Building a better travel blog

| July 16, 2009 | 5 Comments

We launched our blog on July 1, 2009 (click here for our first post, which was not unlike a newborn’s gasp) and have since been working hard to develop interesting content and to forge new relationships in the blogosphere. Thanks to the overwhelming support of the independent travel community on the web (namely twitter), the launch has been a great success. Now that a couple of weeks have passed, Kathryn and I felt that it would be a good time to reassess our plans for the blog.

Often, a blog takes on a life of its own. Because of its organic nature and the way that readership and comments shape content, a blog often deviates from its planned concept into new spaces. I believe that this is a great advantage to blogging, and a key factor that differentiates the platform from other mediums.

blogging2 Building a better travel blog

Due to its organic nature and the way that readership and comments shape content, a blog often deviates from its planned concept into new spaces

Periodically, however, it pays to review and reconsider your plans. Today, Kathryn and I sat down to discuss exactly what direction we felt this blog should take and the information on which it should focus. Moreover, we identified some areas in the publication that we felt could be tweaked to better support and communicate our vision.

The Tagline

This was the first change we made. You may have noticed that we recently changed our tagline from “colliding with the earth and bearing witness” to “planning, preparing and packing for a RTW trip”.

We loved the former tagline—paraphrased as it was from a quote by Mark Jenkins:

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure—self-determined, self-motivated, often risky—forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it, Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear”

However, we felt that it was a touch too esoteric and preferred something that was short, sharp and descriptive. We’re of the mind that a blog’s tagline can be very useful, as it quickly communicates to new readers what the blog is about. As bloggers, we’re in danger of losing those readers that don’t quickly gain a sense of a blog’s theme. We think that the new tagline, while a little less dynamic, does a better job of fulfilling this purpose.

The Mission Statement

After re-considering our tagline, we wanted to come up with a short and succinct mission statement—which some call an ‘elevator pitch’—to crystallize in our minds exactly what the blog is going to be about. As Darren Rowse points out in his 31 Day to Build a Better Blog: “If you’re fuzzy on what your blog is about, it’s unlikely that anyone else will have a clear idea.” Darren’s book is highly recommended reading, essentially providing one action or activity to do per day for a 31 day period—and a lesson around why it should be done—to improve your blog. Click here to check Darren’s book out.

After testing out a few iterations, we settled on the following:

Ready to go? We certainly are! Two Go Round-The-World preserves the observations of Kathryn and Daniel as they plan, prepare and pack for a year-long RTW trip set to depart Toronto, Canada in July 2011. Join them as they uncover and record hidden gems to smooth the process of planning the ultimate journey. Take note, however, if you prefer the air-conditioned efficiency of all-inclusive resorts, the links herein may not interest you!

We started with a question because we hoped that it would be an engaging hook which conveyed a sense of our wanderlust. With the above mission statement, we hope to have conveyed the idea that our site is serving a need—a website to consult before you go, a collection of resources to consider while you’re waiting for the ink to dry on your plane ticket. At the same time, we sought to define our audience. Were we successful? Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

A good example

In our view, there are a number of travel blogs who employ the above strategies to good effect. The first we took notice of was Audrey Scott’s and Daniel Noll’s site, Uncornered Market. Their tagline, “Measuring the earth with our feet”, serves as an excellent introduction to their site. Of course, they expand on this with an abridged version of their ‘About Us’ statement.

Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll serve up a scatter plot of observations from rapidly changing countries on their journey around the world. Tune into Uncornered Market for human stories, engaging travel photography, street food reportage, and insights into personal growth.

This is a very well-developed hook and its location above the fold and to the left of content is optimal. As it’s likely one of the first things that you will read following the title and tagline, Audrey and Daniel help to locate their reader. It introduces their reader to the idea that they will employ a number of mediums (ie blog postings, photos, videos, and audiocasts) in order to share their experiences. It also revewals their desire to humanize the places they visit and their hope of drawing their readers in through photographs and stories, so that their readers can connect with the people and places they might otherwise never hear about! In a nutshell, you’re aware of what the site is about before having ready any of their content.

