Note: This resource contains a step-by-step technical guide that shows you exactly how to start a travel blog and get your first article online. Feel free to skip ahead if you just want the tutorial.
Also, if you have ZERO interest in learning how to make money blogging about travel you can skip ahead to Step #1.
But, if even a small part of you may want to do this for a living, and generate income from your travel blog now or in the future then I suggest starting at the top. Strap in, here we go!
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.
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).
But when people show up, they see everyone else standing in this massive line and jump in, assuming it’s the only way to enter.
Always better to assume there may be an easier or less crowded way to get in – then go try and find it!
Skip The Line: Find Your Underground Entrance
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).
For me one entrance was podcasting.
When you search “travel blog” on google there are almost a billion results. There are very few travel podcasts.
I didn’t start a podcast because I thought it would be a good strategy.
I started one because I love talking to other travelers. I love audio. I thought this would be 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 would say a successful blog needs.
For example, I don’t have massive website traffic, viral content, a huge social media following or major media exposure. Yet, I still get to do this as my full time job!
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 you get started the right way.
Like the Louvre these underground entrances aren’t a big secret, it’s just that most people who are just starting out won’t consider them.
Underground Entrance #1: Don’t Start A Travel Blog
I promise this will all make sense in a second.
First, a quick note on that pesky word “success”.
What is Success?
How you define it is the difference between enjoying yourself or going mental.
Don’t fall into the comparison trap – always measuring yourself up against other travel bloggers.
Feeling like a nobody is as easy as one click and a poor mindset.
There will always be people who make more money, have more twitter followers, have better connections, and blah blah blah.
Who cares? You shouldn’t.
Worrying about what everyone else is up to will get you nowhere. I’ve been eaten up by the trap before, it’s depressing.
I do my best to ignore self defeating internal talk and focus on the idea that success to me is measured by how many people I can help or serve in some way.
In terms of financial success, I like my friend Mish’s definition.
“Running a business I love from wherever I want to be, and making more money than I was in my old jobs.”
How do you define success?
No matter what, if you intend to help people in some way and feel compelled to serve an audience and reach people with your work then that work has to be sustainable.
Otherwise, you might have to kill your blog, and that doesn’t help anyone…especially your audience.
Which is why I want to share the #1 thing you can do to set yourself up for financial success.
I have noticed 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.
You Should Treat Your Travel Blog Like a Business Startup
Sorry to sneak up on you like this, but today you’re not learning how to start a travel blog, you are actually learning how to start a travel business.
Don’t start a travel blog, start a business around travel.
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 they think all suits and ties and selling out.
But you’re a traveler so I know you’re open minded.
“Business” is not an icky word unless you make it one.
To do this professionally you should shift your mindset right now and approach your entire travel blog endeavor as a business startup.
This approach brings a level of dedication and professionalism that will bring forth your best work. It will…
- Set you up for success (however you define it).
- Help you get more eyes on your travel blog, giving you the chance to help more people.
- Give you focus and clarity around what you need to learn.
- Drive your decisions and dictate what content to create.
And if the word business still grosses you out then call it something else. I like to think of my projects as Bohemian Businesses.
By one definition Bohemian means socially unconventional. I like that.
Getting to work from Greece, Italy, Cambodia, Turkey, and other countries around the world is liberating, it’s total freedom, and it feels unconventional because it’s not what most people get to do.
Why The (Bohemian) Business Approach Works
You may have noticed that the top travel bloggers always seem to come up on the first page of google.
They seem to know everybody.
They work with the biggest travel brands in the world.
They get to work on their travel blog full time and earn a good living doing work they love.
That doesn’t happen just because they are world class bloggers, 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)
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.
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.”
When it comes to business anything is possible! Success can come at any time. You can help millions of people!
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.
I suck at blogging in the traditional sense. I’ve never “gone viral”, don’t have massive website traffic, or an email list of 50,000 people. But I’m pretty good at business so I keep finding ways to do this full time.
