‘What do you actually do?’ is the most common question I get when I tell people I’m a travel blogger. As surprising as it sounds travel blogging can be an actual job and it became mine in 2015. Unfortunately, you can’t just ‘get this job’ overnight. Whether you want to blog professionally or privately here’s a mini-guide on how to start a travel blog. You’ll also find out what to consider when you start, as some things are irreversible.
Why Do You Want to Become a Travel Blogger?
Why do you want to blog is the most important question and you should answer – before you even start considering getting a website. After seeing all my pretty photos online which make me look like I’m not working at all. I know, a lot of you think that you want my job. Travel blogging isn’t easy. I often work for hours and hours without any break. Anyway… here’s my guide on how can you start a travel blog.
How to Start a Blog in 2020?
The first thing you need to realize is that it’s still NOT TOO LATE TO START your own blog. But, I’m going to be completely honest and say that covid has ruined travel blogging and you might be better off starting a food blog these days.
The good news is that all my tips apply to different niches, so whether it’s a lifestyle blog, food blog, travel blog, or even something very niche like raising chickens or all about flooring, you’ll be good to start!
While there are many bloggers and influencers on the market, there is only a handful of them who are worth recommending and doing their job professionally. I personally saw some bloggers rising out of nowhere and beating the already established people in terms of traffic, audience engagement and beautiful photos. As long as you’re determined and willing to work hard, you could be the next blogging star!
If you ever want to take your blogging adventures to the next level – make money, change a design, anything, you shouldn’t start your blog on WordPress. A few years ago one could slowly transition into a professional blogger and learn as they go. But in 2019, the only way to ‘make it’ in the blogging world is starting the right way from the start.
Find a Good Blog Name
Finding a great name for your blog might be a challenge, so take your time. It’s VERY important. This is how you’re going to recognized, remembered and it cannot be changed later. Your blog should be telling your readers what is it all about.
I wanted to write about my journey throughout the whole world and that’s how Anna Everywhere came to life. It’s a name easy to remember, and you can always assume from its name that it’s a travel blog and that it’s about me. Here are a few things you should consider when choosing a name:
- Don’t limit yourself! Don’t try to create a name that describes your current travel route like “Anna in Africa” as it might limit you later on. What if you decide to move to Asia later? Names as ‘Twenty-Something Travel” might sound great at first, but are you going to be in your twenties forever? Another example was ‘The Hungry Partier’ who realized that his name wasn’t getting him many sponsors and he eventually grew out of partying.
- Think internationally! I’d also avoid names that might not be clear to everyone. If you’re planning on writing in English your audience is going to be international, not just Australian or American. For instance, I know a blog called ‘Peanuts or Pretzels’. That name might be clear to Americans as it refers to a complimentary snack choice on major American airlines, but a lot of foreigners have no idea about it. When people ask what’s their blog name people usually respond ‘something with peanuts’, which probably isn’t how you want to be remembered and referred to.
- Be original! As great as Nomadic X, Adventurous X or Wandering X may sound at first, if you do a quick Google search you’ll realize that there are way too many blogs named like that. Your blog won’t stand out and as a result, you’ll have less chance to succeed in the industry. Same goes for ‘Blonde’, ‘Brunette’, “Ginger’ or other names referring to your hair color. Take a look at a list of best travel blogs created by Matt to give you an idea of what kind of blog names are being used already.
Set up Your Social Media Channels
At least half of the blogging success nowadays is your social media channels. After you’ve chosen a name for your blog and checked if the domain name is available (more about it below), you should go ahead and secure your social media handles.
In my case, it wasn’t easy as Anna is a popular name and social media handles ‘annaeverywhere’ were already taken.
While I managed to get a facebook page Anna Everywhere & YouTube, a handle ‘annaeverywhere’ has already been taken on Twitter, Instagram. As a result, I had to add ‘_’, ‘-‘ and ‘.’ to my handles what isn’t an ideal solution, but I simply had no choice.
You won’t know everything about social media straight away. I recommend you to follow me and some other travel bloggers on social media and see what we’re all doing on each of our channels in order to learn.
Can I Start a Blog for Free?
Those of you who want to start a simple blog for friends and family can do it for free at WordPress.com. That’s how I started my blog, but I honestly regret it. WordPress.com doesn’t give you many options when it comes to design, selling adds and the most important thing it doesn’t allow you to attach Google Analytics account that will be important to track your visitors and send your stats to potential sponsors later.
Once your blog grows you’ll understand that the more visitors you have and the more collaborations you’ll get, the more money you’ll spend on the blog. For instance, because of my high traffic, my husband and I pay $300ish monthly for hosting alone.
Set up Your Hosting Platform
There are many different platforms that can host your website. What exactly is a host? A host can be compared to a small base where your website content will be stored.
