blog evolutionEvolution of Our Travel Blog

Evolution of Our Hiking/Travel Blog

The Journey Commences…

The following article is a chronological timeline of our blog and how it has evolved since its launch in July 2017.

May 29th 2017 – The birth of Our Travel Blog Idea

It is May 2017 and I had just returned home from another uninspiring day at work and I said to Didem, “this cannot be it, there has to be more to our lives than this!”

Didem’s response was short and without hesitation, “well, let’s go travelling”.

They were just the words my ears were craving. We had made the decision that ensured (at least in my mind) that travel was going to be an integral part of our lives from that day on. We were in no financial position to go travelling at that point but the seed had been sown and we now had a goal to work towards.

It is not like we had never experienced travel previously but we wanted dearly to experience the wonders of this world as a couple. It was at that point that we decided to set up a travel blog and start sharing some of our travel experiences and knowledge right from our own backyard, here in South Wales, UK.

As soon as the travel blog idea was suggested I fully intended to ultimately turn it into a profitable business over time. Having been in the online marketing game for a number of years, I was under no illusion as to just how much work and effort this undertaking would require.

First, we needed to come up with a name that was different and above all really meant something to the two of us. We brainstormed idea after idea for over two months before we finally both agreed on “Roaming Spices”. Take a look at our “About” page to find out why we came up with this name.

Roaming Spices Goes Live on 27th July 2017

The First 3 Months of Our Blog’s Life

Before we even started worrying about what content to put on the site, we were keen to spend as long as it took to get the “look and feel” of the blog just as we wanted it.

Thankfully, we were totally in agreement about how we wanted the site to look – SIMPLE, SYMMETRICAL, UNCLUTTERED.

We didn’t have the sort of money to spend on a bespoke site but we did have sufficient to pay for a quality WordPress template.

Sadly, no template is perfect as they are each built on a certain framework. Having purchased our first template, we quickly found that it worked well in certain ways but lacked much of the functionality that we required. We then purchased another template and although it solved some of these issues, it failed to meet other important criteria.

Thankfully, on our 3rd template purchase, we realised that we were as close as we were ever going to get to our perfect looking site without having to go out and hire a professional designer. By this time, I had pretty much pulled out all of the ever-diminishing strands of hair on my head!

What Else Has Been Achieved in the First 3 Months?

Content additions have not been plentiful by any stretch of the imagination but the 5 posts that we have added have been well researched and well put together. Here are the published posts to October 31st:

  1. Climbing Sugarloaf Mountain in Monmouthshire, Wales
  2. House Sitting – Taking Accommodation Costs Out of Your Travel Budget
  3. 15 Of The Best Things To Do In Llanberis
  4. Climbing Mount Snowdon Using The Pyg Track And Llanberis Path
  5. River Gannel Walk From Newquay To Crantock

We have also set up the following Social Media accounts:

On September 4th we opened a Google Analytics account so that we could track the visitors to our site and more importantly the behaviour of these visitors. Here are the statistics for our site for the months of September and October 2017:

Google Analytics – September 2017

Google Analytics September 17

Google Analytics Sept 17

Google Analytics – October 2017

Google Analytics October 17

Google Analytics Oct 17

Stats at the end of October 2017

Monthly Website Visitors (Unique) = 169

Facebook = 0

Twitter = 38

Instagram = 75

1st November 2017 – 30th June 2018

Although we started off our Roaming Spices journey with the intention of building a travel blog, we altered our niche’s focus early in November.

Since 3 of the first 5 posts we added to the blog were hiking related experiences, we decided to develop the blog more closely aligned with the hiking niche.

However, just like the “travel” niche is far too generic to build a blog around, so is the “hiking” niche. We, therefore, decided that to focus our content around our hiking experiences. But we didn’t want to publish a load of posts with “look at us” on our hiking trips type content.

Instead, our desire was to try and inspire others to go and enjoy the hikes we had experienced. So, each of the hikes we write about includes our thoughts and feelings from each experience (both good & bad) as well as trail-specific information. We typically include details such as:

  • How to get there
  • Route description & route map
  • Things to see
  • Useful resources relating to the hike
  • A wide range of photos highlighting our experience
  • A video of our experience

Each of these posts is really a kind of hiking trail guide with our personal experience applied to help give each reader a better idea of how each hike would feel in reality.

We also decided to build regular informative content covering a wide range of hiking topics such as hiking tips and hiking health that would help complement our hiking adventures.

With this new focus on “hiking” does this mean that we have given up the idea of travelling? Absolutely not! It simply means that hiking will be the focus of our content wherever we travel, whether that is in our home country of Wales or exploring other locations worldwide.

Although the blog has grown consistently over the past 8 months, we would have loved to have done so much more in its development. Unfortunately, with the two of us working full-time jobs as well as undertaking other commitments, blog development time is of a premium.

That said, we have still managed to add 10 new posts within this period and visit 2 countries. Here are those posts:

How to Start a Hiking Blog – A Step by Step Guide

Mynydd Llangorse Walk

Our Day Trip to Elgå, Norway

How to Get in Shape for Hiking

Njupeskär Waterfall Walk in Winter

28 Hiking Tips For Beginners

Cold Knap to Porthkerry Park Walk

9 Amazing Benefits of Hiking – Physical, Mental and Social

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Save Money With Airbnb

Four Waterfalls Walk – Waterfalls Near Ystradfellte

Social Media Additions

During this period we also added a Roaming Spices YouTube Channel and Pinterest account to complement our existing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Again, due to time constraints development of our social media accounts has been limited. However, progress is being made, it’s just a little slower than we would like!

We Signed up to SEMrush

We have been using Google Analytics and the Google Search Console for tracking the success of our blog’s progress since the end of 2017. However, we wanted a software program that takes the analysis of our blog and social media development to the next level.

Having researched a number of the leading software programs on the market, we chose SEMrush.

This product allows us to develop perfect content and advertising strategies via its comprehensive SEO tool suite. It offers an incredible selection of features that we decided we absolutely needed if we were going to take Roaming Spices to the next level in an ever more competitive marketplace.

Thankfully there was a very handy 7-day free trial that gave us limited access to the tool suite. This allowed us to take a good look at the product before committing financially.

There are so many aspects to this product, many of which we are yet to explore. Just from the keyword research and campaign tracking abilities, it is well worth the investment in our opinion, even when that investment is $99 + tax each month!

Purchased a Fantastic Travel Blogging Course

During my research into the general travel blogging arena, I started following one of the leading travel bloggers in the world today. His name is Matthew Kepnes and his blog is https://www.nomadicmatt.com. This is one of the sites that inspired us to get blogging in the travel/hiking sector.

Matthew’s blog receives over 1,000,000 visitors each month so this is a guy who certainly knows what he’s talking about. When we saw that he had created a step-by-step “Business of Travel Blogging” course, we just had to get it!

Superstar Blogging is truly incredible value at only $249 (one-time payment). The course literally takes you through every aspect of setting up and running a travel blog in real detail.

It has become a go-to resource for us and we refer to it on a weekly basis.

Stats at the end of June 2018

Monthly Website Visitors (Unique) June 2018 = 295

Facebook (likes / followers = 27 / 28

Twitter (followers) = 124

Instagram (followers) = 94

Pinterest (followers) = 50

YouTube (subscribers) = 0