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Starting a travel blog is pretty easy, becoming a travel blogger on the other hand, doesn’t happen overnight. Once you’re able to call travel blogging your full-time job, however, it has to be considered one of the best jobs in the world. In this step-by-step guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about how to start a travel blog and make money and in the years to come.
This is a long one, if you want to read this later, please save it to Pinterest.
Why start a travel blog?
Starting a travel blog can be an amazing experience and becoming a full-time blogger is an actual achievable thing.
You may think that the blogging world is oversaturated & you have missed the boat. The truth of the matter is that whilst every 3rd person you run into may have a travel or lifestyle blog, most of these people are hobby bloggers. Bloggers that aren’t looking to monetize their blog, don’t know how to, or just aren’t determined enough to become successful travel bloggers.
There’s plenty of opportunities for those willing to work for it, and whilst it may seem like travel bloggers are just being flown around the world to take pretty pictures & write a few words about their experience, there is a lot more work that goes into travel blogging in order to be successful.
This is why I strongly recommend thinking about your reasons for starting a blog because this is definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme.
It’s not all work, work, work though. Blogging, in general, can be good for the soul, getting all of the information stored in your head out into some form of text. That could, in turn, help others in similar situations. If you’re not looking to quit your job, you could even use your blog as a complement to your current work or to back up your expertise.
I like to think of blogging as building a house. It’s much easier to build a house if you already have the blueprints and whilst we give you the blueprints down below. Your determination to build that house is what will separate your travel blog from the rest.
It is not an easy journey getting your blog off of the ground. It takes an awful lot of discipline, hard work, and dedication before you start to reap the benefits of your work. Once you’ve reached that point, however, it can be an extremely satisfying and rewarding experience in more ways than just paid for travel.
How to Start a Travel Blog and Make Money
There are tons of articles on the internet about starting travel blogs and how to go about it. The majority of these brush over the topics quickly and paint an image of blogging that doesn’t show all of the workings that go into running a successful blog.
An image that travel bloggers just write a couple of hundred words every few days & then sip on cocktails in some paradise beach whilst uploading an image or two to Instagram. There may be some that could get away with this, but all of the travel bloggers I know & follow work extremely hard on making their blogs a success.
Having seen these articles, we decided to make a complete tutorial with everything you need to know about travel blogging for beginners (and there may even be some tips for those of you that already have a travel blog).
We’re going to take you through picking an awesome name, organizing your hosting & making your travel blog look amazing. Then we’ll look at which plugins you need on your site, learning how to be a better blogger, how travel bloggers make money, starting your journey & what it actually costs to run blogs of different sizes. (Plus, how much we are currently paying to run this blog.)
To make things clear, this article is for those that are willing to take blogging seriously, as some of these steps will involve having to spend some money. If you’re just looking to blog as a hobby, that’s perfectly fine and a great way to get comfortable writing. There are plenty of places where you can start a blog for free, like Weebly or Wix. If you’re interested in earning money with your travel blog, however, keep on reading!
Enough beating around the blogging bush though, let’s get straight into it!
8 Steps to Start a Successful Travel Blog
1. Pick a name
A domain name is your website URL, I.e. yourwebsite.com. If you can’t get a .com or .co you may want to consider finding a different name.
Since you want to start a travel blog, you’ve probably already put some thought into your name. If you haven’t however, here are some tips to coming up with an awesome blog name that just rolls off of the tongue to the top of the search.
- You want a name that fits your personality.
I.e. I’ll never be able to start a blog that’s called something like Sunrise Travels or Early Adventures… because I hate mornings.
This blog is, however, called Padkos (which translates to ‘food for the road’). It simply fits our personalities as we put a lot of thought into the snacks and food we’ll be experiencing.
- Think about who your target audience is.
Thrifty Nomads are budget travel bloggers. The name is a reflection of the target audience, people that want to save money whilst traveling.
- Keep it short.
If your name has only a few syllables, it will be easy to remember.
Write out some keywords, grab a thesaurus & note down a few slang words relating to your niche.
Try creating some of your own words, using portmanteau or a wordoid.
Once you’ve got a decent amount of words or phrases, try throwing them into a name generator like this one or by using a naming formula.
