There are few things I enjoy more than the illusion of a clean slate, and let me start this post by saying I feel REVIVED after writing this clean and fresh title for the new year. For those of you who might be a little confused and wondering what exactly this new “monthly” post is, and where the heck my monthly favorites are, this is a new and improved monthly favorites, now known as monthly roundups, that’s going to cover not only the things that I enjoyed over the course of these last thirty days, but also it’s going to cover what’s been going on behind the scenes. So, essentially, you’re going to get a mass post about blog stats, income, favorites, and you get to snoop a little bit into my personal life (you’re welcome if you’re naturally nosy like myself). For those of you who have been around since my first February Favorites in 2018, fear not, you will still get your favorites, but with some fun and maybe interesting additions to my life.
While this blog is an outlet for all of you to get incredible travel advice, it’s also a space for me to share thoughts, high, and lows that don’t get to shine through on a post about my favorite waterfall in all of the Philippines. This series was inspired by Alex In Wanderland, one of my favorite travel blogs, and I wanted to share more each month rather than products and new recipes. You all could probably tell that this was the direction that these posts were headed in after I added the “Personal Health” section to my last few monthly favorites posts, but I hope you enjoy the post all the same with a little somethin’-somethin’ added in.
As for my old monthly favorites posts, I am a little confused as to what I am going to do with those… Do I rename them? Do I private them? If I keep them then there won’t be a consistent title for the first year my blog was officially up and running, but if I private them, then people won’t be able to look back on my favorites from previous years. I asked you all on Instagram what I should do with them and an overwhelming majority wanted me to keep them up! Right now, they will stay live, but until then, I am going to continue with these and ignore the fact that my minor OCD is kicking into overdrive, and deal with it at a later date.
Okay, Aaren. So why didn’t you start this earlier? Well, for starters, I didn’t know that I would experience the amount of blog growth that I have over the last months, and when I first started this blog it was solely for myself and simply a way for me to document adventures and save memories from my trips. So when all of that changed and “my life got flipped – turned upside down”, to quote fresh prince, more ideas blossomed, and thus, here we are! I thought I would start this in 2019 since I have the feeling that 2019 was going to be a year of abundance. This is the year that I have made some huge investments into my blog and I am excited to see all of this hard work pay off and see where I am at by the end of the year.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into January 2019, reminisce, and get excited for a new month ahead. If you’re curious to see my big blogging goals for the whole year, check out this post where I talk about my goals for 2019.
Where I’ve Been + Where I’m Going
Honestly, I’ve been here chilling at home for around a couple months now so that I can catch up on blog posts and save a bit of money before resuming my travels. I have had a couple things on my plate that have taken up the majority of my time, and since I have been juggling different things, it’s been a trip to complete everything on my to-do list. Right now, I am working on optimizing old blog posts, designing new pins, writing new content, and trying to plan two trips in the process of all of that. While it is only a couple things, they are extremely time-consuming, so it’s taken me a while to learn everything that I need to and do it right so I don’t have to go back and edit it again. Also, remember that secret project that I mentioned would be complete around December? Well, greatness takes time, and that time is almost coming to close as we start the final leg of the project and get things under wraps, kinda. As for a completion date, I can’t give an exact one, but hopefully, you’ll be able to see it by the end of February!
If you read my 2019 Blogging Goals + Resolutions, you’ll know the general jist of places that I want to visit this year, and starting off, I am crossing off two of those places: Arizona and Iceland! First, I’ll be headed to Arizona in March for a week, and then at the beginning of June, I will set out to Iceland for two weeks! It’s not the month-long ventures that I always do, but I am equally excited to explore parts of my home country and set out to a place that will leave me exiting my comfort zone entirely. Recently, I have been loving the comforts of home and having everything at the tips of my fingertips, but it’s time that I branch out again and get out there. I am hoping to book some bigger travels in the latter half of the year, but nothing is really set and stone so stay tuned!