My business skills NOT my blogging skills, allowed me to earn a very modest five figure salary my first year travel blogging then take a huge leap and gross well over six figures in only my second year via partnerships and projects associated with this blog like our community Location Indie and The Paradise Pack.
My business partner Travis and I were also able to raise enough money to build a school for kids in Guatemala – one of the most exciting things to happen since I started working on these projects.
I’m not sharing this to gloat – rather to get you pumped up at the possibilities.
Prepare To Work…HARD
You should know that I work a TON, like probably too much. I work on this stuff almost every single day including weekend. That’s because I love it!
I’m not traveling as much as I used to and I’m ok with that. I spent nearly 20 years on the road.
If you’re doing this while you travel it might take longer, but little bit every day over a long period of time can add up to something big. Enjoy your travels otherwise what’s the point of it all?
Don’t Wait For Things To Be Perfect – Just Get Started
Don’t get overwhelmed by all of this.
Like any new business owner you’ll make plenty of mistakes, you’ll screw up, and you’ll get stuck. Welcome to the club!
You can’t make all the right decisions today or ever.
The important thing is to start your travel blog today.
Everything is a gamble. Everything is an educated guess. You might feel confused and scared and that’s totally normal.
But nothing happens if you don’t put something out there in the first place!
Commit to starting today.
Now, for the second big underground entrance…
Underground Entrance #2: Seek Less Crowded Paths
You will find them eventually.
If you are a writer that might mean that instead of writing about destinations and competing with millions of people, you narrow your focus to a micro-niche topic with minimal competition and become the #1 authority on that one specific thing.
Very few people make high quality videos, 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. Or you create an audio blog and transcribe your posts into written articles. Or speak a book, then have it transcribed and published. Someone I met recently has built her entire audience on Periscope, a live streaming and less crowded platform.
In this ever evolving digital world there are countless ways to do things differently.
In the meantime, don’t worry or get discouraged if you don’t have all of the answers today, you won’t and you don’t have to!
If you LOVE to learn than you’ll love travel blogging, because there is always something to figure out. You can’t learn it all in one day, or even one lifetime.
Again, the important thing is to just get started today.
In order to arrive anywhere you need to begin the trip.
Underground Entrance #3: Leverage Large Platforms
You’re doing some research for your trip to Brazil and want to know if you need a visa. What do you do? Go to google and begin searching, a few seconds later you have the info you need for free.
Later, as your trip approaches you decide you want to learn more about Brazilian culture, perhaps grab a guide book or maybe buy some history books about the country. You jump on amazon.com and being looking for books to buy.
On google the majority of people are searching for answers. Most are seeking free information. Whereas on Amazon nearly 200 million unique visitors per month are looking to potentially buy something.
Now 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 looking to buy books?
After I decided to launch a book series and considered the options publishing on Amazon was an easy decision. I buy books there all the time! As an avid reader I have a slight obsession with my kindle.
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.
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 still need a ‘home base’ online and should begin building your community today.
But don’t forget to also think outside of the travel blog. Where else can you show up with your work so that it can be found by more people?
“Blog” came from the word “Weblog” which was essentially an online diary or log of posts and articles written by an individual.
Times have changed. Now there are podcasts, vlogs (video blogs), microblogging platforms (like twitter), and on and on.
The world has redefined what blogging means.
That’s why you should NOT consider yourself a travel blogger, it’s limiting.
Why not think of yourself as a travel publisher instead of a travel blogger?
First, it sounds more professional doesn’t it? You’re in publishing!
Second, the internet is a multi-media landscape. Chance are you’ll end up sharing content in a variety of different ways.
When I describe Zero To Travel to potential brand partners here is what I say:
“Zero To Travel is a multi-media travel publishing company. We create best selling books, audio courses, dynamic educational products and run an online community for location indie’s, all to help people travel the world.”
