How to Start a Travel Blog (and Make Money)

Had I known that I could make money from travel blogging earlier, I would have definitely done it sooner. Relate much?

Let me guess. You love to travel — you live for it. Your insatiable wanderlust and the desire to earn from your passion led you here. I totally get you.

The question is, are you ready to professionalize your passion and commit to a travel blog? It won’t be easy, but blogging about travel will come naturally if you love to travel in the first place.

Travel blogger

From the get-go, let me tell you that what makes it seem complicated is the slew of technical terms and tools you’ll encounter. Beginners, especially, are daunted by it all: SEO, website hosting, plugins, affiliates, and ads. But we’re here to make all of that simpler.

Here’s how to start a travel blog with a step-by-step (and dummy-proof!) guide that will walk you through the basics. Read till the end for easily digestible steps and tidbits you can actually follow and put to good use — no fluff and fillers. Just information that will help you really understand what goes into building a travel blog.

In the spirit of keeping things simple and practical, let’s get you started.

What’s a travel blog?

I meant it when I said this guide on how to start a travel blog will be dummy-proof… errr, I mean, beginner-friendly. A disclaimer: Should you be better acquainted with the wondrous world of blogging, feel free to skip all the definitions in this guide and go straight to the steps

In case you already need a refresher, a travel blog is a personalized website that offers insights, stories, and multimedia about travel. Most travel blogs offer a mix of true-to-life travel experiences and research-heavy content. Your travel blog can carry anything under the sun. It’s your sweet piece of the Internet!

Fuss-free steps: How to start a travel blog

1. Settle on a travel blog name

Choosing a domain name

You’ve finally decided to create a travel blog — congratulations! What now? Of course, you have to name your travel blog. With your travel blog name follows your travel blog’s future personality: how it looks, what kind of content it will carry, the voice it will take on, your logo, etc.

If you’re short on travel blog name ideas, I highly recommend a no-nonsense travel blog name generator like namify or Business Name Generator. Some, like this one, make the process more amusing by asking you to describe yourself or the blog you have in mind. Feel free to go with a blog name generator like that if you need more ideas. Generally, inspiration comes from exposure; and the only way to do that is to read other blogs, too.

Tip: Don’t forget to check if your travel blog handle is also available on social media platforms. That way, your brand takes shape from the first step alone. Some travel blog name generators will also tell you if your potential travel blog name has an available website domain. That smoothly introduces you to the step which is…

2. Buy your domain

Girl buy domain

Taken seriously and put to good use, creating a travel blog is like starting an investment. You invest in yourself and your ability to make money out of your content. That said, early on, you should treat content creation as if you were potentially starting a travel blog business. 

Of course, to start a business, you will need to shell out capital. Travel blog writing mostly depends on, well, travel experiences — and all those trips will naturally cost money.

But for a travel blog (or any blog, really), serious business starts when you finally purchase a domain that matches your chosen blog name. Domain prices start at around $10 per year. You can buy it on Namecheap.

Just like that, technical terms swoop in so let’s clear the air before moving on to the next step.

What is a domain?

Simply put, a domain is a unique and officially registered name that secures your blog’s virtual identity. It’s your blog’s name and URL; it’s what comes before “.com”, “.net”, or “.org” — you get my drift. But what’s in this name and why is it important in creating a travel blog (or again, any blog)?

Much like keyphrases or keywords, a domain is what future visitors of your website will most likely type in any browser to find your travel blog. It’s your web address. No two websites share the same domain, which allows you to build and bank on your blog and brand. A domain name marks your territory.

The rule of thumb is: No domain, no blog. You cannot make a website without a domain. You can, however, buy a domain and save it for later use. In many ways, buying your domain is actually the first legit step of starting a travel blog.

3. Pay for a reliable web host

Web hosting

But buying a domain doesn’t mean that you already have a website. Remember, it’s just your blog name or blog address. You will need to pay for the virtual space that your blog will occupy on the web, too. You have to buy your blog a “house”, if you will.

Hence, the next step: Find a reliable web host and pay for web hosting. Aha! Another technical term, so here I come with foolproof definitions.

