Many people dream about traveling the world for a living; and there are people that are actually able to do so that aren’t pilots, flight attendants, or businessmen. These people are known as travel bloggers and they get paid to visit and write about their major passion in life: travel.
Before you think it’s all a dream, it’s time to debunk a few myths and tell some truths about how to start a travel blog. ?
Who wouldn’t want to be a travel blogger? Travel can be expensive and the idea of having someone else cover your costs is certainly enticing. But it’s not all about grabbing trips to Paris in first class. Travel blogging is just like a job.
Travel blogging isn’t easy. The fact that you’re traveling and getting paid to do so while staying in top accommodations is what most people see. They don’t realize that there are a lot of struggles that go hand-in-hand with figuring out how to start a travel blog.
Here’s what you need to know before getting started as a travel blogger:
If you just want to learn how to start a travel blog for the sake of sharing your travels, then these truths may not apply to you. Your expectations and ambitions will be based on self-fulfillment (and perhaps sharing your adventures with friends and family) more so than building a brand to appeal to sponsors.
Not scared away by the harsh truths of travel blogging? Here’s how to start a travel blog, step by step:
There are two basic ways to get started: travel then figure out how to start a travel blog, or plan to start a travel blog then do the actual traveling. The motivation for the people in the former situation is likely just that they want an outlet to share their travels to family and friends, while the latter is more suited to those that plan to expand and monetize their travel blog in the future.
Like food blogs, travel blogs are a dime a dozen, so it’s best to start by choosing a niche (especially when you eventually want to earn from travel blogging) that will help differentiate you from the pack, since general travel blogs will usually not fare well when it comes to SEO efforts.
There are so many travel blog niches you can think of and fill a need for. To some, their niche comes naturally. For others, it could take a while to make a decision. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when determining a niche for your travel blog:
If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of the more popular travel niches:
Or if you’re really ambitious, you can even blog about your worldwide journey, as Gary Arndt has done on Everything Everywhere. He sold his house in 2007 and has been traveling around the world ever since (over 175 countries and counting).
To be sure that someone will want to read your blog, search for your competition (to validate if there’s an existing audience for your idea). You might even want to utilize a tool like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo to look up some of the most popular content in a niche, such as “Traveling in South America,” to get an idea of what other bloggers are writing about. Then ask yourself, can you do this better?
Alternatively, you may want to try and be the first in your niche. If you can, find a gap in the market. If you find yourself asking “Why hasn’t anybody done this?”—do it yourself!
Most bloggers market themselves as brands. Your brand is what you’re known for and known as. It’s what makes people say “That is so XX!” when they see a piece of your content.
Aspects of blog branding include:
Your blog name is important because it’s also what your blog is known as (your brand). While you’ll be able to change many things about your blog over time, your name is something you should stick with. Give it a fair amount of thought before deciding on it.
Not sure what to call your shiny new travel blog? You might start with your own name, a play on that name, or a mix of your name and travel-related terms. A few general rules for settling on a blog name (which will also be your domain name):
Some brilliant travel blog names to look to for inspiration include Nomadic Matt, which is about a guy who travels the world, Adventurous Kate, a blog about a girl who quit her job to travel the world, and The Blonde Abroad, which is about a solo female traveller who is (you guessed it) blonde. There’s also Tanks that Get Around, a travel blog/travel tank top shop.
A professional blog has three technical elements you’ll need to setup: domain name, blogging platform, and web host.
There are many free blogging platforms out there, like Blogger, WordPress.com, and Tumblr. Any of these options is fine for a personal blog, but if you plan on monetizing your site, a self-hosted WordPress blog is your best bet.
The other platforms come with their own restrictions, but with a self-hosted WordPress site, you’re free to customize it completely. Self-hosted WordPress also allows you to grow and not worry about having to change platforms later if your travel blog suddenly becomes super popular. Read more about the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
WordPress powers 31% of the internet, is super user-friendly and has flexible customization options. It is used on many different kinds of websites, be they blogs, ecommerce sites, news portals, or business sites. Due to it’s open-source nature, WordPress is free to use, however creating and maintaining a site might cost you some money.
While the content management system you choose is free (assuming you choose WordPress), you’ll have to pay for your professional domain name and web hosting.
The web host is where you store your website’s files. Hosting plans can be as cheap as $4/month and can be upgraded to give you more storage space and bandwidth for visitors as your blog grows.
It’s important to choose a reliable and stable web host that does not have too much downtime. If you’re starting out, you might be better off with shared hosting, which means you’ll be sharing a server with other blogs. The downside is, your blog may load slower because you’re sharing resources with other websites. Also, you might have to spend more time fiddling with your site.
