I often get asked how I started my blog and got it to the point where it is today. The truth is that anyone can start a blog, and this statement comes from the guy who started a blog without even fully understanding what a blog is.
I, of course, made a lot of mistakes on the way (which of course, helped me learn even more), but today I can help you fast-track the learning process so you can start your successful travel blog like a pro.
When I started my travel blog, I made it all with the minimal spending possible, so if you’re looking to learn how to start a travel blog with no money, this post will help.
These tips are not only to help you create an excellent blog, whether it is a travel blog or any other type of blog, but also to make it easier and faster for you to rank in Google.
HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG: BREAKING GROUND
1. Select a specific niche
Travel is already a niche, but in today’s blogging world, just blogging about travel might get you nowhere. You need to stand out, and it is easier to stand out if you write about something you are passionate about.
You must identify yourself with something specific, like backpacking, luxury travel, foodie, movie locations, volunteering experiences, etc.
A few good samples to look at are:
- AdventurousKate – Kate focuses on female solo travel.
- The Great Affair – Candace shares stories and watercolor sketches she paints during her trips.
- Legal Nomads – Jodi tells stories through food.
Should you start a free blog or invest in creating one?
Now that you have selected your niche, the next thing you have to decide is whether you want to start full-in or if you want to dip your toes and test how much you like this travel blogging business without investing any cash upfront.
The truth is that a lot of travel blogs don’t get any traction, and people give up, or a lot of people realize that running a blog does take time and effort, and they end up realizing it’s not for them.
If you’re unsure whether blogging is for you or not, then why not try it out for free?
Should you decide to take the free path, I recommend you start with a wordpress.com free blog (which is different from a wordpress.org blog… more on that on tip #6.)
Other than the fact that wordpress.com is free, you can have your blog up and running within minutes without having to go through any of the technical details I’ll discuss below.
The downside of the free blog is that you won’t be able to monetize it, it is limited on what you can do with it, and it will probably not rank as well on Google.
Also, if you go the fully free route, your blog’s URL will be something like yourblogname.wordpress.com, instead of yourblogname.com – though you could pay for a domain to have a “real” URL.
Alternatively, should you feel like you’re ready to invest some money (just a bit) and time to start your own travel blog, then keep reading the next tips.
2. Create your blog’s name and buy a proper .com domain
Believe it or not, getting a good domain name is really important. If possible, it should be short, catchy, and memorable. Also, it should stand the test of time.
What I mean by that is that if you start a blog with an URL that goes like TimsEuroTrip.com, once you start blogging about Asia, your name won’t make any sense. Or, 22YearOldTraveler.com; you won’t be 22 forever, right?
You can be creative too by inventing your own terms, like, for example, GloboTreks. Being creative is good, but sometimes it can make it harder for people to catch or remember the name properly.
For example, every time I meet people on the road and tell them my blog’s name or URL, they all go, “globaltreks.com, got it!” Then I have to either correct them by spelling the URL or giving them a business card. I love my URL since it is my brand, so I don’t mind.
How to find a good domain?
I use GoDaddy to buy all my domain names, but any domain seller will do fine. A few recommendations on selecting domains:
- Don’t have hyphens in the domain (i.e., site-domain.com) as it makes it harder for people to remember.
- Preferably buy a .com domain. That’s what people remember, and it gives more search engine value to your site. Buy a .net if you have no choice. Forget about the rest… .org, .co, .info…
- Make sure no one else has something similar to yours.
- If you’re looking to become a “professional” blogger, in the long run, I’d avoid using words like “nomad,” “vagabond,” and similar, as they have been overused in the industry and will not help set you apart or make you memorable when sharing your URL.
- Your name should reflect your niche, if possible. If you’re in the budget travel niche, then pick words that reflect that, which will be different than if you were in the luxury travel niche.
- As mentioned before, keep it short. Three or four words at most. Make it easy for people to remember, and type.
3. Buy a hosting plan
While it doesn’t matter where you buy your domain name, when it comes to hosting servers, it does have a significant impact on your site’s performance.
Your hosting service will affect your site’s speed and overall capacity, so you need to look for a reputable hosting company with a reliable service. Trust me; you don’t want to have a mediocre host to save a few dollars a month. Not worth it.
In case you don’t understand what hosting is, don’t worry; I’ve got you covered.
Look at it this way; hosting is like buying a piece of land on the internet, and the domain is the address to your site/house. The house is the blog you’ll build. Trust me; it is not scary.
