Are you sick of working the 9-5 life with limited time off? Or are you just looking for a little side money to fund your travels? Whatever it may be, starting a travel blog is a great solution with virtually no risk.
I started my travel blog at the end of 2018 and it was the best decision I have ever made. It costs almost nothing to get started, I’ve created a creative outlet, a way to learn everyday since ending school, and made some extra money to fund my travels! If this sounds like something you want, you’ve come to the right place!
I read HUNDREDS of free guides online that gave me little pieces of information, all leaving me more confused than before. I constantly come back to this guide to add more detail, update with current trends and give new tips I learn along the way. If there is anything you have questions about or need me to expand on, let me know in the comments so I can elaborate more!
TIP: While this can technically be done in one sitting, you will end up HATING the blogging life and feel burnt out. I highly recommend taking your time and doing this over the course of a few days. If you want to save this to refer back to, I can email you a link to the guide so you don’t feel like you need to finish it in one day!
There’s a chance that this post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you), that goes directly towards little Rosie’s dog treats!
Before you buy your domain, there are a few things you need to consider first..
1. What you want your blog to be about
2. What name you want to register it under
Step 1: What is a Niche and Do I Need One?
What is a niche? A niche (in English) is a way to narrow down your focus and make you an expert of a small topic. For example, if you want to be a travel blogger, you have a lot of competition. You are competing from big names from all over the world. But if you focused in on a niche, for example, a Travel Blogger that focuses on Best restaurants in Las Vegas, it is much easier to become an expert in this topic and gain a trusting following.
Is it crucial to have a niche? No, you can of course be successful, it might just take you longer and take more effort to become noticed. A lot of people, like myself, steer away from focusing in on a too-narrow niche. If I just focused on Las Vegas restaurants, I would be forced to write about this topic for the rest of my career.
If you choose to not have a narrow niche, you need to have an apparent why and what makes you different. For example, what makes My Perfect Itinerary different than most blogs is it is so comprehensive and jam-packed with excursions so you can see all the highlights in one trip. I hate going to the same place twice because traveling is so expensive, so I play “tetris” with my itineraries so you see as much as possible. And in most cases, don’t feel the need to travel back to that location.
People know when they come to my site and read my itineraries, they know it’s not going to be a list of beaches to lounge on but things to do, places to stay, where to eat, excursions to book, and everything in between. It will be their one stop shop for travel planning.
So before you start your blog and pick a name, you need to figure out the purpose of your blog and what it is about. Do you want to focus on budget travel? Luxury travel? Family travel? Specific city travel? Or do you want to aim big and have a strong why and be extremely unique in comparison to other big bloggers out there?
Before you begin the next step, take some time to to write down a list of your passions and why you want to start this blog in the first place. If it’s just a hobby for you, then you don’t need to focus too much on becoming successful in a particular niche. If this is your ticket to quitting your 9-5 job and making a living off this blog, you need to treat it like a business from the beginning. You need to have a focus and a plan right off the bat.
It’s okay not to know exactly where your blog is going to end up. Nobody knows that, not even the most successful bloggers. But what all the successful bloggers have in common is thinking and planning ahead.
Step 2: Deciding on a Blog Name
Okay, so you found your niche and/or what makes your blog unique. Now we need to think of a relevant blog name… that isn’t already taken. 🙂
If you have no idea what you want your blog name to be (like most people), make a list of 50 related words to your blog topic. Go on, write them down.
Now, start playing around with pairings to see what you like. I would end with at least 10 names, because you have to assume that most of these will already be in use.
Let me give you an example, say you picked the niche: Wine related travel where you travel the world and talk about the many wine tastings you do.
- YOUR NAME
- Around the World
With that list of related words and sayings, you can come up with:
- Wine Around The World
- Wine tasting or Whining
- Bubbly and Boozy
- Boozy and Bubbly
- Traveling through the vineyards
See, how easy that was? Those are all great names and it took me less than 10 minutes to come up with them! Another few tips on picking out a great name:
- Don’t pick out something that is too hard to spell or that has too many underscores, dashes or other special characters. You want people to easily remember your name.
- If you plan to sell your blog along the line or if you want to eventually have other people writing your content for you, don’t put your name in it. If you have your name in your website, your business will never be worth anything without you present.
- Don’t do anything too long. This goes along with #1 and wanting people to easily remember your name. For example, the fifth example, Traveling through the vineyards, is probably too long. This will be a problem with emails, signatures and people searching your name.
