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I’ve Quit Teaching! Here’s How I Make Money as a Travel Blogger

Gemma Armit Travel Blogger Cappadocia Turkey

In 2014, Craig and I, Gemma,  you can read more about us here, started planning an 18-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe. My friend, Andy, suggested I started my own travel blog to share the adventure which was laughable because I am not the most tech-savvy.

For example, I was still using floppy discs at uni when everyone was on to pen drives!

Nonetheless, I started to study other websites and thought, why not? Thus Two Scots Abroad was introduced to the world.

During our career break, I shared our big trip with you guys through our helpful travel guides, our monthly budget breakdowns and stories via social media.

In August 2016, I went back to full-time high school teaching for one year, then I reduced my hours to three days to work on this travel blog and now?

I’ve quit teaching! I’m my own boss, it is make it or break it time.

The first question people ask about blogging?
How to do bloggers make money? Watch this video to find out ↓

So How Do You Make Money From Blogging?

One word – mindset.

Anyone that is self-employed will know that you have to think business for a plan to work; that and multiple income streams!

My income is made up of a variety of sources such as:

  • Adverts on Two Scots Abroad.
  • Affiliate links – a small amount of commission on the products and services we recommend. 
  • Press trips – we don’t do campaigns often because they can be exhausting and entail a lot of active work. I know the thought of travelling the world for free sounds exciting but it doesn’t pay the bills! 
  • Conferences and workshops – I’ve not fully quit teaching, I’ve just switched my audience. I also co-own a company called Make Traffic Happen which helps bloggers gain more traffic to their websites through ebooks and courses. My business partner, Laura Lynch, and I have hosted our SEO Bootcamp workshop in London and Edinburgh. We’ve also presented at TBEX, Traverse, Edinburgh Blogger Conference and Borderless Live. Bloggers and niche site owners, join our free Facebook group here

Looking for a speaker with just under ten years of teaching experience to discuss digital content creation, working with bloggers, as I did at the Fife Tourism Conference, anything travel or search engine optimisation related?

Email me at gemma[at]twoscotsabroad[dot]com.

You can read more about our why I don’t work for free here which explains my workflow.

How Can You help?

Usually, the second question after ‘how do you make money’ is, ‘how can we help you’ and I really appreciate that. Obviously continuing to read our articles [with ads] and booking services/buying products we recommend helps but you could also…

 »  share our stuff « 

If you found a travel guide useful, a product review informative or a personal story intriguing share it with your friends and social media followers.

Same goes for our Facebook posts and Tweets. If you like them, help spread the word. This not only gets more eyes on Two Scots Abroad but also tackles the annoying algorithms.

I’m really excited about this change. It is a risk and I would not be able to do it without the support of Craig and you.

So… you can expect an increase in travel inspiration from me!

» Never miss a post – sign up for her newsletter, it’s monthly « 

Gemma [+ Craig]

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How to Start a Blog From Scratch

Hoping to start a blog and looking for clear, succinct step by step instructions on how to do so? This guide will take you through starting a blog from scratch.

I am assuming you have already decided on a unique brand name that makes sense for your niche and is easy to understand. If not, scroll to the bottom of this post to read my advice on choosing a name and the importance of branding. 

Affordable Hosting 

The first thing you need to start your website is a host. 

This is what keeps your site up and running, kind of like renting space on the internet. 

I use Cloudways for two of my websites and A2 for another.

I have previously used Bluehost and Siteground however after Bluehost brought down one of my sites for a week, and the issue was only resolved after I moved to host to Cloudways, I can no longer recommend them as a host to new bloggers.

The majority of tech specialists, which I am not one of, by the way, I’m just a blogger like you, agree that Siteground is not a recommended host anymore.

Once you’ve decided on which host to use and what level of package to go for you need to buy a domain.

Computer blue background

Namecheap – Buy Your Domain 

A domain is your address on the internet.

It’s how readers find your homepage, website pages and blog posts.

It is also known as the URL. For example

For domains, I use Namecheap as I like to keep my domain and host separate.

However, some site owners also purchase their domain from hosts. It’s your choice. 

How To Use Namecheap 

  • Brainstorm brand name ideas
  • Use the Namecheap search function to check availability of the .com domain
  • Create an account, sign in and purchase
  • I also recommend buying the etc version of your domain to stop competitors stepping on your grass
  • Namecheap will send an email asking you to confirm your purchase 
Namecheap Domain Search

Now that you have your .com domain, it’s time to buy hosting. 

  • Go to your host of choice
  • Choose the level of hosting
  • Sign up and purchase 
  • Keep a record of your password as you need this to get into your account in the next step 
  • Make sure you use the correct email address

Point Namecheap Domain to Hosting 

Now you have a host which will keep your website online and a domain (Namecheap) which people can use to find your website. 

However, both a separate so you need to migrate them. 


  • Sign in to your Namecheap account
  • Go to Domain List
  • Select the .com and hit the manage button
  • Look for ‘nameservers’
  • Choose ‘Custom DNS’ 


  • Sign in to your hosting account
  • Go to Domains (or equivalent) and select the manage button
  • Copy nameserver 1 into Namecheap
  • Copy nameserver 2 into Namecheap
  • Click the green tick in Namecheap
  • A note will say it can take up to 48 hours for the nameservers to point to hosting however it tends to take around 12 hours in my experience 
  • You may see a ‘website coming soon’ page when the process has finished

WordPress Themes and Plugins

Now that the tricky tech-related stuff is done you can crack on with the fun design process. 

I use Wordpress to post pages, posts and manage plugins. 

I recommend the premium theme Flatsome which can be found at Envato Marketplace for the design for websites.

It has an easy to use but lightweight page builder which is like building blocks.

You can start up WordPress by logging into your hosting account and selecting WordPress.  

Adding a Theme 

Once you’ve purchased Flatsome, you have to download the file and then upload the parent and child theme to WordPress.

You do this in the theme section in Appearance on the left-hand side menu. 

Then you activate Flatsome and start building using the child theme. Just remember to avoid hitting publish until you are ready to launch. 