What is a web host?

Web hosts are companies that contain and maintain the digital files that make up your website. Think of it this way: If your website was a person and its domain was its name, the virtual space it occupies is the home you rent for it; and your landlord (or landlady) would be the web host. I hope that made sense because it did the first time it was explained to me this way!

Without web hosting, your blog wouldn’t have a virtual space to occupy in the first place. Here’s GoDaddy’s take on domains and web hosting for added reference.

How do I choose the best one?

That’s all settled, but how do you select the web host that’s ideal for you? Research. Web hosts usually come up with packages to entice would-be clients. For example, some web hosts actually throw in your registered domain for free.

It’s a matter of weighing the pros and cons of each because what works for one blogger might not work for others. It’s a trial-and-error process, really.

If you ask me, however, HeyExplorer has been running quite seamlessly through A2 Hosting. A few things I love about it:

  • 24/7 customer support you can count on.
  • unlimited SSD space for more files (yay!).
  • automatic backups for worry-free use.
  • optimised speed for WordPress users (helped improve our SEO rankings).
  • starting subscription for as low as $2.99 per month, depending on current deals.

Do with that information what you will, or scour the web for more web hosting reviews. As a fun application of what we’ve learned so far, perhaps your keyphrase for Googling this can be: “best web host for travel blog.”

4. Install WordPress

Install WordPress

We’re almost at the end of this step-by-step guide and it’s bound to get easier from here so hang on there! The next step is easy and best of all, FREE. Install WordPress, a go-to content management system (CMS) or software.

There are many content management systems out there that will hold your fort online. They’ll allow you to design your layout, schedule your content, edit and revise as you please — basically give you the creative and managerial freedom to build your travel blog. So why do we like WordPress?

Because it’s free and it’s open-source, which means you can play with the codes, themes, and plugins that will make your website one-of-a-kind! It’s definitely more customizable than most CMSs.

In case you were wondering, WordPress is used by a wide blogger spectrum. You’ll see newbies, business owners, and even official media publications on WordPress! Neil Patel affirms that WordPress users publish a whopping 2 million blog posts a day. That’s over 200 posts published in the last four seconds.

You can imagine how many bloggers are on WordPress. That’s plus one, if you sign up and install it today.

5. Pick out a WordPress theme

WordPress theme

Just in the previous step, we were talking about how truly customizable WordPress (WP) is. This is where you first get to test it out. First things first; what’s a WordPress theme?

What is a WordPress theme?

A WordPress theme is a collection of digital files (think codes, images, design elements, and the like) that determines your website’s overall look appearance and behavior.

Among the many tips for new travel bloggers, I’d like you to keep this in mind: Know what you want out of your website. The sooner you map out the direction you want to pursue, the sooner you’ll get to make firm decisions such as your WP theme.

Pick a WordPress theme that will suit your website best. This is what determines how your website will look to future visitors. The WordPress theme also establishes the user experience of your travel blog, so make sure to keep functionality in mind.

Which WordPress theme should I choose?

Again, it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve through your website. Know what you want and know what kind of audience you’re trying to bait.

Always put yourself in the shoes of people who are actually clicking on your website. What will make them want to stay? What will make them want to scroll longer? These are questions you must answer when building a travel blog.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Go for a premium theme. While you can explore free themes to test your website out, all serious bloggers know that they’ll eventually have to upgrade to premium for the flexibility and added features that will help their websites grow. 
  • There are many theme marketplaces from where you may source your themes. You can explore on your own; check out theme marketplaces such as Elegant Themes Divi (one of the longest-running theme marketplaces), Themify (popular with business blogs), and WordPress.org (if you’re bent on trying a free theme first).

If you like the look and feel of Hey Explorer, though, we recommend StudioPress. They’re known for themes that aren’t clunky. StudioPress themes are SEO optimisation-ready, secure, and user-friendly on both the front- and backends. The company also is reliable in terms of customer service.

6. Set up Google tools

Google Search Console

You already know how to get your travel blog up and running; but if you’re out to make money from it, you better know how to monitor your website’s performance and boost its reach later on. How exactly do you do that?

