How to start a Travel Blog in 6 Easy Steps
As I have been blogging for the past 10 years, I’ve decided to put up a quick tutorial, explaining, step, by step, how to start a travel blog from scratch. Depending on your needs and ambitions, you can either do it completely free or invest a bit in it.
So here’s how to start a travel blog:
Table of Contents
Think about why you want to start a Travel Blog
This is a very important question you need to explore before starting a Travel Blog. What purpose will the travel blog serve to you? Do you want a travel blog just so you can record your memories? Share your travel stories with your friends, family and the world? Or do you want to start a travel blog and make a living off it? Or maybe it’s a combination of all the above mentioned reasons.
Whatever it is, think well about the reason behind starting a travel blog as that will come in very handy. As you will see in this article there are many ways you can start a travel blog so it’s important you choose the right one to suit your needs.
Choose a name for your Travel Blog
This is actually big. This is you building your legacy. So you need to have a good name to start with. Of course you can always change it, but if you start strong, you are most definitely likely to grow fast. I think the biggest mistake that people do when choosing a blog name is going for cliche sounding like names.
There’s probably 1000 travel blogs named X’s travels or Xaroundtheworld. Yes, we get it, you travel, but so do other 1.2 billion people and lots of them blog about it. So, think about what will make you stand out; something that tells your story in a unique way, that will capture others’ attentions.
If you’re struggling with name ideas, a good idea is using a name generator, come up with the best top 10 you can think of, then narrow them down. Eventually the perfect name will find you. Once you find a name you will probably want to get a domain as well so make sure that domain is available. One of the cheapest domain providers is Bluehost but there are other services listed below that include the domain in their hosting package.
Choose a hosting platform for your Travel Blog
Once you find the perfect name for your travel blog, it’s time to build its foundation and that is and there are two ways to go about this : either to opt in for a free hosting platform or a paid one. What you have to understand before making a choice is that in order to start a website you need two components: a web host, that will keep your site on the world wide web and a website builder. There are many services that combine the both to make the process easier. Obviously, if you can code that would be an advantage as you would have more design freedom, but nowadays, there are several powerful and free drag and drop website builders, such as wordpress.org. (not to be confused with the wordpress.com blogging platform which is an all inclusive service)
Bottomline is that you have two options: either choose a free hosting platform or investing a bit, or more, depending on your needs. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages as outlined below:
Free hosting platforms
There are several free all inclusive blogging platforms out there that you can use to build a beautiful travel blog. While the main advantage is that they’re free and easy to use , the disadvantage is that you don’t get a subdomain (domainname.wordpress.com e.g) and your site will have ads placed by your provider. You will also be a lot more limited with designing and customising your blog and also looking professional. All these extra things that are missing are possible, but if you upgrade to premium. When I first started blogging I used a lot of these free services and it was a great way to learn my way around the blogging world. Let’s have a look at some of my favourite free platforms:
Google’s very own blogging platform. Free and easy to use but quite simple. You will not have a lot of freedom for customising the design of your blog but you will be able to place ads and monetise your content. You can sign up for free to Blogger here.
A great free platform to start a blog or website. You have more customisation options than with blogger and access to several free themes but you will not be able to monetise your content unless you upgrade to a premium package. WordPress will also place their own ads on your website so you will not have full control of your blog. You can sign up to WordPress.com for free here.
The best option for customisation and ease of use. Wix probably offers the most freedom all of all free services when it comes to customisation. It’s interface is powerful, yet easy to use, giving you full control of the website. However, unless you upgrade to a premium package Wix will display ads on your site and you will also have to use their annoying long sub-domain name for your blog. (sitename.wixsite.com/yourusername) You can sign up to Wix for free here.
Paid hosting platforms
When it comes to paid hosting platforms here there’s also two options. The first one is going with an all inclusive provider such as WordPress.com, Weebly or Wix. Whilst a bit more expensive (between $100-$150 a year) you don’t have to worry about hosting, a website builder or getting a custom domain, they will take care of everything. However, you will still be a bit more limited when it comes to designing your website to its full potential unless you can code. And if you can code there’s no point in paying for a service like the above mentioned.
If you do want to have that extra freedom, the best option is choosing a middle way and combining a web hosting service with wordpress.org. Once you buy the hosting, then you can easily install the free WordPress website builder and get cracking. My top choice is BlueHost, which is recommended by WordPress due to its seamless integration and which I am currently using. This option is a lot cheaper (up to $50 per year) and gives you more freedom. However, it does require an extra bit of effort on your behalf.
All you have to do is sign up to Bluehost, install WordPress and you’re good to go. If you choose to sign up to Bluehost via this article by using this link you will get a discount and also a free domain included. For full instructions on how to install WordPress with Bluehost, please see the fully detailed tutorial here.
