When we have a story published in a travel magazine or paper, we know tens, maybe even hundreds, of thousands of readers will see it. That’s partly why we get so excited when we have the printed thing in our hands. When the publication also publishes it on their site, it’s even more thrilling, knowing how many people will ultimately get to read our words and see Terence’s pictures.
Travel blogging is something altogether different. Sometimes we’ll spend time crafting a blog post we think is terrific, yet we can see from our traffic stats there aren’t all that many people reading it. At other times we’ll quickly bash out a post and see traffic spike and it turn out to be one of our all-time popular posts.
That’s why I accepted an invitation from Jamie of The Cloud People to participate in the 7 Links project (their 7 links are here). Launched by travel site Trip Base, the aim of the initiative, according to the site editor Katie (see this post) is to unite bloggers in a joint endeavour “to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again”. So here goes…
1. Our Most Beautiful Post
In Austin, Texas, we went to the legendary honky tonk dance hall, The Broken Spoke, where we interviewed owner James White. I also got some lessons in dancing the Texas Two Step from a dear old man who broke my heart as he recounted a bittersweet love story as he twirled me around the dance floor. A couple of readers said my story about the experience, Learning the Texas Two Step at an Austin Honky Tonk, brought tears to their eyes. Terence captured the night beautifully in black and white, don’t you think?
2. Our Most Popular Post
I’m not sure if it’s Terence’s mouth-watering images or his words, which are equally salivating, but our food posts are the most popular: Terence’s two series Weekend Eggs and The Dish; our eating and drinking guides to London, Marrakech, Jerez, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, New York, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Berlin; our interviews with chefs such as Tom Kitchin in Edinburgh and Paola Budel on Mazzorbo, restaurant owners such as Francesco in Venice, and food writers like Carolyn in Budapest and Donald in Edinburgh; and reviews of foodie walking tours, cooking classes, and market visits. Our readers seem to love them all. Until last week, The Dish recipe posts on Moroccan Lamb Tajine with Prunes and Almonds and Côte de Bœuf (for which we interviewed Michelin-starred French superstar-chef Pierre Gagnaire) were our two most read posts. However, a post for a new series, Footpath Feasting, From Street Food to Soul Food, in which we interview food writer and restaurant owner Jarrett Wrisley now looks set to becoming the most popular.
3. Our Most Controversial Post
Our posts on Kenya – including our review of our less-than-satisfactory holiday rental property and our assessment of Diani Beach, Down at Diani Beach, which we disliked because of the annoying ‘beach boys’ selling souvenirs, massages, braids, tattoos, etc, who drove us crazy – attracted a little controversy, although more debate took place on Twitter than in the Comments. One reader felt our critical review of our Diani Beach property was unfair, that we were “biting the hands that were feeding us”. Our post on Spanish Wine and the 99 cent Wine Box also inspired some debate, this time in the Comments, including some criticism by one wine expert, a fan of boxed wine, who felt the Don Simon wine we reviewed gave good boxed wine a bad name.
4. Our Most Helpful Post
Readers told us they found our Price Check series super helpful.It was essentially a survey of what a shopping cartload of groceries cost in some 30-odd destinations around the world, based on our own first-hand shopping experience. We bought the same/similar items each time to compare the prices in different places, but we also provided shopping tips, such as whether it was better to shop in markets or supermarkets, what items were over-priced compared to others, and so on. At the end of the twelve-month trip we compared the prices in every destination in this post.
5. A Surprisingly Successful Post
A little over halfway into our grand tour, we wrote a few reflective posts on our experiences in the first six months. In one of those, What We Love Most About Local Travel: Meeting Locals, I said that connecting with locals had by far been the most satisfying part of our trip, rather than seeing any famous landmarks, and that our fondest memories of our grand tour would always be those to do with the people we met. The post seemed to hit a nerve if the number of visits and the number of re-tweets on Twitter are any indication. Let us know what you think.
6. Most Underrated Post
Our video and multimedia posts are probably the most underrated and that’s probably because we don’t promote them enough. Terence has made some time-lapse videos that he shot on his Nikon camera – in Kotor, Venice, Cape Town, and Dubai – and they’re all stunning. He also made a very cute one for his Huevos Rancheros recipe to show how easy the dish is to make, and we made a very atmospheric video on San Miguel de Allende in an old Super-8 home-movie style in which Terence tipped a hat to our early days of filmmaking and the experimental films we made when we were young. You can see all our videos here on Vimeo. If I had to choose one post it would be Terence’s enchanting slideshow about a romantic Marrakech restaurant we love for a series called Date Night on Dar Yacout. It’s dreamy and captures the experience beautifully.
7. The Post We’re Most Proud Of
It’s next to impossible to pick one, as we’re proud of all the work we’ve created for this site. For the yearlong grand tour we did we were working on Grantourismo full-time, taking on very few other commissions (mainly because we didn’t have the time!), so we took a lot of care with all our stories. The post I’m most proud of is probably Touring the Townships of Cape Town, covering a day we spent visiting Cape Town’s communities with one of its finest guides, meeting some of the most inspiring people we’ve ever met in our lives, and learning about ubuntu. The experience was transformational and reinforced our belief in what travel should be able to do – change opinions, change minds, and change lives. I tried to communicate that. Did I sueceed? I don’t know. Let us know what you think.