With 2019 almost over, I decided to look back at what was a really interesting year for me and sum things up in order to add a bit of clarity to this year (and to make it easier to recap if I ever want to see how 2019 was for me).
I know that this type of articles rarely mean anything to anybody but the author, but I really wanted to write this so… I’m going to do it, no questions asked.
2019: Travel & Personal Life
The beginning of 2019 saw me burned out to the core: extremely tired, out of shape, struggling. I was a bit of a wreck (OK, I admit – a lot of a wreck), aimlessly moving from one project to another, working hard but without a plan, with things getting worse and worse mentally.
I had started to eat bad, stopped exercising due some injuries sustained while playing basketball in January and it seemed that overall I was always tired, always grumpy, always lacking time.
It took me three months to plan things out a bit and decide that I’m in need of a sabbatical. And while I never actually took my year-long sabbatical (nor a shorter period of time), I did get into a better, healthier mindset, optimized working hours, started to take more breaks and eventually started to feel a lot better.
There is still a long way to go, but I started to eat healthier again, I started to go to the gym again, so things are getting better in this area. I have to keep it up because I was definitely on a downwards slope – and the lower you go, the more difficult it is to claw your way back up.
Everything else worked pretty well in my personal life, my only regret being (as always) that I spent so little time with my family and especially my son. He’s growing older now, goes to school each day and has all sorts of extracurricular activities each day, so it’s really difficult for us to get as much together time as we’d both like.
With a school system that I don’t really agree with, with the pressure coming from others to do what they believe is the right thing, with so many opinions on what’s good for your kid – so many and so different, but at the same time completely ignoring what you, as a parent believe is best – I sometime think that simply removing him from the traditional travel and letting him learn and explore instead is the better thing to do.
I honestly am in a place where many parents probably are, at one point or another: having no real idea what the best course of action is regarding his future. There are Pros and Cons on each side and with his happiness and well being being the ultimate goal, it’s really a challenge to make the best decision.
Until we get that figured out (if we ever do), we should at least spend as much time as possible together: and I also started to improve that as well. Plus, we did spend a lot of time together when we traveled, which was really nice. Which brings me to…
Surprisingly – or not – this was the year that I’ve spent the most time away from home, ever: I’m going close to a total of three months spent away, with longer and shorter trips nearby or far away.
Our main destination this year was Czechia’s capital, Prague – I already wrote about the full month we spent in Prague so make sure to check that article out for all the info!
We also spent various amounts of time in various other places, but I didn’t get the chance to write about them so far. (Yup, travel articles are piling up like crazy in the drafts!) Here’s a list of the other cities we visited this year:
– Timisoara, Romania (spent around 10 days there and loved it!)
– Budapest (visited once with the family and once alone – my first solo travel in a VERY long time)
– Bratislava (we only spent 4 days here and I really regret not being able to stay more as I really, really dug that place!)
– Bucharest (this is a “cheat” trip that we take at least once per year, since my mother in law lives there and we always take advantage of her kindness to spend some time in Romania’s capital city)
– Sunny Beach, Bulgaria (which was our least favorite destination in Bulgaria, coming behind Albena and Golden Sands)
– Kladovo, Serbia
– Plus a few one-day trips to places close to our home.
The best part of all our travel – apart from seeing these really nice places and taking in fresh breaths of new culture and people – was the fact that they helped me reduce work hours a lot.
This was my plan in the first place, but it’s always easier to do it when you have other interesting activities on the list and not spend your entire day at home – and all of the places we visited offered a lot of alternatives to work, fortunately.
I really liked this year’s travels, especially now that our son is getting bigger and he does get to appreciate the things he sees, unlike in the past years when he was just too young to take in the beauty of some of the attractions and cities we visited.
2019: Blogging in review
Starting the year as tired as I did, I knew that there were some mandatory changes for my business approach in order to make things work, as it was the sheer number of blogs and work required that brought me in that state in the first place.
