In the beginning, I started a free travel blog on WordPress simply to update friends and family on my travels. But then I realised that I wanted it to become more than that. I envisioned helping thousands of strangers with my blog and eventually using my passion for writing to make money.
To be honest, I completely underestimated just how much I was going to have to invest in my travel blog if I wanted it to be a success. I mean,
blood, sweat and tears time, effort and money.
Is it worth it? Yes, entirely. I’m so happy that I started my own travel blog and I think everyone should have one. Here’s my step by step beginners guide to starting your own travel blog!
10 easy steps to starting a successful travel blog
1. Choose the perfect blog name
I spent MONTHS coming up with different names for my travel blog. In the end, I opted for a variation of my name, Journey with Chloe. Ask yourself these questions when you settle on your blog name:
- Are you 100% certain about your blog name? It’s far harder to change it down the line when your audience already know you as a certain brand.
- Is your blog name available as a .com domain?
- Is it unique? Type your desired blog name into Google search. Does someone else already have a similar site or brand?
- Is it simple? Can people easily remember it? Is it easy to spell and pronounce? Do people understand it when you say it out loud? Think twice about using numbers to replace letters or words.
- Does it work long-term? What happens when you box yourself in with a name like “Stacey in Spain” but then move to France?
- Is your name available on social media platforms? Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube. Not to mention on other blogging sites like Tumblr and Bloggr. Try to choose the same username across all social media websites (guilty of not doing this).
2. Set up hosting
If you’re going to have a professional blog, you need to invest and buy hosting for your website. SiteGround are hands down the best company to host your blog with.
At first I had no idea which hosting company to choose. When I typed “How to Start a Travel Blog” into Google myself, so many established travel bloggers were recommending Bluehost. I thought to myself that these guys are obviously very experienced and successful so they must know best. I ALMOST went with Bluehost until I did more research.
When I asked around in travel blogger groups, they all kept telling me the same thing, that they’ve had tons of problems with Bluehost and switched to SiteGround instead. Apparently big bloggers only recommend Bluehost because they can earn good money from the affiliate program.
I double checked reviews for SiteGround on Google, liked what I saw and decided to go with them. After nearly a year of starting a travel blog with SiteGround, I’ve had no problems with them at all and I love their customer support. I’m so happy that I went with the right host on the first time round!
To set up on SiteGround, head to their signup page:
- Choose a new hosting account and register your new domain. I personally chose a .com domain.
- Next, choose your plan. I personally went with StartUp. It’s perfect for just starting out, and it’s only £2.75 a month!
- Finally, choose how long you want to host for. If you’re serious about blogging, then I’d recommend going for 36 months. The price is £2.75 compared to £6.95 for the 12 month plan, so it would save you just over £150 in the long-run.
All you have to do now is fill in your payment information and you’ve got yourself a website!
3. Install WordPress
Another great thing about signing up with SiteGround is that you get a free and simple WordPress installation.
The SiteGround support team will actually install it for you, or you can install it yourself using the SiteGround WordPress setup wizard or the auto-install through Softaculous. It gives you the option to do this as soon as you’ve paid for your hosting, and it’s really straight forward.
4. Pay for a professional theme
Although WordPress offers hundreds of free themes, these tend to limit what you can do. If you want to eventually earn money from your travel blog, you need to invest.
I chose a simple yet sleek premium theme from ThemeForest by Solopine. Spending anything around $50 for a professional theme really adds to the appearance and functionality of your blog.
5. Design a header
I had a friend design my header to start off with. If you don’t want to pay money yet and you’re no graphic designer (me neither), use Canva to design your header or logo with a transparent background. You can use Canva on your laptop, or download the app on your phone. It’s free and so easy to use (seriously, if I can use it, so can you). It’s hands down the BEST free graphic design software I’ve found so far.
6. Learn how to use WordPress
When you’re finally setting up your travel blog, WordPress can seem pretty daunting at first. Don’t worry, I literally had no idea what I was doing at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it!
There are also tons of free resources to help you like WordPress Lessons and WPBeginner.
Also, one of the main reasons I chose to get a theme from Solopine is that they have outstanding customer support. If I have a problem or question about my website or WordPress, I just submit a ticket to their website and they’re always happy to reply straight away with clear instructions. Honestly, I’d be lost without their help!
7. Download plugins
I only use free plugins. Here’s a list to add when starting a travel blog:
AddToAny Share Buttons: This gives an easy option for readers to share your post on social media.
Akismet: It blocks any spam.
BackUp: If your site crashes for some reason, this plugin could save you. It’s the easiest way to backup, restore or migrate your site. I’d recommend backing up any time you make a change to your website, for example, writing a draft you wouldn’t want to lose.
Contact Form: This adds a form on your website which people can use to contact you.
Google Analytics: Easy to keep track of how many visitors are coming to your site.
MailChimp: Offers a great way for visitors to subscribe to your website.
Pinterest Pin It Button On Image: If you include pins at the end of your blog posts, this is user-friendly plugin to ensure readers can repin your blog post.
WP Instagram Widget: It’s great to show case your Instagram profile and brighten up your website with photos.
Yoast SEO: If you have no clue about SEO, this is the perfect plugin to improve your ranking on Google.
8. Sign up on all social media platforms
My major source of traffic comes from social media platforms such as Pinterest and Facebook. Unless you’re an SEO wizard (which takes a lot of research to master), this will likely be the case for you too.
That’s why it’s so important to sign up on all social media websites when starting a travel blog. Social media allows you to maximise the amount of traffic to your blog. I’d recommend making accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Flipboard.
9. Start an email list
Building up an audience is great, and the best way to keep readers coming back for more is getting them to subscribe with an email address. An email list will be very useful when you become an established travel blogger. I personally use MailChimp because it’s free.
10. Get blogging!
Tips on blogging:
- Make an about page. Allow your personality to radiate. I mean it, don’t hold back! People like authenticity and knowing that there’s an actual human being on the other end of the computer screen. Readers will go to your about page to find out why they should keep reading, and potential clients may check this when deciding whether or not they want to work with you.
- Write your first post. Introduce yourself, what your blog is about and what’s next. Be strategic. Persuade readers why they should follow your posts.
- Find your voice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still finding mine. Whatever you do, don’t write for SEO, or else you’ll sound like a robot. Add your uniqueness into every post. Write as though you would speak and then adjust the grammar to still make it look professional.
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Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.