Sounds a lot better than “I am a travel blogger” right?
Labels in general piss me off. They don’t mean anything except whatever meaning you or someone else attaches to them.
However, since we don’t communicate with our minds (wouldn’t that be cool) your word choice is necessary and important.
To avoid confusion I’ll use the terms blog and blogger for the rest of this article, but now you know where I stand on those labels.
People Matter The Most
Building relationships, making authentic connections, and helping your audience and customers, these are the things that will help you the most.
Don’t be afraid to get out there and meet others!
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 is the best thing you can do and will help you more than anything else.
There is one last thing I want to say before we dive into the step-by-step tutorial…
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 that I’m writing this.
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.
Your Travel Blog: A New Adventure Begins Right Now
You know that feeling of excitement and anticipation you get before a big trip?
You have no clue what you’ll experience, who you’ll meet, and what amazing new lifetime memories you’ll create. It’s all waiting for you when you step off that plane.
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.
I can tell you that starting Zero To Travel and launching my podcast has changed my life in unimaginable ways.
It has allowed me to create a new career combining my passion for travel and helping others, giving me the ability to earn a living doing something I love.
I hope it does the same for you.
How To Start A Travel Blog : Nuts and Bolts
Here’s what this guide will cover. There’s a lot here, but I’ll take you through it step-by-step, so there’s no room for confusion!
- 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
Before you can start building your travel blog, you need to decide on a topic. You need to get clear on what your blog will be about and what kind of audience you’re going to target with it.
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
- Choose an overarching theme
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.
Niche Site Examples
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.
Here’s that process for you:
- 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
The advantages of choosing a niche for your travel blog:
- You’ll find it easier to dominate the field you’re in.
- You will encounter less competition.
- You’ll probably find it easier to come up with ideas for blog posts.
The disadvantages of choosing a niche for your travel blog:
- You’re more likely to get bored of your topic and quit.
- You might run out of ideas over time.
- Your potential audience is likely to be quite small.
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”
Overarching Theme Blog Examples
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.
The advantages of choosing an overarching theme for your travel blog:
- Your interests will probably change over time; an overarching theme will allow your content to evolve and remain relevant.
- You’ll have the freedom to explore a wider range of topics.
The disadvantages of choosing an overarching theme for your travel blog:
- You may find it harder to attract an audience initially.
- You may find it harder to make money from a travel blog that’s not focused on a specific topic.
Once you’ve decided on your topic, it’s time to come up with a name.
Choose Your Blog Name
Your blog’s name is very important. Its job is to both communicate what your blog is about and to give a sense of your style or personality.
Although the name is important it won’t determine your success (what does “Google”mean anyway? – It’s a ridiculous name!) Amazing content and the value you provide is what will keep people coming back and grow your travel blog.
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 start.
Here are some things worth considering.
Types of Blog Names
Your name – Perhaps the simplest name is your own. If you’re not comfortable using your full name online, maybe because you don’t want employers to see your writing, you could also come up with a pen name. This option 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 in the future because it will be tied to you and your personality.
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 if that’s something you might want to do.
SEO-friendly – Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your blog rank highly in search engine results. If SEO is going to be a big part of how you promote your site, you might like to make your blog name SEO-friendly. There are lots of tricks you can try, but the main one is using keywords that people are likely to be searching for. This option will make it very clear what your blog is about but could lack personality if done wrong. My friend Dave did a great job of combining SEO and brand friendliness with a great 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 as a Californian or a Frenchie, for example, you could include a location in the title of your blog. This may turn out to be quite limiting though, if you decide to venture outside of your chosen area.
Means-based – If you plan to travel in a particular way, you could focus in on this. 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, but it will make it clear exactly what your blog is about.
A phrase – To make your blog name memorable and infused with personality, you could use a phrase that sums up your philosophy or topic. You could pick an existing phrase, put a twist on an existing one, or make up a completely new one. New readers might not immediately know what your blog is about so it may require a tagline or some clear messaging right on your home page. If done right, these can be memorable names.
