Once upon a time we wanted to build a travel content website. We've written for lots of prestigious publishers, but when you write guidebooks you get paid once and that's the end of it. They call it 'Work for Hire'. Apart from one or two publishers, you don't get royalties. So you write your purple prose and then kiss the words goodbye.
We knew a few writers who had published their own websites, so we wanted to try it. But where to begin? You need a dozen different skills to produce a quality website, and we only had a few of them! We knew we could write, but even that wasn't straightforward. Writing for the internet is very different from writing for the printed page.
We started to learn about internet writing through becoming Feature Writers at Suite101, Mike writing about travel in the UK and Ireland and Donna writing on travel for the Southwest USA and Hawaii.
We entered the murky world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). They were both a long way from the world of travel.
We bought some website design software, Microsoft Expression Web, and scratched our heads as we tried to get to grips with it. Our first attempts at designing pages looked pathetic... as did our second, third and fourth attempts. We learned a little about domain names, and FTP, and sizing photos for web use, and Google AdSense, which made NoSense to us.
We realised that writing the site – the one and only thing we felt confident about – was only going to be 10% of the job, if that. We knew we were in for the long-haul, and even a primitive website looked to be at least 12 months away.
Then purely by chance we found a website that said 'Powered by Site Build It!' across the bottom of the page. The site looked quite impressive, so we clicked on the link. And our lives changed. We don't say that for dramatic effect, it's just a statement of the truth.
We took a look at this page of Successful Case Studies, with a very close look at the travel websites, naturally. It was this more than any other page that made us take SBI! (Site Build It) seriously. If they could do it, so could we.
And finally this page, on turning
your travels into an online business.
And after a day or two of mulling it over, and wondering what the catch was as it seemed too cheap to be so good, we went to the Order Page and signed up.
Within a week we had our domain name registered and our home page started, and within a few days we had several pages online.
That first site was Pacific Coast Highway Travel. It was so successful for us that we started a second travel website: this one, Greece Travel Secrets.
The main difference between Solo Build It! and other website building services is this. Other services will let you build your own website easily. What Solo Build It! does is teach you how to build a commercially successful website. There's a world of difference. If you just want a website and don't care about making money from it, use WordPress. If you want to learn how to make a website that makes money, do what we do and use Solo Build It!
The Stilianou Winery near Knossos on Crete uses only Cretan grape varieties, with every bottle numbered, and aims for quality rather than quantity.
Visiting Santorini wineries is a popular activity on this Greek island in the Cyclades, whose volcanic soil provides a distinctive terroir.
Life as a waiter on Zakynthos tells what it was like for travel writer Mike Gerrard to work in a Greek restaurant, the Mantalena in Alykanas, and see behind the scenes in a Greek family taverna.