How To Start A Travel Blog – A Step-By-Step Guide
Starting a travel blog can be a daunting task and seem a little out of your wheelhouse. You are not alone. However, it’s not as complicated as one might think. If you want to learn how to start a travel blog and begin your journey, then this guide is for you.
I have put together a no-nonsense approach to creating a travel blog from start to finish in 6 easy steps. It’s really not hard and I know you can do it, so let’s get started!
Things You’ll Need
- Computer with internet access
- A few bucks, but not much
- A little patience and a positive attitude
Step 1: Choose A Domain Name
There are no rules set in stone when it comes to picking a domain name. However, there are some basic key ideas to consider, so you make sure to pick one that you’ll be happy with longterm, and will make the most sense for your website.
Go For The Dot Com. When it comes to web addresses, the general public automatically associates “.COM” with most domain names. It’s kind of the market leader, so to speak, when it comes to domain name extensions. Try to get the “.COM” extension, if at all possible. If you absolutely can’t, the next best one is “.NET”
Less Is More. Try to keep your domain name short, by using 1-3 words if possible. It’ll be easier to both say and type.
Let It Paint The Picture. If at all possible, try to let your domain name describe what your site is about. I know, I know. Mine doesn’t really do that. Practice what you preach, right? It’s too late for my name, but you can do better than me.
Make It Easy. If your domain name is part English and part Spanish or uses some sort of slang with an uncommon spelling, move on and pick something that people can remember. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Spanish or slang, but let’s be honest here…people may have a hard time remembering that. Which could in-turn cause them to not find your site.
Step 2: Sign Up At Hostgator
Hostgator will help you register your new domain name and provide web hosting for your site. Hosting is how your site gets live on the internet and stays on there.
There are many web hosting companies out there, but I think Hostgator is the most reliable in terms of outages and has the best, friendliest, and most helpful customer support team.
Just go with the Starter Plan. It may be the most basic Hostgator plan, but it’s just right for new blogs. Wait until you have lots of followers and visitors before you think about upgrading.
Once you’ve picked your plan. You’ll be redirected to the order page. Simply type in your chosen domain name. If it’s already taken, Hostgator will tell you and unfortunately you’ll have to pick a new one. This happens sometimes, so if it does, don’t get discouraged. Simply modify yours or pick a new one altogether.
Choose how long you want your billing cycle to be. If you choose 1-year or more, you’ll enjoy some nice savings.
Step 3: Setup your site.
Congratulations! You’ve made a huge step. Now, let’s get your site set up.
Once you’ve clicked the BIG yellow button, you’ll be taken to your new blog’s WordPress Manager page.
Here you will see your new domain name and a settings icon. Click the settings icon and you’ll be redirected to your new WordPress dashboard.
Step 4: Install your theme.
Hover over Appearance and click Themes to go to the themes page.
Here you can pick a free theme that WordPress offers or you can keep the default standard theme.
Premium Themes And Why You May Need One
Unless you’re just blogging for your friends and family or simply want to document your travels for your own personal enjoyment, a premium theme will allow you to move forward and solidify your role as a blogger who’s here to stay.
Yes, premium themes cost a bit of money, but offer much more customization, allow your blog to be unique in its design, and will give you the flexibility for your blog to function the way you want. I highly recommend investing in a premium theme.
With a premium theme, you will almost always have a support forum to access, where you can get all the help you need when learning how to customize your new blog. This is a great way to get familiar with HTML, CSS, and PHP, without fear of being left stranded when and if something goes wrong.
You can get a nice theme from $25 and up. My favorite place to shop for premium themes is StudioPress, as their themes are high quality and run on the Genesis framework. Their themes also tend to be a little more SEO friendly (very important), look more polished, and have cooler designs.
