Hey Aileen, I love your blog! I have been a follower for a while and you inspire me a lot! Right now, you inspired me to do one thing that I have been postponing for years and that’s how to start a travel blog or even just how to start a blog and lead a lifestyle like yours.
But… I don’t have any web building or web design skills yet I want to build everything myself. Is this possible?
– Lidia from Califorinia, USA
I get a lot of messages like this, and I get it. I really do. Being a travel blogger is an amazing profession that can enable anyone to travel the world and even get paid for it.
I’ve been doing this full-time for more than 5 years now, and sometimes, I still need to pinch myself to know that all of it is real! I’ve truly gained a lot from this travel blog: financial independence, non-stop travels to all 7 continents, notable press features, international awards, and so much more. In fact, it’s because of these achievements that it has since been my mission to help YOU experience all of these too.
To date, there are a HUGE number of articles out there about how to start a travel blog and I’m sure it’s quite overwhelming for you. However, let me save you the time, effort, and money with this detailed step-by-step guide that is easy to follow and easy to understand! (There’s no need to get all anxious about any technical terms and processes because I’ve got your back all throughout!) Armed with my years of blogging experience and authority, as well as my past know-how of web design and development, you can definitely trust me in helping you launch the blog of your dreams from scratch!
NOTE: Truth be told, this guide does not only apply to aspiring travel bloggers because the steps below can also apply to other kinds of lifestyle blogs that you might want to start: for art, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, photography, sports, tech, etc.
Already Got a Blog?
Check out my top blogging tips to help make your blog a constant success!
SIDE NOTE: It can be a challenge to do travel blogging if you are having a hard time figuring out how you can jumpstart a travel lifestyle. In case you have this dilemma, don’t fret! The following articles will help you travel the world:
» How to Travel the World: 5 Steps to Start
» Best Travel Jobs to Make Money While Traveling
» How to Save Money for Travel
Now, without further ado, let’s start!
- 1 How to Start a Travel Blog
- 1.1 Step 1: Find Your Niche and Audience
- 1.2 Step 2: Brainstorm a Kickass Blog (Domain) Name
- 1.3 Step 3: Set Up Your Travel Blog’s Domain and Hosting
- 1.4 Step 4: Install WordPress (BONUS: Know how to create your own domain email too!)
- 1.5 Step 5: Pick a theme, customize your site, and add plugins!
- 1.6 Step 6: Create the ‘basic contents’ and start an email list.
- 1.7 Step 7: Time to secure your name on social media channels.
- 1.8 Step 8: Start creating your content.
- 1.9 Step 9: Promote your travel blog’s name and articles.
- 1.10 Step 10: Monetize your travel blog and reap the rewards!
How to Start a Travel Blog
Step 1: Find Your Niche and Audience
I can guess what you’re thinking…
“But isn’t a travel blog already a niche?“
Well, kind of… BUT in order to attract a reasonably good audience right from the very start, you would need to establish yourself in a more specific field.
Surely you can talk about travel as a whole, but as a ‘newbie’, it doesn’t help to market yourself as someone who is knowledgeable about all aspects of travel. This definitely won’t attract anyone to your website, because they can just go to bigger websites like Lonely Planet or Nomadic Matt for travel tips.
So what do you need to do…? Use the Blue Ocean Strategy wherein you position yourself in a ‘blue ocean’ rather than a ‘red ocean’.
- In an existing saturated niche with lots of competition
- Exists in a broad spectrum
- Slow growth and tries to capture existing demand
“A blog about traveling in a van”
- In a new market with little to no competition
- Exists in a specific spectrum
- Stands out and captures new demand
“A blog about traveling in a van on a budget for families in the USA”
To be able to arrive on your blue ocean, you can start by writing down some topics or styles of travel that you’re interested in — or are good at. Once you find a common theme, find something specific or unique about it, and then target an audience!
Once you pinpoint this niche, heed my next advice: stick to it.
