How to start travel blog in 2021?

How to start a blog

How to start travel blog? Have you ever thought about it? I bet you did many times?

In my opinion, travel is one of the easiest niches to start a blog. The reason is simple. When you travel, you always take pictures and make videos to keep your memories. 

Most people usually post their photos on social media to share with friends and family. Have you ever thought that you can have your travel blog that makes money to pay for your future adventures? 

Instead of sharing your adventures with closest friends, why not share them with the whole world?

You don’t need to be an expert in any realm to start a travel blog, and that is why it is so easy. 

However, you have to like travelling as this is the best way to have your own original and great content.

As simple as that. Or is it?

Why should I start a travel blog?

Starting a blog is a great way to learn about yourself and express your thoughts, ideas and feelings. When you write a post you unleash your imagination which makes you more creative in your thinking.

Also, writing a simple blog can lead you to bigger things in the future. If your audience grows and you get more readers some big companies can approach you with offers to promote their products. This is how you make good money.

In general, blogging can help you to increase your reputation, grow your travel business, but moreover develop professionally, express your creativity and open new horizons.

What should I know before starting a travel blog?

First you have to purchase a domain. Domain is your website name. Once you have your domain secure you have to purchase web hosting which is an online platform that stores your website files.

I have to be honest with you by saying that running a professional travel blog (or any money earning blog) is a bit of a commitment.

You have to treat your blog like a business to create a brand that will be recognized by a broader audience.

If you decided to write a blog and make money out of it, this is the right place to start your travel blogging journey.

In summary this is what you need to know before starting a professional travel blog:

  • You have to purchase domain (starting from $1.29/year with NameCheap)
  • You have to purchase domain (starting from $2/month with WebHostingPad)
  • Post your original content from the places you have been to
  • Post regularly: 2-3 posts per week would be perfect but you can also do 1 post per week considering is a nice, long story
  • Use low competition keywords to rank faster with Google and do SEO with a RankMath or YoastSEO
  • Make sure you include high quality photos and videos in your posts (super important with travel blogging)
  • Promote your blog and be active in social media
  • Monetize your blog after you have some traffic

There is also an option to start a travel blog for free on wordpress.com. I don’t recommend this option if you want to make money from your blog later on.

Whereas wordpress.com is free to use it has heavy restrictions. For example your domain name will be yourwebsitename.wordpress.com. Also, you will have very limited customization and monetization options. You cannot install plugins and your theme has very basic design. Finally you will have very limited SEO and analytics options.

Is it possible to earn money considering there is a big competition?

Definitely, yes, it is possible to earn money. Especially now, in the covid era, people look more to buy things online instead of going to the physical shop.

You should aim to provide good content with great photos and videos and write your posts regularly. Over time you gain some audience, and you build your reputation. Then, you will think of ways to monetize your blog.

Can I start a travel blog if I am not a technical person?

These days starting and running a blog is very easy. WordPress, the platform we will be using in this tutorial, is optimised for any type of user. I will walk you step by step to start your first travel blog today.

How much does it cost to start a new blog?

First, you have to register your domain, which will cost you only between $1.30 to $9 per year, depending on the domain extension you selected.

Then you have to purchase hosting to store your website online. With SiteGround, you can start a new blog for $6.99/month ($83.90 per year).

There are cheaper alternatives for web hosting, but I recommend SiteGround. It is a fast, reliable, free CDN (Content Delivery Network – to speed up your site) and SSL (to make your site secure) and the best customer service hosting provider.

Don’t worry. If your budget is tight, you can start with WebHostingPad for as cheap as $2/month or BlueHost for $5.10/month (sign up for 36 months).

Are you ready to start your travel blog? Let’s do it together step by step.

#1 Pick your niche and name

This should be relatively easy as we are already in the travel niche, and you have probably thought about how to call your new travel blog.

Below are my recommendations when picking a blog domain name.

Don’t lock yourself to a location

If you call your domain travelinsydney.com you will lock yourself to Sydney only, and posting about other destinations may confuse your readers as your domain has Sydney in its name.

Don’t call your domain similar to some big websites

It will be more difficult to beat big websites out. For example, there is a good website called traveller.com, and if you call your blog mytraveller.com who do you think Google will show first when people search for it?

Check if your name is available in social media

Social Media is where you will promote your blog before it ranks with Google so it is important to validate your domain name with the major social media providers. 

