The pandemic giveth and the pandemic taketh away. In many ways, I suppose. And not all pleasant. In this case, I am talking about the great covid camping craze, so put your pitchforks away.
It’s rather amazing that we’re already approaching the third anniversary of the lockdowns. Three years ago, trouble was stirring in China. By mid-March we were all locked away in our homes and life would alter the world over. The shockwaves are still reverberating through our collective lives. One of the more mundane but interesting shockwaves, in my mind, was the sudden boom in camping/RVing interest.
I’ve been publishing my blog since 2014. It has been a haphazard affair at best, with no focus and very little monetary reward. In fact, only in the last few years have I managed to earn enough income from it to pay for hosting services. I am not what you’d call a savvy entrepreneur.
My saving grace, if you can call it that, has been campground reviews. As you can see in the list below, my campground reviews and camping related posts are by far my most popular, taking 45 of the top 50 spots by views. A Crock of Schmidt has essentially become a camping blog.
Over time, as I published more reviews from our annual summer camping adventures, my website traffic slowly and oh so modestly began increasing month over month, year over year. With more campground reviews available each year, more visitors came to my website.
It wasn’t remarkable traffic, but it was growing, and I found that exciting. If we kept camping and I kept writing reviews of the campgrounds where we stayed, why, by the time I was 158 years old, my blog would be a cash cow.
Then came Covid and threw everything for a loop. And not necessarily for the better, or so it seemed at first.
The year 2020 started normally as far as website traffic went. In January and February I was again seeing modest growth in views as people began planning their summer camping trips. Even March was relatively normal with a tiny year over year growth, but a reckoning was afoot.
As the world ground to a halt with lockdowns in the middle of that month, my viewership dropped. People don’t have much interest in campground reviews when they’re locked away in their home for who knew how long. Not surprisingly, April traffic dropped to 2018 levels.
Then something fortuitous happened. If you are a middling campground blogger, that is. Though the pandemic remained a threat and various measures limited much of our mobility and activities, camping was given a green light for the summer. There would be limits on numbers and congestion with continuing restrictions on face covering and public services available, but we could nonetheless camp.
And, oh boy, were we all ready to camp! Not just us regulars, but seemingly everyone else had a serious case of cabin fever and were eager to get out to parks and campgrounds of any kind. The resulting traffic pop for my blog was incredible, as shown in the heat maps above and below.
May through September of 2020 would see 100% jumps in monthly views. Daily averages for views likewise skyrocketed. My all-time highs in both metrics occurred that summer and I earned more money than I ever had previously (never thought I’d be so happy to break even).
Late fall and winter are always slow months for Canadian camping writers. Nothing surprising there, but the momentum of 2020 had me most excited for 2021. The pandemic was evolving yet remained the primary influence on our behaviours into its second year. Vaccines remained an elusive hope and once again camping was one of the few allowable public activities that summer.
Sure enough, my blog numbers in 2021 were on fire (by my standards). Things started earlier too, with March and April showing dramatic increases in views. I was ecstatic!
Heightened interest in my campground reviews would continue through the summer, though they could only match the previous year’s tally for July. Then something happened that burst my bubble. Successful vaccines were made available to increasing numbers of people and suddenly the covid camping craze evaporated almost overnight.
August 2021 monthly views dropped from both July numbers and previous August numbers. Throughout the fall, they pretty much cratered. Vaccines were available to everyone, and “normality” was trying to return to our beleaguered lives. With more entertainment options finally available again, the camping bandwagon jumpers scurried back to their preferred recreational pursuits.
I was curious to see how 2022 would play out and it looks like everything is back to normal, if my web traffic is a reliable indicator. Interest in camping is returning to where it was pre-pandemic. There’s even a possibility that a bit of a bust is happening as I write.
Much of 2022 saw views drop from 2020/2021 levels back to the methodical growth I’d experienced from 2014 through 2019. November and December, however, show a drop to 2017 levels suggesting that interest in camping in 2023 may drop even further. Or my appeal as a blogger has run its course.
Regardless, I found the whole covid camping craze fascinating in that it presented itself so vividly in my blog statistics. I’d be curious to know if larger websites with a defined focus on camping and/or RVing saw a similar cycle play out. And though I’m disappointed the blog traffic momentum was not sustainable, I’m more than happy to have less competition when time comes to book campsites!