There are many third-party websites and performance analytics services out there. To save you the trouble of having to adjust to different ecosystems, go with ever-reliable Google tools.

They get the job done, there are tons of tutorials about them online, and they’re FREE! Here are a few Google tools you’ll have to get acquainted with right off the bat:

  • Google Analytics – for monitoring your website’s performance in terms of overall traffic (page views, audience demographics, to name a few).
  • Google Keyword Planner – a nifty program that will help you choose the best SEO keywords so that your content has higher chances of ranking on the Google search engine.

There are more Google tools that will make your travel blog journey a smoother one. Neil Patel discusses more of them here.

What is SEO?

Spelled out, SEO means Search Engine Optimisation. According to SEO expert Neil Patel, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a certain keyword.”

SEO keywords or keyphrases are what Internet users type in browsers (such as Google) to land on the results page they were targetting.

7. Choose helpful WordPress plugins

WordPress plugins

Now that you’ve got the foundations of a travel blog laid down for your very own website, it’s time to step it up a notch! What other add-ons will help?

What is a WordPress plugin?

Get the ball rolling by installing a couple of WordPress plugins, which are basically software that add more functionality to your website.

Think of WordPress plugins as the applications you’d install on your smartphone to customize its features and extend some of its built-in or main functions. The same way you’d want to beef up your phones with really useful apps, you’ll want to make your brand new travel blog a more high-functioning one by adding some WordPress plugins to your website.

Which WordPress plugins should I pick?

This is really up to you; it depends on what functions you’d like to add to your travel website. Hey Explorer finds these WordPress plugins extremely helpful:

  • Antispam Bee – for removing spam
  • Easy Table of Contents – for inserting the table of contents portion on Hey Explorer
  • Yoast SEO – for assessing the SEO health of your articles or posts
  • Editorial Calendar – nifty if you need extra help organizing your, well, editorial calendar
  • Pretty Links – if you’re starting to delve into affiliate marketing and you need to make long links (eyesore!) more presentable.

Fuss-free steps: How to earn from your travel blog

People celebrating

If you paid close attention to the previous items, you’ll notice that I was slowly introducing you to terms, tools, and concepts that would help you make money from your travel blog. Who doesn’t want to do that, right?

But this is getting pretty long, and we’re sure you’re also itching to get started on your travel website. So before we end this primer, keep in mind these basic tips for turning your travel blog into an income source.

  • Master the art of SEO. We cannot stress enough how great SEO can effortlessly place your content on the radar of so many online dwellers.
  • Work on your writing and photos, too. SEO and your website’s user-friendliness will initially bait your readers, but what will convince them to stay (and keep coming back) is ultimately, the quality of the content you publish. Remember, the online audience’s attention span is unforgiving — you’re always just a click away from “close” or “exit.” Make it worth their while!
  • Read, read, read! Keep an eye out for the top travel blogs out there and analyze what these highly-rated travel bloggers are doing right. There are many blogs about traveling out there that are worth looking into.
  • Do your own research on how to monetize a blog with online tools. We’ve already mentioned the power of SEO as well as the wondrous world of Google Ads; these should point you in the right direction.
  • Two words: Affiliate marketing. While some travel blogs earn through partnerships and campaigns, most will swear by the power of affiliate marketing. Tying up with brands that offer services and products relevant to your audience will help you earn passively through commissions, giving you the freedom to focus on boosting your travel blogging efforts.
  • Combine the three previous items and voilĂ  — we enter into the territory of travel blogger income reports. Yes, these income reports are a thing and they offer neophytes pretty solid insights into what went right for top travel blogs and what could have been done better, all with the numbers to back these facts up.

Get started on your travel blogging journey!

Holding travel photos

At the end of the day, creating a travel blog should be fun, so don’t stress yourself too much about the technicalities of it all. There will be a lot of time for you to improve your travel website and figure out if blogging for money is for you.

Always circle back to why you wanted to start in the first place: To inspire, to tell stories, to add value to others’ travel experiences, and to earn extra income along the way. Good luck!

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