As my dad would say, “if you really want to get jiggy with it,” you can hire someone to make you a completely custom theme. Keep in mind, this is if you really want a totally custom look and have the money to hire a good designer/developer. Plan on spending anywhere from $1,500-$5,000 to get a good designer/developer that can build a solid theme that won’t give you problems down the road.
In web development, you get what you pay for. I recommend using 99designs to find someone who is trustworthy in their skillset and can help you get your custom theme off the ground.
Step 5: Install Your Plugins
There is literally a plugin for almost everything you can think of for adding elements to your WordPress site. Plugins allow you to add elements to your site for better functionality, customization, and more.
To install your plugins, hover over Plugins and click on Add New.
Here you can search for your plugins and follow the prompts to install and activate them. Below is a list of my must-have plugins for any blog.
Akismet: Spammers are everywhere and just how they will flood your email inbox with junk, they will also try to leave spammy comments on your new blog. Akismet works to fight these spam invaders, so you won’t get flooded with their comments. WordPress automatically comes installed with this plugin. All you have to do is activate it and register.
BackWPup: This plugin will save the life of your blog if anything ever happens. After putting in hours upon hours of hard work, writing posts, building pages, and creating content, you’d be out of your mind to not conduct regular backups of your site. BackWPup does a beautiful job of keeping your site backed up, even giving you the ability to schedule backups, so you don’t have to think about it.
Google Analytics for WordPress: Like the old saying “knowledge is power,” Google Analytics will arm you with knowing who your readers are, where they’re coming from, how they got to your site, and what content they are viewing the most.
Relevanssi: This amazing plugin will give your site search functionality, allowing your readers to easily find topics by keyword search. Many premium already come with search functionality built-in, but most free WordPress themes do not.
Sumo: This awesome little plugin is sure to leave you satisfied, giving you the tools you need to increase traffic, build followers, and allow you to track all your success. Many claim it’s the best social plugin on the web!
W3 Total Cache: Allowing your site pages to load much faster, this plugin works by creating saved copies of your site, so WordPress doesn’t have to generate them each time your site gets a new visitor. This will lessen the load of your hosting server for better performance.
Yoast SEO: Touted as the best SEO plugin available, Yoast will allow you to easily create custom post titles, meta tags, and descriptions for your content. Search love the way Yoast provides and easy to follow map for your site and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better.
Step 6: Build Your Main Pages
About Page: Maybe the most important page on your site. This is where you will let people know what you’re all about. Tell them your background, what your site is all about and how you can help them.
Contact Page: You’ll find that giving people a way to reach you will create a sense of trust. If they know you’re a real person who can be contacted, they’ll be more apt to reading your blog and taking your advice. Be sure to be clear on what kinds of messages you may not respond to. For example, solicitations from web designers, requests for free products that you would normally charge for, your girlfriend’s phone number, etc.
Copyright Page: This page lets people know that the content on your site is yours and yours only. Yes, people can read through it, they can share it, they can utilize your expert advice, but they cannot steal it and publish it as their own. You can find a host of example copyright pages online.
Congratulations On Your New Site
Well, that about sums up getting your new WordPress site all set up. There are a ton of other things you can do with your blog, like installing social media buttons, email signup forms, adding images and more. The sky is the limit!
How To Make Money With Your Travel Blog
If you want to take your blog to the next level, you can begin taking the steps to monetizing it to earn real dollars. Having a travel blog that makes money can be the most exciting way to earn a living and can be a total dream job!
Making money with your blog is very attainable, but there are many tips and tricks that you’ll need to learn to make it happen. The best way to get started is by signing up for a blogging course. This will take you behind the scenes for a detailed and in-depth look at how to take the right approach and steps to making money with your new blog.
Click here for what I think is the best course to learn all you need to know about navigating the blogging waters to success. This course is packed with all you need to know, including real-life case studies, tech support, expert interviews with already successful bloggers, monthly webinars, proven tips and tricks, and much more.
It’s a complete step-by-step guide to getting your blog to make money as fast as possible. All the best!