You’ve got a few name ideas together? Check which URLs are available using Bluehost’s Domain Checker.
These are just a few tips to get to a great name for your blog. We have another blog focused on social & digital marketing, outofthe925.com, here we have a more detailed guide to picking a great blog name: How to come up with an Awesome Blog Name in 4 Quick Steps.
Now you’ve found an awesome name that’s available, and you’ve double-checked that there are no typos. Great! But hold onto your horses before you go claiming that domain. If you’re registering a new domain name, you can get it for free in the next step.
2. Set Up Hosting
What is hosting you ask? Think of hosting as renting space on the internet for your travel blog. Here all your data, images, blog posts, etc. is stored & allows people all over the world to access it through a unique website address: Your domain name.
Setting up a domain can be an intimidating task at first. It is, after all, the first real step that involves spending actual money on your blog. It should be exciting though, and by taking out all the tricky setup procedures & any extra complications, Bluehost makes it super easy to get started with your blog today.
We use Bluehost & highly recommend them. They are very affordable, you can get started from as little as $3.95 per month… That’s cheaper than the avocado sandwich at your local deli!
They also have some of the best support staff we’ve come across & when you sign up for one of their plans, they’ll include your domain name registration for free.
Once you’re on the Bluehost home page, you will see this screen.
Click on the get started now button & you will be taken to the next page that highlights their different plans.
When you’re just starting out, we recommend their basic plan of $3.95 per month. You’ll get a free domain & 5 custom email addresses ([email protected]) along with your website hosting.
Click on select below the basic plan and you’ll be taken to the following page.
Here is where you’re going to put in your website URL, the domain name. Type the name into the field on the left & once you’ve made sure there are no mistakes, hit the next button.
P.s. If you purchased a domain name already, enter that into the right box instead.
Next, all you have to do is enter your contact, plan & payment details.
I recommend using the 36-month plan. Whilst it may seem like a lot of money at first, that is the hosting costs for your blog covered for the next 3 years! Instead of paying the normal $7.99 per month for a 12-month plan, you can save approximately 50% with the 36-month plan. That’s over $100 over those 3 years!
This will also put you in the right mindset if you’re looking to start a successful travel blog from the very beginning. If you can see yourself blogging in 3 years’ time, it’s more likely to happen.
Once everything is filled out, click on the submit button.
You’ve successfully set up hosting for your blog & registered a domain name. How easy was that?!
3. Auto-install WordPress
WordPress is the undisputed champion in the world of blogging. Many large companies use WordPress for their websites, like Sony Music, BBC America, Mercedes-Benz & many more.
Setting up WordPress with your Bluehost account is automatic, making it extremely easy.
Here’s how to do it.
After setting up your Bluehost account, you’re going to have to set up your password to access your account.
Once you’ve logged in, Bluehost will ask you to pick a theme that you like. Don’t put too much thought into this as you can change it later & it’s just acting as a placeholder for now.
Once you’ve picked a theme, click on the Start building button & let the Bluehost & WordPress elves work their magic!
On the next screen, you’re going to be taken to your WordPress dashboard.
Here you will be asked a few simple questions.
Is your site business or personal? If you’re looking to start a money-making blog, hit that business button.
Next, you’ll be asked to add your site title & description. This will be your blog name & you can add a motto or a brief description of what your blog is going to be about in the description. (I.e. Family adventure on a budget, etc.)
The last questions are layout-related & if you’re looking to sell online.
Select the options that you like the most, and when it comes to the option of selling online, click “not now”. If you do want to sell things on your blog, you can install WooCommerce at a later stage.
Congratulations are in order! You’re now the owner of a brand-new blog! 😃🎉
Next, I recommend saving this post to Pinterest for later & getting out the bubbly! 😉
If you’re, however, you’re in a particularly determined mood, save this post to Pinterest anyway & get straight to the good stuff & get to work on your blog.
4. Familiarize yourself with the WordPress dashboard
First things first, we need to log in to your WordPress dashboard. This is the behind-the-scenes area of your blog where you will be running your travel blog business and dealing with everything blog-related.
The easiest way to do this is to head to the website address: https://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin and then type in your username & password.
