Do you like to record all the details of your trip? Perhaps you write a travel journal and want to take it to another level. In this post, we’re going to show you how to start a travel blog in less than an hour. Yes, you really can. And by “less than an hour” we really mean about 30 minutes or less for most people. We’ve been travel blogging for about 3-4 months now. When we first started, we went through this exact process. It took a little more than an hour, but that’s only because we were documenting everything we did so we could write this post.
In this post, we aren’t going to make any assumptions about your technical skills or your knowledge about how to start a travel blog. We’re going to assume you’re starting from nothing. Follow these easy steps and you’ll be up and running in less than an hour. Promise!
How to start a travel blog: Step 1
Pick a domain name: Your name should be easy to remember and fairly unique. It should reflect who you are and what you’re doing. Our blog is called “The Round the World Guys.” We’re two guys preparing to travel around the world. That name reflects who we are and what we’re doing. It’ll never need to change. A lot of people make the mistake of picking something too specific. For example, “TravelAfricaIn100Days.com” would be really limiting. What if you actually did that and your mission changed? You’re now going to expand beyond Africa. You’d have to set up a whole different name, do a bunch of redirects, re-brand, etc., etc. You don’t wanna to that. You also don’t want to pick a name that would be confusing to the reader. “Nomadicmatt.com” is already a brand. If you choose “Nomadicmatthew.com” you’re not gonna stand out. Also be careful about infringing on other people’s copyrights.
In short, choose a name that answers the following questions:
- Who are we?
- What are we doing?
OK. This step might take you longer than an hour because now you have to think it through. If that’s the case, stop reading, take a while to think it through, then come back. We’ll wait.
Find a host: A host is a company that owns the servers you’re travel blog will live on. They range from free to expensive. When they first start, a lot of people will host their blogs on free services like Blogger.com or on WordPress.org. Nothing wrong with that if your intent is to blog for your family and friends, or just to keep a journal for yourself. But if you want to do it professionally, you need your own domain and hosting. And what if you decide after awhile that you really like this and want to make it grow and use it as p? Then, you’ll want to migrate to a hosted solution. We recommend starting right away with your own domain and host. So, this post will focus on that.
We recommend starting with a hosting service like Bluehost.com. They’re cheap – just a few dollars a month. We recommend them. Give them a try if you know you’re serious about this, and if you find they’re what you need, stick with them. If you use Bluehost, get really popular, and need to step up the hosting plan, do that. But for now, Bluehost is cheap and makes complete sense as a start. Plus, they’ll give you a domain name for free if you host with them.
Install WordPress: WordPress is the blogging platform of choice. In fact, it’s said that 25% of sites on the entire Internet run on WordPress. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s pretty impressive even if you cut that number in half! What I do know is that you need it. Wordpress is so popular that, around the world, thousands and thousands of people make their livings working exclusively on writing code, creating plugins, and doing other things to enhance it. When it comes to how to start a travel blog, this is basically your only choice because it is, by a wide margin, the best choice.
The best part: almost every hosting company out there now has a one-click install of WordPress. If this is not a feature, then find another host. It’s that easy.
Choose a theme: The theme you choose will dictate the look and feel of your blog. There are free themes and paid themes. When you install WordPress, you’ll already notice that a few themes come preinstalled by WordPress. They usually give their themes names like “Twenty Seventeen.” As of this writing, this is their latest. Unless you’ve already researched other themes, I would go ahead and choose this one. It’s free and is supported by WordPress.
A note about themes: You’ll find thousands of themes out there for free. Be careful. Most free themes are unsupported. That means you’ll set up your blog with it and, if you have a problem, there’ll be no one to help you. I highly recommend researching themes. The good news is that most companies not only show you their list of themes, they’ll also show you what it looks like when it’s up and running. Sometimes, you can even load sample content into your own blog and go from there.
The bottom line is – do your homework here. Start off with WordPress’s “Twenty Seventeen” theme. Then, take the time to choose one that is more suited to you. If you pay for one, make sure the company has a money-back guarantee if you’re not happy. A professional theme should cost you less than $100 US. In fact, most of the ones we’ve seen run from $49-$69. When you find the perfect them, install it. The good news is that when you change your theme, most everything will transfer over nicely. That’s why you use WordPress. Because it’s awesome that way.
We should also tell you that we’re going another route. Right now, we’re actually paying a professional to build us a theme. But that’s because we’re in this for the long haul and want something perfectly suited to us. If you go this route, it will be much more expensive than just purchasing a theme from a reputable company. It works for us.
Install a few plug-ins. Plug-ins are additions to WordPress that make blogging easier. We recommend the following plug-ins:
- Yoast SEO: This is the most popular and the best plug-in for Search Engine Optimization. It’s easy to learn and you’ll find it helps your pages rank better in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
- Enhanced Media Library: This allows you to categorize and search for the pictures and videos you upload. Out of the box, WordPress doesn’t do this well. So we recommend this one.
- W3 Total Cache: This helps your pages load faster.
There are lots of other plug-ins, so you should learn about them after you get started. Keep in mind though, a lot of plug-ins will slow your site down, so be sure they are from reputable sources and that they are necessary for your site before you install them
Start blogging. Yes, it really is that easy!
Travel blogging is a lot of fun if you’re doing it as a hobby. But if you’re doing it hoping to make money from it, it’s going to take a lot of work that we don’t detail here. Still, it’s easy to start by following the steps above, and it’s a great way to share your travel experience with your family, friends, and a much wider audience.
Oh, and a bonus
If you really want to succeed in travel blogging, then I highly recommend enrolling in Travel Blog Success. I have honestly learned so much from this course – getting started, Google Analytics, writing, getting sponsorship, press trips, and all the things you can imagine (and lots of things you had no idea you’d HAVE to imagine. Seriously, you need to do this course. Click the graphic to learn more.