Why do I say this? Well, let’s say you started off with posts about budget travel for van life. Over time, you have managed to build a community that is interested in your content — good job! But then suddenly, you release articles about luxury travel and an assortment of other topics. With this scenario, there’s a high chance that you will lose a certain chunk of your audience, and if you continue to be finicky about your topics and your expertise, you will continue to lose a number of people. Fast.
So hear me out on this. Save the grand mix of travel tips/articles/guides/etc. once you get bigger with a more ‘entrenched’ audience that is interested in you as a travel blogger or personality.
As an added example, let’s talk about my blog. At the very start, I positioned myself in a niche for solo travel that targets 20 to 30-something individuals (especially from third world countries) that want to jumpstart a life of travel. When my blog became an established authority on the web, I started to deviate from this as I shared a wider variety of travel topics — while still making my niche as the core or center of it all.
Other examples of niche travel blogs:
- The Blonde Abroad – focuses on solo female travel after quitting your 9-to-5
- Travel with Bender – focuses on around-the-world family trips with kids
- Wandering Earl – focuses on budget travel and a permanent nomadic lifestyle
- The Points Guy – focuses on hacks for travel points and miles
- Will Travel for Vegan Food – focuses on traveling the U.S.A. as a vegan
BOTTOM LINE: Be a personality or an expert in a specific sub-topic of travel with a targeted audience. If, however, you are not confident enough about your travel knowledge since you’re still new or still in the process of planning your journey, what you can do, at the very least, is to ensure that you have a unique story that will make anyone interested in following you. In a way, just put yourself in your readers’ shoes and find out what will make them tick.
• • •
Step 2: Brainstorm a Kickass Blog (Domain) Name
To put it into simple words, a domain name is the unique ‘address’ of your blog on the internet. For instance, this blog’s domain name is iAmAileen.com and it will remain to be my unique identifier for as long as I continue to pay an annual fee.
Yes, a FEE. To be able to get these .com names, you would have to pay — rest assured, these things come at a cheap price which I will discuss in more detail at step 3 of this how to start a travel blog guide.
So now that you are aware of the fact that a serious plan of starting a travel blog involves money (as well as hard work and dedication -wink-), if it’s just going to be a hobby or if you’re not that motivated enough to do it earnestly, you can always go for free platforms like Tumblr, WordPress.com, and Blogspot.
Just be reminded, however, that in these kinds of free-‘hosted’ blogs there are several disadvantages:
- They are NOT good for search engine rankings – meaning that your blog won’t be as visible on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. as compared to the ones who have domain names.
- You are not allowed to sell ads on your sites (this equals to NO earning opportunities for you); alternatively, these hosts can put ads on your website which is of no benefit to you.
- They have limited plugins and themes, or things that you need to optimize and ‘prettify’ your blog.
- They are not flexible. You will NEVER be in full control; also, the platform can delete your site at any time if they think it violates any of their site terms.
- They are not essentially ‘professional-looking’, so advertisers and brands won’t be so keen on partnering with you
- They take some time to type! Think: yourtravelblog.blogspot.com versus yourtravelblog.com – the second one is better, right?
This is why it helps to have your own domain name and hosting because it can offer you a lot of benefits and possibilities (for such an affordable price!) and it saves you the hassle of doing transfers in the future (from free-hosted to self-hosted). So if you’re a part of the determined ones, let’s get you started on your awesome travel blog’s domain title or name! When brainstorming for this, here are the things that you should remember:
- Make sure that it’s easy to remember — try to keep it short, too! Most of us have short attention spans anyway, so it’s a must to swiftly stand out from the crowd in order to be firmly remembered. Also, people want it fast and easy, that’s why it helps if your name would NOT take more than 2 seconds to type. Other things to take note of:
- Avoid hyphens or numbers because you risk people typing it out wrongly when they spread your blog’s name by word of mouth
- Avoid words that are not easily recognized or spelled by other people (especially words that are not in English, unless of course, you want to focus only on audiences in your home country)
- TIP: Try sharing your name with your mom or grandparents; if they’re having a hard time spelling it out, you’ll know you’re picking the wrong name
- Check if it’s good when combined together. For example, if you pick a name like “Speed of Art” if it’s squished up as a website URL it will look like: www.speedofart.com — you wouldn’t want that, would you?