Welcome to the WordPress Dashboard!
Don’t worry if my layout looks a little bit different from yours. Those are additional plugins that we’ll get to later on.
Now that you’re here, I’m going to give you a little overview of the basics.
The top bar has a group of shortcuts on the left. These can be used to visit your site, add a new page or post, etc. On the right-hand side of the top bar, you can edit your profile or log out.
The column on the left is where all the fun stuff happens:
Posts – Here you can add blog posts.
Pages – The static pages that you can create for your home, about, or contact pages. These will be connected to your navigation bars & menus, giving your readers easy access to important information about your site.
Comments – Where you can approve, delete & reply to comments on your blog.
Appearance – Here you can edit the appearance of your site. You can do this by changing or editing your theme, adding widgets & menus, or even custom HTML & CSS.
Plugins – You can think of these as 3rd party apps that you can add to your website to improve functionality, appearance & much more.
Settings – Quite self-explanatory. You can change a large number of site settings here, one of the first I recommend changing for bloggers is the permalink. By default, it will show the date of your post in the URL. To keep your content evergreen, I always change the permalink option to only show the post name.
Now WordPress may seem daunting at first, but once you’ve gotten used to where everything is and what it does, using WordPress will become second nature to you.
There is plenty more that you can do with WordPress, far too much for me to include it all here. If you’re looking to learn a little bit more about WordPress, I recommend going through the WordPress Lessons archive.
5. Get a professional theme
Now that you’re starting to get the hang of the WordPress dashboard, we can start to make your travel blog look awesome.
Remember earlier when I said not to worry about that free theme as it was only a placeholder? Well, now it’s time to replace it with a theme that has the power to bring your words to life.
You may be thinking, why you would need a professional theme when you already have a free theme. Free themes can only do so much and they’re actually great to play around within the beginning. Professional themes, however, bring about another level of functionality & can greatly improve the look & usability of your site.
Professional themes can cost anywhere between $25-$120 and are usually a once-off payment. You should make sure you purchase a theme that includes free support. Support just means that if you run into any problems changing designs or editing parts of the theme, the developer will assist you in fixing them without charging you. Web developers can charge a fortune!
There are a few great places to look for awesome and affordable themes, here are some of my favorites.
Theme forest is an online marketplace and home to plenty of great themes. They present a wide variety of themes in all different niches with some great prices.
Two of my favorites are Avada, which costs $35 & the X theme, which costs $59. These are multi-niche themes, meaning they’re not just great for Travel blogs as you can edit them pretty much to your taste.
X theme can have quite a steep learning curve, but it provides an incredible amount of customizability & additional plugins for free. We are actually currently using X Theme on this very blog.
Find out more about X Themes features here.
Avada Theme provides another wide variety of pre-made designs & demo sites that you can implement into your website very easily & the support staff is excellent.
For more information on the Avada theme, click here.
Whilst the X & Avada themes are not niched specific, if you want a theme that is specifically designed for Travel Bloggers, have a look at the Trawell theme.
It provides a very clean layout with useful features that Travel Bloggers will appreciate. I personally love the cover map feature.
For more info on the Trawell theme, click here.
The Genesis Framework is a slightly different theme and can take some getting used to for new bloggers as the theme doesn’t use a visual page builder like Avada or X Theme.
You can find out more about the Genesis Framework by clicking here & having a look through the various themes.
Install your theme
Once you’ve decided on an awesome theme to use on your blog, you will need to install it.
Your theme will come with detailed installation instructions & if you have any problems you can contact customer support to help you through it.
Installing a new theme on your WordPress site generally means you’ll get a .zip file that contains your theme from your supplier. You will then log into your WordPress dashboard, click on appearance > themes > upload & then you will upload the .zip file & click on install.
That’s your theme installed, all you need to do is tweak your design & you’re well on your way to an incredible travel blog.
6. Download useful plugins
Next up we’re going to look at some useful plugins that will improve your website’s functionality, reader experience, and even your social presence.
You get free plugins and also paid-for ones. You can think of a plugin as a 3rd party app that gives your blog additional features. Some plugins offer both paid and free plans and a lot of the time the free plan provides everything that you would need as a new blogger.
