How to Start a Travel Blog: What You Need to Know and Do
Ever wanted to know how to start a travel blog? Perhaps you want a way to keep in touch with your friends and family. Or perhaps you’re thirsty to share your awesome travel adventures with the world.
If you put it in the time and dedication, you can even make good money from your blog. Many travel bloggers earn six figures of profit every year.
I’m Chris Behrsin from Being a Nomad, and I wanted to share the process I followed when starting a travel blog.
It isn’t difficult. In fact, you could have it up and running with your first post written in a few hours.
This article will walk you through seven easy steps, so you can start blogging in no time.
How to Start a Travel Blog Step 1: To Niche or Not to Niche
The first thing you need to decide when learning how to start a travel blog is what (if anything) you are going to specialize in.
You see, there are lots of generic travel sites where travelers blog about their trip around the world or tell you the best things to do in the major tourist destinations.
- Fresh Off The Grid is a cooking/travel blog focusing on recipes you can cook while camping.
- Petite Passport journals and photos stunningly designed places around the world
- Land Cruising Adventure follows the journey of two ‘overlanders’ traveling the world in a 1984 Landcruiser BJ45
- Culinary Backstreets focuses on the stories of family-run restaurants all around the world
Your niche might not be so much an idea but the kind of people you want to target.
For example, in our blog, beinganomad.com, we target those that ‘love travel, want to travel, live abroad or want to live abroad’. That’s quite broad, but we also tend to blog about places off the beaten track from major tourist havens.
Meraviglia also specifically target travelers who are searching for authenticity, beauty, attention to detail and amazement.
Of course, it might be too early for you to think of a focus for your travel blog. That’s okay, you can always decide your specialty later.
But having some idea of what you might specialize in will also help you choose a name.
Try to keep your name short (four words maximum). Also, do a quick search on social media to check no one has set up a page in your name. You can use a tool called Namechk to check that your desired name is available on all the major social networks.
But if you’ve chosen your name already and someone’s already grabbed your social media handle, don’t panic. We found someone was using @beinganomad on Twitter. So, we changed our handle to @beinganomadblog.
How to Start a Travel Blog Step 2: Name Your Travel Blog
If you want to reap the benefits from starting a travel blog, then I recommend you pick a name for yourself. Even if you’re not thinking of making money from your blog now, you might want to in the future.
There are many benefits of having branded travel blog. For example:
- Readers will know who to Google if they want to go back to your site to read posts but didn’t bookmark it
- Readers will start to remember who you are if they repeatedly visit your posts
- A memorable name can draw the attention of travel influencers or magazines, who you might want to write articles for
- Gain a large enough following for your name and you may be able to make a little on the side through t-shirts and other merchandise
- A uniformed branded name across all of your digital assets will allow you to dominate page one on the Google search results page when someone searches using your brand name.
Given you want to know how to start a travel blog, you might want a name that has something to do with travel. It could simply be your first name combined with a keyword. An example is Nomadic Matt
But exercise caution. We made a mistake when choosing our name by including an overused keyword: Nomad.
If you search for ‘nomad’ on Google, you’ll find lots of travel sites competing for the same name. So, it’s harder for us to get a place on Google for our brand.
We won’t change our name now, we like it too much.
You’ll thank yourself for it later.
By the way, Nomadic Matt is the exception to this rule. But his blog has been around for years.
To give some examples here are some blogs, websites, and e-zines that have great names:
How to Start a Travel Blog Step 3: Find Some Awesome Hosting
Travel blogs do not have to be expensive. For just a small amount every month, you can reserve online space for your travel blog on a personalized web address like thisismyblog.com.
You could, of course, get free hosting on a site like WordPress.com, Blogger.com or Wix.com. But then you won’t get:
- A personalized web address
- The ability to fully customize your site, there’ll always be some limitation
- The option to install plugins for extra functionality
- Full access to Google Analytics with detailed information about who’s visiting and what they’re doing on your website
- Most importantly, the flexibility to later make money from your travel blog
Now, you might be tempted to get the most expensive package on the market.
Most starting travel bloggers start out on Bluehost’s basic package. This has the advantages of being:
- Low cost: you can start from $3.95 per month
- Great value for money: you get all the space and bandwidth you’ll need to establish your blog
- Quick to set up: it comes with WordPress software already installed, so you only need to install a theme and start blogging
- Easy to use: using Bluehost’s admin panel it’s easy to navigate and find what you need
- Reliable: your website will have higher uptime than most hosting providers
- Scalable: meaning you can start cheap and upgrade if your blog is making money and you need to
- Well supported: They have a dedicated 24-hour support team who are there to answer all your queries
You’ll also get your first domain name for free.
