I’m often asked on how to start a travel blog or how we’re able to get our own domain. Apparently, a lot of people don’t know that we actually pay for our web hosting and domain. We do! Anyway, you can read all about that here. Here are the complete and easy steps on how to start a travel blog for Filipinos!
Why start a travel blog?
There are various reasons why you might want to start your own travel blog. Maybe you’re in it for self-expression. Maybe you’ve seen friends do it and you decide to post about your travels as well. Maybe you want to earn. Or be a digital nomad who travels full time.
Being a travel blogger has its perks. You can get invited to free trips by agencies or tourism boards or reviews by hotels, resorts or restaurants.
If you’re going to commit to it, you can also earn. Some of the ways to earn income from a travel blog are through ads, affiliate marketing or sales of your own products. If you’re a Filipino travel blogger, most likely you’ll earn through ads, in which case you need 100K+ pageviews monthly to get decent return.
Related Read: 6 Things you didn’t know about Travel Blogging
How to start a travel blog from scratch
1. Decide what you want to write about
Everybody’s blog is different. Think about your favorite ones and what stands out in them. It’s often suggested to focus on a certain niche, but again it depends on you.
Do you want to write about backpacking or perhaps luxury experiences? Are you into mindful travel? Solo or family travel? Do you want to focus on how to travel while coping with anxiety or other mental illnesses? Would you like it to just be about you — the places you go, regardless of the traveling style?
This blog is about Hali and I’s adventures. We mainly write about backpacking and budget guides, as well as a few advocacy including sustainable travel and voluntourism. Most of our audience are millennial backpackers or otherwise active travelers in the country.
Travels with a Hobo is also a couples travel blog on budget travel. Backpacking with a Book is a blog by self-proclaimed modern hippies, with a focus on storytelling. Coffeehan is a blog about travel and coffee.
Like I said above, your blog can simply revolve around you and your experiences. A lot of successful travel blogs post about about budget guides and that’s it.
It’s important to decide what your blog is about early on. It will help you establish your identity and keep you on track in the future.
Of course, you also need to choose a good name for your blog that reflects what’s it about. Here’s a useful guide on choosing a travel blog name.
2. Set up a blog
So this is the techie part on how to start a travel blog, but I’ll try to explain in layman’s terms so you guys can follow.
Many people get conflicted whether to use Blogger or WordPress. It’s best to choose WordPress. Blogger is more suitable for casual blogging, while WordPress is for professional use.
Choosing the best platform for WordPress
You’ll find that there are 2 WordPress websites: wordpress.com and wordpress.org. These are different but both are content management systems, which means they’re a platform for you to write and publish content online.
WordPress.com is free, while wordpress.org is not. In wordpress.com, you’ll be given a website that ends in wordpress.com or home.blog. In wordpress.org, you can choose a proper domain (such as ours: www.taraletsanywhere.com) but you have to pay for your own hosting and domain name. What is hosting? Basically it’s a service that stores all your blog content and keeps your website up and running in the web through a server.
Ideally, you’ll want to get an account in wordpress.org for a couple of reasons. It’s more flexible which means you can modify themes and install plugins. More importantly, it allows you to optimize your blog for SEO (search engine optimization) so you can rank better in Google. It’s the best option if you are serious about blogging or better yet want to monetize in the future.
I know that it can be overwhelming at first. Don’t worry, you’ll learn all these terms once you start blogging. For now it’s best to choose a content management system that will allow you to do all these things in the future.
Choosing a web hosting company
There are different web hosting companies you can choose from. I suggest going for SiteGround or InMotion. SiteGround is one of the most recommended hosting companies by professional bloggers and businesses. It’s cheap and apparently service is superb. We’re using InMotion after reading a comprehensive comparison of web hosting services for WordPress and seeing its impressive performance. We’re quite happy with it. It’s been smooth so far and downtime is rare. In addition, customer service always replies within a day.
Check out discounted packages in InMotion or SiteGround.
InMotion offers 2-year plans. We got 50% off for the first 2 years, with free domain for the 1st year. We paid around $85 (~P4200). We got our money for payment from a sponsored post. After the initial 2-year plan, we have to pay about $190 for every additional 2 years.
