How to Start a Travel Blog: An Honest Guide

 

UPDATED: October 2019

One of the most common questions we get here at Zero to Travel is how to start a travel blog, and more specifically, how to make a living travel blogging.

Now, there’s plenty of content out there full of different versions of the same advice, but that’s not what we’re about here.

My approach to travel blog success is different — off-the-beaten-path, one might even say — and I’m willing to bet you’re an off-the-beaten-path kind of person.

In this mega-in-depth, super honest guide, I walk you through the unique Zero To Travel mindset on how to approach your new travel blog, and then walk you through the step-by-step logistics on how to actually set it up.

Table of Contents:

How To Start A Travel Blog: Mindset
Underground Entrance #1: Don’t Start A Travel Blog
Underground Entrance #3: Leverage Large Platforms
How To Start A Travel Blog : Nuts and Bolts
Step 1: Choose a Topic
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
Step 3: Buy Hosting and Your Domain Name
Step 4: Install WordPress
Step 5: Install a Theme
Step 6: Install Some Plugins
Step 7: Add Some Content
Step 8: Grab Your Social Media Handles
Step 9: Get More Support
The Final Word

How To Start A Travel Blog: Mindset

The busiest museum in the world is the Louvre in Paris. On any given day you’ll see hundreds of tourists lined up out front of that iconic glass pyramid.

Waiting…waiting…waiting….

The long line outside the Louvre... better to find the secret underground entrance!

Don’t worry, it will only take forever to get in… (photo via @Gideon)

But, what most people don’t know is that there is a much less crowded entrance.

Surprisingly it’s located in an underground shopping mall! When you take the underground entrance, you’ll avoid the annoying wait and slip right into the most crowded museum on the planet. Mona Lisa will be smiling back at you in no time.

Doesn’t if feel good when you know a secret shortcut like this?

The thing is, that entrance isn’t even a secret! It’s listed right on the Louvre website (along with a second ‘secret’ less crowded entrance). However, when people show up, they see everyone else standing in this massive line and jump in, assuming it’s the only way to enter.

Long story short: always assume there may be an easier or less crowded way to get in – then go try and find it!

Everything in life has underground entrances, including travel blogging.

What I mean by ‘underground’ is an existing, less crowded path that most people won’t follow (or find), that you can take advantage of.

What are your potential underground entrances?

I’m sorry to say that there is no secret formula, blueprint, or process to discovering them.

However, there are three big underground entrances I recommend you take to help point you in the right direction:

Underground Entrance #1: Don’t Start A Travel Blog

Confused? I promise this will all make sense in a second.

Don’t start a travel blog, start a business around travel that happens to use the blog business model.

There is one big thing that all financially successful travel bloggers have in common (this is the absolute #1 key to your success, so soak this in):

They treat their travel blog like a business startup.

It’s a subtle shift but an important one to make.

I know some people get turned off when they hear the word “business”, because it immediately conjures an image of business suits and sell-outs.

But you’re a traveler so I know you’re open minded…Stick with me here.

Approaching your blog as a business brings a level of dedication and professionalism that will bring forth your best work:

  • Sets you up for success (however you define it).
  •  
  • Helps you get more eyes on your travel blog, giving you the chance to help more people.
  • Gives you focus and clarity around what you need to learn.
  • Drives your decisions and dictates what content to create.

And if the word business still grosses you out then call it something else.

 

For example, I like to think of my projects as Bohemian Businesses. By one definition, Bohemian means socially unconventional, which resonates strongly with me since I get to work from countries around the world instead at a desk in the typical 9-5 career.

My wife and I at Angkor Wat living my bohemian business life through my travel blog and podcast!

My wife and I at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Why This Mindset Approach Works:

World class bloggers aren’t successful because they’re simply good writers. It happens because they are also damn good business people!

They do the things “regular” business people and companies do – like attend industry conferences and build relationships, study SEO, geek out on marketing, do business development to connect with brands, learn sales skills and on and on. Many of them have been doing this for 5-10+ years

(But don’t let that get you down, it should be the opposite. Get psyched!)

