A quick & easy guide to starting a travel blog!

Dreaming of starting your own travel blog but don’t know where to begin? It’s not as daunting as it may seem! To save you the headache of trying to figure it all out on your own, I’ve created this simplified, step-by-step guide to starting your very own travel blog…

 

1.    Picking a name

Picking a name can be one of the most frustrating yet most important steps to starting your blog. Your name sets the tone for your whole brand and is not something you are going to want to change down the track… So invest the time to get the name of your travel blog right when you are starting out!

Here are a few suggestions to help you:

Brainstorm like crazy- Write down every single world that you can think of relating to travel/ the niche of your blog. Try out different combinations of words to figure out what sounds and looks catchy

Think outside the box- This means avoiding cliches like “Wanderlust” and “Explore”- these words have been done to death. Experiment with words that are quirky and unique!

Don’t pick anything TOO obscure- The key is having a name that people will remember, so make sure it isn’t too long or difficult to spell.

Get help from others- It is always very useful getting a second, third or even eighth opinion! Write down your top 5 names and then ask your friends and family to pick their favourites.

Check the name is available- Before you get too excited about a name, check that the URL and social handles are all (or mostly) available!

 

2.    Sign up for a blogging platform

Your next step is signing up for a blogging platform. For starting a travel blog, I would highly recommend using a self-hosted WordPress.org account. This is the platform that I personally use and what 90% of the professional bloggers I know are using. Choosing this option will require you to investing time and money in your blog, but if you ever plan to get serious about blogging, I promise that it will be worth the investment!

If you are just starting a blog for fun, there are many free and easy-to-use blogging platforms available, such as WordPress.com and Blogger. I personally started off using Blogger but it didn’t take long before I felt restricted by it’s lack of features.  Even if you’ve already started a blog on another platform, you can switch over to WordPress.org is fairly easily without losing any of your data. There are lots of tutorials that will show you exactly how to do so.

Here are a few reasons why I recommend using WordPress.org:

  • You OWN the site and all its data
  • You can have a custom URL eg. polkadotpassport.com as oppose to polkadotpassport.wordpress.com
  • You have full control to install custom themes and plugins
  • You can sell advertising on your site and use tools such as google analytics

3.    Get web hosting

If you are sitting here thinking “What the heck is web hosting?”, don’t fret. When I first started my blog, I had NO CLUE either. Just think of web hosting like renting a house. Instead of renting physical space, you are renting virtual space on the internet which stores all the files that make up your blog!

Just like rent, the cost of hosting can vary greatly.  The good news is, even if you don’t have a lot of money to invest in starting up your blog, there are lot of budget-friendly hosting options out there. The cheapest hosting that I’ve come across and would recommend for starting your blog is HostGator. They are currently offering a special that includes a domain name, web hosting and unlimited email from $3 a month, which is by far the the lowest price I’ve seen. You can take a look at the deal here, as you won’t find it on their regular site.

If you don’t quite know where to begin, here are a few quick steps to help you get started with hosting.

Getting Started

Firstly, head over to HostGator and you should see the screen below appear.

Select your domain

Now, you’ll need to select a domain name for your site, which is included in your web hosting package. Or, if you already own one, you’ll have to contact your domain provider to get your DNS pointed to HostGator.

 

Choose your plan

Now, you can select the plan you would like. The best value is the 12 month Hatching Plan, which only costs $2.58 per month. Here, you will also need to enter a username and security pin.

Fill out information

Next, select the hosting package you want and fill out all your personal and billing information.

Install WordPress

Now that you’ve got your account set up it’s time to make the magic happen and get your WordPress site up and running! Head to your C-Panel and click ‘Get Started with WordPress Today’. Follow the instructions and in minutes, you’ll have your site set up and ready to rumble. Once WordPress has installed, you’ll be given information for where to access your WordPress login, your username and password. Now, you can sign in to your WordPress at http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin.

