stream back.
A Dangerous Business May income report:
- Advertising: $7,537.16
- Affiliates*: $5,244.81
- Social media campaigns: $1,833.1
A Dangerous Business June income report:
- Advertising: $15,636.42
- Affiliates: $4,473.23
- Other: $1,500
(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 steadily on the rise again, and it's looking like I will be able to hit my goal of making at least $1000 per month from that site at least through the summer.
Cleveland Traveler May income report:
- Advertising: $699.27
Cleveland Traveler June income report:
- Advertising: $1,008.40
(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 18 months.)
Travel campaigns are back – Contrary to popular belief, not all travel bloggers work exclusively with tourism boards, or rely on “free” trips in order to travel. Pre-pandemic, I would *maybe* accept one paid campaign or trip per quarter, and largely pay for the rest of my travel myself.
Travel is definitely coming back with a vengeance, though (especially here in the US), and June saw the most campaign offers I've ever received hit my inbox all within the span of about two weeks. It's actually been slightly overwhelming – but in the best way possible.
I'm still being very picky about who I agree to work with, but I do have some partnerships with destinations planned in the coming months!
Having to turn down a big project – The only downside to having a glut of offers (well, it's a glut for me; for some influencers it would probably just be a trickle!) is that sometimes you'll get more than one offer for the same dates, or simply not have the bandwidth to say yes to everything you want to.
I had to turn down a big project that I would have loved to participate in because I had already committed to something else on the same dates. It's a bit of a bummer, but regardless I have some exciting things coming up this year!
Upcoming this summer
August: Back to West Virginia – We'll be headed back to West Virginia for a long weekend in early August, this time exploring the area around Parkersburg.
September: Florida Keys – Elliot and I were supposed to go to the Florida Keys back in 2020, but, well, you know what happened there. We are finally, finally rebooked for late September, and this trip may be the first time I get back on a plane since February 2020!