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RVtravel.com Editor Fosters Loyal Readership

September 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A lot has changed since Chuck Woodbury wandered the U.S. in a motorhome writing about everything from Fred Flinstone memorabilia in Bedrock City, Ariz., to aggressive Cheez-It-seeking chipmunks in Oregon.

Now the Edmonds, Wash., man who earned fame 20 years ago as the founder of his written-from-the-road, quarterly print magazine Out West, is celebrating his 10th year as the editor of a popular online newsletter written for recreational vehicle travelers.

Every Saturday morning for the past decade, the 24,000 readers who subscribe to Woodbury’s RVTravel.com newsletter have awakened to a new issue delivered directly to their email inbox – last Saturday, in fact, was his 500th issue. Since he tracks his site visits closely, he knows that he averages 60,000 readers weekly, so an additional 36,000 people find their way to the newsletter via referrals from blogs and related RV sites.

And thanks to his robust RV-focused audience, Woodbury is able to generate a good income with advertising, which he doesn’t need to sell – advertisers come to him with RV-related products and services for his national audience.

“We turn down a lot of advertising – because it’s either a questionable product or service or its not relevant enough,” Woodbury said. “It’s a waste of the advertisers’ space and a waste of our readers’ time. So everything has to be about our readers.”

Newsletter topics range from Woodbury’s campground and sightseeing recommendations to RV maintenance and repair tips from guest writers. He’s always had a passion for writing, and says it’s not hard to come up with new subjects to write about.

“When you travel it’s easy because you stumble across new stuff,” Woodbury said. “This morning it was raining and I wrote an essay on how the rain’s starting up in the Northwest, how I’ve become accustomed to it and kind of like it. And I led into how I really like it when I’m out in my motor home in the forest and it rains. How cozy it feels and the sound and the smell of the forest.”

He admits, thought, that there are a few topics he won’t touch. “I stay away from politics and religion,” he said. “You can never win.”

His readers range in age from 30 to 90, but average 50 to 60. “It’s an older crowd,” he said. “I’ve grown into the demographic.”

To view the entire article click here.

 

 

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Woodbury Publishes 500th RV Travel Newsletter

September 26, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

RVtravel.com Editor Chuck Woodbury

Chuck Woodbury’s weekly online newsletter RV Travel celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday with its 500th issue. Before that, Woodbury spent 10 years exploring the American West in a small motorhome publishing his acclaimed quarterly newspaper Out West.

“Some people think I’m 100 years old. My name has been around a long time in the RV publishing world — about 25 years now,” he wrote in Saturday’s newsletter. “I started traveling by motorhome in my mid-30s, when most RVers were retirement age. Most of my readers thought I was older.”

In the Out West years of the ’90s, Woodbury, now 64, was profiled on all the TV networks and in hundreds of periodicals. “The idea of a guy roaming at his own pace in a motorhome, producing a newspaper along the way was an appealing story to the media,” he said. “It was fun while it lasted — a Walter Mitty fantasy come true — a ‘nobody’ one day, then in People Magazine and on the Today Show the next.”

In 1994, his wife, daughter and he spent three months on the road in their 24-foot Tioga motorhome, traveling in 28 states promoting “Camping with Kids” as spokespersons for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

He started the RVtravel.com newsletter 10 years ago, two weeks after the 9-11 terror attacks. “Actually, it was set to go about the same time the events unfolded,” he said. “I didn’t post it: Who wanted to read about RVing?” At first he published every-other week, then switched to weekly. Issues include an essay by Woodbury, news, and columns about RV lifestyle and technical matters.

He began the online newsletter as a way to sell books at his website RVbookstore.com. But Woodbury said it soon established its own identity and a loyal readership of about 60,000 RVers a week. It’s supported today by sales at the bookstore, advertising, and voluntary subscriptions from readers. He sees a bright future as more advertisers switch from print to the Web. “My biggest challenge is building readership and page views,” he said. “As is, our ad space is close to sold out.”

Nowadays, Woodbury spends most his time RVing in the West in a 24-foot Winnebago View motorhome, but he occasionally ventures east of the Mississippi, and even abroad in rental vehicles. He returned earlier this month from a campervan trip around Iceland’s Ring Road, which he is chronicling in RvIceland.com, one of several dozen blogs in the RVtravel.com network of websites. Even after 500 issues, Woodbury has no plans to stop. “My only plan now is to travel more and write more,” he said.