Monthly Page Views: 3,970
Monthly Visitors: 2,658
Monthly Sessions: 2,800
Pinterest Visitors: 241,400+
Domain Authority Score (DA): 19 ➝ 20
Page Authority Score (PA): 13
I reached almost 4,000+ people this month! This one is huge for me since I am finally feeling like I am getting the hang of SEO optimizing and putting quality into all of my blog posts. I gave one of my posts a makeover and that makes up for this boost, so I am hoping that I land more growth with posts in February!
I beat my daily viewing record on January 9th with 382 visitors! My previous record-breaking day was back in 2018 at around 182 visitors, but I am fairly sure they were all from myself since I was in the first steps to designing my blog and I kept looking through it to make sure it looked how I wanted, so I really wasn’t too impressed. Since I set this as one of my bigger goals for 2019, and I wasn’t expecting to hit this right off the bat. I recently gave my post, “How To Book The Cheapest Flights Anywhere In The World” a facelift with a new pin design, and that drastically increased my traffic this month, which was entirely unexpected, but I am so grateful that it was noticed and shared over 700 times.
My domain authority score increased from 19 to 20. On the more business side of blogging, I raised my domain authority up to twenty this month and I am officially out of the teens! I only recently started tracking my domain authority since I dove into business ventures, but I am excited to see how much this will rise in the next month or even next year since there isn’t a cookie cutter way to raise this score. My page authority still sits at 13, but I think with time, backlink focus, and more new content, this will see some steady growth.
I made my first two affiliate sales. When I opened my affiliate account to make some new links, I was so stoked to see that I had made not one but TWO affiliate link purchases earning me around a WHOPPING $1.52! As a thank you, I am going to take everyone out to eat, on me of course since I’m rolling in the big bucks now! Really though, as my affiliate sales sat a consistent zero over the last couple of months, this was one of those monumental moments for me where people took interest in some of my favorite products. I am so so thankful for all of you who made a purchase for one of my recommendations and I hope you love them!
Feedback by word of mouth. I was talking to my sister the other day and she was asking me about some budgeting advice for a friend that really enjoyed my blog, and the same thing happened with my dad. It was so refreshing to know that my fan-base isn’t just my family
clicking through my blog to make me feel better about myself reading my articles when I share them on Facebook. I never thought that I would see this amount of growth as soon as I buckled down and took this space as a business/passion venture in pursuit of my dreams, so if you take the time to read about my favorite destinations, zero waste, and my favorite travel tips, I appreciate your support and I can’t wait to see exponential growth over this next year.
January’s Explosion Of Website Traffic
It’s crazy how the more you invest in making your craft better, the more results you see and the bigger your community grows. I have been going back through all of my old blog posts and updating the photos, information, and SEO-friendliness, so it’s been a bit of a mundane couple of months, but I love refreshing old posts and bringing them back to life. One in particular, my post on how to book cheap flights, was the key component in my blog views this month. That blog post alone received 1,400 views in the month of January and is the reason why I was able to (almost) surpass 4,000 viewers to kick this new year off with a bang! Ever since August, I had been receiving relatively slow growth over the last five months, but this month really brought home the bread and made me excited to invest more and see what February will bring. I plan on revamping old posts and pins, so my eggs aren’t just in one basket, and I have heavy traffic to all of my blog posts rather than just one.
There were a few notable things that I’ve done to help increase my blogging traffic and I plan on incorporating more of these things in February, aka more time and monetary investments, that will help me reach a larger audience.
Monthly Viewers: 4,500 – 5,000+
Monthly Sessions: 3,300+
Pinterest Monthly Visitors: 300,000+
Domain Authority Increase: +2
Page Authority Increase: +1
Actions Taken To Expand Audience From January Into February
- Joining Group Boards On Pinterest: Apparently, in 2019 group boards are predicted to drop in the number of successes they have with the blogging community, but so far I have joined three large group boards that have sent my Pinterest reach to the thousands. I believe this and tailwind combined have been the primary reason for this massive increase in reach and the monthly visitors I reach, which has increased by over 100K this month. Woot Woot!