The best part about having a travel blog (ahem business) is that you get to do it your own way, with your own style and flair.

Starting a successful travel blog seems to come with a set of rules for success (big social media following, huge audience, etc) but starting a bohemian business gives you total freedom to become a rule breaker.

In fact, that’s exactly what the best businesses do. They disrupt entire industries. (Think Google, Uber and Airbnb)

Still not convinced?

Lonely Planet, the world’s largest guidebook publisher, started with married couple Tony and Maureen traveling overland from London To Australia, then writing and publishing a unique guide in a way that had never been done before.

Lonely Planet founders in the '70s, starting their unique travel business

Bohemian publishers Tony and Maureen (photo from lonely planet)

Their story from Lonely Planet:

“For their honeymoon, they decided to attempt what few people thought possible – crossing Europe and Asia overland, all the way to Australia. It took them several months and all the money they could earn, beg or borrow, but they made it. And at the end of it all, they were flat broke… and couldn’t have been happier.

It was too amazing an experience to keep to themselves. Urged on by their friends, they stayed up nights at their kitchen table writing, typing and stapling together their very first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap.

Within a week they’d sold 1500 copies and Lonely Planet was born.”

It all starts somewhere. It’s all an experiment. You don’t have to play the same game as everyone else, and you shouldn’t.

Don’t wait for things to be perfect – just get started.

Like any new business owner you’ll make plenty of mistakes, you’ll screw up, and you’ll get stuck. Welcome to the club!

The important thing is to start your travel blog today.

 

Of course, now that you’ve got a strong new mindset, how are you going to grow your new travel blog slash business?

You could slog away at the same strategies that everyone else is using.

Or you could find another underground entrance to help you on your way:

Underground Entrance #2: Seek Less Crowded Paths

I stumbled upon my version of this underground entrance when I created my first podcast.

Note that I didn’t start a podcast because I thought it would be a good strategy for attracting more visitors to my blog. I was drawn to podcasts because I love talking to other travelers and I love audio. It seemed like a fantastic and personal way to share stories and advice that can help others.

It wasn’t clear until much later that podcasting was an underground entrance that allowed me to skip many of the things most people assume a successful blog requires. I don’t have massive website traffic, viral content, a huge social media following or major media exposure. However, when you search “travel blog” on Google there are nearly one billion results, but there are very few results for “travel podcast”.

Recording my travel podcast

Recording a podcast with my buddy and business parter Trav from Extra Pack of Peanuts.

What’s your version of this underground entrance?

In this ever-evolving digital world there are countless ways to do things differently. Here are some other less crowded paths you can take:

  • If you are a writer you can narrow your focus to a micro-niche topic with minimal competition and become the #1 authority on that one specific thing.
  • If you’re a video lover consider making your travel blog a travel vlog. It will be easier to stand out. Or go further than almost everyone and make incredible travel films like my buddy Tom.
  • If you love audio you can start a podcast and share your own unique perspective. You can also create an audio blog and transcribe your posts into written articles, or even record a book, then have it transcribed and published.
  • Someone I once met built her entire audience on Periscope, a live streaming platform that was less crowded with content creators than other platforms available.

I LOVE less crowded places, like this hiking trail in Colorado

 

If you LOVE to learn then you’ll love travel blogging, because there is always something to figure out. Take time to explore different mediums and find the one that works for you!

 

Found your unique underground entrance? Great!

I’ve got one more underground suggestion for you to grow your travel blog and audience (and therefore your income!):

Underground Entrance #3: Leverage Large Platforms

On Google, the majority of people are searching for answers, and most are seeking free information.

Amazon, on the other hand, has nearly 200 million unique visitors per month are looking to potentially buy something.

Let’s say you decide you want to write an ebook. What’s the best way to make an impact with your book when you are just starting out?

By selling it through your travel blog and email list of a few hundred people? OR putting it on Amazon where millions of people show up everyday to buy books?

International House Sitting Book CoverAfter I decided to launch a book series and considered all of. my options, publishing on Amazon was an easy decision. Our first book on International House Sitting became a best seller on Amazon during the first week of the launch.