WordPress Themes Upload


Your host may recommend a handful of plugins that you can keep or deactivate and delete if you wish. 

I recommend avoiding Jetpack as it is heavy.

It’s the first plugin site owners are told to lose during site speed evaluations and consultations.

Plugins change in reliability depending on how often they are updated. 

Here are a few that are currently in use:

  • Yoast or SEO Framework for SEO structure support 
  • Antispam Bee to separate spam comments from genuine comments on posts 
  • Classic Editor for WordPress if you don’t want to learn how to use Gutenberg
  • GA Google Analytics where you can add you UA code and track page views etc 
  • Table of Contents Plus if you want a TOC on posts 

The key to plugins is to use a little as possible and to avoid any that are not looked after/updated as those vulnerabilities can cause hacking attacks.  

Ready To Launch

Once you are happy with the way the website looks and you have a couple of posts to promote you can launch the website. 

You may see a bright flag at the top of WordPress which says ‘coming soon’. 

Click that and launch! Congratulations. 

Getting Started – Branding 

1. What Do You Want to Write About?

The more niche the topic, the easier it will be to compete in the sea of other content creators.

I’ve realised this the hard way.

In this era of blogging, you can’t survive without a niche. 

Having a niche helps you target an audience on social media better, create a community via Facebook groups/podcasts/YouTube, shows Google you are an authority on a topic and makes sense for email marketing.

Why have a general audience of 1000 where one might read a guide or buy a product when you can have an audience of 50 of trust your every recommendation? 

It also makes pitching companies via email, networking and at events more effective. 

2. Create a Name

Avoid overused words.

For example in travel – Wanderlust, Adventure, Nomad. 

Avoid controversial words. 

For example in travel – Tribe, Gypsy. 

Avoid nicknames and the obscure. 

You want to be memorable but you don’t want your potential audience to struggle with your brand name. 

Use a world cloud like the wonderful The World Pursuit did (isn’t that name just dreamy?)

You now need to ensure that your name is available as a domain.

Next step is to secure the social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest.

Google your potential name. Is it clear or are you competing with a well-known brand, product or service? 

3. Colours and Logos

Next is the fun part. 

Consider what colours make sense for your brand. 

Use this in your profile image, as your hyperlink hover colour on your website, for callout boxes on posts, feature it in your newsletter etc. 

For your logo, you want to ensure it stands out and looks clear in a small circle for social media profile images. 

Test it out Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin.

Add it to your email signature, Gmail profile and about us page/widget in the sidebar. 

Other Relevant Content

So now you have a website and brand you will want to develop your skills. 

Every successful blogger will say they wish they learned Seach Engine Optimisation (SEO) and implemented from the start. 

You can sign up for a series of free SEO lessons with Make Traffic Happen here, join our free Facebook group for traffic and business support, read free resources on our site and/or purchase our guide, SEO The Easy Way here

You may also like my tips on working from home + fun games you can play on conference calls like Zoom.

5 days in Ireland itinerary: Introducing Ireland’s Ancient East

Green Barn | Food Irelands Ancient East

I (Gemma) travelled to Ireland feeling underwhelmed. It’ll just be like Scotland I thought. Oh, how I was wrong. Sure, there are lush green fields, daunting cliffs, and drizzly weather but Ireland has one up on its tourism counterpart; it has deadly hospitality and striking resilience. Spend time in Dublin (if you must) then depart to Ireland’s Ancient East on this 5 days in Ireland itinerary (this can be extended or shortened, additional East of Ireland attractions included).

5 days in Ireland Itinerary: Ireland’s Ancient East

Where is Ireland’s Ancient East

After the widely successful West Atlantic Way campaign pushing visitors out of the capital city, Dublin, towards the 16,000 miles of rugged coastline (like road trips, check out the Scottish Highlands North Coast 500), Fāilte Ireland have cleverly routed attractions over 17 counties, from the border of Northern Ireland down to Cork in the south, anything east of the Shannon River is deemed Ancient East territory – and that’s many regions to explore.

We visited the central areas of Killashee, Kildare, Kilkenny (it’s a city!), Thomastown and Tipperary all of which are entwined in 5,000 years of history and wrapped up in stories.

Luckily for you, the extremely friendly locals and businesses love the chat and want to share their version of events and success. Warning – the Irish charm is alive, kicking, and infectious so let’s get started with our 5-day tour of Ireland. 

You can plot your itinerary using this travel map planner.

The Apple Farm | 5 days in Ireland itinerary: Ireland's Ancient East

Day 1 Dublin – Killashee, County Kildare  

Killashee Hotel is a destination in itself. This 4-star hotel and spa has 141 beds, 25 suites, 18 meeting rooms, 3 ballrooms and 13 unique windows at the front of the house. It’s not just an interesting building to look at, it also has an intriguing past. Killashee Hotel was once a school for boys ran by La Sainte Nuns, this hotel embraces its own Ancient East story! We had the pleasure of meeting with the hotel gardener who advised us that kids can play in the 280 acres of garden, visit the 7-year-old butterfly farm and send a message to the fairies… Will they reply? Anything is possible in Ireland’s Ancient East.

Kilashee Hotel | Irelands Anciet East

Things to do around Killashee

The town of Naas (Nás na Ríogh) where the hotel is located has several bars (of course), a public swimming pool, Craddockstown Golf Club, and a new theatre called the Moat Theatre. Residents can use the complimentary bikes at the Killashee Hotel.  

  • Website: click here
  • Note: 3 days in Ireland itinerary can also be created from recommendations

Day 2-3 Ireland Itinerary 5 days: Killashee- Kilkenny

Burtown House, near Athy (co. Kildare)

This Georgian villa, Burtown House, continues to be lived in and loved by the Fennell Family. Photographer, James Fennel and his wife Joanna not only open their gardens to the public but also feed guests of the Green Barn Restaurant from the field to fork. You can literally watch the vegetables grow while sipping on some beetroot soup. The gardens have been in continual production for over 150 years and make a nice day out for the family on the Ireland Ancient East route.

