October 11, 2019 12:00 PM PT

How to Start a Travel Blog

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Travel blogging may look like the perfect job, but it takes a lot more work than you think. From naming your blog to writing your first post, our guide covers every step.

Creating a travel blog will take a little bit of money and a whole lot of commitment.

But you can start with a simple, free blog on WordPress.com.

Follow our step-by-step guide to learn how.

How to Pick the Perfect Name

Choosing a name is one of the most important things you'll do. It seems as if everyone has a travel blog and many of them look the same.

Finding the right name can go a long way toward making your blog stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips to get you started:

Define Your Purpose
Think about what your blog will be about.

  • Will you write about food and travel?
  • Talk about traveling on a budget?
  • Are you more adventure-oriented?

Be sure not to limit yourself. If you name your blog "One Year of Travel," then you've added an unnecessary restriction. Similarly, avoid a name that's age-specific so you don't age out of your own project.

Avoid Clichés
Names that involve "Backpacking," "Adventurous," "Travel" and "Wandering" have been done—a lot. Instead, think creatively to find a name that stands out.

Keep It Short and Sweet
The name of your blog should be four or five words long. No one is going to type in a fifteen-word URL.

You will also want a name that you'll feel comfortable saying out loud, since word-of-mouth is an important way to share your blog.

Stay away from punctuation like hyphens in your URL. It makes remembering and dictating the name of your site a little trickier.

Do Your Homework
Make sure the name you like is available to buy as a domain name, specifically a .com URL. People use these so often that they forget other options exist.

Check Social Media Too
Research the name on all social platforms. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have the most active users, so start there.

Even if you don't plan on using Pinterest or Facebook yet, you will want to reserve the name of your blog just in case.

What Equipment You'll Need

A surprising key to being a travel blogger is having a good kit. A kit is photographer shorthand for their equipment.

If you're going to take this seriously, you will need a few simple items to give your blog a professional look. These include:

A Camera
Photos will be a cornerstone of your travel blog. A point-and-shoot camera is nice, but eventually, you may want greater control over settings. Just make sure you're okay carrying around the weight of the camera too.

A Laptop or Tablet
You need somewhere to do your actual blogging. Consider something light, which will make life easier when you travel. If you're leaning toward a tablet, you will need the ability to download programs outside of the App Store.

A Way to Get Connected
Public and hostel/hotel Wi-Fi may be enough when you're just starting out. But as you build your audience, you will want to keep them updated on social platforms.

How to Making Money With Your Blog

You audience may just be family and friends at first. But with patience, you can grow your audience and make money from your travel blog. Here are some tips to get you started:

Try Self-Promotion
Get used to (sometimes, shamelessly) promoting yourself. Learn what social media platforms you like and which ones seem effective for your content. Then work hard at building your brand. Be consistent—it will pay off over time.

Know the Specifics
Unless you have unlimited resources, you're going to want to learn as much as you can about everything involving your blog. That means WordPress, search engine optimization (SEO), Google Analytics, and even IT.

Google Analytics can tell you where your readers are coming from. This can help you tailor your blog to your fans.

Also, learn as much as you can about search engine optimization (SEO). Many major social media platforms change their algorithms from year to year, so work on mastering the Google search.

Face-to-Face Marketing
It's important to get involved with the travel community because fellow bloggers are your greatest allies. Like their posts when relevant and even consider a share if it's part of your social strategy.

Collect Emails From the Start
This is a great to build an audience independent of volatile social media platforms.

Consider Taking Some Classes
One of the classes that comes highly recommended is Nomadic Matt's Superstar Blogging Course.

From courses on the business of travel blogging to how to write better, Matt has helped countless travel bloggers make it into a full-time career.

Be Patient
You probably won't make big or any bucks at the start. Build your audience over time; as you get more traffic, you may start earning.

Affiliate programs like Amazon.com and Booking.com can help you monetize your blog. The process is simple:
  1. You recommend products or places to stay.
  2. When people click on the embedded links, you'll make a small commission.
You can also earn money through ads on your website with Google AdSense. This allows other companies to post banner ads on your blog.

Keep reading to learn how to create your travel blog.