For new bloggers, I recommend hosting your blog on Bluehost as it’s cheap ($3.95 a month), safe and easy to set up. How to set it all up?
- Step 1: Go to BLUEHOST.
- Step 2: Click on Get Started website and pick a plan.
You can read my Bluehost Step By Step Tutorial on how to start your WordPress blog with Bluehost with screenshots to help you along the way. Check it out here.
Why Should You Install WordPress.org?
WordPress.ORG is often confused with wordpress.COM, but as similar as they can look it’s a totally different thing. WordPress.ORG is a program that runs on self-hosting websites and you’ll need it on your website. The panel is the same as on a free wordpress.com with possibilities to add more widgets, plugins etc. Don’t feel overwhelmed by this – you’ll learn in the process. After you install WordPress you can log in to your website through the dashboard. Voila!
I won’t lie to you, there are alternatives to WordPress, but certain themes and plugins will only work on WordPress. If for some reason you don’t want to work with WordPress, there’s also Joomla (pros: multilingual) or Blogger.
Choose the Right Theme to Design Your Blog
Once your blog is finally live, it won’t look good right away until you redesign it. You can hire a designer/developer on Upwork who can install everything on your blog quickly if you’re too scared to do it yourself. Don’t worry about your theme too much, as you can change it many times during your blogging career, I changed mine 4 times in 4 years until I was finally happy with it.
For beginners, I highly beautiful themes from 17th Avenue. They’re cheap and easy to use. Also, you can always send their team of developers an email if you’re struggling with something. If you like simplicity that’s the right design for you, but there are way more available online.
You’re going to need some plugins on your website. What are plugins? They are third-party additional apps that make your website look cooler. You can search for them in the plugin section of your WordPress panel or simply google them. I struggled to find the right plugins, so here’s what I recommend:
- Akismet – This plugin will protect you from spam. Yes, you really need it even if you’re just starting out.
- Really Simple Share – Do you want your articles to be shared on social media? Of course, you do!
- Broken Link Checker – It’s an easy way to see if some of the links on your blog aren’t working anymore. Your readers don’t want to click on a link that leads nowhere.
- Redirection – A very important plugin if you plan on changing URLs and all of us change URLs once in a while.
- Resize After Upload – You don’t want your images to be huge, because your website will take forever to load. You can set up dimensions of your images in this plugin.
- Thank Me Later – When your readers comment on your post they’ll receive a thank you message along with some links to your social media channels. It’s a great way to gain more followers.
- Yoast SEO – Easy plugin to improve your SEO. While it won’t make your articles rank high by itself, it’ll teach you some things about writing for SEO purposes.
Voila! Start writing!
That’s basically it! You can now start writing, starting from your ‘About’ page which will be the most viewed page of your blog. Don’t give up if your blog won’t have that many visitors straight away.
It takes months to develop an audience and you should focus on getting noticed first. Reach out to other travel bloggers and online magazines and ask to write a guest post or take part in collaborative articles on other blogs.
I cannot teach you everything about blogging in a single post, as it would be as long as a book. But, blogging courses can do it better than me.
My Recommendations for Online Courses:
- Superstar Blogging – Why? It’s founded by Nomadic Matt – who whether you like or not, is the author of the most popular travel blog on the planet. Focuses on turning a blog into a business, optimizing SEO, doing the more advanced pitching. Superstar Blogging also bought the previously popular course called Travel Blog Success, so now you’ll have access to both!
- Making Sense of Cents – Why? Because you could definitely learn from someone who makes over $150,000 per month only from affiliates alone.
- Photo Muse Masterclass – Spot on photography course for beginners and intermediate people. My friend Kristin created this course that explains everything you need to know. I looked through the content, so can vouch for this course.
I also can recommend you joining a few Facebook groups in which you can ask questions and get some tips. To name a few groups: Under 1000 Club for beginners and Make Money Blogging for more advanced bloggers, but there are many more groups.
You can also attend travel blogging conferences such as Travelcon, TBEX, WTM, Traverse or Women in Travel Summit to meet other bloggers and learn some tricks! You never know who you can meet and how it could help you in the future. My husband and I actually met at TBEX Florida 🙂
Learn More as You Go…
You shouldn’t worry about SEO when you start your blog, but you can start thinking about it already. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it basically refers to being easily found on in the google search. There are many ways to improve your SEO, but it’s a topic for another article.
If you want to learn how to improve your traffic you should check out this e-book. While I haven’t written it myself, it nicely explained everything.
Travel blogging isn’t as easy as it seems. You shouldn’t expect to see any large benefits from it for at least a year or two. Most of us full-time bloggers work over 30h a week while juggling press trips and brainstorming ideas for new projects. The most important thing is not to give up!
If you’re looking for ways to make money blogging and how to monetize a travel blog, check out my article on how to make money blogging.
Any questions? Troubles? Ask me below & good luck!