Green Barn | 3 days in Ireland itinerary

James and Joanna are an example of how innovative the Ancient East residents are, they not only have a  cafe but also an art studio, apartment, and 12 acres of gardens and park, some of which is soon to see a step up from glamping, luxurious huts with *drumroll* outdoor baths. Sign me up now.

  • Address: Burtown House, Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland
  • Website: Click here
  • Opening time: Gardens Feb-Oct | Green Barn Wed-Sun
  • Price: Gardens 8 Euros per adult

What to see in Kilkenny

Fact: ‘Kil’ means church in Irish Gaelic and Kilkenny is the medieval capital of Ireland. We have to make one thing clear; Kilkenny is a city, not a town. If you want to rile the locals up, go ahead and name the Marble City incorrectly.

The city of Kilkenny (population 24, 000) has 70 pubs and is home to Smithwick’s Brewery (a big hit with the Americans in my tour group), the Mediaeval Mile, and Kilkenny Castle.

The Medieval Mile

Take a tour with Kilkenny’s longest serving tour guide to hear the stories of the city’s past. Kilkenny’s nooks and crannies are full of tales of torture and pain. Find out the story behind the Kilkenny Cats and why Alice Kyteler fled (on her broomstick?) to England never to be seen again.

  • Website: click here
  • Meeting place: Kilkenny Tourist Office, Rose Inn Street

Kilkenny Medieval Mile | 5 days in Ireland Itinerary

Kilkenny Castle

Over the past 8 centuries, Kilkenny has passed hands to several families and finally sold to the public for a token £50. If you look carefully you can still see the gun holes in the building.

  • Note: drones are not allowed in the Castle grounds  

Kilkenny Castle | 3 days in Ireland

What to do in Kilkenny

Smithwicks Tour

Who knew brewery tours could be so interactive? The Smithwicks experience (to pronounce: drop the w) is a 4D, sensory experience which tells its family story through visuals, touch, smell and most importantly, taste! Although Ireland’s oldest beer is no longer made on site (moved to Dublin), the walk-through museum is still highly recommended and the reward at the end is satisfying.

  • Address: 44 Parliament Street, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny, Ireland
  • Website: click here
  • Tours: Every day, times seasonal
  • Price: 15 Euro

Smithswick Tours | Kilkenny Ancient East

Kilkenny tourist office

  • Address: Shee Alms House, Rose Inn Street, Kilkenny, Ireland

Festivals in Kilkenny

This city can seriously give Edinburgh a run for its money when it comes to the number of festivals.

This October sees the start of the foodie festival, Savour Kilkenny, November is Kilkenomics then Subtitles European Film Festival, and December sees the start of the Christmas festivities.

Read more: Edinburgh’s Fringe – the world’s largest art fest

Places to stay in Kilkenny, Ireland

There are a number of hotels in Kilkenny but none has a story quite like the Pembroke Hotel. This 4-star city centre boutique hotel has a resident guest, a ‘Special’ racing car called the Statham-Ford Special built on the very spot the Pembroke stands now. The Statham-Ford Special was designed, created and driven by George Statham (hence the racing car title and the restaurant/bar name) and guess what? The car still runs today. How would I know? I was taken for a spin!

This stunning boutique hotel has deceivingly big rooms (disguised space) and management are happy to share the stories of the city from the Pembroke rooftop, just ask at the reception for your free history tour.

  • Address: 11 Patrick St, Gardens, Kilkenny, Ireland
  • Website: click here
  • Price: Rooms start from 109 Euros but book out fast

Premboke Hotel | Kilkenny things to do

On the outskirts of the city sits 17th-century Lyrath Estate Hotel and Spa looking pretty with a real country estate feel. This striking estate sits on 170 acres of land amongst trees, lakes, and Lady Charlotte’s historic gardens. There are two permanent guests too, the hotel dogs (you’ll soon see a theme of really attracts me to hotels – history and furry residents!)

Residents are only 5 minutes drive from the city of Kilkenny but the Lyrath Estate has not one but four restaurants onsite from the flagship restaurant, La Perla to the casual (and alfresco in summer) Tupper’s Bar, and not to forget Oriental foodies choice, Yindees and finally aperitifs and drinks in the X Bar.

  • Address: Dublin Rd, Lyrath, Kilkenny, Ireland
  • Website: click here
  • Price: Rooms start at 140 Euros, packages available

Lyrath Estate | Kilkenny Hotels

Cheaper alternatives include the Springhill Court Hotel. This newly refurbished hotel offers clean rooms, access to fitness suite and swimming pool, onsite Paddock Bar with live music and meals at Oscar’s Bistro. The Springhill Court Hotel is within walking distance to Kilkenny city centre and accepts group bookings.

  • Address: Springhill Court Conference, Leisure & Spa Hotel, Kilkenny
  • Website: click here
  • Price: Rooms start at 80 Euros

Springhill Hotel | Hotels in Kilkenny

Day 4 Kilkenny (city)-Thomastown (Kilkenny)

Highbank Orchard, Cuffsgrange

Toot toot, all aboard the Highbank Orchard tractor train. Take a ride through the 17th century converted mill gardens and farm while Rod shares his pip to sip stories of cider, syrups, and sauce. This family’s talents are never-ending. Julie and Rod distill cider, brandy, mead, and to the team’s annoyance, syrup and treacle (try cleaning the drum out after that run!) This lively pair are easy to be around and the ability of the Ancient East’s businesses to adapt like chameleon really shines through at the award-winning Highbank.

Fact: Ireland’s apples are sprayed 26 times per year on average but not at Highbank. This orchard has been chemical-free for 30 years.  

Like the sound of this biodiverse orchard? Well, you can stay overnight. Rod and Julie ‘apply (boom boom) open up their gates to customers.

  • Address: Highbank Organic Farm, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny,
  • Website: click here
  • Price: From £101 (3 bed)

Highbank Apple Orchard | Ireland East road trip

Thomastown, Kilkenny

Bassett’s Restaurant is not just a restaurant; it’s an art gallery. Two trees protrude between the tables and the walls are tiled with Portuguese art. The family-run eatery serves up an extensive menu including aged rib, wood-fired pizzas (thumbs up from our Italian friends), brioche bun burgers,

  • Tip: If visiting in summer, dine alfresco
  • Address: Marsh’s street, Thomastown, Kilkenny
  • Website: click here

Bassetts | Thomastown places to eat

The Truffle Fairy

Milk, dark, white, fruity, salty, nutty and sweet. These are a few of my favourite things and luckily for us on Ireland’s Ancient East food trail they are crafted and sold by award-winning Mary at the Truffle Fairy shop. Heading to Killarney? You’ll find a second chocolate shop in town soon.