 

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Woodbury Completes Iceland Motorhome Trek

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The following is a profile of longtime RV travel writer Chuck Woodbury published in the Daily Herald, Everett, Wash. Woodbury, who resides in Edmonds, Wash.,  just completed a tour of Iceland by motorhome. The 64-year-old is editor for RVtravel.com and previously published Out West magazine.

Chuck Woodbury has just returned from his latest adventure and he’s brimming with descriptions of Iceland’s exotic scenery.

He traveled to the Scandinavian island country earlier this month as part of his life’s work — exploring the world by motorhome and writing about it. The remote destination was the most recent leg of the RV blogger’s extensive travels. Though most of the miles have been racked up in the western United States, he’s also rented RVs in Iceland and New Zealand.

“I love to travel with the RV because it’s just like a little house and office,” Woodbury said. “My needs are simple.”

Woodbury, who resides in Edmonds, Wash., has been building a following for more than two decades. He’s always wanted to write and travel. That’s been possible thanks to the niche he found behind the wheel of a recreational vehicle.

The extended road trip started in the 1980s with magazine assignments and a self-published tabloid. He’s continued the quest ever since, with a pause here and there, into the digital age. These days, Woodbury writes RVtravel.com, where he says advertising demand is still strong.

For about a dozen years he’s also run RVbookstore.com. At his warehouse a few blocks from his downtown Edmonds condo, rows of shelves are stacked with books and DVDs. There’s a big spool of bubble wrap on a wall.

“Orders come in all day long,” he said. “We’re no Amazon but in this field, nobody has more titles than we do.”

With silver-white hair combed to one side and a neatly trimmed mustache, Woodbury jokes that he aged into his profession.

In the 1980s, when he bought his first motorhome, Woodbury was one of the younger members of the RV set. Back then, the scene was dominated by retirees sporting bumpers stickers proclaiming, “I’m spending my grandchildren’s inheritance!” Another infamous sticker read, “Don’t tailgate or I’ll flush.”

Some of the Winnebago warrior stereotypes remain, but in reality, Woodbury said the demographics of RV owners are becoming more diverse. Nowadays, he said, the average age is about 49. He’s 64.

His passion for the road began while growing up in West Covina, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb. His parents would set out for family vacations towing a 15-foot travel trailer behind their station wagon. By his mid-teens, he had been all over the West.

At California State University, Sacramento, Woodbury majored in business with an “unofficial minor in journalism.”

“I got C’s in business and A’s in journalism,” he quipped. “I should have known.”

In college in the early 1970s, he was already dreaming of a life of travel.

In late 1987, while still living in Sacramento, he began publishing “Out West,” a quarterly black-and-white tabloid. With his spirited writing, Woodbury made characters from his journeys jump off the page.

One dispatch from the period featured Big Nose George, a Wild West outlaw whose skin was used to fashion a pair of shoes that Woodbury found on display at a Rawlins, Wyo., museum. Another describes a “geezer fire brigade” in the retirement community of Ryderwood in southwest Washington. Another is titled, “Mysterious Mt. Shasta. Does an ancient society live inside?”

Soon, he signed a deal to distribute “Out West” stories through the New York Times Syndicate. A review in USA Today led to an avalanche of media exposure, sending Woodbury to make the rounds of network TV shows. The exposure boosted readership.

An early Macintosh computer helped him establish a newsroom on wheels. He even had his own mobile darkroom to develop photographs on board. At the time, he never used the term “RV.”

“I had grandmas and grandpas reading it,” he said. “I had a big following on college campuses.”

Circulation peaked at about 10,000.

In 1995, Woodbury moved to the Seattle area with his then-wife and 4-year-old daughter.

“I came up to Edmonds and saw the ocean and that pretty little town and said, ‘I like it. I’m staying here,’” he recalled. “I always like to come home as much as I like to travel.”

Family life did put a crimp in the itinerant lifestyle, though. It became harder to sustain a one-man-band publishing operation from the road.

In the early 2000′s, Woodbury did TV commercials for Poulsbo RV. “Everywhere I went, people said, ‘Oh, you’re the RV guy,’” he said.

