Your Name: Rachel Hornstein & Haley Larimore
Blog Name: Roads Best Traveled
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Family? Pets? Hobbies? Etc.
I’m Rachel, currently living in Washington DC after growing up in a super small town in Connecticut. The first thing you should know is I have a dry, satirical, and often probably a bit out of place sense of humor – shows up in my writing all the time! It takes a moment of getting used too. I’m also terrified of working away my 20’s and missing out on opportunities so I tend to act on whatever I can; a habit my bank account wishes I would break. Living in Washington DC I love to take in the sights and get as much out of the area as possible – it’s a privilege to live so close to so much opportunity. That being said, I haven’t left my apartment all weekend and I don’t plan too. You’ve got to have a balance, right? The lifestyle section of our blog is where I attempt to balance those thoughts on a multitude of topics. Traveling is additionally something I hold at a high importance, and something I know the majority of our generation strives to accomplish more of. I’ve heard goals such as “30 countries by the age of 30” or a bit smaller like just a new country every year but, honestly most of us simply don’t have those means. Which is why this blog is such an amazing source! Personally, I wish I could go everywhere, all the time, bringing the six dogs I don’t currently own, while taking a new trendy fitness class in every location. That about sums it up!
I’m Haley!! I am originally from Alabama but have lived in Nashville Tennessee for 3 years. Like Rachel said, I am afraid of working my 20’s away…or should I say, I WAS afraid. Hello 30!!!! So I guess you could say I’m afraid of now working my 30’s away. I love to travel and explore new environments and cultures. While I love getting out and meeting new opportunities outside of Nashville, I also love getting to know my city more. Nashville is growing extremely fast with amazing things popping up everywhere. It is hard to keep up with the Music City. Along with traveling, I also have a passion for fitness, designing homes and sharing everyone’s experiences with the world. This is where I came up with the idea to create a blog. I was being asked daily about my trips, my home designs and workouts, that I decided to write on it for everyone to see. My absolutely favorite “thing” in the world is my little yorkie, Bella. She is my favorite travel companion. I have traveled to quite a few places but I have so many more on my list.
Tell us about your blog. How did you start your blog and why?
First off, we met on a group vacation in Croatia! One of our absolute favorite destinations, and the blog we actually get asked about the most. We had both been asked separately by mutual friends to join the group – and instantly hit it off as besties and business collaborators. From the first night sailing around we started talking and kept in touch ever since. 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!
With our travel section, we can travel the world together through our friend’s eyes – not through an agency directing you to the tourist traps. Here, we can highlight the best places to go that are more accessible and ensure we are getting the most out of our precious PTO. In ‘The Everyday’, we can ensure we’re producing content that’s not just your typical over airbrushed, oversaturated, over Hollywood content. It’s what we come into contact with every day, and it’s what our readers can relate too!
Has it been a smooth road? Have you encountered struggles that you could share?
Keeping a blog going is never a smooth road – what readers want and where the market is going is always changing! Our biggest struggle from the beginning though has been finding our ‘differentiator’. Identifying your brand and your blogs niche is one of the most difficult parts about starting up. We feel like sometimes you may not even start because you have maybe one or two great ideas but you can’t figure out the bigger picture of what it all should be! 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! But 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. We don’t think that’s a bad thing if it keeps going! RBT started as purely travel. Solely 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 skill set – 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 sort of gave ourselves the next few topics of the website! Of course, we do still have “Everyday” as there are always going to be a few rogue posts that don’t quite have a perfect category – but need their story told just as much. Same as our readers, maybe they don’t have an exact category they’re looking for – but we have plenty of content for them to consume! The “lifestyle” brand is so saturated in the blogging market – we knew we had to differentiate.
What do enjoy the most about what you write? What do you enjoy the least?
Social media is extremely prominent in today’s society. It has become a part of our daily lives. When you get on social media, you don’t know what’s real or fake. No one is telling you when they’re failing. They want to tell you they’re winning all of the time and that is not realistic. It creates a perspective for the viewers that ‘Everyone’s lives are perfect but mine.’ ‘What is wrong with me?’
I love to let people know that life is not perfect. We are not perfect. Rachel and I (Haley) are very transparent in our writings. We want people to know its ok to fail, to get knocked down. It is ok to get discouraged and cry but to not stay there. We want to encourage people with our words that we can create whatever life we want to live with hard work. RBT sets out to encourage others to be their best self.
Who is your target audience?
Our average reader is someone who is looking to find relatable and nourishing content within any one of the subjects that we cover – typically riddled with gifs, advice, and hopefully a few laughs! Though RBT does have a bit more women followers, we do definitely have content that appeals to our manlier readers. Fitness and travel posts absolutely speak to a gender-neutral audience!
We have tried to hone in on a few subjects for our blog while remaining decently varied so we didn’t pigeon hole ourselves down the road. Like our readers lives, our lives are always changing and the landscape of what blog consumers want to read is always changing.
This all goes to say, we are absolutely still building! Mentors and goals would be mega businesses like The Every Girl, Bucketlist Bombshells, Huffington Post, Mashable, Bustle, the big ones!
What inspires you?
To be honest? It’s not the super emotional online videos of a dramatic overcoming story, it’s not the forced narrative of someone staring me down at a conferencing telling me “THIS IS INSPIRING INFORMATION”.
It’s the lifetime learners, and when someone I know does something small outside of their comfort zone. When a small change is actually made, and I’m shown that a difference is possible. Or even, when I look back on a few decisions, and end up showing myself that it was possible. There are a few forums out there just filled with bloggers and similar minded industry professionals sharing their success – it’s amazing! That’s the real life content that has the potential to inspire, and that’s the content I look for on a daily basis. You always want to be chasing those moments that give you that feeling of clarity of “I’m meant to be here right now and meant to be doing this,” you know?
What is your farewell piece of advice for someone interested in starting a blog?
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 mean 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 domain 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.
What is your favorite Candy Bar?
For me, Rachel, I’m beyond obsessed with anything dark chocolate – the dark version of Reeses are ridiculous!
Haley: My favorite candy bar is hands down a Heath Bar!!
What is your favorite Childhood Memory?
Rachel: I would say anytime in the summer, at the pool or beach, not really giving a care to what was coming next or what had come before but just that I was there and that it was amazing. I can literally take myself back to being in my favorite location, Kauai, taking a summer nap with a little sunburn keeping me warm and waking up with the smell of some incredible dinner being made and then hanging out outside under the stars for a while.
Haley: My favorite childhood memory is going to my grandparents house during the summers at the lake. My grandfather would pull us on inner tubes behind the boat, slinging us from one side of the lake to the other. Always having my cousins around, teaching me how to ski and encouraging me to be the dare devil I was, will be something I’ll never forget.
You are a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be?
Rachel: I don’t think I’ve ever been stumped by a question before! But honestly, as I’m looking through my closet to find a color that I’d add – it’s a lot of neutrals and black. To this crayon box, I’d be the additional creamy neutral color that could be added to any picture at any time!
Haley: I love anything green so I would add a more pastel green color to the box. I don’t know what it would be called but if it’s pretty, it should be in the box.