  • Address: Chapel Ln, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny
  • Website: click here

Truffle Fairy | Thomastown Ancient East Ireland

Where to stay in Thomastown

Mount Juliet

You are in good company at Mount Juliet, numerous statesmen and professional golfers have creased the sheets at this Georgian home.

The 5-star Mount Juliet hosts events, weddings, golfing trips and everyday meals in at The Hound Restaurant and fine dining at the hotel’s Michelin star Lady Helen restaurant. The Hound was once home to stables. If you look closely past the cosy country chic decor you can spot the rings with which the horses were tied to. The Estate boasts of four different locations for rooms, Manor House, Hunter’s Yard, Rose Garden Lodges and Chauffer’s Lodge. Don’t forget to look at the decor in the Manor House, the devil is in the detail and it was done by hand.

  • Address: Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
  • Website: click here

Mount Juliet Thomastown | Ireland road trips

Mount Juliet | Ireland road trips

Alternative route

From here you are just over one hour from the Wexford on the coast. Points of interest include:

  • Duncannon, Ballinoulart, Curracloe, Ballymoney BeachesKilmore Quay bike hire
  • Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre
  • Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience
  • Watersports including paddleboarding and kayaking
  • Wilton Castle,  Enniscorthy Castle and Johnstown Castle
  • Selskar Abbey
  • Plus much more

Day 5 Thomastown – Tipperary

Taste of Tipperary

It’s a long way to Tipperary, which isn’t actually true if you start in Dublin (2 hours) or Shannon (55 minutes). This town is a delight for nature and food lovers. This Ancient East county is affectionately known as Tipp.

The Apple Farm, Cahir

Next stop is Cahir, to the Apple Farm which has been planting since 1968. This apple orchard ran by the Traas family is not just about the apple harvest but also the cider, soda, camping and a kid’s park. For over 50 years, 60 different types of apples have fallen from these trees in Cahir.

  • Tip: Most expensive apples are the ones you don’t eat, pay more for nice products to avoid waste. Try the lemonade
  • Address: The Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co. Tipperary
  • Website: click here

The Apple Farm | 5 days in Ireland

Restaurants in Cashel

Head to the town of Cashel to see the Rock of Cashel then dine at Mikey Ryan’s. This modern restaurant serves local produce in a home worthy decorated space. Chef, Liam Kirwan, is present in the menu, cooking up food adapted from his Gran’s menu – ‘a tribute’ he calls it. Muscles, burgers, tarts, cheeses, and also apples from Anne’s garden – Mikey Ryan’s menu is not just about the produce, it’s pretty.

  • Tip: Try the sourdough crisps. For something unusual, the Crubeen throwback to 80s Ireland.  Vegan food available
  • Address:  76 Main St, St. Dominick’s Abbey, Cashel, Co. Tipperary
  • Facebook: click here

Mickey Ryans | Irelands Ancient East Foodies

Galtee Honey Farm

Did you know that honey is not always runny? The Mac Giolla Codas beekeeping family-run Galtee Honey Farm caring for over 150 hives. Honey isn’t just used for breakfast and singer’s voices! The sweet stuff is increasingly being incorporated into cosmetics, natural remedies, and mead (alcoholic beverage). Galtee Honey Farm can be purchased around Ireland’s Ancient East.

  • Website: click here
  • Note: tours may be opening soon

Where to stay in Tipperary

The Georgian Hotel Minella in Clonmel is not only home to stylish bedrooms, Club Minella, The Restaurant and 10 acres of land but also two dogs called Bobo and Mop. Please don’t let your ego believe that patrons are oohing and aahing at your arrival, the fanfare is for Bobo who is sitting with his ‘what up’ attitude.

Sister and brother, Elizabeth and John, manage Hotel Minella and this sense of family is felt throughout the Tipperary community. The restaurant uses oil from Emerald Oils, cheese from Cashel Blue, and butcher meat by Piedmontese. Behind the bar you’ll find Merrys Irish Cream and Tipperary whiskey (whisky in Scotland). The Tipperary Whiskey distillery is owned by a young, Scottish woman (so many female business owners in the Ancient East) who followed an Irish man over to the Emerald Isles.

  • Address: Coleville Rd, Croan Lower, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
  • Website: click here
  • Prices: From 150 Euros

Hotel Minella | Hotels in Tipperary

An Irish breakfast

The infamous Irish breakfast consists of bacon, sausage, fried tomato, and a black or white pudding. White pudding is the same as black (meat and oats) but minus the blood. Hotel Minella uses Inch House award-winning pudding, which is melt in your mouth magic. Pudding is also served as part of a Scottish breakfast. The biggest difference between the Irish and Scottish breakfast is us Scots include a flat potato scone (you would never know it’s a potato) while the Irish include some kind of fried potato. My favourite part of the Irish breakfast is the Guinness brown bread with creamy butter.

Kilashee Hotel | Irish Breakfast

7 days in Ireland itinerary

Alternative route – Waterford area

Waterford is home to the crystal and historic buildings such as

  • Bishop’s Palace
  • Curraghmore House
  • Lismore Castle

Want more? Head south to Cork

Republic of Ireland points of interest

  • The English Market
  • Lunch on St. Patrick’s Street
  • Wander Fitzgerald Park
  • City Gaol (jail/prison)
  • Blackrock Castle Observatory
  • Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone

Food tourism Ireland

Long gone are the days of overcooked potatoes and chewy stew. To be sure Guinness bread and creamy butter are still on the menu (thankfully) but this inspirational area has heavily focused on the farm to fork, soil to oil, pip to sip philosophy and much of the food you eat during the Ancient East trail will be sourced from a garden, farm, or orchard within a tiny radiance.

