I get a lot of emails from readers on how to start a travel blog. I know. I get it. I’ve been in their shoes before. They see me and other bloggers sharing photos of our travels, and adventures on Facebook or Instagram and they want to do it, too.
With the onset of technology today, everyone can start a travel blog which can be both good and bad.
I probably promised a few people that I’ll be sharing my story on how I started a travel blog way back to two years ago and it has taken me months until I decided to get down to it and write this article.
Before you continue reading, please take the time to read: The Truth about Travel Blogging: What I Wished I Knew Before Starting This Blog
I’ve listed here some of the harsh truths that you’ll soon find when you start a travel blog.
How To Start A Travel Blog in 2020
Do the harsh truths about travel blogging not scare you? Then, read on to learn how to start a travel blog in 2020, step by step:
Know Your Why
Before you start anything, you first have to know your why. Why do you want to start a travel blog? This will help guide you in creating your blog and pushing you forward when you feel like you want to quit.
Imagine yourself one year, 2 years, 5 years and 10 years from now. Where do you see yourself? What do you want to achieve in starting a blog?
Take some time to think about this.
Choose A Niche
If you want to monetize your travel blog, it’s best that you plan your travel blog then do the actual traveling. This way, you will know what places you’d go to. This is also where choosing a niche comes in. You have to determine what will make you stand out from the thousands of travel blogs out there.
Are you planning on focusing on luxury travel? Solo travels? Budget travels? Traveling with pets? Campervan road trips? Whichever you choose, it will help you when it comes to SEO efforts.
Here are some questions to guide you in determining the niche for your blog.
- What’s your passion?
- What are your expertise, interests, strengths, and skills?
- What topic can you write about for quite a long time?
Start with a Brand
When blogging, you’ll be most likely marketing yourself as a brand. People will know you as your brand.
As such, it is crucial that you think things through before you decide on your blog’s niche, name, theme, logo, color palette, fonts, the voice of your writing and so on.
How To Find A Good Blog Name
The name of your blog is what people will know your brand as. Over time, you can change a lot of things about your blog, but your blog’s name is something you have to stick with. Think about it twice or thrice before deciding on it.
You might use your own name, play with that name, or mix it with other travel-related terms.
Here are some general rules for choosing your blog name (which will also be your blog’s domain name).
It should be easy to spell and recall. Don’t make a blog name that’s difficult to spell, you’ll lose your readers if you do that. They’ll have a hard time finding you on the internet.
It must not have numbers or hyphens. Avoid these. Since your blog name will become your domain name, any hyphen or numbers in it will make it hard for your readers to remember you.
It shouldn’t be too long. A shorter blog name will be easier to remember. That’s how I made up the word “wanderera”. It’s short. Period.
Setup Your Blog
Once you’ve settled on your blog’s name and niche. It’s time to start the setup.
Buy A Domain Name
First things first, buy a domain name. You can do this by going to namecheap.com and purchasing your preferred domain name. I like Namecheap because they sell domains at – you guessed it – a cheap price. This is where you get that sweet sweet dot com website.
Choose A Platform
Today, you’ll have tons of blogging platforms to choose from. Some of the free platforms include WordPress.com, Blogger, and Tumblr. For a personal blog, any of these three will be fine. However, if you want to monetize your site, WordPress is your best choice.
WordPress allows its users to customize their websites however they want, unlike the other platforms which have a lot of restrictions. If your blog becomes popular later on, a self-hosted WordPress site allows you to grow without the need to change platforms later on.
Thousands of sites including the most popular ones are powered by WordPress. It’s flexible and user-friendly, too. So that’s a plus.
I use WordPress for my blog but I know of some travel bloggers who use SquareSpace.
Choose A Web Host
Next, it’s time to choose your web host where the files of your site will be stored in. Hosting plans are as cheap as around $4 per month. If you want more bandwidth and storage space, you can upgrade your plan.
If you’re on a budget and starting out, I recommend going with Bluehost. Their hosting starts at only $3.95 per month.
I suggest you choose 3 years or more if you’re really serious about starting a blog that you want to monetize. This way, you won’t have to worry about any renewals in a while.
Customize Your Blog
Here’s a list of what you have to customize for your travel blog to be user-friendly, and appealing. So let’s get started.
You can opt for a free theme or a paid theme. When I was starting out, I had to have my theme changed for about five times! Four of them were free and the one I’m using now is paid. There are a lot of free themes nowadays that you can choose from. But if you want to have complete control and more customization authority with your site, I definitely recommend that you get a paid theme.
Not only are you getting a beautifully designed theme, but you know you can trust the designers to keep everything updated. Some free themes just don’t get updates at all. This can harm your site if your current WordPress version is not compatible with your current theme.
If you’re looking for a paid theme, I’d recommend Divi. It lets you build your designs on the front end so you can easily see what your blog looks like without having to press the “preview” button.
Your font is an essential part of your website. Choose three at most for your logo, headings, and body copy. You can check out dafont.com what fonts you want on your website.
