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Welcome back to our monthly series that documents our first business acquisition! If this is the first post you’re reading, we closed on our first business acquisition in December.
The business we bought is called RV Inspiration, a site focused on DIY articles for your RV and making it feel like home, plus a marketplace where people can buy and sell renovated RVs.
As part of buying these websites, we’ve decided to document the journey and what we learn along the way.
Our first 30-day update you can read here.
Why I’m sharing our journey acquisition journey:
Our goal for HeathandAlyssa.com has always been to share what we learn while chasing after our goals. Sometimes those goals are travel related, like going to all fifty states, or business-related, like growing and selling Campground Booking.
And in line with how we’ve tried to share the highs and lows, we want to do the same thing with RV Inspiration (how it’s going, what we’re doing to grow it, and what isn’t going well).
As part of sharing this update, we’ve decided to be open and share some of the actual numbers (revenue, KPIs, etc) from running the site. Yes, real numbers. I feel it helps provide context to anyone who might be interested in buying a business of their own.
Okay, let’s get into it!
What Went Well During January
Getting featured in Google Discover.
I mentioned this as one of our “opportunities” ending last month, but this was a major win for the month of January.
We started off the month with 5% of our traffic from Google Discover and ended it with 22% of our traffic coming from Discover.
Heath, what the heck is Google Discover and why does it matter if your traffic is coming from there?
In short, Google Discover is what you see if you go to Chrome on your phone or what you see on the homepage if you’re using the Google app. Basically, it’s Google serving up your articles to someone and saying “Hey, I think you’d be interested in this.”
Above is a screenshot of what my Google discover is serving me today. Apparently, it thinks I care about Aaron Rodgers. I don’t. However, I do travel a lot and often on Southwest Airlines (and I have been watching some football during playoffs).
While Google discover isn’t perfect, I would say that a handful of my daily recommended articles have some merit and tempt me to click.
As a result of being so targeted on Google Discover, when an article is featured here, it generates a lot of traffic. Not only does it generate a lot of traffic, but the RPMs for these articles are also much higher. (RPM = revenue per mille and is how much we make for every 1,000 pageviews) To sum it up, getting featured on Google Discover drives more ad revenue and gets more eyeballs on our site.
35% Increase in Ad Revenue(!!!)
Due to the spike in traffic that came from being featured in Discover, our ad revenue was up 35% compared to the previous month (December). Huge win! I share more of our revenue numbers down below.
Approved for Marketplace to Be Added to AdThrive Network
Currently, the RV Inspiration Marketplace (where you can buy & sell renovated RVs) is only making money from people buying listings. However, it has a significant search volume. I sent an application to AdThrive and they approved the site to be added to their ad network. Hopefully, this means we can start generating some additional income through RenovatedRVsforSale.com through ads. We will see!
Brought on Guest Writers & Editor for RV Inspiration
We brought on an amazing editor who we love and have worked with before and also a few writers to help us crank on new content! This will help us really start to hum on producing new and amazing content on RV Inspiration. We currently have about six weeks of articles assigned or already written, and it feels great to see major progress on this front.
What Didn’t Go Well During January
Didn’t hit the goal of four new articles written and published.
While we had a traffic spike, almost all of that came from articles that Alyssa has been re-writing. We only published two new articles in January. I’m bummed about this and really have no good excuse. It took longer than I thought it would to get new writers on board. (If you’re a freelance writer looking for a gig, we are always looking for more writers who can write DIY and RV renovation articles!)
On the positive side, we should have five new articles go live in February and nine in March, so I’m 100% confident this goal will be achieved this month.
No big spike in new listings in the marketplace.
This is not surprising to me. I didn’t do anything special to really push or market our marketplace in January (outside of spending a little money on boosting Facebook posts).
When we were thinking about putting in an offer to buy this business, I saw the most potential with the marketplace. Right now, it’s been my focus while Alyssa focuses on the RVInspiration.com side of things. To boost new listings in February and beyond, we have our VA doing direct outreach to RV renovators on Instagram to start getting more listings on the site. We’re offering coupon codes and free listings—anything to get more RVs listed. This will be a big focus this spring as we get closer to RV shopping season.
That’s another con with the marketplace or any RV-related business—it’s highly seasonal.
Didn’t launch new branding.
I was hopeful we’d do this in month one, but it didn’t happen. Not that a new logo is incredibly challenging, but I’ve dragged my heels on launching our new brand identity for RV Inspiration. However, it is coming along! What do you think of our new logo below?
We want our site to feel like an inspirational design blog, so the logo and branding should reflect that. As Alyssa updates articles, she’s focusing on improving photos and titles to reflect this as well.
