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Thinking on starting blogging?
Why should you start a travel blog, though?
Have you ever imagined not having to wake up early on Monday-Friday to commute to work? Or having endless options of days to travel at any time it conveys you? Have you ever imagined actually being paid for the vacation photos you take and also for being offered premium stays at top hotels everywhere in the world?
This life does exist, guys, and it belongs to the travel blogging world.
Granted, it is not exactly easy or fast to become successful, but the good news is that it IS tangible. This means that what differentiates you from top bloggers you see online is your ability to be consistent, organized, creative (and a bit strategic, of course).
Moreover, you don’t need to have a DSLR camera to start blogging or any IT skill for that matter.
However, do you know the SECRET about THE ONE THING that you need to do to be a successful blogger?
(pause for suspense)
BUT LET’S TAKE THIS ONE STEP AT A TIME
Since I started my travel blog a little less than a year ago, I can’t count the amount times that people have come up to me since then to ask me questions regarding blogging.
Some of the most common ones include:
- How do I start a travel blog of my own
- IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK
- How do you make money by blogging?
- THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF DIFFERENT WAYS
- How long does it actually take to make money?
- IT REALLY DEPENDS ON YOU
- Can you make a lot of money from blogging?
To more specific questions, such as:
- What hosting do you use?
- How do you get traffic to your website?
- How do you reach out to get hotel collaborations?
Yes, my friend, becoming a travel blogger can be and feel extremely overwhelming (trust me! I literally just had a frustration attack about 10 minutes ago where I wanted to give up just because I felt so annoyed and stressed with Pinterest).
But after having taken a deep breath and deciding that I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet, I’ve decided to sit down and, instead, write a post that I have been postponing for a long time: How to Easily Start a Successful Travel Blog, a detailed step-by-step guide.
Because yes, if you have patience and motivation, being a travel blogger can be extremely rewarding.
From either getting discounts (or sometimes free stays) at luxury hotels that you would never have otherwise imagined staying at, to landing products deals with your favorite brands (and actually being paid to promote them), to being extra spoiled at a certain restaurant, or even getting first-class upgrades when you travel with a certain airline…
The perks of being a travel influencer are remarkable enough to attract even those who hate social media.
And who knows, if you dedicate yourself enough to blogging, this could even be your full-time job eventually.
Can you imagine saying goodbye to your current desk job and dedicating yourself full time to creating travel content? Be it in writing, in video, with photography, (or all of them if you got the skills).
If you’ve always imagined yourself as having a creative mind and passion for traveling, then maybe becoming a travel blogger is a great alternative to your 9-5 job.
Technology and social media advancements are currently making the photography life more attractive than it ever has been before. With new careers being made (such as that of content creators), and new lifestyles being pursued (like that of being a digital nomads), people don’t want to be lawyers anymore, they want to be Digital Creators (be it within the travel niche, beauty, sports, gaming, health…).
With new careers being made (such as that of content creators), and new lifestyles being pursued (like that of being a digital nomad), people don’t want to be lawyers anymore, they want to be Digital Creators.
So if you are seriously considering starting a travel blog yourself, then keep on reading my step-by-step guide to having a travel blog that works.
In this section, I will cover the following topics for the step-by-step tutorial on how to start your travel blog TODAY.
- Choose a niche
- Choose your blog name
- Get web hosting
- Register your domain
- Choose a blog theme
- Download important plugins
- Start writing (around 15 posts)
- Choose a color palette
- Start getting some traffic: Create Pinterest
- Understand SEO
- Monetize your blog
- Grow brand awareness
The goal of this section is to help you lay the foundation of your travel blog. I will go through all the blogging basics from setting up your blog to getting traffic and finally making some initial money.
TRAVEL BLOG SET UP
Setting Your Travel Blog Goals
Before you take on this amazing (yet arduous) journey of travel blogging, it is important that before you start, you sit down and set clear goals for yourself.
Why do you want to start a travel blog? Is it to make money, build a community of like-minded people? Is it to talk about a product or idea you have, or just to make some new friends?
Brew yourself a cup of hot coffee, have a seat and really think about it.
What are your goals and your motivations? It needs to be something that you will still be passionate about when the journey gets tough.
If you’re just in blogging for the money, you may be a bit disappointed; it takes hard work to start making money. However, the GOOD NEWS is that it is VERY possible!
It just takes (a LOT of) FOCUS + DISCIPLINE + ORGANIZATION + SOME STRATEGY.
And of course, that passion that we’ve discussed in the earlier paragraphs of this post.
I highly encourage you to write down your big goal for your blog.
DID YOU KNOW: People with written goals are 50% more likely to achieve than people without goals.
I have a bunch of different goals for each different project that I start. Every now and then I open my notebook where I have them written down and just stare at them and let it sink it. It’s amazing how more focused my mind seems to be after this small daily exercise.