Mickey Ryans in Cashel | Irelands Anciet East Food Trail

Love road trips? Check out Scotland’s Route 66 – the North Coast 500

Ireland attractions map

Ancient East Map Ireland

Final words

The Irish are forward thinking. Living off the tail of the Celtic tiger then smacked down by the recession, business owners banded together to support each other and that sense of community is evident in the east. We drank cocktails with Highbank Orchard apple juice at Statham’s Bar and ate Inch House black pudding at Minella. This year, go to Dublin but get ready to depart for Ireland Ancient East 5 day tour of Ireland.

Proud member of the TBEX Ireland team. This road trip was made possible by Fāilte Ireland, opinions are mine as always.

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Over to you. Any tips or questions?

Tell me in the comments below

Keysearch: affordable keyword competition tool

Keysearch- affordable keyword competition tool

Are your page views stagnant, erratic or non-existent? Mines were too and I could not work out why. I was publishing 2-3 times per week, making at least one pin for each post then shouting from the rooftops about the articles on social media. The problem? It’s your keyword research game. Solution? A solid strategy for searching for keywords which will help you rank on search engines (SERPs) like Google. It’s not magic, it’s strategy, procedure, and technique and I’m going to show you how with two free tools and Keysearch, the affordable keyword competition tool.

In this post you will learn:

  • How to plan keyword research
  • How to find long tail keywords for free
  • Pro and cons of 2 free keyword planner tools
  • How to use Keysearch paid keyword tool

Am I ready?

  • The first 3 search results in Google get over half of all traffic
  • Less than 1/4 of searchers bother to click page 2

Which position do you want to be in? I honestly used to get excited and assume some kind of Harry Potter shizzle had gone down when I noticed one of my articles on Google. I never really understood what that meant though. I was ignorant to the fact that by ranking on Google I would increase the number of people reading my posts which would then make my brand more attractive to my businesses and they would want to pay me.

Fact: two of my best-paying clients found me through page 1 on Google and they paid me more than my weekly part-time high school teacher wage. I did not have to hunt them down, they contacted me


  • Volume: number of people searching for keywords
  • Difficulty/competitiveness: how easy is it to rank for keywords?
  • Domain authority (DA): predicts how well sites might rank on Google

What are keywords?

Keywords are the main points/topics/themes that you are discussing in your article. It’s the title, story, the message, and the reason you are writing the article.

The problem with finding keywords

Many of us are using keywords we cannot compete for. For example, regardless of how well-written, humorous, or useful your article on ‘Moscow’ is, it is not going to rank. You have to narrow the topic down.

‘What to see in Moscow’ is better but still difficult because lots of content creators before you are already ranking for that term so we want to drill down to a topic even more specific.

‘Moscow landmarks’ is spot on and this is what the industry calls long tail keywords.

These are just examples of keywords, there are tools to help us find more information.

Free keyword research tools

Google recommends

Task: open Google in a new Incognito window. Type in ‘What to see in Moscow’ scroll to the bottom and take note of what Google recommends

Google recommends is a great starting point for planning your articles. You may want to begin formulating your ideas around some of these suggestions

Chrome addon

Task: In your Chrome browser, search for the addon ‘Keywords Everywhere’

Combine this addon with Google Recommends and you will get a bit more information about your potential long tail keywords.

The volume section is useful as it tells us how many people are asking Google about your long tail keywords. However, Google Recommends with Keywords Everywhere is limited as it does not identify how competitive the keyword is. This means how successfully are the others on page 1 of Google ranking and does my site have a chance of competing?

Google Recommends/Keywords Everywhere

  • Free
  • Good starting point


  • Volume is not specific
  • Competitiveness not identified

Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz are the guys who measure our DAs (domain authority). Your DA is formulated by investigating around 40 different criteria and the quality of the links you have linking back to your posts. If your DA is lower than 30 you will find it harder to rank on Google, it’s not impossible, just more of a challenge.

You can check out your domain authority here.

Health warning: I did not start tracking my DA until it was in its 20s (I had no idea what it was!) Concentrate on building your brand, enjoy writing and follow this guide to help improve your DA.

Moz have created a nifty free tool to help you rank on Google through keyword research. It is a step up from Google Recommends/Keywords Everywhere as it not only details your volume but also how competitive those keywords are, the part missing from free keyword research strategy one. It also shows you who you would be competing against and other keywords you might want to consider.

However, it is free and as the saying goes – the devil is in the detail. Moz free website does not tell you much about your competitors (which the paid software, Keysearch does) and the volume is not exact. It also restricts your use and you are going to want to do more keyword research than that when you see how easy it is to do and increase traffic to your website.

Moz Free Keyword Research Tool


  • It’s free
  • Highlights competitiveness
  • Identifies competitors
  • Additional keywords


  • Volume vague
  • Monthly limit

Keysearch: affordable keyword competition tool

Keysearch is the most popular paid keyword research tool amongst the content creators I network with. It is relatively cheap at £17 per month or £169 for the year.

For 20% off Keysearch use the code: KSDISC

Keysearch not only fills in flaws that the two free tools above fail on but also offers

  • Keyword tracking
  • Backlink check
  • Google Trends

Keysearch is a website I use every day, not only for new content (I did not publish a new article at all for two months and look at my page view statistics) but also old posts.

Google Analytics

How to use Keysearch

1. Type in your keywords into the search bar
2. ‎Choose your location or leave ‘all locations’
3. ‎Hit return

Keysearch affordable keyword competition tool

The above image displays the Keysearch information. We can see the following:

  • The volume of our long tail keyword ‘Moscow landmarks’ is 1000. I am happy with a volume above 100. It also states how difficulty the keywords would be for us in terms of competitiveness. Red is difficult, amber would be tough and green is possible. Moscow landmarks is a go-gettum green

The goal is to find a keyword that is high in volume but low in difficulty.