Before you can buy your domain, you will need to come up with your blog name! Spend some time to do the example I thought of above and chose a few names. You will want at least ten names to make sure you have something to use for creating your WordPress site!
If you are wondering if a domain name is already taken, you can search it using this link. If it is already taken, they give suggestions on similar names that are available!
Now that you have done some of the pre-work for creating a travel blog, it’s time to actually create it! Let’s dive into the technical stuff:
3. Creating your WordPress Site through Siteground (or another hosting site)
4. Picking a Theme
Step 3: Create your WordPress Site
This is something that I was SO confused about and no one explained it well. I ended up paying for a third party hosting AND WordPress for almost a year until I figured out you only need one or the other!
Hosting is a third party site that you can run your website through. They perform back ups, speed up your site and provide technical support. This also allows you to actually purchase your domain so you are the sole owner of your site. In summary… this is extremely important if you plan to invest a lot of time and money into your business. If you just buy your site through WordPress, they are the owners of your domain. While they would unlikely shut down your site for no reason, it is technically possible. Scary right?
If you buy your domain through a third party hosting, like Siteground, you will be able to purchase your domain and still set up your site through WordPress. You will get to use all the features, plug ins and easy interface of WordPress, while still owning your domain through a third party server. This is what I recommend to save you lots of stress and headaches down the line!
If you are trying to invest as little as possible, you can of course just sign up through WordPress and then eventually migrate it over to a third-party hosting. If you want to do this, you can sign up for WordPress here!
Step 4: Picking a Theme + Colors
When you sign up for Siteground and WordPress, you will get to pick out one of their hundreds of free themes. When you are just starting out, this will be so overwhelming for you. Just pick one you like and stick with it, because you can spend hours on end playing around with themes.
If you chose the Business plan right off the bat, you can pick from their free AND premium themes. In all honesty, I wouldn’t stress too much about picking a theme because once you have some content down and you really get started, I guarantee you will end up spending money on a third party theme.
Once again, it’s okay to be overwhelmed. Everyone is at first, so take a deep breath and remember great things take time. 🙂
If you are feeling overwhelmed with what theme to choose, I recommend writing out on a piece of paper what you envision your site to look like. Try looking around at other blogger’s themes and write down what you like about them. When you choose a theme, you can filter a lot of those things to help you narrow down your choice. Remember, you will not get everything you want in a theme, and it will never be perfect until you get one customized by a professional coder and designer. This will cost BIG money and will come with time.
If you want to skip the stress of choosing a free WordPress theme, you can choose from thousands online. One of my favorite sites to choose from is called Envato Theme Forest. They have a lot of themes with plenty of visual examples and reviews. **These will cost you a little money to install.
Once you pick your theme, you will need to decide on your brand colors. If you want your online business to be seen as a business, it needs to look cohesive and professional. This can always be edited and re-done later, but it’s no secret it will be a lot of work. I would take some time and decide on what colors and fonts you want.
For example, my brand colors are a dusty pink and gold. I made a custom color of pink to avoid matching with other sites. I use these colors for everything I can to keep everything consistent. I also want my readers to see these colors on my social media and instantly think of my name.
Take a lot of time to choose your theme, and don’t rush! I spent way too much time playing with themes and color schemes, but that’s half the fun! Once you have this set up, it will be time to create your first post!
TIP: I would love nothing more than to give you more details on how to set up your theme, but every theme is so different! When you install a theme, you will have to customize everything in the Appearance / Customize sections. Youtube and WordPress Tutorials will be your best friend during this process! 🙂
Time for the fun part…. Hopefully after all those daunting tasks you’re still with me! The next few steps will make you not regret starting this blog, promise!
5. Writing your first post
6. Setting up your Social Media Channels
Step 5: Writing Your First Post
I have so many writing tips for you that I will likely create an entire guide, but the biggest advice I can share is to be as detailed as possible. Travel writing is to be informative and inspirational. You want the reader to be able to picture themselves at this destination and feel like its completely obtainable to get there with your advice!
Can you link to the hotel you are recommending? Can you add the best time to visit the place you are recommending? Can you add bonus things to do in that area in case someone doesn’t want to do the thing you are recommending?
I recommend your first post to be your About Me page, which should be in your menu bar so people can easily click to find out more about you! Here are my finest tips on writing your about me page…
About Me Page
If you’re anything like me, this should be your favorite part… a page all about YOU!
