Anyone can start a travel blog, but creating a professional travel blog that generates income is much more difficult. If you only want to keep your family and friends up to date or occasionally write a post, sign up for one of the many free blogging networks out there. Some of the most famous ones are WordPress.com, Blogger and Tumblr.
However, if you are serious about becoming a professional travel blogger and possibly making some money with it, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Choose a Good Blog Name
This step is probably the most important step of all of them. Think long and hard about your potential name, as choosing the wrong name can cause you a lot of headaches later on. Brainstorm like crazy and come up with as many names as possible.
Below are some characteristics that should help you find a good name for your blog:
- Short, simple, easy to remember and easy to spell
- Does not include hyphens or numbers
- Unique and different from other travel bloggers
- Legally available
- Applicable in the long run
After you have a few potential names, imagine that you told a potential reader your name. Will they be able to correctly remember it the day after? If not, you will probably want to move on to the next one. Do this until you are 100% sure that you have the perfect name for your blog. Then move on to the next step.
Step 2: Get Hosting
If you want your website to show up on the internet, you need to rent space on a hosting server. The hosting server stores all your blog files and makes it available for people to see when they enter your domain name in their browser.
We use BlueHost as our host for this website. Not only do they offer pretty low prices, they also have great customer service. You also get your first domain name for free!
1. Click the green “Get Started Now” button
2. Pick your plan
3. Choose your domain name
4. Add Domain Privacy Protection (optional but highly recommended)
Step 3: Install WordPress
WordPress.org (not WordPress.com) is the leading blogging platform for professionals. Even major brands like CNN and Ebay use it. Do yourself a favor and stay away from Blogger and other free services.
To install WordPress on your BlueHost Account, simply go to your cPanel, click “Install WordPress” and follow the on-screen directions. When it asks you where you would like to install it, choose your domain (www.yourdomain.com).
Once installed, log into your WordPress dashboard by entering your new username and password.
Step 4: Get a Professional Theme
There are many free themes available, however many of them are not updated regularly or do not provide tech support. If you are serious about becoming a travel blogger, I recommend you buy a professional WordPress theme instead. Themeforest offers some of the best WordPress themes around, and is my number one source for finding inexpensive premium themes. Plus, most, if not all themes come with free tech support, in case you have any questions about setting up your theme.
Another option is to hire a professional designer and let them customize and hand code your website. I happen to be a web and graphic designer, so that’s what I did with our website. Everything is completely coded from scratch and nobody else uses our theme. If that is something you’re interested in, send me a message.
Step 5: Add Plugins
- Akismet – As soon as you launch your blog, the spammers will come and leave comments on your posts. Protect your blog from spam with this awesome and free plugin.
- WordPress Seo by Yoast – This plugin optimizes your site for Google and other search engines, so they can find your content and index it.
- WP Super Cache – Don’t let your visitors wait, speed up your website with this plugin and reduce your bounce rate.
- Jetpack – This is probably the best plugins out there. Jetpack is actually multiple plugins in one. Once it’s activated you should have social share buttons, a related post section underneath each post and so much more.
The above are only the essentials. There are thousands of other plugins out there and some are better than others. However, try not to go overboard. Too many installed plugins will slow down your site.
Step 6: Get Yourself a Professional Logo
Branding is a very important part of any business. Many major companies pay millions (yes, millions) for professional design work every year, because they know that they will get it back in sales. Customers are more likely to trust brands that look professional, just look at Apple.
I know it is tempting to simply make your own or hire somebody for $5 off of Fiverr, but don’t do it. Just don’t. You really get what you pay for in this case. I mean think about it, would you do quality work that takes hours to complete for somebody for just $5? You probably wouldn’t, so why do you think somebody else would?
Instead, hire somebody who knows what they’re doing. Sure, it will cost you a little bit more but it will bring you more money in the long run. Think of it as a long-term investment.
Step 7: Learn How to Use Social Media
If you want to become a professional travel blogger, you’d better love social media. Social media is essential for getting the word out about your new posts and gaining an audience. Unfortunately, there are so many blogs out there and your site can easily get lost in the crowd, so be active on at least a few social platforms on a regular basis. The most popular ones are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. But what may be in today, might be out tomorrow.
Try to keep you social media handles the same across all platforms. This will make it easier for people to find you.
Step 8: Start an Email List
Many newbie travel bloggers neglect to do this step when they first start out. But believe me, it is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Contrary to popular belief, email marketing is still very much alive. In fact, it is more alive than ever. Thanks to smart phones, most people are signed into their email account 24/7, and will check it periodically. An email is also a much more personal, direct and reliable way to get in touch with people.
If somebody signs up for your newsletter with double-opt-in, they are really interested in what you have to say, and are much more likely to open your email and read it.
Two email marketing providers I recommend are Aweber and MailChimp. MailChimp offers a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers, however once you reach this limit you will pay more than with Aweber. So if you have some start up money to invest, I recommend you sign up with Aweber because it’s cheaper in the long run.
Note: Transferring email lists from MailChimp to Aweber later on is not easy, nor fun.
Step 9: Join Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are a great way to meet other travel bloggers, ask questions or participate in social media sharing threads. There are thousands of travel blogger groups on Facebook, but our favorites are:
Step 10: Start Blogging
Now that you know how to start a travel blog and you are the proud owner of your own site, it is time for you to create some great content. We recommend you write as much as possible in the beginning, because this will help you find your own voice. Keep in mind that it will take some time for you to see your first dollar from your blog. Blogging is not a get rich fast scheme, it takes time. But once you do make some money with your writing, you will ask yourself why you ever had a 9 – 5 job.
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