Just about anybody is able to start a travel blog, but building an enjoyable, helpful and profitable travel blog is a much harder thing to achieve.
To turn your blog into something that people want to read takes a lot of time, financial investment and endless effort.
In the blogging world there are no days off, no guarantees and even after many years of writing you still might not be able to build up a loyal following and create a profitable online travel business.
If you’re planning on starting a travel blog just so that you can share your travel stories with your friends and family then you can simply create a free blog using WordPress or Blogger, write whenever you feel like it and not worry about anything else.
However, if you’re wondering how to start a travel blog that can eventually become profitable and allow you to keep traveling as long as you want then this guide is for you.
In this post I’m going to go over what you need to get started when it comes to setting up your travel blog and the framework you’ll need to build for it to become successful in the future.
Keep in mind that in the online blogging world there is no such thing as overnight success.
Many of the famous travel bloggers that you might have heard of, or that have even inspired you to start your own blog, have been blogging and working on their websites for many years. Don’t expect to start your blog today and be able to quit your job and start traveling the world next month.
Are there people who get lucky?
Yes – but for 99% of us there are many years of work going into our travel blogs before we’re able to enjoy a full time income from it.
Alright, now that I’ve got that out-of-the-way let me show you how to set up a travel blog.
How to Start a Travel Blog
It’s actually surprisingly easy to start your first travel blog and although it might seem quite daunting at the beginning, after just a short while everything will fall into place and you’ll be well on your way towards becoming a professional travel blogger.
Even if this is just something you’re hoping to get into as a hobby or you just want to share some photos and blog posts with your friends and family, there’s no reason why you can’t get started today and likely in under an hour depending on your current internet skills.
To be completely upfront, you are going to have to spend a little bit of money to get your blog up and running but the costs are very reasonable.
If you just want to get started with something quick and you don’t want to spend any money up front then you could simply go with a free blogging platform, such as WordPress.com, and upgrade later on if you want to.
For those of you that actually want to develop your blog into an online asset that pays the bills and allows you to keep traveling, then I would recommend checking out my in-depth guide down below on starting your blog and getting everything up and running.
Come Up With a Travel Blog Name
Finding the perfect name for your travel blog is going to be where a lot of you get stuck spending the most time trying to come up with something memorable, unique, and creative.
It didn’t actually take me that long to come up with the name of my blog, Stefan Round The World, but there are definitely some days that I wish I came up with something better.
If you’re hoping to turn your blog into a travel authority and become well known as a travel blogger then you’re going to want to come up with a name it is able to convey a general idea of what you’re going to be blogging about as well as something as memorable.
Here are some different things to consider when you’re trying to come up with a blog name:
Think of Something Unique and Memorable
One of the most important things you can do is to come up with the name that’s both unique and memorable.
For example, you don’t want to copy someone else’s name and go with a blog such as “NomadicMark” or “AdventurousCatherine” or “WanderingEric”.
Although these are quite popular terms in the travel industry, blogs with these names are already taken and very well known so it’s going to seem like you’re copying them and coming up with something unoriginal.
Take some time to think of what specific aspects of travelling you want to talk about, any areas you want to focus on, your personal travel style, and just about anything that can make you stand out as unique and memorable rather than just blending in with the crowd.
Some examples of more unique and memorable names include things like:
Choose a Short URL (Blog Name)
Another technique that you can use to make it easier for people to remember your blog name as well as for them to visit your site is to choose something that’s short, just a few words is more than enough.
For example, StefanRTW.com is very short and easy to remember especially when you compare it to something like StefanTravelsRoundTheWorld.com.
I would say that two or three words is the sweet spot and if you’re able to come up with a blog name that fits into those parameters then you’re going to be good to go.
The problem with longer names is that they’re a lot harder to remember and also harder for you to brand in the long run.
One more thing I want to mention is that you should avoid using hyphens or numbers in your URL because these can look pretty spammy and it can be embarrassing to say the URL out loud as well.
You definitely don’t want to tell someone to go check out “Johns dash travel dash blog dash 2016 dot net”.
It’s going to be a lot easier for you to share your blog with other people, both online and offline, with a shorter name/URL.
Think Branding and Longevity
You’re also going to want to come up with a name that’s going to be relevant over the next few years and into the future of your blogging endeavors.
While it is possible to change your blog name in the future, it’s not easy and it can have a huge impact on your website so it’s a good idea to pick something relevant that’s going to make sense for at least the next 10 years.