- This will be the name that you will be introducing to others in the future so make sure it’s something that you like, love, and are proud of
- Try to make it related to travel. Do NOT follow my example unless you’re really stubborn. (IRRELEVANT TRIVIA: I decided to stick with my blog title, ‘I am Aileen’ since I still have that *funny* lifelong goal of making ‘Aileen’ a well-known name worldwide that is not, in any way, related to the famous murderer, Aileen Wuornos.) As such, take note of these tips…
- Try to be unique and original. Go and play around with a combination of words. Use a thesaurus if you need to! Mix it with your name or nickname. Invent a word if you have to (but make sure it’s an easy word). Examples of unique names: Just One Way Ticket and The Planet D
- Avoid words like adventurous, backpacker, global, journey, nomad, or wander because they are used a LOT. They are even already taken by big travel bloggers like Adventurous Kate, Nomadic Matt, Wandering Earl, etc. so you have to steer clear of this. Why? Because you want people to recall YOU when they think of a word or phrase — surely if you go for ‘Adventurous YourName’, you’ll make other people think of the more popular one (e.g. Adventurous Kate) instead of you, and that would clearly do you no good.
- You can definitely go for SEO-friendly titles like ‘Solo Backpacker’, but then it’s so generic that people can easily forget your blog.
All in all, it’s important to have a travel-related name because apart from the fact that you have to market yourself as a travel blog, you also have to mind your blog’s standing on search engines, and having a name that’s related to travel with your top keywords included will already help your whole site’s SEO.
What is SEO? It’s short for ‘Search Engine Optimization’ and it’s an important aspect that every website owner should know of when learning how to start a travel blog. After all, knowledge of SEO will help increase the number of visitors on your site, as well as its visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. If you want to learn more about this, you can go to Moz or SearchEngineLand given that they offer great FREE courses for SEO beginners like you!
- Make it timeless; think long term! Your name will be your brand forever, so don’t tie yourself with a current trend or situation that’s bound to fade away.
- If you don’t intend to travel as a backpacker forever, don’t choose a name that will suggest that, or you’ll find it a bit hard to score with bigger luxurious hotels in the future.
- Don’t come up with something like ‘365 Days of Travel’ if you plan to keep your travel blog for more than a year.
- Don’t use ‘Teenage Traveler’ since, well, you are going to get old… but then again, it can be quite charming, so it’s up to you. Unless of course, you want a niche that discusses teen travel tips only for eternity to come.
- Consider that if you put ‘The Philippine Nomad’ they might think that you’re just concentrated on the Philippines — unless that’s what your travel blog is about.
- Check its availability. Once you have a name in mind after following the aforementioned steps that I’ve stated in this guide of how to start a travel blog, it’s time to check if it’s available as a .com address.
NOTE: If you still don’t have a name in mind — it’s okay! Just continue with step 3 below and decide on your blog name later!
Anyhow, if your domain name idea is still available as a domain, next, you should check if it’s available across all social media channels to also ensure that the username is not taken yet. To do this with ease, use the website KnowEm.
Try Googling your name too! Use quotation marks (“your blog name“) to see if someone has already used your name phrase on another site, or if it’s related to some shady site or branding. If you’re in the USA and planning to register your blog as a business in the future, it’s a good idea to check if your name is trademarked. You can check this by going here.
• • •
Step 3: Set Up Your Travel Blog’s Domain and Hosting
“Wait, what’s a hosting?“
A host or hosting is basically a service that you need to avail together with your domain in order to reserve your spot on the internet — it’s a place that hold’s all your blog’s data, posts, photos, and more. This means that once it’s connected with your domain name and someone types it out on their browsers, your hosting will work to quickly display your blog to whoever ‘called‘ for it.
So where can you get your hosting? There are a LOT of providers out there.
