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We’ve officially owned our new business for six months and this update is dedicated to detailing the progress we’ve made during our tenure as owners. Before we get into it, I have to share something I found last week (and by found I mean something that my 18-month-old pulled out of a cabinet and brought to me).
This notebook is where I take strategy notes and write end-of-year reviews and new-year planning. I found this note from early 2022. Heath and I were in the middle of a few things:
- Heath was still working full-time at Camping World after they bought his company but knew he would quit in June. We were trying to make a plan for how to replace that income over the course of the next year.
- We were finalizing zoning for our campground.
- Heath was trying to hire someone to create an “RV Entrepreneur Membership” where there would be events, courses, and all sorts of resources for fellow RV entrepreneurs.
But what I love about this note is my added note in cursive:
How can these be lighter?
This is a question Heath and I talk about often in business.
Campground Booking was a heavy business. There was a ton of technical work—shouldered mostly by the CTO—and endless customer support. Our podcast was a light business. Heath loved it and it required very little overhead (He’s been coming to me often about starting another one. Bug him in the comments if you’d listen).
Starting the campground was easily the heaviest business we’ve attempted. Even before breaking ground, we felt that weight. The loans, the building process, the time until opening…heavy. Starting a membership from nothing was going to be a heavy lift too. We would need to hire someone with experience to help us accomplish it.
If you’ve been following us since then, you may remember what we did to make this lighter—sold everything. Heath left his role at Campground Booking, we sold our RV Entrepreneur podcast, and then the campground property.
We took the cash from those sales to buy our new business in December…
FUN WAS HAD.
But we also bought RV Inspiration for $100K and it has felt like the lightest business we’ve run to date. We love that it’s all online, came with a VA who knew the business, and that we didn’t need to do all of the labor of starting something new. Plus, it’s in a vertical we know well (RVs) and we both love writing. Win, win, win.
I wanted to share this little note before jumping into this recap because it’s now June and have we hit that $10K goal yet? You’ll see 🙂
If you’re new…
In December, we bought a new business called RV Inspiration, a blog focused on renovating RVs. The business also included RenovatedRVsforSale.com, a marketplace for selling renovated RVs.
Read last month’s update: Business Acquisition Update #5: The month we didn’t touch it
What went well!
We found the *perfect* day to send our newsletters.
This, I think, sounds silly. I’ve always been of the mind that there’s no particular right day to send email newsletters. I’ve sent our H&A newsletters every day of the week and have never seen a strong correlation one way or the other.
I can’t remember why I chose Thursdays as the day to send our RVI newsletters. I think it was because it didn’t conflict with the existing email sequences, so it would guarantee people didn’t get multiple emails in a day. Plus it’s on the tail end of the week, when people are losing focus at work and happy to be distracted by an article about a pretty RV.
But in May I decided to switch this up and move newsletters to Sundays—historically our best traffic day.
One piece of life advice I’ve loved throughout the years is that you should focus your attention/efforts on what is going well, not what is doing just okay or going poorly. You can often make exponential growth happen by leveraging something that’s already going well versus trying to force something that isn’t working.
I took this and thought Sundays are already popular. Let’s post new content then and share our newsletters on Sunday too.
It’s gone gangbusters.
Since making that small switch, we’ve started having $200+ days with ad revenue spiking on Sundays and Mondays. That extra boost of traffic on Sunday has trickled through the early part of the week (a major surprise to me) and my last newsletter had double the clicks than those pesky old Thursday newsletters.
I will continue playing with this because we ultimately want to be creating and sharing 2-3 new pieces of content a week in Q3. So I’ll need to start choosing more days to send emails. Maybe Fridays? Saturdays? Mondays? 🤷🏻♀️ I will find out!
I wrote my first article!
One of the reasons we chose this blog to buy was because we thought we could easily write content for the site. It wasn’t until the last week of May that I finally got the chance to shift my focus and start creating content for the site.
My first article: 27 Ideas for Your RV Backsplash
I have so many thoughts on this.
1) I love that most of these articles mean looking at pretty pictures for hours. It’s like scrolling through Instagram except that it’s actually productive.
2) I have a new appreciation for Ashley—the founder—for naming the site RV Inspiration. I am SO AMPED and inspired to renovate an RV. Need to buy an old junker ASAP. Send me links.
3) I am probably going to burn myself out 🙈
I’ve written seven articles…this week… This has made me think about why I’ve never felt so inspired to write on our own personal blog. That’s some introspection for another time. Still have 5 articles to write for this summer’s content, but the list keeps growing because every new RV I find inspires more new articles.