  • Low DA readers: this is where you may run into difficulty. Aim for under 20 difficulty (they are hard to find unfortunately) and remember to check out section 10 of these techniques to help build your domain authority
  • To the left-hand side, a series of variations of our keywords are displayed as well as other keywords we might want to consider such as Moscow parks. You are getting two services for the price of one! BOGOF. In my most popular post, I rank for over 1000 keywords, naturally not on page 1 for them all! I’m not that good
  • You can use the ‘filter’ option to refine your search and also the categories at the top such as volume to organise the results better
    Keysearch affordable keyword competition tool.

Bingo, you have your targeted long tail keyword, variations and also other keywords you can potentially rank for. If you think you can nudge out around two of the competitors on page 1 at present (see below) you can hit the export button on the top right-hand corner to download this list of keywords and start writing your great content, answering the questions that potential readers are asking Google.

Checking out the competition

Cast your eyes to the right-hand side table on Keysearch. This is who is currently ranking for the selected keywords. This is where we assess how likely we can elbow into the top slots. Are there sites that you have a higher DA than?

Check competitors Keysearch

If these sites do not have the keywords in the URL, (meta) description, title and/or they lack links (backlinks from other respectable sites/internal links) then we may be in for a chance of competing to rank on page 1 and even better, top 3 positions of Google. However, if the URLs have the topic name in their URL there is a good chance that Google will see them as more authoritative than us. This is also true for the amount of content you have on your site about one topic (in this case study, Russia). It’s better to write in depth and go wide than write thinly about lots of different topics.

8 step on-page SEO strategy

Unfortunately, that is not the end of your SEO strategy but it definitely is one of the more challenging parts. So now you know how to find the keywords you need to know where to put them. Laura, my business partner, from Make Traffic Happen and I call this our 8 step on-page SEO Strategy.

8 step on-page SEO strategy_

Final words

Now that you know how to find keywords using the paid tool Keysearch. It is not often I need to recommend paid tools but in all honesty, Keysearch is worth every penny. It is super user friendly (even for a tech-no like me) and I’ve only touched upon its capacity in this guide. Want more?

Check out our Complete SEO Strategy for only $27.

Like this talk + task type of article? Our Complete SEO Strategy includes the ‘talk’ theory guide and the ‘textbook’ which holds your hand through the full process of ranking from planning to publish. For a limited time only the ‘technical’ guidebook is free with the bundle ($27 +vat). More targeted traffic can equate to a lot more money. Laura makes more than my teaching wage from the affiliates in one keyword targeted article! Incredible eh?

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10 Things Bloggers Do To Get More Followers

If I was to start a travel blog again, there are so many things I would do differently. Hours of work wasted, yet many more put to good use. I’m here to share my travel blogging experience from the past three years and give you a step by step guide on 10 things bloggers do to get more followers. This will include how to gain more followers on social media, how to increase blog traffic, and the processes and plugins that I use to save time, while gaining more followers.

This post assumes…

  • You have a blog name
  • You have set up a website with a self hosting company
  • You have created social media accounts in your blog name (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Tumblr)

10 Things Bloggers Do To Get More Followers

1. Network Your Fingers Off

When you first start a job what do you do? You find ‘friends’ -­ likeminded colleagues whom you learn from. Blogging is no different, networking is key. For example, in the beginning, a mistake I was making was that I was writing friendly posts for family members. It wasn’t until I spoke to other bloggers that I realised that I had to break out of this routine. To be successful, treat your blog like a business from the beginning. Aim to network with bloggers at all stages – those who are just starting out, the more experienced, and the kings / queens of the blogging world.

2. Find Blogging Buddies While Growing

You can build relationships on any social media platform but most notably TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

My best advice for Twitter is to join Twitter Chats. These weekly travel chats are run by hosts who pose several questions with a related hashtag for interested Tweeters to reply to. I’d suggest using Tweetdeck to help manage the chats. Comment on other people’s / blogger’s tweets and follow them if you so wish. Many will follow back. This is one strategy I used to meet other bloggers, while increasing my Twitter following.

  • Get more followers on Twitter for free (and fast!) by using these easy tips to how I reached 10K followers on Twitter – Twitter for Bloggers.

For Facebook, ask to join Facebook groups. These pages are a community of bloggers where members can either ask for advice or join social media shares. I can’t stress enough how useful Facebook groups are. Each have their own rules, and instructions on how to join. Some of the successes I’ve had through networking in Facebook groups are – resolving technical website issues, pitching companies which fellow Facebook group members have shared, and being asked to admin Facebook groups – I’m now on the other side! I really believe that the growth of Two Scots Abroad is down to my contribution to these groups.

Think outside of your niche too; is there a blogging group for your nearest city or country? Travel bloggers – can you answer questions on local tourist boards or national flight company Facebook pages? Etc.

Free Travel Bloggers Facebook Groups

To recap: networking through Twitter, joining Facebook groups, and Instagram pods, will not only help bloggers gain more social media followers but also create the opportunity to build relationships with fellow bloggers.

Social Media I 10 Things Bloggers Do To Get More Followers

3. Social Media Behaviour

While participating in Twitter Chats and Facebook groups be professional. Don’t be afraid to offer support to other bloggers who seek help. Offer your advice, not your agenda! Be aware, keyboard warriors exist within these blogging communities too. There are non – blogging Facebook groups which are also great – just be wary that you can be thrown out if you self promote without being asked. They often provide opportunity for you to share your blog posts though, a nifty trick to get more blog followers and network with followers of your niche!

Travel Lovers Facebook Groups

* Avoid self promotion unless asked for (For example ‘Going to Budapest, post tips’)

4. Travel Bloggers Social Media Sharing

Networking can certainly help with increasing your blog and social media following but must be done in tandem with other techniques such as social media shares. Initially, I was only sharing my own blog stuff on social media. I felt like I was shouting out into the abyss and nobody was listening to me. The solution? Sharing other blogger’s work. How? By joining social sharing groups.

Again, on Facebook there are groups where bloggers can post a link to a social share such as Pinterest and then comment / like / share (each group differs) on the specified amount of other posts in the thread (for example, the ten links above your post). Conduct is also vital here: don’t post unless you can reciprocate on the specified number of posts. Otherwise you’ll risk irritating the voluntary admins, other bloggers will think you are freeloading, and you could get thrown out of the group altogether. Admins are voluntary, avoid back chat if you are called out for not reciprocating. If you want your content shared and the support of the group, you need to do your bit too.

