How to Start a Successful Travel Blog?
So you’re having a constant craving for wanderlust that you can’t shake? If you’re not the type of person who can stay in one place for too long, and would like to become a nomad as a way of life, than you have the perfect opportunity in front of you. You can make a living doing what you love, traveling, creating and living your dream.
Travel blogging can be your hobby or your full time job, but either way, it will require you to learn some technical skills. Not a lot, just a little. You’ll have to make a website, manage it, write well and market your website too. Lucky for you, building a website doesn’t require you to learn coding or to develop any superior technical skills. You only need the will to succeed and to pay attention to a few simple things.
Thanks to WordPress, building a website is a possibility for anyone with an internet access. It is the best CMS for building a blog as its incredibly easy to use and has a fine line of features that will make your life a lot easier. Once your website is set up, all you have to do is write posts and click publish. Furthermore, you’ll also have to focus on improving your SEO and marketing your website on Social Media. For that, you have plenty of great plugins that I will list in the upcoming sections.
But before we get down to how you can build a website and start writing posts, I would first like to share what it’s like to be a travel blogger. Even though it’s a dream job, there are a lot of not so dreamy aspects that you have to face. In fact, when you have to put in the work, it won’t be as sexy as you would expect. So, without further ado, let’s get down to it!
Blogging Is Hard Work
Travel blogging takes plenty of effort. This fact can’t be emphasized enough. If you’re looking to create a profitable travel blog and use it to support your travels and even help you put some money in the bank, you’ll have to dedicate a lot of your time and effort.
Setting up a website is only the first thing. You’ll also have to master writing and every other position a traditional publication employs. This includes WordPress maintenance, editing, writing, graphics design and photography. Heck, you’ll probably have to master a few videography skills as well.
Once you master these skills, the workload with running your blog will only increase, since then you’ll know what you’re doing. Producing content on a regular basis, promoting said content, creating products to sell, pitching other blogs, networking and building your business are all things you’ll have to attend to every day.
This will mean that you’ll have to spend more time in front of your computer than you would at a traditional office job, but it’s worth it. Or is it?
While physical injuries aren’t something you might suffer during blogging (unless you fall out of your chair or something), the blogger burnout is very real. Even hugely popular bloggers step away from their blogging career after a few years, because of this. It’s a lot of work and it’s not always happy work.
Blogging can truly exhaust you but it can also bring you a lot of joy. Writing about something you love and sharing it with other people is one of the best things there is. Becoming a travel blogger is incredibly rewarding, but it comes with a lot of strain too.
You’ll Have To Face Your Fear of Judgment
The internet is full of all sorts of people who aren’t afraid to share a piece of their mind in the comment sections, whether it’s a good piece or an ugly soul sucking piece. Either way, clicking the publish button is what most bloggers fear at first. Once you have all of your thoughts written down, you’re in a vulnerable place. Anyone can attack and judge you, even if the only ones reading your posts are your family and a few supportive friends.
What are you most afraid of? Is it that they are going to criticize you? Correct you? Or even worse, judge you? You’ll never know what will happen until you publish your post and learn from the experience. Furthermore, they might really admire your dedication, your skill and your witty texts. So it’s definitely worth to make the leap and click publish.
The Way You Look at Traveling Won’t Be The Same
Before you start blogging, being a travel blogger seems very romantic. You are sitting on a beach with your laptop in your lap and a cocktail in your hand, feeling the summer breeze brushing your hair. It’s a wonderful way of looking at it; sadly it isn’t true. There’s no Wi-Fi on most beaches and the sand will get stuck in your keyboards, possibly ruining your laptop.
Being able to travel and live off your blog is a blessing, but it does change the way you travel; especially if you’re blogging to support your nomadic lifestyle. To make it happen, you’ll have to balance between fully experiencing the place you’re visiting and working on your blog, so that you also share it with a large audience.
What do you need in order to be able to write and be productive in front of your computer? What kind of space do you need to work in? How much time do you need to develop an idea and write an amazing blog post? What kind of equipment do you need when you’re on the road?
Each of these things will affect how you work on the road and in hotels. All of these are very important to consider before you actually start a travel blog. Traveling, catching buses and planes, while trying to be productive is something that isn’t too easy to balance in life. Not to mention that Wi-Fi is scarce in a lot of places. In short, plan everything before you start, and seek to establish a work loop that you can rely on.
Creating Products is a Key Component of Your Success
If you were thinking about making money from Google AdSense then forget about it. The amount of money you’ll make from that will only cover your blogging expenses. If you want to make some solid cash from your blog, you’ll have to approach it as a platform to sell something else. Whether it’s your own products or someone else’s, your blog should sell things.