I recommend BlueHost since they have excellent service, are extremely reliable, cheap, and, most importantly, fast! I totally recommend them.
When you go to BlueHost, hit the big Get Started button, which will take you to a page that looks like the one below. Just enter the domain name you bought under “I have a domain name.”
If you don’t have a domain yet, that’s fine, as BlueHost gives you a free domain when you open an account with them. Write a new domain name under “new domain” to see if it is available. That new domain will be free for the first year only.
Note: I prefer having my domain at GoDaddy.com, even if my hosting is with BlueHost, for flexibility and pricing reasons, but it doesn’t matter where you get your domain when you’re starting.
Then, you will enter your personal and payment information. You will also select a hosting plan.
I recommend starting with the “basic” plan and choosing the 12-month price since it is not expensive, and it would give you enough time to play around and see if travel blogging is really for you.
In addition to the account plan, BlueHost will recommend some add-ons (through those checkboxes). Do not pick any! You don’t need them now.
A cheaper alternative to BlueHost? I know some people are not in the position to invest a full year of hosting right at the beginning. Instead, I can recommend getting HostGator and starting with its “Hatchling” plan.
I used HostGator for years, and they were excellent for my site until I had to upgrade to a more comprehensive plan.
HostGator offers a “pay on a monthly basis” plan, which is what I got with them when I started.
While it is less money to pay upfront than getting BlueHost, in the long run, the overall yearly cost will be more expensive since they give you bigger discounts the longer your contract is. HostGator also offers the free first domain with your hosting plan.
By the way, BlueHost and HostGator are part of the same company, so their customer support service and quality are about the same. I recommend both, from experience!
4. Change domain nameservers if the hosting and domain are not from the same company.
Note: If you got your domain on GoDaddy and your host is HostGator or BlueHost, you must go through this point. If both the domain and host are from the same company, you can skip this point.
This is very easy to do. Nameservers tell the domain where it will be hosted. It is like matching a home address (domain) with an empty lot (server) where you will build a house (site).
Your hosting server will have two nameservers (i.e., ns2187.bluehost.com), which you will find in your server’s control panel. Copy those, and replace the ones your domain seller appointed initially.
In the image below, I show where you can replace them in GoDaddy. Once you click on your domain, you’ll have the option to manage the nameservers. Just click it and replace it.
5. Secure Your Social Media Handles
Get your unique screennames or handles on the most important social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Try keeping the same “handle” on all platforms for ease.
Now we are ready to bring the site to life!!
STARTING A SUCCESSFUL TRAVEL BLOG: SITE SET-UP!
6. Install WordPress
WordPress is the most popular and best blogging platform to use these days. It is great for SEO (search engine optimization), so using it will help you considerably to rank high on Google – which is what will bring in the traffic.
This version of WordPress (.org) is completely different from the WordPress.com I mentioned on tip #1. This (.org) is the better version of WordPress and the one I recommend you go with.
BlueHost and HostGator have easy “one-click” WordPress install buttons. In your control panel, you’ll see a “WordPress” button or “One-Click Install.” You just hit that and follow the installation steps.
Don’t worry; it is easy. But in case you find this confusing, you can see the video below that explains the WordPress installation with Bluehost.
7. Install a Theme
What is a theme? A theme is what gives your site its “pretty look.” Each blog you visit has a theme, and each theme is different and customizable to a degree.
What theme you select will depend on how you approach your site and what will you do with it as not all themes work as well for all kinds of sites.
I’ve used a few free and paid themes on my site, but currently, I’m using the Kadence Pro Theme with Kadence Blocks Pro. They both come with a free version too, but the paid option lets you design your blog exactly the way you want it.
So, this is my recommended option to anyone who cares about a fast, SEO-friendly, and well-designed blog.
For years I also used the Elementor Pro website builder plugin along with the theme, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a really flexible theme to customize their site’s design to the smallest detail.
Still, there is a small compromise in speed compared to using the Kadence theme with Kadence blocks by itself.
And these days, speed is really important to rank on Google!
Both of these have a free version if you want to try them first, but their true power and flexibility come with their premium version.
If you don’t want to invest in a theme at the beginning, you can select a free theme from the WordPress repository.
Of the three mentioned previously, I’d probably pick StudioPress as they are more SEO oriented (I’ll get into that soon) while still giving you a decent site.
After a year or so, if you want to have a more flexible design and be more serious about your blog, you can move into a paid theme.