1. DECIDE YOUR NICHE
Think about the following questions:
What do you like to talk about? What expertise do you have? Do your friends come to you for specific advice on a topic? If so, that would be a great topic to blog about!
Or have you ever worked for a hotel? Did you ever live abroad? How can you combine the skills and experience that you’ve learned in the business world to your new role as a travel blogger?
And don’t overthink the competition too much. Even though there are literally THOUSANDS of travel blogs on each topic, your unique voice and advice will set you apart. Always be true to yourself.
Your blog niche should be:
- Something you love
- Something you’re passionate about
- Something that incorporates well into your life
- A topic that you have a unique spin on
- A topic you can write about for years
- A profitable topic ($$$)
2. CHOOSE A BLOG NAME
So many people get stuck here and this is such a waste of time.
And trust me, my friend, in the blogging world, time is definitely something overrated. There is NEVER, EVER, (EVER) enough time. I say this from experience. So many days I spent hours on end working, and by the end of the day, it still felt like I hadn’t accomplished half of my to-do list.
This all to say that when time is something you cannot afford to waste, you definitely don’t want to be stuck in these early stages of blogging or else you will never actually START.
Choose a generic and simple blog name and start blogging!!
The more you write, the more you will find your voice and niche. Don’t fall into ‘analysis paralysis’ and overthink this step.
The successful bloggers did not become successful because they sat around thinking all the time, they took action, made mistakes, learned from them and grew. You can do this too!
And keep in mind that you can ALWAYS rebrand (my first blog was called TravelGuaplous, and it eventually turned into La Belle Society, which to me sounded more chic and easier to remember).
- Keep it short and easy to spell & remember.
- Choose a name and start blogging.
- Don’t waste weeks brainstorming the perfect name.
- Have fun and enjoy the learning process.
3. SET UP A HOST
But first, What is a host?
In simple words, a host is basically a computer that holds all your blogging files. All the files, blog posts, images and code behind your blog take space, and a host provides that cyberspace for you. This allows your blog to be on the internet 24/7 and be accessed from anywhere around the world in a safe manner.
It costs under $3 a month to have your own dedicated server space for your website online (pricing depends on your host). In other words, you’re basically creating an online store to promote products, sell services or connect with like-minded brands.
After you sign up for a hosting company, you’ll receive the username and password to login to your brand new blog. Use your login details and go to www.YOURBLOGNAME.com/wp-admin and log in. It will look like the image below.
So, for example, if I want to access the admin area for my blog, all I would have to do it type: www.labellesociety.com/wp-admin
4. SET UP YOUR THEME
A theme is the overall flow and looks of your site, and the day will come when you will need to decide on a style for your travel blog. There are actually numerous free and paid themes available in WordPress, from minimalist and clean themes to those that look busier like a magazine cover.
What is important to keep in mind is that your blog theme should be easy to navigate and as clear as possible for your potential readers.
It’s not hard to make a professional-looking website.
Before we go to the next topic in setting up your travel blog for success, let’s review what makes a good blog and see a few examples.
- Having a clear navigation menu
- An about section with a clear image of your face
- A strong call to action (CTA)
- Latest or best blog posts
- Social media follow icons
- ‘About Me’ page
- Disclaimer if you have affiliate links
- Uniform colors, fonts, and images
- Clear categories for blog posts
- Search bar
PS – It is SUPER important to remember that you should also set up all necessary legal-related pages (trust me, so many new bloggers overlook this bit).
- Terms and Conditions
PS – One other MEGA important note: Be sure to remember to customize this information to what is relevant to your situation. For instance, if you are based in the United Kingdom you don’t want to say your jurisdiction is the United States simply because you had copied and pasted someone else’s Terms & Conditions!
Plugins are software available on WordPress that you use to add more customizations or functions to your blog, and they can be either free or paid for premium versions.
However, a word to the wise, do NOT go crazy adding too many plugins as this can backfire and make our website quite slow, which is no fun for the user experience and will make all your SEO hard work redundant.
Here are a few must-have plugins I use and recommend.
- Jetpack: Jetpack is great but it’s a great starting point for new bloggers because it has lots of built-in features. It was originally made by the makers of WordPress and the plugin includes a lot of functionality you would need other plugins for, such as image optimization, statistics, and other useful blogging features.
- Yoast SEO – Evaluates the quality of your Search Engine Optimization (SEO – More on that further on in this post). I HIGHLY recommend this plugin.
- Social Pug – Allows visitors to share your posts on social media. that adds social sharing to your sidebar and in your posts to make it easy for visitors to share your content. I had started using Social Warfare, but I noticed my posts were not getting shared as they seemed and I realized the plugin had an issue. Because of that stress, I just decided to change to social pug directly
- Akismet Anti Spam: This plugin automatically prevents spam and bots from commenting on your posts. You might even see that as soon as you turn your website live you start getting spam comments from bots- Akismet will stop this
- Wordfence: Wordfence is an amazing free plugin that protects your website from hackers and cyber attacks, and you can use the automatic configuration to easily protect your website. The other good news is that the free version is enough to get started so you don’t need the paid plans.