For example, you’re going to want to avoid going with a name like “MattsEuropeTrip2016” or “MidTwentiesBacpackingAdventure”.
The reason is, what are you going to do when it’s 2017 and people see your website name with an older date and automatically assume that it’s no longer relevant?
What are you going to do when you’re no longer in your mid 20s but you’re still blogging and working on your site?
As you can see, the longevity of your blog name definitely needs to be considered so that you have a lot more room to work with and don’t get stuck in a specific time frame or topic.
Check to See if the Domain (.com) is Available
Even once you’ve come up with a name for your blog there’s still one more hurdle you have to jump over before you can be sure that it’s yours.
You going to want to check to make sure that the domain is actually available (the name of your site with the .com at the end) before you can take any more forward steps.
This is actually really easy and I recommend heading over to Namecheap.com and just doing a quick search to see if your blog name is available, and if it is then you can go ahead and register it but I’ll get into how to do that later on in this post.
Check Social Media Names as Well
After checking to see if the domain is available go ahead and double check the different social media networks as well to make sure that the names are available for those accounts.
Most importantly you going to want to check Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter and an exact match is great but if the name is taken you can just switch it up a little bit so that you still have something pretty close.
Need some more help choosing a travel blog name?
Check out some of these posts that cover the topic more in-depth:
- How to Come Up With a Blog Name | Successful Blogging
- A Guide to Choosing a Blog Name | Blog Clarity
- How to Come Up With the Perfect Blog Name | I Can Build a Blog
Step 2: Picking Your Hosting and Setting it Up
One of the benefits of setting up hosting is that you should get a free domain name and that helps to save you a few bucks right from the start.
Depending on who you go with you can choose to either pay monthly, for a more inflated price, or you can pay upfront for the year and you’ll get a much better deal.
I recommend paying upfront because you should be planning long term for your travel blog and once you pay you also don’t have to worry about it for another entire year.
If you do happen to go with Bluehost, here’s how you can get your hosting set-up in just a few minutes:
Disclaimer: I do earn a small commission if you decide to go with Bluehost. Based on my blogging experience I recommend them as a great, reliable host.
How to Set Up Your Hosting with Bluehost:
First, visit the Bluehost website and click on the big green “Get Started Now” sign.
Next, you’ll be prompted with a selection of three different hosting plans to choose from.
There are only two options you should consider:
- Basic (suitable for creating just one website – $3.95/month)
- Plus (suitable for creating any number of websites – $6.95)
If you’re just starting out I recommend going with the “basic” option because you can always upgrade in the future if you change your mind. However, if you think you’ll want to create more than just one website eventually I recommend going with the “plus” option.
After choosing your hosting plan you’ll be asked to continue the sign up process by either creating a new domain or signing up using an existing domain.
If you have your own domain already then you’ll want to sign up using your existing domain.
If not, you’ll want to sign-up under a new domain that will allow you to create your own website URL.
Once you have chosen your domain information and clicked “next” you will be sent to one more page where you’ll be able to choose the correct account plan and opt-in for a few more additional hosting extras such as a backup plan, domain security and domain privacy protection.
I wouldn’t recommend any of these hosting extras because they aren’t really relevant to a beginner travel blogger and they are not something you need to worry about at this point in time.
For the account plan you’ll be prompted to choose a hosting plan for 12, 24 or 36 months.
It’s a good idea to start with a 12 month plan just to see if travel blogging is something you’re interested in pursuing and, once the year is up, you can decide how long you want to renew your plan for then.
If you feel that it’s necessary to backup your site there are other options I’d recommend but you should only choose the domain privacy protection option if you don’t want people to look up your website and find out your real name.
Now that you’ve got the web hosting plan out-of-the-way it’s time to set up WordPress and get your website online.
After setting up your hosting you’re going to want to go ahead and install WordPress so that you can get your website live and up and running for the world to see.
Why Use WordPress?
There are a few different platforms that you can go with but I definitely recommend WordPress because it’s extremely popular, easy to use, and there are so many different themes and plug-ins that you can use with it that I don’t see a reason to use any other blogging platform.
When you install WordPress using your own domain you’re able to start using a self-hosted account.
This way you have full control over your domain and website rather than having to keep it hosted on a different company’s servers that you don’t have complete control over.
With your own domain and hosting you’re able to have a blog that is “YourTravelBlog.com” instead of going with something that’s less professional such as “YouTravelBlog.WordPress.com”.
