The week of Sept. 11, 2001, Chuck Woodbury was set to issue his first RVtravel.com online newsletter. He recalls he had less than 100 subscribers. “Then, after the terrible events of that day, it seemed unimportant to be discussing RVing,” he recalled.
Two weeks later, he issued his first newsletter, initially every other week, then weekly after a few months. On Saturday, (Oct. 18), the 62-year-old RVer and publisher will post his 400th edition to an audience of about 100,000, according to a press release.
It’s a labor of love for Woodbury, but also a driving force in his business, which earns half its income from advertising and the other half from sales at RVbookstore.com, which Woodbury said is the largest store in the world specializing in books, eBooks and DVDs aimed specifically at RVers.
The newsletter, which is free to subscribers, covers important consumer news about recreational vehicles and the RV lifestyle, and short features on most aspects of RVing. Woodbury’s opening essay — sometimes newsy but often more personal — is the biggest draw. “In the 1990s, I spent a good part of my time traveling the American West in a motorhome, publishing my on-the-road newspaper Out West,” he said. “I kept a journal of my travels and published it in the paper. That was where I found my own voice as a writer. What I was doing was blogging before the term was coined.”
Out West was so unique that Woodbury was profiled by most of the major news media including all the broadcast TV networks, CNN, USA Today and People Magazine. Phone booths became his favorite hangout. “For about a year, every couple of days I’d be a call-in guest on a radio talk show,” he said.
HIS MEDIA FAME led to a book deal with New York publisher William Morrow, “The Best from Out West,” and a six year stint with the New York Times Syndicate, which distributed his columns to newspapers around the world.
These days, Woodbury says he spends about two days a week producing his RVtravel.com newsletter. Most times, he writes it from his home in Edmonds, Wash., but he’s written and posted many issues from throughout North America while traveling by motorhome. In September, he posted two issues while vacationing in Germany.
Woodbury says he will likely make it to a 500th issue, but he’s not sure after that. “I will have been publishing it more than 10 years at that point,” he explained. “I know I will keep writing, but I don’t know if I will want to deal any more with a weekly deadline.”
The 400th issue of the RV Travel newsletter will be posted early Saturday at RVtravel.com. The same morning two RVing experts, the ”RV Doctor” Gary Bunzer and Eric Davis of Eric’s RV Performance Center, will join Woodbury in a live two-hour video webcast that will appear on the same web page as the newsletter beginning at1 p.m. EST