An Update On My Hobby RV Camping Blog. Full Stat Breakdown. (RV Blog Report #4)
After a long delay, here’s an update on my story of starting up a brand new blog, in a new niche, from scratch. An update on how things are going.
Back in the middle of 2016, I decided to spin up a brand new blog. It would be a hobby blog (as opposed to a business blog) that could potentially turn into something larger later.
Plus, it had been quite some time since I was in a position of starting up a blog from scratch. I thought it would be a fun project – and one which would be fun to document here at the Blog Marketing Academy.
The blog I started was RV Family Travel.
I started it off strongly and I posted my 3rd RV Blog Report post in June of 2016.
But, then silence. At least on that front.
As of this writing, it has now been 6 months since my last RV blog report. So, what the heck has happened in all that time?
4 Months Of No Content – What Happened?
My family and I took off in the RV for our summer trip right at the beginning of July. I had every intention of blogging the entire thing as a video blog while on the trip.
But, then logistics happened. Crappy campground wifi happened.
However, I did do the entire video blog. Every day of our 35 day trip. Only, instead of posting them all on schedule to the RV blog, I was posting them to my RV Family Travel Facebook page. The videos developed a bit of a following over there. Plus, with the wifi situation, uploading videos was often done in batches. One destination was plenty. So, Facebook it was.
When I returned from that trip, I went into full on business mode. And, of course, Blog Marketing Academy is my business and will remain that way. So, BMA got all of my attention and the RV blog was back-burnered.
Up until recently, my last post to RV Family Travel was in July of 2016. And that’s the whole reason why. I was simply focused on the Blog Marketing Academy.
But, What Happens To The Blog When You Go 4 Months Without Posting?
Well see, that’s the interesting thing.
In my last RV Blog Report, I talked about how I was employing a cheap Facebook Ad campaign in order to promote a redwood post and ultimately build my email list.
I’ll fill you in on the details of that campaign below, but short story is that that campaign was going on autopilot up until mid-September. In September, I disabled the campaign. Then around Thanksgiving I turned it back on again. Here’s what that did to my traffic:
As you can see, my daily traffic numbers (measured in user sessions) wasn’t sky high to begin with. Hovering anywhere from 70-80 people per day.
You can then see that traffic spike when I did my last blog post. Then, the blog went on autopilot and was more or less coasting on that Facebook ad. You can also see how the traffic was steadily dwindling between July and September.
In September, the campaign was disabled and the blog was fully on it’s own. Daily traffic was hovering in 10-20 range, maybe. Then, the traffic spikes up again when I turn the ad back on.
This blog hasn’t yet gained much organic traction, so the numbers are still pretty low. Without that ad campaign, it isn’t building much leverage.
That’s totally normal, especially for a blog which I spent so little time on.
The Specs On That Facebook Campaign
One of the posts I wrote on the blog was a full buyer’s checklist for anybody evaluating a used motorhome to buy. The post was quite in-depth, but I set up an option to download the PDF version of the checklist.
You can see that post here: Buying An Older Used Motorhome: How To Inspect It Before Purchase (A Checklist)
Here you can see the call to action for that content upgrade, plus you can see the volume of shares I’m getting on that one post because of the campaign:
The ad looks like this:
It is targeting a bunch of known RV pages and interests.
The daily budget is just $5. I started it up in May and just let it run on automatic, except for those 2 months or so where I had it turned off.
As of this writing (in mid-December), I’ve spent a total of $708.99 on this campaign since May. I’ve driven 6,482 people to that blog post for that investment, with an average of 11 cents per click.
Interestingly, once I turned the campaign back on again, my cost per click was higher than it was before. Whereas it was running at around $0.11 CPC, now it is averaging about $0.17 CPC. I didn’t change anything at all, so this is just Facebook being Facebook.
The Strategy With That Ad Campaign (And Why It Isn’t Just About Traffic)
Now, it would be really easy to look at the fact that I’ve spent $708 to run traffic to a post and think I’m just being stupid as it gets. Why spend that kind of money to just send people to a blog post?
Well, it is all about that Expanded Redwood Strategy.
Plus, as you see when you read my Ultimate Blog Traffic Guide, it is all about that long game. It is about building up LEVERAGE.
Namely, it is all about building up:
- The email list.
- The retargeting audience.
- The social profile.
These 3 assets, with email BY FAR being the most important, increase the traffic leverage of my little RV blog. It means I can generate traffic when I want.
So, if the more important metric is that email list, how’s that going?
As of this writing, RV Family Travel has 854 email subscribers inside of Aweber. Not bad for a little hobby blog getting small traffic numbers. And given the ad cost, that works out to about $0.83 per email subscriber.
And they’re very engaged subscribers, too.
40-48% open rate is pretty freakin’ stellar to a general list. And my click-through’s, as you can see, are 10-13%.
