Sean Mullen – Owner and guide at WalkTalkDonegal.com and WalkTalkIreland.com – guided walking holidays in Ireland
How did you get started? What was your inspiration and why did you want to do it?
I still remember those seminars (WordPress Starter and Advanced course) from the distant past. They influenced me to start a website for my business – Walking and Talking in Ireland and to use WordPress. At first, it was more of a brochure website and then one of my walkers from Amsterdam developed and maintained my present sites.
I had two sites because I wanted to do Donegal only walks whereas WalkTalkIreland was Antrim and Donegal.
I couldn’t think of a way to add to the WalkTalkIreland site without making it very unwieldy so therefore developed the WalkTalkDonegal site.
I’m still not sure if it is such a good idea having both. At any rate, I may just concentrate on Donegal in future and therefore may ‘retire’ WalkTalkIreland’ – I’m not sure yet whether that’s a good or bad idea?
Choosing a suitable name for the site
My first issue was choosing a name – I had thought of ‘Out and About’ but found it was already being used. Since I wanted to emphasise friendship and being together I came up with the name Walking and Talking.
I had previously run an English language school and believed in the classroom on the move – teaching doing outdoor activities this fitted my ideas.
What was the business idea and how did it develop?
I started in 2000 and my idea was to link Antrim and Donegal i.e. a cross-border operation with small groups – maximum of 12. In the end, I averaged about 8 or 9.
Some people kept returning and asked me if I would do some other walks so I decided to do Donegal only weeks – more convenient for myself since I live in Donegal. However I found it difficult to add this to the WalkTalkIreland website – I felt it would become too clunky and complicated.
I therefore created another website WalkTalkDonegal and hoped one would feed off the other and create higher rankings in Google.
These last couple of years I have been diverted from looking after my websites because of helping to run Fanad Lighthouse which is extra special.
Check it out yourself.
How do you drum up business?
I do not use outside operators to bring me customers – I prefer mailing each person and letting them know all the details of how the week runs.
I get a lot of my business from word of mouth. I did a minimal amount of advertising on Facebook. All in all my budget was very minimal since I did not intend creating a large business.
I provide business for B&Bs, local restaurants and I hire minibus drivers so I do support the local economy.
However being well placed in Google is very important and very difficult to achieve. I believe you have to be constantly watching and supporting your placement.
I’m also on Tripadvisor, LinkedIn, Facebook and on local tourist websites.
My website is the base for my business. It’s great to have as I can link to it from all these platforms and give people a really good understanding of what they can expect before booking.
I’m supported by Failte Ireland since I’m an ambassador for the Wild Atlantic Way. Since I speak German and have a German website Failte Ireland ask me to look after German journalists who visit Donegal – normally I will be mentioned in their articles.
I was also filmed for Austrian TV and apparently this is still repeated even though it was made over 10 years ago.
Because of Covid this year has been cancelled and I do not know exactly what the future holds.
Thanks Sean for telling us how you built your WordPress website and are developing your business. I wish you all the best and I’m sure that your business will quickly return to its previous success once Covid is over, which hopefully will be happening soon.
Do you have your own WordPress website?
Would you like to feature here?