How to Start a Travel Blog: 6 Steps to Turn Your Jet-Setting Hobby into a Career
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Is there anything better than feeling a plane touch down on the tarmac of some exotic destination that you’ve never visited before? Well, sharing your experiences and turning your love of travel into a bill-paying career comes close!
Travel blogs are the cool kids of the blogging world, so it’s not hard to see why you might want to get in on the action. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to travel and write about it? As with everything in life, however, it’s not as simple as it seems – starting and running a successful travel blog takes dedication and hard work.
Don’t let that put you off though! If you have a passion for traveling and a love of writing, starting a travel blog can be hugely rewarding, and we’re here to help you get on the road to success. Below are the key steps you’ll need to follow when starting your travel blog:
- Find your angle
- Decide on your name
- Choose your blogging platform
- Create and customize your blog
- Learn SEO
- Prepare your content
Think of this guide as your packing list for the most exciting trip of your life. Each step is a vital item you’ll be tucking away into your suitcase, and we’ll give you a ton of helpful hints and tips to make your journey a success. Cabin crew, prepare for take-off – we’re on a one-way trip to blogging paradise!
Ask The Experts
David is an American blogger who has solo traveled to almost every country in Asia and the Middle East. Together with his wife (who’s a Bali local), he’s checked off some bucket list adventures, including a Komodo dragon safari in Indonesia, the Mount Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal, and a bunch of world monuments, such as the Angkor Wat and Taj Mahal. They travel around the world and try to document the most scenic destinations by creating articles, photos, videos, and guides for other travelers. You can read about David’s travels on his blog, The World Travel Guy.
I think the most important thing to consider beforehand is the time commitment. Travel blogging takes so much work if you want to be successful at it. Even if you’re a highly talented individual and have the right vision for your blog, you’ll need to devote oodles of time building out the website and filling all the pages with content. It’s quite a mammoth task.
Why do you like running a travel blog?
The flexibility of blogging is really nice because you can do it from anywhere in the world. My second home (and my wife’s real home) is the island of Bali, so I often do my blogging by the beach, with a nice sea breeze. The other thing I like about blogging is that it’s fun helping others learn how to travel the world on a budget and go to some of the same places I’ve been.
Is there anything you dislike about it?
The writing can get pretty tedious by the time you’re drafting your umpteenth blog article. Website maintenance chews up some of my free time too. I really love traveling, so I hate to turn it into a chore, but the reality is that blogging can sometimes be a bit of a grind if you want to produce good content.
What are your top blogging tips?
Make sure you stand out from the crowd somehow. You don’t have to be a world-class photographer or writer, but think of something that can make your blog stand out from the others. How is it exceptional? What is your niche?
#1. Find Your Angle
- How to set your travel blog apart from others
- How to determine your target audience
The internet is a crowded place, and it’s becoming harder than ever to stand out. This is especially true for travel blogs, where the topic’s exotic nature and glamorous appeal mean they pop up every other minute.
Because of this, finding a unique angle is the key to separating yourself from the rest of the pack. It’s not enough anymore just to write about travel. Instead, you need to dig deeper – what is it about your blog that should make readers pick it out over others?
Take a look at a couple of examples. The Man in Seat 61 is a blog that’s entirely devoted to seeing the world through a train window. Run by Mark Smith, it documents his trips, providing up-to-date train timetables and well-researched travel advice for over 100 countries – we can say with confidence that you’re unlikely to find anyone doing something similar!
Another travel blog that has aced its angle is Uncornered Market. Run by a married couple, Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott, it’s all about finding sustainability in travel and supporting the peoples and cultures you visit.
Finding an angle isn’t always an easy process. Some people know exactly what they want their travel blog to do, whereas others have to work a bit harder at it. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when trying to find your angle:
- What interests you about travel?
Is it sustainability, worldwide fashion, solo traveling, traveling on a budget? Dig deep into your favorite parts of globetrotting. How can you weave that into the foundation of your blog?