For example if you domain name is foodandtravelwithann.com make sure this name is available as an account name in social media. This way you keep your things consistently.

Make your blog name descriptive

If you also plan to have food in your travel blog, make sure you include both words in the blog name like: foodandtravelbyann.com. 

This way, Google understands that you are posting about travel destinations and food recipes.

Don’t use special characters in your name

Avoid hyphens or any special characters in your name. Note that your domain should be easy to spell, write, and easy to remember.

Create a domain with .com extension (or it is called TLD)

More than 50% of domains are .com domains, and this type of domain has the most authority with Google. Also, when people type a domain name, they are likely to put .com at the end instead of .net, .org, .co, .uk etc.

Once you have a few names in mind, just go to NameCheap and check if your name is available.

#2 Get a domain

I always use NameCheap as it is a cheap and reliable service, but most importantly, NameCheap gives free WHOIS protection. Many well-known domain registrars offer WHOIS protection as a separate service you have to pay for.

Travel Spiced Life

WHOIS is a service to protect your personal details from the public and keep it private.

The process to register your domain is very straightforward.

Let’s do it together.

  1. Click here to go to NameCheap and type your name.
  2. As I mentioned, I suggest a .com extension, but if you want to choose something different, check the list, and you can find a domain for as cheap as $1.29.

3. Check if the domain name you typed is available for purchase. If not, try to manipulate your keywords to create something similar that you like. 

4. Once your domain name is available, click the Add to Cart button.

NameCheap - typing a name

5. On the next screen, you will be asked to add additional options to your domain. Just ignore it and click on the Checkout button at the bottom.

6. Below is the final screen before you purchase. You notice that WhoisGuard is free for the entire life of your domain. This is great as not all domain name registrars give it for free. 

Ensure you select the Auto Renew button as you really don’t want to lose your domain when your blog is performing well and earning money.

NameCheap Confirmation Page

7. Click the Check Out button to confirm your purchase.

#3 Get a web hosting

The next thing is to set up your hosting. In this tutorial, I use SiteGround as a web hosting service. It is a little bit more expensive than other services, but they offer excellent quality and customer service.

  1. Click here to go to SiteGround and click on WordPress Hosting.

2. Select StartUp Plan. Normally the StartUp plan costs $19.99/month, but you can get it for only $6.99/month. You can buy hosting for up to 36 months.

3. In the next step, select ‘I already have a domain’ and put the domain name we set up in the previous step. In my case, it was travelandfoodwithann.com

It is possible to set up your domain name with SiteGround, but I don’t recommend it as the price is higher, and it would be difficult to transfer your website to a different hosting provider later on if you want to.

Once you have your domain name in the box, click ‘Proceed’.

Travel Spiced Life

Buying a domain with a hosting provider is not a good idea. In case you want to transfer your website to a different hosting provider it is a nightmare to do so.

SiteGround - Registration - Step 2

4. In the final step, provide your details. Make sure you provide your name and correct address.

Under Hosting Services, select ‘Startup Hosting Plan’  and your nearest Data Center. Also, you can select different period between 12 to 36 months.

5. For now ignore the ‘Extra Services’. Provide your card details and once you are ready, confirm the Terms of Service and click ‘Pay Now’. After a few seconds, you should get the confirmation message.

If SiteGround monthly price is above your budget, I list alternative, cheaper, fast and reliable options below.

 
Setting up hosting with the above hosting provider will be very similar to SiteGround.

Well done!  Now you have a domain and web hosting. 

#4 Install WordPress

Now, it is time to set up your WordPress site, so click ‘Proceed to Customer Area’.

6. Once you are in the Customer Area, click on ‘Set up site’. On the next screen, click ‘Start New Website’.

SiteGround - Start New Website

7. Next, select WordPress as your website platform. Below you can provide an email and password to create your WordPress account.

Travel Spiced Life

Note, that SiteGround account is different to your WordPress account. They are simply two separate logins.

8. On the last screen, you skip any extras and click ‘Finish’.

9. There is one more important step to connect your domain with your SiteGround website. Below ‘Point Your Domain’, you need to place two DNS server names in NameCheap, the domain registrar you purchased your domain from.

SiteGround - Point your domain

10. Go to your NameCheap account, click Dashboard and ‘Manage’ button next to your domain. Place these two DNS names under NameServers -> Custom DNS and click the green tick on the right to confirm.