But, whatever theme you choose, try choosing one that is responsive, meaning that it is mobile friendly.
To install your theme, go to the left-hand column in WordPress and click Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload. The theme you picked will come as a .zip file, which is the file you’ll upload here.
If you’re choosing a free theme from the WordPress theme directory, then your theme file will be uploaded automatically from their server. After it is uploaded to your site, hit the “Activate” button to display it on your site.
From this point on, you can customize the theme as you wish (colors, logo, spacing, typography), depending on the customization flexibility given by the theme developer.
8. Install the following WordPress plugins (they are all free)
Search for these plugins in the plugins section of the admin side of your site. Plugins > Add New.
- Rank Math SEO — This is one of the best, if not the best, SEO plugins out there. (SEO is Search Engine Optimization, which is essential for Google to “like” and show your site on the first page when someone searches for anything related to your site). It combines various plugins that take care of your permalinks, sitemaps, indexation, robots meta, RSS, internal links, and more. This plugin is crucial since it will help structure your site in a way that makes it easy for Google to crawl and properly index your site, and it helps you create a keyword-rich Home Title and Description, among other things. Since this is an extensive plugin, check out this post on what it does and how to set it up.
- Anti-Spam — This will reduce the spam comments in your blog. It is essential, especially when your blog starts getting more popular, as more annoying spam comments will come.
- W3 Total Cache — Google likes fast sites, and this plugin will help you achieve that (if properly configured). I admit it is somewhat difficult to set up, and it can even screw up your site if done wrong, but it’s good to install it. Check this excellent post on how to configure it correctly. If you want an even better cache plugin, I recommend paying for WP Rocket. This is the cache plugin I use.
- WP-DBManager — Good to keep a backup of your site.
- SumoMe — Displays social media icons on a floating sidebar, making it easy for people to share your posts.
- Jetpack — This plugin, which comes installed with your WordPress, supercharges your site with a lot of cool functionalities like contact forms, related posts, spell-checker, and much more. But, be careful with this plugin. While its functionalities are excellent, if you use too many of them, they will slow down your site. Select only the necessary.
- Really Simple SSL — Your site must be a secure site with an “https” address for Google to consider it as a serious, safe resource. This plugin helps you achieve that SSL/secure status easily.
HELP PUT YOUR TRAVEL BLOG UNDER GOOGLE’S EYES
9. Register with Google Analytics (put your Google Analytics code in your site’s header)
Learning how to start a travel blog goes beyond just creating a travel blog; you must also “register” it with Google so you can track the traffic you get and also let Google know you exist – since it is the largest search engine.
Set up a Google Analytics account to track your visitors, where your traffic is coming from, with which keywords, what they see, how long they stay on your site, what they click on, and more.
A thorough study of your analytics will help you target your users with the correct content and will also tell you what works and what not for your site.
For this to happen, you need to put your unique Google Analytics code on your site’s header. Each theme has a different way of accessing the header, so you must check with your theme’s developer how to do this.
Otherwise, this Google Analytics plugin will help you add the code without any coding knowledge. Easy!
10. Register the site with Google and Bing Webmasters
Register your site with the two leading search engines’ webmaster areas to improve your site’s visibility. It will help them recognize your site faster and tell them to crawl it. Put each search engine code in your WordPress SEO plugin (Rank Math).
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmasters Tools (both for Bing and Yahoo!)
TRAVEL BLOG CONTENT CREATION AND FURTHER STEPS
12. Start a mailing list/newsletter
You might think that this is not essential, but look closely, and you’ll see that all professional bloggers do have a mailing list/newsletter.
It helps deliver the content you won’t necessarily want to put on your blog but believe is valuable for your followers, and it is also a way to keep in touch with them and keep them updated in a slightly more personal way.
I use MailChimp, which is free for a list of up to 2000 emails, but they also have a paid version with more tools and options.
13. Create the basic content pages and posts
Once your site is set up, you should create some basic informational pages like:
- About Page – Where people will get to know a bit about you and the blog.
- Contact Page – Where readers will be able to reach you via email.
- Sitemap Page – Lists all the pages and posts on your blog for easy crawling and indexing from Google. Rank Math SEO plugin takes care of this.
- Homepage – If you don’t want your homepage to show your latest posts, then you must create a static homepage that displays whatever information you put on it. This page is not necessary if you want your latest posts to be on your homepage (the way most themes are setup).
You can create more pages based on your site’s needs. To create a page, go to your WordPress dashboard and hit Pages > Add New.
