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How to Start Your Own Travel Blog the Simple Way - A Step by Step Guide for Beginners

First things first: why should you start a travel blog?

Starting a travel blog - or any kind of blog - is not necessary for everyone, but it can be great fun and it's worth giving it a try. If you like to travel and wish to share your experiences with other people, then a blog is probably the most ideal platform for it. Here are a few benefits of travel blogging:

  • people are always looking for tips and advice about their next travel destination(s), and if you have happened to be at one of these places, a blog is a great tool to share your own experiences and help others
  • it is also a convenient channel for publishing and showcasing your own travel pictures to the world
  • having an own blog is an uncomplicated way of getting in touch with like-minded people (other travel enthusiasts) and strike new friendships with them
  • a blog can help you to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field of interest - in this case in traveling - and could lead you to unexpected opportunities both professionally and financially
  • we have already touched on this in another article, but just to remind you again, a blog is an excellent source of multiple active and passive income forms, and it can easily result in a full time 'job' where you do what you love, while you generate money

Let's see now what the basic steps are for starting a travel blog and how you can do it, too.

Step 1: Choose a good name for your blog (and get a domain name for it for free!)

The name of your blog should be something unique and it should also reflect the the main theme of your posts. A good strategy is to specialize. Ask yourself this: what kind of travel do I really like? Is it budget travel? Is it luxury travel? Is it hiking and camping outdoors? Or are you more keen on exploring culture, history and art in a place? Or are you a party freak? Do you travel solo or with your chums? Or is it family travel that you are interested in? Choose a theme - and with that a niche - that speaks to your heart and find a name for your blog with that theme in mind. For example, 'Britney's luxury trips', 'Jen's Budget Travel Tips', 'On the Road with the Fam'; (as in Family), and so on. Check out a current list of the 100 most popular travel blogs and study these websites' profile.

Once you have decided on a name, what you need to do is to register a domain name for it. It costs about 10 buck per year, and some webhosting companies offer even free domain registration, like Bluehost does. Check it out. If the desired domain name is already taken, experiment with different domain name extensions, like .COM, .NET, . INFO, .ORG, or country-specific ones, such as .CO.UK, .US, and so on.

Step 2: Find a low cost web host for your blog

Now that you have your own domain name, it's time to find the right webhosting service for it. When you just start out, you don't need to look for anything fancy with lots of extras. Usually a beginner hosting package will cover your initial needs. Go with a hosting company that has Wordpress included in their service. Wordpress is a free blogging platform, basically the one that most travel bloggers (and big name bloggers in general) use. The webhost called Bluehost is ideal for starting out. You can choose any of their shared web hosting plans, from the cheapest to the more advanced ones. The monthly fee of a low cost hosting plan is somewhere between 5 and 10 bucks. Wordpress can be easily set up from these plans with only a few clicks. (See next step for more details on that.)

Step 3: Create a blog in 15 minutes without any programming knowledge

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can get Wordpress within your hosting package. Wordpress is a highly popular free 'website builder', if we want to oversimplify things. You can create personal websites, corporate websites, online stores, but most importantly, blogs with it. And you don't need to have either programming or web design skills to maintain that blog.

So, how do you set up a blog as a total newbie? Once you sign in to your hosting account, from the control panel you will be able to access so called pre-installs for dozens of popular programs. One of these is Wordpress. You just click the icon that says 'install Wordpress' (or something similar, like '1-click-install') and follow the instructions. Basically, you will be asked for which domain and in which directory you want to install the program, what the name of your blog will be, and you may be prompted for specifying a username and a password. Usually, that's it. In a couple of minutes the blog is installed, and all you need to to do is to log in and start posting.

Do you want to have a specific look for your blog? There are tens of thousands of Wordpress templates floating around on the internet. Some of them are free, others are sold for a small fee (between 35 and 70 bucks). Themeforest has a lot of professionally designed templates specifically for travel related websites and blogs. Check them out, and choose one for your own blog. The designers provide both instruction and support for how to use the templates, often in the form of a video. You just need to follow the steps. However, if you are completely new to using Wordpress, there might be a bit of a learning curve till you get familiar with how things works and how to set stuff up in your brand new blog.

Step 4: Create content - what to post about?

