To start a travel blog is probably the best idea when it comes to steering away from the daily routine. You can double your everyday habits by doing DIY and pushing a personal travel blog forward. Will you take on the adventure?
I. Laying the foundations: why should you start?
…or, in plain words, whom will it benefit to be worth the investment?
Well, you should start for…
- *Making a living from travel blogging – you can get an income from advertising, affiliation, being a travel brand ambassador, some social media takeovers, etc.
- *Drawing additional advantages from writing on travel-related topics – such as sponsored trips.
- Seeing the world – opening new perspectives, visiting different places, understanding different cultures, facing unusual beliefs, having unique life experiences.
*this is valid for popular travel blogs.
Starting a blog is the easiest way, also within reach, to leave an imprint on your audience’s lives, and thus change yours for the better.
Isn’t it too late now to start a travel blog?
No. It’s never too late to start what you like. It only means time is ripe for you now to give shape to your travel blog.
Take the example of Traveltipy.com. It’s been 3 years since the blog was started, and it performs pretty well. The focus on several destinations, giving useful information about those places. Thus, it includes articles of real help for people wanting to visit the respective tourist destinations. It’s also a source of income: besides Google Adsense, they partner with companies providing flight & hotels reservations.
Moreover, recent statistics look encouraging:
Only 21.8% of bloggers have been doing it for 5 years or more. – Blog Tyrant
When planning trips, 49% of people look at travel content sites. – Social Media Today
Consumption of digital travel content sees double-digit growth year-over-year – Expedia Group
Let’s admit travel blogging is a crowded place. If you’d started your blog some time ago, the niche wouldn’t have been less crowded than it currently is. Face the challenges of the moment (see below) and turn them to your best advantage.
How to start a travel blog without travelling?
It may sound strange, but you’re qualified for travel blogging, even without travelling.
There are multiple ways to become a travel blogger, if you’re not a traveller:
- What about your city, village, country, district? They are fine spots, more often than not potential tourist destinations for people living outside these areas.
- You can talk with travellers and gather journey impressions, which you’ll share with your readers, atferwards.
- Also, you can publish interviews with travellers, sharing tips and tricks directly from them.
- You can gather information from i.e. Reddit topics and other platforms, and give it a personal structure and uniqueness so you can publish your own articles on the blog.
II. Challenges of the moment (1) – narrow down your topic
Please remember travel blogging is a crowded place. A general topic covering this and that just won’t do.
You’ve got to nail down the topic to what will catch users’ attention. You’ll need to find a specific niche in the industry and stick to it. Chances are your articles usefulness will grow proportionally with the decrease of the topic breadth.
Potential niches that might appeal to you:
Family travel, Senior travel, Experimental travel, Cultural travel, Adventure travel, Exotic travel, City travel, Luxury travel, etc.
Once you find the niche you’d like to tackle, it’s pretty simple to write frequently and have inspiration for articles. You’ll already know your direction, what to write about, and which information is worth sharing with your readers (for example, useful guides that make a traveller feel less like a foreigner in a new place).
Also, you can focus your blog content on a specific location (country, region) and treat that topic in-depth. There’ll be plenty of information to feed your articles on a weekly basis, so why not give it a try?
III. Challenges of the moment (2) – diversify into your niche
You’ve narrowed down the niche, however, listing articles in the same line might be monotonous and make no difference.
That’s where the technique of diversifying into your niche comes into play. Find adjacent topics that will keep users’ attention on the blog.
The following might serve as inspiration:
- Travel food,
- Travel and fashion,
- Personal travel,
- Travel lifestyle,
- Trip journal – journey impressions,
- Trip ideas and suggestions,
- Travelling to certain destinations – tips and tricks,
- Travel consulting/trip planning,
- Expense breakdowns for different places where you travel to,
- Travelling on a budget,
- Organize events/tours,
- Interviews with locals and travellers from the places you’ve been to,
- Partner with other travellers, and invite them to write on your blog about places you’ve not been to,
- Draw up your profile as a traveller, etc.
Once you extend your niche topics, it’s easy to gain audience and keep a constant base of users who read your articles.
So, start blogging, and don’t stop!
IV. Technical aspects for putting a travel blog in place
Step A for you to start a travel blog:
Choose a domain name
The domain name has to be memorable and lasting in the online world.
So, there are a few key points to take into consideration when choosing a domain name for the new blog:
- Keep the name short
- Avoid using more than 2 words in the domain name
- Make it memorable
- Also, make it be unique
- Make it stand out
For practical tools that’ll help you do better research, check this very useful resource.