This is where you get the opportunity to share your why, what makes you unique, and some personal things about you. Try to veer away from just stating the standard, “My name is _____ and I’m from _____.” Think long and hard about why you started this blog and how you are different from other sites your readers are on.
If you are having trouble summarizing your entire life into 1,000 words, go check out a couple of other bloggers’ about me pages. For example, one of my favorite travel bloggers to date is Nomadic Matt. His entire writing style is concise, easy to read, and to the point. And you can see his About Me page is no different. He also is known for writing to his readers and not a travel journal style.
Another example is The Blonde Abroad. She did a timeline story of how she got to where she is today, which you can tell is constantly updated from year to year.
And the best for last, my about me page! I tried to do a flair of humor, a lot of pictures, and a list of funny things that make me unique.
With those examples, you will need to come up with your first draft of your about me page. I say first draft because as you write, find your voice, and make your accomplishments, you will want to update that page constantly. Your about me page should never be complete.
Once you have your About Me page written, you will also need to do a smaller excerpt that explains who you are in less than 50 words. This should give a short sentence about who you are and your why needs to be apparent. I will give you mine as an example:
Hi! I’m Monique – a Las Vegas native who doubles as a HR Manager & travel junkie (contradicting, I know). My love for travel has taken me all over the world at only 23. I strive to share my travel journey to inspire YOU to see this beautiful world we live in!
See? I gave my name, a little touch of who I am, what my blog is about (travel), and my why. All in a perfect, 50 word package. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to write your about me page. This is your voice, who you are, and why you are doing this crazy dream of becoming a blogger to begin with! I have already updated mine about 20 times since first writing it, so just start it. It’s better to have something that is not perfect than nothing at all.
Step 6: Creating your Social Media Channels
Okay, so you’ve created your site, started writing some kick ass posts, but wait.. where are all your readers?! Marketing is arguably the most important aspect to any business, yes, even blogging! You can create amazing content and provide a lot of value, but that all means nothing if no one can find you!
Creating social media channels for your blog is the most inexpensive way to bring people to your site. If the thought of sharing your hidden side hustle with your friends and family makes you want to crawl into a dark hole and DIE, well, you’re not alone!
Start with Pinterest, where most of your friends will probably never find you, ha! Then you can work up to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook! Pinterest is what drives 90% of my traffic to my blog and guess what… IT’S COMPLETELY FREE!
When you’re ready to create all your social media channels, DM me that you read this guide and I’ll be your first follower! 🙂
Step 7: Keep Learning!
I am not exaggerating when I say I learn something new every single day. This industry is constantly changing, and the more unique/creative you are, the better you will be! This is obviously a very generic overview of all the work you will need to do to be successful.
If you want more advanced learning, I would highly recommend signing up for a course! I have taken MANY courses that have taught me things in a week that would’ve taken me years to learn. These are my 3 favorite courses that I would definitely recommend if you want further learning:
- Nomadic Matt’s The Business of Travel Blogging: This course is extremely in depth and will really get you on your feet. The best part of this course, and what really made me click the purchase button was the fact that it comes with lifelong tech support! His tech team has already helped me on countless occasions with things my hosting site couldn’t even do! I’ve written a very detailed review on this course, you can read it here!
- Slaying Social Pinterest Course: If you want to dive into the marketing side a bit more, this course was AMAZING. She goes through everything from filling your bio with keywords, organizing your boards, setting up a business account, creating pin images, and so much more. Again, Pinterest is responsible for 90% of my site’s traffic, and that is completely free traffic (no ads)! Click here to read my review of this course!
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: If you are ready to monetize your site, this is a great course for teaching you all about passive income. She is one of the most successful bloggers out there and she shares all her tips on how to monetize your site using affiliate links. I haven’t written a review of this just yet, but you can read other testimonials here!
- More blogging resources that are completely FREE!
Okay, those are my top 7 steps on how to create a travel blog! Obviously, there is so much time and work that goes into each of these steps. My biggest piece of advice if you want to become a travel blogger is to just start.
The longer you put it off, the more daunting it will feel and the higher chance of never starting. From the wise words of my favorite podcast, “Launch fast and adjust as you go.” – Skinny Confidential
BEFORE YOU GO OFF INTO THE RABBIT HOLE OF BLOGGING…. This will likely take time to go through (correctly). If you want me to email you a link of this guide so you can come back to it, fill out your info below and I will send it over to you!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
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