Blog posts are different from pages. A page is considered static content that doesn’t get pushed on your RSS feed, while a blog post is content that gets displayed on the top of your RSS feed or the top of your homepage, and it slowly gets displaced and “buried” by newer content as you publish it.
For example, this is a blog post that once got displayed on the top of the blog’s homepage, and now it is buried a few pages deep in the blog posts list.
To create a post, go to your WordPress dashboard and hit Posts > Add New.
14. Monetize your travel blog!
If you want to learn how to monetize your travel blog and make a living out of it, then I highly recommend Superstar Blogging – The Business of Travel Blogging course.
While this is more relevant for travel blogs, the content offered does apply to any blog. I took this course, and even though I took it after blogging and monetizing my site for a while, I still learned a lot from it.
It goes into detail about monetization techniques and helps you understand some industry standards according to your blog’s presence.
Several prominent travel bloggers are members of its “closed” Facebook community, which in my opinion, is the biggest value you get from the course since everyone there helps each other with tips and suggestions on running a blog professionally or anything else related to it.
From here on, my recommendation is to keep a constant writing pace and to blog at least once or twice a week.
Also, network regularly and get to know other travel bloggers in your niche and outside of it through social media platforms (Facebook groups and Twitter are excellent for this).
The last thing I have to say is to have a lot of patience and not give up. Getting traffic, spreading your name and brand, and monetizing the blog takes time and a lot of effort, but it is worth it if you work hard for it.
Ready to start your travel blog?!
If you have any doubts, share them in the comments, and I’ll be happy to help!
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ay mama.. me quede en la luna..! lo leere mas despacio luego.. gracias!!
Haha, no te preocupes Emma. Léelo con calma y me puedes preguntar cualquier cosa en la que tengas alguna duda. 😉
This is an absolute thing that I need right now.
Great insight. Make sense for starters like me.
Thanks, Ferna! If you have any question, feel free to let me know.
yes,rhis is right +1
Great insights…..Thanks. I liked the last paragraph. Yes, there is a need for patience. The key is sustenance. We are soon moving into our own domain.
Hi Poorna – Thanks! Definitely, you need a lot of patience to do this. Best of luck in your new stage as a blogger and hope you reach all your goals!! 😀
I really enjoyed reading your article. Thank You
I enjoyed reading your article. Thanks so much for the help. 🙂
Just need to ask though. After I installed wordpress in bluehost, why isn’t my website opening in neekelita.com? 🙂 I’m kind of bad at this. Hehe.
Hi Nicole –
May I ask you, what do you see when you try to open your site? When I visit it I see that you used the MOJO Marketplace, which is correct with Bluehost, but maybe you didn’t finish the process of installing WordPress? Check the video on this page to see if you followed all the steps as they explain there.
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or if it worked for you!
Thanks so much for replying so quickly. 🙂
I finally figured it. Stupid me, I didn’t click on publish for the website. Haha!
Thanks for the help!
No worries and you’re welcome! I sent you an email regarding menus, in case that might help you.
Feel free to let me know if you have any other question.
This is the best advice I have read about starting a new travel blog. I have everything ready and planning to launch my blog this week. I love your website and have one question. How do you get the ‘as featured on’ block on the side bar. What is it called? . Thanks a lot. 🙂
Hi Ankita –
Thank you so much and congrats on launching your blog! Regarding the “as featured” image, it is actually an image I created on my own using photoshop. But, I’ve seen a few plugins that seem to do this, among them, this one: https://wordpress.org/plugins/media-mentions/
I’d like to mention that I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know how good or bad is it. But, maybe if you google around you might find a better one, if this one doesn’t do what you want.
Really great tips and just what I need right now. About to start on this road and am super excited 🙂 thank you
Thanks, Kerry! And welcome to the travel blogging world!!
Thanks so much for the great post. Just started a blog with my best friend to encourage women to travel the world. Your advice is really helpful. I second the writers above when they said it’s the best advice I’ve seen on the web so far! Thanks so much for sharing and contributing to our development. 🙂
Thank you so much, Eve! Hope your blog is doing awesome and keep encouraging women to travel the world!
I just started my blog and was wondering what sort of views and visitors would you consider successful. Thank you for your tips and suggestions
Hi Sue – Sorry for the late reply. Well, I know this will sound fluffy, but it will depend on your goals. BUT, lets say that I (ME) would consider it successful after reaching at least 20,000 unique visitors per month. This is not a huge number, but it is not small either. It is average and enough for you to be able to monetize it decently.