Important to note! Don’t let choosing a domain name hinder you from starting your blog. Yes, it’s more than possible you get stuck in searching and researching for the perfect domain name. In those moments, you should remember that putting the blog on a track, and growing it constantly, is more important than the domain name itself.
Register the domain name
The domain name is the address your blog will be found at. It has the form www.[domainname].[extension] and it is unique to your blog. There’ll be no domain name identical to yours. That’s why it’s important to check for the domain name availability, before proceeding to the registration process.
Usually, registering the domain name is the first step in setting up the new travel blog. Many hosting providers (as you’ll need one) also offer domain registration services.
If, for instance, you choose SiteGround as your hosting provider, you’ll have the option to register a new domain, too (a screen like the one below will display. You can also see the costs attached to registering a new domain).
It’s easier to register the domain name with the same company you choose to get hosting from. It supposes a faster installation process, as you won’t have to change your name servers so they point towards the hosting company.
Important to note! Buy the domain and go professional. Don’t just content yourself with signing up for a free account on wordpress.com. Don’t build on borrowed land.
Get hosting for the blog
Once you have registered the domain name, you have to get hosting for your travel blog.
Web hosting is a service that allows you to post a website or web page onto the Internet.
There are plenty of offers from different hosting providers. Our recommendation is to go for SiteGround, one of the best hosting providers out there.
Reasons to choose SiteGround:
- Fast support and a really helpful team that’s available 24/7
- A 99.7% happiness rate regarding SiteGround clients
- SiteGround has been listed in top 3 best hosting providers, by WordPress.org.
Go through the features for each plan and choose the hosting plan that’s most suitable to you. You can check the plans’ features here:
For a start-up blog, we recommend you select the GrowBig plan. It comes with additional features as compared to the StartUp plan, and has you covered for the first growth stage.
Among the GrowBig plan advantages:
- Fast blog loading speed
- Periodic backups (1/month)
- Restore Tool System
- 20 GB storage space.
For a full list of features and benefits, and a plan comparison grid, check this page.
Choose a Content Management System and install it for your blog.
The Content Management System is the platform you will use to build your travel blog. There are plenty of such platforms, amongst which the best known are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.
We’ll focus on WordPress here.
If you got hosting from SiteGround, installing WordPress on it will be as simple as that.
All you have to do is go to CPanel, which is the back-end admin console for your website.
Log in to your SG account, then go to My Accounts and press the Go to cPanel button:
For WordPress installation, press the WordPress button in the Autoinstallers section.
Press “Install Now” and complete the installation process.
If you’ve chosen a different hosting platform, check out this video tutorial on how to manually install WordPress for your website.
Choose and install a WordPress theme (bespoke theme for a travel blog)
The process of searching for an adequate theme might be challenging. There’s a wide range of themes you can choose from, and there’s no recipe for shortlisting them.
You can start browsing themes in 2 ways:
- From the WordPress Admin dashboard
You will access this section by typing www.yoursitename.yourextension/wp-admin, where you enter the username and password created for the WordPress interface.
The WordPress Admin dashboard looks like this:
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the menu options.
Then, go to the “Appearance” section. Hover the mouse over it and a panel with several subsections will display. Click on the first subsection, named “Themes”. You will be directed towards an interface that looks like in the screenshot below:
WordPress comes with some pre-installed themes, as you can see in the image above. Although these themes can work well, it’s not common practice to resort to a pre-installed theme. The reason behind is that you’ll most probably want a more appropriate, niche-specific and highly customizable theme for your blog.
So, you’ll start your search for a theme by pressing the “Add new” button in the upper part of the screen. You’ll be taken to an interface with plenty of themes waiting for you to discover. They are categorized as Featured themes, Popular themes (with the highest number of downloads), Latest themes (the most recent themes on the market), Favorites.
Browse through the available themes in the category you like. Their number is nothing short of impressive.
In addition to the above-mentioned categories, there’s another one with some interesting filters: „Feature Filter”.
Select “Holiday” as subject and play with different features and layouts, then press “Apply filters”. The result will be a full list of themes matching your predefined criteria.
Once you’ve decided upon the theme to use, hover your mouse over it for Details & Preview. If you like it, you can already click on “Install” (for installation of the theme) and “Activate” (for making the theme active on your travel blog).
- Type into Google some relevant keywords, such as “travel blog theme”, “free theme for travel blog”, “best travel blog themes”, etc.
The results Google suggests to you will drive you to lists of travel blog themes ready to inspect.
