How to Start a Travel Blog

Travel blogs are two a penny these days so you need to ensure you’re giving yourself the best possible start possible if you’re to be successful. I would just like to clear something up before you jump in a set up a travel blog in order to fund a round the world trip – it’s going to take a lot of effort to generate you enough money to fund a round the world trip in the first 12-24 months of it being set up, it’s not impossible but you’ll need to make sure the foundations are correct before you get started on the wrong foot.

There are 6 key areas you need in order to start a successful travel blog


Domain

Your Identity

A domain name is your online identity. It’s going to reflect you as an individual and also your brand and the approach you intend on taking to discuss your travels. The first domain name was registered in 1985 and ever since domains have become more and more scarce. As i’ll tell you in detail later it’s important to get your own domain name and not use a free one from blogger/wordpress.

Hosting

Your Storage

Your host is essentially the place where all your files are stored on the internet and are accessible 24/7. There are different types of hosting both free and paid and I’ll explain the benefits of each.

Theme

Your Visuals

Everyone is pretty fickle these days and there is little excuse to have a great looking travel blog. There a theme marketplaces all over the net which offer a very aesthetic theme for circa $50.


Niche

Your Speciality

As I mentioned earlier there are a lot of travel blogs on the web, one way to distinguish yourself is to pick a niche e.g. backpacking/luxury/adventure and try and tailor yourself to audiences within these areas.

Equipment

Your Tools

As a travel blogger you’re going to need to have a a few essentials in order to produce great content so people can follow and share your journey. Cameras, laptops and software are just some of the few bare essentials we suggest.

Tech

Your Skills

If you’re new to blogging and running websites you’ll need to learn about the technology and language which internet is powered on. You don’t need to become a professional in these area but an understanding in HTML, CSS and PHP will be very useful.

1) Domain

Owning your own domain is one of the most exciting parts of setting up a travel blog. If you’ve never owned a domain before then is essentially like buying your rights to your online identity. The reason you want to buy your own domain and not get a free sub domain from Google/Wordpress is that you want complete control of your domain at all times. There are huge limitations when it comes to domains controlled by third parties and if you’re going to build up a successful blog then it’s best to have complete ownership.

 

Before you rush ahead and come up with a name for your travel blog you should be brainstorming ideas against available domain names. With many domain names taken, or up for sale at a significant figures you don’t want to come up with an amazing blog name to find it’s been taken or for sale at $20,000.

 

To do this you’re going to need to head to Namecheap. They’ve been my domain name registrar of choice over the last 5 years and their service and prices can’t be beaten. It’s also very user friendly compared to other registrars and I couldn’t recommend them more.

Namecheap hosting

You can type in your name into the search box, hit search and find you whether it’s available. If you have multiple domain names once you’ve search for one you can click “bulk search” and enter up to 50 at a time.

 

When the domain you want is available then add it to your cart and follow the checkout procedure

name cheap add to cart

Congratulations you’re now the owner of you’re very own domain name!

2) Hosting

Once you own a domain it’s time to rent some space in order to host the files which will be served to people going to your web address, aka your domain name.

One of the best hosts around are Bluehost who do a very reasonable hosting package for $6.95 a month which will allow to host as many websites as you like!

blue host sign up

The next step is the assign your hosting your domain name.

add in blog name

Then you need to set up your account information.

 

Why Bluehost?

 

One thing you’ll come to realise when you own a travel blog is the ability to contact support quickly should you have a question or if something goes wrong. Having been a web master for the last 7 years trust me things are bound to go wrong. Bluehost have priced themselves well and offer great customer service and that is why I recommend them.

 

Syncing your domain to your hosting.

 

In order to have your domain name and your hosting synced you need to point your domain name servers to your hosting name server. To do this you need to log into your Namecheap account and click manage your blog domain name. You’ll then need to update the nameservers to those supplied by blue host in your welcome email.

Installing WordPress

 

This blog and countless others use WordPress. It’s s free content management system that has ample amounts of features that are very intuitive and beginner friendly. Within Bluehost scroll down to software manager and click WordPress.

wordpresscircled

You will then be asked for some information on the location of the install. I always prefer to install on www.myawesometravelblog.com rather than just myawesometravelblog.com but this is completely down to your preference and either will not impact your websites potential performance.

 

Please follow the settings in the screenshot that includes my other recommendations;

 

  • 1) Changing the database prefix to a two random let’s and two random numbers
  • 2) Making sure you don’t install within any directory

 

So please follow the settings in the screenshot below.

 

set up bluehost hosting

Congratulations

You're now a travel blogger!
You can log in by going over to youdomain.com/wp-admin/ and publish your first post which will be visible on the home page. Now that’s set up we’re going to talk about customisation.

 

3)Theme

As I mentioned previously travel blogs and blogs in general are very common, and while the content of your posts is very important to build a following, having a beautiful design is going to help slingshot your success. For this were going to use a theme in order to quickly add a beautiful design without having to hire a designer to make one for you.