Number of blogs
I started 2019 owning 32 blogs, out of which 26 were active or partially active (meaning that I had written content for them in the past year and they had generated some sort of income – usually pocket change).
Since I am doing this all by myself – mostly because most of the blogs that I have started are really difficult to outsource content for – I decided that it’s time to cut off the dead weight and focus on blogs that I enjoy writing for and have a potential of actually making me a decent income.
While I did manage to reduce the numbers a lot – by either destroying useless blogs or merging them together – it proved to be a bit more difficult to stick to the original plan, especially because I am unable not to jump head-first when I think I see an opportunity.
As a result, I have lowered the number of blogs that I own to 19 (so 13 bit the dust one way or another), with a total of 11 that I am actively working on – still much better than January 2019!
Things actually looked even better until September 2019, when I went on a “crazy spree” and got myself three new blogs to work on:
1. I bought another travel blog from Flippa, confident that I will be able to increase its profits instantly and maybe flip it afterwards for a quick buck.
It was a really unlucky buy, as a few days after setting it up on my server, the blog was hit by a Google algorithm update, with two future updates negatively impacting its traffic.
As a result, it lost all in all more than 50% of its traffic, making me wonder if I will ever make my money back (it was not a huge investment, but I never like to lose money – who does?)
2. I also brought one of those ready-made websites which are popping everywhere nowadays, for two reasons: first, it was in a niche that I always had plans to dip my toes in (and something I really like).
Second, I really wanted to see how good these blogs are. I am not happy at all with this blog, but I will have an in-depth review of it soon. But overall, you pay too much money for what you get.
3. I had a really, really good domain name in the kitchen niche that I wanted to sell initially – but nobody wanted to buy it for my asking price. So I decided to put it to good use and start a blog myself.
The good thing here is that I’m planning to fully outsource the content for this blog and hopefully start making a profit sooner rather than later, with minimal work. I plan a case study for this one as well, so stay tuned!
Blogging Revenue in 2019
It was a few months into 2019 and I knew that this was going to be my best year ever in terms of revenue generated by my blogs, following a really good 2018 too (although not record-breaking)!
And while everything went as planned for most of the year, it all went to hell with Google’s worst-timed update ever: the November 2019 algorithm update hit my sites heavily, cutting a ton of the traffic I was getting, and therefore making what were supposed to be the best months of the year in terms of income (November and December) actually perform worse than other months this year. Ouch!
However, despite the hit, things aren’t that bad yet (although in 2020, if the trend continues, they will be). My blogs still generated a bit more money in total than they did in 2018, but this wasn’t enough to make it my best year ever. 2018 gets that crown with an income boost from a blog sale I made that year.
I was actually really close, on a few occasions, to the number that I wanted to reach in terms of monthly income when I started blogging (which I later realized it’s not such an easy amount to hit).
But at least I managed – for the first time ever – to make the amount of money that I consider to be enough for my family to live a good life here in Romania and actually afford to live in most places in Europe if we were to make a move. And it only took me 10 years to get here!
So even though the year ends on a really disappointing note, 2019 as a whole was really good in terms of revenue generated by my business. And being able to do all this while being away for three months and working the least amount since I started blogging… that makes it even better!
Another fun thing to look at is how much each article generated since the inception of the blog they’re published on. I look at this overall value to better understand how my blogs work and I consider it a fun indicator to look at.
However, for the big picture, this doesn’t really mean much: a high income per article doesn’t necessarily mean a high income blog. Plus, since this year I spent so much time editing old articles, even though their number didn’t increase overall, I still spent a lot of time doing it.
But I still look at these numbers and I like to do the math every now and then. Here is how the numbers look like in 2019:
- Average revenue generated by each published article (since the blog’s creation): $25.44
- Highest average on a blog: $145.66 / article
- Lowest average on a blog: $0.11 (hint: it’s NomadNotMad.com)
Other blog numbers in 2019
I like going through all sorts of numbers when looking at how things were in the year that passed (or is about to pass, in our case) and I am sure you like to read this sort of stats as well.