- Purchasing A Tailwind Membership: I told myself that I was going to be saving money this month for my trip to Iceland, and I actually ended up investing in a couple of things, but more notably, Tailwind. Through this site, I am able to schedule pins for the future so I can boost my productivity on Instagram and not worry about being on Pinterest 24/7. This allows me to schedule beautiful pins and seem “active” all day when really they are scheduled!
- Limiting My Use Of Pinterest Threads On Facebook: Eh. I don’t want to knock group Pinterest threads because they are a fantastic way to get your pins on many different bloggers pages and reach other niche audiences, but I have found that they don’t really expand my audience. I have let them go a little bit in the last two weeks of this month, and I have found that I have more free time and my views haven’t necessarily dropped since leaving them. I plan on doing them a few times a week now, but I am able to focus on pinning more beautiful pins, cleaning up my boards, and providing quality resources rather than a bunch of pins that I am required to pin.
- My Secret Project: Still hush-hush for now… Coming soon.
- SEO Optimization: As I mentioned before, my blog posts are getting revamped and ready for the new year with new pins and image updating!
What I’ve Learned + Overcome
Invest in your craft financially and mindfully, and you will see drastic changes. I feel like I can be extremely stingy with my money sometimes for the things that I really need, and then I ruthless throw money at snacks throughout the week. It’s kind of a weird dynamic that has really shifted this last month. I made some smaller investments this month into Tailwind, a Blogging Toolkit from Slaying Social, Social Warfare (a post sharing plug-in), and I applied for a few affiliate programs to enhance my website and let some things be more hands-free. Tailwind was the only one that was purchased earlier this month, and it has already improved my Pinterest reach by over 100%. The other ones I need to either set up or read and those will go into effect in February, hopefully. I have noticed that the more valuable investments that I make, the more I feel like I am getting out of my blog and overall confidence in my content and what I have to bring to the new table. I’ve been focusing less on comparison and more on zoning in on what I am doing and it has made all the difference. One of my biggest investments to date will be revealed next month (if all goes as planned), so I am excited for everything to come together over the next couple weeks.
Use your time how it will benefit your life the most. I juggle a lot of things in my life from a blog, a relationship, taekwon-do, a side job, and I have found in the last two weeks to learn how to manage my time in the best way so that I can give my whole self to each of these categories. I used to work all day long on my website, which is good if I want to get things done, but it became a little bit of an obsession that turned into burnout. This was when I stopped doing the daily Pinterest threads, I didn’t see much result from them anyway, and I limited myself to being productive during the morning and afternoon and take the time in the evening to spend doing things in my personal life. My life is full speed ahead a lot of the time, so I don’t spend much time nurturing my relationships with others and even my relationship with myself. It was one of my goals to take more time for a self-care routine, and I think it’s finally forming into a routine where I can take things slow and not worry about redoing all my posts and optimizing, and tech this, tech that. I read more. I’m relaxed. I spend even less time on my phone. I do more face masks and take the time to buckle down when I need to. We only have so many hours in a day, and no matter what you do, make time for the things that matter most (& don’t procrastinate a lot as I have been lol).
Express gratitude daily. When was the last time you expressed gratitude for the things in your life? Sometimes our situations can lead us into a negative mindset that sends us into a spiral of thoughts that drag us down with it getting worse with each day. I realized a few things this month. I am incredibly grateful for having healthy lungs, legs, heart, and body that works every day to keep me alive. I am grateful for being able to travel as much as I do, and to have the resources to pursue my dreams. I am grateful to be able to eat foods that make me feel incredible and endure obnoxious layovers so I can save a couple hundred dollars. I am grateful for all things, and no matter how much you want to be somewhere else or even someone else, expressing gratitude will mend those negative thoughts, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself walking outside and just smiling.
