How to Start a Travel Blog & Earn Money Seeing the World O
ne hand taps at the keyboard while another clasps an icy margarita. No headphones necessary – the lapping sound of waves is enough to soothe you through another day as a travel blogger. You’ve spent the morning snapping Sepia-toned photos of the beach for Instagram, and now you’re journalling your thoughts on how the small island you’re volunteering in has left you permanently inspired. Sound like a dream? Yep, it is
. And nothing more
. Travel blogging is arguably one of the most misrepresented careers out there, including by bloggers themselves. By nature we tend to
death grip the most far-flung, dreamy aspects of a job that isn’t our own. And that’s exactly what’s happened with blogging. Now, I’d be lying if I said travel blogging isn’t great. It’s awesome.
What began as a hobby for me three years ago has now become my main source of income. But travel blogging is so radically different
from how I’ve just painted it above, and I think it’s important to make that distinction before quitting one’s day job. I’ve received approximately a bajillion e-mails (give or take) asking how to create a blog, and how to earn money doing so. Today I’m finally going to walk you through how to start a travel blog for leisure or
possibly a living. Sit tight – this may take awhile – here’s the basic how-to’s of running your own profitable travel blog (without
How to start a travel blog
1. Decide on a purpose or niche
If you’re blogging for fun, you needn’t stress about this; your purpose is simply to journal your ideas and adventures. Easy! If your end goal is to earn money, you should pick a niche. The exception to this is if you wish to run a lifestyle-focused travel blog where readers are following your adventures. Otherwise, people should be able to land on your website and get a clear idea of your expertise. Now, it can take time to figure out your niche, and it may even change as you blog. This happened to us as we’ve gradually moved away from blogging solely about our travels, and transitioned mostly into sharing cost-cutting advice and guides. Here’s some quick questions to help you figure out an area of focus for your blog.
- Why do I want to blog? What information am I passionate about sharing with others?
- What are my strengths and expertise? How can I weave these into a blog?
- What types of blogs do I like? Why do I like them?
- What are my interests? Some ideas: cooking, hiking, adventure travel, animals, culture, language, food, eco-tourism, luxury travel
2. Choose a blog name
Pick a name,
. Rookie mistake
. Do not
just pick a name at random! Choose something that conveys your intended theme or message in a few words. I cannot emphasize how important this is if
your end-goal is to make an earning on said name. Some quick tips on choosing a blog name:
- Make sure it reads cleanly in a URL. For instance, “As Sweet As Anything” may sound okay, but assweetasanything.com is not only long, but it begins with the word “ass”. Avoid excessive length and ensure it reads well once smushed up in a URL!
- Choose something that represents your niche, but consider longevity. Doing a 6-month trip to Asia? “Jen in Asia” is a great blog name for 6 months. What happens after that? What if you travel to Europe? If you want to blog long-term, then think long-term with creating your name, which is the face of your brand.
- Pick a name that makes sense. How to know if a blog name makes sense? Ask people. Brutally honest people. Seriously, find your meanest friend, write a list of ideas, and show them. Also – sleep on it. I know you’re thinking all the good names are taken, but be patient. Re-visit ideas with a fresh set of eyes to relive your first impression of it and find that perfect name!
- Check if social media channels are available under that name. This is important for discoverability and consistency with your branding. Check availability of your blog name on Instagram, Facebook Pages, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube/Vimeo, Snapchat, and anything else you can think of! You needn’t drop a blog name entirely if you can’t grab it on all those platforms, but it is ideal to have them.
3. Choose a web host
Okay, so now you have a name. Where does the rest of the blog come from? You need to choose blogging software for managing your blog. WordPress is the most popular (it’s what we use), as it has many free plug-ins and themes to quickly get your site off the ground. WordPress itself is 100% free
, but you will need to pay for a web host
to actually install it on and serve your blog posts from.
4. Select a theme
This is the fun part! WordPress comes with a few themes for free, so you can skim their options. If you really want your blog to stand out from the rest though, we recommend purchasing a professionally designed theme from Themeforest (they do have free ones too).
5. Backup, backup, backup!
It is essential
that you make sure your website is being regularly backed up. If you accidentally delete something, install a plugin that breaks your website, or even if your web host loses your data, you can always restore your site if you have a good backup! Jetpack (by WordPress) has something called the personal plan. For $3.50 USD per month, you get daily, automatic backups
of your website to their servers, anti-spam filtering on your comments, and priority support from WordPress with your questions. Restoring or moving your site is as simple as installing the Jetpack plugin, logging in, and clicking restore on the backup you need to retrieve. We pay for this plan, and it’s worth every penny. If you take your blog seriously, there is no simpler way to backup your website.
6. Install essential plugins
One of the best things about WordPress is how many plugins are available. Can’t make your page look a certain way? Want to insert fancy photo galleries? Chances are, a plugin exists for whatever you need. As a general rule of thumb, try to install as few plugins as possible, since having too many plugins can slow down your website. However, there
7. Get posting!
It’s time to post your thoughts to the world. Once you’ve gotten a few posts up, share your blog with friends or family to let them know of its existence. Don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning – just roll with it. The one and only way to get better at blogging and find your voice is to keep blogging!
How to start a travel blog: The thrifty gist
And there you have it – the basic in’s and out’s of how to start a travel blog and maybe even make it profitable. It’s indescribably harder than most people would dream, but for those who enjoy it, it’s highly fulfilling. Here’s a bite-sized summary of everything you need to get started:
- Get yourself set up with the basics – a blog name, domain, web host, social media channels, site backup, and plugins
- Focus on producing regular, quality content to generate traffic and committed readers
- Experiment with different monetization approaches such as ads, sponsored posts, and affiliate programs
- Get comprehensive insights from the experts – Travel Blog Success and Superstar Blogging both being excellent, all-encompassing courses that offer ongoing support via secret Facebook groups
- Keep it real – honesty will draw in a committed readership in the long-term
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