When you’ve chosen a theme, download it and save it to your computer.
Then, in the WordPress Admin dashboard, under Appearance -> Themes, click on “Upload Theme” to upload the theme saved on your device.
Click on “Choose file”, select the theme .zip file format and press “Install Now”. After the installation is finished, press the “Activate” button to have the theme up and running for your website.
You’ll probably want a theme that’s highly customizable. A theme that has lots of features and which you can adapt to your travel blog, so it shows entirely different from others, and reflects your website personality. Our suggestion is to try Mesmerize, a free theme that helps you build a unique travel blog.
Install needed plugins
For complete customization of your blog, you’ll probably need to install some plugins. Here’s a list of the most useful plugins for your blog:
- Akismet anti-spam – this plugin helps you filter comments and eliminate spam.
- HTML5 Maps – this plugin helps you build interactive maps showing visitors places you’ve been to or places you have articles about.
- Yoast SEO – this plugin serves for SEO purposes. It helps you create customized titles and descriptions, make readability and SEO-friendliness analyses for the blog.
- BackUpWordPress – this plugin is super useful for backup and restore. If you mean starting a travel blog you’ll manage for a considerable amount of time, you must consider backups.
To install any of these plugins, go to the “Plugins” menu section in the WordPress Admin dashboard, hover your mouse over it, which will open a panel with several subsections. Click on the “Add new” subsection, and you’ll be taken to this dashboard:
Type the name of the wanted plugin in the upper right part of the dashboard, and WordPress will search into the database and return the desired result.
For the respective plugin, click on “Install Now”, then “Activate” and that’s it: you have the plugin completely functional for your blog.
Install Google Analytics
Login to your Google Analytics account.
Select the domain name for which you want the corresponding tracking code. (You will find it in the Admin area -> Tracking Info -> Tracking Code).
Copy the tracking code.
Then go to the WordPress Admin dashboard -> Appearance -> Editor -> Theme Header (header.php – you’ll find it on the right-hand sidebar, under Theme Files).
Paste the Google Analytics tracking code you’ve copied – before the </head> tag.
Then click “Update file”.
That’s it. You’ll have to wait 24 hours to see the first activity recordings in the Google Analytics account.
Additional Settings for you to start a travel blog
Start posting articles and creating pages for your newly setup travel blog.
In the WordPress Admin dashboard, go to the Posts section -> Add New -> the interface where you start creating your first post. After you’ve finshed editing, hit „Publish”. Your post will be online in a second, ready to be read by users.
Similarly to posts, pages have a dedicated section in the left-hand menu of the WordPress Admin dashboard. Create the first page and don’t forget to hit „Publish”. Your page will soon be visible to web surfers ready to see what you have to tell them about travelling.
This is practical advice not to be missed. You’ll probably come across recommendations to set the structure of elements included in the links (URL names) to category/postname. However, with time and as your content is being developed, this structure will be rather embarassing, making it difficult to set up redirects, etc. So better consider opting for a date/postname structure, far more easy to handle within a content-rich travel blog.
For details about permalink structures, check this resource.
Does it seem complicated? It shouldn’t. Please keep in mind that once you’ve clearly defined the path for your travel blog (niche, adjacent topics, etc.), technical aspects are simpler than ever.
V. Must-read tips for starting a successful travel blog
As a general rule of thumb: whenever you feel tempted to give up, please don’t.
Think of the investment of time, money, effort, hopes you’ve made, and keep the travel blog running.
- Create a blogging schedule – it’ll be easier to manage it if you create one. Small bits of content will be simpler to produce than a massive bulk of content made to impress in one shot.
- 1h/day for your blog – give 1h/day of your time to developing your travel blog. This way, you’ll have spent 7 hours growing your blog, at the end of the week. And you’ll gather 364 hours in a year, for perfecting every bit of your travel blog. This could be anything, such as your writing a post, refining analytics, finding an email signature maker, or talking to your visitors. Just think of how much you can develop it by simply driving your attention to your hobby, in a 1-hour/day spare time.
- A delicious coffee next to you – make sure you always have one, for the time of day you dedicate to your travel blog. It’ll make the online trip more enjoyable, if not awesomely interesting, and who knows, maybe in your travels you’ll find someone you can share both the coffee and a passionate love story.
Here are some additional resources for starting a successful travel blog:
To put it short, working on a schedule will dose your efforts and make things simpler; you’ll manage your blog easier, especially if you sweeten the activities needed for making the blog run, on a daily basis.
Ready to embark on this trip of all trips and start your travel blog?