Have you been thinking about starting a travel blog? Starting your own blog is like having your own slice of the internet – where you can pursue your passion, and hopefully down the track, turn it into your career. Of course, if travel is your main love in life, then turn your life into one of adventure and wanderlust.
Many people will tell you that it’s too late to start a successful blog of any kind, because those who got in first are way more successful and prolific than you will ever be. This is the biggest lie out there in the blogging world. When we started our blog just under a year ago, we read these exact words, leaving us a little hesitant to start our own travel blog. However, we ignored these rumours, defined our unique niche and here we are, with no regrets whatsoever!
So if you’re wanting to start a travel blog here are our top tips before starting a travel blog to help you get on the right track:
Blogging takes time and effort
This might seem obvious, but I can’t emphasise this enough. If you’re hoping to create a profitable travel blog and/or use your blog to support your travels, you’re going to have to dedicate A LOT of time and effort into it. This means, basically having it as a full-time job. Sorry!
Blogging requires so many skills, that most people will have to learn from scratch. From web design, coding, photography skills, writing skills, social media knowledge and graphic design to name just a few. Before starting our blog, we knew nothing about blogging, all we had was a bit of photography skills and social media knowledge. It took a good half a year to even grasp web design, and we’re still learning new things every day. It’s not easy, and you have to be dedicated to putting in the time and effort.
But don’t be scared off from this! Blogging can be exhausting. But it can also be a huge joy. The ability to write about something you love and to be able to share that passion with the world is incredibly rewarding, if you’re willing to put in the work.
Blogging is not free
If you want your own domain (e.g. .com or .net), then you will need to purchase it. You’ll also want to start a self-hosted blog by buying hosting like Bluehost, domain name and installing WordPress. All of it will cost you around $50-150/year. If you want a cool and professional blog design buying a paid theme is a must, and we highly recommend this as it gives you a whole lot more flexibility, and looks a lot more professional and personalised.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to starting a travel blog, using the exact techniques that we used to create a successful and profitable travel blog!
Get social first
Something that a lot of new bloggers fail to implement, is that your success in the blogging world is often largely dependent on the alliances and friends that you form. If you are going to start a blog, it’s a good idea to start making connections with the big blogs and bloggers in your niche and in other niches as soon as you can. It’s as easy as mentioning, commenting or retweeting their posts, they’ll soon notice you, and you can start to have genuine conversations with them.
Before you can do all this though, you’ll need to set up on a few social media platforms. I highly encourage you to stick to maybe 3/4 maximum when you start off, and focusing on them. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter and the most common and recommended to use to promote your blog and posts. So get working on them and start to build a strong following, before you take your new blog/website live.
A good blog design is key
Your blog design can influence how readers and followers perceive your content. It can seriously make or break the first impression. If your blog is ugly and hard to read, then sure nobody will read it, and you’ll just be another fish in the blogging pond.
Google’s algorithms are prioritising mobile-friendly sites. Which means, the more user friendly and appealing your blog the higher it will rank on Google’s search engine, which is SO important. Make your blog mobile-friendly and responsive to ensure you create a pleasurable reading experience for your audience.
Don’t expect for your blog to instantly pay for your travels
As I previously mentioned, blogging is hard work and it won’t pay off overnight. Neither will it pay for your travels in the first year or so. Besides, you shouldn’t be starting a travel blog purely so that it pays for your travels and you receive complimentary accommodation in places. You should be blogging as it’s your passion and you love sharing and inspiring others.
Showing your passion and love for travel writing will pay off, and the profits will follow accordingly.
It’s true in the blogging world that consistency is the key to success. Having a consistent flow of blog posts going live, Instagram posts published and Facebook posts going live is key. Over time your readers will know when you post and they will be anticipating this. If you post sporadically, every other week or every day, then they may become disinterested and find new bloggers to read, which you do not want.
We try to be as consistent as possible by posting new blog posts every 3 days, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts every day. We also pin around 50 new pins everyday to our Pinterest page.
Buy the right equipment
If you’re serious about travel blogging, having the right equipment will pay off big time. Your readers don’t want to see blurry or pixelated images, having clean and crisp photos and videos will see a massive increase in your blogging traffic and loyal readers, which can turn into subscribers.
If you’re wanting to know what we use, scroll down to gear/photography on our travel recommendations page!
Think about your blogging name before you start a blog
This is the very first thing you will need to do before starting a WordPress travel blog on Bluehost. You must think about what you want your domain/travel blog name to be. This can be really tough, and we suggest you give some serious thought to this, as after all this is what your followers are going to associate you as.