For example, I bet you have heard of HostGator given that it is one of the most popular hosting sites in the market. BUT heed my advice: Don’t. Get. Them. I’ve been their customer for years before and I encountered far too many problems with their hosting plans: they suspend my website for no reason and with no prior notice, the customer service takes too long to reply, live chat was almost like a ‘no chat available’ service, website loading times are slow no matter the optimizations I make, etc. It was the last straw when they suspended my account for the 3rd time!
I then moved to SiteGround — and nope, this is NOT yet the hosting provider that I recommend because I’ve had bad experiences with them too. I made the error of following the advice of other bloggers to go for them; but it turns out that though SiteGround has great customer service, my site still kept crashing! For months’ end, I kept getting penalized for the high CPU usage of my site despite all the optimizations in place. In a nutshell, they just held a low capacity for the traffic I was having on a plan that was supposed to handle what it should.
From then on, I made it a point to find a better host… and I gladly did!
I guess it’s true that the third time is the charm because I am very contented with Bluehost! I absolutely recommend them to anyone. Why so?
- They offer quality hosting for a VERY affordable price. Bluehost rarely has downtimes. They have superb security protocols in place and lightning-fast loading times for websites. Not to mention that most established travel bloggers use them so they’re quite a trusted hosting network! What’s more, they are cheaper than most other popular hosting sites out there.
Enjoy a 50% discount for a basic plan in Bluehost at a cost that starts at $3.95 (Php 175+) only per month! Are you excited yet? Because I am for you!
- They are user-friendly AND beginner-friendly. Their interface is perfect and clear. Additionally, they have a large and easy-to-understand knowledge base full of resources that can answer any question that you may have. Otherwise…
- They have amazing customer service. You can just ask them anything and they will do their very best to assist you – ASAP. In fact, they are the most responsive team that I have ever encountered. They have a ’24/7 Live Chat’ feature too and I NEVER had to wait for too long.
To start with Bluehost, simply follow the steps in the expandable section below.
(To view the section, simply click the symbol ‘+‘ — I’ve made it this way since the steps are lengthy and I didn’t want it to take up too much space on this page).
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#1. Go to Bluehost’s website and click the tab at the top that says Hosting, and then click Shared Hosting next. You will be seeing this section:
#2. Pick the best plan for you! Bluehost offers Shared Web osting as one of their basic features and they have four (4) plans for this. Depending on your needs, you can pick:
- Basic – a good choice for you if you want a very basic plan for one website only
- Plus – a great plan if you want to run multiple websites; this already includes great starter features like FREE SSL certificate, unlimited storage, and others which will greatly improve your site’s security and performance
- Choice Plus – a more comprehensive plan than the former but at a better price point given that it has the prime perk of having domain privacy (protecting your contact info online), security features and site backups
- Pro – perfect for you if you plan to go big as a blogger while also handling multiple other sites; the biggest difference from Choice Plus on this plan is that you’ll have unlimited site backups and a dedicated IP for the best performance and site speed
I personally have a the Choice Plus plan not only because I wanted my hosting to accommodate my blog’s traffic, but also because I am a web developer + designer so I host a lot of other websites not only for me but for my clients. Plus, I really wanted to protect my contact information online through its domain privacy feature. (Rest assured, if you ever grow waaaay bigger in the future, you can always upgrade to the Dedicated Hosting plans or VPS Hosting plans that Bluehost has!)
Once you decide on the plan that you want, click the corresponding button “Select”
#3. Time to register your domain name! First, make sure that you are registering it under “Create a new domain”. Type in your blog name without spaces, and in the dropdown beside it, ensure that you have selected .com. (You can definitely select the other extensions like .info, .net, etc. but I always recommend that you use a .com. Now click “Next”.
NOTE: If you already have a domain name registered elsewhere or if you already have an existing website, just register it under “Use a domain you own”. Transferring it to Bluehost is FREE and easy once you sign up with them.
#4. Once it is confirmed that your domain name choice is available, the next page will be the billing section.
