So, you like to travel and you have an engaging way of writing. Plus you have an interesting way of seeing the world that others might find interesting as well. Then, why not start a travel blog?
The thing about a travel blog is that you are one of several thousand out there. And if you want to make a few dollars from your efforts, then the competition gets stiff. Why should someone buy their travel through you as opposed to simply going to any number of travel sites and book that way?
First Step: Think about why you want to write a blog
We started our travel blog simply as a way to keep track of where we’ve been and the detail about hotels, how we travelled and other detail. It’s amazing how much a person forgets when they get home.
It’s a lot of work to set up a website, sign up with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. and then to develop new content and continuously engage with all of your social media. You need to find an efficient way to do everything or you’ll end up online full time and not enjoying the travel that sparked the whole idea in the first place.
Okay, so you’re determined to give it a shot. First things first. Create an engaging name for your website. The name should in some way reflect the theme of your writing. We like history and beaches, so came up with Cobblestones and Beaches. It’s a bit long for Twitter and Instagram so we had to shorten it, but it works for us. Then try to think of a niche that you are particularly interested in. That’s harder than it sounds. I think every niche has been taken, or it seems that way. For us, it’s all about sharing some of the interesting history of a place or giving a few hints or advice for each place we visit.
Second Step: Find a good host for your website
The next step is to find a host for your website, and confirm your chosen domain name is available. There are a number of companies that make this side of things very easy.
We recommend HostGator. It’s a great service, not expensive and you can rely on their customer service should you run into issues. Right now they are offering a reductions on web hosting and domains. You can click through to them using this link (We get a small commission at no cost to you).
Third Step: Get started on WordPress
I’ve used WordPress for several years to create several websites. I find it the easiest and fastest way to get started on your blog journey. We use WordPress for www.cobblestonesandbeaches.com. You can install WordPress through HostGator or HostPapa, or simply go to WordPress and get going from there.
WordPress allows you to choose themed layouts. We tried a theme for this site, but found after a few months that it wasn’t working well for what we wanted to do, so we switched themes. There are hundreds to choose from – some you pay for, but most are free. While apprehensive about loss of content, WordPress made the switch, and we were able to carry on without much fuss.
WordPress allows a number of plugins that add to the operation of your site. You’ll want SEO management and security for starters. Here’s what we use. All are free, but there are premium versions you can upgrade to at a small cost:
Feed Them Social – For linking to your social networks
Jetpack – for analytics
Wordfence – for security
Yoast SEO – to guide you through optimum SEO or Search Engine Optimization
SEO is always shifting. You want to be found on the Internet, and SEO will help you get noticed.
Fourth Step: Creating your content
You’re travelled a lot, you’ve got some great stories to tell and your photos are amazing. Great. Now comes the fun part, and that’s creating those stories for your blog. It can be a little daunting, but the goal is to create a lot of great content. Someone who comes to your site will be underwhelmed if you have one story there. But that’s where you start, and then keep adding content, advice, photos, links and the like to give visitors an interesting experience. You can try setting a goal, say two posts a week. I don’t work that way, so I add when the muse strikes. We post most often on our social media sites, and link back to the website as often as we can.
Fifth Step: Set up your social media
While your website is home base, your social media are like outposts that send readers back to your website. You can post to social media first and link back to the website, or write a longer blog piece on the website, and feed that out to your social media. Both ways work nicely and work to support each other. We use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, although we know others who are using Pinterest and who have also using video elements to try to increase readership. You can have a look at our sites by clicking on the above links.
Sixth Step: Consider attending a blog workshop or program
I always appreciate a helping hand. The blogging world is too big and complicated to try to figure out on your own, so I’m a member of Matt Kepnes’s Superstar blogging program. He’s one of the biggest travel bloggers out there, but his course covers all the bases, so it’s a great place to start.
Seventh Step: Monetizing your blog
This one is a tough one. Do you sign up with affiliate marketers right away, or do you wait until you have an audience? We signed up right away, thinking that we could start earning revenue immediately. You can see our partners along the right side of the blog. We chose these partners because we use them regularly, so have experience with their service. We trust them, so feel you can too.
We are using CJ Affiliates for most of our partners, but also signed with Amazon and HostGator. Revenue is tied directly to the number of visitors you have. Your revenue will build slowly at first, based on the number of visitors coming to your website. Only a handful of people will buy through you, so if you have, say, 50 people coming to your site every week or month in the beginning, not many of them will buy through you. It’s probably best to wait with monetizing (and there are dozens of ways of doing this!) until you have decent visitor numbers.
There are whole books written on how to start a blog, such as this one on Amazon, but these are the basic steps. Now, go out, build your site, post your content and by all means, have fun. It’s a long and never-ending road, so best read everything you can about blogging. It’s going to be a worthwhile ride.