The options are endless with the control you have over your own website so that your data isn’t being shared with anybody else and you can also decide to sell advertising or use different affiliate links without having to ask for permission beforehand.
Also, you’re able to use a variety of different plug-ins as well as website themes which allows you to better customise the appearance of your blog and you can even install Google Analytics for more in depth tracking options.
Self-hosting is definitely the way to go and I would recommend against going with some of the free alternatives such as Blogspot, Wix, or WordPress.com.
How to Install WordPress
To install WordPress log into your Bluehost account.
Right away you’ll be sent to the Bluehost home page and from here you’ll want to click “cPanel” on the top bar.
Once you’ve reached the cPanel page scroll down a bit and in the “Website” grouping of apps you’ll see an “Install WordPress” button.
Click on the “Install WordPress” button and follow the installation process.
You’ll be asked where you want to install WordPress – choose the domain you made for your website (http://www.yourtravelblogwebsiteurl.com) – and continue with the installation.
After WordPress has installed you’ll see a message telling you where you can log into your WordPress account.
This message will provide you with your account name and password so be sure to keep a note of them before logging in.
Using this information it’s time to go ahead and log into your WordPress account.
Once you login you’ll reach the WordPress dashboard.
This is where you control all of the aspects of your WordPress account and it’s a good idea to start getting familiar with the layout and controls that you see on the dashboard page.
Choose Your Theme and Install Relevant Plugins
After a fresh install WordPress will be running a default theme and won’t be using any plug-ins.
What’s a WordPress theme?
The theme is a collection of files is that WordPress uses to display how your website looks to its visitors. Basically, it’s what you see whenever you visit a website online.
The theme includes:
- The overall style and design of your website
- Font style and website colors
- Location of the menu, navigation bar and widgets
- Page layouts
When you start up WordPress for the first time it uses a default theme but I definitely recommend changing the theme before you do anything else.
You can choose from a wide selection of both free and paid WordPress themes, and if you’re just getting started I suggest browsing through the free options that WordPress offers to see if there’s anything you like.
Choosing the Right Theme
There are tons of different options when it comes to the travel blog themes for WordPress and it’s possible to choose between free options and paid options depending on your budget and what sort of customization features you’re looking for.
For travel related websites you want to go with themes that are able to showcase your content to the best of their ability and also something where any of the images that you upload are going to be displayed quite well and look good on your side.
For most people, “magazine” style themes are going to be the best bet because they typically allow for a good blend between content and images and as a travel blogger you’re most likely going to be using a lot of images to showcase the different destinations that you visit.
I recommend taking a look at these different links below so that you can get a better idea of the different themes available out there to choose from and hopefully find something that you like.
- Jaw-Dropping WordPress Travel Themes
- Free Travel WordPress Themes and Templates
- Free WordPress Travel Themes
- Best WordPress Travel Blog Themes
Installing Your WordPress Theme
Once you’ve decided on a specific theme for your travel blog you’re going to want to now install it so that any visitors to your site are able to admire the new theme that you’ve chosen.
This is a very simple process and you just need to follow up the following steps to get your new theme set up:
On your WordPress dashboard click on”Appearance” on the left-hand side and then select “Themes”.
This is the “Theme” homepage and from here you can either add a new theme or just customize one of the previous ones you’ve downloaded.
To add your new theme you want to click on “Add New” at the top of the page.
Now you can either search through some of the different themes available on WordPress or, if you’ve downloaded your own, you’re going to want you click on “Upload Theme” near the top of the page.
Select “Choose File”, choose the .ZIP theme file that you recently downloaded, and follow through with the installation prompts.
Once your theme has been uploaded you can choose to “Activate” it or do a “Live Preview” so that you can get a better idea of how your site is going to look.
From here you can choose a few different options for customization and other than that your new theme is going to be uploaded and ready for you to start using.
After choosing a theme it’s time to install and set up your plug-ins.
What are WordPress Plug-ins?
Plug-ins are special tools and add-ons that WordPress uses to add functionality to your blog.
Similar to themes there are a variety of free and paid for plug-ins but most of the ones you’ll ever need to use will be free.
Plug-ins aren’t necessary to run a travel blog on WordPress but I highly recommend installing a few to improve the look, functionality and user experience of your website.
To install a plug-in click the “Plugins” tab on your WordPress dashboard page.
At the top of the Plugins page, beside the title, you should see a button that says “Add New”.
