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Blogging has become one of the most popular ways to document and share travel adventures. For some, it’s simply about being able to create a visual journey of travel experiences. However, for many others, travel blogging has become a source of income and potentially even a career!
But before you jump in and fork out your dollars for the blogging essentials, you must know one thing – Travel blogging is not a get rich quick opportunity! Or any blogging for that matter! Trust me… after around 7-8 years of blogging, I am certainly not internet famous! But thankfully that wasn’t the goal when I started my first blog all those years ago!
So if you are thinking about starting your own travel blog, or becoming a digital nomad, let’s start at the beginning.
HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG
The world of blogging is wide and varied. You can dip your toes in and just learn the basics, or you can lose yourself in endless hours…months…years of learning. However for the purpose of today, let’s talk those first basic steps!
All About That Niche
Niche? What is this thing I speak of? Don’t worry… I had no idea how to answer this question when I started either. And even now it shows with my earlier blogs that were all over the place.
A blog niche is essentially your focus area. Yes you can start a travel blog that is based on general travel, but there are hundreds of thousands of travel blogs out there so starting off right at the beginning with a distinct niche or theme is going to help you set yourself apart from the multitudes of other travel blogs.
Four Around the World has a budget family travel focus to it. It’s not a very distinct niche however it still helps with content planning and focus, as well as potential sponsored opportunities. As a family of 4, this is where our passion most lies and it only seemed natural to want to hone in on that as a theme.
Trust me, if you want your blog to grow into more than a personal diary, having a niche is the place to start.
Action Step:Kick off with a brainstorm on what you want to write about and what you are most passionate about. Can you identify a theme from that? Can you further define from there?
What’s in a Name?
One of the hardest first steps for many is finding the perfect name for your new blog and potential business. Blog names can be tough! There’s so many great ones already taken so you need to make sure you are coming up with something new and original.
When considering names, consider how it suits your niche and how it will work with your personal branding. You don’t want anything too long or too short. 2-5 words on average seems to be the best size.
And make sure you love it! It’s a big job rebranding, getting new hosting and all the rest so choosing the right name the first time is a big help!
Action Step: Write some some ideas for blog names, using your theme or your name or a cool catch phrase maybe. Be creative and see which one you love best!
Do You Have a Goal?
While blogging just for the love of it is absolutely fine and the case for the majority of people who start a blog… travel or otherwise, for others, the potential to earn some money or free stuff is quite appealing so when starting out, consider if this is something you’d would like to work towards.
If you aren’t so fussed on this, a free blog platform like Blogger or WordPress.com are a perfect option. Absolutely no upfront costs and really user friendly too. This is great if you don’t have the time or interest in learning lots of fancy blogging tools and just want something that lets you publish with ease!
But if you would like to have a completely custom domain name, the flexibility to change your design as much as you like, as often as you like and the ability to run paid advertising, you may need to consider spending a bit of money.
A self hosted blog with a custom domain name is a must for anyone who wants to become a profitable travel blogger. And this is where things can get a bit technical.
Although if you are unsure, a free WordPress site can a great option and you can switch to a self-hosted wordpress.org website later on without too many challenges. I did this with a couple of my previous blogs when I decided I wanted more freedom!
Action Steps: What are your blogging goals? Do you want to share photos and travel stories with friends and family or do you want the ability to monetize your blog and have advertising featured? This will help you choose the right blog type for you.
Starting Your Travel Blog
You know your what, how, why so it’s time to get it up and running. Purchase your domain name if you are going self-hosted and find a suitable hosting company that fits your budget and needs.
A hosting company allows you to run your own website independent of the free service providers, with your own custom name and design. It’s essentially like renting your place on the internet, if that helps it make a bit more sense.
Some popular hosting companies are BluHost, GoDaddy and Host Gator but there are many more options that may suit you better. Same with purchasing your domain name. Then it’s time to get set up.
Depending on the platform you choose, there are lots of online tutorials to help you through the steps to setting up your own website. Plus most hosting companies make it really easy to click and install too. YAY! If going this way, WordPress is your best bet! It is the most popular website option for a reason. I highly recommend it as do most other bloggers.
Then once you’ve got the install done, it’s time to find your way around your shiny new website and start making it your own!!
Action Steps: Set up your travel blog following the steps in your hosting account.