- Who are you writing this for?
Who is your target audience? Who do you imagine sitting down to read your posts? Understanding who you’re writing for is central to deciding what kind of space you want your blog to occupy. It can also have an impact on how you write, and the overall branding of your site.
‘Travel is an extensive topic and the more you niche down, the better your chances of success. Popular travel destinations are extremely competitive to rank for on search engines, but your odds improve when you build website authority in a particular topic or area.
I made the mistake of thinking that my niche would be worldwide ‘vegetarian’ travel. However, once I started writing, I realized that what I actually enjoyed writing about and experiencing was adventure travel and adrenaline experiences, mostly across Europe.’
Kerry Hanson runs VeggTravel, a travel blog for adventure enthusiasts, adrenaline seekers, and travellers with an ever-growing bucket list. Adventure awaits!
#2. Decide on Your Name
- What to think about when picking a name, and what to avoid
Uh oh. This is the tricky part.
Setting up a blog might require a little bit of techy know-how, but it’s nothing compared to the hours you’ll spend agonizing over what to call your travel blog. Don’t worry – we’ve all been there! Seeing as how this is going to set the tone for your entire site, and be the main way your readers will find you, it’s kind of a big deal.
There are some hard and fast rules that you should bear in mind whilst you’re on the hunt for that perfect moniker, though. Below, we’ll take you through the most important considerations when picking your blog name.
- Make it relevant
Look, there’s no point calling your blog ‘Ambles Through America’ if you only plan to write about your European travels. Not only will it confuse and mislead your readers, but it won’t reflect your brand and will make it hard to maintain any consistency. We know it seems obvious, but make sure that your name is as descriptive of what you do as possible.
- Make it unique
If we had a nickel for every time we came across a blog that contained the words ‘wanderlust’ and ‘adventure’, we’d be very rich people. Don’t get us wrong – there’s nothing wrong with these kinds of words, it’s just that they’re very common. If you want to distinguish yourself, you need to resist the temptation to recycle those old cliches.
- Keep it simple and easy to remember
The best names are very often the simplest ones. They get straight to the point, they don’t contain any hard-to-spell words, and there’s not a single punctuation mark in sight. Budget Traveller, for example, is so successful because it’s so easy to remember, while its simplicity makes it easy for readers to visit time and time again.
- Make it consistent
You don’t need us to tell you that running a successful blog nowadays isn’t just about the blog itself – you also need a strong social media presence. It’s important that whatever name you choose, you use the same one for all of your online accounts. This gives readers a sense of continuity, and helps to build your brand.
- Don’t pigeonhole yourself
People change, and so will your blog. You might start out writing about your year-long trip around the world, but what happens if you travel for longer than that? If you’ve called your blog ‘360 Days of Discovery’, you’re limiting its shelf life. Make sure your name isn’t too restrictive, and allows your blog to grow up as you do.
#3. Choose Your Blogging Platform
- Our top recommended blogging platforms
- Why we like them
- What features make them ideal for blogging
Once you’ve decided on your angle, and you’ve come up with a name that fits who you are and where you want your travel blog to go, it’s time to get into the juicy stuff. That’s right – you need to actually build your blog!
There are plenty of blogging platforms to choose from, but our favorites are Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. They offer the perfect combination of style and value for money, plus they’re all really easy to use!
Below, we’ll dig a little deeper into all three options, so you can take a look at what they offer, and how they measure up against each other.
WordPress is an excellent platform for blogging, however, there are a few reasons we recommend using a website builder instead – particularly if you’re a beginner.
Firstly, WordPress comes with a steep learning curve, and requires at least a basic level of coding. Not all of us come with this kind of tech knowhow in our repertoire, and devoting the time to learn will mean a longer wait until your travel blog can go live.
With a website builder, its straightforward drag-and-drop format speeds things up a little, without compromising on the overall look and feel of the blog. Plus, if you do know code, you can still show off your skills by tweaking the base HTML of your website.