I used to have cursive fonts for the title and subheadings until one of my friends said to me “It’s hard to understand these cursive fonts.” So I changed it. There’s no use in having a font that some people find hard to understand, right?
As for the logo, you can use Canva. It’s a free tool. Just sign up at canva.com and you can start designing your logo. Make sure your blog’s color palette is the same as your logo.
Choose images that will reflect your brand. When uploading photos, I’d recommend you to resize them to around 200 to 500 KB. You can use Canva or try FastStone Photo Resizer to resize your photos. This will help you save space, increase image loading time, increase webpage loading time, and help with your site’s SEO.
Have a set of two or three which complement one another.
What most WordPress users like me love about it is its customizability all thanks to its plugins. This help add to your site’s functionality.
Here are some plugins you should have:
- Yoast SEO
- Easy Social Share Buttons
- WP Rocket
Set Up Your Social Media Channels
Sign up for one or two of the popular social media platform that you know. Make sure you use the same username for all of these accounts or else your readers might get confused.
Here are the top recommended social media channels that you should be using:
Here’s a quick tip. Please don’t rely on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook since these platforms are out of your control and may disappear in the future. Only use them to promote or support your blog.
Setup Your Email Lists
If you consider your blog as a business and not just a hobby, building your email list is one of the most essential parts of your business. You use it to build a community and connections with your readers,
When you’re starting out, I’d recommend you to get Mailchimp. For the first 2,000 people on your list, it’s free. You can also check out ConvertKit. Bloggers love it because of how efficient and easy it is to use for email marketing.
I used to ignore setting up email lists because I find myself too awkward when sending emails. I’ve put it off for too long and now, I’m glad I started to add it to my priority lists.
Think about this. People don’t just easily give away their email addresses. They only give it to people they trust. So for every email address you get, that’s one person loving your blog. When you send your list an email, you bet you’ll get some clicks directly to your site. And that’s what makes email marketing so good.
Create Quality Content
Content is your blog’s most important part. But you shouldn’t mistake content to be confined only in texts or articles. No. Content can be in the form of infographics, graphics, audio or videos. It can be overwhelming if you start with all of these types of content. You should add a new type of content as your blog grows so you can ge the hang of it.
Learn To Write
When it comes to writing a travel blog, a lot of people adopt journal-like writing while some choose to go for a guide type of blog post.
Mix these content types and provide your readers with the solution to their problem as well as infuse your unique voice (which kind of adds to your blog’s brand).
You can plot out all of the content that you want to write, the places you’ll be featuring and the angles you’ll write about. This way, you can release content consistently while you work on the next pieces.
Optimize Your Content For SEO
But what is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the process of optimizing your website so it shows up when someone searches for specific keywords on Google.
When it comes to ranking on Google, the rule on the content length that you’ll have to follow is to create longer and high-quality content.
Here are a few tips on optimizing your content.
Use your keywords in your headings, URL slug, sub-headings, meta description, and photos. For a hassle-free optimization, just install the Yoast SEO plugin and it will guide you.
Write titles that will help increase your click-through rates and make people curious but not too clickbaity. Offer a solution to their problem.
SEO is one of the best things you can do for your site to gain organic traffic. It’s how I get 60k+ traffic from Google alone in a month.
Here’s a screenshot from my Google Analytics for November 2019.
If you want to learn more about SEO, I highly recommend Mike Pearson’s Stupid Simple SEO course. He teaches SEO in a way that’s easy to understand so you can easily increase your blog’s traffic without having to rely on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Take Your Own Photos
Humans love photos and videos. By using these to promote your blog, you can increase engagement, shares, and likes for your posts.
Promote. Promote. Promote
According to Neil Patel, content isn’t king anymore. It’s the promotion that’s king and I definitely agree to that. Here are the main ways of promoting your travel blog.
When promoting your travel blog, the easiest way to do it is through social media. You can post your blogs on Facebook, share them on Pinterest, tweet about them on Twitter, create a video of it then publish on YouTube, or let people know on Instagram.
When I was starting out, my only source of traffic was Facebook. After a few years, my organic traffic slowly went up and now, here I am today.
Despite being an online entity, you can still get your blog featured in magazines and newspapers. In doing so, you’re also gaining exposure for your blog.
Your largest source of traffic is search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. After all, there are millions of people searching on the Internet every day. This is where SEO comes in. When your blog posts rank on the first page of a search engine’s results, people click on your website more. This increases your traffic as well as your possible loyal readers.
Enjoy the Journey!
Love what you do. If you don’t, you’re just giving yourself additional headaches and stress.
When you start your travel blog, prepare to invest your energy, time and money into it. But the rewards and growth when you’ve grown your blog are worth it all.
You will sometimes feel like quitting. That’s normal. But if you are passionate about what you are doing, you will pull through!
Do you have any questions on how to start a travel blog? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to get back to you!
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- 5 Tenets Of Marketing In The Travel Industry
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- Travel Jobs List: 11 Jobs That Let You Travel The World
- How Wanderera Was Born: Steps I Took To Make Travel My Job