Simply fill the boxes with your information under Account Information. Next, under Package Information, take note of the dropdown for ‘Account Plan’ that lists possible period plans. If you have the money to spend, I suggest that you go for the 36-month option in the dropdown selection since it’s the maximum plan that offers a discounted monthly rate. However, if you can’t afford the total bill for a 36-month, the 12-month option should be fine for a start. (This is a common discount scheme across all hosting providers if you research about how to start a travel blog; the difference though is that with Bluehost, it already gives a huge standardized discount for any length of period, whereas other providers only put a huge discount if you pick the longest period).
For Package Extras, if it’s not included in the plan you picked, the only extra I recommend that you purchase would be the ‘Domain Privacy + Protection’, since like I mentioned previously, it protects your private info (specifically your name and address that you had input in the Account Information section) to be looked up by anyone on the web. Don’t also forget to check the ‘1 Microsoft 365 Mailbox – 30 Day Free Trial’ since it’s included FREE.
Once you’ve decided on the extras that you’d like to avail of, proceed to fill up your credit card information under Payment Information. Once that’s processed, you now have your hosting account set up! Just follow the next on-screen instructions to create a password and then now, we’re on to the next step where I will teach you how to put up your blog through a self-hosted WordPress site![/accordion]
Step 4: Install WordPress (BONUS: Know how to create your own domain email too!)
I am talking about WordPress.org which is different from the free basic platform, WordPress.com. Just like how I mentioned at the top of this how to start a travel blog guide, a WordPress.org account is your best platform choice especially for a beginner like you — in fact, it is used by big websites like BBC, CNN, and New York Times!
Now don’t worry because Bluehost automatically installs WordPress.org when you choose to sign up with them as your web host.
How to install it? Simply follow the steps in the expandable section below.
(To view the section, simply click the symbol ‘+‘ — I’ve made it this way since the steps are lengthy and I didn’t want it to take up too much space on this page).
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#1. In the next pages, just click Log-in by entering the password you previously set up. This will lead you to the page below that lets you choose a design theme of your site for FREE. If you’re not sure about the design choices below, do NOT worry because you can change this later on!
Aaaand woop, congratulations! You now have your .com travel blog up and running! Next up — tweaking and designing it!
WordPress is pretty straightforward and it’s very easy to use but if you ever need guides on how to use and navigate yourself through it, you can always check out FirstSiteGuide’s tutorial or from WordPress.org itself.
You can also check out Bluehost’s WordPress guide, if not strike up a conversation with their customer service team through their chat feature!
BONUS: In order to help you look like a ‘professional’ and serious travel blogger, you would need your own .com email and it’s pretty easy to set up with Bluehost. Simply follow the steps mentioned in Bluehost’s Email Management guide.
Step 5: Pick a theme, customize your site, and add plugins!
Time for us to make your blog shine, identifiable, and awesome!
» Where to get great WordPress themes?
An important step on how to start a travel blog is to spice up your site’s design. For the free ones, you can find them on:
- WordPress.org – Just go to your blog’s WordPress Dashboard (https://yourtravelblog.com/wp-admin/). On the left column, click ‘Appearance > Themes > Add New’ and you will see a huge list of free themes that you can install for your blog
- Fab Themes
If you’re still not satisfied with these free themes, you can always buy premium (paid) themes that almost always have better features and customizations. The most popular sites out there for this are:
» I’d like to have a nice logo, how can I make one?
If you can’t make one for your own through Photoshop, I can make one for you! Like I’ve mentioned beforehand, I am a web + graphic designer and I’ve actually been doing this ever since I was 13 years old. If you want to see samples of my work, simply go here and then let me know if you want to work with me. Otherwise, if you really want to make it yourself but you’re not good with Photoshop, there are websites below where you can make your own logo with ease:
Or better yet, have you heard of Fiverr? It’s this awesome site where everyone offers every kind of service there is for only $5 (Php 220+)! There are some bad ones but there are good ones too, and it’s easy to weed out the ones that don’t give quality work.
» What are WordPress plugins? Do I need them?