Another reason that we prefer using a website builder is that it makes your monthly costs more transparent. On the surface, WordPress may look like the cheaper option, but there are lots of hidden costs – such as your hosting and domain name registration – that can hike the price up. That’s not to mention all of the plugins available, most of which charge an additional fee.
Website builders like Squarespace come with a fixed price each month, making it much easier for you to plan out a budget. Wix and Weebly also come with a free plan, so you can start blogging without spending a dime!
#1 – Squarespace
In our research, Squarespace came out on top as the best website builder for blogging. This is thanks to its visually astounding templates and top-notch SEO tools, both of which help attract visitors to your blog, and convince them to stick around to read what you have to say.
Squarespace allows you to build a blog with as many pages as you’d like, which is great for expanding and matching the growth of your audience. It also comes with its own inbuilt analytics software. This is crucial for keeping an eye on your travel blog’s performance, and the type of traffic your posts are attracting.
| •Good range of stunning templates |
•Almost endless creative freedom over your blog design
•You can display different blogging categories
•Has a comments feature
•Allows you to add an RSS feed
•Good social media integration
•Excellent SEO tools
| •No free plan |
•The editor can take some time to get used to
•Doesn’t come with many additional apps
Squarespace’s Personal pricing plan is its cheapest, and starts at $12 per month. This is sufficient for new blogs, but, once your site is well established, we recommend upgrading to the Business plan. It costs $18 per month, but allows you to monetize your content – so we reckon it’s worth every dime!
Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan, but it does come with a 14-day free trial, so you can take it out for a spin and see how it performs for yourself.
Further ReadingSquarespace Review
#2 – Wix
Wix is a solid choice when it comes to choosing a blogging platform, not least because it’s one of the only website builders out there that allows you to create a blog for free. In addition to this, it gives you a great level of creative freedom without overcomplicating things. Even the least tech-savvy amongst you won’t have a problem getting your blog up and running with Wix.
Although Wix’s templates can’t quite compete with Squarespace’s, they still boast a stylish and well-thought-out design that performs particularly well on mobile devices. However, it doesn’t allow you to add an RSS feed, which makes it harder for your readers to access your most recent content quickly.
| •Add a blog to your website easily |
•Offers a free plan
•Great analytics tool
•Has a comments feature
•Allows social bookmarking
•Comes with a search feature
| •Cheapest paid plan is the most expensive of the three |
•Can’t add an RSS feed or an archive feature
•Storage space is underwhelming, even on paid plans
Wix stands out because it offers a free plan. If you want your own domain name, however, you’ll have to upgrade to the Combo plan – which costs $14 per month – or the Unlimited Plan, for $18 per month. We’d recommend investing in a paid plan because it’ll help to make your travel blog look more professional, as well as getting rid of those pesky adverts!
If you want to monetize your blog and accept payments through it, Wix also offers ecommerce plans, which range from $23 per month to $49 per month.
Further ReadingWix Review
#3 – Weebly
Our third recommended website builder is Weebly. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles that Squarespace and Wix offer, but it’s ideal for building a straightforward, no-nonsense blog that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Weebly’s genius lies in its simplicity. The drag-and-drop editor makes adding a blog easy, so there’s no huge learning curve to surmount beyond familiarizing yourself with the platform’s basic layout. But don’t let Weebly’s unassuming exterior fool you – it comes with some punchy blogging tools that will make running your travel blog a dream.
| •Offers a free plan and decent value for money on its cheapest paid plans |
•Detailed performance analytics
•Has a comments feature
•Allows you to add an archive
•Features a scheduled publishing tool
•Allows social bookmarking
| •Limited customization options |
•Less opportunity for long term growth and scalability
•Some of its tools aren’t as easy-to-use as they could be
Like Wix, Weebly offers a free plan – but you will have to deal with ads all over your website. Saying that, you can still monetize your blog, despite not subscribing to a premium plan, which is great news.
