22 Days After Starting A New Blog From Scratch – A Status Report [RV Blog Report #2]

22 days into a brand new blog, here is a status update. I talk about the list building strategy, my content plan, and how I’m beginning to promote this brand new blog.

As of the time I’m writing this, it has been 22 days since the RV Blog Report #1. That’s the one where I announced my intention to start a brand new blog from scratch and document the process here on at the Blog Marketing Academy.

Now, 22 days isn’t a long time. Especially when the site in question isn’t even remotely my primary focus. Blog Marketing Academy continues to be – and will be – by main focus. After all, this is how I make my living. 🙂

But, I still made progress in the last 22 days. Here’s what has been the main focus for RV Family Travel in the last 22 days:

  • Beginning to build the email list (or at least setting up to do so)
  • Wrapping up some of the basic features of the blog that I thought were necessary
  • Creating some pillar content so that I have something to spread the word about
  • Starting the outreach process to begin building the list and traffic

Before I talk a bit about the things I’ve done, let’s talk numbers since the last update (date range 4/25 – 5/15):

Page Views: 1,264.
Unique Users: 405.
Email Subscribers: 15

Good times, man. You know how long it has been since I’ve seen numbers this low? 🙂

But, hey, this is life with a new blog. Honestly, some of those page views were me, too. So… there’s that.

OK, so what did I actually DO in the last 22 days?

The Email List

I always say that building up your email list is a top priority, so I was building a list pretty much from the get-go. Problem is, I had no lead magnet.

Now, in the absence of a lead magnet, I still have a “Subscribe to the Newsletter” opt-in. But, these are weak. They always are.

Literally just within the last few days have I actually created lead magnets.

  • A Flat-Towing Guide: Basically a compilation of a 5-part series on getting ready to flat-tow behind my motorhome.
  • An RV Inspection Checklist: A 4-page checklist that a prospective buyer can print and use to evaluate a used motorhome on site.

Both of these lead magnets came from blog content (more on this in a bit). Of the two, the RV inspection checklist is the one I think has the most potential as a lead magnet. While I have not yet put it into the sidebar as a main lead magnet, I may do so. The issue with it is that I know it wouldn’t apply to the whole audience, so I think ideally I’d have something different in the sidebar. But, we’ll see.

One other item of business: Who do I host my email list with?

Well, I use Ontraport for the Blog Marketing Academy. But, it is SUPER overkill for RVFT. Plus, a load of complication would come from trying to host the RVFT email list alongside BMA. So, like a lot of bloggers, I decided to try to bootstrap it at the beginning and try Mailchimp.

But, that didn’t last long.

My conclusion is: I really don’t like Mailchimp. I mean, I get it. I know a lot of bloggers are attracted to the free account, so I figured I’d try it so I can put myself into their shoes. But, I just don’t like it at all. The interface is confusing.

So while the list is super tiny, I decided to change things over to Aweber. I used Aweber for many years before switching to Ontraport… and now I’m using them again.

Also, Aweber has improved ALOT since I left them. Their interface is great. The whole thing just feels more familiar. And their new Campaign Builder looks like it’ll be awesome and alleviate a lot of that multiple list headache that I used to have.

So, as of now, the list is small. Only 15 people. But, I’m set up right and can grow it from here.

The Blog Design And Setup

I believe a new blog owner should be careful not to fall into the trap of over-tweaking rather than doing things which actually matter. That said, there were a few things I simply had to do on RVFT to put the basic structure in place.

  • Added a contact page
  • Set up a Facebook page and put the widget for it in the sidebar
  • Connected to Instagram and set up the Instagram Feed plug-in to allow display of those photos on the site.
  • Changed the colors a bit to lighten it up. Sidebar widgets were black before and they’re now white. Top menu is now blue (I just like it better)
  • Set up the social share buttons using SumoMe
  • Switched over to Facebook comments on the blog posts (no particular reason other than wanting to give it a try)

In terms of the opt-ins, I do have the advantage of the fact that I have accounts with some of the nicer tools as part of the Blog Marketing Academy. So, I am using the Leadbox (part of LeadPages) on RVFT. If I didn’t have BMA, I wouldn’t sign up for Leadpages at this point because it is too expensive. I’d likely sign up for OptinMonster instead (and they have MonsterLinks which is a Leadbox alternative).