Oh yes, you do especially on how to start a travel blog properly! These plugins will help a lot in spicing up your site — just think of them like apps that will help your travel blog perform and look better. To start, below are the free WordPress plugins that I recommend which you can easily add to your blog by going to your Dashboard: click ‘Plugins > Add New‘. In the search box, type the plugin names below and click ‘Install‘ as needed.
- Akismet – protection from comment spam
- Jetpack – offers a TON of features, some of which I love are the ‘Site Stats’ and ‘Related Posts’
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – helps optimize your site for Google and if you ever need help, the creator’s website has several tutorials that can help you manage your SEO well
- WPTouch – only if your theme is not responsive (or mobile-friendly) this is the plugin for you!
- Google Analytics – this is an important thing for you to set up! Google Analytics (GA) is a powerful tool that helps measure and analyze your blog’s traffic; in the future, advertisers would need data from this platform. So first, you need to register with GA and then install this plugin to easily integrate GA’s tracking with your website.
TIP: If you plan to add more plugins than these, try not to install too many since it can slow down your website.
Step 6: Create the ‘basic contents’ and start an email list.
» What do I mean by basic contents?
Other than the articles or blog posts that you will be making in the future, I need you to first establish the following as you learn how to start a travel blog:
- Pages. Apart from your ‘blog’ section (which lists out all your current posts ) you need the other standard ones, namely the pages for:
- About – introduce yourself, better if you can make it very engaging in order to make people want to follow you.
- Contact – it can show your email and social media channels, or you can opt to put up a form using the plugin Contact Form 7.
- Others – as you grow, you might need other pages like what my blog has (example: Archives, FAQ, Press, Travel Tips, Destinations, etc.) and it’s totally up to you if you want these or not.
- To learn more about pages, check here.
- Footer. This is the bottom part of your page and you can do whatever you want for this. Some people simply leave it blank, while others include things like ‘As Seen On…‘ (which I also have). If you want more inspiration for stuff to display here, simply browse through other travel blogs for ideas.
- Sidebar. Typically appears beside your blog posts/articles (or even your pages too if you choose so). To control the contents that will show here, you just have to access your widgets section at Appearance > Widgets. For this, try to put your:
- About – Make it very brief or catchy, and then include your photo on it along with a link that leads to your about page.
- Newsletter – Encourage people to subscribe to your updates and retain an active community, this can be made possible if you create email lists from websites like MailChimp or Convertkit (which I personally use and great if you really want to scale and earn from your email list). After your registration, these websites have plug-in widgets that you can easily include on your sidebar.
- Social Links – Promote your social media accounts! You can choose to show big boxes like this one by Facebook or you can use icons that would link to your account by using a plugin like this.
- Popular Posts – to help direct your readers to your other articles, download this plugin and display its widget.
» How to start a travel blog email list and why is this important?
Like what I’ve mentioned above, you can create your own mailing list or newsletter with MailChimp or Convertkit which both come FREE with a maximum number of 2,000 subscribers — a pretty good deal!
It is important to have an email list because though people commonly use social media, they still use their emails too and prefer to be notified or updated through it. For this reason, you should take the chance and create one! Besides, it will help a lot in the future whenever you will have giveaways, contests, or products to promote since you can also track email opens, conversions, and more! Plus, with Convertkit, you could even scale and do email automations to better increase your chances of earning more blog money through the promotion of your articles or affiliate links.
This is a vital step! Sure, your blog can grow by itself… BUT that will take a loooooong time. If you want to usher your success faster, start being ‘social‘ online. With your blog name, quickly register it on the big social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.
TIP: Try to keep the usernames the same as your domain name. I have actually made you check this beforehand in step #1 because it’s definitely easier for your current and potential followers to access your profiles in this way. Don’t follow my example… I happened to be too late on the Instagram hype that by the time I registered, someone already had my username ‘iAmAileen’ so I ended up going for i_am_aileen *sad face*
Step 8: Start creating your content.