If you want to connect to a custom domain and add that shine of professionalism, you’ll need to subscribe to Weebly’s Personal plan. However, this only costs $6 per month, which is still far cheaper than Wix or Squarespace.
For travel bloggers that really want to be taken seriously and elevate their platform beyond a hobby, we’d recommend the Professional plan, which costs $12 per month. In exchange for the steeper monthly price, you’ll be able to rid your blog of those irritating adverts.
Further ReadingWeebly Review
Although we fully recommend taking advantage of free plans when they’re on offer, we don’t advise using them for very long, especially when it comes to blogging. They usually don’t come with a custom domain name, and are often accompanied by reams of irritating adverts. Overall, they can make your travel blog look a bit shabby.
Upgrading does mean paying a bit extra every month, but it’s well worth it for the gloss of professionalism it adds. Plus, you deserve a travel blog that shines after spending so much time working on your content!
#4. Create and Customize Your Blog
- Picking blog templates
- Adding pages to your blog
The best thing about building a blog with a website builder is that they come with a ton of pre-made blog templates, so you can get started without having to create the whole thing from the ground up.
Once you’ve selected your plan and registered with your chosen website builder, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace all allow you to filter templates based on industry, so you can head straight to those that have been purpose-made for blogging. With Wix and Squarespace, you can narrow this down even further, and zone in on specific travel templates.
When you’re selecting your template, make sure to check how it looks on mobile devices, too. Over half of internet traffic nowadays is mobile – that’s a huge chunk of your potential audience, and you want to make sure they can enjoy your travel content too. Luckily, Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly all allow you to preview their templates across a variety of devices. We’d also recommend double-checking how it renders as you edit, just in case anything slips under the mobile optimization radar!
Branding Your Website
A brand isn’t just a logo or a specific font – it’s the defining core of your blogging venture, and should shine throughout your entire website. Luckily, finding your angle makes up a big part of this, so you’re already off to a good start!
Next, you’ll need to wave together all of the creative threads that are going to turn your blog into a visual representation of that brand. Click the plus next to each heading to take a deeper look at the key things to consider when customizing your blog
It might surprise you to know that the niche you’ve chosen can heavily affect your color scheme. This is because certain colors trigger different responses, so you need to make sure that the emotional reaction your color scheme generates in your readers is in line with what you’re trying to do.
To make sure your color scheme reflects your ethos, ask yourself what you want your readers to notice about your brand when they first land on your home page. Does your travel blog focus on sustainability? Think about threading some green through your branding. Are you a big proponent of the mental health benefits of travel? Using orange is a surefire way of bringing some of that positivity to your blog pages.
Along Dusty Roads is a blog run by Andrew and Emily. Their site employs a clean, minimal aesthetic, and the basic font they’ve chosen complements that.
Your font can also help or hinder the readability of your blog. Interesting fonts can definitely add something a little different to a website, but they’re no use if your visitors can’t read them properly. At best they’ll be a distraction, and at worst a deterrent.
When designing your logo, we recommend keeping it as visual as possible – the only text you should aim to include is the name of your blog. Avoid using too many colors, and keep in mind that you’ll also have to use your logo for your social media pages, so you need it to look good across a number of platforms.
Nomadic Matt’s logo fits seamlessly into his blog, uses minimal colors, and reflects his brand.
You might need to do a little bit of soul searching to ace this step. Think about your personal values, and how you want to include them in your content. How do you want to connect with your readers? Why is it that you’re writing this blog in the first place?
Our top tip is to be as authentic as you can. It’s hard to maintain a persona for a long stretch of time, and – although we recommend curating a little distance between the real world and your online identity – you’ll find it easier to maintain a good level of consistency if you bring as much of your real personality to the table as possible. Your readers will appreciate it, too!
Further ReadingHow to Build a Brand – The definitive guide to crafting the perfect brand for you, our guide covers everything you need to know.
How to Choose a Color for Your Website – Learn about complementary colors, the psychology behind certain color pairings, and what not to do when picking a color scheme!