 

Now that my blog is more established, I’ve personally started to use SiteGround. Prices are more expensive as it is a more powerful hosting site, so I would consider this option if/ once you are getting higher levels of traffic.

 

4.    Get a theme and make your blog pretty!

Okay, now we’ve got the boring technical part of blog setup out of the way, it’s time for the fun part! WordPress had a plethora of fantastic, easy-to-customize themes on offer, meaning you can get your blog looking professional in no time.

If you are strapped for cash, there are plenty of free themes that look great and are very simple to set up. The first theme I used for my blog was called Virtue, and for a free theme, it was fantastic. It offers the feature of having a photo slider on your homepage, which I think works really nicely for a travel blog.

On the other hand, if you do have a little more money to spare, it is definitely worth the investment of buying a premium theme. You can get some fantastic themes for less than $50, and these themes will generally allow you way more flexibility when it comes to customizing your blog to exactly how you want it.

 

5. Customize your blog with plug-ins

Plug-ins are the keys to customizing your new blog. They are pieces of software you can install to add extra functionality to your blog to take it to the next level! Here are a few I would definitely recommend installing when starting your blog:

  1. Wordfence adds an extra level of security to your site to protect it against spam and hackers
  2. Yoast the best plug-in for SEO Optimization (read this intro to SEO if you have no idea what that is- it’s a whole new ball park!)
  3. WP Optimize Keeps your site running smoother and faster by deleting unused data
  4. Google Analytics Dashboard– Keeps track of your traffic and gives you deleted analytics on who is visiting your site
  5. Social Media Sharing Connecting your social media accounts to your blog is a must!

 

6. Start blogging!

Now it’s time to create content! Remember, starting a blog doesn’t mean you are going to attract thousands of readers overnight. It took me at least six months before anyone other than my family and friends actually started to read my blog. The trick is to focus on creating as MUCH quality content as you can from the very beginning rather than investing ALL of your time in getting your name out there. You need to give people a reason read your travel blog over the millions of others that already exist on the interwebs!

Here are a few key tips when starting the blogging journey:

Be authentic- Write about what you are genuinely passionate about.

Be unique- Instead of re-writing content that already exists online, find your own voice in the travel industry. Why should people take the time to read you article? People generally read travel blogs as they want REAL travel advice and recommendations so don’t be shy of injecting your personality into your writing!

Stay consistent- create a posting schedule, whether it’s daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly! I personally go for quality over quantity but everyone has their own strategy so come up with a posting schedule that is manageable and try stick to it as best you can.

Stay ethical- don’t be a sell-out. Once you reach the point of monetizing your blog, don’t say yes to everything because it will earn you a quick dollar. In the long run, staying true to yourself and your brand will see a far better return than bombard your readers with blantant advertising.

Don’t do it for the money- If you are starting a travel blog just to earn some easy cash, good luck. It took me over a year of working on my blog every day until I saw of cent of income come through! Blog because you love blogging or you’ll find yourself burnt out very quickly. Earning a living off blogging alone is extremely difficult and it requires a whole lot of devotion!

Don’t get discouraged- Like everything, good things come to those who wait. Don’t lose hope if you aren’t attracted thousands of readers to begin with… These things take time. Don’t get caught in a trap of comparing yourself to other bloggers- everyone is at a different stage and if you want to succeed you need to focus on your own journey.

 

7. Getting your blog out there

Now you’ve started your awesome blog, it’s time to find some people to read it! There are a few key ways of getting your blog out there. Remember, patience is key, and although it may take some time before you see traffic flooding through, it will be worth it in the long run!

Be active on social media- It’s not rocket science to see that social media is taking over the world. As soon as you start your blog, make sure you get the social handles every channel you can including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube and Bloglovin’. Even if you don’t use all of these channels straight away, it’s important to have them. I would suggest focusing on just a couple of social media avenues to begin with- figure out what works best for you. I’ve personally found Facebook and Pinterest work best in directing traffic to my blog so I generally invest the most time in these two things.

