How to start a travel blog?
Travel blogs are not a new phenomenon. We had travelers centuries ago who wrote about their experiences in journals. Some of these journals even went on to become literary classics. The practice of logging down travel experiences is thus now new at all. Travel blogs only carry forward the rich legacy of travel literature and writing.
The need to travel is a part of human nature. To blog about travel experiences represents a greater urge to encourage others to travel and discover something new.
Starting a travel blog has now become more than just an endeavour to share experiences. People don’t just want to know how to start a blog for fun. The more common question now is how to start a blog and make money.
Also read: How to make money with mobile apps?
Starting a travel blog business has become a real way to make money online. This possibility naturally attracts a lot of people looking to start an online business while doing something they love. It is very similar to ecommerce startups launching a WooCommerce Android app with a mobile app builder.
This piece provides a complete overview of how to start a blog for free and get paid. Readers will also learn the secrets of running a successful travel blog business and information related to the smooth functioning of a typical blog.
#1 – Discover the right travel blog name and buy a domain
The first step in learning how to start a travel blog and get paid is choosing the right blog name. A good name is essential for the success of a travel blog because of the competition in the field.
Bloggers cannot get away with choosing a generic blog. They need a clever and attractive name to stand apart in a very competitive field.
There are plenty of blog name generators that can help in such a case. It is best to avoid generic blog titles such as ‘wanderlust’, ‘nomadic’,and ‘backpacking’. These phrases have been beaten to death by travel bloggers over the years.
Start with a new name that is refreshing and catches the attention of your target audience.
Check if there is a domain available with the blog title of your choice. Also make sure that your blog title is not used by someone else on social media. Ideally, your travel blog name should be less than fifteen characters. This will make it easier for readers to remember the name and help with overall branding.
Finally, buy a domain from any trusted seller. GoDaddy and NameCheap are some examples of trusted domain sellers. You can browse for different domain sellers and choose the one that gives you the best deal.
It is best if you can get a domain with a ‘.com’ extension to attract a wider audience.
#2 – Buy web hosting for your domain
Buying a domain is naturally succeeded by getting a web hosting plan for the same. You need to buy both a domain and web hosting to start your travel blog.
Hosting plans come at a range of different prices depending on what they offer. If you’re a long blogger starting a new travel blog, it is probably best if you start with a cheap hosting plan.
There are a number of hosting providers such as HostGator and BlueHost that offer cheap hosting plans.
A cheap hosting plan is ideal in the beginning when your blog doesn’t get a lot of traffic and you don’t need much storage space. You can always graduate to a better hosting plan when you’re ready.
What are the factors you should consider while choosing a hosting plan? Here are a few metrics you should consider –
- Server speed
- Server uptime
- Free SSL certification
- Bandwidth allocation
- Customer support
- Location of server (Ideally near your target audience)
You can compare different web hosts based on these metrics. Each of these factors are crucial in helping your travel blog and enhancing its performance.
#3 – Connecting your web host and domain
This is a tricky part if you’ve never created a website. The steps below explain how you can connect your web hosting and domain to finally start working on your travel blog.
- Check your inbox and open the email your hosting provider sent you after you purchased a plan
- The email will contain a lot of different information. You need to first find the IP address of your nameservers. Your hosting provider will most probably provide you two nameservers.
- Go to the website where you purchased your domain. Login with the same credentials you used while buying the domain. After logging in, you will find an option to update the DNS information. Select that option
- Here you will find two or more nameserver fields. Swap them with the nameserver address in your email.
- Your domain and hosting are now connected
While domain providers claim that the connection will be complete in 24 hours, it often only takes 5 to 10 minutes.
#4 – Select and install a CMS on your website
The next step is to start building your travel blog. Anyone who wants to know how to start a travel blog generally waits for this moment.
If you don’t know programming and website development, you should build your travel blog with a content management system (CMS). A CMS basically enables you to create and manage a website without writing a single line of code.
There are many CMS options you can choose from. WordPress is by far the most popular one out there. Over a third of the world’s websites use WordPress. Furthermore, it is much easier to learn WordPress compared to other CMS alternatives.
