By Chuck Woodbury
Last Monday, May 22, I woke early at my Seattle home, made my coffee, then sat down to check that everything was OK with that day’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter and the RVtravel.com website itself. The only problem I noticed was that our site was loading very slowly and in some instances not loading at all, but showing an error message.
I called our technical guy, Kim Christiansen, and he suggested I check our traffic statistics. I did and was stunned at what I saw — more than 9,000 people were on the website at that very moment. Kim told me he was taking measures to keep our server from crashing.
On a typical early Monday morning, we might have 500 to 700 people on site at one time, less than half what we would have on a Sunday where our RVtravel.com newsletter draws a much larger crowd.
The traffic continued, with 8,000 to 9,000 visitors at once on the site all day long, well into the evening. By 9 p.m., we had passed one million page views for the day.
‘That’s 10 Rose Bowl crowds,’ I thought. How could that be?
“That’s 10 Rose Bowl crowds,” I thought. How could that be? But Google Analytics, which we use to monitor our traffic, is the gold standard. If it says 9,000 people are on RVtravel.com at one time, it’s true. Ditto for one million page views a day (we ended the day with about 1.1 million page views).
Viral Are Us
It turned out that one of our articles had gone viral. Three-quarters of our traffic was coming from it alone. Now, six days later, 1.4 million people have read the story by Gail Marsh.
RVtravel.com is a small business, two full-time employees, one part-time, a dozen freelance writers, Kim our I.T. guy, and me. Few websites ever draw that much traffic without a staff ten times larger. Until Monday, I think our record was probably about 400,000 page views in a single day.
As you can imagine, many of Monday’s visitors signed up to receive email alerts for one or more of our newsletters. I’d like to welcome the thousand or so of you who are now part of our subscriber family.
So that’s our big news. As the founder of RVtravel.com, who started this newsletter in 2001 with a $30 investment, to draw so many visitors in one day is an achievement that for most small publishers would seem too good to be true. In this case, it is true.