I love being a travel blogger. I have been able to have new experiences I never expected, learned a ton and met some amazing people. The travel blogging community is awesome! So if I were to start a travel blog today, this is how I would get started.
Test The Waters & Give Travel Writing A Try
If you are thinking about starting a travel blog, I recommend giving it a try before diving in. it is 100% free to start and just takes a few minutes. You can create a free WordPress or Blogger site that you can later redirect to your own domain URL later if you end up moving forward. This way you have taken all the technical elements out of starting a blog and can get started writing. It will give you a taste of what being a blogger is like to see if you want to take it a step further.
Write a few posts to get started and see what you think. Did it feel like a chore? If you enjoyed writing so far blogging may be for you. If all you want is to have an online journal or share travel stories with your friends you are pretty much done! Just keep posting.
I suspect most people want something more. If you care about making money from your travel blog or getting free travel it is going to take a lot more work than just hitting publish. If your goal is to have a successful travel blog you are going to need to learn some marketing techniques and you need to network online.
Your first steps in marketing will be to share it on Facebook, pin to Pinterest or even email it to a few friends who might care about what you wrote. If sharing your blogs with others gets you excited and you enjoyed writing, blogging might be a great option for you.
The last thing I would do is try is writing on someone else’s blog. Writing a guest post on someone else’s site will give you additional experience in writing, but also the networking that I find essential to being a successful blogger today. You can write something that links back to your site which also helps with SEO. So go look at some of the blogs you follow and see if they accept guest posts. Each blog that accepts blog posts will have some guidelines and instruction on how to get started.
If all of that felt rewarding, its time to move on to thinking about what kind of travel blog you want to create.
Find Your Travel Niche
At this point, there are so many travel blogs out there you may feel that there isn’t room for you, but I still think there is plenty of room for more travel bloggers. The way to can break through the noise it by writing about a niche that is not crowded yet or write about a niche within a niche.
This was honestly the hardest part of starting my travel blog, which is why I recommend writing about travel first and writing for other blogs while you figure out your niche. It will come to you eventually.
Think about what you are passionate about within travel that you can develop content around. For example, I first started writing about travel, then focused on writing about traveling with my wife then one day I realized I wanted to focus on honeymoons and created Honeymoon Always. Having a specific niche makes it easier to rank in Google search results and makes it easy for you to stand out. When I talk to brands they know I will get them an audience of people planning a romantic getaway.
Here are a few examples of Niche travel sites.
Alexa from 52perfectdays writes about the perfect day in a certain destination.
Caz and Craig from Ytravelblog focus on family travel covering topics like things to do with kids and homeschooling.
Orlando Date Night Guide is a blog just about Orlando. Focusing on a location is a perfect way to eliminate competition.
Justin Carmack focuses on Scuba diving for his site, Art of Scuba Diving
Stephen & Sebastien write a travel blog to help other gay travelers.
Even if you want a more general blog, you can still find areas of focus. You also don’t have to stick to that topic. Caz and Craig, for example, write about all sorts of stuff like financial management and blogging. It may not be about travel specifically but applies to their audience of travelers.
Setting Up Your WordPress Site
Once you have decided that blogging is for you and you have found your niche, it’s time to move on to investing a little more time and even a bit of money into taking your blog to the next level.
Now it’s time to set up a WordPress site on your own domain and redirect your current blog to your new site. Having your own domain gives you credibility and is an asset that can stay with you no matter what you do with your blog.
WordPress is the most popular site building platform, and for good reason. It makes building and managing your site super easy, and is particularly well-suited to blog-style websites. You can spend a lot of time and effort fiddling with its features to get things just the way you like them, but it doesn’t take a tech genius or a ton of effort to get your WordPress up and ready to go. So what do you need to get your blog started on WordPress?
Hosting Your Travel Blog
First, your website needs somewhere to store all its content, and a web hosting service provides you with the server space needed to do that. A hosting service also ensures that the servers housing your website stay connected to the internet so that people can browse your blog without issue.