How to Build a Travel Blog

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Before you start your blog, you need to set up web hosting. Websites need to rent space on the internet to exist. A hosting service provides that space, at a cost.

Most hosts require you to purchase a domain in addition to hosting. When a reader wants to find your website, they type in your domain.

Usually, a domain is a small, one-time cost while hosting, however, is a continuous fee.

When you choose a web host, you'll need to pick a plan. Generally, the longer you sign up for, the more money you will save. Hosting sites will often offer extra features for an additional price.

Most of them are not necessary—you will be running your blog through WordPress anyway—but one you may want to consider is Domain Privacy Protection. Without this feature, anyone can look up your site and access your personal information, like mailing address and phone number.

If you're still new to blogging, WordPress.com or Blogger has free options that may be worth considering.

Using WordPress

After setting up hosting, you'll need to actual build your blog. WordPress is the best tool for blogging and publishing content online.

Many people and organizations use it—from national news agencies like the BBC to leading world-famous bloggers.

With self-hosted WordPress software, you can:

  • Install custom themes (more on this below)
  • Use Google Analytics tracking
  • Have full control of your blog

Once you install and connect to WordPress, log into the WordPress dashboard with your new username and password. Now, the real fun begins.

Learning WordPress
When you log into the Dashboard, all the important links are on the left-hand side, including:

  • Posts
    The place you publish new content

  • Pages
    The About page and other static pages you create

  • Appearance
    The place to change the look and feel of your site

  • Comments
    Reader comment section. Can be turned on and off.

  • Plugins
    Additional tools and resources you can get from WordPress.

  • Settings
    Where you change permissions and most options.

If you're stuck, you can Google questions or find WordPress guides online, including this free one from WordPress itself!

How to Pick a Theme

Much like the right name, a good custom theme can help your blog feel unique. Themes cost around $50.

Google is a good place to start your search with:

After making your choice, you'll need to install your theme on WordPress. Each comes with a set of straightforward instructions to make this easier.

For some themes, for example, you will download a zip file and then log into WordPress.

Plugins You'll Need

WordPress plugins are third-party apps for your website. They can boost and help you manage your blog. Here are some worth considering:

Akismet
When you have a blog, you'll quickly realize how many spam comments will flood your site. This plugin deletes them automatically.

Easy Social Share Buttons
Social media is an essential part of blogging. This plugin creates social media sharing buttons for your article. Another option: Mash Share.

Yoast SEO
This plugin makes it easier to improve your rankings in Google by optimizing your articles for search.

Comments Not Replied To
Creating community is one of the most important aspects of running your own blog. Replying to people's comments, especially when you're just getting started, can help.

People want to feel heard and they want you the travel expert to answer their questions. This plugin makes it easier to get back to these people.

A logo is another way make your blog stand out. A nicely designed logo will make you look legitimate and professional.

If you want to do it yourself, you can use these resources:

Canva
This website lets you create and design banners and graphics. It's simple and easy to use once you create a free account.

Upwork
Head over to Upwork and post a job. You will receive proposals from people interested in creating your logo. Send an offer to the artist you like best.

Fiverr
Like Upwork, this freelancer site lets you browse offers and see examples of their work in advance.

Don't spend a lot of time on your logo upfront. You can always perfect it later when you have a better idea of what your blog is about.

Writing Your First Post

Here are a few tips before you start writing:

Start with an About Page
This is your chance to introduce yourself, but don't be afraid to let your personality shine through. Share some weird facts or make a fun listicle—whatever you choose, make sure the page is a reflection of you.

About pages are among the most pages on many blogger's sites.

State Your Purpose
Hopefully, you've already decided what your travel blog will focus on. Now's the time to sell yourself as a specialist. Remember, every post should reflect your intentions.

Forget About Perfection
The more you write, the more you will grow into your voice and style. Don't worry about getting it right—just write.

Create a Routine
If you expect to be successful, you need to treat your blog like a career. Consider these questions:

  • What's the format of each article?
  • How often will you publish?
  • How will you set up those posts across social platforms?

Bottom Line

Travel blogging may seem like a dream job. But the work can be intense. It may take a few years to earn money from your blog, but patience pays off.

In the meantime, remember why you started your blog in the first place and be sure to enjoy your travel adventures.

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