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer: ShortPixel will automatically compress and resize your images when you upload them to WordPress. While it is best toresize your images before uploading, ShortPixel can make sure you don’t accidentally load a massive 10 MB image which will dramatically slow your website down.
- Google Analytics– Tracks the performance of your website – page views, session duration, etc
7. A COLOR PALETTE
Choosing a color palette for your blog is important and can be a lot of fun (just be careful not to get too caught up in it and lose sight of what is important: creating content consistently)!
You need to have a uniform feel to your little home on the internet. And having cohesive colors is a great first impression to your readers, as it immediately conveys professionalism.
I use Canva whenever I want to play around with rebranding my colors.
8. BRAINSTORM 15-20 POST IDEAS
Remember this: Your blog post should aim to TEACH, HELP, ENTERTAIN OR INSPIRE.
Even if you have the most interesting life ever, it takes time to build up an online community of people who actually care about your personal affairs. What I mean is, if you want to succeed online (meaning, make money and grow), you need to provide your audience with some sort of VALUE.
Having pretty images and a nice theme will only get you so far – You need to keep your reader on your site with your fantastic content.
Fun Fact: The most shared and read blog posts are frequently in list forms. This makes it easy for your reader to browse and find the content they need.
Additionally, short sentences and paragraphs are easier to read (see what I am doing with this post?).
9. START GETTING SOME TRAFFIC: Create a Pinterest Business Account
Some bloggers will tell you to make sure your brand is visible on all social media channels. Set up Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin’, and Stumbleupon, for your business.
Even though I 100% agree that you should NEVER put all your eggs into one basket (and that learning how to diversify online is what makes or breaks a content creator), it is just as equally important to keep your focus on just one platform in the beginning.
Juggling too many things at once can both FEEL and BE extremely draining (and can result even in an eventual cause of giving up on blogging, YIKES!).
I say this from experience, there was one point mid-way through my blogging year that I was so focused on growing my Instagram that I simply stopped creating for the blog and it completely stagnated.
When I realized that Instagram was also not growing as I had hoped (damn you Instagram algorithm), I felt extremely unproductive, overwhelmed and sad. Then I decided to change my mindset and focus on growing my blog, providing as much valuable content as I possibly could, and focus my precious time and attention on one big thing: BRINGING TRAFFIC TO MY BLOG.
10. Aaaaaaand, the most important social media for a new blogger is Pinterest!
As a new blogger, it is much easier to get your content noticed on Pinterest than on Google, because simply put, it takes several months for Google to index and rank your website (meaning, for Google to actually take your website seriously). With Pinterest, you can get lots of traffic from day one if you understand how Pinterest works (this is another topic).
I will write a whole post on Pinterest, why I used to hate it and what I finally did to turn that hate into love.
11. Understand SEO
The good news: You don’t need to be a tech wiz to be a blogger. However, if there’s one technical aspect of blogging you need to understand at one point, it’s SEO.
This is probably the trickiest concept for new bloggers who don’t have prior experience in digital marketing.
If you are totally new to this, then I strongly recommend as a good place to start to take this free video course: Stupid Simple SEO
Simply put, the basic idea behind SEO is to choose keywords you want to rank for on search engines (basically Google) and incorporate them in your posts. You need to do some research on sources like, KWFinder, Buzzsumo, SEMRush, to determine the best long-tail keywords for the topic you will write about.
Those keywords are what your readers would search on Google to find your post.
For example, considering this post is about how to start a travel blog, the keyword I decided to rank for was ‘how to start a travel blog.’ Notice that it is a whole sentence and not just a word or two. Someone new to travel blogging would research that phrase and maybe stumble upon this post.
SEO might take some time to master, but it is EXTREMELY important. That’s because the best traffic is organic traffic. You create high-quality posts with the right keywords and Google will take care of the rest.
12. Monetize your blog
This is where so many people, including myself, get stuck.
How the heck do you make money from your blog?
Well, I have written an entire post about this topic, but for the sake of this post being complete, I will briefly run you through a few:
SERVICES – Let’s start with one of the fastest ways to make money from your blog: Offer a service. You could do photography, coaching, graphic design, consulting, social media management, writing, or anything you’re good at.
I have a background in sales from a 3-year corporate job and a bachelor in hospitality from a Swiss university. Because of that, I am specializing in teaching people how to pitch and work with hotels, and how to master personalized service.
AFFILIATE MARKETING – Get commission from promoting products you love to help your readers, such as travel gadgets or useful online courses. You can join an affiliate program such as Amazon Associates, CJ Affiliates, or a particular brand you love (the internet is the limit when it comes to Affiliate Partners, these are zillions online).