The About Page

Next, we moved on to our ‘About Us’ page. Taking a look at our stats over the past couple of weeks through Google analytics, we noticed that our ‘About’ page was one of the most-read pages in our site. Hence, we felt the need to rework it into something that communicates what Kathryn and I are about, provide a flavour for our articles and posts, and provide reasons why a reader might consider subscribing.

In addition to including an expanded mission statement, we sought to further define our purpose by elaborating on what it is we wish to become. We settled on the idea that the website should not serve as an online guidebook, but rather a site to inspire before you set off on your long-term trip. We divided the page into sections that answered the following questions: (1) What’s this all about? (2) Who are we? (3) Why bother? (4) How can this site help you? Check out the changes to our ‘About Us’ page by clicking here.

Put simply, the ‘About Us‘ page is a key conversion page on anyboyd’s blog and it therefore needs to be reworked regularly. Hence, it’s essential that it contains up-to-date, useful and well written information.

So occasionally, like new parents fretting over the future of their baby,  Kathryn and I will sit down to revisit our blog’s direction in hopes of identifying areas that we feel could be tweaked to better communicatte our intent. If you have any feedback—either positive or negative, please let us know.

Suggested Reading

  • 31 Days to Build a Better Blog: For anyone who hasn’t checked out Darren Rowse’s eBook already, we highly recommend it. In addition to providing substantive recommendations on how to improve your blog, there is an excellent community built around his methods. Darren’s book is highly recommended reading, essentially providing one action or activity to do per day for a 31 day period—and a lesson around why it should be done—to improve your blog.
  • Uncornered Market: Through their blog, Uncornered Market, Audrey and Daniel employ a myriad number of mediums (ie blog postings, photos, videos, and audiocasts) in order to share their experiences. They aim to humanize the places they visit, drawing their readers in through photographs and stories, so that they connect with the people and places they might otherwise never hear about or actively disregard.

31DaysBook 216x300 Building a better travel blog

A Better Blog!

This posting was inspired by Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Bloga downloadable e-book designed to help you revitalize your blog by giving you 31 tasks that will all help to improve! Darren’s book essentially provides one action or activity to do per day for a 31 day period—and a lesson around why it should be done. Today’s ‘list post’ was the second activity from the work book, the first was our post on building a better travel blog. We’ve been working through the activities that Darren has suggested and will include a note whenever a post is inspired by his program. For anyone who hasn’t checked out Darren Rowse’s eBook already, we highly recommend it. In addition to providing substantive recommendations on how to improve your blog, there is an excellent community built around his methods.Highly recommended—check it out here.


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Category: Dan's Blog

About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

Comments (5)

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  1. Karen says:


    Good post, guys!

    When you first start to blog, you often don’t have a clear focus yourself as to who you are and what you want to blog about. But as you go on, the focus starts to narrow as you begin to understand keywords and how search engines work and what travelers want to know that you can help them with.

    My blog began as a fun way to learn online web site building. And, as with my site (http://www.snapshotjourneys.com ), so too has my travel blog evolved and matured.

    • Daniel says:


      Thanks, Karen. I can totally identify. And I find that without a clear focus, I often sit at my keyboard and think “Okay, I’m going to write a great blog post on…
      and then have difficulty identifying my focus. We’re finding it much easier to write now that we’re beginning to narrow our focus a bit. Thanks for swinging by, we dig your site!


  2. Totally blown away by your blog! The word “blog” falls short of what you’ve created here. I will read your suggested readings, but will also be enjoying and absorbing what you’ve got HERE. — Tammie Dooley

  3. Gourmantic says:


    Like you, I find my About page to be the most popular page read by new visitors. I believe it takes time for a blog or a website to settle in and find its voice regardless of any defined vision, and like travel, it’s an enjoyable part of the journey.

    And I totally relate to the newborn-like excitement you describe. Our website is just as new :)

    • Daniel says:


      Thanks for the comment—it’s nice to have found you! When we’re back from holidays, we’l be sure to post a link to your site from our blogroll!

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