Some factors to consider as you learn how to start a travel blog and promote it:
- Create original and engaging content. Your first post can be about who you are, where you are, what you aim to do etc. If you still haven’t started traveling yet, it will be awesome if you can start to talk about your plans and how you aim to achieve it; make your audience a part of your journey by sharing your whole experience right from step number one! Once you start hopping around the globe, your posts can be about current/future trips, travel tips, inspirational articles, and more — all depending on the niche that you have decided to concentrate on.
- Keep writing – you’ll eventually find your own blogging style and voice
- Ask other people’s opinion before posting – it can be family or friends
- Try to see what the other big bloggers are doing – draw inspiration from them!
- Ultimately, just tackle the topics that you would personally want to read or know about if you were to place yourself in the shoes of your readers.
For more information on how you can create great content, see FirstSiteGuide’s tutorial.
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Step 9: Promote your travel blog’s name and articles.
As you learn how to start a travel blog, I know how hard it can be to figure things out in the beginning. So in order to aid you further into this ‘online abyss’, here are tips on how you can promote your blog in order to build an audience and create a dedicated network!
» Via Social Media
- I have made you sign up to all those social media channels, but it doesn’t entirely mean that you have to be fiercely active across all platforms. You can post to all of them of course, but sometimes, it’s best to focus only on a top 3! So why did I make you register to ALL those social media channels? At the beginning, I need you to play around with all of them, and as you continue to blog and share your posts through these channels, you will eventually figure out the top 3 channels that you need to focus on. In time, you will also gauge the best times for sharing as dependent on your followers’ behavior and more.
- TIP: Feel free to survey the other successful Facebook pages related to your niche so you get to have an idea about the kind of posts that work for them. It also helps to create a schedule or checklist so you are focused on the social media sharing that you have to do after every blog post. You can even try approaching big Facebook travel pages to ask if they are willing to share your post!
- For more information and tips on social media, you can check out Legal Nomad’s post.
» Via Online Communities
- Join forums and groups online that will give you the chance to interact with fellow bloggers. The ones I highly recommend can be found on Facebook and are listed here:
» Via Contributions or Guest Posts
- Try to find bloggers who are open to collaboration posts, guest posts, or interviews (sometimes these opportunities can be seen in the Facebook group I previously mentioned or you can simply browse a travel blogger’s website to see if they are open to these kinds of things — send them an email if needed). For instance, some of my interviews on other famous blogs of other travel bloggers have happened after I reached out to them (example was my interview with Nomadic Matt).
- Consider submitting content to bigger websites like Thought Catalog, Matador Network or Huffington Post. Trust me on this one: if you become very active in pitching your unique story or experience to big websites like these, you will easily skyrocket to online fame! To search for more websites that are open to article submissions, just search for them through Google. Be mindful though that there are websites that can be tough to ‘get into’ but it’s always worth a try to get your name or face out there.
Step 10: Monetize your travel blog and reap the rewards!
One of the advantages of creating a blog and owning it? The numerous opportunities and ways for making money! I clearly started this blog as a hobby (and more of a personal diary; which you will see if you scour the far pages of this website) but after redefining my brand, I started to get recognition, I started to earn a bit, and eventually the opportunities that I gained have helped me in one way or another to fund my travels — to sum it up, this took me months.
So starting now, it’s a good reminder that earning from your new travel blog can be very difficult at first since most advertisers are hungry for high traffic websites — yours won’t really jump to that kind of level so quick, especially at the start, because traffic takes time. However! It doesn’t hurt to start early and one of the best ways to get money as a newbie is through:
- Affiliate Sales. This allows you to earn a commission if your reader chooses to purchase another brand’s products or services through your specialized links. Since your blog is about travel, try signing up for related companies like:
TIP: As you’re still starting, please don’t go overboard in monetizing your blog, or else, some of your readers will be put off by let’s say, the gazillion of banners that you will be putting up on your site. What can you do then? Take it slow, be picky, and only put up the kind of ads that can best fit your audience.
Over time, once you have enough posts, start to get a bit of decent traffic, and have established your ‘authority’, you can start to do the following:
- Earn through Google AdSense (for pay per clicks) or Mediavine (for pay per views) — basically, go earn through advertisements!