January Numbers at a Glance:
- $4,408 (up $819 from December)
- 177,867 page views (both sites)
- 13 new orders to Marketplace (up from 10)
- Total live listings: 14 (down 10 from Dec)
January Revenue Breakdown
- Adthrive: $2,702
- RV Inspiration Marketplace: $950
- Amazon Associates: $524.86
- Other (affiliates mostly): $231.14
Total revenue: $4,408
January Web Traffic
RV Inspiration: 115,054 page views
Looking back over previous years, January typically does have a spike in traffic. For some reason, last January was absolutely bonkers and is the huge outlier below. However, I can say with confidence that this spike was mostly caused by the article rewrites (shoutout to Alyssa for cranking on these). It’s fun to see the traffic going up and hope to continue this trend moving forward.
RV Inspiration Marketplace (aka RenovatedRVsforSale.com): 62,813
Again, RV selling is a very seasonal business and you can see a trend upward is hopefully coming in the spring. My hope is that we can not just ride the seasonal wave, but really drive meaningful traffic to this site (and help people sell their RVs in the process).
I honestly have no idea how much money we have to put into the “bucket” of our return on investment. Last month I mentioned that our goal is to get a positive return on investment within two years, but I think trying to measure ROI at this point is a bit silly. It’s not like we’re currently pulling money out of the biz and paying ourselves.
That being said, we’re going to track revenue and keep working to grow this into a profitable site.
Our goal for the site this year is to triple ad revenue. That means making $400/day just from ads. (The average ad revenue in 2022 was $128.77.) We averaged $87/day in January and currently halfway through February we are averaging $128.92. We love seeing this progress and hope it can continue.
As far as ROI goes, we aren’t paying ourselves but our expenses are about a 1/4 of our revenue (based on the last two months alone). Most of those profits are going to be reinvested in site updates and branding, but it does feel good to have a business that is instantly profitable.
Focus Moving Forward
Looking ahead, I had two areas of focus:
- Producing great content (both rewriting existing articles and publishing new ones). This is really what is going to help drive us forward.
- Optimizing both websites. This is a bit broad, but there are a number of areas we feel we can keep improving with both sites. A few specific areas would be a redesign of both sites (in the works), better CTAs for signing up for the email list, and a better job pitching certain affiliate programs.
My Takeaways from Month Two
The biggest key learning this past month was the power of rewriting existing articles on our site. Many of the articles were already doing well and have been doing well for years. We simply improved headlines, updated photos, added a target SEO keyword, and made sure the readability was A+. Simply by improving on already valuable content. Google really rewarded this effort. I’m still enjoying stepping into an already operating business and finding ways we can make it better and improve (versus starting from scratch).
RV Inspiration has been really a perfect fit for us at this point in our lives. We’re currently working a max of 20 hours/week, but we can make great strides in the time we have. It’s enough of a challenge to push us, but still in our comfort zone of writing and content creation. Still a lot of fun work to do moving forward! But work I’m excited about 🙂
Alyssa’s Biggest Takeaway
Alyssa hopping in here, as I read Heath’s summary 🙂
My biggest takeaway is to only focus on one thing in your control. In December, I wholly focused on cleaning up the website as we transferred everything into our name. Removing plugins we weren’t going to use or didn’t want to pay for. Archiving pages like articles about the old owner. Canceling subscriptions. In January, all I did was update articles—about 20 in total.
There is so much we could be focusing on—building an email list, creating new products, promoting existing products, creating new lead magnets, filming tutorial videos. The list is endlessly long.
But we’re taking tasks one at a time, learning the business, mastering the process, and then moving to the next thing. I have about 20 more articles to finish up in February, then I’m onto the next thing.
The last monthly update I wrote there were quite a few great questions (or comments) about buying a business. I loved answering all of them. If you made it this far and don’t have a question, I’d still love to hear from you below. What was interesting or in what areas could I expand a bit more? Thanks for reading!
Cover photo credit: RVing with Lesley from our RV Inspiration article on RV Desk Ideas 🙂
I love the monthly business update. It’s informative and fascinating. I haven’t seen anything like it. And how you write about it is authentic, fresh, and clear. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
Thank you so much for reading Jane! Appreciate you popping in here to comment as well.
Add color to logo!
I really appreciate these posts, Heath and Alyssa. How are you keeping track of the endless list of to-dos and how are you picking which things to prioritize?
Trello! We set the ultimate goal of tripling ad revenue, so everything I’m doing prioritizes traffic first and user experience second, i.e. branding, website navigation, etc.
This update was awesome! 👏🏼 Really love that you lay it all out there. I work for a company that helps other companies grow but my wife and I are also full-time RVers building that brand as well. So everything you talked about in here is exciting and fascinating to me! 🤩
I also like that Alyssa gave her update at the end too. Good to hear from both of you – you’re both really smart and good at what you do 👏🏼 thanks for sharing with us!
I love this business series. How were you able to get an article featured in Google Discovery?
I’ve been going through and updated our highest trafficked articles and making improvements to get them ranking. I’m hoping to share more of that process next month!