Once you get on a few companies’ radars, you can start creating sponsored posts, publishing their banner ads and building your website into a passive income stream. However, the most reliable way to make money off your blog is by selling your own products and services. These can be eBooks, online courses, consulting services, your design work, photography, and art and so on.
Create a product that directly relates to your audience’s needs and interests, namely the topics they read about on your blog and you’ll win. It’s something you can do quite easily and it will generate a steady stream of cash once you have enough traffic on your blog.
Always Be Honest With Your Readers
Trying to slip in affiliate links, tricking your readers into clicking on them or being shady in any way will hurt your blog. If you have zero misleading intentions, than you’ll audience will start to trust you and return to you as a reliable source of information.
Once you reach a certain level of popularity, opportunities will start to show up. They will bring money and freebies. You’ll be provided compensation for all the months and years you have pumped into building your blog.
However, promoting things that you don’t actually use or writing an amazing hotel review when the service was terrible is something that your readers might not find out right away. But give it a little time and the lies will always boil to the surface.
If you truly want to become a digital nomad and make money from your audience, you should at least be upfront and honest with them. Following these ethics will get harder in practice, but being honest with your readers should always be your outmost priority when you’re faced with business decisions down the road.
Your Email Subscribers List is Your Most Valuable Investment
You’ll constantly have to keep track of your website’s statistics and Google analytics, but your page views aren’t your most important number. When your numbers start to raise all of the sudden, it can be really exciting. However, you shouldn’t get caught up in that game. Although, for developing a sustained audience and growing it, it’s important to capture email addresses.
If your reader provides their email address, they’re saying that they are ready for more and that you already provided them with value. Furthermore, they might want to know when you post new content and you can also share when you have created a new product. This way, you can ensure that they don’t forget about you. But if you don’t capture their email, then they’ll just run through your article and never return again.
It will definitely seem fruitless to start an emailing list when you’re just taking the first steps because your numbers will be low. But every single reader and every single email address counts. This is especially true when these are readers that love reading your blog right from the start.
Launching your travel blog is an adventure and challenge-filled road that will be well worth it if this is what you want to do. Now that you know what it takes to become a travel blogger, let’s get down to creating your travel blog!
Steps To Starting Your Travel Blog
Launching your travel blog has a number of initial steps, both non-technical and technical. Below you’ll find the steps you need to take to get the show on the road.
1. Choose a Name
The first and one of the most important things you have to do is to pick a domain name. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by this step, because there are an endless number of possibilities and no rules on how you should make your pick. There is no such thing as a „bad domain”. However there are a few things that you should first understand before choosing a name.
Choose a Name That’s Made To Last
Make sure that you’re choosing a name for your blog that can last forever. It can be connected to your name, your style or just about anything that hints that this is going to be a travel blog. You can even go with something like „BillsTravels”. Just make sure you’re not connecting it with a particular continent like, „BillInEurope” or „EuropeTour”. Choose a name that isn’t too focused on something, so that when you change your mind, you can just switch gears and seer your blog in a different direction.
Avoid Using Buzz Words
There are plenty of words that are overused in the travel blogger’s world. These are words like „vanguard”, „wanderlust”, „nomad”, and „adventure”. Try to avoid them because they will hint that your blog is ’just another’ blog among many. Go with something unconventional instead.
Pick a Name That Describes What You’re Doing
If you’re travelling in a luxurious way or as a video-grapher, use words that convey that to your audience. You’ll want people to get what the website is about right after they see its name.
Keep It as Short as Possible
Nobody will be able to quickly read „MySuperDuperTravelBlog4You.com”. Instead, choose something with 3-4 words max. It has to easily roll of the tongue. If you can shorten anything then do it. The shorter your blog’s name will be the better.
Keep it Simple
Don’t use too complex words or any slang jargon when you’re choosing your domain name. The less comprehensive your domain name is, the more it will confuse people. You don’t want them to think about what it even means.
2. Get a Reliable Web Hosting Service
You’ll have to have space for storing your website, and you’ll need to register to a web hosting service to do get it. BlueHost is your best bet when you’re working with a WordPress site. They are one of the top 3 hosting providers recommended on WordPress.org’s official website. BlueHost has good support and their prices are pretty low as well. You can get a hosting plan for $3.95 per month, which will let you start things off with very little upfront investment. Furthermore, you can also register your domain name for free which would cost you around $10 to $15. You can spend that money on 2-3 months of hosting service instead, getting a much better deal for yourself.
3. Install WordPress
Once you have your hosting plan set up, the first thing you’ll have to do is install WordPress. WordPress is what will actually run your website. BlueHost has a one click install option for it, so all you have to do is click and run the setup. You’ll only have to add simple things like your Blog’s title, your name, email and so on.
