I often get asked how to start a travel blog. You see, starting a travel blog is one of the many ways that we make money as a full time traveling family.
Many of the people we meet along our traveling journey ask for advice on starting a travel blog. So I wanted to take the time to share my best tips on how to start a blog to help anyone out that wants to embark upon this travel blogging journey like we did.
I wanted to become a travel blogger before we started traveling full time. Yet I didn't even know where to start! I had no idea that I needed a domain name, host, WordPress, theme, plugins, and more. It seemed a bit overwhelming, but I just wanted a great resource to help me know what I needed to get going.
I found out that once I made the decision, starting a blog can be a fairly quick process.
However, there was one thing that I got stuck on. I took quiet a bit of time just to figure out a NAME! You see, there are so many travel blog names that are already amazing, I didn't think I could compete with that!
Please, do not stress too much. You got this.
First, you need to come up with a compelling name. One that will represent you, your personality, and the niche you want to write about. For example, don't use the word 'family' in your blog if you plan to only write about solo travel. Or, avoid using the term 'rv' unless your goal is to be one of the RV travel blogs and keep your focus there.
Second, you need to search for a domain that is available. I highly recommend that if you are US based, or plan to write to a US audience, to try to stay with a .com domain.
Tony and I exclusively use Namecheap anytime that we are searching for new domains....it can really become addictive and fun! Oh, and not as expensive as one might think.
You just search for your domain and see if the .com is available. This is where it may take you a few tries to find a domain that IS available that is close to the name you want.
When you find it, grab and move forward!
Once you have a domain name, you will need to sign up for hosting.
What in the world is 'hosting'? Well think of it this way. Your website's data and photos need to be stored somewhere on the internet.
I highly recommend using Siteground as your website host. They have fantastic customer service support, very affordable rates, and even offer FREE hosting transfer support.
I really like that Siteground has 3 hosting options for all types of websites.
If you are are just starting out or have a smaller blog already, you will get by great with the StartUp Plan at $3.95 per month. This is what I use and it's been fantastic.
Or, if you are finding that you already get 25,000-75,000 monthly visits to your website, than the GrowBig plan at $5.95 per month is a fantastic option because it offers Super Caching to help your website move even faster.
Or, if you have an e-commerce website or yours is very large, than the GoGeek Plan at $11.95 a month would work great for you.
If you are planning on making money from a blog, then you NEED to used a self-hosted WordPress account. (WordPresss.org.)
Honestly, if think you will EVER want to take your blog seriously, then please begin by using WordPress as your platform. Not Blogspot, Weebly, or Blogger.
It is the most popular platform used online for bloggers. Once you have it installed, you can use Google Analytics, install your own plugins, and eventually add in advertisements or affiliates and have your own control over your website.
Siteground makes it very simple to set-up your WordPress account with a simple 1-click.
WordPress comes with many free themes to begin with. If you are interested in taking it slow and learning a bit as you go, then starting with a free theme would be fine.
However, if you are wondering how to start a successful blog, then I highly recommend you purchase a professional blog theme.
You will NEED to invest in your blog to earn an income.
I highly recommend Thrive Themes. The cost of a new theme is usually around $50 and totally worth it.
Let's Travel Family is run on a Thrive Theme and I've been very happy with it. Their customer support has been fantastic and the speed in which my website runs is great!
There are few plugins that you will need to begin, just be sure not to get TOO many plugins to begin with, as some can really slow down your load speed.
However, you DO need a few plugins to start out with. I suggest starting with:
This plugin is simple and helps keep out spam to a minimum. It is free and simple to use.
Monster Insights is helpful in that you can put the code for Google Analytics for WordPress easily onto your WordPress website without knowing any code.
Yoast is very helpful SEO tool. It is great when writing your blogposts and updating your website content to be sure that you are using SEO correctly.
I have found the free version of this tool to be very user friendly without any issues. It allows people to share my posts onto social media directly from my blog.
This plugin reduces and resizes images to help keep your website loading quickly and not bogged down by large photos and images.
This plugin is by far the BEST $50 I ever spent for my blog. It's a drag and drop editor for WordPress that allows me to make great looking blog posts without every needing to know or use code. It's SO user friendly, you really need to check it out here.
Once you begin to build your website, I suggest doing regular backups of your website. I highly recommend using Duplicator Pro from Snapcreek. It is a great plugin for backup.
Even if you do not plan to use all the social media platforms right away, it's best to at least set them up. This way, you can have a username and URL that is similar to your domain.
Sign up for Milo Tree pop-up to help encourage your readers to follow you on your social media platforms. It's super simple and takes about 2 minutes to set up.
Pinterest has been an amazing source of traffic to my website!
(follow me on Pinterest here)
It has worked like a search engine for me, and has brought quite a bit of 'traffic' to my blog. Pinterest has been so beneficial that if you are wondering which social media platform to begin digging into first, I would choose Pinterest.
When I started really using Pinterest, I began by manually pinning images to my boards and to group boards each day of the week. I spent hours and hours on it, but I did begin to see it pay off. I began to see more users on my website every day from Pinterest.
Yet I wondered if there was a better way.
Then I watched a Facebook Live by the marketing director of Tailwind and the marketing director of Pinterest. They affirmed to all their listeners that using Tailwind will NOT bring search traffic down compared to manually pinning (which is what many other bloggers thought....hence the reason I was still manually pinning!)
So, I jumped in and signed up with Tailwind.
I went from 15 hours a week working hard on Pinterest to about 1-3 hours a week scheduling all of my pins to be pinned at optimal times using Tailwind.
My traffic did NOT go down at all. It stayed about the same, and actually has recently begun to go up!
I highly recommend using Tailwind to schedule your pins on Pinterest.
You can sign up for a free trial to just try it out here. Then decide if it's right for you.
One of the most visited pages on your website will be your About page. Take some time to introduce yourself, put up a professional photo of you, and get a little personal.
If you have a family travel blog then tell everyone a bit about your family here. The best travel blogs spend some time making a great About page.
Now that you have figured out how to start a travel blog, I suggest that you begin looking into courses to teach you how to be successful at making money blogging.
Plan to invest some time and money into training or education. One of the best things that I did when starting out travel blogging was signing up with Sharon's Build Blog Freedom course.
She goes into detail about SEO (search engine optimization) so that you know how to set up a website and write blogposts to attract 'organic' traffic from Google and other search engines.
Sharon's course also has fantastic training on how to be successful at affiliate marketing, e-mail marketing, goal setting, and so much more.
Almost as soon as I signed up for Build Blog Freedcom, I also purchased the keyword research tool called Keysearch.
If you are serious about making money blogging then you will NEED to do keyword research in order to rank in Google. I highly recommend using this keysearch tool. You will be just fine with the 'starter' package when beginning.
You are all set to begin writing! Find the topics that bring you excitement and passion, and begin writing about them.
If you recently visited a fun destination, then write about it and share it with the world.
Connect with other bloggers online and begin growing your travel blog!
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