NameCheap - Custom DNS

11. It may take several minutes for your website to be linked with your domain. As for this example, I navigated to my domain address: travelandfoodwithann.com, and if everything was connected, I could see the below screen.

How to start a blog - first run

12. What you see at your first run is an empty WordPress template without a theme applied.

#5 Install the right WordPress theme

Appearance of your website is one of the most important things. When people visit your blog first time, they immediately assess if they like it or not.

Very often happens that if your blog is not visually appealing they leave and never come back.

Travel blogging is a special type of blogging where look and feel, photos and videos are super important. Thus, installing the right theme for your blog is a must.

There are two options you can go for when selecting the theme.

First, you need to get to your WordPress dashboard where you can manage your website.

The easiest way to navigate to your WordPress dashboard is by typing wp-admin at the and of your url, e.g. travelandfoodwithann.com/wp-admin and provide your username and password you setup in step 7 when installing WordPress.

Install a free WordPress theme

First, let’s see how to find, browse and preview a theme.

Navigate to Appearance -> Themes and click the ‘Add New’ button on the top. You will see a huge number of options to select from. The good thing is you can click on ‘Preview’ to see the theme before installing it. 

The free themes I can recommend are Divi, Astra, OceanWP, Neve, Ultra or GeneratePress. Also, note that most free themes have paid versions, so you can start free and later upgrade for more options.

Once you are happy with your selection, click ‘Install’, and after installation is complete, navigate to your website URL to see the changes.

Free WordPress themes
Free WordPress themes

Buy and install a professional theme

Another option is to buy a professional theme. The advantage of this approach is that you set up everything right from the word go.

This way, you can create more content while your website is looking good already.

I recommend premium themes from WP Engine StudioPress. The selection is pretty awesome. You can actually get a StudioPress theme package for free with any WP Engine hosting plan (starting from $27/month).

WP Engine - StudioPress

#6 Set important WordPress settings

Before diving any further, let’s set a few important WordPress settings and familiarize yourself with WordPress.

Change default website url

By default your website will be called http://yourwebsite.com. To make it more appealing you need to place the ‘www’ after http://, e.g. http://www.yourwebsite.com.

Changing Permalinks to Post Name

To rank better with search engines like Google or Bing, it is better to use post title with dashes. After changing this setting, every time you create a post, its title will be divided with dashes.

Navigate to Settings -> Permalinks and change Common Settings to ‘Post Name’.

Setting up Menu

Depending on the theme you used for your blog, you will have different menu pages set up as default. Here you can select a page and click ‘Add to Menu’. This action will bring the selected page to the right side. From there, you can drag and drop your page to the place you want it to be.

Navigate to Appearance -> Menus and make your changes.

WordPress - menu

#7 Create your most important pages: About and Contact

Remember that you cannot stay anonymous these days to achieve success. Over time you need to create your brand and be recognized by a broader audience.

When you just created a blog, a good starting point is two pages: About and Contact.

Let’s talk about them separately.

Create About page

About page is very important. People who visit your blog (your potential customers), will often navigate to your about page to see who you are. If you provide tips and advises in your posts it is essential to have a connection with your readers and the first thing to achieve that is through the about page.

In about page you can write little bit about yourself, state who you are and even better if you provide your story. How did I become a travel blogger or my story to blogging would really get you closer to your readers.

Create Contact page

Contact page can be as simple as the one below. However, once you grow your website, you will add more details.

For example, you can have a ‘Work with Me’ section to provide information about Guest or Sponsored posts in your blog. Also, you can offer your services. Finally, you can list reasons for people to contact you or not contact you, e.g. I don’t accept guest posts.

WordPress - Contact

#8 Install WordPress plugins

There are numerous WordPress plugins you can install on your website, but what are they?

WordPress plugin is a piece of functionality that is added to your blog. It could be as simple as compressing an image, installing additional fonts, having a form builder and as complicated as making a website backup, having a custom website builder or SEO plugin. 

One thing that is worthy of notice is that the more plugins you install, the slower your website will be. Thus, install only essential plugins for the current state of your website. Plugins that are not used should be uninstalled. 

Below I list all plugins that are essentials to run your blog. These plugins are the minimum best configuration to run this particular blog optimized for security, speed and images.

Antispam Bee

Antispam Bee will protect you against spam. Once your website is open to the world, you will get many spammy comments and email shortly. This plugin will take care of it.

i-Themes Security

This is a must plugin (or any alternative) to secure your website against any intruders. It offers 30+ ways to lock down WordPress and protect your blog.