In the early Internet days, he had the foresight to buy web domain names, including RVbookstore.com and RVtravel.com. The site would help jump-start his travel writing.

Media outlets continue to seek out Woodbury as a go-to guy for all things RV. He’s become something of an expert on Wal-Mart’s policy of allowing RVers to camp in its parking lots, even though he’s never done it himself.

He’s been a guest on fellow Edmonds resident Rick Steves’ radio show, but said he doesn’t know the man behind the Savvy Traveler brand all that well.

“I admire him and I respect him,” he said of Steves. “But his goals are much different from mine. He’s built up a much bigger empire and I don’t have as much ambition.”

Woodbury extols the RV as a sensible way to take a vacation. While the vehicle itself and gas might put you back a few dollars, you save on hotel rooms and by being able to cook your own meals. Once you find a place you like, you can stay put for a while.

Woodbury estimates he’s driven at least 200,000 miles over the years in three motorhomes. He’s only crossed the Mississippi twice — once to drive his daughter to school in New York City.

A misconception about RV enthusiasts, Woodbury said, is that they’re always driving around. Woodbury, for instance, has often started trips by going a couple of hundred miles the first day to “get out of range of things familiar.” He would stop, write and print photos for a day or two, then drive another 100 miles or so before stopping again.

Living in a motorhome forces certain types of conservation such as getting by on 25 gallons of water a week, he said. When you need to crank up the thermostat, you’re only heating a hut-size area, instead of a whole house. He adds that he gets 15-16 miles per gallon from his diesel-powered Winnebago View.

“It’s not as dramatically piggish as some people automatically think or assume or believe,” he said.

For anyone interested in owning an RV, Woodbury suggests renting before buying. “They’ll learn whether they like the lifestyle, they’ll learn whether they can get along with their spouse,” he said.

For his trips to Iceland and New Zealand, he rented a motor home in-country. In Iceland, he drove 830 miles on the Ring Road encircling the sparsely populated island.

“It’s the Oregon Coast one minute, it’s Mars the next, it’s the Scottish Highlands the next,” he said.

This coming year, he plans to travel and write more, “and try to find some other Icelands out there.”

A reader recently recommended RVing in Turkey, though Woodbury said he might want to explore Australia first.

 

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Woodbury Setting Out on RV Adventure in Iceland

August 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury begins a one-week RV trip in Iceland today. The Seattle-based journalist will travel the country’s 831-mile ring road in a small motorhome furnished by Happy Campers of Reykjavik. He will blog daily beginning Tuesday (Aug. 30) in a website he set up especially for the trip, RvIceland.com, as well as on his RVtravel.com Facebook page.

“Most RVers I’ve talked with have no idea you can even travel Iceland with an RV,” said Woodbury, who has explored all of the U.S., including Alaska, by motorhome, along with New Zealand and parts of Europe “The fact is, there are campgrounds everywhere, from primitive to what we in the United States would consider full-service RV parks. And you can pull over beside the road just about anywhere with no problems.”

About two-thirds of the country’s 320,000 residents live in the capital city of Reykjavik or its suburbs. “After leaving there you will see a lot of wide-open spaces, mostly tundra, with only a handful of isolated settlements, few with populations over 500,” he said. “But whatever rural cultural amenities Iceland lacks it more than makes up for in natural attractions: Iceland is known for spectacular scenery, volcanoes, recent and ancient lava flows, hot springs including the famous Blue Lagoon just outside Reykjavik, glaciers and Europe’s largest waterfall.”

Although Iceland is the “world’s most wired” Internet nation, getting online will be a challenge for Woodbury outside of Reykjavik. “Thankfully many gas stations have free WiFi,” he said. “I figure I’ll stop often when I find one to file my reports.” Woodbury is packing along video gear to post short reports to RvIceland.com and YouTube.

Woodbury’s first feature article from the country will be in his next RVtravel.com newsletter on Sept. 3.

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Chuck Woodbury: RV Business is Building Now

April 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Chuck Woodbury, whose RV business is sponsoring seminars and an open house on Saturday, says increased design and performance help fight the high cost of gas, the Edmonds Patch reported.

In the spring of 2007, when gas prices first started to spike nationwide, the recreational vehicle market got slammed.

“People just quit buying RVs,” said Woodbury of Edmonds, Wash.

