Starting your first travel blog might seem like a huge task, but it’s actually pretty easy! Just follow my guide on “How to start a successful travel blog”, and you can have your own blog up and running today!
1) Find the perfect name.
The first thing you need to decide on before creating your travel blog is the name.
To help you come up with a name, here are several points to take into account:
- Make it short and memorable.
- Avoid using hyphens and numbers.
- Make your name unique – use a personal word to compliment a more generic one.
- Think about your blog name in the long term (you don’t want a name that will only be applicable for a limited time frame).
- Check it doesn’t already exist as a .com domain – and also check social media
I came up with thegingerwanderlust.com, as I wanted a name that represented myself (being ginger is one of my most remarkable features) and also my love of travel (hence wanderlust). This name also works well as an Instagram handle.
Some other key travel words to help you come up with a name are: adventure, world, explore, discover, destination, escape, wander, trip, lost, somewhere, away, nomad, globe, passport, journey.
2) Set up hosting for your blog
Hosting is basically a space that you “rent” on the internet for your website. Here, you can store all of your data, files, and photos that make up your site, so that people around the world can easily access it when they come to your domain name.
BlueHost, is a great hosting company to start with, as they make setting up a new travel blog really easy. They offer quality shared hosting for a really low price of only $5.95 per month for 12 months through this link, or if you really want to commit to your blog (and thus save money in the long run) it’s only $3.95 per month for 36 months. Plus they give you a free domain name!
I would recommend starting out with the 36 month plan with BlueHost. Not only for the potential money saved, but for the positive mindset that this will put you in. If you go into it thinking you’ll still be running your site in three years, you’ll be more likely to succeed!
Here, you can also check if you’re domain page is free, or add your existing domain page through BlueHost when you sign up.
I talk a bit more about hosting in ‘what I wish I knew before starting my blog’.
3) Install wordpress
If you want to start a serious travel blog, you need a self-hosted WordPress.org account. This means the WordPress software lives in your hosting company’s servers, and not on a free WordPress.com account.
“Why” I hear you ask:
- This way your website is “thegingerwanderlust.com” rather than “thegingerwanderlust.WordPress.com” (easier to remember and looks more professional).
- You own your data and information and have full control over your site.
- You can use Google Analytics tracking.
- You can sell advertising on your site and don’t have WordPress ads.
I would recommend WordPress over any other software, it is what I personally use, and what most professional websites use. It is also super easy to upload to your BlueHost account as it’s done automatically!
4) Make your blog look professional
Pick a theme
The best place to start is with a theme. Themes help you to easily design your site, I personally use a theme called “Gateway”. There are loads of great free ones, and don’t worry if you don’t end up liking the one you pick, you can always change it!
Upload a header
Personalise your site with a header, you can do this by going into the customize section of your WordPress Dashboard then header image.
This is a great way to show a sneak peak of what your site is about. Mine includes photos of my travels and I created it using canva.
Also located in the customize section is where you can add side bar and footer widgets. I would suggest adding at least a mini about me section (you can upload this using the text widget), a “follow my blog” widget and links to your social media.
5) Install some useful plugins
Plugins for WordPress are sort of like apps for a website, they give your blog additional features. Similar to apps, some plugins are free, others you will need to pay for.
You can find and install plugins in the “plugin” section of your WordPress Dashboard.
You can only use plugins if you have wordpress business or bluehost account. A subscription to Bluehost is THREE times cheaper than wordpress.com business.
Here are a few useful plugins that I use:
- Yoast SEO – A super important plugin to help optimise your blog posts for Google Search.
- WPtouch – This plugin helps to make your blog mobile friendly. Ensuring that your SEO rankings do not drop due to not having a mobile-friendly website.
- Akismet Anti Spam – This plugin checks your comments for spammers.
- East Watermark – Easily add a watermark to all of your own photography (either automatically or manually), thus protecting your intellectual property rights.
- Easy Social Share Buttons – Easily share your articles on social media with the sharing buttons.
I also use Woocommerce to manage my shop. If you want to set up
6) Start creating content
The “About Me” page on your blog is likely to become one of the most useful and popular pages on your blog. You might think this is crazy, but humans are naturally curious and so your new readers will want to learn more about you and why they should stick around.
Make sure you include:
- A photo of yourself
- What value you provide to your readers
- Who is your site for?
- You personal bio
- What kind of things do you write about?
- A call to action (follow me on Instagram, etc)
Write your first post
The main thing driving people to your blog is the content! So make sure you take your time to create useful blog posts that have impact. You want your articles to inspire wanderlust, as well as being full of tips.
Make sure you add headers and images to make your article easy to read and follow.
Here are a few ideas for travel blog posts:
- Top things to do in a country.
- Guide to a specific city/place.
- Travel itinerary ideas.
- Travel hacks
When you first start out, I recommend publishing a new article at least once a week. But remember, quality is more important than quantity!
If you’re not travelling at the moment, don’t worry about it! Create a different kind of content, like how you are currently saving money for travel, or a guide to where you live. You can also reflect back on places you have previously visited. If you don’t have appropriate photos have a look on pixabay, they provide free stock photos and videos.
Remember to add a category for each blog, this way you can then add that category to your menu and thus make your blog easier to navigate. Also make sure you add a ‘featured image’, I create mine on canva using one of my photos and overlaying the title of the blog post on it.
7) Work on your SEO
The last step to work on for your blog is to improve the SEO so that people can find your website. Other than tagging your blog posts and using keywords, there are a few ways you can improve your SEO (and your traffic).
Sharing your blog on social media is a great way not only to bring traffic to your site but it also improves your SEO (as the more people clicking through to your website from external sources, the more trusted Google deems your site to be). Make sure you set up a Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and every time you post, share it on each platform.
75% of the traffic on my blog comes from my Instagram. If you want to learn more about growing your Instagram, check out my e-book.
A good practice to implement into each blog post is where you add 2 images at the end of each of your article that can be ‘pinned’. Use a pretty and relevant image and add the blog title plus your domain name. You can create this using Canva. Scroll down to see an example.
Network With Other Bloggers
Become an active member of the travel blogging community. Find other travel bloggers, not only are they a great source of inspiration and ideas, but you can also team up to promote each others blogs (where relevant). Show support on their blogs with comments, this also acts as a way for people to discover you!
8) Take a course on blogging or photography
There’s a lot to learn about blogging, and it might feel overwhelming to know what to prioritise or what to learn. Nomadic Matt offers a series of different courses from the business of travel blogging to how to become a travel photographer.
If you are looking to turn your travel blog into a business, or maybe you’re just finding it hard to get started, these courses are the perfect way for you to develop your skills and start working on a better strategy for your blog. Check out all of the online courses he offers here.
Best of luck with your blog! Remember that at first your traffic will probably be low (just friends and family) but as you create more content, and improve your SEO, your traffic will grow! I wrote a blog post on 6 things I learnt in my first year of blogging, hopefully it will help you too!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links that help to support my blog 🙂
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