 

I suggest heading over the themeforest which is a marketplace for themes. From here it’s up to you to decide but I’ll list some of my favourite travel blog templates below:

 

Simplymag

simplymag

This is the theme we use and we love how sleek it is!

 

Valenti

valenti theme

Valenti is another favourite amongst travel and style bloggers because of it’s many powerful features

 

Presso

 

presso

 

With each download you’ll be given instructions on how to set up the theme and essentially it boils down to the uploading the theme via the upload function under appearance -> theme in WordPress. If you’re having any trouble with this contact envato as with all themes you get 6 months of support.

 

Once you’ve uploaded your theme and followed all the steps in the install guide that came with it it’s time to install some plugins.

 

Plugins I’m going to recommend are free and can you found within the plugin option in the WordPress sidebar by searching.

 

1) W3 total cache – This is going to help ensure your blog loads really fast!

2) Yoast SEO Plugin – The plugin will enable you to get traffic from search engines!

3) Askimet – This will stop the pesky comment spam that’s rife on the web

4) Contact form 7 – This a great way to create forms so your readers can email you!

5) Acurax Social Media Widgets – Finally this is how to ensure it’s really easy to share your content

 

Excellent you’re really nearly there!

 

Setting up social

 

With your blog set up and ready to go it’s time to set up your social media profiles. Social media can be the biggest catapult for new blogs to garner popularity.

 

The three essential social media profiles you need to set up are;

 

Facebook page – once you’ve got to 25 likes you can customise your URL

Twitter

Google+

 

Make sure you include your blog name within each as this will be help with branding and search.

 

Two non essential but very useful are;

 

Bloglovin

Pinterest

Congratulations you’ve done the easy part and set up your travel blog! Now come lots of learning and hard work in order to build a community and publish posts that are discoverable and insightful. I will now cover the foundations for your success by learning from people who’ve been there and made mistakes so you don’t have to!

 

social icons

Collect emails

 

Blogs can sprout and turn into the most amazing things and if you’re collecting email from your followers and visitors over time then you can ensure you let them know and use their feedback to guide your ambitions. The way in which we collect emails on this blog as you’ve seen already is through aweber. They are a paid service which allows you to create multiple email lists and send out emails in custom templates.

 

Just like this! If you’ve found this information useful then you should sign up to my email list to keep up to date.

 

Receive an update straight to your inbox every time I publish a new article. Your email address will never be shared

 

4) Niche

 You may have heard mentors in the blogging world talk about how you can make any one of your passions successful. This couldn’t be more applicable to blogging. You’re going to be documenting your stories and publishing posts which are read by a handful of people and many people will say you’re wasting your time.

 

It was like that for us in the beginning, we spent a lot of time and money writing posts, emailing other bloggers etc with little or no reward. That has since changed and this blog now opens up lots of opportunities to travel to new places and experience new things.

 

Find and define your niche

 

If you’re a budget traveller then focus on budget travelling, focus until there is no other website or person on the web who knows and has showcased their knowledge more than you. As I said earlier there are quite a few travel blogs on the web and specialisation is everything.

5)Equipment

As a travel blogger you’re going to need a few basic tools in order to ensure you’re giving yourself the best shot. In descending order these are;

1) Camera

 

Imagery is really important for your blog, while iPhones are really good at on the go pictures if you want to capture your travels in a really fantastic way then you’re going to need something a little more substantial. DSLR’s are always going to give you the best photos and are what I use personally but i’ve been having some great success with my latest compact camera from Canon so for anyone starting out this is the camera I recommend!
canon-powershot-g7-x01

Canon G7x

2) Photoshop

Me running

Photoshop is going to turn your photos into ones that you can use to market your blog. You’ll come to realise that pinterest photos benefit from being tall and maximum 700px wide this way they’ll be displayed in people feeds. This is just one of many examples when you’ll need image manipulation. Photoshop CC is the monthly service and gives you access to Lightroom as well which is great for quick adjustments.

 

3) Travel Laptop

 

On the move you’ll want a light easy laptop to take with you on your travels. The perfect example would be a macbook air which is light powerful and surprisingly durable. If you’re not already on a laptop then I strongly suggest swapping over to one.

 

Pretty self explanatory but that covers off the essentials.

 

6) Technology

Finally the last thing you’re going to need to do is learn all the intricacies of what it takes to run a blog. I guarantee there will be times when you starting up that you’ll be totally bemused and confused at ho to achieve certain things, such as changing the size of font, colour and apperance etc.

With enough searching on Google you’ll find a solution, websites like stackexchange have a huge amount of answers.

However in order to speed up your learning process I want to show you the best ways to speed up this process.

This concludes the tutorial. I hope you’ve learn’t a lot and you should be at a stage to create a really successful travel blog! Get blogging & create as much content as you possibly can!