This is the most comprehensive article about starting a travel blog that I read so far. I’ve learned a lot of things from you, especially about analytics and SEO which is kind of my next step since my blog has been online for nearly a month.
Keep up a good work, I’ll keep on following your blog,
Greetings from Croatia
Thank you so much, Anca! Best of luck on your blogging career! 😉
I agree that joining Travel Blog Success is the best investment to grow your blog and make money with it. Highly recommended.
Thanks, Antonio. Agree! So much to be learned there!
Thanks for this great post. I have just finished setting up my blog last week and have also gone live. Your step-by-step guide has been very helpful in setting up the blog. Now the next step is to promote the blog. Any suggestions here. I know there are many things I will need to do to effectively promote my blog, but if I have to take two immediate actions in this direction, what would they be. Thanks again for this great post.
Hi Shailender – Sorry for the late reply. On promotion, I would sat to focus on being active on social media and keep a consistency. Share your content and share other people’s content too as this helps boost your algorithm on Facebook (at least). Make sure you share other site’s viral stuff every now and then since it gives more chances for people to share it too.
I would also be active on facebook groups about travel, travel blogging, or any niche since it could potentially make you look like an authority on the subject, thus making peers more likely to recommend you to their readers or other people.
There’s a lot more that can be done, of course, but this is something I’m sure will help start the snowball.
Your post was a great source for starting my travel blog! I have only been up and running for a few weeks now but am doing great!
Thank you so much, Jillian! I’m glad you’re doing great and hope it continues like that! Glad to see you around!
Great article, many ideas! I’m just getting started so it helps a lot, thank you!
You’re welcome! Glad it helped!
Great tips to become a successful travel blogger. Thanks for sharing the tips.
Great tips! I’ve had my site for 2 years now and wasn’t even aware of half of these little things I can do to boost my site! I especially liked the Plug-Ins list you give! Keep up the good work! Your site looks amazing!
What a nice, clear breakdown for new bloggers. And I will second the recommendation for Travel Blog Success. It’s a valuable program, and I think the Facebook group is especially helpful.
Thanks for an insightful and honest perspective Matthew. After 3 years of travel blogging, I’m slowly making the transition to making most of my income through my blog. I have a long way to go though, and sure have found inspiration in your posts.
Hoping to see you at STS Hamburg!
Great tips, wish I would’ve had this post when I started. I’m glad you mention how much work it is behind the scenes as many people just think is taking photos and publishing then online. My biggest challenge has been seo, I actually invested in a professional to help me out. Looking forward to your posts.
It’s really nice to read your article. I’m new with blogging and I want to learn more about it. Reading your article made me realize a lot. Thank you!
Great tips! I’ve had my site for 2 years now and wasn’t even aware of half of these little things I can do to boost my site! I especially liked the Plug-Ins list you give! Keep up the good work! Your site looks amazing!
I’m slowly making the transition to making most of my income through my blog.
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This is useful article for those who wants to work on travel Blog. After this post surely, I will start work on niche blogs and try to earn few bugs from it.
Incredible tips! I’ve had my site for a long time now and wasn’t even mindful of half of these seemingly insignificant details I can do to support my site! I particularly enjoyed the Plug-Ins show you give! Keep doing awesome! Your site looks stunning!
I am going to start my own travel blog. This is a very helpful article. Thank you so much.
Can you please explain the rationale behind buying a domain name in GoDaddy and then hosting with a different service like BlueHost. It seems that integrating everything with one company would make things easier.
Also, I read that if you write a travel blog with WordPress that they do not allow you to put links in for affiliate programs. Is that true, and if so, does that not apply if you are only using their software in your own domain name?
Hi Bonnie –
Yes, you could get your domain through BlueHost if it is offering it for free, which is the case for most new customers. In that case, I recommend to get it through them.
Regarding WordPress… there are two types of WordPress. WordPress.com and wordpress.org. The .com is the free one and the one you’re referring to. With that free WordPress, since it is hosted by them, your site will look like domain.wordpress.com and it does not allow affiliate or paid links in it. The .org, on the other hand, is free too, but you have to host it (hence getting BlueHost). In this case, you’re allowed to place affiliate links and pretty much anything you’d want.
I have been thinking about starting a blog for years now and you have just made my mind up to do it. Thank you for the awesome, simple instruction on how to get started! 🙂