NOTE: If you focus on doing travel vlogs (video blogging), YouTube’s partner program works alongside Google AdSense for monetization, so make sure that you enable that.
- Sell your own ad space on your travel blog
- Sell eBooks, consultation/coaching, or other travel-related products
- Sell your services for social media promotions
- Do sponsored posts or paid reviews (on products, services, etc.)
Finally, this isn’t exactly ‘monetization‘ but gaining free or all-expense-paid trips are one of the benefits that you can get from travel blogging. Once you have earned a good amount of readership (as evidenced by your website’s stats and social media followers) you can use this data to pitch your blog’s influence to hotels, tourism boards, airlines, and more!
Be aware though that this can be very tough and that more often than not, you will receive a reply that basically says NO to your proposition — but hey, what will you lose by that? Nothing! (You’ll just feel that tiny pang of disappointment that they didn’t like you… and well, you can handle that, right?) Besides, even if they say ‘no’ at first, you’re free to re-try again as long as you make your pitch better (find out what they’re looking for, state what you can offer in return, etc.)
Here are some tips when contacting brands:
- Sign up for the Gmail extension: Sidekick! Make sure that you register through this link so you can avail the sign-up bonus that includes a 1-month package of FREE unlimited notifications — don’t worry though because after that, your account will still stay free. You’ll only just be limited to 200 notifications a month, which is still technically good! Now why am I recommending Sidekick? Because it notifies you whenever someone opens or clicks on a link on your email, and that helps a TON! For one thing, it will aid you in estimating the time that you can send another email follow-up. (For example, since you clearly know that they opened your email, you can try following up 3 days after they opened it; otherwise, if they haven’t opened it at all, a good rule is to follow up after a week the first time you sent it with a max number of follow-ups at 3).
UPDATE: I have started using Mailtrack since 2019 and it has no limit in notifications.
- As long as you have an engaged audience, you’re good to pitch! There really is no magic number to knowing how big you have to be in order to be ‘eligible’ enough to pitch with brands; but I guess… surely a monthly visit of 1,000 and a total of 100 social media followers won’t do the trick. Anyhow, what’s mostly important in order to ace a partnership or sponsorship is to show that you have an engaged audience, and that you have a blog that is fit for the brand’s needs.
- Do your own research. Find the appropriate marketing or press contact(s) on the website. If you really can’t find one, simply contact the generic address on the website to ask for the correct email that you can send your message to (or send them a message via their social media page). You can also simply write your proposal and ask them to forward it to the right person
TIP: Or check out Hunter, a Google Chrome plug-in that finds the email addresses for you when you visit a certain site.
- Target brands that are evidently concerned about social media. It helps to partner with brands that are active on social media because that gives you the assurance that they are interested in growing their online followers (which you can try and help them with).
- Be convincing, direct, and honest. Be clear about your request right from the subject and first sentence of your email. Assure them on how you can grow their customer base or online exposure — basically on HOW you can help them. If you have a unique campaign that you think you can tailor well to their product/service, then don’t be afraid to pitch it! If I may add, it also helps to have a media kit to quickly show your website’s stats. (See media kit examples here).
- If you’re not good with Photoshop, try out Canva.com which is very easy to use even if you’re not good with graphic design. You can also just hire people to make it for you — like me!. My site’s design here is one example of how I usually do my web design work, otherwise, you can visit my portfolio page.
NOTE: Don’t go crazy! Don’t pitch to every company that you know of. You still have to make sure that the company that you are trying to partner with is relevant to your blog.
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I tried my best to be as detailed as I could and I dearly hope that this helps you learn how to start a travel blog successfully. Good luck!
P.S. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions. I would love to help you out for as much as I could. I’m not a ‘big’ travel blogger yet but I’m trying to make my way there, and in the spirit of sharing (since I perfectly know that this journey can be really hard) these are tips that I have learned over the years that helped usher my mini achievements — which I hope would help you too!