Our audience are constantly asking how they can start a travel blog. We’ve asked our expert blogger Montana Mincher to put together a detailed article on how to start a travel blog. Use this guide as a reference point when you embark upon your travel blogging adventure.
Choose a Domain Name
Finding the perfect blog name might come naturally to some, while for others it will feel like a stressful and impossible task. After all, your blog name is what’s going to define you so it’s important to get it right!
Instead of running headfirst into creating your blog, sit down somewhere you feel comfortable and inspired, and start to map out a feel for your blog. Get those creative juices flowing and think about what you’re going to write about, what you want it to look like visually, and what your overall intentions are for running a blog. This vital brainstorming process will leave you with a vision board that you can use to highlight who you really are in the sometimes overcrowded world of travel bloggers.
Once you’ve thought out your blogging identity, you can start to brainstorm words, phrases, or names that associate with your topic. Remember, the best blog names are first and foremost relevant, brandable, and memorable. Of course, with so many blogs and websites out there the hardest part can sometimes be thinking of something that’s not already taken. You can use this tool to check if the domain name you’re considering is still available or not.
Here are our top tips for choosing the perfect domain name:
Stick with .com
URLs with .com are often more visible on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) they are also the most recognizable across the whole world and because of this familiarity, they’re also seen as the most reliable.
Use keywords in your domain name
Again, SERPs will reward you for this! Read more about SEO for travel bloggers here.
Make it easy to pronounce, spell and remember
Avoid double letters, hyphens, and long-winded domain names.
Keep it unique and on-brand
Make sure your domain name is reflective of your blog’s identity and stands apart from everyone else.
If you’re still stuck you can even use domain name generators like this one from Shopify to get some ideas.
Buy A Hosting Package
A hosting package is basically your blog’s home on the internet and all sites need hosting.
Bluehost is among the few hosting platforms that the wise folks from WordPress recommend and powers over 2 million sites worldwide. Bluehost has a super simple WordPress Installation process, and with just one click you’ll have everything sorted for you. Basically, if you’re after a high-quality, super easy, and cheap hosting solution Bluehost is the answer.
When you sign up for a Bluehost plan you’ll automatically get a free domain name, 24/7 customer support, and you can even get your hosting through Bluehost before you’ve committed to a blog name.
Bluehost is fairly easy to use and beginner-friendly, but for your ease of mind here’s a walkthrough of everything you’ll need to know about hosting your new blog with Bluehost:
There are a few different choices for packages: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro. You should choose which suits your needs and budget, but the Basic plan should be fine for all your needs. You can upgrade at any time if you need too.
Next, you’ll be prompted to set up your domain, but if you haven’t chosen your domain name yet don’t worry you can still continue the set-up process and come back to create your domain name later.
By continuing on to the next step, you’ll be prompted to create your Bluehost account by completing all your personal and billing information. During this stage of the set up you can also review your package, plan inclusions, and add any extras you might need.
You’ll then receive an email from Bluehost with your account and WordPress login information so you can start to build your website
Use WordPress to Set Up Your Website
The importance of WordPress in the blogging space is hard to deny. It’s the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world and now accounts for over 30% of websites on the internet (yep, it’s a pretty big deal). WordPress supplies a massive template system for literally anyone and everyone, and allows for as many plugins as your heart desires.
This makes WordPress the go-to CMS for fully functioning and customizable websites for any business, blog, portfolio, eCommerce store, and basically everything else you can think of.
The basic idea of a CMS like WordPress is to provide you with a tool so that you don’t actually need to be a coder to build and edit your own website. With its ease of use, compatibility with other third-party blogging tools, and versatility it might surprise you to know that WordPress is a completely free tool. The catch here is that while WordPress is free, you do have to pay for your own domain name and hosting—but as mentioned above, you can get both of these with Bluehost for a very manageable $2.95/month.
Here’s how to start using WordPress to build out your blog!
Once you get the signup email from Bluehost, click on the link to be taken to your WordPress hosting control panel. From here, you can follow on to the WordPress login button to enter your WordPress site’s admin dashboard and begin to edit your site as you please.
Choose a Theme
Remember when you sat down for that great brainstorming session and started to plan out your blog? If you had a clear image of what you wanted your blog to look like, now is the exciting part where you get to revisit that vision and actually execute it!
It goes without saying that your blog’s appearance is one of the most vital elements to get right to ensure that you’re getting traffic onto your website and that they spend time on it. WordPress is great because it allows you to work with interchangeable themes super easily. With one click you’ll be able to try out different themes on your website until you find something that you think looks perfect.