But I’ve loved writing articles and it’s been really nice to get to write something that’s independent of our personal stories.
We’ve More Than Doubled Our Revenue!(!)
In December, the business earned $3,800. This was low compared to what the previous owner had earned in 2022 so I was instantly panic-stricken that simply switching ownership had somehow ruined the site’s income streams. Luckily that wasn’t the case! As we’ve gotten our feet under us, we’ve grown this number steadily.
In May, we earned about $9,200.
My hope is that a few of the tweaks we made in May—like the newsletter—mean that June crosses that five-figure mark!
What Hasn’t Gone So Well
We had every intention of working in May…
A theme of Heath & I traveling has always been rebooking flights at the last minute. We are somehow terrible at booking our original flights and always end up on the phone with airlines trying to change everything.
This—once again—happened returning from New Zealand. We planned to fly from Auckland to Houston, spend a couple of days getting un-jetlagged with family, then fly home. But then there was a fish fry we wanted to stay for, so we rebooked.
And then Heath said, “Are we really going to be in Texas and not go up to Dallas to visit your family?” With a guilt trip like that, how could I not rebook the flights again?
We ended up spending two weeks in Texas. We were playing in New Zealand until May 9th, so by the time we made it to our house in Colorado, the month was basically gone. We only worked two days during the whole month! We missed out on a lot of smaller projects we wanted to accomplish in May.
I think this is why we grew a little in May, but not very much compared to April.
But I will always let the business go on autopilot so that we can enjoy traveling together as a family, so it’s a sacrifice I happily made!
Expectations ≠ Reality
One rule I seem to never stop learning in business: Everything takes longer than you think. (Also applies to doing the dishes.)
These past six months, most things have taken twice the amount of time that we thought they would. If my past is any indication, I will keep re-learning this less monthly in perpetuity.
Payments are always confusing.
This may be more of a soapbox than a negative aspect of the business.
But I think it needs to be said or explained for anyone new to online business.
Below you can see our income streams outlined. Here’s how they pay out:
- Ad revenue: paid 45 days after the end of the month
- Listings revenue: paid about 24 hours after each purchase
- Amazon affiliates: 60 days after the end of the month
- Amazon bonus: first week of the month right after you earned it? (Did not expect that deposit, but awesome!)
- Other affiliates: 30-60 days after purchase
As you can see, literally every income stream is different. So while we “earned” $9,230 in May. We won’t have all that money in our bank account until nearly the end of summer.
This can make accounting and projections confusing. Little things like paying invoices for our new website rebuild meant getting into our business bank account and checking to see if enough money was in out account.
Up until May, this was extremely difficult. Sometimes I would need to wait a week to pay invoices.
But we’ve finally reached a point where our income is high enough that we keep enough operational cash in the bank to cover any costs that come in. Perhaps I should really have this as a “what went well,” but it’s been a big stress and annoyance over the past six months so I call it a negative!
Just remember whether you buy a business or start a new one, think about how long it will take you to get paid. This is a major factor in your cash flow that I don’t think people talk about enough.
(Or just take all your payments through Stripe which pays out in 24 hours like magical money bosses.)
May Revenue Breakdown
RV Inspiration Ads: $4,360
RV Inspiration Marketplace Ads: $562
Amazon Affiliates: $1,423 + $1,200 bonus
Other affiliates: $166
Heath and I have said “Good is the enemy of great” to each other a few times in the past few weeks.
This is a concept we are looking to attack over the summer. Our newsletters were going good, how could we make them great? Our traffic is good, how can it be great? Our listings are good—better than ever—but how can we make them grow?
One thing I’ve loved about monthly recapping our progress with all of you is that it forces Heath and me to confront so many different aspects of the business. We are looking at the numbers and the growth and seemingly small things like the day we send emails. And we’re trying to figure out what works and what needs improving.
If there’s any takeaway I’ve had from these six months, it’s the importance of taking a step back and evaluating the business. Getting stuff done is great. I’m super proud that I’ve gotten so many articles written and scheduled for this summer. It feels like progress is being made in the business.
But it’s equally important if not more important to take a step back and see what’s going good, what’s going great, and what’s not working. Make notes. Strategize on the next steps. And then start taking action again.
If you’re feeling up for it, we’d love to hear your own analysis of your business in the comments! In our dream world, sharing our good and bad experiences helps you all grow better businesses without as many mistakes as we make 🙂
Cover Image by Lee Ann Garrett. If you’d like some in-depth info on her butcher block counters or how to properly install peel-and-stick tiles, ooooo weeee will you love RV Inspiration! 🤪