Instead of competing against hundreds of house sitting websites and Google searches, we only had to beat out a handful of other books on the subject.

I also promoted it via my podcast, leveraging the iTunes audio platform.

Additionally I had some helpful friends like Trav send it out to their email list (yet another platform outside of my own).

The book isn’t selling like crazy but we do get sales every week. I doubt that would happen if the book only lived on my travel blog.

A screenshot of our travel ebook on Amazon
When you launch a travel blog, you have to get everyone to come to you. This takes a lot of time, and that’s ok. You need a ‘home base’ online and should begin building your community today. Building relationships, making authentic connections, and helping your audience and customers: these are the things that will help you the most.

 

And keep in mind, when I say leverage large platforms, I’m not talking about commenting in a few Facebook groups or sending a few emails.

Plan on consistently putting yourself out there and meeting others:

  • Go to events
  • Hop on Skype calls
  • Meet other bloggers online and in person
  • Meet people who read your blog or listen to your podcast or watch your videos

If you’re going to be in the travel industry, connecting with other people and helping them out whenever you can will help you more than anything else.

Remember to always think outside of the travel blog. Where else can you show up with your work so that it can be found by more people?

One of our Location Indie community online gatherings

One of our Location Indie community online gatherings

Alright, you’ve got your business mindset in place and you’ve found your unique underground entrance and a large platform beyond your own to help grow your travel blog for long-term success.

The only thing left to do is actually set the thing up!

Before we do that, though, I want to tell you something important:

You’ve Got Guts

Starting anything new is one of the hardest things to do. It takes guts to start something on your own so congratulations! I’m virtually high fiving you right now from the cafe in Norway where I’m writing this.

High five for starting your travel blog business!

Let go of any doubts, fears or worries you have. They are normal and we all have them, but they won’t help you.

I know you might feel behind because so many other people have been doing it for a long time. I felt the same way when I started, and still do sometimes.

Nevertheless, don’t be intimidated. Starting with a clean slate gives you some BIG advantages.

 

How To Start A Travel Blog : Nuts and Bolts

Now it’s time to actually set up your travel blog! This will be home base for your business, so it’s important! That’s why, in this section, I’m going to walk you step-by-step from the beginning.

 

Step 1 - choose a topic for your travel blog

Step 1: Choose A Topic For Your Travel Blog

Before you can start building your travel blog, you need to be clear on what your blog will be about and what your target audience will be.

You might think that the topic of your blog is just “travel,” but do you know how many travel blogs there are out there?! To stand out from the crowd, you’ll want to narrow your focus.

There are two main ways to do this:

  • Choose a niche
    • Pros: Less competition, many unique topics for blog posts
    • Cons: Can easily become boring for you, small audience, can quickly run out of ideas for posts
  • Choose an overarching theme
    • Pros: Content can evolve and remain relevant, freedom to explore a wide range of topics
    • Cons: May be difficult to initially attract an audience, can be difficult to generate income

How to Choose a Niche

Niche sites focus on specific topics. They hone in on one very small area of a larger topic and become the go-to site for that area.

Too Many Adaptors is a good example of a niche travel site; it focuses on technology and gadgets for travelers. Fluent in 3 Months is another; it explores methods for learning a language very quickly.

To come up with the perfect niche for your travel blog, brainstorm the different categories within travel. Pick your favorite category and then brainstorm the subcategories within it. Keep going until you find something specific that you are interested in and that you think you could build a travel blog-based business around.

It could look something like this:

  • Travel – food – markets – recipes from market-sourced food
  • Travel – Accommodation – Airbnb – reviews of Airbnb accommodation
  • Travel – Travel hacking – frequent flier miles – collecting points without credit cards
    •  

How to Choose an Overarching Theme

If you think a niche would be too limiting for you, consider choosing an overarching theme instead. An overarching theme is a thread that ties your many interests together in a way that makes sense to your readers.