Make It Pretty
Okay so pretty might not be the look you’re going for, but you know what I mean! It’s time to start getting your design set up! This can be the fun part… although it can also be a tad frustrating too when you are learning so be patient!
You can download a lot of free ‘themes’ for your blog to give your website an instant design, then have a play around with colours and positioning to suit your preferences. Of course you can pay for professional blog themes too which can really make a huge difference to how professional your site looks, but that can come later!
Spend some time getting familiar with your blog dashboard too during this time. Don’t rush in. Become used to maneuvering between screens and where to find things, as well as switching between dashboard and website view so you can see your new website come to life with your new theme.
Action Step: Find a theme for your website and customise the settings, getting familiar with your dashboard and settings.
Plug It In
Plugins are something you will likely become very acquainted with in no time. They are essentially apps for your website to give it greater usability and add different features. There’s a few that I highly recommend you download as soon as you’re set up with your blog:
Akistmet – Spammers are everywhere on the internet and you don’t want your blog to be hit with a gazillion spam comments. Akismet will weed out the trash and save you hours in searching which comments are legitimate.
Yoast – Search Engine Optimisation is something you will hear a lot of. Or SEO. And Yoast is one of the easiest ways to dip your toes in by helping you make your articles and posts more SEO friendly.
Easy Social Share Buttons – You want your content to reach a greater audience once you start pumping out content so this plugin allows others to share your posts to various social media accounts. It may not be important yet but it might be soon!
Action Step: Add some plugins to increase the functionality of your website.
It’s A Social Thing
One of the first things you want to set up when you create your new website is an about page that tells people who you are and how they can reach you. Nothing worse than missing a future opportunity because you forgot to add one!
And of course, set up a social media network to coordinate with your new website. The most popular channels are Instagram & Facebook for travel bloggers, however Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest can bring you a great community and future travel too!
Brand these to match your website with a clear and relevant profile picture and banner across each of the social channels so you are already presenting a professional and consistent theme across your networks.
And start building up some excitement towards your upcoming launch! This can be a great way to build up an audience even before you’ve got any content. Invite friends and family and go ahead and follow and start interacting with other travel bloggers or businesses in a similar niche to your blog!!
Action Steps: Set up social media accounts and an About Me/Us page so you can start building a network around your new website.
Content is King
Now we all know the most important thing for any website is actual content and your blog is no different! You want to get as much content as you can done in those first few weeks so your readers have enough to keep them interested and clicking on for more when they first land on your site so when you sit down to do your first post, consider doing a couple of different articles in one sitting that suit your blog niche. Batch writing is going to be your best friend in future!
I would recommend at least 4-6 articles on your website before launching across your social networks. Keep building up the anticipation on them until you’ve gotten time to sit down and smash out some great content!
Aim for all your posts to be at least 400 words and to have clear direction, great information and exceptional grammar and punctuation. And of course, images speak a thousand words so make sure you have great images to go with your content too.
There are lots of free creative commons image sites online. My favourite is Pixabay. If you don’t have your own photos, these sites can help you fill those gaps.
Off you go… start building that library of incredible travel blog stories, resources and tips.
Action Steps: Start creating quality content and give your readers something to enjoy when they visit your blog. The more content you have, the faster your audience will grow as there’s sure to be something to appeal to them. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity though!!
If You Build It They Will Come… Maybe
Okay, so travel blogging is nothing like Noah’s Ark! If you don’t promote your blog, no one will know it exists. If you aren’t consistent, people will lose interest. If you don’t have something to offer, you won’t make money/get a free trip/be asked to contribute to a bigger website etc!
So start sharing your content across social media. Build connections with other bloggers in your own niche and even outside of the travel blogging industry. Build relationships with influencers and brands and start to stand out. If they see you putting in the effort to interact with them, they may just check you out and fall in love with your content!!
Finding your audience takes time. You won’t have thousands of hits straight away. You might not even have that many in your first year. But even that first viewer is a start!
Be consistent, stay focused, share content that people want to read and build a community. This will over time pay off as you grow your audience and hopefully open the doors to some great opportunities as a not so new travel blogger!
Travel blogging is not easy! Only a small percentage of people actually make something of it. But if you love it, don’t let that put you off! Follow your passion and remember you get out what you put in! Everyone can start a travel blog… but it’s up to you to make it something special.