How to start a travel blog
So you want to start a travel blog but don’t know how to do it? Then this post is for you! Many people ask me how I started my travel blog, so have written this detailed but quick tutorial on how to build a travel blog from scratch in six easy steps.
Before you read the tutorial below, note that professional blogging requires a little investment (some 3-5 EUR/USD per month at the beginning). If you just want to blog as a hobby, documenting your travel memories for friends and relatives, consider starting a free blog at WordPress.com. However, if you plan to make living or get additional money with travel blogging like I do, read below my tutorial on how to start a professional travel blog.
Step 1: Choose A Good Travel Blog Name
There are no set rules for choosing a right domain name, but there are a couple of things you should know in order to pick the best domain name. Your potential readers should easy remember your blog name, so choose a name which is relatively short, easy to type and easy to spell. Make a small brainstorming session by writing down a list of words you think best describe your blog. Play with the different combination of words. Ask your friends for their suggestions. Use Thesaurus and Semantic link to search for good synonyms.
Step 2: Choose Hosting For Your Blog
What is Web hosting? For your website you need to rent a space on the internet. Luckily, the prices start at only 3 EUR/USD per month for hosting, so you will not pay more than a cup of coffee. For beginners, I recommend hosting your blog at one of world’s popular hosting providers: Hostgator, Bluehost or Godaddy.
Why choose one of these companies? Due to their outstanding customer service! They offer free live chat support, any time of the day. When I first hosted my blog at one deadly cheap small hosting company (cost was 1,5 EUR/USD per month), there was no support at weekends or working day evenings. Lack of technical support at times when I needed it so much raised a lot of unnecessary stress. Don’t repeat my mistakes, order your hosting with a reputable hosting provider and be sure you’ll get an outstanding customer support any time of the day.
I personally like Hostgator hosting service, so in this tutorial, I will show you how to register your domain name and hosting with them.
So, go to the Hostgator webpage. Select the Hatchling plan. This is the most basic plan but perfect for new bloggers. I wouldn’t suggest choosing a more expensive plan until you haven’t blogged at least for several months and decided you’re going to do blog long term! Later you can upgrade your hosting plan if there will be such need.
After you selected that plan and clicked “Buy Now!” button, you’ll be sent to the order form. Enter your preferable domain name and select the hosting package and contract length you want. Scroll down, add “domain privacy protection” if you wish your personal registration information to be hidden from public record (I would suggest to do it).
After this is done, you will need to type your billing address and payment card information. You will also be offered some additional services. Don’t choose any as you won’t need them at the beginning.
After you’ve paid, you’ll see the screen with your domain name and account information. You will receive also confirmation with account details to your e-mail address.
Step 3: Install Free WordPress Software
WordPress is a most popular blogging platform, it powers 25% of the Website in the world. If you are a complete beginner, choose WordPress as your blogging platform as you will find tonnes of resources on the internet on how to work with it.
So, you already paid for your hosting account and now you need to install WordPress on it ( don’t worry, it’s very easy).
Click through the simple installation process on your Hosting cPanel (cPanel is your administration panel, and you received a link with login details to your e-mail address). Login to your cPanel, on the top of the screen you will find Special offers section – “WordPress – 1 click installation”.
Once you click that, you’ll see the next screen where you just select your domain. Don’t add anything in the “directory” box. Click Next.
Now enter the following info:
- Blog Title: This is your blog name. Mine is “Baltic Traveller”.
- Admin User: This is for your username.
- Admin Email: This is for your e-mail address. All WordPress related emails we’ll be sent to this e-mail address.
Good job! You’ve just installed WordPress! Next, you should see the following screen:
So, the link you see on the confirmation page is the login link to your WordPress admin panel. There you see also a password that was automatically generated.
Congrats! Now your website is up and running and you can start blogging! What’s next?
Step 4: Download Some Useful Plugins
Go to your WordPress admin panel (yourdomainname.com/wp-admin) and type the username and password you got from the Installation page. After you log in, you’ll see a screen like this:
At first, I suggest you install plugins. Plugins add extra functionality to your blog (makes your blog loading faster, help to fight with spammers and give many other possibilities). There are free and paid versions of plugins, but at the beginning, it will be enough to use just free plugins. From the main screen, on the left-hand column, click Plugins – Add New:
I would suggest you yo install the following plugins:
- Akismet – Just like spam e-mail coming to your inbox, any website gets spammers looking to place spam comments on your website. This plugin will help you to automatically filter out spam comments
- Yoast SEO – Probably the best plugin for optimising your articles for Google search, plus integrating Google Sitemaps for search engines and Analytics.