Travel Bloggers Sharing Facebook Groups

*Make sure that your travel blog website is visible on your Facebook page. There will be alternative for other niches

»»» here’s the list of all of the groups that I am active in, there’s 29 that will rock your blogging socks off

 5. Scheduling Social Media

So what do I do with all of these social shares?! There are social media scheduling sites which help you plan ahead and save time. I use Buffer (the free version which limits you) and Hootsuite (no limit) to help manage Twitter shares. Other bloggers pay for CoSchedule, Tailwind, or use Buffer for Pinterest.

Be wary of mass sharing to all platforms, each platform requires a different tone. I loosely use the site IFTTT which lets you set up ‘recipes’ which connect one platform to another – so when a blog post goes live, it automatically appears on Twitter etc. I’m not keen on using mass sharing for Facebook but I do use the ‘Facebook schedule’ for posts. Engaging is essential. You won’t see much success in increasing traffic to your blog by ‘dumping’ information on social media, in fact you might even be ‘filtered’ by Twitter for not interacting enough (see Twitter post for my horrible experience of this).

To recap: use these social media scheduling tools to help plan and manage your shares (and time) but don’t forget to engage with your audience.

6. Pictures – Quality Over Quantity

I quickly realised that there is very little point in publishing poor quality photos on any social media platform, especially Instagram. I saw a significant increase in Instagram engagement when I began editing photos (using Lightroom) and only sharing my best images. I plan my grid on Planoly. The app lets me upload images and move them around until I get the perfect composition. If I have an image that is ‘off’ my normal tone (or the majority tone of the images I’ve been posting) I post in threes. For example, if I have a sunset image, I try to organise my grid so there are three sunset pictures side by side with the past showing a hint of the future image colour.

The key to IG is like, comment, comment, comment, like, like, and hashtag strategically! Get the picture? Instagram is hard work! See above and below for more details on my Instagram strategy.

The same goes for Pinterest. Post vertical pins, use Canva for creating pins.It’s a free and online.

  • Check out my post, Pinterest for Bloggers, for a neat step by step guide on upping your Pinterest game (Pinterest means direct traffic, priceless!)

Keep up to date with the best sizes for photos on each platform, for example

  • Pins with the highest engagement tend to be 735 x 1102
  • Facebook image size has changed to 1200 x 630 (I just use my horizontal article images)
  • Instagram is still square at 1080 x 1080
  • Twitter prefers horizontal photos
  • Learn your website theme’s photo specifications (I use Lightroom: 1024 / 800 Long Edge, 72 resolution, 60+ quality)
  • Reduce the size of your website images (using Ewww plugin, or JPEG compressor online, Lightroom, etc), large images can slow your website loading speed so followers might not stick around to read your entertaining articles
  • Take horizontal photos for your blog and vertical for Pinterest

7. Post Frequently on Social Media

Yes, quality over quantity for images is important but posting frequently on all social media platforms is too. For Pinterest, I to pin to new pins to group boards (see Pinterest post for more on these!) and take part in a Pinterest share whenever I post a new article.

I used to post twice to Facebook but have now reduced to once a day at 19:07 UTC. I reply to any comments in the evening.

For Twitter, I schedule other people’s tweets every two hours (I get these tweets from a Twitter share) plus I use a plugin which shares old posts from my site every two hours (however this may be the cause of me being ‘filtered’). I scheduled tweets advertising new posts for four days after they are live. In addition to this, I log in for daily conversation with followers, and weekly Twitter chats. I stopped using the plugin which share old posts as I saw that my engagement score was low. I now engage more directly.

I post 2 – 3 times per week on Instagram (around 19:00 – 21:30 UTC unless it is the weekend then I post any time after 14:00 UTC). My images are all edited with Lightroom. When I post I include the following

    • A high quality image (remember, I plan and colour coordinate all of my images)
    • Location in location settings
    • A title which sums up the image / story (sometimes I skip this)
    • A description about the photo, I throw in my name every now and again
    • A question surrounding the topic or something topical
    • Specific hashtags: pre-researched location hashtags, travel related hashtags which re-share images, a generic hashtag (like #love / #postoftheday etc) in the comments

After I have posted the image, I post a heart / image in my group pod and members respond with likes and comments. I am no longer in an IG pod/group. The level of work was not worth the effort.

I then target specific hashtags I am trying to push and engage with Instagrammers who have used these hashtags. For example, when I was in Slovenia, I used the hashtag #ifeelsLOVEnia and engaged with this community. Alternatively, I engage with IGers who have recently liked bigger travel accounts than mine. I do not target travel bloggers and I avoid accounts with a large following (like 5K+). I aim for accounts where the IGer follows more accounts than has followers.

2017 Shadowbanning – Like Twitter’s spam jail, IG has now started shadowbanning certain posts. There are a number of reasons floating around such as the use of comment pods (although some of my pod are not banned), the use of specific hashtags that IG has banned, hashtags in the comments field and not the caption (one of my IG friends says that he is not banned for the hashtags in his caption but is for those in the comments). So what does Instagram shadowbanning mean? Your image will not show up under your hashtags; no top 9 and not in the recent posts section so this totally trumps any chance you have of reaching a new audience and tanks your engagement. I am so tired on IG! Another reason why you should not rely on one platform for marketing. Some believe that the shadowban never existed! The algorithm just changed and we were all hit.

Quick note –  follow / unfollow strategy is an active strategy. This is one of many tricks used by bloggers to get more followers, and that is cool with me. Please don’t waste your energy being upset that other bloggers have unfollowed you, concentrate on lovers of your niche, not the bloggers!

8. Back Up Your Website

Moving away from social media, I am now going to talk you through some website tips which not only get more traffic to your blog (for free!) but also prevent any future meltdowns!  I have had two website tragedies in the past year, but like a girl scout I was prepared. I use Wordpress which I am happy with, but do keep in mind that Wordpress updates and this can sometimes cause havoc to your website. Plugins that once worked may not be compatible, other plugins may crash your site. This is when you will praise the online gods that you backed up. Ask your service provider how to backup or add a back up plugin, such as UpDraft. Back up your images! I use iDrive which backs up automatically or you can set it up manually (I ran it over night initially).