Then you write reviews, advertise them on Pinterest, and email your subscribers telling them all about it. When someone buys a product that you recommend, you earn a commission – meaning, a percentage of the sales, and these commissions typically range between 3-40%. To earn this money, you need to share with your audience a unique link that has your tracking code, known as an affiliate link.
TIP: The MOST IMPORTANT advice for affiliate marketing is to only recommend products you have used and that you TRUST. There is no bigger turn off than seeing an influencer promoting something they clearly don’t use (did anyone say Kardashians + Detox Tea?).
ADS– Simply put, when people click on your ads, you earn money (and the more traffic you get and the more people that clicks your links, the more money you earn). In Brazil we say that ‘’by eating one grain of corn at a time, the chicken eventually gets her belly full’’. What this means is that, even though ads individually don’ give you a lot of money, you’d be surprised how these can quickly add up.
There are a few options from inserting ads to your website: Join Google Adsense (don’t recommend), Mediavine, Adthrive, or any other ad network.
IMPORTANT: You absolutely must consider the user experience. If ads are plastered everywhere on your site, visitors may get annoyed and never come back (and it can even cause your website to slow down, DOUBLE YIKES). I would say that Mediavine and Adthrive are better options, however, they require 25k sessions and 100k sessions, respectively (and you can get traffic from Pinterest, but more on that in another post).
Online courses – there seems to be a consensus in the blogging community that creating online courses is the best way to monetize a blog. I agree. Why? First, affiliate marketing is dependent on other businesses. Let’s say one of your biggest affiliates closes its doors, well, then you can kiss your income goodbye.
Next, ads are great but they depend a lot on your traffic, which can take a nosedive and give you a hard month if you don’t recover in time. Then by offering services, such as social media management, are time-consuming and there are only so many clients you can take on.
Enters the online courses, which are evergreen digital products that you can sell for years to come (this means that after it is created, you can still make passive income years and years later, just by promoting it well and keeping it relevant/updated).
The sales success isn’t dependent on your website traffic or other limitations, but on your marketing efforts (and of course, how good the eCourse actually is). They are also scalable, which means you can sell an infinite number of courses. Imagine selling in a certain month 10 courses that cost 200 euros each? That’s 2 grand right there!
13. Keep Your Blog Running
Have you ever heard that most blogs fail within the first six months? It’s because people get frustrated when they work their tails off but don’t get many visitors or make any money from their investment. It is not uncommon to feel distressed in writing if there is no one there to read what you write.
However, unfortunately, it can take a long time for a blog to become popular with regular visitors and, sadly enough, most beginner bloggers tend to quit before they get their first taste of success.
The best advice is to keep going! Remember your promise to yourself from the beginning. You should push through it and carry on writing and posting content to your travel blog even when it appears that you are not getting many visitors.
All it takes is for one post that you make to go viral and your blog will explode, I promise. Even if you don’t get a viral post, your readership will increase if you write content that solves people’s problems (remember to ALWAYS provide some sort of value!! This is what makes a difference in how fast you grow).
As one of the most common reasons that people fail at blogging is that they get disheartened at not having any readers, and yet one of the reasons that they don’t have any readers is because they have not fully submerged themselves into the blogging community.
And with that in mind, I will leave you with one last bit of information:
HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE BLOGGING COMMUNITY FROM DAY 1?
- Join blogging groups on Facebook and Pinterest
- Attend blogger meetups, such as blogging tradeshows (yep, this is actually a thing)
- Get to know others in your niche, observe, take notes.
- Engage with your favorite influencers on a daily basis
- In addition, you can also give advice on forums and leave thoughtful comments on other blogs once in a while (have a question? Why not throw it in a blogging group and see what people say).
- Do not try to do this alone! You need to get into the community and feed into it in order to get anything back.
Trust me! This was a huge mistake that I overlooked myself and it costs me a lot in both my time and money.
So you wanna start a travel blog? What is your biggest struggle? Let me know in the comments section below!
Posts that might interest you:
- Instagram: 9 killer mistakes that are bringing your engagement down
- Instagram Engagement issues? Here is how to FIX IT today
- How I quickly got 5K followers on Instagram (organically)
- Here is how bloggers make money?
- How to take stunning influencer-style travel photos
Have an existing blog in need of powerful growth? Check out some services I use and love:
- Tailwind: Pinterest + Instagram scheduling tool
- Envato Market: Premium blog templates (the one I use)
- Deposit Photo – THE place for stunning travel stock photos
- Long Tail Pro – Keyword research tool for SEO (w/ course included) – 30% Off with my link
- Canva – Ridiculously easy Graphic Design
- Superstar Blogging – Nomadic Matt’s infamous travel blogging course