- Keep it unique
- Avoid numbers and punctuation marks
- Don’t narrow your domain name too much
- Make it catchy and memorable
Get a place to store blog post ideas, targets and goals
As travel bloggers, we’d honestly be lost if we didn’t have a platform where we can store all our blog post ideas, targets and goals. Not only does it remind us of our ideas so we don’t forget them, but it also motivates us to reach our targets and goals for the future!
We use Trello, its a completely free online calendar that can be used for pretty much anything and it’s super flexible to fit your needs. We’ve made several lists including: To do list, ideas, goals, awards and collaborations and our affiliate partners.
Know who you’re targeting and be unique
Perhaps the most critical question to ask yourself before beginning your blogging journey is who exactly are you writing to? Be as specific as possible. Maybe budget backpackers? or luxury family travel? Make sure to define your niche early on and stick to it. You don’t want to be writing about luxury family travel for a year then switch to solo budget travel, as most likely all your loyal readers will leave.
However, do reach beyond your target audience too, you may have a section on photography or blogging, this will attract a different audience to your other side of your travel blog. Do remember to always be unique and don’t copy other bloggers previous work, as karma will come back and haunt you! 😉
Join Facebook groups for inspiration and meeting like-minded bloggers
There’s no stronger or important thing to utilise than creating friendships and connections with other travel bloggers. It can lead to great things, including collaborations, advertising deals, sharing tips, and not to mention wonderful friendships from awesome people. There are a number of great Facebook Groups we personally recommend and use all the time:
- We Travel We Blog
- Travel Blog Chronicles
- Travel Bloggers Around The World
- Under 1000 Club
- Blog + Biz BFFS
Your email list is where your loyal readers lie
“The money is in the list” – It couldn’t be more true.
Here’s the catch.
If you’re running an online business, you need a way to stay in touch with you prospects and customers. The same goes with blogging. And since theoretically, every single person online owns an email address, building an email list is one of the most effective ways for doing it. Your most loyal readers and followers will stem from your email list, after all they were confident enough to give you their email address!
Bribe your readers, give them something valuable (an ebook, a packing list, a challenge etc) in exchange for their email address. Your blog traffic can drop and advertisers can come and go. But if you look after your list carefully – it’s forever yours.
Create a free opt-in when readers subscribe
There are countless reasons why you create a free opt-in for when readers subscribe. Here are just a few:
- It adds more value to your brand
- Not only does it provide free, valuable content to your readers, that they might want, but it also sets your brand apart and makes your email list more memorable. Give your readers something too good to resist. We’ve create a Free E-Book – The Backpackers Guide to Travelling in Luxury. Which has tips on how to find cheap accommodation, flights, the best loyalty programs to join and much more!
- It will substantially grow your email list
- You may be thinking, really? Does it actually work?! Hell yeah! When we released our free opt-in we saw an increase of 200% in our subscribers in the first month! No joke!
- These are your most loyal readers and the most likely to buy products/go through your affiliate links
- Gaining more subscribers, theoretically will mean you’ll have a higher chance to start earning an income from your blog! Just don’t bombard them with emails telling them to buy this and that, as they will get sick and unsubscribe.
Have content lined up before your blog goes live
By this I mean at least 15-20, probably more before launching your blog. This way you can automate everything and take pictures/edit everything after the post is typed up, and it’s a lot less stressful! Try to stay on top of it too, so always keep writing! I suggest posting every 3-4 days so you’re readers aren’t get bombarded with new posts and they’re not left waiting for weeks on end for a new post to go live.
Sign up for several affiliate partners that you love and use regularly
Last but certainly not least, sign up for affiliates of companies that you love and use.
When most people ask us how we successfully monetise our travel blog, our first and only recommendation is the awesome online course: Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the face behind the most amazing and worthwhile blogging course you’ll take – Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing. It pretty much helps you do exactly what the title says, maximise your affiliate marketing revenue. You’ll discover how to guide readers towards your affiliate links, manage affiliate programs effectively, and do this all legally. Because of this we’ve become successful affiliates of various companies including: Skyscanner, World Nomads, Momondo, Etihad to name just a few. We now know how to effectively implement them into our site, and earn a decent income from it.
Michelle earns over US$50,000 a month through affiliate marketing and she shares her exact strategies and tips in this very informative online course. If you’re a blogger (even if you’re a new blogger!), then you NEED this course. It has without a doubt helped us travel the world whilst earning a solid income from travel blogging, without enrolling in this course we would be no where near as profitable as we currently are.
Another added benefit is her private Facebook Group, an excellent resource for creating friendships, blogging queries, affiliate marketing queries and Michelle will answer any questions you may have!
I’ll stop now, I promise! But seriously, this course is awesome and if you want to profit and use affiliate links effectively this course is a no brainer!
READ NEXT: HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL TRAVEL BLOG
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