Travel and other bloggers around the world are using Bluehost’s hosting package because they know it’s the best offering out there. You can click on the link below to get started now:
Next, click the green ‘get started’ button.
Use on the left to enter your domain name. Remember, you picked this in Step 2.
Pick a plan. We use the Prime plan as we have multiple domain names. For your first website, Basic is okay. You can upgrade later.
Choose which extras you want. You might want Domain Privacy Protection which stops people Googling your address, email etc. The others you probably won’t need.
After you’ve paid, you’re ready to set up your blog and get started.
How to Start a Travel Blog Step 4: Setting Up Your Travel Blog
Congratulations, you’re now halfway through learning how to become a travel blogger. Now, it’s time to work on the exciting stuff: designing your blog.
To start with, you need to pick a design for your site. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything about web design or coding. WordPress has a large library of inbuilt themes you can use to get up and running quickly.
To install a theme:
- Login to your WordPress dashboard
- Click on Appearance->Themes
- Click on Add New
- Browse WordPress’s extensive library of inbuilt themes
- Keep an eye out for words like ‘responsive’ or ‘mobile friendly’ these themes will also look good on phones
- Once you’ve found one you like, hover over it and click ‘Install’
- Click ‘Activate’ to start using the theme
Alternatively, you can buy premium WordPress themes from Themeforest.
Bingo! You should have a site with professional design. If you know web design and CSS or want to invest a little money in your site design, you can also get more hands on.
If you need help with the design try hiring someone from WP Kraken.
Here are several sites you can view for inspiration:
- Roam Magazine: notice how this e-zine makes use of stunning photography to give a professional edge
- Scandinavia Standard: some of the best blogs seem minimalist on the surface but have so much more underneath
- Girl on the Go: also a great name, notice how this blogger makes use of the full-screen width at the top and bottom of the blog
- Read Cereal: another minimalist design and simply beautiful
- The Broke Backpacker: this blog looks more like an online magazine, but notice how he uses the text on his cover image to draw you in
You can also install a variety of plugins to help optimize your site.
In fact, I recommend installing the Mammoth .docx Converter Plugin, which will allow you to convert Microsoft Word documents into blog posts. To do this:
- Click on ‘Plugins’ on the left side menu
- Click on ‘Add New’
- Search for ‘Mammoth .docx Converter’
- Click on ‘Install’
- Wait for the plugin to install then click activate
How to Start a Travel Blog Step 5: Write an Immersive and Captivating Blog Post
Creating travel blog posts is an art in itself. Your style and design will determine who reads your posts and ultimately who sticks around.
But you might be wondering what to write about. The answer to that is easy.
Have you traveled somewhere recently that you loved or hated? Tell the world about it.
If not, why not travel somewhere new with the aim of blogging about it?
Or even better, you can set a specific travel goal (focusing on your niche) and try to fulfill it. For example, when my wife and I were living in Fujian in China, we ventured out in search of the original South Shaolin Temple. You can read about it in our post: In Search of the South Shaolin Temple | The Birthplace of All South Chinese Martial Arts.
You can write your post in Microsoft Word for now, and import it later (I’ll explain how in Step 6). If you are unsure how to write a travel blog post, here’s a formula that might help:
1. Write a Captivating Introduction
Remember, with any web writing, you have about thirty seconds to gain the attention of your reader. If you don’t captivate them at the start, then they might move on.
So, give them something in the first paragraph that will keep them reading. It might be a bold or shocking sentence. You might paint a picture with beautiful description. Or some philosophy or the start of an anecdote that you think there’ll really connect to.
Then carry that on, for a few paragraphs until you’ve built something interesting. Here’s an example from our own blog:
“As the administrative capital of Fujian province, China, it’s easy to believe Fuzhou lacking in character. We’d been to this city numerous times. But our experiences had been of hospital blocks and Fuzhou main station. Neither are the prettiest of sights.
You see, that’s often what we find with cities in China. It’s as if they’re constructed of walls.
The first wall encloses the plethora of government and official buildings scattered around the city. Second are the concrete apartment blocks so characteristic of China and other once-or-now communist countries. Third are mountains that envelop them all, which are often insurmountable, not through sheer cragginess, but rather the orchards and chicken farms that abruptly cut off the paths.