RankMath or Yoast SEO

SEO is a key to your success, as you have probably heard already. When posting a new blog post, you must use the right keywords and optimize your content to achieve a 100% score.

This way, you have a better chance to rank higher in Google. Ranking higher means more traffic, and more traffic means more customers in your blog.

Both plugins have a free and paid version. I personally use RankMath as it is cheaper and has more functionality.

Regarding keyword research, I recommend Keysearch for any new blogger as it is a great tool to do keyword research, and it does not cost much.

Site Kit by Google

The only way to see if you have any visitors to your page is by installing a Google plugin. There are many different plugins, but I use Site Kit by Google as it is a lightweight plugin, and it shows what I want.

Once you install the plugin, you need to connect it to Google Analytics to work.

UpdraftPlus

Nothing is more important than having a nice and secure backup if something goes wrong with your WordPress website. Using UpdraftPlus, you can make backups on-demand and schedule them every day.

Also, note that this is a WordPress backup plugin, but you also have a daily backup with SiteGround – the hosting provider. Thus, using additional plugins, you have two secure backups.

SG Optimizer (only SiteGround customers)

SiteGround provides the SG Optimizer plugin for free. With this plugin, you can optimise your website by selecting few options like caching, JavaScript and CSS minifying, font and image optimization and lazy loading.

It will also allow you to set up CDN (Content Delivery Network) for free to make your website distributed across all continents for faster access.

On top of everything, SG Optimizer allows you to configure an SSL certificate (provided for free by SiteGround)

WP Rocket - the best optimization plugin

Another great optimization plugin that is a definite leader on the market is WP Rocket.  As I mention, if you used SiteGround as your hosting provider, you can use SG Optimizer for free.

However, if you decided to use a different hosting provider and optimize your website, WP Rocket is the way to go.

It is the most powerful caching plugin that will improve the speed of your WordPress website, SEO rankings and conversions.

#9 Write your first posts

Let’s summarize what we have done so far:

  1. Picked your travel domain
  2. Purchased a domain
  3. Purchased a web hosting
  4. Installed WordPress
  5. Installed WordPress theme
  6. Set important WordPress settings
  7. Created About and Contact pages
  8. Installed necessary plugins

Now, it is time to do real work – writing some posts. As you are probably a traveller, some ideas come to your mind already. 

Travel post types

When it comes to travel posting, there are a few different blog post types you can create:

  • reporting post – this type of post can be created from the adventures you have encountered, e.g. in this blog, we have a section ‘Around Australia’ to describe our travelling story. You normally don’t provide facts or statistics about the place you went to and rather your personal experience.
  •  informative post – facts, statistics, places to stay, e.g. https://www.aussietowns.com.au/ 
  • A product review post is the best way to promote and sell a product. I don’t recommend doing this type of post before getting some traffic to your website
  • guest post – this is where you allow other bloggers to submit their content for a ‘price’ of a backlink to their site. You can use this type of post if you are not travelling and you don’t have original content
  • sponsored post – you can allow other bloggers to post on your site for a price. This can be a good idea when your website brings a lot of traffic already, and you want to make money from sponsored posts.
 
As you probably noticed already, there are two types of posts you can start with: reporting or informative. If you have been on a little trip or a bigger journey, write about it and share it with the world.
 

Writing tips

In terms of writing quality, let me list a few tips.

  • you always need to provide value to your readers by writing a high-quality content
  • make sure your post is SEO optimized with low competition keywords (I recommend Keysearch as your first SEO tool)
  • make sure you include photos and videos inside your post to make it more interactive
  • use readable fonts (you won’t guess how many blogs have fonts that are really hard to read)
  • bold your text in some areas to let Google know this is an important part
  • format your headings with H2 and H3 headers (post title is your H1 header)
  • use bullet points
  • lastly, but more importantly, make sure your post does not have grammatical errors

#10 Promoting your blog

Social media - your first traffic

After writing your first post, I recommend promoting it immediately on social media. Suppose you have already social accounts under your name you can do it there already.

However, I recommend setting up separate accounts for all main social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Social media will be your first traffic as no one knows about your website, and you have to let people know you are there.

The easiest to use and by far the most effective, especially when you start, is Pinterest. You can create individual pins that link directly to your posts. To get even better audience exposure, you can use Tailwind communities. 

