Photography is my greatest passion, but writing will always be my first. I have been writing travel articles – mostly for this website – since 2015. Each year, I try to improve, reach a greater audience, and inspire more travel. In 2020, I did all this and so much more.
The one thing I feel I did best in improving my writing this year was subscribing to Grammarly and installing the extension in Word. My grammar has always been a little off – to say the least – but with Grammarly I was able to quickly scan my writing, make improvements, and it has stuck with me over the months. Since subscribing in July, I have scanned over 200,000 words!
The other big improvement of the year was a site wide Search Engine Optimization. Tweaking older articles, updating them, and writing some from scratch helped me rank better in search results. Each month throughout the year, my website increased in monthly viewers – reaching a pinnacle 80,000 unique viewers in September alone! Now, 38 of my blog articles rank on the first page of Google search results.
I pulled up the Google Analytics for 2020 and searched for the ten most popular blog articles of the year. 60% of the views on these articles came from search engine results. Here are the most popular articles of the year ranked.
Road Trip on the Mount Rogers Scenic Byway in Virginia
Throughout 2020, I decided to add entire weeks of particular content to my website. National Forest Week took me off guard when a nice lady from the National Forest Foundation hosted the annual Park Chat discussion on Twitter. I learned the week-long celebration of the national forests was just two weeks away – and immediately went to work adding content.
Similar to how I approach National Park Week, I published a new blog article every day of the week at 7 a.m. Road Trip on the Mount Rogers Scenic Byway was one of my favorite road trip itineraries of the year – particularly since it involved my childhood hometown!
10 Places for Epic Adventures in Cherokee National Forest in East Tennessee
A second article I wrote for National Forest Week was a roundup of things to do in Cherokee National Forest. The national forest sprawls across Northeast Tennessee, one of my favorite outdoor recreation destinations in the country.
The article includes whitewater rafting, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, one of my favorite waterfalls, and two road trip itineraries I had previously written.
The Coffee Lover’s Guide to My Favorite Coffee Shops in Charleston, SC
The popularity of this article in 2020 could be from the fact it’s about anything to do in Charleston – one of the most popular tourism destinations in the country – but I think it was because of the subject matter. Coffee!
This was a pre-pandemic article I had planned to write and fortunately I had already visited all the coffee shops needed for the article. Once published, I received dozens of comments and emails thanking me for the list and asking for me coffee roundups.
I think it’s funny because the “coffee” in Road Trips & Coffee was meant to represent the amount of coffee I drink on all my road trips, but now it meant I would also write about coffee destinations.
27 National Park Sites to Learn About the American Revolutionary War
For the Fourth of July this year, I decided to dedicate an entire week to the American Revolutionary War. Road trip itineraries, museums, and this article about national park sites were part of the articles published that week.
National parks are always a great topic, but I think the popularity of this article was due to the American Revolution. It’s the heart of the Fourth of July holiday – after you get past the barbecues and fireworks – and really gave people a bit of inspiration for travel.
20 Essential Travel Apps for Awesome Road Trips
One of my travel blogger friends – Melody at Wherever I May Roam – texted me shortly after this article was published to say she loved the suggestions and downloaded a few of the apps. That was great praise!
After publishing this article, I was contacted by developers of several other travel apps offering free usage in exchange for reviews, but I liked the list I had already created. The popularity of the article surged in the summer months before slowing down, but I’m certain this is one that will continue to grow as the years go on.
Road Trip on the Scenic North Carolina Waterfall Byway
Transylvania County – home of Brevard – has more waterfalls than any other county in the country. I love hiking to and photographing waterfalls, so what could be better than building a road trip itinerary around this theme?
The 140-mile road trip on the North Carolina Waterfall Byway includes a 40-mile extension of the official route, 25 stunning waterfalls, and all the information you would need to enjoy the route. It was the second-most popular road trip itinerary of the year – and for good reason!
Road Trip Along the Scenic Route from Gatlinburg to Asheville
I can’t count how many times I have driven the scenic route from Gatlinburg to Asheville – so creating a road trip itinerary was easy! It’s one of my favorite drives in the country and only takes a day, albeit a very long day.
This 119-mile road trip itinerary with 17 stops through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway was the most popular road trip itinerary I published in 2020. It was viewed about 32,000 times throughout the year since I published the itinerary in August.
How to Visit (and the History Behind) the Iconic Rainbow Row in Charleston, SC
During the pandemic, I stayed at my parents’ house about twenty minutes from Charleston, South Carolina. Although I had visited Charleston many times, I had never really dedicated myself to writing content for the destination. That changed in 2020 as I added nearly twenty travel guides, stories, and roundups.
The most popular Charleston article of the year – and the third most popular blog article overall – was about Rainbow Row. The iconic rainbow-colored row houses has a long and fascinating history. It’s easy to get to it, but requires a bit of walking and inside knowledge on where to park. That’s where this handy guide came into play – a guide that a lot of people seemed to find useful this year.
The Definitive List of Every Presidential Home You Can Visit in the U.S.
President’s Day changed everything for me in 2020. When the annual federal holiday was approaching, I decided a single day wasn’t enough for great blog content. That’s when I made the fateful decision that specific holidays should be celebrated all week. Not a novel idea, but it was new for my website.
In February, I celebrated President’s Week with an entire week of new blog articles. Presidential memorials and roundup articles provided most of the content, but then there was this particular article.
It took me nearly 100 hours of online research with follow up phone calls to confirm a list of 58 presidential homes you can visit. In order for a presidential home to make the list it had to be original – no recreations or merely footprints – and it had to be open to the general public. The list was wildly popular, spawned discussions on presidential homes, and even got me invited to a private Facebook group of enthusiasts who visited these types of destinations!
Buy Me a Coffee!
Do you enjoy reading my travel articles? Do you enjoy them without seeing any advertising? Help support me – buy me a coffee. I visit local coffee shops in every destination I visit, so coffee is a big part of my travel budget.
The Complete Travel Guide to the Foothills Parkway in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The most popular blog article of the year was also one I had the most fun writing! In August, I was desperate for a trip to anywhere. I needed to go someplace that would be safe and affordable. I settled on a three-day trip to Townsend, Tennessee, so I could research the Foothills Parkway.
The idea came about when I visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website and realized the “new” section of the Foothills Parkway – opened in 2018 – was still not on the official park map. In fact, there had been no guides written about the elusive parkway and it was most a local secret.
For three days I drove the Foothills Parkway back and forth between U.S. Highway 129 and Wears Valley. I took note of every scenic overlook, name of mountains within view, and even created my own names for points of interest. I spent weeks crafting the complete travel guide to the Foothills Parkway – one that was view over 60,000 times in 2020. I even had 11 people pay for printable versions they could take with them!