RVE 112: Reflecting on What Went Well (and What Didn’t) in 2017

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In this episode, I’m bringing Alyssa back on the podcast to talk about our personal and business goals from 2017. This is something that we do every year in December. We sit down and have a “year end review” where we look at the things that went really well and things that didn’t go so well over the year. We look at big trends and how we want to improve in the next year.

Below are her notes on how we performed this year, if want to read along as you listen to the podcast!


What went well in 2017

written by Alyssa

1. We paid off all our student debt.

We started 2017 with about $13,000 left in student debt (we started at over $27,000 in 2014). After visiting all fifty states in our first year of marriage, we knew we needed to start being responsible and paying off all our student debt.

We paid off over $14,000 back in 2015 by traveling slowly in our old 1994 Coachmen and through a lot of hard work building our business.

But in 2016 after buying our new Winnebago Brave, we had an RV payment to deal with each month and ended up contributing very little to our student debt. So this past year we decided to buckle down and focus solely on paying off our debt. We did this through finding ways to never pay for lodging and by making more money.

We made our last payment in early September and it feels SO GOOD to not have student debt on our shoulders.

2. We spent fall up in the northeast watching the leaves change.

Each year we set at least one destination as our travel goal. In 2015 it was the coast of California, in 2016 Banff, in 2017 Maine. We knew after watching the leaves change back in 2014 that we wanted to witness that beauty all over again AND we wanted to spend way more time in Maine.

It did not disappoint!

Maine quickly rose through the ranks as one of our favorite and most beautiful states. We can’t speak to the winters and spring there, but summer and fall are FLAWLESS.

I can’t recommend it enough. Definitely bucket list worthy!

3. We ended up growing our income over 60%.

After analyzing our past years of business growth, we’ve held pretty steady on growing our income 40% year over year. Our goal for this year was to continue that growth and make $85,000 with a stretch goal of making $90,000. Back in December of last year, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t hit either.

But through increasing our blog income (more on this in a future blog post) and bringing on better clients, we were able to hit $100K for the year.

We did this through a few strategies.

  1.  Not saying yes to every opportunity that came our way, but focusing on opportunities that would provide us with the most growth.
  2. Creating processes to streamline and scale our business easier (A lot of this became easier with us combining our old blogs to HeathandAlyssa.com).
  3. Outsourcing our net-negative tasks, aka the things that we need to do but suck at. This has included editing podcasts, scheduling interviews, and admitting people into our Facebook group.

Outsourcing has meant that we are spending more money than we are used to, but it freed up so much of our time to focus on better-paid work and has ultimately allowed us to make more money than if we had tried to save money by doing it all ourselves. (This also greatly decreased the number of fights we’ve had about work getting dropped.)

4. We hit $2,500 in income from our website.

I’m pretty sure Heath set this goal back in 2016, but we finally hit it! We’ve consistently made around $2,500/month from our blog for the past few months through sponsorships, affiliate sales, and product sales. (This does not include anything we’ve made from our RVE Summit in 2017 or 2018 ticket sales. We actually don’t get paid for 2018 ticket sales until after the event in February.)

A good chunk of this income is from podcast sponsorships, a small sliver of it is from Heath’s book sales (my book won’t pay out until 2018), and the rest is all affiliates. We’ve “heavily” a few affiliates this year, but most affiliate income has been through evergreen blog posts and reviews. You can check out our Resources page for a full list of our affiliates.

5. We almost hit 100K views a month.

One of crazier goals for the year was growing our traffic to 100,000 views a month from our 2016 average of 28,000/month. We hit 90K back in August, but we haven’t hurdled over the 100K mark just yet!

Our strategy was to get ourselves on more search engines, namely Youtube, Amazon, and Pinterest. Pinterest has been the biggest difference maker, referring 7,000+ views in November. (You can listen to our podcast episode on how we made that happen here.)

Amazon and Youtube have made a much smaller difference, but my book has only been on Amazon for a month and well, we’ll talk about Youtube in a minute!

6. The RV Entrepreneur Podcast was downloaded over 300,000 times.

This was probably Heath’s biggest win of the year! His original goal was 200K for the year and we had to change his goal because he hit it over the summer. He ended up hitting the 300K goal early in November.

To grow his podcast, he started publishing more episodes and hiring an editor to help make the show come out consistently. (Hiring Kelsey also helped free up a few days a month for Heath to focus on other work.)

7. We were more consistent with publishing content.

Not sure if this is truly a win since we didn’t hit our metric, but for the first time ever we had multiple pieces of content go live on our blog every single week. Our goal was to post a blog, podcast, AND video each week. We ended posting 39 blogs, 25 videos, and 72 podcasts. Even though we didn’t hit our goal, I’d say we still did pretty well!

8. I wrote and launched my book!

We will another a whole podcast episode on this in the future (but you can learn about the pre-launch strategy in episode 100), but this was my personal biggest win of the year.

Since launching my book a month ago, I have 90 reviews and have sold over 5,000 copies. This far exceeds my initial goals of selling a few hundred copies and I couldn’t be more proud of the success we’ve had here. Also, I probably should’ve written and launched this book a long time ago. Oh well!

What didn’t go as well as anticipated

Growing CampgroundBooking

You’ll hear Heath talk more about this if you listen to the podcast episode, but growth with his software company was slow moving this year. This was partly due to not spending as much time on the project, especially during the first half of the year when we hosted our Summit and focused more on our personal brand.

However, today as I type this Heath and his team are sending out login information to 50 different campgrounds across British Columbia. They are partnering with Travel BC to allow online bookings for campgrounds across British Columbia and eventually across all of Canada. It may have taken a long time (and they still haven’t made a cent—yet!) but I’m super proud of him!

Our Youtube Channel…Yeah…

I was SO GOOD at posting videos for the first six months of the year!!! But since then…nada. (Of course it was in the second half of the year that we paid off debt and I published a book so I think I used my time wisely!).

This was mostly due to the fact that we brought in two new clients in July so I had less time and a split focus. This will be something we focus more on in 2018, which we’ll talk about on next week’s podcast. Stay tuned!

A few other links and resources we talk about in this episode: