Travel blogs are a different ball game. They require dedicated time and substantial effort before you start earning.
In sense, you need to spend time taking care of your blog even when you are traveling around the serene blue lagoon beaches and wilderness. You need to fit work into the itinerary.
You need to have a passion for travel, a never-ending bone-fire spirit, a travel experience under your belt and a way to help people replicate them.
Being a travel enthusiast for six-months or a year will not work. There are tons of travel blogs that lose charm due to a lack of passion.
So, make sure you have wandered around pristine, dived into underground caves or trekked into rocky mountains before venturing into the world of travel blogging. People love reading about first-hand experience and you have to enrich that experience.
Next, defining your travel niche is important. Because you have a way of traveling and not all people travel the same. Some prefer moving solo others move in groups. There are couples as well as senior travelers.
4 Steps on How to Start a Travel Blog
Step 1 – Micro Niches to Choose for Starting a Travel Blog
Your travel blog can focus on different travel types. This depends on your age and experience. Examples can be as under;
- Student travel
- Family & kids travel
- Couples travel
- Senior travel
- Solo travel
- Volunteer travel
- Group travel
You have a lot of advice on saving and managing money while traveling. But there are people who want to experience luxury.
So basically, you have only two choices, you can pick either.
- Luxury travel
- Budget travel
There are a large number of people visiting specific places for certain activities. Like “Char Dham Yatra” for pilgrimage, different countries for F1- Grand Prix.
You can have an idea for your travel blog from activities like;
- Adventure Sports
- Specific Countrywide travel
- History and Heritage
- Skiing/ Snowboarding
Travel destination depends on your interest area. Look where you spend most of the time exploring. Few examples are;
- City Life
- Remote areas
- Mountains & peaks
- North-East (India)
- South-East Asian
- Desert Safari
- Road Trips (Motorbiking)
- Travel for Shopping
- Weekend travel
- Off the Grid travel
- Business travel
- Food and Culinary travel
Step 2 – Choose Domain Name for Your Travel Blog
Most of the best travel-related words like travel, discovery and the trip have been taken by the big media houses, tour operators, ticket booking portals, magazines, and TV channels.
My analysis of the best travel blogs found that there is no similar way of picking domain names.
Some are personal names like “Nomadic Matt”, some are travel-related words combined with names like “Paulina on the road” while others relate to type like “The roaming family”.
Try keeping your domain name close to your micro-niche.
Write two words that define your travel blog and then look for name ideas on domain name finding tool Leandomainsearch.com.
For example, the tool returned the following domain name suggestion for the word “Budget Travel”.
Try to find a word relatable to your sub-niche.
If you are still not able to find a suitable domain name then you can start with any domain name.
I too started my blog with the domain name “wisebaniya”, then I changed it to “moneysparkle” but still I was missing the connection.
Finally, I got the right combination in the domain name “CashOverflow”.
The other things which you should keep in mind before finalizing the domain name are;
- To pick up a .com extension – in case if it is already taken then go for any other extension.
- For a country-specific audience – go for that country’s extension. For example, for blog audiences in India go for .in extension and likewise for a US-based audience you should choose a .us extension.
- Avoid domain names with hyphens and special characters. Because your audiences may find it difficult to spell and remember.
- Avoid words that are difficult to spell and hard to remember.
Step 3 – Buy A Fast & Reliable Hosting
You should avoid free hosting because in free hosting you do not own the site.
You are given a subdomain. Which will look like “mysite.yourtravelblog.com” – an unprofessional look.
In free hosting space, you do not have access to the control panel. On top of that, the server speed slows down with an increasing number of blogs getting hosted.
There will be NO help and support options. To make things worse, free hosting does not give you the flexibility to design your website and has restricted functions.
A good idea is to buy hosting space from the safe and reliable hosting service provider having quality customer care.
I would recommend you to buy Siteground because of its best customer service. If you are a non techie then you must go with Siteground.
Siteground gives you a safe hosting space on their high-speed servers. Your website loads faster on their solid-state drives (SSD) and free content delivery networks (CDN).
All the shared hosting plans from Siteground are protected from hackers and brute force attacks using HTTP/2 tech and AI security bots.
You get a free SSL “Lets Encrypt” certificate. Plus at all times you are assisted by quality customer support agents.
Step 1 – Go to Siteground website and select “Web Hosting”
By purchasing web hosting you get hosting services for your blog on the Siteground’s shared servers.
Step 2 – Select GrowBig Plan
The “GrowBig Plan” is for new but growing websites. You get enough resources for starting a growing blog, like;
- Hosting more than one website
- Having 20GB of webspace
- At a time, the plan can handle up to 25K visitors
On the other hand, you can host only one website on the “StartUp Plan” having limited resources.
The “GoGeek Plan” has higher resources and is best suited to high traffic websites or to support the portfolio of growing websites.
Step 3 – Register or Enter Domain Name
You should not get a domain name registered from your hosting service provider for the following reason;
- In case of website transfer, you may want to shift the domain registrar also which can be confusing.
- For a portfolio of websites, managing domain at the registrar is better.
- For added security.
Name Cheap is a good option for registering a domain name.
Step 4 – Select Plan Period and Complete Purchase
Here, you can select the hosting plan period from 12, 24 or 36 months. Siteground GrowBig plan has a fixed transparent price of $5.95 per month irrespective of the plan period.
Next, you will require a WordPress setup to see your blog live on the internet.
Check out – How to start a food blog
Step 4 – Technical Steps to Setup Your Travel Blog
Installing wordPress, themes and essential plugins makes your travel blog go live and functional.
You can create beautiful websites by installing WordPress’s free content management system.
You just need to go to the control panel and click on “Install WordPress” in order to create a blog.
Some hosting services provide a pre-installed WordPress, but that entirely depends upon your hosting provider.
WordPress is used to create web pages, posts and add images. Further, WordPress lets you install themes & plugins, to help you customize and change the appearance of your blog.
Themes include layout, style elements and color schemes. They provide the overall look and feel of the website. You should use a SEO optimised wordpress themes for your travel blog which would help you to get more traffic on your blog.
List of Best WordPress Themes for Travel Blog
- Backpack Traveler
- Ocean WP
- Travel Log
However, when starting a blog you should not waste precious time in finalizing the theme.
Instead, you should pick up a free travel theme or any reasonably priced travel theme and focus more on other important things like content & growing your blog.
Make sure that whatever theme you choose, the website should;
- Have a responsive design
- Open with the help of any browser
- Be easy to navigate
- Give a professional look and have a proper structure
Steps to Install a Free Theme
You need to go to the dashboard> “Appearance” menu and select the option theme.
Next, you can select one from the list of themes and click on add new.
Steps to Install a Paid Theme
- Download the theme file from the theme website
- Click on upload theme
- Choose the theme file
- Click on install
In both cases (free or paid theme) after the installation, click on the “Activate” button to make the theme functional.
Plugins give you the much needed additional features. They are helpful for having extended functionality. For example protection against spamming, incorporating SEO features, creating an e-store, and many more.
Further, as you grow you may require advanced plugins like email marketing or affiliate marketing plugins.
In the initial phase, you can start by installing only necessary plugins, the list of which is as under;
- Yoast SEO/Rankmath
- TinyMCE Advanced
- WP Smush
- Shortcodes Ultimate
Also read – How to start lifestyle blog in 2020
Brand collaboration is done to help create awareness and launch new products. Collaboration is a long-time engagement with new businesses.
For example, you can check the travel blog “Orange Wayfarer”;
Brand collaborations can be done with:
- Tourism boards of states and different countries like Indonesia, Nepal, Singapore
- Hospitality partners
- Travel websites
- Auto companies
- Lifestyle brands
Big travel companies, TV channels, Magazines ( Airlines magazine) all require content (written & video) related to travel and destinations.
You can check the travel blog of Shivya, “The Shooting Star”, where she helps brands create content for campaigns;
Through the blog, you can offer travel story writing services or create guides for city/destination.
