Tyler and I launched Rome by the Hour exactly a year ago this week!
We started this blog as a way to share our travel experiences and any advice that came from our research (or failure to research). In the year that we’ve been working on this, plus the months of brainstorming and preparation, we’ve learned a ton about ourselves, each other, and building a business.
We have a long road ahead of us and so many things we want to improve, but we’ve worked really hard this year, and that’s something to be proud of. In honor of hitting our first big milestone, I wanted to reflect on some of the good things that have come as a result of this venture.
We have a “project” to focus on.
Tyler and I always knew we wanted to start a business together. This became even more clear to us after we got engaged and starting planning our backyard wedding on our own (and on a tight budget). While a lot of couples spend their wedding planning season bickering over decisions, Tyler and I LOVED tackling the challenge together–Tyler with his 1,000-tab spreadsheet and me with my oversimplified ideas that I just had to bring to life. Sure, we argued over linen rentals and the dessert bar, but we got a kick out of building something together. And I have to say that everything turned out perfectly. Well, at the very least I recruited great bridesmaids who didn’t let me find out otherwise.
It wasn’t that either of us are even that obsessed with wedding planning in particular, especially Tyler, but it was the project, the journey, and the challenge that we loved. At the time, we joked that we wanted to harness this in some way by starting a business together one day. We just didn’t really know what that was going to look like yet.
In the year following our wedding, I went through a couple of jobs that left me at varying levels of either bored to tears or stressed to tears by the end of the day. It drove Tyler crazy. I needed something else to focus on.
On the weekends, I’d say “Let’s do a project!!” and haphazardly peruse Pinterest for a DIY project that we had no hope of completing successfully (hence the bane of Tyler’s existence Blanket Ladder Project of 2016). We are NOT DIY-ers.
Tyler and I are, however, both the type of people that THRIVE on a good project. Building the site and creating content that’s helpful, valuable, and entertaining to our readers has been so much fun for us. We have a common purpose and a goal to work towards together every day.
We are closer than ever.
Not only is having a “project” good for us each individually, but creating something from the ground up together has grown our relationship in ways that I am so thankful for.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been an emotional wreck a time or two over an Instagram post. And Lord KNOWS Tyler has some intense tendencies when he gets riled up about something. We fight, like everyone. And we fight about dumb stuff like Lightroom presets and SEO, perhaps unlike everyone.
Collaborating on Rome by the Hour has forced us to fine-tune our communication skills. “Fighting fair” takes on a whole new meaning when your spouse becomes your business partner. We have to hold each other accountable when one of us gets their panties in a bunch over the content calendar or has a meltdown about the TSA Pre website (yes, both me).
We watch WAY less Netflix.
Upon our return from our honeymoon in Italy, we fell into a bad habit of spending our evenings glued to Netflix. We quickly tired, however, of our routine: wake up, work, workout, then mindlessly binge on Grey’s Anatomy (or read, on a good night) until bedtime.
(Just want to throw this out there: if I’m describing your current lifestyle and it’s working for you, PLEASE keep doing you. If not, message me and let’s talk).
Since we started the blog, our Netflix hours have all but zeroed out. We still have a few shows that we keep up on, but we do our best to avoid the multiple-hour binge and focus our free time at home working on this blog.
We’ve both embraced our creative sides.
I have always loved to write. My closet shelf could snap at any moment under the weight of a bin full of journals chronicling my entire childhood, adolescence, and transition to adulthood.
As a child, I spent hours channeling Harriet the Spy, observing and recording my family’s every move. Later on, I wrote for hours about my own personal life, thoughtfully analyzing my unrequited love of the hour.
My writing career (pre RBTH) peaked in elementary school when I founded The Fifth Grade Times. That monthly publication was a true labor of love and, in my eyes, more important than The Wall Street Journal.
I’ve never considered myself that brilliant of a writer, but I have used writing to record, process, and reflect for as long as I can remember.
Writing for Rome by the Hour has forced me to put this hobby and refuge to a more practical use. In a lot of ways, it’s helped my craft.
Is it scary to put something I’ve poured my heart and soul into on display for the world to see? Yes. Is it disheartening to receive an email from someone criticizing your incorrect use of the word “capital”? Yes. (I doubled-checked, and I was right, by the way).
At the end of the day, though, I’m creating and improving. And that’s what matters.
In the same vein, working on this blog has pushed us to become better photographers. I have to admit that this is mostly Tyler’s domain, but I’ll snap a shot here and there. We used our iPhones to document all of our travels up until last spring. Photography was, and still is, brand new for us.
If you’ve been following along, you know that we really have decided to really invest in this art. We spent most of this past year trying out different cameras and researching tips and tricks. We still have a LONG way to go (I, frankly, still haven’t the foggiest idea of what the difference between “ISO” and “aperture” is, no matter how many times he explains it to me).
But we are learning, little by little, how to capture the places we go.
Along with writing and photography, we have learned SO MUCH about business and marketing. Tyler has always been the entrepreneurial type, so a lot of this came easily for him. I, however, faced a steep learning curve when it came to the marketing side of the business. With platforms evolving and attention shifting every day, we have had to constantly adapt our strategy and think differently about growing the business.
We travel with more intention.
Travel is something that we’ve prioritized since the beginning of our relationship, and we’ve always taken our planning VERY seriously.
For example, we booked our flights for our road trip through Central Europe nearly a year in advance. We spent SO many nights “scheming” with our laptops open and Voluspa candles burning late into the night, plotting out every single detail. It wasn’t until we had our itinerary for that trip ironed out that we had the idea to start a travel blog.
It felt almost like a natural transition for us at that point. We spent so much time obsessing over our trips that it made sense for us to “recap” the experience and reflect on what did and didn’t go well. Since we launched Rome by the Hour, we have taken this to a whole new level.
We spend an inordinate amount of time and effort scheming about our trips. As I talk about on our “About Us” page, there’s nothing worse than throwing money away on a bad meal in a new city when you are too hungry to research. It’s our pet peeve to waste precious hours on a failed public transport venture or lame museum that we felt obligated to check out. We do our best to do all of our research up front to avoid these scenarios.
At the same time, we have learned to just relax and enjoy the ride. We’ve talked about this before, too. Because so many things are out of our control, we’ve learned to be flexible and roll with the punches.
Writing a blog together has had its share of ups and downs, but I’m so grateful for the lessons we’ve learned along the way.