A theme will give you a base to start with for the overall look and design of your blog, but you can absolutely customize it to suit you. Many themes have various design elements and functionalities that are customizable so you don’t have to go searching for one that ticks every one of your boxes.
There’s no shortage of WordPress themes out there. Third-party sites like aThemes and justfreethemes are filled with great free themes to choose from. If you’re happy to pay for a theme, then there’s a whole other world to delve into from theme stores like themeforest.
This article has a great wrap up of the 25 best WordPress themes for travel bloggers.
WordPress plugins are great tools to use to add extra functionalities to your website. If you find that something is missing from the theme you choose, chances are you will be able to add it in with a plugin. By extending the standard functionality of your site with plugins you’ll be able to really make a website your own. There are plugins for basically everything you can think of, but here are some of the most essential ones for travel bloggers.
SEO Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins. This magical little plugin will help you to make SEO tweaks that will ultimately make your site more accessible to search engines. As a blogger, this is a very important thing to achieve, so SEO Yoast is basically a must-have.
Many bloggers like to incorporate their Instagram feed onto the homepage of their website or anywhere else throughout. Doing this is a great way to not only drive more traffic to your Instagram page but it is also great for showcasing your beautiful work and making your website more personal.
This plugin is related to a major factor in SEO – your site’s speed. This very simple plugin optimizes your images for you, ultimately making sure that your website is performing at a high speed so that your audience won’t get sick of waiting for pages to load.
This plugin lets you add interactive contact forms to your website, which your visitors can use to reach you directly. This is really handy if you want to try and get commissioned for work from your site, or for anyone who wants to be reachable by website visitors. Having a contact form is also much more professional than just displaying your email in plain text on your site.
Start Producing Quality Content
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: content is king. All of the work setting up your blog and getting the design and functionality right is ultimately going to be pointless if you aren’t ready to knuckle down and start producing some epic content! There’s no secret recipe to creating content your audience is going to love, but follow these few steps and you might just find your groove.
Create a publishing schedule
Publishing a new blog post whenever you feel inspired is wonderful, but consistency and frequency are what everyone’s really aiming for. Think about your favorite TV show and how hyped you get every week when you know there’s going to be a new episode released. Imagine if you could create that excitement among your own audience! By developing a consistent publishing schedule you’ll be able to set yourself deadlines, manage workflow, and also keep up with your audience’s expectations.
Keep a file of your content ideas
Do you know those times when you’re mid-shower and come up with a great new idea? Don’t let those ideas just wash away! Start a new document with all of these random ideas and a brief description of each one. This way you can always go back and pick up on any of these ideas and flesh them out as needed.
Check-in with your favorite blogs. Consider what content you personally love to consume and try to replicate that. Of course, when you’re getting inspiration from someone else you have to remain unique and authentic and take on a version of that idea with your own point of difference and in your own voice.
Review what content is performing the best
Periodically review your published content. You can sit down weekly, monthly, or quarterly and look at your website’s analytics. What type of content received the most landing page visits and had the longest page linger time? If there are any clear patterns start to take note of what your audience responds to and if there was anything that didn’t perform well. This will help you get a better idea of what type of content to avoid while separating the content that does perform well so that you can better craft your content to suit your audience’s needs.
Great Escape Publishing’s travel writing program is a great tool you can use today to learn more about creating engaging content and enhance your writing skills. And to learn more about blogging specifically, you should check out their blogging program[DA1] .
Get Traffic To Your Blog
So you’ve created an epic blog that’s got full user functionalities, looks amazing and houses lots of awesome content, but how do you actually drive traffic to your blog? There are numerous ways that you can start to get your blog recognized on the internet, but we’ll just focus on the main two strategies anyone can implement to ensure lots of website views.
The power of social media is very evident in the world of blogging, it almost seems too easy for those Instagrammers with millions of followers to start a successful blog. Even if you don’t have a massive following there are still so many ways you can use this power to leverage the success of your blog. Start by including your websites link in any social media accounts that you’re active on. Every time you share a new blog post, make a post or a story linking to your new work and promote it to your social media audience.
Search Engine Optimization
If you’ve come this far in starting your own blog chances are you’ve heard of a little thing called SEO before (hint, it’s not so little). Search Engine Optimization is basically the practice of adopting certain strategies and following rules to improve the likelihood that search engines will show your content in the top search results to searchers. This is a pretty important thing to achieve when you’re trying to drive organic traffic to your new blog. To dive deeper into the world of SEO, see our full SEO Guide For Travel Bloggers.