Now it's time to create content. But what should you write about? Obviously, you want to write about travel from a specific angle (e.g. budget, solo, cultural trips, etc). But instead of going with a shot in the dark it's much more effective to do some research beforehand. If you are going to post about the perks and beauties of budget traveling, then what are the things that people are really interested in to read about? A good idea is to go to websites like Quora or Reddit and go through the topics within your niche (in this case it would be budget travel). Try to determine what the most frequently asked questions are and then provide answers to these questions in your blog posts. You can also address topical issues. Season related issues, upcoming events, etc.

Then, you should get familiar with keywords research and what their relevance is in getting good rankings for your blog posts in Google or other search engines. Keywords or related to search engine optimazation (SEO). It's based on the idea that when peopl hit up a search engine like Google, they either search for very specific things or they are more vague about it in their search terms. The point is, that people may use different search phrases or keywords to look for the same thing. And for some of these keywords it's easier to get a higher position for your blog in Google, then for others. There are many resources on the internet about search engine optimization and about the free and paid tools that can help you with finding the right keywords. Google's own tool, the Google Keyword Planner is free and a good starting point for keyword research. Check out some updated video tutorials about its use on Youtube.

Step 5: Incorporate income sources into your blog

In our article that lists 12 ways of how to make a side income with traveling, we have already mentioned a few monetizing options for blogs. Here is a list of potential income sources that you can come up with for your blog:

  • display ads: these could be banner ads, direct text links, ads served by an advertising network such as Google Adsense, video ads or other creative forms of advertising
  • promote affiliate products: affiliate marketing is about signing up to a vendor's affiliate program, receiving a special tracking link that you will insert into your blog post (or sidebar) and getting paid a commission once someone clicks that special links and buys a products or service on the vendor's website (a good example for that is Amazon's associate program)
  • sponsored content: it's another form of advertising, where you can charge advertisers for running a 'sponsored post' about their product, or have an advertiser's link or banner displayed for sponsoring a specific section on your blog
  • travel books: write a travel book that sums up your experiences and sell it digitally, either on your own website, or through Amazon's Kindle Publishing program
  • create other digital products and sell them on your website: you may consider creating a travel related online course that your readers could buy through your website; you could take travel photos and sell them as stock photos on your own blog directly, or through stock photo sites; you could do the same with travel videos and sell them as stock videos; you could create travel DVDs and sell them on your own website, etc.
  • travel consulting: many established travel bloggers offer travel related consulting for a nice fee, however, the topic for your consulting services don't need to be travel related, it could be about some other area of interest of yours or something connected to your profession, where your blog would serve as a promotional tool to get clients
  • freelance services: this is similar to the previous income source, where you would offer some kind of service promoted through your blog, but also through freelancing marketplaces
  • Udemy courses: create a travel related course (or any kind of course) on Udemy where participants would pay you a fee, and promote the course on your blog
  • charge money for premium content: this option usually works for more established bloggers who have achieved a sort of an authority status on the topic of your choice, and offer a membership on their blogs where certain content (blog posts, tutorials, PDF resources, guides, videos, etc) are only available for paying subscribers
  • live online seminar / workshop: create a webinar about a sought after topic and charge money for participation
  • email ads: a simple extra income source is an own email newsletter, where you can charge advertisers for promoting stuff to your email newsletter subscribers (consider building an email list from the start - Getresponse is a great tool for that - as it offers many benefits, you can read more about it in Step 7.)
  • social media sponsored post: you might focus building a following on your favourite social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc) and use it for publishing sponsored content that you would get paid for by advertisers

Many people choose to start blogging because they want to make some extra income - and then proceed to turn their websites into a source for a full time income - but to see financial results may take quite some time, depending on your efforts and willingness to dive deeper into the art of internet marketing. Still, it doesn't hurt to incorporate several incomes sources into your website right from the start.