Your theme could be:

  • A topical theme – “exploration,” “love,” or “character”
  • A perspective or a lens through which you view travel – “a single mom’s take on X,” “a feminist’s take on Y,” or “a gamer’s take on Z”
  • A philosophy – “less is more,” “waste nothing,” or “travel slowly”

Here are some real-world examples of travel blogs with overarching themes:

  • Location 180‘s overarching theme is “living and working anywhere.” This topic enables blogger Sean Ogle to write about everything from entrepreneurship to bucket lists.
  • The Art of Non-Conformity‘s theme of “non-conformity” is so broad that blogger Chris Guillebeau is able to write about everything from his quest to visit every country in the world to personal development.
  • Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike is the queen of overarching themes! If this idea appeals to you, I’d recommend working through her Overarching Theme Kit.

Once you’ve decided on your topic, you can choose a name for your blog.

    •  

Step 2 - choose a domain name for your travel blog

Step 2: Choose Your Travel Blog’s Name And Domain

Choosing an appropriate name for your blog is critical. It needs to to both communicate what your blog is about and to give a sense of your style or personality.

Your name should strike a balance between appeal and personal satisfaction. In other words, you should like your travel blog name but you don’t need to love it.

If choosing a name is holding you back from starting just pick something and roll with it. The most important thing is to get started!

How to Choose Your Blog Name

To come up with your own blog name, brainstorm words to do with your topic, your philosophy, and yourself. Think of words that rhyme with your keywords. Use a thesaurus to find related words. Google phrases and idioms about your theme. Think of metaphors and similes.

Here are some tools you might find helpful:

Once you’ve written down as many ideas as you can think of, start combining the words and phrases you have, to see what else you can come up with.

Finally, come up with a shortlist of your favorite names. Below is a list of strategies you can use to name your blog.

Types of Blog Names

Your name – Using your name (or a pen name) is simplest, and will give you the freedom to change your topic over time, without having to change your blog name. However, it may not be as memorable as it could be, particularly if your name is hard to spell. You also won’t be able to sell your site because it will be tied to you and your personality.

Example: Tim Leffel and Diana Ellefson

A nickname – If you’re keen on using your name, but you want to give an indication of what your blog is about, you could combine it with an adjective, a verb, a noun, or even a phrase. This type of name will make your blog more memorable, but, again, it may prevent you from ever selling your website in the future.

Examples: Nomadic Matt, What’s Dave Doing?, The Suitcase Entrepreneur, and The Blonde Abroad

SEO-friendly – Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your blog rank highly in search engine results. This option will make it very clear what your blog is about but could lack personality if done incorrectly. My friend Dave cleverly combined SEO and brand friendliness with a name that describes exactly what he offers:

Example: Travel Blog Success

Location-based – If you plan to explore a particular part of the world, or if you want to stress your identity (i.e. a Californian or a Frenchie), include a location in the title of your blog. Keep in mind, this may turn out to be quite limiting if you decide to venture outside of your chosen area.

Examples: Frenchie Abroad, and South East Asia Backpacker

Means-based – If you plan to travel in a particular way you could stress the form of transport you’ll be using or the style of travel you’ll be focusing on. Again, this could be limiting, should you wish to branch out in the future, yet it will make clear what your blog is specifically about.

Examples: The Savvy Backpacker, Tom’s Bike Trip, and House Sitting World

A phrase – To make your blog name memorable and infused with personality, you could use a phrase that sums up your philosophy or topic. Pick an existing phrase, put a twist on an existing one, or make up a phrase of your own. This is a less specific approach, so you may want to add a tagline or note to readers on your homepage. If done correctly, these can be quite memorable.

Examples – Extra Pack of Peanuts, The Pin The Map Project, Zero To Travel

Meaningful words – If you want to convey the topic of your travel blog and add a bit of personality to its name, you could try combining different words until you come up with something that carries the right meaning. Try combining verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, or even include metaphors, puns, and plays on words.

Examples – Our Awesome Planet, Nomad Revelations, and Map Happy

A pun or play on words – If you’re a bit witty, adapt an existing phrase. A lot of the good travel-based puns have already been snapped up, but maybe you’ll find a hidden gem! On the plus side, your readers will probably remember your blog’s name, but you must remember to keep it simple!