Here are our 5 must-have plugins for your new WordPress travel blog:
This plugin comes in a free & paid-for version. You probably won’t need the paid-for version as the free one is already so powerful. Yoast helps with all thing’s SEO. (Search Engine Optimisation… A.k.a. getting found on Google, Yahoo, etc.)
Our favorite feature is on-post optimization, whenever you write a blog post, Yoast SEO will tell you what you’ve done right & what you should change to be found better in search and to improve the readability of your post.
Pretty links allow you to create custom URLs to websites that you do not own. This can be a great way to personalize an affiliate site you’re advertising, or if you find yourself linking to a long URL constantly. You can turn pretty much any URL into yourdomainname.com/anything. 😉
Viewers don’t stick around on new sites if they don’t load quickly. That’s just the reality of the times we’re living in. W3 Total Cache helps out in this regard by caching your travel blog, which speeds up your load times for visitors.
Akismet is your silent defender. Protecting your blog from malicious login attempts & spammers flooding your comments with harmful content. Akismet works silently in the background catching and removing spam without you having to ever bother with it. You may not see spam on your blog, but as your site grows, so will the spam. It’s best to install it from the get-go.
Honorable mention – Grammarly
Grammarly isn’t a WordPress plugin. It’s a browser extension & a must for anyone that writes anything on the internet. Think of it like spell check for the internet. 😉
These are only a few of the plugins we use & recommend, you can have a look through the plugins section in your WordPress dashboard for more useful plugins. Don’t go too crazy with them though, the more plugins you have installed, the slower your page load times will be and some plugins can cause conflicts with others. A best practice is to delete any plugins you’re not using immediately.
Next up we’re going to look at blogging, how to get started, how to get better & the business of blogging.
7. Take a blogging course
I am a firm believer in learning through doing & learning from your mistakes. One big problem arrives though when you consider how much your mistakes have cost you in time & money.
This is where blogging courses come in, good ones teach you everything you need to know to avoid the big costly mistakes whilst showing you what to do in order to become a successful blogger.
I still believe in learning through doing, but your learning becomes a lot more efficient and effective with the correct guidance. Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from others? 😉
The Business of Travel Blogging
This awesome course is taught by Matt Kepnes a.k.a. Nomadic Matt & Chris Richardson, the tech wizard behind Nomadic Matt.
There are tons of travel blogs out there, but as I mentioned earlier, you’ll be surprised by how few are actually run effectively enough to be a successful business. This is how the Business of Travel Blogging Course was born.
If you’ve read travel blogs or looked even slightly into travel blogging, Nomadic Matt should come across as a very familiar name, he does, after all, have one of the most popular travel blogs in the world (If not the most popular).
Who better to teach you about travel blogging than the #1? 😉
This course is a complete top-to-bottom course that covers just about everything in the world of travel blogging. From setting up your website & building your brand, to getting readers through social networks & advanced SEO, even including how to create your own products, affiliate marketing & partnering with brands. Plus loads more!
Look for free courses
You don’t have to pay for courses if your budget just doesn’t allow it though. Check out blogging, social media & digital marketing blogs & websites for free courses, eBooks & guides.
8. Take your first travel blogging steps
The last few steps are to put all of your ideas to work and start creating content. You should start off by creating the following:
An About Us page
This is vital for when new readers to visit your travel blog. A lot of the time if a reader lands on one of your posts when they’re done reading, they’ll head over to your about page to get to know you a little better. This page allows you to tell them a little bit more about you, your story, what you do, what your travel blog is about, and, most importantly, why they should follow along on your journey.
You’re going to need legal pages to disclose affiliate links, cookies, disclaimers, tracking, etc. It’s just one of the pains of blogging. Luckily you won’t have to spend too much time on them once they’re complete.
Write your first post
Your ‘about’ page is set up and you’ve gotten all of your legal pages set up as well? Then it’s about time you get started with your first blog post.
You can write an introduction post, letting the world know who you are and what you’re going to be doing. Or you can just get straight into writing about your niche and leave the introductory stuff for your “about” page.
P.s. You don’t need to be on the road to write about traveling. You’ve visited a place in the past & have fond memories, write about those. You live in a place that people search a lot for or visit, you could write hundreds of posts about your local city’s attractions, things to do, places to visit, day trips, etc.