Other options besides WordPress include Blogger, Wix, SquareSpace, Tumblr, and Ghost. There are literally endless blogging CMS options out there. WordPress is the most popular, but you can always choose another if it suits your needs more.
Follow the steps below to install WordPress on your website –
- Go to your website’s cPanel. You can find the cPanel link in the same email you found the name server addresses
- Login with the credentials provided in the email
- Search for ‘WordPress’ on the cPanel dashboard with search bar on the top. Most cPanels contain a software installer such as Softaculous that enable users to install software on their website, including WordPress
- Set your WordPress username and password. Choose a strong password, preferably an alphanumeric, to ensure a minimal level of security.
- Install WordPress
- Once the installation is complete, go to “yourdomainname.com/wp-admin”
- Enter your username and password
- You’ve arrived on your WordPress dashboard. You can now start building your website
#5 – Getting a handle over WordPress
The next step, possibly the most crucial, is learning WordPress.
WordPress is an easy to use CMS, but there is a learning curve you need to go through. You will find a ton of options on the left panel when you login to WordPress for the first time.
These options will appear daunting at first. There is no amount of content we can write here to immediately help you completely understand WordPress. The only way you can truly learn is by working on the backend for some time and learning on the go.
The points below highlight some of the important options you will see on the left panel of your WordPress backend.
- Posts – This section enables you to publish blog posts on your website. Select the ‘Posts’ option and click on ‘Add new’. You’ll find yourself on a text editor similar in many ways to other word processors. You can write your content here, add images, create galleries, and much more. You have to come here every time you’re going to publish a blog post.
- Appearance – The Appearance section enables you to completely optimize the design of your travel blog. You can select your theme, customize your front end, and add widgets to fine tune your website. Other customization options for menus and headers are also available.
- Plugins – The biggest reason people choose WordPress is its vast collection of plugins. Developers from all over the world build nifty plugins to help people enhance the performance and functionality of their websites and blogs. There are a number of plugins available specifically for travel bloggers.
- Media – The section contains all the images you’ve uploaded on your blog. You can even add new images to your library from the Media section
- Comments – The Comments section allows you to manage the comments readers make on your travel blog. You can approve and remove comments here based on your needs
- Settings – Covers settings related to permalinks, reading, writing, and so on.
The only way to get a hang of all these options and more is using the backend often. WordPress is an easy platform to learn, but travel bloggers must be willing to invest enough time learning it.
#6 – Select theme, install plugins, and design logo
This step is dedicated to getting the essentials ready before launching your travel blog.
The first essential is selecting a theme. The best part about WordPress is that it enables you to start a professional travel blog within minutes without the need to write a single line of code.
Your travel blog theme determines the interface of your website. A good theme can ensure your travel blog has a great layout and a stable menu system. It is also a big contributor to the overall website design.
Nobody likes a website with a bad design. It is thus wise for you to look for the best possible theme.
Go to Themes in the Appearances section and browse through all the available options. There are many designers who create themes specifically for travel bloggers. You can enter travel blogs in the search bar and find such themes.
You can even get a live preview of a theme on your website. Download the theme you like and then select live preview. You can now see exactly how your travel blog will look with any given theme.
The next step is installing the necessary plugins. Running a successful travel blog business requires you to manage a number of tasks. Plugins help in this regard and increase the overall functionality of your travel blog.
Here are some of the important plugins you should install for your travel blog-
- Yoast SEO – This plugin oversees various SEO-related tasks on your travel blog. More importantly, it automatically creates a sitemap page for search engine crawlers. Other useful features include setting meta description for all webpages, analysing on-page SEO optimality, and doing readability analysis of the content.
- Sitekit – Sitekit allows you to integrate Google Analytics, Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, and AdSense to your website. You need these tools to effectively map the performance of your website on different fronts. Sitekit even creates a live dashboard for each of these tools to enable you to analyse website performance without leaving your website.
- Ninja Forms – Allows you to create forms used on pages like contact, email subscribe, and so on.
