As RV Life magazine rolls into its 30th year, it’s time to turn back the clock and start at the very beginning. Long, long ago in early 1984, Diesel Knudson was selling ads up and down the West Coast for the Fishermen’s News in Ballard, Washington. The commercial fishing industry was taking a huge hit and so was Fishermen’s News. Having been an avid RVer since his early 20s and with a family to support, Diesel thought up RV Life “out of thin air,” as I like to say.
Although the magazine was totally dependent on ad revenue, it was tough for Diesel to ask an RV dealer or RV manufacturer to advertise in a brand-new magazine. He got a lot of “no’s” and some “maybes,” but once in a while he’d get a “yes” so he built on that year after year. That is, until 1991, when the Gulf War began. RV manufacturers, remembering the oil embargo of 1976, promptly canceled all of their advertising upon whom RV Life relied for a majority of its advertising dollars. Somehow RV Life survived and thrived through the next 10 years.
When Diesel and I met in early 2001, I wanted to learn how to sell advertising for RV Life, so I did. Then 9/11 came and the RV industry took another major hit that again shook the rafters at RV Life. So we branched out into tourism and RV-related products, which added a wider array of advertisers for our readers.
Long story short, in 2005, I was handed the day-to-day management of RV Life without having any experience in running a business. (I had worked as a paralegal with lawyers for 30 years, for goodness sake.) It was very, very challenging. I immediately began to look for ways to improve RV Life and bring a more satisfying experience to our readers.
So in 2006, we introduced our free digital edition of RV Life on our website at RVLife.com. Just click on the cover of the magazine on the right sidebar, and up it comes. We have six years’ worth of archives on our website. You should definitely check it out. Our digital edition has now been read by over 100,000 people in 122 countries and growing! It just shows you how global RVing has become.
Then came the Great Recession and the RV industry was the first to collapse. So many RV manufacturers and RV dealers were being put out of business. Our advertisers were dropping like flies. RV Life took another pounding, but we kept going, despite all of the challenges we faced.
We added more color to the magazine over the years, and in a huge leap of faith in January 2010, we went from a newsprint publication to a beautiful full-color glossy magazine. It changed everything for the better. Then on January 1, 2011, my husband, Diesel, officially retired from RV Life, leaving me holding the reins, and believe me, it has been a very fun and wild ride! But 2013 is officially here, and we, at RV Life, are forging ahead with a renewed faith in the RV industry, and we’re looking forward to giving our readers the greatest RV Life experiences possible.
On behalf of our staff—Kristin, Mike, James, Joni, Wayne, Charlie and me—, thank you for supporting us through all of the ups and downs over the last 30 years. Now it’s on to a bigger and better future for RV Life!