Founder and owner of the travel blog Kevmrc.com Kevin Mercier wants to use his blog to help people plan for their own trips, by posting travel tips and itineraries, peppered with great photos.
At Kevmrc.com, Kevin Mercier has built a company website on the WordPress platform, along with a blog and an e-commerce platform. His experience with creating and running a successful website and blog also gave him expertise in the fields of SEO, content creation, e-mail marketing, and social media development.
Thanks to the consistent effort from Kevin Mercier, Kevmrc.com racks up 120,000 views per month; his Instagram 200,000 views per month; and his Pinterest nets 700,000 views per month.
Before starting Kevmrc.com, Kevin Mercier graduated from the Ecole des Mines en Management, where he developed his “strong appetite for digital and the IT world.” Throughout his career, he has worked on several entrepreneurial projects in the field of IT project management, which also gave him the “real skills to understand the needs of my clients and translate them into functional solutions.”
Aside from running Kevmrc.com, Kevin Mercier also does sports coaching, as well as photography training. His other pursuits allow him to “listen to clients and teams, in order to manage projects as a whole while ensuring that they are accepted by all the employees concerned.”
I bought a digital camera, and started to heavily document my travels on Instagram. Kevin Mercier, Kevmrc.com
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Sure! Well, for anyone looking at my career path, there was absolutely nothing that could hint at me founding a travel company & digital media. Growing up, I wasn’t big on social media, I actually only had a Facebook account, on which I barely posted. I graduated with a Masters in Business Management, and went on to work for PSA Group as a Business Intelligence Project Manager.
My love for travel was something that gradually built up over the years, as I visited European cities on small holidays break, but it never was a burning passion. Until that one day in August 2015, when I flew to Bangkok, Thailand with 4 friends on what would be an epic Parkour trip. We traveled around Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore for 3 weeks, with only a small backpack, and never paying a single buck for accommodation. All while training each day, filming Parkour videos and creating content for our Parkour’s team Instagram.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Since that South East Asia trip in 2015, I was publishing regular content on my Instagram account, which was already starting to grow. In 2016, I left for a 6 months trip to Australia. There, I discovered my love for the outdoors, and fell in love with photography. I was fortunate to have a photographer friend at that time, who was kind enough to teach me the basics of digital photography.
I bought a digital camera, and started to heavily document my travels on Instagram. At that point, I was publishing a new photo each day, and this is when my account started to really take off. When I got home in Paris after that trip, I had a popular travel Instagram account, with over 30.000 followers.
At that time, a new “intelligent” news feed was introduced to Facebook, and Instagram. The organic reach on these platforms took a hit, and this is when I decided to create a website: to have my own platform.
It was the sign I needed that this could indeed work, and I went back to publishing content on the site, more often than ever.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I created a travel website with absolutely zero knowledge about how to attract readers. I thought that I simply had to publish interesting articles, and that somehow traffic would come. Of course, I was wrong. I was publishing in-depth travel guides, and photography guides, and almost no one was reading them. Except for the few users I was redirecting from my Instagram, which was less than 500 per month.
For the first year, the site never had more than 500 users in a month. It was pretty crushing to see so much hard work bring in so little results. On the other hand, my Instagram account was growing faster than ever, and I reached over 50.000 followers at the end of 2017.
I actually gave up on the site. Since Instagram was working so well (generating a nice stream of income with paid collaborations with brands), and the site was barely getting any traffic, I stopped publishing on the site, and focused solely on Instagram.
But the beauty of a website is that, unlike social media where you have to constantly put out content to stay relevant, the content you wrote months ago slowly starts to rank in Google, and sends traffic to your site. In January 2018, I looked at Google Analytics to see if anyone was still visiting the site. I was shocked to see 1,500 users had visited the site in January, 3 times more than any month before! It was the sign I needed that this could indeed work, and I went back to publishing content on the site, more often than ever.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are going great! It was a slow grind, and it took faith in what I was doing to keep at it. But it eventually reached a point where the business took off.
In January 2019, the site reached over 5,000 users, 3 times more than January 2018. 3 times more, but still pretty low to be honest.
In January 2020, we topped 70,000 users, a +1300% Year on Year growth! Founding a digital company requires time, and consistency is definitely key. All the hard work I had been putting in during the first years was starting to pay off big time, and it gave me the final validation that my business idea was indeed profitable. Since then, I’ve reinvested almost all of the profit back in the company, to accelerate the growth.
It was a slow grind, and it took faith in what I was doing to keep at it. But it eventually reached a point where the business took off.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made in the beginning was believing that I just had to publish content, and that users would come. The site first started as a shop, where I sold prints of my photographs. I spent countless hours and sleepless nights creating the site, getting the best print company to fulfill my orders, setting up deliveries for overseas, creating a full online e-commerce experience… And I didn’t make a sale. Not a single one.
I thought that once the website would be up, I could just promote it on my Instagram, and people would come to the site to buy my prints. In this case, I followed nothing but my own mind, not paying any attention to the market, and sure enough it failed.
Now I run the business in a totally different way. Demand always comes first. I start by studying what the users want (what are they searching for?) and I create content tailored to them. I don’t just write articles blindly, hoping for them to bring traffic. I back my instincts with solid market research, and it’s a strong guarantee that it can be successful since there’s already demand for it.
Now that the company has been running for a few years, I go one step further and use my own data. Instead of only studying the market, I check what type of content worked well for me in the past, and I double down on it.
Just get to it, get your website live and start publishing content! Kevin Mercier
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Just start. Stop thinking, analyzing, pondering, wondering, … Just get to it, get your website live and start publishing content! The only way to know if it works is to start, and the sooner you start the sooner you’ll see results.
- Your own data is gold. The best advice you’ll ever receive will come from your own data. Start fast, fail fast, use your data and analyze what doesn’t work — and what does work. Find the successful pieces of content you publish, and replicate them for success.
- Find 1 thing that works, and keep at it. Stop trying every single thing under the sun. There’s always something new to try, something else to test, the list is endless. But the best way to succeed is to find 1 thing that works, to keep doing it, and to scale it up.
- Network. I hate networking. But nothing will help you more than someone who’s doing exactly what you’re doing — one step ahead of you. Join events, join the community, bring value to others and surround yourself with other successful founders in your niche.
- Invest. If you want to be successful, you’ll need to treat your website like a business. Don’t be afraid to invest in the right tools, the right people; reinvest your profits in your business.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!