Managed WordPress hosting through a company like Kinsta has its advantages for those interested in how to start a travel blog. Since you’re on the go, the last thing you have time to worry about is downtime or messing around with your server. Additionally, you might not always have access to the best internet connection to fix things. Falling back on a reliable managed host might actually save you money.
You’ll also get access to a variety of tools which can make managing your site a lot easier, such as Kinsta’s custom dashboard.
A few other things to look out for when deciding on a web host:
Read more about how Kinsta is different than other hosts.
After you’ve installed and setup the free WordPress CMS with your web host, you can focus on setting up your blog’s look and feel—an important aspect of branding.
Customizing the following will help your travel blog become your own:
To help with the process of choosing the blog’s overall look easier, you can make a branding board. A branding board includes:
What attracts many users to WordPress is the customizability it offers thanks to plugins, which are codes you can install to add functionality to your site. Since you’re just getting started, defer to the experts. Blogging Wizard shares some of the must-have plugins that can help with SEO, analytics, backups, safety, and speeding up your blog.
There are also some plugins to consider that were created specifically for travel blogs. These include:
You might also want to add an Instagram plugin to show off your travel photos on your blog.
You might also consider installing affiliate plugins, but we’ll talk more about that in the latter monetization section.
The most important part of a blog is the content. Content shouldn’t just be confined to articles (or text); it can also take the form of photos (graphics, infographics), videos, and audio (podcast).
Of course, you shouldn’t start with all of these different types of content at once—it can be overwhelming. Instead, you can start adding new content types as your blog starts growing and you get the hang of running it.
To get some inspiration we recommend you to take a look at these guide:
How to Create Evergreen Content That Lasts (17 Tips and Tricks)With WordPress
5 Things More Important for Your Content Than Content Length
There is no right or wrong way to write. Many people adopt a journal way of writing—telling people about their day or experience, while some go for how to guide types of posts.
The best kind of blogs are the ones that deliver a mix of content types. Many people that read travel blogs are after the information you can give them about a place, while your unique voice (which adds to the branding part of the blog) is what will draw readers to you.
If you plan to travel after setting up your travel blog, you can plot out what content to write, what places to feature, what angles to write about. Ideally, you’ll have at least 15 posts ready to go before launching. This will give you time to consistently release content as you work on your next pieces, while giving readers enough content to stick around and read.
There’s no hard and fast rule for content length and ranking on Google but in general, the longer, the better.
Though the in’s and out’s of proper on-page SEO are outside of the scope of this article, here are a few quick hits for setting up content for success:
People are visual creatures, which is why platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are so successful.
Taking great photos or videos that make viewers feel like they are there or will want to be there will attract more visitors to your blog. The photos will also be used for your blog promotion; pretty photographs with catchy titles attract people on sites like the aforementioned Pinterest.
While you’re thinking about images, don’t forget to optimize your images, both for performance and for SEO. You can’t just upload full resolution photos to your blog and expect them to load fast. You’ll need a little help from an optimization tool or plugin. Name your files something meaningful (and short), as Google looks at things like these when it chooses what to index for Google image search. Which tools and how to showcase your photos you can read our guide: 8 Best WordPress Photo Gallery Plugins.
There are three main ways to promote your blog:
Writing guest posts is another way to get backlinks to your site from more prominent travel blogs. On another note, collecting email addresses and sending out email newsletters is an effective way to get more views because it gives you a direct connection with your subscribers (unlike social networks, which may restrict reach to your existing followers).
Nomadic Matt, arguably the most popular travel blog, recognized the potential for these tactics but went in a different direction. He pitched guest blog posts to finance blogs on how to save money traveling. He guest posted on entrepreneurship podcasts to talk about how he was able to build a business from his travel blog.
These tactics set himself apart from others, and also introduced his site to multiple different audiences.
There are several ways to monetize your travel blog, but when you’re starting out, it can be tough. What many travelers (or digital nomads) do to sustain their traveling lifestyle while working on the road involves accepting jobs as virtual assistants, doing freelance writing, consulting, or offering some other type of service.
Besides using your personal brand to get clients for services you may be interested in offering, there are many other ways to make money from your travel blog:
Blog not making enough yet? Check out these 65+ ways to make money online on the side while you continue to grow your travel blog up to where hopefully one day it can financially support you.
This guide by Firstsiteguide includes a few more ideas if you are looking to start your travel blog.
A travel blog is a good way to document and share your love of travel, but it also brings about the potential for income. First decide whether you’ll be blogging for passion or profit, then follow these guidelines to help you with the specifics of how to start a travel blog.
What are your tips when it comes to the question of how to start a travel blog? Tweet at @Kinsta and we’ll share the best insights! Or drop them below in the comments.
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