Examples – Alex in Wanderland and Flora The Explorer

A new word – If all else fails, coin a new word! This option could work particularly well if your blog is based on a particular philosophy or way of seeing the world. On the downside, it could be hard for visitors to remember.

Examples – Migrationology and Triphackr

 

How To Make Sure Your Domain Name Is Available

The next step in starting your travel blog is checking that the domain name you want is available. Your domain name is like the address of your blog.

Example: The domain name for Zero To Travel is www.zerototravel.com.

Step 1: Go to Bluehost.com. Under Products, select Domains.

I suggest Bluehost to buy your travel blog domain

Step 2: Type in the domain name you’re curious about. Click “Search.”

bluehost_domain_seach

Step 3: Check the result. If it’s available, carry on. If not, search again using a different name or come up with some more ideas.

Final Domain Name Checks and Tips

Before you buy your domain name, quickly check that it meets these criteria:

  • No hyphens – Hyphens make domain names hard to say and remember. You don’t want to lose your www.great-travel-blog.com readers to the folks at www.greattravelblog.com.
  • No numbers – It can be hard to remember whether the interesting blog you discovered yesterday was called www.advice4solotravelers.com or www.adviceforsolotravelers.com. Eliminate confusion by avoiding numbers and digits alike.
  • Avoid hard-to-spell words – The best domain names are those that are short, easy to type, and easy to spell. It’s best to avoid using long and complicated words, as well as those that are written differently in American and British English (“realization” and “realisation”), again to avoid losing readers.
  • .com, .net, or .org – It’s always best to get a .com domain, simply because that’s the one everyone defaults to. That said, if the .com isn’t available, there’s not much harm, at least SEO-wise, in getting a .net or a .org domain name. Other extensions are becoming more and more common though, so I expect this will become less of a sticking point in the future.
  • Not being used by someone else – Do a quick Google search to check that your blog name isn’t being used by someone else or in a weird way. If you were hoping to use your own name as your domain name, and you find that there’s a famous porn star with the same name, you might want to rethink!
  • Available on social media – As you progress through this “how to start a travel blog tutorial,” you’ll see that you’ll need to secure your blog name on social media later on. For now, use Namechk.com to check that your preferred domain name is available on all the important platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on.

Step 3 - buy hosting and your domain name for your travel blog

Step 3: Buy The Hosting And Domain Name For Your Travel Blog

Once you’ve chosen your domain name, you need to buy some hosting and, with that, your domain name.

If you found your domain on Bluehost you can get it for free with your first hosting package. I’ll explain how in a second.

What is Hosting?

Hosting sounds like it might be a bit technical, but it’s really not. It’s easy to understand if you use a property example.

Imagine that your travel blog’s domain name is like your home address. In addition to an address, you’ll also need some land to build on and the materials that will eventually become your house. Buying hosting is like paying for the land you’ll build on. Hosting is the piece of the internet that your travel blog will live on. You pay a hosting provider for the use of this space.

Where to Buy Hosting

Bluehost provides a great service for new bloggers. They make it really easy to get your blog set up, they’re easy to get hold of if you ever need some help, and their hosting packages are affordable.

Another hosting provider I recommend is WP Engine (my current host for Zero To Travel).

However, I’d say that if you’re reading this tutorial because you don’t yet know how to start a travel blog, Bluehost will be perfect for you. You can always progress to WP Engine when your travel blog takes off and you need more space and control!

Hosting your travel blog with Bluehost will cost just a few dollars a month. If you ask me, that’s a bargain considering how much support they throw in! They are the hosting company I started with and still buy all of my domains through.

How to Set Up Your Blog’s Hosting

Step 1: Since you just found your domain Bluehost.com simply create an account with them to get started.

Setting up your Bluehost account

Step 2: Decide which plan you want.

I’d recommend getting either the Performance or the Business Pro plan, because these let you build more than one website on the same hosting plan, and they give you more space.

choosing your Bluehost plan

Step 3: Decide which extras you want.

I recommend getting the Domain Privacy Protection if you want to keep your details private.

