How To Start A Travel Blog In 2018
Starting a travel blog can be a lot of work but it is now easier than ever to get a website set up and looking beautiful. I have received a lot of questions about my blog in the past two years so I decided to write a simple how-to guide on how to start a travel blog and how to make money with it. Making money from a blog is a lot of work but if you create useful content and build a following it is possible to gain huge rewards from your travel blog.
Making money from a blog takes a lot of work but if you create useful content and build a following it is possible to gain huge rewards from your travel blog.
Hopefully, it will help some aspiring bloggers get started the right way!
Find Your Niche
One of the biggest mistakes a new blogger makes is to be too general. While writing about your cat may be of interest, it probably doesn’t fit into a travel blog. Try to find a unique niche and a way to appeal to your audience differently than others are currently doing. What can you offer? Personality, great story telling, financial advice? Find your strength and run with it.
Find Wild Air started with a focus on budget travel, adventure travel, and yoga. Now, I have come to realize that my focus is adventure travel with a lot of information about money. They tend to go hand and hand as money is needed to fund the travels I speak about. To get even deeper into the niche, I mainly write about outdoor adventures.
Name Your Blog
Develop a brand around your blog that resonates with your target audience. Often naming the blog can get people stuck right off the bat and hold them back for weeks until they find what they think is perfect. Try not to spend too much time trying to come up with the “perfect” name, do some brainstorming and write down ideas.
While trying to come up with a name, keep in mind how your blog may pivot in the future. If you name your blog ‘India Travel Blog’ it will be confusing if you choose to write about other locations in the future.
Keep it short, memorable and easy to spell so people will remember it can share it easily with their peers. Avoid using hyphens and numbers. Trying to tell someone “My dash travel dash blog 2017 dot com” will lead to confusion and kill your chances of gaining followers by word of mouth.
I love to use Shopify’s business name generator when brainstorming. Simply enter a keyword and you can browse hundreds of possible domain names that are available. And it’s totally FREE!
Once you have found the name for your new blog, acquire the domain name and social media accounts to accompany it.
Domain Name: A domain name is the name of your site such as www.yournewblog.com. Namecheap is my favorite for searching and buying domain names. Make sure your name is available by doing a quick search.
Before buying your new domain name, see if the host you choose (keep reading to learn about hosts) offers a free domain name for signing up for a hosting account. Offers do change so they may be different at the time of writing this.
Get Your Site Hosted
Don’t worry, website hosting is not as complicated as it sounds! Your site will have to be hosted, or ‘stored’, somewhere in order for your visitors to access the site. It is a place where all of the website content such as articles and photos are saved. A host has servers and all the technical stuff taken care of for you.
My personal favorite is Bluehost web hosting. In just a few clicks, I can have a WordPress site up and running using their one-click installs. They have a ton of extra features included with hosting and can be cheap as $3.95 a month!
They also throw in a FREE domain when you sign up for hosting!
I suggest starting with a simple plan of shared hosting or WordPress optimized hosting depending on your budget. When you start getting some traffic, you can always upgrade to get more power for your site.
Step By Step Guide To Setting Up Hosting & WordPress
Step 1: To set up Bluehost hosting, simply go to Bluehost.com and click on ‘Get Started Now’.
Step 2: Choose the plan that fits your needs. I suggest starting small, you can always upgrade without any hassle.
Step 3: Choose your free domain name or transfer an existing one.
Step 4: Create your account and complete the sign-up process. There are some extra services but the only one I recommend is Domain Privacy. It keeps your personal information safe and away from spammers.
Step 5: Create a password to protect your new hosting account.
Step 6: Bluehost will automatically begin WordPress Setup. Time to choose a theme!
Step 7: After the WordPress installation is complete, its time to start designing and posting!
What is WordPress?
WordPress.org is a free software platform that runs almost 20% of the websites on the internet. Basically the king of blogging software, even huge brands such as BBC use it to manage their blogs and websites. WordPress is simple to setup and by using ‘themes’, getting a nice design is now easy too.
Although there are many free blog platforms such as Blogger and BlogSpot, these free services are paid for by ads placed on your site. This means you lose control over what can be done on your site and what ads are displayed. Even more, if you would like to advertise to earn income for yourself, you may break the terms of service and have your blog shut down.