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. You could try including metaphors, puns, and plays on words.
A pun or play on words – If you feel like being a bit witty, you could 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 may find your topic getting lost if you get too carried away with being creative.
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.
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. It’s best not to settle on a name just yet, because it might not be available as a domain name.
Check 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. The domain name for Zero To Travel is www.zerototravel.com.
First, you’ll want to see if the blog names you’ve come up with are available as domain names. To do this, go to Whois.net.
Step 1: Go to Bluehost.com (go to domains)
Step 2: Type in the domain name you’re curious about. Click “Search.”
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 Namech_ck.com to check that your preferred domain name is available on all the important platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on.
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. They make it really easy for new bloggers to get their blogs set up, they’re really 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 Hosting
Step 1: Since you just found your domain Bluehost.com simply create an 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.
Step 3: Select the plan you want.
Step 4: Decide which extras you want. I’d recommend getting the Domain Privacy Protection if you want to keep your details private.
Step 5: Enter your billing information.
Step 6: Agree to the terms and conditions. Click “submit.” Skip through any other offers that appear.
Step 10: Check your email for your Bluehost login details. Keep these safe!
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 something called 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.
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. Click “login.”
Step 2: Enter your login details. Click “submit.”
Step 3: When you arrive at your Bluehost control panel, click “Install WordPress.”
Step 4: Click “Install.”
Step 5: Select the domain name you want to build your website on. Click “check domain.”
Step 6: Select the “Show advanced options” box. Enter your travel blog name, your admin username, and your admin password. Take note of these login details.
Step 7: Agree to the terms and conditions. Click “Install Now.”
Step 8: You should also receive an email containing your login details. Navigate to the URL (www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin) and log in.
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.
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.
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.
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:
However, I recommend a theme called Divi, which is part of the Elegant Themes bundle of themes. When you sign up to Elegant Themes, you get access to all of their themes (there are over 87 of them!), so there’s plenty of choice.
Divi stands out though because its builder is extremely easy to use and very flexible. With Divi, it’s incredibly easy to make very slick and professional-looking websites. If you’re wondering how to start a travel blog that will look great but not cost the earth, Divi would be a very sensible choice.
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
Step 1: In your WordPress dashboard, click “Appearance” and “Themes.”
Step 2: Click “Add New.”
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.”
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.”
Step 4 (paid theme): Choose the .zip file and click “Install Now.”
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.
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, 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.”
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.
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.”
Step 3: When you find a plugin you want to install, click “Install Now.”
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.
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 Askimet plugin. This plugin will prevent most of those spam comments from getting through. It’s a no-brainer!
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 try and 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.
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!
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)
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: The process for creating a blog post and a blog page is pretty much the same, so I’ll just show you how to create a post.
Step 1: Click on “Posts” and “Add New.”
Step 2: Complete the various fields, including the blog post title, blog post content, tags, and categories.
Step 3: Publish or schedule your blog post.
If you want to have a successful travel blog, blogging won’t be enough. 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 up a relationship with them.
It’s up to you which social networks you focus on, but here are a few to consider:
Hopefully 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.
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.
You made it! You’ve now learned exactly how to start a travel blog and hopefully 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!
To grow your blog, you’ll need to create lots of excellent content that keeps your readers coming back for more. You’ll also need to implement the number one strategy for growing your audience and actually making a profit from your blog. Watch this space for more information on what that is and on how to do both of those things!
Above all though, 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 to Get Support
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.
How To Start A Travel Blog: The Final Word
Whooooo hooooo! You just started a travel
I know this resource is crazy long, I hope it has helped you out.
Feel free to bookmark this page and return to it anytime you need a hand.
Other helpful free information:
A few other notes from this resource guide:
The picture of Louvre courtesy of Gideon on flickr.
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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.