Last weekend, Ola had a Chinese language exam in Fuzhou (she’ll blog about it soon). So, we decided to spend a little longer there and we discovered many hidden nuggets previously unknown to us.“
I start this article with general observations about China, but quickly bring it into an observation about the country: that it’s constructed of walls. But notice how I end it, by saying what the hell we’re doing there.
And the final sentence transitions into the next part, which is:
2. Make a Promise
This is often the shortest but also the most important part of a travel article. It’s where you reassure your reader that what they read will be useful to them.
Because you are going to tell them exactly what this article will do for them.
“If you can navigate your way through the concrete jungle, Fuzhou has plentiful delights to offer. Read on to discover what they are.”
Notice: only two sentences sets up the rest of the article. The reader now knows exactly what they will get from reading it. And you will know once you write this exactly what you need to deliver.
3. Keep the Promise
Once you have written a good introduction and told the reader exactly what you’ll deliver, then you will probably find the rest of the article writes itself. You only need to prove that you can stick to your promise.
So, if you promised to list five great vegetarian restaurants in Istanbul then simply tell the reader why each one is great in turn.
This will be the longest section of the article. So, don’t worry if it runs on a bit.
Just write your blog post with passion and make it interesting to keep your audience reading.
4. Sum It Up
Your conclusion does not have to belong. A paragraph will usually suffice. In this, you will need to do two things:
- State how you have kept your promise: “So that is it, 5 veggie restaurants in New York in a nutshell”
- Tie it in with your introduction: “I guess I was wrong when I thought the city of Istanbul only had kebab shops and could not accommodate vegetarians. Hidden underneath this sparkling city are vegetarian havens with the most tantalizing dishes. Istanbul, it seems, caters to all dietary preferences.”
This is just one formula of many used when deciding how to start a travel blog post. Also, try to keep the paragraphs short and use lots of subheadings. But don’t let anything get in the way of your creativity at this stage.
Finally, given this is a travel blog, remember to put in lots of pictures. Most modern cameras take photos at higher resolutions than you will need on your blog, so you will need to downsize these. As standard, make sure the width and height do not exceed 1080 pixels.
How to Start a Travel Blog Step 6: Edit and Publish Your Blog Post
Now you’ve written the first draft of your travel blog post, it probably isn’t perfect. It’s time to go back through it, read what you’ve written and make your post shine.
Here are some tips to help ensure that your readers will love your post:
- Try to get it free of typos, with decent grammar. Also, note it’s okay to break grammatical rules if they’re part of your style, within reason.
- Use short paragraphs, 2-3 sentences max. Remember: many readers on the internet skim before reading.
- Use short sentences. Try to average no more than 25 words per sentence.
- Use lots of headings and subheadings.
- Use lots of pictures to break up the text.
- Add an author bio to the bottom of each post.
- Link to other posts on your blog and other people’s blogs (they might link back to you which will help your search rankings).
- Do not overuse the passive voice. Instead of saying “I was bitten by a dog”, say “The dog bit me”.
- Use lots of active verbs for dramatic effect. “I shot through the park, howling in pain from the throbbing dog bite wound.”
Once you’re happy with your blog post, you can prepare it for publication.
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard
- Click on ‘Posts’ in the left-hand menu
- Click ‘Add New’
- Scroll down to where it says ‘Mammoth.docx converter’ and click on Choose File
- Locate your file and click ‘Open’
- Wait for the file to load
- Click Publish
That’s it. There are advanced techniques like SEO optimization which you can learn more about on this page.
How to Start a Travel Blog Step 7: Get Readers to Flock to Your Blog
Okay, so getting readers to flock to your blog will take time unless you pay thousands to market it. I’m going to assume you won’t want to do this: advertising is expensive and so ROI will be low. A less expensive strategy is to go after long-tail keywords.
Then once you’ve gained followers you can monetize your blog and use some of the money for more advanced marketing strategies.
Here at digitalentrepreneur.tools, we have a list of marketing tools that can help you grow your blog.
Or, if you want to get more hands-on, you can utilize a little-known about strategy called growth hacking to get followers to your blog fast.
These seven steps will help you get a travel blog up and running in an hour or so. The key now to a successful blog is consistency.
Keep traveling and keep writing about your adventures.
If you’d like to learn more about how to start a travel blog, a great resource is Kirsty Stuart’s book, How to Start a Travel Blog and Make Money, available on Amazon.
About the Author
Chris Behrsin is a copywriter, blogger and fiction writer. He and his wife own a travel blog at Being a Nomad. He owns his own copywriting agency: Journey Copywriting. If you like the way this was written and need copy for your travel or IT/tech business then you can contact him via this page.