Bluehost extras

Step 4: Enter your billing information.

Bluehost billing

Step 5: Agree to the terms and conditions. Click “submit.” Skip through any other offers that appear.

Bluehost purchase

Step 6: Check your email for your Bluehost login details. Keep these safe!

Step 4 - install wordpress onto your travel blog

Step 4: Install WordPress On Your New Site

Once you’ve got your hosting (the land) set up, it’s time to build your travel blog (the house!). I recommend doing this with WordPress.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS). It’s basically a way to build your website and store all of your blog posts, travel photos, and anything else you want to include in your travel blog.

There are two versions of WordPress:

  • WordPress.com is free, doesn’t use hosting, and is for people who blog for fun only.
  • WordPress.org is the tool to use if you’re serious about becoming a travel blogger.

Which, of course, you are, because this is your travel blog business start up! That’s why I definitely suggest buying hosting and using WordPress.org rather than the free WordPress.com

How to Install WordPress

Luckily, because you’re hosting your travel blog with Bluehost, this step is really, really easy!

Step 1: Go to Bluehost.com and login to your account.

Bluehost login

Step 2: When you arrive at your Bluehost control panel, click “Install WordPress.”

installing wordpress on your travel blog

Step 3: Click “Install.”

WordPress install for your travel blog

Step 4: Select the domain name you want to build your website on. Click “check domain.”

WordPress install domain name

Step 5: Select the “Show advanced options” box.

Enter your travel blog name, your admin username, and your admin password. Take note of these login details.

WordPress install settings

Step 6: Agree to the terms and conditions. Click “Install Now.”

WordPress terms

Step 7: You should receive an email containing your login details.

Navigate to the URL (www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin) and log in.

WordPress login

Step 5 - install a theme to your travel blog

Step 5: Install A Theme For Your Blog

The next step in starting your travel blog is installing a WordPress theme.

What is a Theme?

Going back to the property analogy, installing a theme on your website is like decorating your house.

The theme you choose will determine what your travel blog looks like. Themes come in all kinds of styles and some are more customizable and easier to use than others.

There are three main types of themes.

1. Free Themes

When you first log into your WordPress blog, you’ll see that it’s already using a default theme. You’ll also see that you can choose from a selection of other themes without leaving your WordPress website. These themes are free.

Free themes can be a good choice, particularly for someone who’s finding this “how to start a travel blog” process to be a very steep learning curve. If you just want to jump right into the blogging part, you might be better off picking a free theme for now, and you can always upgrade it later on.

However, free themes come with limitations.

They’re usually difficult to customize, which means you’ll be stuck with certain colors and layouts. They’re not usually the most professional-looking themes. Lots of people use them, so you’ll soon start to notice the same ones being used all over the blogosphere. And they’re not always responsive, which means they won’t work well on mobile devices.

2. Premium Themes

Premium themes are those that you pay for. I’d recommend starting with a premium theme, because this will enable you to create a somewhat unique-looking travel blog without spending too much money.

Here’s what to look for in a premium theme:

  • Responsiveness (this means it looks great on mobile devices)
  • High level of customizability (this means you’ll be able to change the colors, etc.)
  • Responsive and active creator (you’ll want to be able to contact the theme creator if you have any difficulties)
  • Great reviews
  • Active community (the more people using the theme, the more support you’ll be able to get)
  • Recent updates
  • Instructions and tutorials

There are loads of places online to buy premium themes. Here are a few places to try:

Some of the most popular themes used by professional bloggers are:

I personally recommend a theme called Divi, which is part of the Elegant Themes bundle. Its builder is extremely easy to use and very flexible. With Divi, it’s incredibly easy to make very slick and professional-looking websites.

3. Custom Themes

If you want to go pro and you have a lot of money to spend, you could get a custom theme. You will work with a designer on this and what you end up with will be completely unique to you.

Most people who are still in the process of figuring out how to start a travel blog will not need something this advanced, but it’s worth being aware of your options.

How to Install a Theme on WordPress

Step 1: In your WordPress dashboard, click “Appearance” and “Themes.”

