Setting up a Campsite on Hipcamp (5 things we learned)

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Last week we “opened” our campground property to guests using Hipcamp (even though we haven’t built out RV pads yet!).

Since we’ve started sharing our campground dream, many people have emailed us to share that they have a similar dream. And quite a few people have said “I have ## acres and would love to just invite people to camp on my property. How can I do that?”

I’ve always replied with the link to sign up for Hipcamp. (This is not a sponsored post or an ad, by the way.)

Hipcamp is basically a way to do just that. Rent out your property to campers—in tents, cars, RVs, hammocks, etc—and make a little extra money. Kinda like Airbnb for camping. Plus it’s way less involved than a full-on campground because no one expects hook ups or dump stations or dog parks or playgrounds or paved roads.

Which is good because we don’t have any of those things.

Since we aren’t a full-functioning RV park yet, we decided Hipcamp was the perfect place to list our property to open up boondocking for campers through the rest of 2021.

We set up our listing last Tuesday and shared the link with you all. Bookings started rolling in but we quickly noticed something…

Only about half of the bookings were from people on our email list.

The rest were from campers searching the Hipcamp site just looking for a campsite out here on the western slope of Colorado.

And we were like…

A little bit shocked.

A little bit nervous.

A little bit like hey…this campground thing might actually work out. 🤯🥳

(Heath already asked me if we really needed to take the time and money to build out RV pads because setting up our Hipcamp listing was so easy. Yes, Heath. Yes we do.)

This past week of bringing in our first guests, getting paid (payments are direct deposited every Tuesday and we made exactly $22.50 for our first campers but IT FEELS GOOD), and figuring out how to run a boondocking campground taught us a few things.

1. Choosing the right platform for building your business matters. Find the platform that has the best functionality to make your business run seamlessly. It’s the same reason we give the advice to sell a book on Amazon versus on your website.

2. Go where customers are ready to buy. Hipcamp has been around for long enough to have a great reputation among campers and a growing customer base. Heath and I both worried that no one other than people who double tap our Instagram photos would ever choose to camp with us. Strangers booking our campsite is unbelievably encouraging and exciting.

3. Automation makes everything easier. We can accept reservations, send automated check-in messages, and address questions all from our phones. Very handy when you spend most of your day playing with a two-year-old.

4. Be okay with version 1. Heath and I went back and forth a LOT on if we wanted to open up to boondockers in 2021.

It usually went something like this:

“We aren’t ready. What if someone drives over the leach field and sinks and has to be towed out? We haven’t even figured out where to order commercial-size toilet paper yet! We haven’t furnished our 4,000 sq. ft schoolhouse yet. We need to buy a washer-dryer set before anyone camps!!” 😬

“We have a fully renovated schoolhouse that’s ready for use. We have huge shade trees and a leveled, gravel area for RVs. No other boondocking sites have showers and fiber internet and a kitchen so I don’t think people will be mad about our lack of a washer. People are emailing us asking every week if they can boondock. Why not open up?” 🤷🏻‍♀️

After a solid month of back and forth, we are both feeling good about our decision—even though it means giving people an up-close and personal look at our messy version one of a campground.

Me: I’m so excited to open up our property to campers!
Also me: Why are there four different colors of gravel? This is a disaster!!!!!

Most of all, it was a good reminder that taking action is always scary and always worth it—whether it’s starting a new business, buying an RV, selling a house, or just inviting someone to camp under your trees.

We still have a long way to go. Thank you for sharing in this journey with us ❤️🏕

Photo credit: Jon Bajuelo