Click that and you’ll be sent to the “Add Plugins” page where you can now choose from a variety of different plug-ins to install on your website.
You can sort by Featured, Popular, Recommend and Favorites but I recommend using the “Search Plugins” box to find the ones you need.
My Plug-In Recommendations for your Blog
This plug-in protects your website from comment spam so that random bots online can’t leave spammy comments all over your website.
Spam comments are automatically filtered and this plug-in actually comes installed with a fresh WordPress installation so you just need to activate it and quickly sign up to get it working for free.
Jetpack comes with a wide range of different features that you can take advantage of such as traffic stats, contact forms, quite a few different widgets that you can use, a spell checker, and quite a few other features that you’re going to want to look through.
This is easy to set up and you’re going to want to get it going as soon as you install WordPress.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a caching plug-in and it works by storing a saved copy of your blog for new users to see so that WordPress doesn’t have to upload a brand new page every time someone visits.
This helps to make sure that your blog runs more quickly and also loads for visitors faster so that they don’t have to wait as long to start reading your content.
I recommend checking out this guide if you’re looking for more information on how to set up W3 Total Cache.
This is definitely one of the best SEO plugins that you can use for optimizing your site for Internet searches even if you are a complete beginner.
It allows you to create descriptions and meta tags for your blog posts as well as optimise your post titles so that they’re more likely to appear higher up in search engine results.
You can also use it to customize how your posts show up when you’re using social media, set up a sitemap for you automatically so that search engines are updated anytime that you post something new, and it also has a whole range of other features that you can use for website optimisation.
I would definitely recommend installing Yoast SEO and using it right when you start blogging because it will have a long-term beneficial impact on the success of your blog and how much traffic you’re able to get.
Simple Social Icons
This is just a simple social media sharing plug-in that makes it easier for people to share your blog posts across their own social media accounts.
Easy Facebook Like Box
This is another social media plug-in that you’re going to want to consider using, especially if you want to be able to get more Facebook likes quickly and promote your page to the traffic that you’re getting to your blog.
Google Analytics For WordPress
Having the Google Analytics For WordPress plug-in and also signing up for and setting up your website with Google Analytics is going to allow you to better track your traffic and find out more information about your visitors.
These analytics will show you what your most popular blog posts are, where in the world your visitors are coming from, and you can also get a better idea of your overall website growth over the long term so that you can make any changes that might be necessary.
Create Your Social Media Accounts
Once you’ve chosen your hosting, gone ahead and installed WordPress, chosen your theme and added your relevant plug-ins it’s time to set up your travel blog on social media.
Using social media is a great way to promote your blog, build an audience and develop relationships with other travel bloggers.
There are quite a few different social media platforms that you can choose from.
When you’re just getting started I recommend sticking to one or two different platforms just so you can learn the ropes and so you don’t waste too much time online without writing content and growing your blog in more efficient ways.
Go ahead and create accounts using a name relevant to the title/URL of your travel blog on these platforms:
Google+ is also a possibility, but I don’t recommend it since it’s not as useful or practical for bloggers as it once was.
If you enjoy making videos or you want to get started with travel vlogging then you’ll want to go ahead and sign up for a YouTube account, or create a separate channel on an existing account for your blog.
Check out my YouTube travel channel!
Tips for getting started on social media:
- Try using the same name, or something similar, across all of your accounts
- Start out by inviting all of your friends and family to like/follow your accounts and pages
- Fill in each social media profile accurately, in-depth and remember to always add a link back to your blog
- Don’t spend too much time on social media, start out by sharing your content, other content that you like and worry about growing your accounts and building relationships later on.
Your First Travel Blogging Steps
Now that you’ve set-up your hosting, uploaded a theme, and installed some new plugins, you’re going to want to start off your website with a few pages before you get to writing your first blog post.
You might not be aware, but there is a difference between blog posts and pages and pages are something that you want as a static placement on your website where blog posts get arranged in a chronological order until the next time you need to update them.
For example, this is a blog post but if you went and clicked on my About page, that would be a dedicated website page.
The About page remains in a static position on my website all the time compared to the blog posts where the new ones are always the most visible.
When you’re first getting started I recommend that you set-up 3 pages from the beginning to help develop the overall basis of your blog.
These 3 pages include:
The About page is definitely one of the first pages on your blog that you should create.
This is where you can tell your visitors other a bit more about yourself, what your blog is about, the different topics that you’re going to be covering, and even why you decided to start a travel blog in the first place.
