I’m not, and I won’t self-proclaim myself an expert blogger. But I am extremely passionate about this domain and I love to spend time, quite constantly, typing a new article or improving the look of my blog and the strategies of promoting my content on social media platforms.
When I decided to have a travel blog, I didn’t know much about what it means and what steps are needed to fulfill this dream. I had a blog before, but on the free WordPress.com platform, a totally different experience, I would say. However, if you want to turn your blog into a business and to reach as many readers as possible with the information you provide, then you must first know that this also means a financial investment, not as big one as you might be inclined to believe, though.
In the 2 years since I turned my blog into a part-time (almost full time) job, I learned many things, most of them from other successful bloggers. Everything you see on this blog is done by me, I never hired anyone to design it, to implement marketing strategies or anything else related. I read countless articles, watched tutorials, and put into practice every single idea or advice shared by others. Meanwhile, I discovered and put into practice numerous tips & tricks, and I am now able to teach others, all the steps necessary to have a travel blog or a blog in general, regardless of its nature.
Remember! Having a blog and maintaining a blog on the top is not the same thing. Following my guide, it’s going to be quite easy to start a blog, but it’s gonna be quite difficult to keep it up to high standards. Don’t you worry child, I will treat this topic in a future article. The magic words are dedication, work, passion, and talent, the last one on the list to a smaller percentage than you think, to be honest. More sweat, less inspiration, that’s that 🙂
You don’t necessarily need to have HTML knowledge (mine tends to 0, btw), you don’t need marketing, communication, journalism or social media studies. If for some jobs (hehe, Geodesy and GIS Specialist at the base) you need higher education, there are areas like this where you can start from 0 and you can get very high, with a lot of determination and hard work. You can learn many things along the way. And that is totally fine!
If you’re already full of enthusiasm, inspiration, and desire to work, then it’s time to follow these steps in order to start a successful travel blog.
How to start a travel blog in 10 easy steps
1.Choose a niche
Even if writing about travelers is already a niche, this area is so vast that you can easily lose yourself in the crowd if you don’t get a more clear definition of what you write about. So, before you start the blog, you have to think about the right segment for you, what kind of audience will read you, based on the type of trips you already make, but also on other aspects, such as the budget, the duration of the trip, your age, the means of transport you usually use, the advice you give, the context in which you travel. All these elements can help you determine your niche.
However, you do have to remember that you can also choose more categories so that your audience becomes even wider. For example, I write about experiences in far destinations, and not only, mid-budget destinations for people within 20-35 years. I’m always looking for unbeaten paths, less known and less touristy places, but I also enjoy writing about California, for example, from my perspective, of course.
As a matter of fact, my audience is not extremely defined, so my articles are also read by people who are not part of the average age mentioned and do not necessarily have a middle budget. My advice is useful to those who want to visit a luxurious destination or those who have a limited budget, for solo travelers and even for couples.
Examples of niches: Asian trips, luxury trips, caravan trips, single-trips, couple trips, etc.
Keep in mind: niche is an important criterion that can help you become more easily identifiable in the world of travel blogging.
2. Choose a name
The name may not seem a super important detail. After all, it matters about what and how you write, you might think. Nothing more untrue! The name chosen for your blog and your domain is a kind of business card for your content, something that should not be neglected in any way. For this reason, I recommend that you give yourself enough time to think about choosing it, based on several key criteria:
- it must be easy to remember. I suppose you figured why, so I’m not going to insist on the reason. Easy to memorize means short enough (2, max 3 words) and to have a nice sound, to not be easily forgotten, so when someone first enters your site and forgets to bookmark it, to easily remember it afterward and access it in the future.
- it has to represent yourself. Whether you choose to use your real name or some words based on your personality, or anything else related to you, is a good start. Also, if you write about travels, won’t be a good idea to enter the word “bed” in the title, for example.
- it has to not impose restrictions on time, space, age, etc. I really want to mention this because I know how tempting you may be to make these mistakes. For example, if you are 18 years old and start a travel blog, you will be tempted to include this in the title in order to differentiate yourself from the rest of the bloggers on the market. Have you thought about how it will be if you write on the same blog 5 years from now? Or if you are in South America and want to name your blog according to this factor, then you decide to go to Europe. No one will look for articles about Europe on a blog that sends strictly to South America.