Once WordPress is installed on your server, it will display your blog’s name on a sample page and you can start working on your next step.
4. Install The Necessary Plugins
When you have installed WordPress and have logged into the dashboard, it’s time to install the plugins you will need for running your travel blog. Plugins are extensions that add a certain function to your WordPress-powered website. You can install them from CodeCanyon with a few clicks.
Most of what you will need to use are free, however you can upgrade them to their premium versions to get additional functionality. However, this definitely isn’t everything you need. You might require functions that I didn’t even think of adding here, but that will come with experience. With that said, here are some of the best you can use on your travel blog:
Yoast SEO – The very best SEO plugin for WordPress out there. It provides you with the ability to create meta descriptions, SEO tittles and customize how your posts appear on various social media platforms. Furthermore, it will also check your text for SEO and for readability. To top it off, Yoast SEO will also create a sitemap that search engines can read. It’s also incredibly easy to use and also comes with plenty of foolproof instructions and informative articles you can read.
Google Analytics for WordPress – You’ll spend a lot of time with analyzing how your website is doing. Furthermore, it’s the place where you can find out where most of your readers are coming from and use the information to focus in on them. It’s much easier to do it within WordPress’ dashboard through a plugin.
Jetpack – Jetpack’s goal is to supercharge your website with plenty of features. You can add an insane number of useful features like contact forms, a spell-checker, extra widgets and the list goes on. It’s simply one of the most packed plugins that you can download for free.
Akismet – Your website will constantly get bombarded by spammers who post a lot of gibberish, affiliate links and other annoying things. You’ll want to remove them as quickly as possible. Akismet will reduce the number of spam comments you get by automatically filtering them for you. This plugin will already be installed on WordPress, so all you need to do is activate it.
Relevanssi – WordPress has plenty of awesome features, however it doesn’t have search, which is where Relevanssi comes into the picture. It is a plugin that fixes this issue and will give your readers accurate results when they search for something on your site.
BackWPup – If your blog started to make a few dollars, you would be insane not to back it up. If you don’t, than you risk losing all of the work you’ve put in. BackWPup solves this problem and allows you to make scheduled backups of your website. You can back up every bit of content you had up there in case anything happens to your blog.
5. Install The Divi Theme
After you created a solid foundation, it’s time to make your website look good. Besides great content, a blog also needs to have a great design. People will decide within two seconds whether they trust your website and keep browsing it or they click away. If a website is visually unappealing and doesn’t have a unique character to show, it will turn your readers off and you’ll get a lot less visits. In order to create a good design, you’ll have to use an amazing WordPress theme.
One of the best things you could do is buy a theme/theme builder and create your own design. It’s easier than you think, because you can do everything with drag and drop tools. All you have to do is put the elements together and you’ll have your own unique design. One of the Themes/Builders that can achieve this is the Divi theme.
It is one of the top 3 site builders in the market and is famous for its ease of use and efficiency. Even though it’s a premium theme, Divi will cover all your needs and help you create a design that’s truly unique and compelling. Whatever you have envisioned for your travel blog, you can create it with Divi.
With it, creating your website’s individual pages and handling any design work will be a walk in the park, so Divi is definitely worth the investment.
6. Monetize Your Website
When you have a website up and running, it’s time to start thinking about how you will make money off it. You have plenty of options when it comes to monetizing your site and you’ll have to choose which one will suit you the best. The best ways to monetize a travel blog are:
- Brand Sponsorships
- Creating Your Own eBooks
- Promoting affiliate products
- Creating Courses
- Offering Services
You’ll have to double down on either of these or find another way to monetize your website as early as you can. This is how you’ll make money with it, so you should invest as much work and attention as you can.
7. Build Your Traffic
When you have your Travel Blog up and running like a well-oiled machine, you’ll have to double down on marketing it and gaining as much traffic as you can. You can start organically by improving your SEO and marketing your posts on social media and you can also work with paid traffic sources.
Paid traffic sources like PPC networks and other niche-specific networks will help you gain traffic instantly. Depending on the quality of the traffic you receive, you can make varying amounts of money from them. If you find a good traffic source, you’ll be able to gain a lot of visitors who will convert into buyers, which is what you want.
However, even if paid traffic sources work out really well, always double down on your SEO. Good website SEO is what will get you plenty of free, high-quality traffic that you can turn into customers.
When it’s all said and done, running a successful travel blog is something that plenty of people have done before you. You have all the information and tools you need to make it happen; now you just have to have the will to succeed. It takes plenty of work to get your blog to the point where it will support all your travels, but when it does, you’ll have your dream become a reality.