A lot of your visitors are going to visit this page right after reading your first blog post to learn a little bit more about you so don’t hesitate to share as much information as you want and completely dive into your life story when it comes to travelling.
Don’t forget to keep it personal and fun so that you can better relate with other travelers and hopefully inspire your blog readers at the same time.
You’re definitely going to want to set up a Contact page so that people are able to get a hold of you if they have any specific questions or if they just want to send you an email about how much they love your blog.
You don’t need to spend too much time with this page and just add a contact form using the Jetpack plug-in so that you’ll get notified any time that somebody leaves an enquiry.
Alternatively, you can leave your email but this might open you up to some spam emails so I recommend going with the contact form instead so you can better filter through any of the messages that you get.
What Should You Blog About?
With everything finally set-up and the bare bones of your blog all laid out for the world to see, it’s time for you to start blogging and publishing new travel content.
Don’t stress out too much about what your first blog post should be about, instead just try to come up with an idea about what you want to write and simply write about it!
You might be having trouble coming up with blog ideas but the options are seemingly endless, especially when it comes to the travel industry.
If you’ve decided to blog about a specific niche, or topic, then you’re going to want to come up with some ideas that other travellers might find helpful or useful.
Alternatively, maybe you have a more generalized travel blog and in that case you can really write about whatever you want.
Some examples can be things like:
- The best things to do in a specific city
- Cheap travel destinations in a certain country
- The best types of travel gear for specific aspects of travelling
- Some of your best travel stories
- Photo essay showing off a beautiful destination
- Travel transportation tips
No matter what you decide to write about, the important thing is that you start writing right away and keep up with it for the long-term.
As a beginner, at the bare minimum, I would recommend publishing a new post at least once per week and even more you can find the time to do so.
Of course, it’s better to have written quality posts rather than just pumping out the articles even though they’re not very good so if you’re just able to write one or two blog posts per month at least make sure that they’re amazing and that you’re proud of them rather than writing a whole slew of mediocre content that you’re embarrassed to share.
With everything finally set-up and the bare bones of your blog all laid out for the world to see, it’s time for you to start blogging and publishing new travel content.
Making Money with a Travel Blog
When you first start blogging it might seem impossible to actually make money with a travel blog but keep in mind that there are loads of people doing it and that as long as you put in the effort it’s possible for you to do it as.
At first you’ll barely be getting any traffic but as long as you keep posting to your blog and taking the time to grow your website then as time goes on your blog is going to get bigger and bigger and get more and more traffic.
Obviously the more traffic that your blog is getting the more money you’re going to be able to make from it and in that regard there are a few different ways to make money with a travel blog.
One of the easiest ways to get started is with display advertisements, and specifically with Google Adsense and this is where you can have ads show up on your website and you’ll earn money from both views as well as when people click on the ad.
The money isn’t great, especially when you’re just getting started and you barely have any traffic, but if you’re able to grow a substantial travel blog and you get plenty of visits every day then you can easily make good money with Google Adsense.
Another method that a lot of bloggers use to make money is affiliate marketing and this is where you promote a product with a special link and if someone buys the product through your link then you get a commission.
There are affiliates for just about everything travel related including travel gear, travel insurance, travel credit cards, hotel bookings, airplane bookings, car rentals, and about anything else you could imagine.
Becoming an affiliate is really easy and you just need to sign up with the specific company that you can start using the links and earning money right away.
Good Luck and Never Quit!
Hopefully this super in-depth blog post on how to start a travel blog has helped you out in one way or another and I hope by now you’re already working on your first blog post.
Once you get the hang of it it might start to seem pretty easy, but the road to becoming a successful blogger is long and arduous so while other people might make it seem like it doesn’t take any effort at all the complete opposite is actually true.
From day one you want to make sure that you’re hustling and putting forth as much effort as you can towards becoming successful, if that’s even what you’re hoping to achieve.
Unfortunately, the reality is that most people will quit before they even make their first few dollars or before their year of hosting is even up, but if you keep up with it and you keep trying to make your website better then success is basically inevitable for you.
Try not to get discouraged after the first few months when you’re still not getting any traffic or making any money because it’s really an exponential growth once your blog takes off and a few years from now you’ll be looking back and laughing at how you were such a newbie beginner.
Anyways, I’ve rambled on enough in this post so good luck with your blog and I hope to see you out there!
Looking for more help? Check out my travel blogging tips!