I actually just recently signed up for OptinMonster to begin testing their new platform. It looks highly promising.

Creating Pillar Content

Most of my available time for RVFT the last 22 days has been spent on content. As I said earlier, I can’t effectively do any outreach and promotion for the site if it is empty when people arrive.

My goal was (and is) to create some pillar posts: Posts which will have a long lifespan and serve as major resource posts for people in the target market.

Now, I have more in mind, but as of now, I’ve only done two.

Well, 6 actually. But, 5 of them group together as a series.

For both topics, there’s a lot of meat on the bone.

The table of contents on this parti-part series helps reduce bounce rate and increase pageviews.

The table of contents on this multi-part series helps reduce bounce rate and increase pageviews.

The tow series was a 5-part series, as I stated. I decided to break it up as well as link to each of the 5 parts in each segment. The reason is to reduce bounce rate on each of those 5 posts and get more page views. I also used Beacon to compile those 5 posts into a nice looking PDF that I can use as a lead magnet.

And the RV Inspection Checklist post was a long one at about 3,500 words. Also included in this one was a content upgrade, which was a downloadable 4-page checklist.

I’m going to create some new pillars. I like to have at least 5 to start with. For now, I have two. I can get started with that.

Beginning The Outbound Promotion

Simply writing content and dealing with site structure is going to do nothing to get the word out about this blog. I’m well aware of that.

I’ve done 1,264 page views since my last RV Blog Report. I would estimate that probably about 40% of that came from BMA when I posted that first report. Obviously, I have no intention for RVFT traffic to depend upon the Blog Marketing Academy. That’d be cheating. 🙂 But, it does happen. Plus, BMA traffic isn’t targeted for RVFT so that wouldn’t do me any good.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Set up a spreadsheet for market research to begin to get out and know who the big blogs are in the niche.
  • Got on as a guest interview on The RV Entrepreneur podcast, by Heath Padgett. Great guy who full-times in an RV with his wife and makes his living in a mobile fashion. It was an easy mix for me since it combined my interest in RVs with my business background. Episode has not been released yet.
  • Set up a basic Facebook ad to drive click traffic to the inspection checklist blog post.

Let’s talk about that Facebook ad for a minute.

For those following along with me, what better way is there to place a new blog directly in front of the target audience in a predictable and controlled way than an ad? There simply is none. I firmly believe that starting a blog from scratch these days requires a willingness to invest some small amount of money into the growth.

Here’s what the ad looks like:

rvft-facebook-ad-1

I set up a Saved Audience in my Facebook Ads account which included the following interests as a starting point:

  • RVShare
  • RV Camping
  • LazyDays
  • Family Motor Coach Association
  • RV Travel
  • Good Sams
  • Fulltime RV’ing
  • Motorhome Magazine
  • Roadtreking
  • RV Trader

Right now, I’m kinda just throwing interests up against the wall to see what sticks. But, one thing I know about anybody with those interests on Facebook is that they’re into RVs.

I limited the access to the U.S. and Canada, since that is where most RV traveling occurs. And I limited it to ages 30 and up, since most people under 30 don’t have an RV and usually aren’t thinking about it.

I set up a small budget of just $5/day.

I started this ad less than 3 days ago (as of this writing). I’ve spent $13.64 so far. And here’s the results as they currently sit:

  • 129 clicks to the blog post
  • 1,934 people reached
  • 11 cents per click
  • A click-through rate (CTR) of 7.45%, which is actually quite high from my experience
  • 18 new email subscribers (although about half of them haven’t yet confirmed their subscriptions)
  • 10 shares on the ad (which is just free distribution)

And you can start to see the results on the Analytics graph for unique users:

rvft-traffic-1

So far, the people clicking on the ad are 65% men, 35% women. Age breaks down to show that it is primarily an older audience (not a suprise, really):

rvft-ad-age-breakdown

So far, the results are encouraging. The ad is performing well and the results are pretty good so far considering the small budget. And I must say that getting 10 organic shares on the ad was a pleasant surprise. Getting that to happen with BMA is usually a much tougher thing, probably because the marketing niche sees a lot of stuff and is just more jaded. I have a sneaky suspicion that operating in the RV niche is going to be… easier. 🙂

Right now, this is definitely an investment in the blog’s growth. There’s no monetization on the site right now, outside of a few affiliate links to Amazon.

