About a month ago, the only thing that I could do to calm my nerves was to mutter “it’s going to be OK” to myself over and over again. My primary focus for the past 18 months has been on travel content, and as you know from reading my last monthly income report, this whole COVID-19 situation completely decimated that niche.
Travel content (of all kinds) simply isn’t being consumed at the moment and I was seeing horrific declines in both traffic and revenue on my travel blog and it’s associated YouTube channel.
But you know what? Somehow I managed to squeak out a fairly decent month given the current situation.
Everything that went well in April
- I’m not very big into affiliate marketing yet, but I’ve been dabbling with it more and more over the past year or so. On average, I earn anywhere from $90-$150 in affiliate income each month. However, in April, one of my affiliates exploded (in a good way) and I earned almost $210 from that one alone.
- Thank God for pre-negotiated contracts! If you recall in my last income report, I mentioned that I had set up a five-month deal with a sponsor way back in December 2019. April was month number 3 of that sponsorship deal, which provided me with a nice little boost of income to help pad my bottom line. Otherwise, it could’ve been a very bad month.
- Patreon continues to be amazing! What can I say about this? My patrons blow me away each and every month with kindness and generosity. I don’t feel like there’s any amount of extra content that I could produce for them that would make up for their generous donations each and every month, but I’m definitely trying to ramp things up a bit. Patreon is definitely a two-way street, and I don’t expect anyone to give me anything for free. Therefore, I’ve been working really hard to give them exclusive content that no one else has access to.
A few words about Patreon:
For any content creator looking for a boost in monthly income, do consider creating a Patreon account. Yes, it will put more work on your plate because you’ll have to produce extra content each month, but it’s totally worth it.
- First, you get to connect to your super-fans. I don’t know about you, but it’s these types of deeply personal connections which gives me the energy to continue on when things get difficult. It’s nice to know that you’ve got friends to turn to when things get rough!
- Second, the added revenue is incredibly motivating as well. The more value you create, the more you will earn (the results just might surprise you). As long as you’re providing value to your fans, they will be happy to return the favor in the form of a monthly donation.
It still blows my mind that people want to give me money every month, but they do. Not only is the money very good, it also pushes me to be a better person and to produce better higher quality content. Definitely a win-win for everyone involved.
Things that didn’t go well in April
- YouTube ad revenue is scary bad at the moment. I’d say that I’m down about 80% from where I was before this entire COVID-19 situation started, and that really hurts the bottom line. YouTube videos are extremely difficult and time-consuming to create, and it’s hard to stay motivated when I don’t feel as if I am being rewarded for my efforts. However, I will say that what I’m building with my Patreon account is making me care less and less about whatever I earn from YouTube ad revenue.
- YouTube traffic is still down about 50% from normal.
- Traffic on my primary website (the travel blog) is still down 60 to 70% from where it was previous to COVID-19. This is a bigger kick in the balls than losing all that ad revenue on YouTube, since writing quality blog content is far more mentally challenging to me than creating a video is. I’ve poured my life and soul into my travel blog over the past four years, and to see it sitting there like a drunkard lying in a ditch on the side of the road is completely heartbreaking.
April 2020 income report (7 blogs and 3 YouTube channels):
- YouTube Ad revenue: $219.64
- Website display ad revenue: $60.78
- Affiliate Marketing: $244.31
- Sponsored content: $900
- Patreon: $818.83
- Digital product sales: $1139
Total income: $3,382.56
April 2020 Business expenses:
- Web Hosting: $187
- ConvertKit (email marketing): $27
- SEMrush (keyword research): $99
- Gumroad (for selling digital products): $10
- QuickBooks Self Employed (for bookkeeping and invoicing): $10
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $52
- Vimeo: $7
- Shopify (for selling digital products): $29
- Epidemic Sound (for YouTube music): $15
Total expenses: $436
Total profit (income minus expenses): $2,946.56
As you can see, my income for the month of April wasn’t all that bad actually! I wasn’t too far off from recent all time highs, and it was still a very good month. I’ve really got nothing to complain about.
What I’m working on for the month of May
To be honest, I am using this downturn as an opportunity to focus on some of my other brands (which aren’t focused on travel). More specifically, I’m trying to focus on building up digital product sales and affiliate income since it’s been working so well for me up to this point.
I haven’t posted anything on my primary website (my travel blog) for over two weeks now, which is huge for me because I can’t remember the last time that I’ve missed a week. But you know what? I don’t feel guilty about it at all. As I said before, travel content is not in demand right now, so if there was ever a time to take some time off and focus on other things, this is it.
I’ve been blogging since 2010, and I’ve had several websites where I didn’t post anything for nearly 2 years and traffic never dropped off. That’s why I like blogging so much. Compared to other forms of social media (such as YouTube and Facebook), you don’t have to keep “feeding the beast”. As long as you’re posting good content, it will live indefinitely and Google will be happy to serve it up for as long as it stays relevant.
I’m not exactly sure when I will post something to my travel blog again. It might be another month from now, or it could be next week. It just depends on what I’m feeling like. The bottom line is, however, that I’m not abandoning it and it’s a project I’ll be working on for the rest of my life.
Something else that has been allowing me to focus on my other brands / projects is to produce simpler videos for my travel channel. Video production is by far my most time-consuming weekly task for my travel brand, and it’s been a very nice change of pace to stand in front of the camera and just talk for 10 minutes (instead of the on-location stuff that I usually do).
These “talking head” videos still require about a days worth of editing (believe it or not) but in the grand scheme of things it’s far less time-consuming.
Let’s just hope things stay decent for the month of May…