Create your Social Media Accounts
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. whichever tickles your fancy.
Pick a social network that fits with the content you want to make. I.e. Instagram is great for photos & short clips. If you can create videos on your journeys then YouTube is a great platform.
Whichever network you choose to go with put the majority of your effort into only one or two social media networks at first. Each network has its own way of promoting your content and you will have to invest some time getting to know each platform and creating content specifically for each one.
Once you’ve got one of the social networks under control, you can start experimenting with another one.
Design a logo
One of the next things you may be wondering about would be branding.
Does your travel blog need branding from the get-go? No, it doesn’t. But by setting out some basics your site will look better & readers will start to associate certain colors, patterns, or pictures to your blog.
You are going to need a logo though. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can put something together yourself even if you’re not a graphic designer. Your logo can be quite simple, as the name of your blog in a readable font or if you have the time & experience, it can be something much more elaborate.
Some useful tools or sites for creating a logo can be found here:
Canva is a favorite of many bloggers because of its free service, graphic design options & ease-of-use. It is a really intuitive platform and makes creating blogging graphics a walk in the park. The same can be said for creating some simple logos for your blog.
- Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator
The Adobe range of software is not free & is certainly not something that can be considered beginner-friendly. If you are experienced in image or photo editing however & you already happen to own Photoshop or Illustrator, these are by far the most powerful tools to create custom graphics for your travel blog. That includes creating your logo.
If you do not have the time, patience, or creativity, you can always outsource the design work. Fiverr is a good place to find cheap logo designs. Shop around before you settle on a gig and check out the seller reviews to make sure you’re dealing with a good seller.
Another option for outsourcing your designs & most probably the option that will return the best designs. 99Designs is more expensive than Fiverr, but you tend to receive much higher quality work, both creatively and in your final design.
If you’re going to design your own logo, visit Canva and have a look at some of the other graphics options for bloggers. You can create awesome banners, sidebar images, blog post pics & all sorts of graphics for your social media accounts.
How to monetize a Travel Blog
You’re probably wondering now, how can I earn an income with my travel blog? There are numerous ways that travel bloggers earn an income from their blogs, but it’s very important to put your content first.
People will only read your blog if you provide value. That can be information, entertainment, or some other form of value. The value has to come first and it will have to be sustained if you want to run a successful travel blog long term.
That doesn’t mean you can’t start monetizing your blog from the very beginning, though, or at least putting the right steps in place to start monetizing.
Some of the best way’s travel bloggers earn an income are through:
Some of the best companies to get started with affiliate marketing are Amazon & the CJ Network.
You can recommend products or services that you use on your travel blog and if someone purchases through your link, you will earn a small commission & the buyer doesn’t pay anything extra.
The most important aspect of Affiliate marketing is to be ethical. Be honest about products & only recommend products that you actually use & like. If you’ve noticed some flaws with a product but still like it, mention the flaws anyway, it may be something that your readers don’t care about and they’ll still love the product. If you really dislike something, just don’t recommend it.
One of the easiest ways to earn money blogging is through Ad revenue. You can sign up for AdSense, input the ad settings you want & then download an ad inserter plugin to place the ads wherever you’d like on your blog. It’s that simple.
Ezoic is a great place to start and you don’t need a certain amount of traffic to join.
Sponsored posts/Brand partnerships
These are pretty self-explanatory. A company will offer free products, money, discounts, or other benefits for either mentioning them in one of your posts, creating a review on their product, service, etc. These can be one-off deals or even long-term brand partnerships.
You will, however, first need to build up an audience before you can approach brands or before they start approaching you. 😉
If you can capture great photos, you could license these for commercial work.
Tour companies, tourism boards, magazines, brands & other publications may be interested in your photos & you can charge them for use.
You could also sell prints to readers or upload your travel photos to stock photography sites.
This is when a tourism board or destination invites you to visit the location in return for writing and advertising the destination on your blog and social media.
When you’re starting out, you may have to approach tourism boards and pitch your ideas & if you’re lucky, they’ll offer to cover your accommodation & expenses (or partly cover them). Later on, when your following grows, tourism boards may start approaching you, and depending on the size of your audience, you can start charging good money for these destination marketing projects.