There are lots of web hosting services to choose from, and choosing a good one will help make sure your site loads quickly and doesn’t go down (or at least doesn’t stay down for hours). Do your research, shop around, and choose the hosting service that’s right for you. I personally recommend SiteGround. I have used others, but they seem to be the best value while still providing excellent service and tech support.
SiteGround: A good option for the budget conscious who are starting small. You can get set up with hosting for under $10/month, though there is a chance you may one day outgrow this hosting service, as its highest tier option is best for up to only about 100,000 visits a month. The best part is you can have multiple sites on the same plan. You can check current pricing here.
WPEngine: This hosting service specializes in WordPress, so it offers a lot of WordPress-specific features that help streamline your set-up process. WPEngine also emphasizes customer support so this may be a good option if you appreciate the peace of mind that comes with access to a responsive support team. Its higher tiers can also comfortably support up to around 400,000 visits per month, which is great for those with the ambition to make it big. WPEngine is a great service to upgrade to once you are a bit more established.
Registering Your Domain
Your domain is your web address—the place within the real estate of the internet where people can find your website. Because your domain and your hosting service work together to create your website, many hosting services also include access to a domain name—sometimes for free, and sometimes for an additional fee. However, hosting and domains are not the same, and you can also buy a domain name separately from your hosting service should you choose to.
I recommend keeping it easy and registering your domain with the same company you are hosting with.
Installing a WordPress Theme
Once you’ve bought a hosting service package, claimed your domain, and followed your hosting service’s instructions for installing WordPress, it’s time to decide what your site will look like. The good news is that it’s easy to do this part for free without sacrificing any functionality.
WordPress comes with over 1500 free themes to choose from, and many of them are beautiful and professional, so we highly recommend starting there. To start your search, go to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Appearance” in the sidebar, then click on “Themes.” You can search by specific keywords and/or use the provided filters to narrow down your search.
In addition to the free themes, you will find on WordPress, you can find other free themes online, just search for “free WordPress theme”. These themes aren’t always the best or regularly updated so you may want to go with a paid theme eventually.
There are plenty of websites that sell WordPress themes at varying costs (starting as low as a couple dollars), such as ThemeForest.net, and they typically make it very easy to install your theme to WordPress, though it will take a few more steps than if you found your theme through WordPress.
Look for a theme that is “responsive,” meaning it will look good and run well on any device, including mobile devices. Over half of all internet traffic to most sites comes from mobile devices these days, and that’s especially true for the food space.
Once you’ve found a theme you like, you can install it by clicking “Install Now” (if you’re using one of WordPress’s themes), or by clicking “Upload” and upload your theme from a file (e.g. if you bought your theme from a third party site like ThemeForest.net).
Changing themes won’t delete any posts, pages, or other content you add to your site, so you’re never locked into a particular theme forever. Your visitors will appreciate consistency, but if there does come a time when you feel the need to change your theme, you can do so as many times as you like without losing any work.
Moving Your Old Content Over
If you followed my advice, you should already have a few blog posts written on a free blog service. It is very easy to move this content over to your new blog and redirect the old pages to the new ones. Here are a few articles to help you do that.
Claim Social Media Profiles
This should be done as soon as you come up with your blog name. Make sure you claim the handles on all major social media platforms. Even if you don’t start posting right away, you want to make sure you have them so someone else isn’t posting using your name.
So now you have your own blog! Time to get writing. This is really just the beginning.
Good luck! We will be writing more content on how to grow your travel blog in the future. Here are some podcasts we love that have helped us you might find helpful.
Shortcuts to Becoming a Travel Writer
Did that sound like a ton of work?
Now if all of that sounded like a ton of work, there is another way to get started even faster… Instead of trying to build your own travel blog, you can publish a site that is more of a portfolio site and then just start a freelance career in travel writing. Another option is to buy a travel blog, but that is a huge topic I won’t get into here. It takes money and risk, but if done well it can save you a lot of time and effort.
Let us know if you have any questions or of any other steps you took starting a travel blog.