“It’s a beautiful thing to have lungs that allow you to breathe air and legs that allow you to climb mountains, and it’s a shame that sometimes we don’t realize that that’s enough”
January 19′ Favorites
Walking With Nomads / Kay
The Bucket Shot / Peter McKinnon
Pecan Cold Brew
This is a great healthy option for a coffee on the go, however, I have since steered away from these since they’re made from plastic. The ingredients are extremely simple and wholesome which drew me to this product in the first place, but I enjoy being less wasteful and saving money over a pre-made coffee drink, BUT I enjoyed it enough to mention it, so I really recommend making this rather than buying.
These bars are so tasty and packed full of superfoods that will give you a great energy boost over other bars with added sugars. Not all of these are vegan, so you need to watch out for some dairy products and the occasional honey addition. I had been chowing down on the walnut brownie flavor only to realize they put honey in it, so my dreams were a little bit crushed, but they have a couple tasty vegan flavors that are really solid also.
Ezekial Almond Cereal
If you’re a big fan of grape nuts, you’re going to get addicted to this cereal. Not going to lie, I consider this a luxury cereal since it’s $8.00 / box at Whole Foods, but I’m telling you, you NEED to try this stuff. I top it with some oat milk and a light splash of maple syrup, and it is the perfect healthy and crunchy late night snack or morning boost since it’s made from whole grains and legumes.
You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find a granola that doesn’t have a shat ton of added sugar, so when I saw that this brand uses maple syrup to sweeten their granola, I found my match made in heaven! My lifestyle doesn’t really focus around being grain free, but I love the superfood aspect of this, and I think it’s a great addition to smoothie bowls or some oat milk to make a bomb bowl of cereal.
Health & Beauty
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been adding these three greens powders to my protein shake every morning and I have noticed significant changes in my mood, energy, and quality of my skin. These had been in my pantry for around a year now and I whipped them back out so that I could use up my pantry items and try these out again. I find that adding these to smoothies is a bit of a flop since they mask the taste of fruit with a freshly mowed lawn, so when I added these to the shake and they didn’t make me want to gag, I had found a match made in heaven! These five power greens have been my saviors this last month and I can’t wait to try out more products from Sun Potion like their ‘Yin Power’ mixes and their Ashwagandha! I buy all these greens from Thrive Market, and I am giving you all 25% off your first purchase so you can stock up on all the best greens powders! Sign up using this link, and you’ll receive a code for 25% off your goodies!
Wow / Post Malone
Posty is at it again with another hit, and I am not surprised since he can’t make a bad song! I think he released this song on New Year’s or Christmas, but if you haven’t heard it yet, give it a listen and prepare to give it another thousand listens.
Blow Your Mind / Dua L
I think Dua Lipa is entirely underrated because she has been making some genuine bops recently! I don’t listen to the radio, but I feel like her music is overplayed at all and it’s still really good pop music that you can enjoy rather than letting out a large sigh after it comes on.
Rush / Lewis Capaldi
My guide played this for us while driving through the highlands, and I have recently been discovering more of Lewis Capaldi’s music, but this will always be a timeless classic that takes me back to one of my favorite places and gets me in my feels a little bit.
Rockin’ / The Weeknd
Rockin’ has been on replay every single time I have gotten in the car this month, and I have loved The Weeknd’s music since around 2013! This album came out a couple years ago, but I have taken it off the shelf and started jamming out with it again.
January was a whirlwind of a month with investments and time going into this blog, but I am so thankful that great things are coming and I am setting into the rest of this year with an insanely positive mindset and high goals for myself. I’m feeling great, and I can’t wait to crush more goals for February.
This post does contain affiliate links for the some of the products I mentioned, but as always, all opinions are my own. I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase or booking through these links. This helps to support this space and keep me blogging, which I am so extremely thankful for.