Design Your New Site
Your new WordPress blog will include a bunch of free themes or designs, that can easily be added via the WordPress dashboard. Free themes are great for getting started and learning the WordPress system.
The design is important but at first, I suggest keeping it simple. I worried too much about how my site looked and by the time I would finish the design, I wouldn’t have the energy to write any content. Then I would think about making changes, and the cycle continued. Start simple and make minor changes as needed.
There are a lot of great themes that are extremely flexible. Find Wild Air is built using the Avada Theme, one of the most popular (and easiest to use) themes for WordPress. It’s a drag and drop editor that is super powerful and can create just about anything you can imagine. There are also several demo designs that come with the Avada Theme and make a good starting point.
ElegantThemes just released Devi, an amazing ‘what you see is what you get’ live website builder. I am convinced that anyone could learn how to design a beautiful site using this new technology! The next web design project I start will be with Devi and I will write a review as soon as I can.
If you want a custom theme, consider hiring a web developer to save you a lot of time and frustration. I have stared at code for hours trying to get it right, just to find it was a very simple mistake a developer would have found instantly. This, of course, has taught me a lot about WordPress and web development but when starting I could have focused my time and energy on content and promotion. (not to mention traveling!)
Plugins are little programs that give your site all sorts of features in the click of a button. There is a plugin for virtually everything and most of them are free, and or have free features and paid features. When starting out, the free features should do the trick!
Jetpack– Jetpack is a free plugin provided by WordPress that includes a bunch of neat tools to improve the performance of your new blog. This will automatically be installed when the blog is created.
Akismet– keeps a control on the number of spam comments you’ll get. Trust me there is a lot, and you don’t want to be manually deleting these.
Yoast SEO– Optimizing your post and pages for Search Engines (SEO) is important, and Yoast is the best plugin to help you do this effortlessly.
W3 Total Cashe – Helps to speed up your site, which is very important to keeping people happy.
SumoMe Social Sharing – Sharing your content and making it easy for others to share your content is one of the easiest ways to get exposure. SumoMe makes the installation of sharing buttons simple and the free version has a bunch of awesome features.
Google Analytics– Although WordPress Jetpack Plugin has analytics built in, google analytics will give you in depth details about your visitors and how they behave on your site. This will allow you to improve navigation and keep your visitors longer.
Create Killer Content
“You can only fix a bad page, not an empty one”
Content is king. Write useful original content that is relevant to your niche and provides value to your readers.
Subscribe to the free Find Wild Air Newsletter to receive special offers and updates!
Start A Mailing List
Mailing lists are often ignored but they are a powerful way to connect with your readers. By having your viewers subscribe, you can send them new post, invitations to your social accounts and share special offers with them. Mailing lists are a really powerful tool and should be used from day one of blogging.
MailChimp offers a free account up to 2,000 subscribers, which is an awesome way to start. Additional features do cost a monthly fee, but in the beginning, the free features should suffice.
Once you have a nice mailing list and want more features such as an autoresponder and advanced targeting, ConvertKit is the bloggers best friend. It’s quickly gaining a reputation as the easiest, most efficient and versatile email marketing system for bloggers and internet marketers. ConvertKit does cost a little more than other mailing lists, but it has incredible features that make it well worth the price. Once you get to the point of needing new features, your mailing list should be easily paying for itself.
Spread The Word With Social Media
Use social media to get the word out and drive readers to your blog.
Start a Facebook page and drive your readers to like your page. By building an audience, much like the mailing list, you can keep them informed and coming back for more.
Instagram dominates as the ultimate travel blog supplement. Share those beautiful photos and new readers won’t be able to resist following you.
Pinterest is another super powerful visual sharing platform that will boost your exposure.
How To Make Money From Your Blog
Once you start to build an audience, you can use your influencer status to get free products, accommodations, and even trips. Brands that have big marketing budgets love to work with small influencers to create brand awareness. Tourism boards offer bloggers free press trips all around the world in exchange for writing about the destination.
If you are looking to make cash, then you can market to your audience. Your following is full of travelers that love to hear about new products and services. Use your email list and social media accounts to market to your audience with affiliate links. Affiliate links are a link that a reader would click on, if they buy the product or service, you get a commission at no extra cost to your reader.
It is also possible to post ads on your site that are purchased by brands or ad networks like Google Adsense.