- you have to make sure nobody else is using it already. You can check that up HERE or HERE if the name is already being used by another person
- don’t use numbers or other signs, only letters, from the same considerations related to its memorability. Also, try not to use words too often used already. For example, travel, backpack, adventure and even the one I used when it wasn’t so popular wanderlust. All of these terms can mislead the audience, and you can easily be confused with bigger and already famous bloggers. Be original in choosing your name, and you will definitely start on this road of travel blogging on the right foot 🙂
3. Choose a hosting
What does this mean? Basically, the space on the internet you’ll be renting (usually for one year) to store all your data (files, plugins, etc.) of your blog, safe. Of all the technical steps, choosing a suitable hosting is definitely the most important step. Fortunately, I have enough experience in almost my two years of blogging, so I can advise you on choosing a very good and trustable one.
During my first year of travel blogging, I used Bluehost, a mediocre hosting, which I had to quit because of the often troubles it gave me. The website’s speed wasn’t fast, the customer service was very slow, as well, and many many other issues. So, I waited for the year I paid in advance to pass, and then I did huge research to make sure that this time I will make a perfect choice.
So, I found out about Sitegroud, which works extremely well, at least in my case. I’ve been working with them for about a year now, and so far my site didn’t crash, not even once. They transferred all my files and domain free of charge, and they also took care to answer the most stupid and basic questions I had.
In short, these are the reasons why I recommend Siteground:
- very affordable prices
- various plans, depending on the number of visitors and the size of your website
- very good speed at opening pages
- amazing customer service
You can choose between these three plans, StartUP, GrowBig and GoGeek, and to benefit from these promotional prices (50-60% discount), you can access:
THIS LINK: https://bit.ly/2JjDqOC
You can also find details about each one on the SiteGround website. As a reference, I chose GoGeek for the simple reason that I wanted larger storage space, but now, looking back, surely GrowBig would have been enough. As I mentioned, they have taken care to transfer all Bluehost files for free, without having me to get involved in the process.
Once you’ve chosen your plan, you’re good to register. What I find very useful is that you can also register your domain at SiteGround if you don’t have one already. Let’s say you chose the best seller and the one that I recommend, especially if you just decided to start a blog (whether traveling or not), Grow Big. You click on the link https://bit.ly/2JjDqOC and press on GET STARTED.
Select “Get a new hosting account”, and “Register a new domain”. Before writing a domain name, be sure to read Step 2 of this guide very well. Then you select the plan, and you will see the total you have to pay for one year, including 12 months of hosting and the domain registration. You can even buy 36 months, and you’ll pay less, but that’s only if you’re 100% sure it’s worth it, and you’ll be serious about it. Otherwise, I recommend you start with 12 months.
Once you’ve followed these steps, you will be ready to build your future blog.
4. Install WordPress.org
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, initially, I chose to make a blog on WordPress.com, the free version of the platform. That means I did not have a domain and that any name I would be put on the blog, it would end with wordpress.com. Apart from this, there were many other things I did not have access to, being free of charge platform. I could not install a theme I bought, I could not install the plugins I wanted, and so on.
Why WordPress.org and no other similar platforms? Because it is the best, even bigger bloggers and website say it and because it is very user-friendly. Moreover, with SiteGround, installation is very easy.
You can install WordPress directly from your Siteground account once you choose to work with them. The whole explanation, here https://bit.ly/2HRKu7i
You can also find tutorials for WordPress on the Siteground site, but a great guide is also: https://bit.ly/1M4eO4T
5. Install a theme
The theme is basically the interior design of your blog. No matter how qualitatively the content may be and how good the information is transmitted through your articles, the reader will first come into contact with the visuals. For this reason, you need to focus on making a beautiful blog design. If you are not a web designer, you do not have a friend who can do that for you, and you refuse to hire someone (it is also very expensive), you have the option to install a theme, and the versions are unlimited.
You will find themes on WordPress.org, but I recommend you not to use them, even if they are not free, they are certainly very much used by other bloggers, and you want to be different. Is that correct?
So I recommend any of these sites to buy a theme to install and then personalize to your liking. Be prepared to spend between $ 20 – $ 200 approximately for a beautiful theme. When choosing one, look at the reviews, the description, the functional part of it.
Sites where you can buy themes:
- https://creativemarket.com (I bought mine from here).
6. Create a logo and a banner
The logo is also more than important and should indicate the theme of your blog, that is, what you regularly write on your blog. Also, if you are not a web designer or a designer logo or whatsoever, then you are probably in trouble. I created my own logo and the banner (the one on the homepage). Therefore, if you think I did a good job, you can “hire” me to do this for you too. Write me here [email protected]
Do you want to try making the banner and the logo? In this case, I recommend you to look at other blogs, get inspired and use Canva (https://www.canva.com/) and Corel Draw. There are many tutorials about how to use these programs, but it will definitely take you a long time to deal with. Not gonna lie.