- Akismet – Trashes all spam comments so you don’t have to deal with them
- Sassy Social Share – Creates a social media panel to enable readers to share content on their social media handles
You may need to install other plugins as you seek to add more and more functionality. These plugins are enough to start with. To install them, go to Plugins, select Add new, and search for the plugin you want to install.
Lastly, remember to create your travel blog logo. When people start out and learn how to start a travel blog, they dream of having a cool logo popular across the board.
You don’t have to be a design savant to create a good logo. Just create a clean crisp design with your blog title on Canva and use it as a logo. When your travel blog begins to make money, you can later hire a professional designer and get the best design possible.
#7 – The first steps
You’re now ready to start your own travel blog.
The first steps you take should be aimed at giving first time visitors a good idea about your travel blog. You don’t need to have a hundred blog posts on day one. However, the content should be enough to keep a visitor engaged for a while.
This is the bare minimum you should start with.
- About us page – Write an ‘about us’ page explaining the purpose of your travel blog and the type of content you wish to bring to your readers.
- A blog post – You should have one blog post to start with at the very least. Choose a topic and write a blog post of a reasonably good length to start with. You can share this blog post on your various social handles and start getting some traffic. Remember to use Yoast SEO to add a meta description and social media taglines.
- Find other new bloggers – The best way you can quickly rise the ranks is working with other travel bloggers who’re also new to the field. As a new blog, you will find it difficult to get the attention of your target audience. You should thus openly reach out to fellow bloggers and make inquiries regarding guest posts and collaborations. This is an important tip for beginners learning how to start a travel blog from scratch.
- Lean on social media to get initial traffic – It is unlikely that your new blog will immediately start ranking for high volume keywords. You should lean on social media at these initial stages. Identify the platforms that get you the most traffic and make valuable connections with mini-influencers
These steps are a good way to start your travel blog business. Patience is the key as you won’t get a thousand website visitors in a single day or even a month.
#8 – Work on travel content strategy and social media
The central goal behind studying how to start a travel blog is getting traffic. Traffic is the ultimate metric to judge the performance of a website.
Some marketers may downplay the significance of traffic and instead choose more qualitative factors. Even they eventually judge themselves based on traffic alone.
What does it take to get traffic on a travel blog?
You first have to understand where you can get blog traffic from. In the long run, you can lean on two main sources of traffic – social media and search engines.
Building a presence on social media will naturally take time. A platform like Pinterest is very promising because it can get you a lot of traffic as well as boost your brand value. Facebook Groups are also a great place to get real traffic from. Instagram is a good place for branding, but it doesn’t bring in a lot of traffic.
More than social media, you should focus on search engines as this is where more people will ultimately discover you.
Every blog is a blank slate in the beginning. Publishing more content on a blog helps grow its profile in the eyes of search engines. The driving engine of any good SEO-optimized is a good content strategy.
A content strategy can help you answer the following questions –
- How often should you post content?
- What type of content should you post?
- What is the best niche for your travel blog?
- Which mediums should you create content in besides blog posts?
- Do you need more writers to meet your content demands?
The answers to these questions can change depending on your subjective situation. For example, a new travel blog should ideally publish a blog post everyday. The compulsion to post content daily can go away later when the blog grows and becomes less dependent on daily on-page blog posts.
Formulate a good content strategy that answers these questions and sets up your blog to get decent traffic from search engines. You should also supplement your content strategy with a focus on keyword research. Use Google Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords of your specific niche and frame your content strategy around them.
#9 – Start monetizing travel blog
Making money is often the unsaid part when people ask how to start a successful travel blog. There are a number of ways you can monetize your travel blog and make enough money to actually visit all the places you write about.
The first prerequisite of earning money from a travel blog is traffic. You cannot expect to earn $1000 from your website every month with an average of 50 visitors a day. There is a direct relation between your website traffic and the money you earn.
Thus, your first mission should be to build up your traffic streams.
There are two popular ways bloggers generally use for blog monetization – ad monetization and affiliate marketing.