Get SEO Savvy- If you aren’t familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it is basically an algorithm that determines how highly your site and its pages rank in search engine results. It is VERY powerful tool that you can use to drive a lot of traffic to your blog if you use it correctly. Learning basic SEO may be one of the most beneficial things you can do when starting a blog- I wish I had learnt these skills from the beginning!

Use Pinterest- Don’t underestimate the power of Pinterest for getting traffic to your blog! The majority of my blog traffic comes directly from my pinterest just through creating and pinning graphics that link back to articles in my blog.

Create community- Community and connection is everything when it comes to the travel blogging world. Join blogging groups on Facebook (Ultimate Travel Group, We Travel We Blog, We See The World Bloggers are a few good ones), connect with other bloggers, comment on other blogs and engage with people on social media. Not only will this build up your blog’s community, you will also learn so much by connecting with other more experienced bloggers!

A Quick & Easy Guide to Starting Your Own Travel Blog

I do hope this guide has helped you realize starting a travel blog isn’t as daunting as it seems. If you’ve recently started a travel blog or this post has inspired you to do so, I would love to hear from you! Comment below with your blog’s URL so I can check it out :)

N x

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    LisaLDN / Fjords & Beaches
    December 20, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Your tips are great, even for bloggers who aren’t just starting out! Thank you :)

  • Reply
    Renee
    December 20, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Great article Nicola! I recently switched to WordPress.org and loving it. I’d love for you to check out my blog: http://www.reneeroaming.com 💛

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    December 21, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Really great tips! I totally agree that Pinterest is really helpful. Creativity and authenticity is a must too. :)

  • Reply
    rebex0
    December 22, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Great tips, thanks! I started one this year but it is very hard to stay motivated, definitely a New Years goal haha http://www.rebextravels.com

  • Reply
    Elles
    December 23, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Yesshh really nice guide. Pinterest is a really smart one. I’m going finally on my internship abroad next month. In Thailand, can’t wait! Saved for more than a year and now the moment is almost there . I wan’t to capture everything on my blog.
    http://www.agreencoconut.nl/

  • Reply
    Lauren
    December 23, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I have just started out, focusing on Architecture I come across during my travels. http://www.archi-find.com
    I need to work on the community aspect so I appreciate the advice!

  • Reply
    Anne
    December 23, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I keep thinking of changing from a wordpress site but a bit scared I will loose information. I am sure it is all pretty easy to do.

    • Reply
      polkadotpassport
      December 29, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      Don’t worry, I was worried as well but you can back it all up and it’s really easy to do! I know it’s a big step but definitely recommend doing it :)

  • Reply
    Katarina
    December 28, 2016 at 4:16 am

    Great pinterest tips! Will check them out more and see if it can help boosting my blog. Sadly I write in Swedish which might make it more difficult but anyway, it might halp anyway and creating graphichs is something I want to learn. :)

  • Reply
    Hannah Magsayo
    December 28, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Love this article! Indeed very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    http:/hannahmagsayo.info

  • Reply
    Hannah Magsayo
    December 28, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Love this article! Indeed very helpful. Thanks for sharing.
    http://hannahmagsayo.info

  • Reply
    vahineotaku
    January 4, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Such a useful post! Thank you Nicola, love reading about your trips and travel hacks, and even your “technical” posts are so clear! I’ve started my blog this year but it’s in French :/
    http://www.vahineotaku.wordpress.com
    hopefully I’ll eventually find time to translate my articles in English and move from my free WP plan to something more appealing!
    Anyways thanks for the inspo! ^^

  • Reply
    JaMeka
    January 6, 2017 at 1:24 am

    I’ve been following your blog from early on, you are amazing and inspiring! Keep up the good work :)

  • Reply
    wannderful
    January 10, 2017 at 6:37 am

    How interesting! Thank you very much! <3

  • Reply
    Josie
    January 10, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Love these tips, thank you! It’s so helpful when successful bloggers give detailed tips about sites to use and different things to do, so thanks! I’m still quite new to this but I’m hoping to really get my travel bug on paper (or online) when I finish uni!