Best Fonts for Websites – Step away from the Comic Sans! We’ll help you pick the best fonts for your travel blog.
How to Make a Logo – Are you struggling to come up with a logo to match your blog? Take a look at the top four logo makers we recommend.
Creating Pages For Your Blog
Once you’ve given your blog template the makeover it deserves, it’s time to start creating your pages. Aside from your main blog posts, we’d also recommend including an ‘About Me’ page, so that your readers can get to know you and your story. A contact page is useful, too, in case they want to get in touch.
Don’t panic if your navigation bar looks a little bare at this point. After all, you’re just starting out, and you need to give your blog time to grow. As your traffic increases, you can start to branch out a little more and include additional pages dedicated to other aspects of your traveling lifestyle, as Marek Bron has done with his blog, Indie Traveller.
#5. Learn SEO
- What is SEO
- How to optimize your blog content
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the part of blogging that no one really talks about. But it’s the most important thing you need to get to grips with if your travel blog is going to be a success.
SEO is all about the small tweaks you can make to your blog posts in order to help them rank higher in the search engine results. Google can be especially picky, so you need to optimize your content as much as possible if you’re going to establish yourself as a contender on that first page of results!
Take a look at our top SEO tips for getting your blog in shape:
- Use keyword research to map out your content
Keywords are what users type into a search engine when they want to find an answer to their query. Appearing in the search results for keywords with a high search volume is an awesome way to boost your traffic. Use a keyword search tool to find the most popular terms, and then write some content around them!
- Use keywords in your blog titles
Once you’ve planned your content, make sure you use your main target keywords in your blog titles. These act as signposts for search engines, and help them to identify what you’re writing about.
- Optimize your images
When scanning your site, search engines like Google also look at the images you use, and how they affect the responsiveness of your blog. Making sure your images are compressed, have an alt tag, and render correctly on mobile will help encourage search engines to view your site more favorably. Check out our Image Optimization Guide for more tips on this.
‘Focus on SEO. Pick really good keyword phrases that you can rank for, and then write articles that best answer the most common questions on that topic. If you do that consistently, your posts will rank high in Google search and you won’t have to worry about paying for advertising or spending large amounts of time marketing on social media platforms.
Also, focus on taking incredible and unique photos. It’s fairly easy to get good photos to rank in Google search, and that’s yet another way to ensure your articles are seen – especially when competing against the major player websites that repeatedly use the same paid stock photos.’
Erin Clarkson is the author of Savannah First-Timer’s Guide. She enjoys helping visitors plan their perfect trip to Savannah.
Good to Know...It’s impossible to master SEO overnight. This is something you’ll have to continue learning and investing time in as your blog grows, especially if you want it to become your main source of income. This might sound like a lot of hard work, but there’s no better reward than seeing one of your blog posts take the top spot for a highly competitive keyword!
#6. Prepare Your Content
- How to create content in a smart way
- What kind of content you should include
Did you know that the average time it takes to write a single blog post is 3 hours and 55 minutes? Best practice also advises posting between three and four times a week if you want the best chance of attracting more organic traffic. That means around 16 hours a week spent writing. If you add in the time needed to capture high-quality images, along with uploading it all to your blog, you’re looking at upwards of 20 hours. And that’s a conservative estimate.
Our point is, running and maintaining a travel blog isn’t a walk in the park, so being organized and prepared will make your life much easier! Drawing up a plan of what you’re going to post and when is a great way to keep yourself on track.
How you do this is completely up to you. Some people like to have a monthly plan, whereas others prefer to go week-by-week. Why not test out a few approaches to find the one that fits you best?
If you want to take things a step further, don’t just plan your blog posts in advance – write them, too! It might seem like a lot of work, but reserving a couple of days per week for writing can save you a ton of time in the long run. That way, when posting day comes around, you’ll be able to have new content up in mere minutes. Of course, this isn’t always possible for everyone, but even if you can’t afford to commit a whole day of writing, we’d still recommend setting some hours aside across the week, so you don’t fall behind.
