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We are back with our third monthly update from our first business acquisition! In this monthly series, we’re sharing everything we’re learning about acquiring a business and attempting to grow it.
Our goal when we started our RVing journey was to be “the crash test dummy of running a business from an RV.” I stole the crash test dummy idea from Pat Flynn, who used to talk about this concept on his Smart Passive Income podcast. It’s the idea that we would try everything and see what actually worked.
And there would be some crashes along the way. 😬
I’ve lost track of how many businesses Heath and I have started or tried to start over the past nine years we’ve been traveling. But with this very first business acquisition, we’ve already learned and grown exponentially in the last three months. With this update, I have some major wins to share and a few frustrations.
We bought the business for $100,000 on December 2nd, 2022. As I write this, we’ve owned the business for 100 days. The business we bought is called RV Inspiration, a site focused on DIY articles for renovating your RV and making it feel like home, plus a marketplace where people can buy and sell renovated RVs.
What Went Well in February
Switching Advertising Partners
Ezoic was bringing in about $50/month… nothing to be excited about. That’s less than selling a listing for an RV for sale.
We decided to ask AdThrive if we could add Renovated RVs for Sale to our account. There was an application process and after a few weeks, we were approved and had ads running on the site.
Technically, I don’t think the site has enough traffic to qualify for AdThrive on its own. But because we were existing customers, it seemed like it was fairly easy to get them to add Renovated to their program. This did take a few weeks of technical behind-the-scenes work, but we ourselves didn’t have to do much. The AdThrive team took care of it all. We got all the ads live the last week of February, but quickly out earned Ezoic even with only a few days of ads.
I’ll share numbers later in this article, but we should 10x our ad revenue in March, making this a huge win!
More New Content
We published seven posts in February!
Heath had our lack of new content as a failure in January, but we’ve really ramped up content creation in February. We want to do even more, but we are seriously struggling to find writers with renovation experience.
(If you hit the mark, email me and join our writing team!)
Hitting Our Revenue Goals(!!!)
When we started the new year, I printed off this habit tracker and decided to use it to measure our growth toward our number one goal for this business:
triple ad revenue
In 2022, ad revenue averaged $128.77 a day. Our goal is to get up to $400/day. Every day colored in with blue is a day that we beat last year’s average.
The business was in a pretty strong decline when we purchased it, showing steady drops in revenue. In January, this felt like a major uphill battle with most days under $100 in ads. Our average for the month was $87/day.
Not only did our daily average exceed last year’s average, but we also had some major spikes in revenue where we brought in $180/day.
This was incredibly encouraging.
The idea of tripling our ad revenue feels really unattainable. I fully do not expect it to happen as a daily recurrence by December. But I do see now how we could end up hitting a few $400 days in peak season.
If you’re reading this thinking and wondering how we did this, that’s the next win.
Optimizing Past Content
I wanted to write this month’s update instead of Heath because I’m taking all the credit for our wild growth this month. Heath has been redesigning the website! He’s been busy elsewhere, so really who else is there to take the credit except me?
I have focused on three things:
- Optimizing past blog content
- Creating web stories for all optimized posts
- Redesigning and focusing the weekly newsletter
Optimizing past content
When Ashley started RV Inspiration, she shared a lot of her personal story and experiences. Reading posts, it often felt like you were getting to know Ashley and like it was her site. Which was great…until she was no longer the owner!
One of the first projects I undertook was removing Ashley’s personal name and stories from much of the content.
Before you think, “wow you’re just erasing the past owner, that’s kind of rude.” Some of this was at Ashley’s request. Emails through our ConvertKit sequences would say they came from “Ashley Mann” versus RV Inspiration. As the previous owner, she—of course—didn’t want us sending out new or old content under her identity. And we don’t want to be falsely representing her.
With this came opportunity.
When Heath and I bought the business, we decided that it would not be like HeathandAlyssa.com where everything is personal. We want the website to be sellable. You won’t see us all over the site because it isn’t about us. It’s about renovating your RV.
So as I took out some of the personal stuff from emails and blogs, I started updating other things. Typos. Better photos. Better titles. Broken links.
That was all I planned to update.
(Am I overusing the dot dot dots today? I’m feeling dramatic.)
But then I saw an article—I can’t recall which one—that needed a few more content edits because the SEO score was low. And then I checked the readability and that scored low too.
And before you knew it, I had a checklist, a cup of coffee, and a list of our top 25 articles with the plan to optimize them all.
I read and edited every single one (this took all of February by the way) and did the following:
- New featured image (vertical for new blog theme)
- Update content
- Update images
- Update SEO
- Update Title
- Check SEMrush notes
- Update categories
Not all of these have to do with SEO. For example, our new web theme prefers vertical images and prioritizes categories, so I went through all 100+ blog posts on the site to update their categories and featured images. These don’t super affect your SEO like the other things on the list and likely didn’t make a huge traffic impact.
But traffic doubled on the posts where I made all of these updates.
Well, not every post. That would be insane.
But many of them! Enough to boost our ad revenue significantly.
(If you’re new or new-ish to blogging and everything I’m saying about SEO is over your head, this free video training on blogging is really helpful! It’s a workshop from our 2018 RV Entrepreneur Summit.)
This was the first major win for our revenue.
Creating Web Stories
Web stories, if you haven’t heard of them, are basically the vibe of Instagram stories except they are on Google. I’ve slowly started to see them more and more as I search for things online.
Ashley used these in the past and hired a designer for them. But she said they were terribly designed and she turned them off. They had given her a huge traffic boost though!
