On Starting A Travel Guide Business And 3x'ing Traffic In Six Months

Published: January 12th, 2022
Gemma Armit
Founder, Two Scots Abroad
Two Scots Abroad
from Dunfermline, UK
started October 2014
market size
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
210 days
growth channels
business model
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
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Hiya! I’m Gemma Armit, owner of the travel websites Two Scots Abroad Travel Guides, Everything Edinburgh and co-owner of Make Traffic Happen, SEO For Bloggers.

I and a small team of writers create ridiculously useful travel guides at Two Scots Abroad where we focus on affordable travel and at Everything Edinburgh where we publish content on activities visitors and locals can do in Scotland’s capital.

My main product for both brands is their websites, which are jam-packed with useful guides and mostly optimized for Google search.

Income is driven by ad revenue, a commission from affiliate sales, and small-ticket products.

I do a few campaigns and speaking gigs throughout the year but I prefer passive income, or nurtured income as I call it as nothing in business is truly passive.

My target customers are readers who land on my site, most people planning a trip or looking for working from home tips.

My work at Make Traffic Happen is slightly different.

My business partner, Laura Lynch, and I run a free Facebook community for bloggers, provide free lead magnets as a funnel to our email sequences and promote our SEO for bloggers course, SEO the Easy Way and ebooks, SEO the Easy Way and Revive Old Content which has helped thousands of bloggers increase organic traffic to their sites using search engine optimization.

Our target customer is much more clear-cut, bloggers, like us.

Since discovering SEO, I have transformed my brand from a hobby into a business and tripled my page views in under six months. Monetising through SEO allowed me to quit high school teaching altogether to concentrate solely on developing my online businesses.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I recently found my Primary 7 yearbook and read that at the age of 10 I wanted to be a journalist with two kids called Chloe and Dylan.

I also remember from my university application form that my personal statement highlighted how much I wanted to work in PR.

I ended up graduating with a 2:1 in Social Policy from the University of Glasgow and a distinction in PGDE Modern Studies (Politics and Current Affairs) teaching. I’m also child-free by choice.

While I didn’t become a journalist or the next Peggy Olsen, after a decade of high school teaching, I did end up as a self-employed online marketer!

So how did I get here, in my office in Scotland with hundreds of online travel guides and millions of page views?

In 2015, my then-boyfriend, now husband, and I took an 18-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe.

After encouragement from friends, I threw together a very novice travel website called Two Scots Abroad.

Over the 18 months, I shared our travel experiences and promoted the posts via newsletter, social media, and Pinterest but the traffic didn’t really take off until I learned search engine optimization.

Once I nailed SEO, I focused more on answering direct and indirect questions people were asking on Google than stories. I also revived some of my old posts in the evening and on days off from school.

In 2017, my friend and fellow blogger, Laura asked me to present a session on SEO at a travel conference in Ireland. It was so well received there was standing room only in the audience. We saw a gap in the market, gathered email addresses, invited bloggers to a Facebook group, and thus, Make Traffic Happen was born. I also went part-time at work.

In 2018, I left high school teaching altogether which gave me the flexibility to travel outside of school holidays and solely focus on my online business, in contrast to stealing time at weekends.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

If any digital content creator in the travel industry can make it through 2020 they can do anything!

Like everyone in my community, I pivoted to survive the pandemic.

I also started Everything Edinburgh a month into our ‘new normal’. April was always the launch date so I just went with it and focused on local traffic first. It has been encouraging to see traffic grow and ad and affiliate income are slowly increasing as we ease into post-lockdown life.

I have big plans for email sequences and products which I’m excited about and I obviously can’t wait to see my travel resume when it is safe to do so.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I literally knew nothing about online digital marketing back in 2014 so everything was new to me. From plugins to Pinterest, SEO to social media, I’ve put a lot of time and energy into learning new concepts and creating procedures that work for me and my writing team.

I’m still learning too. I spent the last year doing marketing courses, learning more intensely about funnels, copy, and how to create courses.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

A theme, hosting, speed optimization related products, a keyword research tool, Pinterest schedule tool, newsletter provider, photo editing software, design software, laptop, phone, camera, and accessories.

I outsource tech.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I recently completed Tarzan Kay’s Copy Caboose course and it was enlightening to learn from a marketer who is testing to see if courses can be delivered without too much focus on fear and scarcity.

I also did Amy Poterfield’s Digital Course Academy which fully focuses on fear and scarcity.

Both have been useful for learning the foundations of marketing and more about funnels and course creation.

I really enjoy Tarzan Kay’s emails. She seems like a really sound person.

Chris from The Futur Podcast with Chris Do has a lovely presenting style and discusses design, marketing, and business.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Here are some tips for those looking to get into blogging:

  • Define your niche from the start
  • Work out who your ideal customer is and how to speak to them
  • Invest in a premium theme and fast host if you can justify it
  • Learn SEO and make this the focus of the majority of your content
  • Don’t be afraid to outsource jobs you don’t want to do but try them first to avoid getting ripped off
  • Create an admin, recording, and tracking system that works for you and commit to it
  • Make online friends, blogging can be lonely
  • Attend events to consolidate friendships, network, learn, and have fun

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I am always in search of affordable US writers who can create optimized travel content and input it into Gutenberg in WordPress.

I am also interested in training US students who love to write about travel and would like to become part of the team.

This position is not suitable for bloggers who have their own websites.

Note: I’m just about to take a creative holiday month off and move to Edinburgh so won’t be replying to emails in September.

Where can we go to learn more?

  • Two Scots Abroad Travel Guides / @twoscotsabroad
  • Everything Edinburgh / @everythingedinburgh_
  • Make Traffic Happen / @groups/maketraffichappen
  • Email

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