So let’s check out some of the most interesting stats regarding my blogging business in 2019!
1. Number of sessions for all my blogs (18 tracked): 10,091,651
Yay! I managed to get past 10 million sessions over a one year period, which is pretty amazing! This also means that each of my blogs generated, on average 560,647 sessions per month (but this is a pure mathematical average, because the reality is different).
The reality is that a single blog that I own is responsible for almost 78% of the sessions with around 7.8 million sessions this year.
2. Number of blogs that saw an increase in traffic compared to last year: 8
(13 blogs tracked, as the others are either younger than 2 years old, or I haven’t had them for two whole years).
Despite being hit by the November update, most of my blogs managed to bring in more traffic this year than last year, which makes me really happy. However, losing around 30% of the traffic in November means that 2020 might not look as good, with continued growth.
3. Income spread throughout all blogs
I like the idea of not having all your eggs in one basket, but the truth is that in my case (which is the same for most bloggers out there) there’s one blog that makes the vast majority of income – which is pretty obvious, I guess, from the traffic spread.
While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I really hope to be able to increase the revenue generated by some of the other blogs so that I have a bit more peace of mind in case Google negatively impacts my blogs with its algorithm changes.
So, out of all the income generated by my blogs in 2019, my top earner is responsible for 80.27% of the money. The second placed brought 6.03%, while the third placed – 4.96%.
Even more interesting is the fact that I did the math and found out that all my other blogs combined don’t make enough money for me to pay all the blogging-related costs, the bills and put food on the table. And this is one of the things I want to improve upon in 2020.
4. Number of articles published in 2019
It’s getting a bit more difficult to track the “new” articles published, sine many of the articles that have a 2019 date on my blogs are actually updated articles that have been published in the previous years (and needed more or less work to stay relevant).
So the numbers below don’t reflect 100% of the new articles I wrote, but they were all edited at least a little bit (usually A LOT).
While the number of articles that I have written for my blogs might seem huge for many, this was actually the year when I wrote the least amount of articles since starting over 10 years ago.
Total number of articles published: 567
Average number of articles published daily: 1.5
As an interesting note, almost half of the articles – 243, to be precise – were published on my main website. Also, most of my websites saw less than 10 articles published in 2019.
Other things to note
In 2019, I spent a lot of time (or at least a lot more than usual) on optimizing the technical aspects of the blogs. I changed themes (some were as old as 2014!), I got https on all of my blogs (yup – I still had non-SSL blogs in 2019!) and worked on improving the Page Speed scores of most of my blogs.
I did a bit of trimming and rearranging some aspects of each blog, so most of them are in a much better shape right now that they were in January. It’s incredible how many obvious mistakes you can make when you’re handling so many blogs – and the work is still far from being over.
2019 was also the year that I worked as hard as possible on increasing monetization of the blogs and I already started seeing progress, although it’s not as fast as I’d like it to be.
Apart from Nomad Not Mad, where I still allow myself to waste a lot of time producing content like this article, which will not generate any income, I tried as much as possible to only focus on creating content that I believed will make some money.
This did help a little bit, as my affiliate marketing revenue increased, but there is still a lot of work to be done in this area. But one extremely important lesson that I learned this year is that unless you treat your blog as a business, it won’t make you money!
Reducing the time spent on creating content that I knew had few chances of generating money helped free up some time and allow me to focus on other important aspects of the business.
All in all, from a business perspective, 2019 was a really good year for me and my blogs, but there are still a lot of improvements that can be made and hopefully in 2020 I will be able to focus on what is important and build up on the things that went well this year to truly optimize everything and make it work as it should.
Even on a personal note, things were pretty much OK, despite the not-that-amazing start of the year and other (mostly health-related) issues that I had.
Let’s just hope that 2020 will be even better than this year. But how was your 2019? Don’t hesitate to share your summaries in the comment section below!