9. SEO Like a Boss

Time to celebrate – I managed to get out of the 7K monthly unique views rut! How? Focussing on SEOcentric posts. I’ve now reached 11.5K 30K monthly views and 67K page views (seriously crazy jump) and it’s all down to the following changes.

Google Analytics

SEO is probably one aspect of travel blogging that bloggers mistakenly think they can work out later. To get blog traffic, you want to learn how to SEO from the word go. Each article should be the answer to questions that people type into the Google search bar! I learnt the hard way – learn from my mistakes! Plan your articles – what are the keywords (and ‘longtail phrases’) that you are trying to rank #1 in Google for (how do I know which ones I’ll rank for? I’ll help you below!) Make sure you use your main (realistic) keywords in your

  1. Headline
  2. Permalinks (the weblink for your article)
  3. First 100 words
  4. A subheading (H2)
  5. Image alt tag (found when you upload to media)
  6. Meta description
  7. Variations of the keywords throughout
  8. Additional keywords throughout (see KeySearch section for more info)
  9. Guest post using a variation of the keyword as anchor text and link back to your article <– more on this below

You should scatter your ‘longtail keywords’ (longer phrases which are more specific) throughout your post. I did initially tell you that I’d be investing in Longtail Pro however the changes in Google Keywords Planner (now showing large numbers as opposed to specific) has made it redundant so I purchased KeySearch instead. KeySearch helps you find the best keywords to use for each post, I am loving it! It’s only £17 per month or £169 for the year and well worth the investment because it tells you how many people actually search for the intended keywords (volume) and also how competitive it is.

SEO KeySearch

How I use KeySearch

Ideally, and you are probably going to roll your eyes at this, you would want to do your keyword research before your trip. I cannot rank for anything to do with Liverpool and I have to write an article on it. If I had done a bit of research before I would have known which angle to go for. Anyway…

1. KeySearch Search Bar
I type the keywords in the top search bar and hit search (you can choose locations if you prefer to target specific ones).
-> For this example I used ‘things to do in Bangkok at Christmas’. This is an example of a longtail keyword, it is narrow, specific and focussed

2. Volume and Competition
To the right of the search bar a list of keywords will appear. KeySearch will indicate how difficult ranking for that keyword would be for you (using your DA and comparing to your competitors DA and other areas). It colour coordinates difficulty, green being potentials. It also tells you how many people search for that keyword under ‘volume’
-> My initial longtail keyword was unsuccessful as volume was nil. However, I tested a few others by hitting ‘check’  and I found two that I can rank for ‘Christmas in Bangkok’ and ‘New Years Eve in Bangkok’. You can see that ‘Trip to Bangkok’ was never going to be attainable for me; it’s red and a difficulty score of 54. This term is not specific enough to rank for, it’s too popular and bigger websites have authority over it

Annoyingly, ‘Christmas in Bangkok’ has a search volume of 320 which isn’t mighty high but at least I might be able to beat my competitors at ranking for it. I can also use other keywords like ‘New Years Eve in Bangkok’ within the text, ranking for multiple keywords at one time. In one of my top 10 posts referred from Google I rank for over 1000 keywords (number 8 in above checklist)! Remember, long, in depth articles are the goal

3. My competitors
Next I look at the box to the left which highlights who is currently ranking in the top 10 slots of Google (page 1). I’ve blanked out the URLs for obvious reasons. I check the DAs of the sites and if there are 2 or more I can compete with (they are lower than my DA) I can go with that keyword. Links are also important and I’ll talk about that in section 10

You may find Yoast SEO plugin useful, but please remember, SEO is so much more than making the ‘green light’ of Yoast happy! If you are serious about traffic growth then KeySearch will be an investment. You can get 20% off using this discount code too, KSDISCTo put this into perspective for you. I was contacted by a company who wanted to advertise with me because they liked one of my articles on page 1 of Google. The payment was just under what I make for one week as a high school teacher. Winning!

[content_band bg_color=”#e2e2e2″ border=”all”] [container] [custom_headline style=”margin: 0;” type=”center” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”true”]Do tasks keep you focussed? You’ll like these 16 easy tasks to help increase page views[/custom_headline] [/container] [/content_band]

Final Words on SEO

Don’t worry if you are screaming what the flippin’ eck is she talking about? In the beginning, I did not know my plugins from my permalinks but my good friend, YouTube, had a video for everything – don’t be afraid to YouTube ‘how to’ if unsure.

SEO is one of main things bloggers do to get more followers to their site. In the future, this traffic will make you money through your affiliate sales. This is the stage I am currently at.

Nail SEO Now

10. Guest Post Your SEO Through the Roof

Initially, I thought guest posts meant asking your friends to write for you. I didn’t realise that the friend should have their own blog! Backlinks and exposure are some of the aims of guest posting. Reach out to other bloggers with a specific story that you can fill a gap in their niche with, but also meet your own needs – you want to expose that keyword we mentioned above and get your article hyperlinked back – this is called backlinking and can help with your Google ranking. It’s OK to be nervous the first time you contact another blogger! Be prepared for a knock back but move on and don’t fret.

Alternatively, look out for call outs in Facebook groups for collaborative posts (‘best sunsets in Thailand… etc). Guest posting is a great way to get to know other bloggers and also get backlinks to your own blog (ask politely for a link to an article on a keyword instead of your homepage). It also gives your name some exposure and the chance to sell your charming writing skills!

Guest Posting and Backlinks I 10 Things Bloggers Do To Get More Followers

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10 Things Bloggers Do To Get More Followers - learn from my mistakes with these practical tips on social media, SEO, plugins, and guest posting.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and blogging is very much about developing skills as it is about sharing your life with your audience. Try to enjoy the experience, take pleasure in writing, read other (your niche and technical) blogs, and if you are stuck just ask the blogging communities that you’ve joined for help. Don’t sweat the small things! The next CMS update will break something else anyway.

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