- LiteSpeed Cache – This plugin works by creating saved copies of your site, saving WordPress from having to generate them for every new visitor. This, in turn, cuts down on the amount of work your hosting server has to do and makes loading your webpages much much faster.
- Easy Social Share Buttons – Nice social media sharing buttons for your articles.
- TinyMCE Advanced – Enables advanced visual editing features in WordPress.
- Contact Form 7 — a simple contact form so people can contact you through your site.
- Grammarly (basic version is free; Premium is $12/month): this is not a plugin, but a little Chrome extension writing enhancement and proofreading platform. This is a real lifesaver and timesaver. Don’t underestimate how poor grammar and wording can affect your reputation as a writer.
There are tonnes of other plugins of course, but these will be good for the start.
Step 5: Get A Blog Theme
Besides good content, your blog needs a good design. A website, which is visually unappealing will dramatically reduce the number of potential visitors you can get. So you need to think about the right theme (or design) for your blog).
After you first log into your WordPress blog, you’ll see that it’s already using a default standard theme. This is a free theme and you can also choose from a selection of other themes available in your WordPress website. Free themes are good only because they are free. They have very limited functionality, free themes may be available only in certain colours and layouts.
If you want your blog to look really professional, buy a professional (premium) WordPress theme for 20 – 70 EUR/USD. I personally use a premium theme “Piemont” which I bought on Themeforest and absolutely happy with it. On Themeforest any professional theme cost around 50 EUR/USD, but the themes they sell have hundreds of options for customisation, are responsive (optimised for mobile devices) and have a support team to answer your questions within a few hours.
To install a premium theme, go to the left-hand column and click Appearance – Themes – Upload. Premium themes come as a *.ZIP file and are easy to upload. When a theme is installed, just click activate it and it’s turned on. All premium themes come with forum or e-mail support and have as well a help file so you can customise the design according to your needs.
To install a free theme, go to the left-hand column and click Appearance – Themes, and you will see free themes available. Select any theme you like and click “Install”.
You also need a cool logo, which you can order at Fiverr just for five dollars. To create nice blog post graphics (like on the top of this post), use Canva.com. Canva is completely free to use and you can create with them cool blog post graphics, facebook page graphics (headers), infographics, banners and much more.
Step 6: Create main blog pages
So you have installed WordPress, added plugins and theme. What’s next? Now you need to create a few basic pages on your website. I would recommend you to create 2 important pages:
- About me page: this is the most popular page on any travel blog. Why it’s so popular? Your readers want to know the person behind the blog is someone worth paying attention to. So create “About me page”: tell about yourself, your background and describe why readers should follow you (answer questions: what makes your blog unique and useful to your readers, what is your main audience, describe wat are the main topics you write about).
- Contact page: your visitors need a way to reach you. Create a page where your visitors can contact you.
To create these pages, go to your left sidebar and click Pages — Add New. (Or, if you want to create a blog post, Posts – Add New.).
Step 7: Write Your First Post
After you’ve created “About Me Page”, make your first post. Your first post can be about anything really. For instance, you can tell people why you started the blog, write about your last trip or tell people where you plan to go in the near future and why this destination is interesting for you. It doesn’t really matter what is your first topic, just write something to practise your writing and blogging skills (you will learn how to post and format article in WordPress, publish images, sharing an article on Social Media etc).
Some other useful info
Do I need to travel frequently to be a travel blogger?
No, you don’t. If you don’t travel frequently, you can still write travel related articles. Readers like advice on saving money for travel, advice for creating packaging list, some cool facts about different countries, inspirational travel quotes etc. This all can be done without frequent travelling.
Embrace Social Media
If you want to build a high traffic for your travel blog, you need to post regularly and to share your posts on social media. To begin, sign up for all the most popular social media platforms, and try to keep your social media username the same as your domain name if possible.
Money Making With Your Blog
At the beginning you will not have a lot of blog readers, so don’t expect you can earn any significant amount of money at first steps. It takes a time to grow traffic to your blog, so don’t focus on making money first, focus on building your audience. However, there are some ways to start earning money early with showing display ads with Google Adsense and with affiliate Programs like Amazon Associates, Booking.com and Airbnb.
Install Google Analytics
You need to measure your traffic and find out more about your readers. Set up a Google Analytics account for your blog.
And that’s about it!
As you see, travel blogging isn’t easy as it looks. Professional bloggers say it takes 1 or 2 years to start earning money with your travel blog. Run with a passion because it’s the only thing what is going to drive you.
Have any questions? Drop me a message in the comments below!
Note that some of the links provided in the post are affiliate links. If you purchase any products recommended, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, and this will help to reduce the ongoing expenses of running my blog. Thanks!