What Content Should You Be Including?
Given that you’ve found your way to this article, we’re going to make an educated guess that most of your blog posts are going to be about travel. But one common misconception about running a travel blog is that every post has to be about a trip abroad.
As lovely as that sounds, even the most successful travel bloggers can’t afford to be on the road 365 days of the year. So how do you fill those content gaps – especially when you need to post regularly? Here are a few ways to keep your content consistent even when you’re stuck at home:
- Make your last trip stretch
You can’t fit every single detail of your last trip into one post, so why not stretch it out across a number of articles? Sure, you can write an overview post, but also dig into specific excursions, where you stayed, what you ate… there are a ton of experiences you could write 1,000 words on!
- Packing lists
When it comes to packing, you either love it or you hate it. The good news is that no matter which group your readers fall into, a packing list is still a useful piece of content that they’re likely to come back to more than once. Best of all, you can write multiple lists for multiple trips!
Everyone loves a listicle, and they’re easy to write, too! These posts are like a list and an article combined into one – think ‘5 Best Places to Visit on a Budget’, or ‘Top 8 Countries to Visit With Kids’. They give you plenty of room to draw on your extensive travel knowledge, and they’re perfect if you’re going through a traveling dry spell.
- Document your planning process
Most travel bloggers say that if they’re not off on an adventure, they’re planning one! This is the perfect time to document all of the ins and outs of preparing to jet off to your next exotic destination.
- Get out in your local area
Whether it’s down to a limited cash flow or a worldwide pandemic, there will be times when you can’t travel to any of those tropical destinations on your list. But all is not lost! You might have lived in the same city your whole life, but for some of your readers, your hometown could be a destination on their list. Get out there and document all of the things there is to do in your local area – sticking close to home doesn’t have to be boring!
‘The most important thing to consider when starting a travel blog is that you want to write posts that will provide value to people. It can be easy to treat your travel blog more like a travel diary, however, most people who are reading your blog care more about travel tips and reviews about various destinations – not so much about the boring parts of the day-to-day of your vacation. If you always aim to provide value to your readers, you’ll have success!’
Ali Redmond is a travel enthusiast and travel blogger living in colorful Colorado. She loves to travel domestically and internationally, and always shares her best travel tips and tricks on her blog, Inspired Lifestyle Blog!
How to Start a Travel Blog: Summary
Congratulations! By now, you should have checked off all the steps you need to start a travel blog! Let’s recap them quickly, just to make sure you haven’t missed anything:
- Find your angle
- Decide on your name
- Choose your blogging platform
- Create and customize your blog
- Learn SEO
- Prepare your content
There’s only so much planning and preparation you can do, so once you’ve set up your blogging platform and have a decent amount of content ready to go, there’s only one thing to do …. Hit that ‘Publish’ button!
We know taking this last step can be a bit scary, but we think it’s worth the risk. Remember, starting a travel blog is a bit like taking that first solo trip. You were brave enough to get on that plane, and this is no different. It’s an unfamiliar kind of adventure, but an adventure nonetheless!
Generally, however, we recommend investing in a premium plan when starting a travel blog. This is because that monthly fee will allow you to choose a personal domain name, which makes your blog appear more professional. If you want to be taken seriously and attract loyal readers, this is a must.
A personal plan on Weebly starts from as little as $6 per month, with Wix and Squarespace costing $12 and $14 per month respectively.
However, if you want to keep your travel blog going for any length of time, we’d recommend having at least a few upcoming trips planned. This will help you keep your content fresh, and encourage readers to return to your blog to hear about your new adventures.
A good way of increasing your profile is by writing for other blogs. This might sound counterintuitive, but these guest posts will often feature a link back to your blog, which is especially valuable if you write something for a site that gets a lot of traffic.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a get-rich-quick kind of gig. You’ll really need to commit if you want to make your travel blog your main source of income. Make sure you’ve got enough passion for traveling that it’ll help you power through if things get a little tough!
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