Table of Contents
- Why WordPress?
- Choosing a Good Name for Your Travel Blog
- Selecting the Hosting for Your Travel Blog
- Installing WordPress
- Learning to Use WordPress
- Choosing a Professional Theme for Your Travel Blog
- Downloading Useful Plugins
- Steps to Begin Your Travel Blog
You may ask, why WordPress and not any other platform? Well, today, WordPress powers over 27% of websites the world over. The platform is free to use and is the most popular CMS (content management system) in the world. Some of the features of WordPress that makes it an extremely popular platform are:
- It has a very intuitive interface and is extremely user friendly.
- The visual editor is extremely easy to use. If you understand HTML, you can make use of the HTML editor to create your pages and posts.
- It allows you to add categories and tags so that your content is organized.
- You can customize the layout, look and feel of the website as you want.
- WordPress offers a large number of plugins that allows advanced customization of your blog.
- You have several templates, background options and settings for the operation of your site.
- You can create multiple users for your site and also assign different roles.
So, now that you have understood the benefits that WordPress offers, let us go on to see how to actually go about setting up your travel blog and get it running.
The most important and also the most challenging part of starting your travel blog is finding the perfect name for the blog. The site name that you choose is for the lifetime of the blog and changing the name can be quite a hassle. So, while choosing a name for your travel blog, a few things to keep in mind are:
When selecting a name, pick out something original. Avoid overused words and names such as X’s Travels, Nomadic X, Wandering X, Adventurous X, etc. All these names have been already been taken by others and won’t really stand out. So, it’s a good idea to come up with something original that will give you success.
The name of your blog should be quite short and easy to remember, spell, type and share. It’s a good idea to brainstorm a bit and write down words that you feel describe your blog the best. Think about what you would like to write about – food, culture, adventure, etc. Write down everything and check out various word combinations or use a thesaurus to help you.
Select a name that is simple and easy to remember. Avoid a name that has more than 3-4 words and avoid using hyphens and numbers as they make it quite difficult to describe the site address to others. Using hyphens and numbers make the URL very cumbersome to remember and spread by word of mouth.
It’s a good idea to spend some time and give the name of your blog considerable thought because it’s not easy to change it later on. Branding your travel blog is extremely important. Avoid names that will box you in. For instance, ‘20-Year-Old Traveller’. What happens to the name when you turn 30? Also, having a name that describes your travel style may be problematic in the long run. For example, if the name of your blog is Backpacking Jody, what if you decide that you don’t want to go backpacking and want to change your travel style?
Before you decide on the name of your blog and before you buy the domain name, check if the name is available on all major social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Once you finalize on the name of your travel blog, you need to buy a domain name. There are several websites like Register.com, GoDaddy, Whois, etc. that allow you to check if the specific domain name is available and these sites also allow you to register your domain.
When you have decided your website name and have registered it, you need to buy server space to host your blog site, which is essentially renting space on the internet to store all the files, data, photos and images related to your blog so that people can have access to it from anywhere across the globe by just typing in your domain name.
Hosting can be quite inexpensive; however, there are several hosting companies and the choice can be overwhelming because of the number of choices available today. It is a good idea to choose a web host that has a WordPress focus and also look for one that offers the functionalities required for your travel blog. You could consider BlueHost, which is an extremely popular web host that is not only very affordable but also makes setting up your travel blog extremely easy. BlueHost also gives you a free domain name.
And, once your travel blog starts getting a steady stream of visitors in thousands, then you can consider upgrading your hosting to a dedicated server; however, this may be an expensive proposition. Opting for a BlueHost shared hosting account may be a more affordable option if you’re just starting your blog.
The next thing you require for your travel blog is to install WordPress. Most of the web hosts are compatible with WordPress and some hosts like BlueHost provide a “one-click” installation which lets you install WordPress directly from the admin panel. Alternately, you can install WordPress manually. Once you have installed WordPress, you can login to your WordPress account with your username and password and you are all set to create your travel blog.
WordPress is probably the most popularly used platform when it comes to blogging and has been around for years. There are hundreds of tutorials available online that will teach you all you need to know about WordPress. Some good WordPress training resources are:
- WordPress Starter Kit (video tutorials)
- WordPress Lessons, which is a free guide
Spend some time learning how to use the dashboard, how to modify the settings of your site, how to post an article, etc. and with practice, you’re sure to get a hang of how to use WordPress efficiently. And, if you still have any queries regarding setting up your blog on WordPress that are not covered in the tutorials, then just type your query into Google and since WordPress is such a popular platform for blogging, you are sure to find your answer.
Usually, your WordPress blogs come along with a few standard designs or themes for your site. This may be fine when you’re just starting off; however, if you are very serious about your blog and want it to make money in the long run, then it is a good idea to buy a premium design. Professional themes for blogs can cost anywhere between $25 – $80 and not only will a professional theme help to improve the “look and feel” of your blog but will also enhance your site’s functionality.