    JosieVictoriaa // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

  • Reply
    detailedplusbeautiful
    January 10, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Mine is just a design + lifestyle blog but I would love to incorporate travel into it one day….great article!

    detailedplusbeautiful.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    angelainge
    January 10, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Thank you Nicola for great post. I have a blog using blogger. I started long long time ago. Now I have been thinking to move to WordPress , but still afraid that my data lost. Do you know how to do that step by step ? Or link about it ? I have read about SEO , but still don’t understand it, do you have a link where I can learn more about it ? Thank you for your sharing and tips 😊.

  • Reply
    angelainge
    January 10, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Sorry forgot my blog . My blog in indo language.http://mypleasuretime.blogspot.co.id/?m=1

  • Reply
    travelbeautypad
    January 10, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Great tips. I have recently started my blog and its a lot of hard work. However, I don’t plan on giving up.

    http://www.travelbeautyblog.com

  • Reply
    Nikki
    January 10, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Perfectly timed read, thank you!
    I started to get serious about my blog a few months back – and finally settled on a name!
    But the Southern Hemisphere school holidays have derailed me a little – kids go back to school tomorrow so this is just the kind of inspiration I need to get back up and running.
    http://www.livingatthetip.co.za

  • Reply
    Christina Nelson
    January 10, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Great post Nicola! I haven’t been using Pinterest much, but will definitely incorporate it in my blog! Have a lovely day and thanks for all the great advice! <3

  • Reply
    Marlinde
    January 11, 2017 at 3:16 am

    Very helpful advice thank you! loved this post! I do find it difficult to stay consistent since I also have school and work but I spend as much time on my blog as I can and hopefully I will have a bit more time next year xx
    Marlinde x

  • Reply
    Miss Pippi
    January 11, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Really helpful tips!

    http://misspippisstyle.blogspot.hu/

  • Reply
    Crimson April
    January 11, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    You have covered the topic from A to Z Nicola! I am glad to go through the genuine and straight-forward approach towards this matter. Good going!!

  • Reply
    Abby Saylor
    January 11, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    I’ve been blogging for a while, but I loved reading what worked for you! I’d love to start doing more travel posts in the future. :) Thanks for sharing!

    http://abbysaylor.com/

  • Reply
    My favourite blogs – Hello Wanderlust
    January 12, 2017 at 7:18 am

    […] on destinations around the world. I recently re-discovered Nicola’s blog through an advice post she wrote about blogging. She explained what ‘web-hosting’ means so well that even I […]

  • Reply
    Danielle
    January 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for the tips. I just recently started writing about my life and adventures on http://www.cocodeewanderlust.com and I find you blog very helpfull. I am only just starting, so be kind ;)

  • Reply
    postcardstomadrid
    January 19, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Thanks a lot for the advice Nicola! I just started blogging some months ago and still have a lot to learn. It’s great to read these tips from more experienced travel blogger like you! :) I love your blog and have been following your post for a long time now.
    If you would like to check it out, here’s a link to my blog: https://postcardstomadrid.wordpress.com/

  • Reply
    Killy Vincent
    January 20, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Loved this article! I wish I this article had been written when I first started my blog; I had to figure out everything for myself. Been a fan of yours for quite some time lady, would love to meet up on a travel across the globe.

    xx-Killy
    http://www.haitianfashionista.com

  • Reply
    ryanthemermaid
    January 25, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Thank you, Nicola! :)

  • Reply
    Aga
    February 2, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Great post! Thanks for that, it’s very useful. I’m just starting in the world of real blogging, just moved to the new domain and I have a goal to write more often.
    If you want to check it out, here is the link to it: http://www.worlderingaround.com

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