But today, even with prices around $4 a gallon, Woodbury says there are still plenty of enthusiasts in the market for RVs, tantalized by the lure of adventures on the open road.

Even if that road isn’t very long.

“What happened is that people are accustomed to high gas prices, and they’ve learned they can just drive 20 or 30 miles to a campground and enjoy themselves,” Woodbury said. “Driving across the whole country, that’s different. But the difference between $3 a gallon and $4.50 if you’re only going 50 miles one way and 50 miles back — you’re only talking about a few more dollars a weekend.”

Woodbury, whose rvbookstore.com is the largest online retailer specializing in RV books and DVDs, will hold an open house and seminars Saturday at his headquarters located in the Harbor Square business complex. Ten experts on RV technical and lifestyle topics will speak at the event, which will be held in three venues at Harbor Square.

The open house is free, and refreshments will be served. Visitors can browse through a variety of books for sale, most for just $1 or $2. The fee for the seminars is $15.

“It’s really for those who have an RV or are planning to get one,” Woodbury said. “It’s only going to be of interest to RVers, and those who have no interest in it will probably be bored.”

In addition to Woodbury, speakers include RV Doctor Gary Bunzer, RV performance expert Eric Davis, veteran Alaska RVer Nyla Walsh, RV Life magazine columnist Dave Helgeson and RV driving instructor Lorrin Walsh. Topics will include maximizing an RV’s performance, RV plumbing and waste systems, preparing an RV for spring, how to drive a motorhome, boondocking, traveling with an RV to Alaska, RV insurance, and solo RVing for women.

More information can be found at rvtravelseminars.com, where portions of the day’s events will available for viewing in a webcast. Regular webcasts are so popular that Woodbury says in the future he might make them available in a pay-per-view format.

Woodbury also oversees rvtravel.com, which publishes a weekly newsletter he says is read by 60,000 people.

Woodbury himself, of course, is an RV fanatic who first felt the thrill of the road on trips with his parents. Raised in California, he moved to Edmonds 15 years ago from Nevada City, Calif.

“My wife at the time loved Seattle,” he said. “I’d traveled a lot in the Northwest and always loved it up here. I don’t plan to go anywhere else.”

Woodbury’s travel writing began from a humble trailer, where he pounded out copy on a typewriter and sold stories to magazines. Many RVers remember Woodbury from an on-the-road newspaper he published, mostly from a 24-foot motorhome, called Out West.

Now, his writing is strictly online, where his main website is rvtravel.com (rvbookstore.com is his e-commerce site). He says he has about 70 websites overall, most of them centered on recreation vehicles and the RV lifestyle, but admits only about half of them are active. At least 300,000 viewers a month visit all the websites, Woodbury says, including one, freecampgrounds.com, that is reader-driven.

When asked about his income, Woodbury said: “It’s easy to make six-figure income, that’s all I can say. Some times are better than others. It was pretty lucrative four or five years ago. But my needs are simple. I’m very happy to just make a good income so I don’t have bill collectors chasing me.”

Woodbury has four employees on staff and edits a handful of paid bloggers. They are all sensing a recent upswing in RV interest, economy be damned.

“People are buying them again,” Woodbury said. “We see it at rvbookstore.com because of the number of people purchasing books on how to buy RVs has gone way up. They don’t buy those unless they are ready to buy.”

Woodbury defines RVs as popup trailers, $800,000 motorhomes, and everything in between, including teardrop trailers and those pulled by motorcycles. He says the average RVer is 49 years old, and many take advantage of technology to blunt the high cost of gas.

“Many RVs are built with a Mercedes diesel engine,” Woodbury said. “I have one, and it gets 15-19 miles per gallon, far better than the old days. Then also, a lot of lightweight composite trailers pulled by cars and SUVs are today far lighter and better equipped. I’ve really seen that coming on the last couple of years—they’re incredibly strong.”

So how does a RV expert who spends a lot of time in front of a computer in Edmonds relax?

“My goal is not to be working at home,” said Woodbury. “It’s to be traveling around the world and doing it.” This summer, he plans a trip to Iceland, where he’ll pick up a rented camper van, exploring the sites while blogging and uploading Webcasts.

Of course, man — or woman — cannot live by RV alone.

“It’s always had a dream of just roaming around and writing about it,” Woodbury says. “I’ve been traveling by RV for a long time, several decades. I still enjoy it, but it’s great to stay in a nice European hotel as well.”