With Tailwind, you can reshare other people pins, and your pins get reshares, too, giving you more traffic to your pins.

Click here to create a free account with Tailwind.

I recommend writing at least 10 but preferably 20 posts to move to the next step – guest posting.

Guest post - build up your domain rating

Once your website is well established with 20 posts, it is time to approach other bloggers in your niche and ask them if you can write a guest post. 

The way it works is, you provide them with your unique content, and they will give you 1 or 2 backlinks to your website. Backlinks are super important to build your domain authority and also another way to bring some traffic to your website.

This is my sample guest post I created for myrigadventures: 11 Best Kimberley Attractions.

Guest posting can be time-consuming, but it is one of the best ways to create a healthy backlink to your website.

Inforgraphics

Infographic is a collection of charts, labels, images and text that summarise a topic. A sample infographic related to this post could be “How to start a travel blog”, which visually shows step by step how to do it.

Another great infographic option is a custom map. I used that for my Bungle Bungles post. I created a sample map based on Google Maps and edited it in a free graphical program Gimp. It was not much work at all.

Then, I approached some website owners, saying: “I just created this nice, custom Bungle Bungles map. If you want to add it to your website, use this embedded code with a link to my website”. As simple as that. After that, a few bloggers decided to add it to their website (https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/bungle-bungles-wa)

There are many other ways to build backlinks and promote your blog, but that is probably beyond this article. I think these three options are a good start to keep you busy.

#11 Make money from your blog

Monetizing your blog is the last thing you have to do to start making money. As I mentioned already, this can only happen once you have at least 1000 visitors per month.

Doing it earlier is a waste of your time as there won’t be anybody clicking your links.

There are many ways to earn money from your website so let’s list them here.

Affiliate Marketing

Out of many ways to monetize your blog, affiliate marketing is the easiest and can be started at any time of your blog life.

There are two types of affiliate marketing:

  • affiliate networks
  • affiliate programs

An affiliate network is a centralised website where merchants sign up for a product they offer. You as an affiliate can sign up with the same affiliate network, select one of the product on offer and promote it on your blog.

There many types of affiliate networks. In some, you can promote any products by simply signing up. In others, you have to have an established website with a lot of traffic to promote any product.

The easiest affiliate network you can start using immediately is: ClickBank, ShareASale or JVZoo. You still have to be approved in the last two, but normally that’s not a problem. 

When applying to promote a product, make sure to provide all your details and state why you like the product, why you want to promote it and mention how you will promote it. They normally accept most of the applications.

The way it works is simple. You sign up, select a product, copy your affiliate link and paste it somewhere relevant on your website.

Clickbank
Clickbank Products

An affiliate program is a single product offered by the merchant, and they provide the affiliate portal. 

One example of an affiliate program is NordVPN, Bluehost or Elementor. You have to navigate to their page and sign up. Once you filled your application, you have to send it for approval.

Note here that not all merchants will accept your affiliate application. The key factor to success is always a professionally designed website with good traffic.

Freelancing

If your expertise is in some area and your website is only an extension to promote your business, you can list your services and work as a freelancer.

Considering we just set up a travel blog, maybe you are a good photographer, videomaker, or website developer? Just list all your services on your contact page, and people will definitely contact you for some work.

Ads

Google Ads is the simplest way to start monetizing your blog. You can start any time but don’t expect big earnings if you don’t have much traffic on your website. 

Also, the annoying part of ads is they appear in the middle of your content, making your posts less readable. If some of your readers don’t like advertisements, they may leave your website and never come back.

I still think the best way to earn money from your blog is through affiliate marketing.

Sponsored Posts

You can only use this option if your blog gained some good traffic and reputation. What you can do is update your contact page with a statement that you accept sponsored posts (they pay you to guest post on your website).

I can guarantee there will be people willing to pay you to have their post with a backlink to their site.

How to start travel blog - Executive Summary

If you got to this point – Congratulations!

It was quite a journey, but I hope my simple steps and further instructions helped you set up your first travel blog, promote it and make money in the future. 

Blogging is great, and especially these days, in the covid-19 era, travel blogs have double value. Why? Because people cannot travel, but they will travel, and they have to prepare for it using a good resource. 

This travel resource could be your blog, where you show your stories, share your experiences, provide travel guides and promote travel products (and earn money).

One day, if you do it right, you may quit your job and be a travel blogger. Who would not like that?

If you have any questions or think I missed something important, please comment, and I will get back to you.

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