With time you have gained experience in setting and running a travel blog. You might have learned a lot about blogging, travel writing, editing images, social media management, SEO and photography.
All of which can be taught to aspiring travel bloggers through workshops. For example, you can have a view at the teaching workshop conducted by Anuradha Goyal;
Unlike brand collaboration, a sponsored post is a one-time activity. Where companies look to reach a larger or fresh set of audiences through sponsored content.
Hotels, resorts, restaurants, hospitality, lifestyle brands and airlines look for sponsored posts. New businesses in cameras, travel gear and accessories to work with travel bloggers for new product launches and find new buyers.
An example of a sponsored post is as under;
Make sure before doing a sponsored post that the products are in line with your travel niche.
You might have learned a lot of travel hacks while planning an itinerary, using rewards points and ticket booking. You can provide travel planning services through the blog.
Like what “The Roaming Family” is doing through their blog;
If you have experience in the travel industry or are a professional, then you can offer – Air travel assistance service (concierge).
Affiliate marketing for the travel blogs comes when you refer visitors to travel portals for airline & hotel reservation. For example, Tripadvisor, Agoda and Booking.com. They are the merchants.
When someone makes a reservation or book tickets through your link, then you get paid affiliate commissions.
You can be an affiliate for credit card companies, travel insurance companies and businesses like Airbnb.
For example, you can check the travel resources page of the travel blog “A broken backpack”;
You can also promote travel-related products like cameras, photography equipment and traveling gears on your blog. Affiliate networks for travel blogs are;
Your travel experiences and money-saving hacks can be used to write an ebook. You can also write destination guides or city wise guides and sell them through your blog.
For example, you can find helpful guidebooks on the travel blog “Nomadic Matt”;
Additionally, an ebook will help you build authority.
All your travel photographs can be stocked and sold as stock photos through the blog. Create a gallery with WordPress plugin like “Envira” to showcase your collection.
You can even sell photo prints through your travel blog. For example, you can see the blog “Travel with Neelima”;
The best thing is that you have control over the price and can set your own terms.
If you have learned photography or have gained mastery to click beautiful images while you build your travel blog. Then you can offer online photography courses.
Like what Kristin is doing at her travel blog “Be my Travel Muse”;
If you have experience with certain software or tools like “Preset” and “High Dynamic Range (HDR)” then you can teach others through your course.
Lastly, you can earn from your travel blog through Google AdSense.
An example of display ads is as under;
But I do not recommend you to use Google AdSense for monetization because you do not have any control over the type of ads getting displayed.
Display Ads divert the blog traffic and give an unprofessional look. Further, they are also responsible for your website getting slow.
You can pull traffic to your travel blog in two different ways – Social media and Google.
While your travel blog may take some time to rank on Google. Till then you can get visitors from social channels.
Getting readers and their feedback is important for you to understand user intent, their expectations and establishing connections.
You should explore various social groups and forums to find initial audiences. In the beginning, you need to provide value to the group by helping people and solving their problems.
Then only you can expect things in return. Your primary aim should be to build relationships and not spamming the group with your blog promotion.
You can start engaging with the relevant travel group on Facebook. In order to find a travel group you can search using the term “travel group”. For example, you can check the search below;
You can click open a relevant group where you can find the group details and a link to join the group. For example, below is the screenshot of the “Solo Traveler” group on Facebook.
You can join the group and start engaging.
The email IDs which you have collected are the medium to find engaged audiences. Use it to reach out to like-minded travel-loving people.
Deliver useful personalized content. In return, politely ask them to share information about your blog with others.
While you are promoting on social channels, do not forget to blog posts regularly. You cultivate the habit to be creative when you publish regularly.
Meanwhile, there will be a good number of articles that Google indexes. That helps in getting intent-based organic traffic to your blog.
Travel is a human instinct. A great way to discover natural beauty and connect with like-minded people.
The best part of starting a travel blog is that the niche is closely related to people, places and stories about them. You just need to have the first-hand experience to share with the world.
Learning Resources/ Further Readings