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RV Blogger Woodbury on Cross-Country Trek

August 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Devil's Tower, Wyo.

Devil's Tower, Wyo., Sunday night destination of RV writer Chuck Woodbury.

Editor’s Note: Chuck Woodbury, noted RV industry writer and editor, has begun a cross-country trek by motorhome. Read about the start of his journey below, as reported on www.rvtravel.com.

I’m off and running (driving, actually) on a two- to three-month motorhome adventure across America, from the Northwest to Northeast and then to who knows where? My daughter Emily will be with me the first two weeks, and then I will be on my own — a rolling stone.

Be sure to look for me at the big Hershey, Pa., RV Show Sept. 15-18. Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, and I will do a live webcast from there Saturday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m., Eastern time (10 a.m. Western time). Please join our audience. I plan other live webcasts as well from RV parks and campgrounds across America (more about this later).

I’ll write a lot this trip, posting short updates on Twitter and writing often in my blog. I will also provide updates most days right here in the newsletter. So return here often each week and look for the trip update logo below.

That’s about it for my opening comments. Now, I need to get everything packed up and ready, and leave some extra time for map studying and daydreaming about the road ahead.

tripupdateFriday evening, 10 p.m. (Pacific): We didn’t leave Seattle until 2 p.m., and then drove straight through on I-90 to Post Falls, Idaho — just beyond the Washington/Idaho border. Emily was quiet today, very sad about leaving her childhood friends as she heads off to her freshman year of college in New York. So most of the drive we didn’t talk — each occupied with our own thoughts. The late afternoon light on the rolling hills of eastern Washington was spectacular. It’s warm here tonight in Post Falls. Tomorrow we plan to stay in Billings, Montana. UPDATE Saturday, 7 a.m. I’m up early to read emails from readers to see if I made any typos or other mistakes. Emily is sleeping in. Gorgeous morning. UPDATE: Sunday 10 p.m. Visited Battle of Big Horn site today, now camped in park campground in Devil’s Tower National Monument. Gorgeous scene here, now with a billion stars in the night sky. More trip updates coming twice a day (most days) throughout the trip. So keep checking back.

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LA Times Shares $$$ Tips for RV Vacations

July 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Rent an RV, hit the road and save gobs of money on your next vacation.

Really? Maybe not, even some advocates concede, according to Jane Engle, travel writer for Los Angeles Times.

“You could probably pack four people in a car, eat at restaurants, stay in hotels, and I imagine it’s about the same cost,” said Chuck Woodbury, editor of RVTravel.com, a consumer website offering tips and tricks for RVers.

But consider the intangibles.

“The real advantage of the RV is that the family’s together, and you can cook and eat healthy meals,” Woodbury said. “There’s something about being in a little house that’s very appealing. Sitting around a campfire at night is a lot more fun than sitting around a hotel room and watching TV.”

Pauline Frommer, creator of the Pauline Frommer’s Travel Guides series for budget travelers, said she was won over by her first-ever family RV trip last year. (And, yes, “we probably spent exactly what we would have spent if we went on a car road trip,” she added.)

I priced a hypothetical one-week vacation trip for a family of four from Los Angeles to South Lake Tahoe and back in July by rented RV versus going in the family car and staying at a hotel. Excluding food, the cost was about the same. But because it’s typically cheaper to make your own meals than to eat out, the RV won by a nose. (I priced a 25-foot Class C RV rental with a KOA campground stay and used a standard AAA calculator for driving costs of a medium sedan, with some tweaks.)

But why spend more than you need to? With that in mind, I gleaned tips from Woodbury and Frommer on how to save.

Rent the right size. Many people overestimate what they need.

Frommer’s family of four rented a 30-foot RV to tour the West. But in Sedona, Ariz., she said, “we realized we couldn’t drive it to a trail head. It was too big to park anywhere. So we turned out having to rent another car.”

Next time, she said, they’ll rent a smaller unit or even a pop-up camping trailer, which Woodbury said often rents for a fourth of what a regular RV costs.

Scout out free or low-cost parking: On my hypothetical trip, it cost $69 a night to park my RV with full hookups.

“You picked the high season and a very popular spot,” which boosted the price, Woodbury said.