For the logo, you can also check out these 2 websites:
My banner (made by me):
My logo (made by me):
7. Download the plugins needed for a better blog functionality
Just as with the themes, there are free and paid plugins. I want to mention that absolutely all the plugins installed on my blog are free, but that does not mean that you need to limit yourself to them. It matters what you want for your blog, how well you want it to look and what apps you want on it.
But what are the plugins? They are small applications that help the blog to be more defined, more functional and more attractive. For example, if you want to post your latest photos on your Instagram account, you need a special plugin. If you want your site to clean up cookies, you also need a plugin. These are some of the plugins I recommend and you can easily find them into your WordPress Dashboard:
Akismet, Yoast SEO, Facebook, Instagram, Google Analytics, Jetpack, W3 Total Cache, Contact Form
You can find more plugins and details about them, here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/
8. Create an About Me page, but also a contact page
In this step, you must practically present yourself, so that everyone can understand who you are, where you come from and why you have such a blog and the essential reasons why they should follow you. However, I know that many people get stuck when they have to talk about them and that’s easy to understand (it happened to me too). For this reason, I suggest you take into account the following suggestions:
- you don’t have to write the whole story of your life, but just a few essential points (your biography, in a short resume)
- you have to make an easy-to-understand description, but to be a kind of mini-journal and mini-autobiography in which readers or potential readers can get to know you
- add a relevant photo, but not the ID type
- talk a bit and what you write on your blog and how often. Practically, you have to give your readers a little insight to let them know what to expect from you in the future
- use a natural language
As for Contact Page, here you should type an email address that you check regularly and that looks professional. Besides, you can also add a Contact Form so that people who want to contact you can do it directly on your blog.
9. Write and post your first article
Writing your first article can be quite intimidating, given the pressure you feel, wanting to start right. The first article can be about anything, as long as it fits into the niche and theme of the blog, so the first natural step would be to choose the subject. The title of my first article, for example, was “6 hours in NYC”.
I talked about my first encounter with the city of my dreams and about all the things I’ve been able to do in the 6 hours. I tried to describe my emotion when I first saw places seen only in movies before. In so many movies! New York is still my favorite city, and it was probably one of the reasons for my choice.
Try to express yourself naturally, don’t try to be what you aren’t. Count on your experiences and don’t copy from others! Do not lose yourself in too much detail, but instead describe succinctly but deeply the destinations you visit. This, of course, if you don’t choose to have a blog about something else, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, etc.
Structure the article on clear ideas and compose it so it can be easily and quickly scanned by those who do not want or have no time to read each row. Add keywords to make your article easier to be found in search engines, use images. My advice on writing articles stops here because I am convinced that everyone has and can define their own style, characteristic of their personality and what they want to offer.
10. Social Media accounts
You must, I repeat you must have an account on at least one important social platform, like Facebook or Instagram. Of course, the more, the better. And that’s because we live in times where the power of online is getting stronger and stronger. You have to be there, present day by day, promoting your work by sharing and engaging with your readers.
After 2 years of blogging, in my case, the platform that brings me the biggest number of visits is Pinterest, but those visitors who are heading to my blog on that platform, do not read my articles because they know me and like me. The readers coming from Pinterest are readers who come exclusively to find out more about a specific place I’ve written about, by clicking on a visually attractive pin of mine. They can read the article and leave the blog or decide to become a loyal reader of the blog. Thus, I consider them passive readers for the most part.
On the 2nd place, I would put Facebook because I can post different types of information there, while Instagram is ideal for pictures or short videos only. However, with the sudden changes in the algorithm, it’s getting harder to get new followers on this platform, but I’m convinced that things are already well known by anyone.
No matter which platforms you choose to promote your blog, it’s essential to keep the same name everywhere, the name of the blog, and the same profile picture, so that you can be easily identifiable and to remain in the visual memory of your readers and followers. Post regularly, reinvent yourself, look at other successful travel profiles, and see what kind of content and posts they’re using. Do not forget, however, to remain authentic.
- Be consistent and constant
- If you want to do blogging in a professional way, you will have to spend hours every day
- You will also receive criticism. As long as it is constructive, appreciate it and take it into account. Delete and ignore the mean comments
- Don’t take long breaks from Social Media. It will cost you
- Whatever it is, you have to be honest with your audience. Didn’t you like certain things on your journeys? Mention them. Were you disappointed by a super hyped destination? Say and tell why.
- Unfortunately, the numbers really matter, especially if you want to make travel blogging a full-time job. Grow your numbers!