I’m on a mission. I am dedicated to answering all of my emails, Facebook messages, Twitter tweets, and Insta comments with awesome articles that I’ve already published for detailed, accessible information. How to start a travel blog you ask? Well first and foremost, let’s not reinvent the wheel.
Check out a few of these titles to see if your answer can be found in a different blog post:
Or if you’re just looking for a more general story or guideline about how I got started in the business and how I’ve become successful try: How I Got Started: The Challenges of Living Abroad & How To Overcome Them.
If you’re looking for more technical information then this is the right article to read! As a blogger, I’m always hunting around the internet for ways to improve my user experience and general blog layout. I’d like to describe my style as classic, yet sassy. Feminine with a few badass elements to it.
Long-time readers know that I enjoy dropping an F-bomb here and there, but I also enjoy discussing financial tech and nutrition over tea and coffee. Whatever your style is, own it, find your niche, and kick some serious a**.
Before we crack on with the how-to steps, first there are a few questions that I think you have to ask yourself.
- Why do you want to start a travel blog?
- What is your unique point of view?
- How much time can you realistically commit to the travel blog?
- How much are you actively traveling?
Okay, so why am I asking you these questions? Let’s dive in and find out.
Why do you want to start a travel blog?
This is a really important question. There are thousands of travel blogs all created for different reasons. Do you just enjoy writing? Do you want a side hustle that provides a semi-passive income? Do you want to just keep your friends and family updated about your adventures?
The reason why you want to start a travel blog is largely going to dictate your creative direction.
If you’re doing it to generate income, you’re going to need to look into affiliate programs and high-ranking SEO keywords that are going to generate plenty of traffic and get you those all-important numbers that are going to make you attractive to advertisers and influencer marketers.
Alternatively, if you’re just doing it for fun or to keep your friends and family updated about your adventures, you can be a little looser with your content strategy and focus on things you’ve actually done, rather than things that’ll definitely rank highly with Google.
What is your unique point of view?
As I’ve said, there are thousands of travel blogs, so to make yourself stand out you need to have a unique vision.
For me, it was combining all my work abroad experience with my financial tips and know-how to help other wannabe expats and travelers become financially stable, and ultimately be able to retire early!
Figure out what’s different about you, your messaging, and what you do the best. Hone in on that and you’ll be off to an amazing start.
How much time can you realistically commit to the travel blog?
This is another big question. Lucrative travel blogs don’t happen overnight. Even I don’t run Wander Onwards full-time and I still have my employed job. If you’re wanting to make money off your travel blog, you’re going to need to pump a lot of time and money into it initially before you start to see a return.
That means that you need a reliable paycheck to support you, but still, have the time and motivation to dedicate to your blog after hours. This includes everything from research to writing to marketing to branding to admin and beyond.
If you’re not wanting to fly into the world of paying travel blogging, you still need to carve out some time to write and promote yourself.
I’d say at least publish something new twice a week to start with and you can always ramp up your content when you get more time, more followers, and more of a sense of what your travel blog is as a brand.
How much are you actively traveling?
If you’re starting a travel blog, you’re probably going to need to be traveling a fair amount. At the start, you can go into your back catalog of vacations and trips for content, but once you’ve exhausted that, you might need to consider how much you can actually travel.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be traveling 24/7 or be a digital nomad to have a travel blog. If you can only get away a couple of times a year because of work, write about your local area and day trips all around. Your home country is likely to be a vacation destination for someone else!
Just make sure when you do go away, you get a ton of content and make the most out of each destination. Realistically, you can get a dozen of different blogs out of a city break if you’re smart about it.
Okay, so now you’ve got your answers, let’s move on to the practicalities of starting a travel blog, including all the must-dos and need-to-knows. Learn from my years of wisdom!
7 Steps to Start a Travel Blog Today
1. Choose a name
And don’t make it your own name. That’s boring and it’s too hard for users to remember or spell on social media platforms. Your name should symbolize who you are as a person, express your interests, and hint at what your blog will be covering.
While your blog and writing will improve with time, your name will stick with you forever (because the Internet) so put some serious thought into it before you buy the domain name. You should also make sure it’s available on different social media platforms as well as for a website domain.
If you can’t get it exactly, make sure you can get a simple variation on it. No numbers or underscores!
Think of it like a tattoo. Consider it for a while before you commit, see if you like it, see if it feels like you, and see if it’s something that you want permanently associated with you. It’s a big thing, so definitely don’t take it lightly.
2. Buy the domain name & domain privacy protection with Bluehost
A few years ago, I got TOTALLY screwed by WordPress, and my original domain, wanderonwards.com, was taken hostage by a blitzkrieg by Wild West Domains. Now it’s being held hostage for 3000 USD and not a damn person will answer ANY of my emails.
Don’t risk going viral and then losing your domain name because life is full of disappointments and then you die. I don’t have any experience with GoDaddy or any other domain name registration so that’s why I’m recommending my current service provider, Bluehost.
That’s why my domain is now wanderonwards.co – no ‘M’ on the end!
Bluehost offers a domain name registration service, complete with privacy protection so now no one should be able to steal away my beautiful, precious site ever again! Given all the drama I went through before, it’s well worth covering your back from the start with this kind of thing.
It might seem like an unnecessary expense, but think about your future self after you’re all super successful!
3. Start Writing
Like seriously. Just write about anything. Do whatever you have to do to get content onto your website so people will have something to do when they swing by.
I would suggest posting 2-3 times a week if you’re a one-man team and if you have the luxury of having multiple writers crank it up to one per day.