How to install a WordPress theme

Step 2: Click “Add New.”

How to install a WordPress theme - 1

Step 3 (free theme): To install a free theme, browse through the options. When you find one you like, hover over it and click “Install.”

How to install a free WordPress theme

Step 3 (paid theme): To install a paid theme, first you’ll need to buy it from one of the websites mentioned above and download the .zip file. Then click “Upload Theme.”

How to install a paid WordPress theme

Step 4 (paid theme): Choose the .zip file and click “Install Now.”

How to install a paid WordPress theme - upload

Step 5: Customize your theme.

This process is different for every theme. If you’re not sure how to do this, use the installation instructions that should come with your theme, or use Google to search for help.

Step 6 - install some plugins to make your travel blog functional

Step 6: Install Some Plugins To Make Your Travel Blog Functional

Once you’ve installed and customized your theme, you’ll want to add some functionality to your travel blog. To do this, you’ll need some plugins.

What is a Plugin?

A plugin is an add-on, kind of like an app for WordPress, that will enable your travel blog to do more. You can get plugins for everything from security and analytics to social sharing features and pop-up boxes.

Again, some plugins are free and some are paid. You’ll probably use mostly free plugins to start with, but it is sometimes worth investing in premium plugins.

How to Install a Plugin

Step 1: Click “Plugins” and “Add New.”

How to install a plugin

Step 2 (free plugin): To install a free plugin, use the search bar to find it.

You can search by keywords (for example, “audio player”) or the name of the plugin, if you already know it.

Search for a plugin

Step 2 (paid plugin): To install a paid plugin, you’ll first need to buy it and download the .zip file. Then click “Upload Plugin.”

How to upload a paid plugin

Step 3: When you find a plugin you want to install, click “Install Now.”

How to install a plugin - install

Step 4: Depending on the plugin in question, there may be some settings to set up. Use the plugin installation instructions or Google to help with this.

Which Plugins Should You Install?

There are a few plugins I’d recommend installing on your travel blog straightaway.

1. Askimet

Once you’ve worked out how to start a travel blog and you’re publishing posts on a regular basis, you’ll soon find that you’re bombarded with spam comments. Unless you’re interested in buying hundreds of pairs of rip-off sunglasses, you’ll find these comments very annoying and time-consuming to delete.

Rather than put yourself through this experience, simply install the Akismet plugin. This plugin will prevent most of those spam comments from getting through. It’s a no-brainer!

2. Yoast SEO

Remember, SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It basically means making your website really easy for search engines like Google to understand, so that they’ll display your travel blog higher in their results. As you get serious about your travel blog, you’ll probably want to improve your SEO to get your blog to appear on the first page of Google for certain search terms.

One quick and easy way to work on your SEO is by installing Yoast’s plugin. Then, whenever you write a blog post or a page on your website, you’ll see a little form that you should complete. Filling out this information will help Google to know what your content is about, which will increase the chances of it being found by people who are looking for it.

3. SumoMe

SumoMe is a bundle of tools that will help you to get more people to your site, and to get them to come back again. It includes a social media sharing feature, analytics, a highlighter bar, and much, much more. I particularly like SumoMe’s welcome mat, which displays a full-screen call to action to new visitors. It’s great for getting a lot of email subscribers!

Step 7 - add some content to your travel blog

Step 7: Add Some Blog Content!

You’re getting there! Now that your travel blog is pretty functional, the next thing to do is fill it with some content!

There are two main types of content you’ll be creating: blog posts and pages.

If you want to know how to start a travel blog, I’m sure you know what a blog post is, but you might not be sure what sort of pages to create. Here’s a starting list:

  • About (about you, your travel blog, and your ideal reader)
  • Start Here (a guide to direct new readers to your best content)
  • Contact

How to Create a Blog Post or Page

Creating both blog posts and pages in WordPress is very simple. Follow the instructions below, create your content, and gradually start to fill up your travel blog!

Note: In the screenshots, I’m walking you through the blog post creation, but the process for creating a blog post and a page is pretty much the same.

Step 1: Click on “Posts” and “Add New.”