Step 6: Drive visitors and potential buyers to your website

Most experienced bloggers will tell you that the really crucial part in building a successful blog is to drive targeted web traffic to your website. After all, without visitors your blog may be pretty pointless. Luckily, there are dozens of both free and paid ways to attract visitors to you blog. Here are a few examples:

  • keyword research, on site SEO
  • writing great content based on your keyword research

  • create viral freebies (PDF reports, checklists, tutorials, templates) and encourage visitors to share them with their friends
  • guest blogging: approach other travel bloggers (or lifestyle bloggers) and offer to write a guest post for their blogs (promoting your own blog in the author's bio part)
  • join travel related (or lifestyle related) Facebook groups where you can become a member of a community through sharing valuable tips and information (and through that promoting your blog)
  • tag influencers in your Twitter tweets and use relevant hashtags to get the attention of other travel bloggers with a Twitter account (but instead of spamming them, focus on connecting with them and creating a relationship)
  • create a Youtube channel and share your travel related videos there
  • post travel images on your Instagram account and socialize with your target audience
  • use Pinterest for creating boards and showcasing travel images
  • join travel forums where you can become an active and helpful member of the community by sharing tips and also promoting your blog)
  • comment on related travel blogs and try to create connections with other bloggers>
  • start an email list (see Step 7.) and build a community around your blog
  • experiment with starting a travel podcast
  • answer travel related questions on Quora and through that promote your own blog (without being spammy)
  • do the same as above on Yahoo Answers
  • if you have the budget for it, use paid advertising: PPC campaigns on search engines like Google or Bing, paid banner ads on other blogs, sponsored posts on social media, paid ads in print magazine, paid ads on local / niche radio, paid ads on travel podcasts, etc.
  • write a press release about some event that is related to your blog (e.g. a product launch, or the launch of your travel book) and distribute it to press release sites

There are many other ways to drive web traffic to your website. Check out a few books or internet marketing blogs about SEO, link building, site promotion and web traffic.

Step 7: Want to multiply your earnings potential? Use email marketing!

Email marketing is a powerful tool to build rapport to your potential buyers and turn one time web visitors into repeat buyers. Sign up for an account at an email marketing provider such as Getresponse, and start building your own email list. They will provide you with a special code that you need to incorporate into your blog, and once you set up your email list, visitors can sign up to your newsletter. The great thing about having an own email list of potential buyers is that once you have something to promote (either your own product or an affiliate product for commission), you can easily sell to these people without sounding too salesman-like. The key to this is to build trust and build a relationship to your list. There are many tutorials available on how to achieve that. Read up about email marketing to make the most out of this effective tool.

Step 8: Get the right tools to grow your blog's web traffic and sales

Once you achieved a certain level with your blog, in order to grow you will need to spend money on outsourcing tasks or using premium tools. This is necessary so that you can focus on the part of your 'blogging business' that you enjoy the most, while other parts of managing your blog will be taken care of by freelancers or tools that automate processes. What tool are these? For example, email marketing tools such as an autoresponder / newsletter service, SEO tools to monitor ranking and link building, keyword research tools, ecommerce tools to sell products on your blog, tools that will automate posting on your social media accounts, tracking tools for testing stuff on your site, various plugins for your blog that will add extra functionality to your website and a bunch of other tools that will make things easier for you in general to grow your online business. You can research these tools but if you only start out in blogging, you probably won't need many of these yet.

Step 9: Network with other bloggers and 'influencers'

An important part of becoming an authority figure as a blogger in your chosen field (in this case traveling) is to network with others in the travel niche. You can start building such relationships online with other travel bloggers and even with travel related vendors. But to take things further, why not engage with these people offline, as well, at various industry or blogging events? It's worth to invest into attending travel or blogger conferences and dedicated events and deepen these relationships. You can benefit both personally (by making friends) and professionally (by seizing new business opportunities) from networking. Don't get discouraged if such social situations make you feel a bit awkward. A good idea is to improve your social and communication skills, and with practice you will see a lot of improvement and find enjoyment in this type of networking and relationship building.

Step 10: Avoid burn-out and reduce stress to fully enjoy blogging

Always pay attention to your mental and emotional well being! Blogging and building an online business with it can sometimes becomes overwhelming or even lonely. Make sure that you create a healthy balance between work (blogging) and life. Come together with friends, find new hobbies and interests, get enough physical exercise, eat healthily, meditate and practice mindfulness. This will help you to avoid burn-out and to reduce stress in your everyday life. So, don't be afraid to pull the plug occasionally and wallow in self-indulgence. Sometimes it's just what you need. Don't feel guilty about it, take care of yourself and have fun blogging!

To start your own travel blog, get a domain for free and a low cost hosting with Wordpress at Bluehost.