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You may have noticed that it’s looking a bit different around here…

I am super excited to introduce my wonderful new online home, The Wandering Wordsmith, and fill you in the process that’s been going on behind the scenes for the last four or five months.

My Goals for the New Site

Until recently, I had two websites: The Wandering Wordsmith, which housed my travel copywriting business, and The Road to Wanderland, my travel blog. I set both of them up myself using ready-made premium WordPress themes. While I’d tinkered a little with the colour scheme on The Road to Wanderland, they were pretty much off-the-shelf.

I’d been dreaming of enlisting some professional help for a while, so after a great year financially I decided to invest. There were a few things I wanted to rectify:

  • The Wandering Wordsmith was running on Genesis with the child theme Going Green Pro. It’s a great theme, but too complicated for me to significantly alter and I wanted to inject some personality.
  • I find most of my client work through cold marketing and referrals, but I wanted to improve my website to make it easier to find and more enticing for potential clients. And a little more professional.
  • The Road to Wanderland was running on Adventure theme by Organic Themes, and I didn’t like it at all. It frequently didn’t load properly, plus they require an annual fee just to get updates. So I wanted to swap themes completely, but the thought terrified me!
  • The Road to Wanderland was especially slow to load, which is terrible for SEO (and people’s patience!).
  • I’d also bought joanneamos.com because it was available and I figured it would be good to have for the future, and I wanted to use it for something.
Screenshot of the original The Wandering Wordsmith
The original The Wandering Wordsmith, on Genesis Going Green Pro theme
Screenshot of The Road to Wanderland homepage
The Road to Wanderland, my old travel blog, on Adventure theme by Organic Themes

Enter a-idea studio

I knew Ervin from my longstanding association with Wholegrain Digital, London’s leading WordPress agency. He no longer works with Wholegrain and has since set up his own studio with his wife called a-idea studio – he’s a coder extraordinaire and Hermina is a designer.

Ervin’s an immensely practical guy. He listened to what I wanted from my sites and my budget, and immediately suggested merging them. Which sent me into a spin – but for all the right reasons.

When I first set up my travel blog, it was suggested to me that I should put it on The Wandering Wordsmith – that was the reason I’d chosen the name, after all. But at the time I was writing about everything from WordPress to interior design, podiatrists, and antiques. So including a travel blog would have been super confusing for potential clients and blog followers. But now? Now I’m a full-time traveller offering a range of travel writing services. So it makes sense to have a single website all about travel and writing, with space for both my blog and copywriting services.

Plus – as you may have noticed – I was finding it difficult to keep up with the blogging side of things on two websites as well as doing my paid client work. This would mean I could focus all my attention into one place.

The New Website

We decided to host the new site on The Wandering Wordsmith as that fits better with my branding and is a fantastic name for a travel writer. We’ve also directed joanneamos.com to point towards this site.

I’ll be honest, I found parts of the development process rather stressful, not least because Ervin and I frequently had completely different ideas of how things would look – he was leaning towards a more salesy approach, whereas I favour a heart-centred approach and wanted to ensure a good balance between the blogging side of things and my copywriting business.

However, he displayed limitless patience and dealt with all my questions, objections and uncertainty with good humour – and I couldn’t be happier with the final result!

He used GeneratePress as the basic theme, because it’s lightweight, versatile and well supported, and build a personalised child theme over it called The Wandering Wordsmith. (Tip for developers: he loved working with this theme and is planning to use it in future projects.)

The blog is divided into three main categories. My Wanderings covers destination guides, travel stories, and personal musings from my adventures. Travel Tips & Resources is a new category for me – I prepared three new posts ready for launch – but will be packed with tips and resources for travellers and digital nomads. Travel Writing Advice contains the blog posts from my travel copywriting business aimed at helping travel businesses improve their copy, but I’m also developing some useful resources for budding travel writers and bloggers to include here.  

My travel copywriting services have their own smart section, with separate pages for travel & tourism copywriting, hotel copywriting, travel content marketing, and proofreading & copy-editing – because I know how SEO works!

Appearance

While Ervin designed and coded the overall website, Hermina was responsible for my beautiful new logo and font selection – I kept the same colour scheme as The Road to Wanderland.

We went through several versions of the logo but this was the one I fell in love with. It has a subtle travel theme with the migrating swallow zooming around the world and it highlights my love of nature, which is one of the main things I seek when travelling. It feels very me.

Photography

I’m very much an amateur photographer, but I love photography and am working hard to improve my skills. I wanted my photos to be woven throughout the site – which is why I asked for the mini galleries at the bottom of some of the pages. But I wanted some professional photos for the hero image and some of me working for the services section.

I asked Pierre Nocca if he could help – he’s the Artistic Director for Sète and official photographer for the Worldwide Festival, which has been the one constant of my travels over the last five years. And did he deliver!

He very kindly gave up a few hours one afternoon to wander around Sète with me, taking photos of me working in Café Lulu and posing in various locations around the city. I’ve sprinkled the photos everywhere and I LOVE the fact that Sète features so highly on my new website, as it’s such a special place for me. If you look closely, you can even see my wristband for Worldwide Festival 2019 in some of the pictures!

Jo on a joute boat in Sète with jumping boy over my head
Me on a joute boat in Sète with jumping boy overhead – one of my favourite photos by Pierre Nocca
Jo in the old fishermen's quarter of Sète
Me in the old fishermen’s quarter of Sète – another fave snap from Pierre Nocca
Me, my Mac and some mint tea next to the coffee roasting machine in Café Lulu, Sète, by Pierre Nocca

Aside from that, friend and fellow nomad David Webb took a wonderful picture of me at St Hilarion Castle in Cyprus that takes pride of place on My Wanderings, and my sister, Suzanne Amos, is responsible for most of the pictures of me that I used on my About page (when I realised how few photos I have of me in all these amazing places I’ve been over the last few years…).

Unless noted, all other photos are mine.

We’re Live…

And I’m bubbling with excitement!

I absolutely love my new website, and extend special thanks to Pierre, Hermina and especially Ervin for helping me to create something so wonderful.

And now it’s over to me. I need to get right back to client work to bring this year’s earnings up, as I’ve dedicated a lot of time to this. And I am working hard to develop my blog, build my blog audience, grow my social media profiles, get some traditional travel writing in my portfolio… It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with everything I want to achieve in my life as a travel writer, blogger, photographer, and as a traveller (I mean, look at all those countries waiting to be explored on my map!), and I struggle to find the balance between client work and growing my blog, which doesn’t yet earn me much money. But this website has given me fresh inspiration and belief, and the recent announcement of TBEX Catania in March 2020 has given me a focal point to aim towards.

Please wander through my new site, have a good look around, and do bear in mind that it’s new and you may come across the odd problem (if you have an old version of the Amatic SC Bold font installed, the ‘?’ and ‘&’ will be odd, as I found to my panic the night before we launched, and while the site is fully responsive the header images sometimes crop in strange places on mobiles). I would love to hear your thoughts on my new website, and if you come across any issues please send me an email – I’ll be forever grateful.

What do you think of the all-new The Wandering Wordsmith? And what would you like to see me develop on the site? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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