Ad monetization simply refers to publishing ads on your travel blogs. It is an age-old model of making money, used by the most esteemed publications in the world.
How can you publish ads on your websites? Google AdSense is a good place to start. Use Sitekit to integrate AdSense to your WordPress travel blog. Google will then check your website and whether it meets their general standards. Here are some things you should take care of –
- Make sure your content is not plagiarized.
- You should have at least 25-30 blog posts on your website before applying for AdSense approval
- Try to write on unique topics other websites are not covering. Google likes websites that do not write derivative content
- Make sure your website is connected to Google Search Console
- Have a decent About Us page that introduces your blog well
You don’t always need to stick with AdSense. Once you cross a certain threshold of traffic, switch over to an ad network like Mediavine. You can make much more money on ad networks besides AdSense. It’s all really about getting the initial spurt of traffic.
Also read: Top mobile ad networks to monetize an app
#10 – Turn blog to a mobile app
Starting a travel blog is great, but the future lies on mobile and more specifically, mobile apps. You should thus have an eye on the future and create a mobile for your travel blog.
The challenge here is developing a mobile app. Learning how to start a profiting travel blog is a challenge in itself. Creating a mobile app is another complicated task most bloggers like to stay away from.
In its traditional form, app development really is complex and tedious.
We are not asking you to follow the traditional app development. Instead, you can choose more modern solutions like using a mobile app builder.
An app builder enables you to create a mobile app without writing a single line of code.
For your specific needs, AppMySite is the best possible app maker. It is an ideal solution to convert WordPress website to Android app. It is also capable of creating iOS apps.
What is the cost of starting a travel blog?
Many people first want to know how much investment is essential to start a travel blog. Whether it’s a couples’ travel or a food and travel blog, knowing the cost of starting it is crucial.
‘How to start a blog with no money’ is a naive question. Some investment is always needed.
To buy a domain and a decent hosting plan, you’d need around $30. The good news is that this amount has to be paid annually. Choosing a cheap and reliable hosting plan is the best option if you’re only just starting a travel blog.
The other costs depend on your specific needs. For instance, buying premium membership on Canva is a good idea since you’d need to create a lot of images for your website and social media.
Other expenses can also arise. You may choose to buy a theme for your travel blog instead of just going with a free one. These expenses are not mandatory. You really don’t need to pay any amount of money besides the web hosting and domain fees.
You can probably start with a $30 investment and later invest more when you start getting more traffic. To reach somewhere around 25-30k daily visitors, you’d need to invest much more along the way. Giving your social media campaign an initial lift with a paid campaign is also not a bad idea.
The take? Start with $30 and spend more as your traffic grows and blog scales.
Has the opportunity window to run a successful travel blog passed?
Probably the first question you should ask before starting a travel blog is evaluating the chances of success.
It is a natural question. Ten years back, travel blogging was a niche topic with a few prominent bloggers in a small part of the internet.
Travel now is a behemoth. It is one of the major verticals in the digital space. Travel blogging is a very competitive field where bloggers really have to do something special to gain some share of traffic.
Does this mean the opportunity window has passed? No. A lot of competition means there is a lot of traffic in the travel niche.
A lot of traffic disqualifies the idea that travel as a niche is not viable. However, high competition makes it more difficult for a travel blogger today to quickly succeed.
To start a travel blog business and make it successful requires more from bloggers than just blog posts.
Bloggers today need a USP. They need to give people a reason to follow them over the hundreds and thousands of other bloggers.
Whether the USP comes from their own personal brand or the content they create is another question. The main point is that they need to set themselves apart.
Travel is one of the most popular niche topics in the blogging community. Trapped in the chains of a regular job, a travel blog offers refuge from the curse of monotony.
Starting a travel blog does seem easy on the outside. The task of actually starting and running a successful blog is much more complex.
This piece provides an in-depth guide on how to start a travel blog from scratch. Readers can learn how to take their first steps and launch a travel blog that has a good chance of making money.
The latter sections of the piece cover the cost of setting up a travel blog and whether it’s a good idea to enter this niche.