Think about your Blog’s Design
Once you have chosen a hosting platform it’s time to think about choosing a design for your website and a logo. Obviously , if you can code and do a bit of graphic design, you have it covered. However, as most travel bloggers , if you don’t you will have to resort to a website builder or WordPress themes.
Get a theme
The beauty with the freedom you have in WordPress.org is that you can customise the theme as you want, either by using code, simple drag and drop feature or plugins. There are plenty of free themes you can use or you can buy one, which I would recommend.
There’s many websites that sell themes for as little as $10. However, for a decent one the average price would be about $50. This is a one time price only and it also includes premium plugins and updates for life or your theme. I use Envato Market and Elegant Themes which offer amazing priced and clean coded themes.
Get a logo
A logo is not a must but it’s something that’s definitely worth considering. You can use it on your blog’s header as well as on your social media channel. Just like the name of your blog, the logo is going to represent you so you must ensure it transmits the message you want to convey.
If you are not a graphic designer or good with drawing, there’s nothing to worry about! You can design a free logo in Canva or pay someone on Fiverr to do it for you. It’ll only cost you a fiver. Alternatively, 99 Designs is also a good and cheap place to get a customised logo or banner for your website.
Now that you’ve chosen your platform it’s time to get serious and start doing what you love: writing about your passion. The key is to focus on quality content and to be consistent. The better your content is, the more followers you will acquire. If you get stuck and run out of content idea you can use a great free tool I would recommend : Content Idea Generator. This will show help you find unique topics you could be writing about.
Start thinking about promoting your blog
Once you start writing you’ll obviously want your travel content to be read by as many people as possible. Otherwise you would not be blogging, you’d just be writing a personal diary. In more technical terms we will refer to the popularity of your blog as traffic. There are two main types of traffic : direct or organic traffic, which I shall briefly explain below.
Direct Traffic and Social Media
In simple terms, direct traffic refers to the visitors that read your blog because you’ve told them to. That can be either by word of mouth, leaflets or, the most efficient way nowadays, social media.
Social media sharing is the best marketing strategy to for your website. It’s advantage is that it reaches to your readers instantly and it’s free. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest Tumblr are good platforms where you can take your content out. If you want to reach an even wider audience you can also invest a bit and create campaigns so that your content is advertised to people interested in the topics you are writing about. The only downside to direct traffic is that if you stop sharing then your number of visitors will decrease. However, if you build a good audience they shall remember you blog, subscribe to it and share it which will be a reinforcing cycle. however, this takes time to build.
Organic Traffic and SEO
In simple terms, organic traffic refers to visitors that find your content by searching for specific terms on search engines such as Google, Bing ,Yahoo etc. Organic traffic is more beneficial as it has a greater potential for attracting a vast audience. For example someone searches ‘What to do in Bali’ on google and your blog comes up as one of the top results. That’s when you know your blog has a great deal of organic traffic and amazing SEO, a term you might have heard in many marketing areas.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it basically refers to the quality of your blog and content and how easily it is found on search engines such as Google. As long as your content is relevant, Google will index your blog and it will start showing up in search results. However, you have to bear in mind that there are a gazillion other blogs and similar topics to yours so it make take a long time before Google finds and then ranks your content. There are many ways and strategies for improving SEO but if you are just starting, it’s best to focus on content and direct traffic first.
Bonus – Advice and more resources
The above mentioned steps should cover more than just the basics of how to start your blogging journey. Now you should be ready to go out there and start building your Travel Blog.
If you are really serious about making a living out of travel blogging and are prepared to invest I would recommend signing up to a course. There are plenty and some of the most famous are Nomadic Matt’s (one of the most popular travel blogger in the world) Superstar Blogging course which you can access at this link.
Although it is a bit pricey, it does offer you 100% money-back guarantee and also contains some really good resources and tips to help you make travel blogging a full time job.
Alternatively there are also plenty of friendly priced travel blogging courses on Udemy. However, always keep in mind that in order to get quality sometimes you need to invest a bit. So don”t rush into buying the cheapest option as you might be disappointed.
I personally have not used any of these courses because I do not intend to make a full time job out of my travel blogging.
When I first decided I’ll take blogging a bit more seriously, I invested the bare minimum which gave me a great start. Ever since, it has been a learning experience which I’ve fully enjoyed. You can read more about how much it cost me to start a travel blog here.
I blog because I enjoy sharing my travel ‘wisdom’ with friends, family and the world. However, I do make a bit of money, just enough to cover the website running costs and maybe one or two trips a year.
If you’re interested to find out more have a look at these other articles as well:
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