We started fresh with new stories. This meant I had to learn the plugin, make another checklist of everything to do to create a story, and do a LOT of searching for photos. (This inevitably would mean I would find a cool photo for the story and then decide it was so beautiful that I had to go add it to the blog that I had just edited, and generally took more time than it should’ve.)
Web stories have significantly boosted our traffic as well. Again since our primary revenue is ads, traffic is king!
Redesigning our Newsletter
And lastly, I wanted to redesign our newsletter to match our new website (which I’ll talk more about in a second).
Our goal is to make our website feel more design-forward, so I transformed the newsletters from this:
My primary goal with everything I do to update the existing content is to make the website more sellable and attractive.
My secondary goal is just to show pretty pictures. Hey, we live in the age of Instagram and Tik Tok! Scrolling through pictures is probably the #1 hobby in America right now.
So far, I think this has been going well, but I still need to go through all of the sequences (AKA autoresponders and scheduled emails) that Ashley has set up already to have the theme mimic this style. That’s about 50 individual emails to reformat—ones I already updated in step one of removing Ashley’s name—and is going to take a few days of focus. I’m hoping to finish that up in March before we leave for Japan.
What Didn’t Go Well in February
No new website 🙁
When we bought the RV Inspiration, it looked like this:
Not the worst website I’ve ever seen, but it didn’t scream interior design website with dark photos and a simple logo. Updating the website seemed like the best way to breathe new life into the business.
We wanted to get new websites for each side of the business immediately, but we knew Christmas would get in the way. We didn’t get quotes from people until late in January. And then most of those quotes were WAY out of our price range. So in February we decided to go theme hunting and re-do the websites ourselves.
As I’m writing this, they are almost ready to go live.
When all is done in March, our new RV Inspiration website should look like this:
Much cleaner, bigger and brighter photos, and a little less clutter.
Our goal is that when you come to RVI that you’re inspired by the beauty of the photos and the simple design of the website. Inspiration is in the name after all!
We are also updating the marketplace website too!
So these didn’t get done in our first three months, but they are close!
No Pinterest Growth Yet
Pinterest is our number two source of traffic. Most of our traffic is organic—which is ideal.
But we get millions of monthly views on Pinterest and want to convert as many of those to pageviews on the website as possible. We hired someone to start on Pinterest in February. But we were wanting to wait to release new pins until we had the new logo design and the new website. Basically, we were kind of “leaving money on the table” as we waited on those things.
Finally, I just told our Pinterest designer last week to just get started and stop waiting on us because we want the traffic and everything with the website took twice as long as we thought it did.
Hopefully, in a month’s time, we’ll be putting Pinterest growth in the win column!
February Numbers at a Glance
Okay now into the fun stuff. I said “hitting our revenue goals” was a win, but I think that’s an understatement. We grew way more than we expected to in February!
Total revenue: $5,769,94 (up $1361.94 from January)
20 new RV listings (up from 13)
Total live listings: 30 (up from 14)
AdThrive for Renovated RVs for Sale: $181.79
Marketplace Listings: $1273.42
Amazon Associates: $621.73
Total revenue: $5,769,94
February Web Traffic
RV Inspiration Views: 159,709
Up from 115,054 in January
As we get closer to spring and RVing season, our traffic continues to grow. We haven’t done too much to outwardly market the site yet. This is mostly organic traffic. I’d love to see this number soar in the spring.
RV Inspiration Marketplace (aka RenovatedRVsforSale.com): 59,247
Traffic with the marketplace is holding steady right now.
With expected high costs from contractors for branding, Pinterest, and the website redesign, we are keeping everything we earn right now in the bank. We’re hoping that in a month or two, we can start pulling from the account and getting a return on our investment. We haven’t paid ourselves anything from this business. But…
Sorry. Super into the dramatic ellipses today.
We have folded RV Inspiration and the marketplace under our LLC so all its income is going into our business bank account. Our business includes Youtube, where we share videos from RVing all around the world.
So while we haven’t paid ourselves from this business, its income kind of bought our plane tickets to Japan and New Zealand for next month.
So no official return on investment, but it’s helping fund other parts of our business.
Keeping the business sellable
Heath and I have both talked a lot about making businesses sellable in the past two years as we’ve sold multiple businesses. Keeping our ad revenue from RVI and our Youtube ad revenue in the same bank account and LLC might sound like it would muddy the waters for making this business sellable.
However, what we learned when we sold our podcast last year is that you can do an asset purchase where you sell only a section of your business. When we sold our podcast and conference, Youtube revenue wasn’t included, even though it was all under the same LLC, because it wasn’t related to those two assets.
This makes my life simpler with one bank account and one LLC tax return to deal with and doesn’t complicate the business at all.
Plus, now that I know what it’s like to untangle just a piece of the business for purchase, I’ve figured out which things to keep together and which to keep separated. Putting everything in the same bank account? A-OK.
My Takeaways from Month Three
Working in tandem is our most valuable asset.
If only one of us were working on this business, a lot would fall by the wayside. It requires different mindsets and skill sets to edit and update past content versus redesigning a website.
With both Heath and I together on this project, we can truly divide and conquer.
We’ve worked on many projects together in the past where we haven’t really clicked. The podcast was actually a big one. I really valued editing and scheduling podcasts for Tuesdays at 8 AM and Heath really valued recording them whenever and releasing them whenever. Working together on that podcast was just a breeding ground for frustration and arguments.
But working together on this, we’ve clicked and quickly found a rhythm. I think this is our biggest asset for the business moving forward.
We have so loved your questions! If you made it this far and have any questions, drop a comment below and we will always answer them!