Many private and national forest campgrounds charge less than $25 a night, he said. Cheaper spots don’t come with hookups or may just have water and electric. So consider doing without for a night or two, Woodbury said; rely more on battery power and siphon waste into a dump station.

You can park free on some public lands, he added, and many Wal-Marts will let you pull into their lots and spend the night — not exactly a nature experience, but OK in a pinch. For tips on cheap parking places, check out websites such as FreeCampgrounds.com.

Don’t write off private campgrounds, such as KOA, which may cost more but provide a resort-like experience.

“KOA is great for kids,” Woodbury said. “They’re in heaven. Many KOAs have swimming pools, game rooms, pancake breakfasts, movies at night and ice cream socials. It’s safe. There’s a store for supplies.”

Vacation off-season. By avoiding summer, the peak time for RV rentals in most places, you’ll pay less. Cruise America, which claims to be North America’s largest RV rental company, was recently giving 25% off rentals between Sept. 10 and Dec. 15.

Grab a one-way special. Rental companies sometimes need to move their inventory around, and if you help them, you can get “incredible deals,” Woodbury said.

Cruise America, for instance, was recently offering one-way autumn rentals from Carson, Calif., to Phoenix for $24 a night, with 1,000 free miles and no dropoff fee. By comparison, when I priced the 25-foot RV for my hypothetical trip in July, the company quoted $169 a night, plus 32 cents a mile.

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Survey Suggests RV Sales Surge May be Over

March 29, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Most everyone in the RV industry agrees that sales of recreational vehicles are up after several dismal years and that prospects are good for the future. But according to a reader survey over the weekend at www.RVtravel.com, sales may have peaked for 2010, according to a posting today by RV News Service Editor Chuck Woodbury.

More than 1,200 of the website’s readers responded to the survey as of today (March 29), which asked “How likely is it that you will buy an RV in 2010?” (see results below)

“Overall, I was discouraged by the response,” said Woodbury. “The good news was that more than 7% of our readers have already bought an RV this year. That seemed right in line with what everyone is saying about RV sales, which have shown a significant increases this year over 2009.

“The discouraging news is that only about 3% of our readers say they will ‘almost surely’ buy an RV during the rest of the year with only 8% saying they will probably buy one. What was most discouraging to me was that nearly two-thirds (65%) of our readers reported that they will definitely not buy an RV this year, with another 20% saying they will probably not buy — that’s 85 percent who are not likely to buy.”

See the latest results of the survey, which is still in progress, by clicking here.

sales423

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Woodbury Sees Industry Upturn in Book Sales

March 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Here’s another indication the RV industry is heading upward: the sales of books devoted to the RV industry are heading upward.

Chuck Woodbury, owner of RVbookstore.com, the largest store devoted specifically to books and DVDs about recreational vehicles and the RV lifestyle, says books sales have been heading upward again since last July, according to a news release that was distributed and posted by Woodbury’s RV News Service.

Woodbury gets an hour-by-hour sneak peek into RV consumers’ habits well before most others in the industry.

“About two to three years ago, our sales of books and DVDs aimed at novice RVers and RV buyers nosedived,” he said. “It was like night and day. At about the same time, consumers quit buying RVs. It was very clear to us that the industry was in big trouble. In the months that followed, one RV manufacturer after another filed bankruptcy.

“Our sales stayed down until about last July, when they shot up dramatically. Every month since the they have run about 150% of the year before. Titles that instruct RV buyers about how to negotiate a purchase, and DVDs that teach new RVers how to use their new vehicles are up the most. It’s obvious to me that consumers are once again in a buying mood.”

Woodbury started rvbookstore.com 10 years ago in his home garage. Now, the online store occupies a 2,000-square-foot warehouse near Seattle with about 700 RV-specific books, DVDs, CD-roms and eBooks.

Besides running RVbookstore.com, Woodbury also publishes many informational RVing websites including RVtravel.com, NewRVer.com, FreeCampgrounds.com and about three dozen popular blogs. He says that more than half a million different RVers visit the sites every month, making the audience one of the largest aimed at recreational vehicle enthusiasts. Woodbury’s weekly RVtravel.com newsletter is in its ninth year with an email circulation of 54,000 every Saturday morning.

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Woodbury to Publish 400th Newsletter this Week

October 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

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

 

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