Don’t think too much about “creating perfect content” as everyone has their own journey when it comes to blogging and readers will appreciate being able to jump back in time to your older posts to see how normal you were before you “made it big.”
Just take The Blonde Salad for example. Chiara Ferragni is the highest-paid blogger in the world right now. While her blog is a full-fledged company now, if you flip back to her content from 2009, you’ll see that she’s come a long way. Awkward poses. Weird spray tans.
The girl has done WORK since 2009 and she rolled in 8 million dollars in 2014. I’ll probably buy her shoes at some point if I’m being really honest.
Literally, I’ve recently been going back through my old content and giving it a refresh to match my current vibe and branding. When I started Wander Onwards way back when, GIF-filled listicles were all the rage, so you can imagine how much work it takes to go back and optimize these articles for modern audiences.
The point is if you’re trying to build a following, you need to attract people to your site and actually have something for them to read. In the beginning, be a cliche and write about what you know.
Flip back to past experiences and trips and write about them in a dozen different ways.
Say you’ve been to London, you can write about things to see, places to eat, the best neighborhoods to visit, how to get around the city, and tons of other verticals that’ll help bring traffic to your site.
By creating loads of content around each place, you’re making yourself an authority on the place and readers can jump from one blog to the next, staying on your site for even longer!
4. Social Media
Don’t get in your own way. Set up all the necessary social media platforms for you to be discovered and I would recommend only posting as frequently as you create high-quality content. If that means 2-3 times a week, that’s fine.
If that means every day, good luck. Don’t be afraid to interact with cool people and block weirdos.
Social Media can be a bit of a minefield. Don’t feel like you need to spread yourself too thin over every, single platform. If you’re catering to Gen Z readers, you probably don’t need to continually update a Facebook page or Twitter account.
Instagram and TikTok are basically the go-to social media platforms for discovering new voices, so I’d definitely prioritize these platforms. The good news is a lot of content works for both platforms, so you don’t need to make hundreds of different social media posts each week.
I’d also recommend jumping on Canva for your posts. Getting your grid to look professional is really important for sharing your brand identity in an instant.
Canva has a ton of preloaded templates and graphics which makes it really easy to make professional-looking posts.
You can even add your brand colors and fonts onto your account as a brand kit for easy access and for sharing with your writers and marketers as your business grows.
Collaboration is the easiest way to grow your brand. Travel with other bloggers and tag each other on social media, ask companies to share the pieces you did about their product, or even ask your mom to share it on her Facebook! (Like mine does haha).
You can also encourage people to share your articles with friends and followers indirectly by increasing your “shareability.” Shareability is an element that encourages people to share content subconsciously. If you write about “12 Places You And Your Best Friend Should Go In 2015,” you’ve already mentally prepared your viewers to consider who they’d take on this adventure and they’re more likely to share it with their intended partner in crime.
Also, make sure that you share and tag any businesses or hotels that you stayed in along the way. Even if you weren’t paid to stay there or promote them, in the beginning, tagging other businesses massively increases your shareability.
Whether you checked out an awesome restaurant, went on an excursion with a cool company, or stayed in an amazing hotel, tag them up across all socials and link out to them on your site. Make sure you have great photography or video footage if you’re going to do this!
Don’t underestimate the power of SEO either! Be sure to avoid gimmicky titles unless you’re confident that it’s captivating enough to draw in users on their own. Take for example: 23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23.
This article went SUPER viral with over 5.2 million hits in 2 days with the help of JUST the title. Unfortunately, the original article is currently held hostage at wanderonwards.com so the SEO isn’t as helpful for my .org domain, but you live and you learn.
If you want to find SEO-friendly content, sites like SEMRush or Google Search Consoles are great places to start and can help you tailor your keywords and blog titles.
Alternatively, just have a look at popular travel blogs that you like and see how they’re structuring their titles and their articles as a blueprint for success.
6. Branding and Visuals
I buy all my themes and plugins from Envato Market. Of course, you can build a website without spending a dime, but the reality is, you have to invest money to make money, ya dig?
The visuals and capabilities of a free theme and plugins are nowhere near the quality of a purchased product and users can tell if you invested in your website or not. I try to brand and design like fashion bloggers because they are the highest-paid bloggers for a reason.
Learn from people who you aspire to be and you’ll save a ton of time. Also, learn how to Photoshop because it will save you A WORLD OF PAIN when it comes to editing photos that would be otherwise “useless” AND you can also design graphics on there pretty easily with the pen tool.
If you can, take workshops and watch a ton of tutorials on photography and shooting video. Instagram and TikTok are both visual mediums and you need to know what you’re doing.
There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram that are really easy to follow, and it’s massively going to boost when people are scrolling through their feeds.
7. Find Affiliates That Align With Your Brand
The easiest way to start monetizing your newly created travel blog is through affiliate marketing.
This is basically where you link specific companies in your articles and get a percentage if one of your readers completes a sale through that link. It’s pretty much passive income once the initial post is written.
Instead of scrolling through numerous websites trying to find brands that offer affiliate deals, sign up for Travel Payouts which has all of the different travel-related affiliate programs and their percentages in one handy portal. I wish this existed when I started out, it’s an absolute lifesaver!
Ready to Get Started?
So, all in all, there are plenty of ways to start a travel blog and make it a success, but learn from my experiences and you’ll be on your way in no time.
Whether you want to start up a side hustle, update friends, or build up your writing portfolio, it’s a great industry and one that’s still growing and thriving – trust me!