How to create a WordPress post on your travel blog

Step 2: Complete the various fields, including the blog post title, blog post content, tags, and categories.

creating a blog post in wordpress

Step 3: Publish or schedule your blog post.

Publish a blog post

Step 8 - grab your travel blog's social media handles

Step 8: Grab Your Blog’s Social Media Handles (before someone else does!)

If you want to have a successful travel blog, simply adding posts won’t be enough to attract visitors. You’ll need to create a community around your blog.

Perhaps the easiest place to do this is on social media.

Here you’ll be able to connect with your readers, provide them with even more useful and interesting content, keep them updated, and build relationships with them.

It’s up to you which social networks you focus on, but here are several to consider:

      • Facebook
      • Twitter
      • Instagram
      • Pinterest
      • YouTube
      • Periscope
      • Flickr
      • Tumblr
      • LinkedIn
      • Google+

In Step 2, you made sure that your blog name was available on these social media platforms when you were choosing your domain name.

Now, go ahead and create accounts on the sites you want to use. You might also like to grab your blog name on the other platforms too, just in case you decide you want to use them later on. (And to stop someone else from grabbing it up and using your blog’s name on their social channel!)

Try to get an exact match across all your platforms, just like I have with Zero To Travel:

Set up your profiles and don’t forget to include links back to your travel blog wherever you can! You’ll probably want to link to your social media profiles from your travel blog too.

Step 9 - get more support

Step 9: Get More Support For Your Travel Blogging Journey

To grow your blog, you’ll need to create lots of excellent content that keeps your readers coming back for more.

But most important of all, you’ll need the support and guidance of those who have been there and those who are in the same position as you. They’ll be able to teach you what’s worked for them and inspire you to keep going.

Where Can You Get Support For This Crazy Travel Blogging Life?

Location Indie is a community of travel lovers who support each other to kick ass in both business and travel.

The real secret to starting a successful travel blog or a location independent business is community. When you surround yourself with other entrepreneurs and travelers from around the world who get you, it’s hard not to be inspired to do, be, and give more.

When you join Location Indie, as well as becoming a member of this community, you get access to exclusive tutorials, expert Q&As, gatherings, and much more, all of which will teach you how to start a travel blog that could turn into a location independent business.

To find out more about Location Indie, click here.

LocationIndie Community Banner

How To Start A Travel Blog: The Final Word

You made it! You’ve now learned exactly how to start a travel blog and you’re well on your way to becoming a successful travel blogger.

If you’ve made it through this tutorial, you’ll already have learned a lot of new skills. But this is just the beginning!

Your travel blogging journey starts right now, and it’s just like any adventure. A mysterious new world is just around the corner. Along the way you’ll experience tough challenges, crazy highs, devastating lows, build new lifelong friendships, and have plenty of chances to learn and grow.

And like travel, what you get out of the adventure is entirely up to you.

You’ve got the mindset. You’ve got your unique underground entrances. You’ve set up your travel blog’s site. And you know where to find more like-minded people to support you on this journey.

How did you do with these steps? What underground entrances are you choosing for your travel blog business? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Other helpful free information:

Part Two: Free Travel For Travel Bloggers: The Ins and Outs of Press Trips

Subscribe to our top rated Zero To Travel Podcast

A few other notes from this resource guide:

The picture of Louvre courtesy of Gideon on flickr.

This resource contains my affiliate links – that means that if you choose Bluehost as your web hosting service for example, I’ll get a small commission from them but at no extra cost to you.

As a long time Bluehost customer (for domains and/or hosting) I recommend them because I’ve never had any problems and they have great customer service. If you decide to go with Bluehost or WP Engine for your web hosting or Divi for your WordPress theme, I appreciate that you use the links on this page and thank you for supporting my work.

Cheers,

Jason

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How to Start a Travel Blog (An Honest Guide) -- This guide is the most in-depth guide to starting a travel blog you've ever seen. In the first part, we go thoroughly into the Mindset part of starting your travel blog, including 3 Underground Entrances to growth. In the second part, we walk you step-by-step through setting up the tech of your travel blog.

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