Some of the popular places where you can buy theme designs for your travel blog are WP Prosperity, ThemeTrust, ThemeForest, etc. You can also modify the theme design and customize its looks and functionality. Most of the professional themes offer a forum for support where you can clarify your queries about customizing the theme and can help to achieve the look you want by using HTML or CSS coding. If you feel that you cannot handle the coding and designing, then you can consider hiring a designer via Upwork, who can do some custom designing on your travel blog site.
You could also get a unique logo created for your travel blog, which can help your brand to stand out from the crowd of thousands of other online travel blogs. You can use a site like 99 Designs to have your all your design needs taken care of including logo design, site design, banners and stationery design, among other things.
WordPress plugins are essentially 3rd party apps for your site that offer additional features to the blog. Most of the plugins are free; however, you may have to pay for some of them. The “plugin” section of the WordPress dashboard has a database of plugins from which you can download. Some useful plugins you can include in your travel blog are:
- Yoast SEO: This helps to optimize your articles for Google Search and also helps to integrate Google Analytics and sitemaps.
- Akismet: This plugin helps to protect your blog from spammers commenting on your posts.
- WP Rocket: Helps to make your blog faster.
- Easy Social Share Buttons: These offer social media sharing for your travel articles.
- Imagify: Optimizes the media library automatically and enables quicker loading of images.
The first thing that you must do on your travel blog is to create an “About” page. This is the most important page of your blog as it gives information about you and your background to the visitors to your blog and explains why they should follow you. Keep the “About” page fun and friendly to tell people who you are and what your mission with the blog is.
Social media presence is extremely important and posting to your social media is very important if you want your travel blog to be successful and profitable. Start by signing up to all the popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube and try to keep the username of all your social media the same as your blog, so that people can identify you easily.
Avoid starting your travel blog on a social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram as you don’t have control over these platforms and they could disappear in the future. Only make use of social media platforms to support and promote your travel blog but don’t build your business on these platforms as it is quite risky.
Your travel blog posts could be just about anything at all. Maybe you could offer tips on what you plan to pack for an upcoming vacation or if you have just come back from a holiday, you could share the highlights of your vacation, etc. Whatever your blog is about, when you write your post, you will be able to understand how to publish the headers, images and all the WordPress related formatting.
While enrolling to a blogging course is not essential; however, if you really want to be a good blogger and have a successful blog, then investing some money and time and getting trained by professionals can really help. A specialized course in travel blogging can give you tips on how to start your travel blog and how you can earn money with your blog. It will also teach you things like how you can build an audience for your blog, how to make use of social media to promote your blog, how to market yourself, earn money, work with brands and implement SEO.
Once your travel blog is all set up, you need to start creating content for your blog. It is a good idea to publish new blog posts at least one or twice in a week when you start out. However, the most important thing you should keep in mind is the quality of your article. This is more important than quantity.
Plan and take time to write good and useful blog posts that are impactful. The articles in your travel blog should inspire people to travel but at the same time include actionable tips and techniques. Share your travel stories, stunning travel images, create a video tour, offer food recommendations, etc. Write about varied topics and see what type of articles your readers like. Keep experimenting until you find your niche.
And, if you’re not traveling and planning your travels, you can write about it too. Maybe you can write about your bucket list of places that you want to visit, activities you want to try out or ways to save money for your travel, equipment needed for your travels, etc.
However, the best strategy for a good travel blog is to write about things you already know. For example, if you live in Paris, you could offer travel tips to thousands of people visiting the city and help them have an interesting and fun trip by writing a blog or creating a video along the lines of “20 Fun Things You Can Do in Paris”.
It is a good idea to read other travel blogs and see what other bloggers are doing for ideas and inspiration and leave comments on other people’s articles. Whenever appropriate, link to other blogs from your site and also join the travel blogging community and become an active member.
Usually, when you start your blog, your audience will be your friends and your family. However, you need a much larger audience to start making money via your blog. The greater the traffic coming to your blog, the more money you can make. Nevertheless, it takes some time to build your audience and grow the visitors to your site. So, your focus must be on building your visitor base.
You can use affiliate programs like Booking.com or Amazon to start earning an income via your site. Affiliate programs essentially allow you to recommend various products such as travel gear, clothing, photography equipment, tours, hotels, etc. When a visitor clicks on any of these affiliate links and buys something, then you can earn a commission on the sale. Another option that allows you to earn money is by displaying ads on your site with Google AdSense that allows other companies to post banner ads on your blog.
There is no real limit of how much you can earn via your blog. You may not earn a lot in the beginning, it really depends on the time and effort you put into the monetization effort. And, all these income streams only grow as the audience to your blog grows. So, growing your audience should be your primary focus. And, the best way to attract new readers to your travel blog is by posting great content.
Setting up a travel blog is super easy; however, it is getting the audience to your blog that is a challenge. You probably will not see a huge traffic for a year or maybe even more. But don’t get disheartened. A year of persistent blogging with at least 10+ hours a week should give you decent results. Travel blogging is a fantastic job but it needs dedication and hard work — creating a successful travel blog is not something that’s going to happen overnight. So, give it a go and happy blogging!