I mean, I wish my email marketing to Blog Marketing Academy was that easy! 😉
Now, you can clearly see how the growth of my email list stalled when that Facebook ad was turned off:
Also of note is that the rate of unsubscribes was higher when I began emailing again. Basically, I went for that 4 months period not emailing the list. So, when I started up again, the unsubs were higher. Totally expected.
The motto is: Email your list regularly in order to keep it engaged and active.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Here’s numerical proof that you should be emailing your list regularly.” quote=”Here’s numerical proof that you should be emailing your list regularly.”]
The other leverage (although not as important as the email list) is the growth of the Facebook page. 573 likes on the page, as of this writing. I mean… hey, it’s not bad.
Jumpstarting A Stalled Blog
Right before Thanksgiving, we were out camping in the RV (of course). And I was sitting there in the campground on my laptop.
I decided to check in on those stats of RVFT. And when I saw the email metrics, I was reminded that I was sitting on a growing resource that I was letting fade.
I was reminded, once again, how EASY and FUN it is to work with this blog and this audience. I’ve said before how the “make money online” market is jaded and overwhelmed and that other markets are easier. And, this is proof of that point.
Now, the RV market is a very different market and RVers tend to be pretty enthusiastic about their motorhome (all awesome points about the niche, in general). But, it’s cool that I don’t have to get all fancy-pants to get results with the RV market. Just basic online marketing 101, without me even trying all that hard, and I can move the needle.
Obviously, realizing all this, I set out to jumpstart this blog that had seen no new posts or emails in 4 months.
I’ve posted 2 new posts since that day, and I’ve also begun posting all of my daily video blog entries from my summer trip to the blog.
The plan is to release a new video daily as well as email the list about it every few days to update them on what’s new. This whole thing will keep the blog pretty busy up into mid-January.
This will provide me a good look at the effects of regular updates to the blog, combined with regular emails. It will be a test of the organic power of this asset, without relying on any paid ads to drive it. I will, of course, allow that ad to continue running. I may also test out another one.
Is It Making Any Money?
Well, when I started this blog, I didn’t really do it with business intentions. RV camping is something I do for fun, so this blog is more of a passion project.
That said, doing what it is I do for a living, I always have the door open to monetization. And I may, at some point, pursue it more avidly and turn RVFT into another segment of my business.
Thus far, I’ve dropped a few Amazon affiliate links into the content. Unfortunately, I’ve just now realized that I wasn’t using a unique tracking ID on those links so I can’t tell which commissions came from this RV blog versus anywhere else I may have an Amazon link posted.
Motto: Use different tracking IDs on your Amazon affiliate links so you can tell where they’re coming from. Doh!
[clickToTweet tweet=”Use different tracking IDs on your Amazon aff links so you can tell where they’re coming from.” quote=”Use different tracking IDs on your Amazon affiliate links so you can tell where they’re coming from.”]
Anyway, I can see a few camping-related items on the history, so the site has generated a few bucks in commissions. Nothing substantial at all.
Plus, there have been at least a couple sales here at the Blog Marketing Academy that I know of that were inspired by that RV blog.
All in all, I’ve definitely spent more than I’ve made. That said, I have a growing and highly engaged email list to show for it. So, will be interesting to see what happens.
I’ve had some ask me about my monetization plans with this blog…
I truly don’t know. I think affiliate marketing will be a part of it, but I also think some kind of tie-in to the Blog Marketing Academy may be in the future. NOT an integration, but just some kind of coexistence. After all, one of the big areas of interest in the RV market is how to afford the RV itself and how to afford to travel full time and live “the RV lifestyle”. And, BMA is most certainly equipped to help them do that and likely MUCH more effectively than the usual “make money online” talk I’ve seen circulating RV blogs.
Final Comments From Dave 😉
There you have it. That’s an inside look at what’s been happening on the RV blog and on what I’m doing personally to begin a brand new blog from scratch in a market where I have no presence at all.
It’s an interesting project. 🙂
And, of course, I really enjoy it because it’s a strong interest of mine.
Stay tuned for the next RV Blog Report. Be sure you’re on my email list so you’ll be notified when it is released.
Oh, and of course, for much more of the “inside scoop” for HOW I do some of these things, get into the Blog Monetization Lab. Did you know you can give it a try for just a buck?
I’ll leave off with one more thing…
I saw this comment while I was sitting in that campground before Thanksgiving. And it was part of that “kick in the butt” to why I really wanted to not let this blog fade away…
Not only was this guy worried because he noticed I didn’t post, but he also credited me with some influence on his buying decision for a used motorhome.
Stuff like that is what makes me love doing this. 🙂
Great update! I continue to be impressed by the Redwood post strategy—great reminder.
Also loved the Content Upgrade idea—it’s not content that isn’t in the post, is it? Just printable? Nice.
I love this series – it’s great to see someone with your level of experience launch a site from scratch like this. What a fantastic benchmark to use when you’re just starting out – thanks so much!
Thanks for following along, John. 🙂