The Next Few Weeks

My family and I are heading out camping on Memorial Day weekend. Then I’m taking the kids out mid-June again. Then, at the beginning of July, we’re heading out for several weeks. Even heading up into Canada. So, all of this is going to be great motivation for new content for the RVFT blog. 🙂

My focus for the next few weeks will be:

  • Creating a few more pillar posts + lead magnets
  • Nurturing the outreach strategy and working on some more organic traffic generation so that ads isn’t the only way forward

So, there you have it. 🙂

To follow along and ensure you don’t miss anything, be sure that you’re on my email list. If you are, you’ll never miss an installment. Plus, you’ll have some other awesome  (free) stuff sent your way to help you with your blog. That’s how I roll.

About David Risley
David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a 20-year veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. His focus? Building a reliable, recurring business around his "lifestyle" and the lives of his students. He has this weird obsession with traveling in his motorhome around the country with his wife and 2 kids. David also likes to talk about himself in the third person. In bios like this one. Read his full story.
  • James says:

    Love that you are doing a non IM related blog and sharing your results. You don’t often see other niches being dissected like this.
    Thanks!

  • Felicia A says:

    Thanks for the link to the Padgett blog! Can’t wait to hear your interview. My family and I are new to BMA, but we have been fulltiming for nearly 4 years. Hope to use what you teach to be more like Heath.

  • Sky says:

    This is so cool! Thanks David. You might try http://www.ConvertKit.com instead of Aweber. ConvertKit is so awesome, it’s like Infusionsoft or Ontraport, but with a Aweber price! Just ask Pat Flynn who uses it now… I’m new to all this, and had Aweber, but when it was time to setup some email sequences for a funnel, Aweber seemed so clunky, so 1990’s, but convertkit has all the templates for your funnel already done! Perfect for newbies and beyond… Not selling anything, nor am I a affiliate.

    • David Risley says:

      Yes, I checked it out. Looks like a great tool. I will say, tho, that if you haven’t looked at Aweber in awhile, do so. Not trying to switch you at all, but Aweber has modernized itself quite a bit and doesn’t have that old 90’s interface anymore. And with the addition of tagging and their new campaign builder, it alleviates a lot of the previous hassles with Aweber.

  • David-Thanks for sharing this journey with us. Can you tell us what you have done to drive (or pull) the traffic? It sounds like Facebook ads and a guest interview (has that aired yet?). Anything else? Thanks.

    • David Risley says:

      That’s it. Anything else would have come from BMA (via the first such blog post like this one)… or via SEO. Before I launched the FB ad, the site was averaging less than 10 people per day, primarily random search visitors and organic social.

      • Thanks David. I appreciate the quick response. I read your post, 10 Steps I Would Follow To Start Over And Build My Business From Scratch in 3 Months – and I must say it is THE.BEST.POST on blogging I have ever read. Great job summarizing so much so succinctly!

  • Hi, It would be interesting to see what you do with the Facebook Ads. On my expérience, nearly 80% of the click are “false clicks” (even if I delete from the target the mobile + instagram). It is more than I have with Google Adwords.

    But my point is : ok you spend XX $ to get people registering on your list, now what ? It is quite expansive for just “list subscribers”, unless you already have a plan to sell a product that cost several 100$ 😀

    On other thing, I would have presented 1st is monetization : you launch the blog, but what is important is what to sell (or rather what people would buy :D).

    Bye

    • David Risley says:

      I’ll continue to update via these updates on what I do with the ads. 🙂 I’m not getting any “false clicks”, tho. It is working out fine at this point.

      And in terms of the monetization long game versus these ads… I know. 🙂 You’re not telling me anything I haven’t taught people many times. I was clear up front, tho, that I didn’t start this blog in order to be a business. I started it as a hobby, because I’m personally really into RVs. In terms of monetization, we’ll see where things take me here. But, at this point, any money I spend on this is basically about expanding the brand SO THAT anything I do later will have some legs.

      So, certainly, my goals and strategy are a little different here.

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