Create your own products, courses, services, etc.
Creating your own courses may not be for everyone, but what if you capture great photos on your travel blog, your audience may be interested in your own set of Lightroom presets or purchasing prints. These could be products that you could sell on your travel blog.
Do you have a special skill set and passion that you take with you on your travels? Create a course around it & offer it up on your travel blog. An example of this could be if your travel blog focuses on staying fit whilst traveling, you could put together a video course or eBook with different works, nutrition plans, etc. that readers could implement whilst they’re on the go. You’ll find that with this particular example, even people that don’t travel too much will purchase a course or product like this as the exercises can be done just as well at home, as they can be on the road.
When it comes to services, it really comes down to your skill set or knowledge once again. Many travel bloggers offer tours & I’ve seen quite a few that even provide custom destination travel planning for their readers. You could start off small by offering local tours of places you know, offering photography walks or workshops in a town nearby you know well, etc.
How much does it cost to start a travel blog?
The simple answer to that is whatever you can afford. You don’t need a professional theme, paid plugins, or even to host your own domain. They do make a huge difference in increasing your blog’s searchability & popularity, however. I’m yet to come across any full-time bloggers that have been successful without a good theme & self-hosted website (I.e. yourdomain.com instead of yourdomain.wordpress.com).
This is because self-hosted sites allow you to install plug-ins, display advertising, etc. A lot of the features are not possible with free hosting sites.
I’ve decided to exclude the hardware you may need for your travel blog, like a camera, laptop, etc. This is purely the cost of running & maintaining a travel blog.
Below you’ll find 4 sections, ranging from the cheapest to most expensive travel blog costs.
There’s nothing wrong with starting off with a free blog if you’re only looking to see if blogging is right for you or if your only goal is to share your experiences with family & friends. You can get started for free with Blogger, Wix, Weebly, etc. As Blogger is owned by Google, you’re able to use AdSense on your site, which isn’t normally possible without self-hosting.
If you don’t have much money to invest in your blog you can get started with the basics.
$3.95 per month for hosting + $30-$120 for a pro theme. You can look through ThemeForest for a variety of different themes, you may even find a cheaper one that speaks to you.
Paid plugins, graphics & courses can be avoided for the time being, until you start gathering some momentum & making money with your blog. Look out for free resources, like Canva, to create your own graphics & logos.
For those of you interested in starting a successful travel blog & without cutting any corners.
You’ll need Hosting, a pro theme, Social Warfare Pro, an email marketing service & social media scheduling tools.
We fall into this category, so I’ll just give you what we pay. 😉
$10 per month for hosting.
$59 once off for the X Theme from ThemeForest.
$29 per year for Social Warfare Pro – we currently don’t pay for any other plugins.
$29 per month for ConvertKit, they are the email marketing service we use & they’re awesome! You can Start a free 30-day trial with our link.
Lastly, we also pay $119 per year for Tailwind, one of the best, if not the best, Pinterest scheduling tools out there.
Throw all of that into a calculator & you’ll see that our travel blog costs us around $50 per month.
If your blog is making a good amount of money, you can spend more on hosting for the increased traffic, better sales funnels, additional social media tools, virtual assistants, etc. It really all comes down to what your travel blog can afford.
As you’re reading this article, you are most likely just starting out on your blogging journey. Don’t worry too much about this last category, it’s only here to highlight that you can pay more for functionality or convenience once your blog is running successfully.
How much does it cost to start & run a blog? As you can see, whatever you can afford. 😉
Lastly & most importantly – don’t give up!
Travel blogging & blogging, in general, can be a journey full of highs and lows, especially as a new blogger. That first bit of income your travel blog makes can be a massive win & then you may be knocked right back down with some truly negative comments. The key to starting a successful travel blog is to just keep it ongoing. Seeing what works for you & using any drawbacks as a learning experience to make your travel blog better.
Blogging is about consistency, just keep at it, you’ve got this.
Now, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start your travel blog.
Good luck with your travel blogging journey and don’t forget to enjoy the small wins.
If you have any questions, drop them in the comments down below & we’ll do our best to answer them.
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