This post is part of a series to showcase the wide variety of talented bloggers using .blog domains. In each post, we’ll interview a site owner to explore their .blog and dive into an area of expertise, ranging from editing tips and tricks to how to build your following.
Haley and Rachel are two best friends running the lifestyle and travel blog, “Roads Best Traveled.” Ever since meeting on vacation in Croatia, where the two hit it off instantly, they have been collaborating on building their blog into much more than just a hobby. On “Roads Best Traveled,” they’ve created a community of fellow adventure-lovers looking for the best paths to see the world and enjoy the most out of life. Haley and Rachel were kind enough to share with us their experiences on what it takes to bring your blog to the next level.
How did it all start?
Actually, Haley had the blog started first a few months before we met and brought me (Rachel) on once we met in Croatia. Hilariously, neither of us can remember which night of the trip it was that we agreed to be business partners for this new venture, but we do know that we left that boat bubbling over with ideas and ready to write! Once we both touched back down state side in our respective cities, it didn’t take long for us to get into a groove of developing “Roads Best Traveled” to what you see today.
Before we met, Haley started the website during a period in time where she was frequently traveling and everybody was asking for stories. As an ode to independence, and importance of doing something for yourself, “Roads Best Traveled” was born!
How did you come up with the name?
“Roads Best Traveled” holds a few meanings for us. It’s not just the more obvious travel reference. We’re firm believers that everybody takes a different life path, each person’s journey speckled by experiences and influenced by many people. It was important to us that the name housing all of our content spoke to the different aspects of someone’s path. So whether you’re looking for lifestyle content, fitness content, or travel content, we have the posts for the “road best traveled” to get you there.
What have been your most helpful tools for building and growing your site, ranging from managing posting schedules to digging deeper into who your audience is?
We cannot give enough praise to keeping up with industry trends. Find a newsletter that speaks to you and never stop reading! For us, we love the updates from Later, Hootsuite, and other blogger mavens keeping us on our toes, especially when it comes to social media. The landscape of what works changes so fast!
Your apps and your marketing tech tools are so important, you need to ensure that they’re working for you, not against you. If a scheduling tool takes so much time to figure out and set up, ditch it. These tools are meant to make your life easier, not add more stress. This goes for your analysis tools, as well. We’ve found that integrating some third-party crawlers to the site to monitor progress have been much more accurate and helpful that what comes with your site the majority of the time.
A last great piece of advice on this topic would be to collaborate. Talk to everybody and anybody you can in the field. When we were first starting, getting advice and tips from other bloggers and influencers was a huge part of our growth. I can remember a key moment when we got a literal novel from this girl on Instagram, but it was so helpful! She wrote us everything she knew about Facebook Ads and we still use her tips to this day. Ask around for what works with everybody else and don’t forget to be helpful to others as well. You’ll never know what golden nuggets someone has to share, or what someone else might find helpful that you already know.
Your apps and your marketing tech tools are so important, you need to ensure that they’re working for you, not against you. These tools are meant to make your life easier, not add more stress.
One of the most challenging parts of starting a blog is really finding your voice and identifying your brand. How has your vision of “Roads Best Traveled” developed over time?
This couldn’t be truer – identifying your brand and your blog’s niche is one of the most difficult parts about starting up. For us, finding our individual voices hasn’t honestly been too big of an issue – we both have pretty distinct styles of writing and topics of interest! In terms of finding the overall personality of our blog and brand that we want people to know us as, that’s developed quite a bit over time.
RBT started as purely travel, a database for our stories and the journeys of our friends and family. However, once we got together and really saw the potential of our combined interests and skillset, we knew we had to put more effort in. First came the Everyday section and we just started writing our hearts out. Everything and anything that came to mind, we edited with each other and then put it up. That way, in a few months we gave ourselves the next few topics of the website!
Of course, we do still have the Everyday section as there are always going to be a few rogue posts that don’t quite have a perfect category, but need their story told. Same with our readers – maybe they don’t have an exact category they’re looking for, but we have plenty of content for them to consume!
What tips would you offer someone who’s looking to shift their blogging from a hobby to something more professional? How do you approach taking things to the next level, so to speak?
It may sound corny or like we’re coming at you straight from the yoga studio (Rachel hates yoga by the way, so trust us here!) but taking your hobby blog to a more professional thing starts with setting your intentions. Once the two of us started really planning and setting goals and meeting regularly, things started to happen. Be as intentional with your blog as you are with any other employment. Ensure your cold pitching emails are professionally written, schedule out your posts with branding strategy, research what your competition is doing and take note.
Of course, never lose sight of why you started. If it’s sitting in your favorite spot on a Sunday, getting your thoughts out, and writing all day, then make sure you’re still doing that. It’s easy to get consumed with the rest and fall behind on an editorial schedule or seemingly “run out of topics to write about.” Don’t forget why you started the blog in the first place.
What are you most looking forward to for Roads Best Traveled? Do you have any special features or trips coming up soon?
One thing you should know is we are always most looking forward to just about everything in the future of “Roads Best Traveled”! The success of the website is still fairly new, so just about every win is like a birthday and anniversary and holiday all wrapped in one. However, the internal features we’re most excited about at the moment would be our two-reoccurring series – Monthly Skin Care Obsessions and Monthly Fitness Features. Being located in two different cities makes it really cool to be able to write these together or in tandem and see people actually follow along month-to-month. With Fitness Features, we’re highlighting real people and real studios in each of our cities – we’re seeing the series is really reaching our audience in a new way!
In terms of trips, the biggest news is that this summer we will actually be together for the third time ever in Nashville! It’s crazy to think this will only be our third time ever really hanging out. We’re the closest “long-distance” friends and business partners ever. Such a strange concept to some, but it works for us! With this time in Nashville, the RBT Girls will be cooking up some really cool partnerships for the next year and hopefully getting a few hilarious pictures to share. We rarely keep straight faces around each other.