Starting with WordPress.org
So now, I’m assuming that you have selected a web hosting company and a hosting plan.
The next steps depend on your hosting. You need to follow your hosting instructions on setting up an account in WordPress and other basic setup for starting or managing your website. In InMotion, the steps include buying your own domain name first and then installing a wordpress app in the CPanel.
If you have an existing account in wordpress.com, you can export your content (Go to Dashboard > Tools > Export) and import it in your new blog.
Anyway, here is our experience.
I started writing drafts in wordpress.com to get a feel of it. I got frustrated by the simple fact that I can’t change the CSS in my theme. Later on, we exported our content to wordpress.org. (This is why you can see some posts in our blog dated earlier in 2015 even though we’d officially launched our wordpress.org blog on December 2015.) We signed up for a web hosting plan for 2 years, which already includes our own domain (www.taraletsanywhere.com).
P.S. Thank you to my good friend Ralph for suggesting the name of our blog. 🙂
tl;dr WordPress is the best platform for blogging. Choose a web hosting company, avail of a plan and they will help you set up/install WordPress.
3. Complete your blog’s look and install plugins
This step entails everything you need to do after creating a WordPress blog.
First, create your own logo and then choose a WordPress theme. A digital marketer colleague recommends getting paid professional themes, but personally I think free themes will do unless you want a highly customized theme for your blog.
A little knowledge about CSS will help you a lot in this area. If you’re not knowledgeable about CSS or HTML, don’t worry. Just (a) find a theme that requires little to no changes, (b) ask a friend, (c) Google.
Now that you’ve fixed your blog layout, it’s time to install necessary plugins for your blog. I recommend the following for beginners:
- Akismet – Basically, it protects your blog from spam. We get hundreds of spam comments and it’s laborious to manually screen and delete them. Akismet is a free plugin that effectively filters spam and takes care of this issue.
- Wordfence Security – An anti-virus, firewall and malware scan in one. (As you can see, I started with security plugins because security is a crucial aspect you shouldn’t overlook. You’ve no idea how many blogs get hacked nowadays and how this can be a real pain in the ass.)
- Jetpack by WordPress.com – Jetpack is a featured-packed plugin that connects your blog to a WordPress.com. It also allows you to see your blog stats in real time.
- Yoast SEO – This is your all-in-one SEO solution. It generates a sitemap for your blog so Google can crawl it. It also allows you to put in a keyword in a post and gives you the greenlight if the post is well optimized.
These plugins are good for beginner WordPress users. Over time, you can add more plugins for social media (that annoying Facebook or Sign Up popup, Instagram gallery), speed booster plugins (help speed up your page loading time) and other plugins that allow you to customize your blog.
4. Start writing content
Congratulations! Now, this part is up to you. Just a few reminders.
There’s so much to say about blogging, but perhaps this is the most important: Content is king. Google loves good content and will reward you for it, readers will go back to your website to read good content as well.
Your content is largely determined by why you’re blogging in the first place. If you’re in it for the money, you’ll find that you need to publish more listicles and even clickbait-y titles. If you’re into it, you can also include subjects that millennials love including Instagram-worthy spots and current food and travel fads. You also have to post regularly, about 1-2x a week.
If you’re in it for mere self-expression or love of writing, I believe that no or at least minimal rules apply. You’ll simply attract your tribe. 🙂
5. Generate traffic to your blog
Learning is continuous when it comes to blogging. After you’ve written content, it’s time to promote your posts. I believe that blogging follows the 20/80 Paretto rule. That is, 20% of your time should go to writing content and the rest of the 80% goes to marketing your content.
If you were like me, you’d be in denial at first. I thought good content is enough to get readers, but apparently that’s not the case! Our “good content” didn’t even make it to people’s feed, even to family or close friends, much more in Google search results. It took me almost a whole year to get started on efforts to push our rank up in Google.
I’d been blogging on and off for 10 years, to be honest. When I started, it was very easy to generate traffic to the blog and I can make it to the first page of Google without much effort. All it takes is honest-to-goodness consistency and good content. Today, you have to be more technically savvy or at least know how to generate a huge following in social media.
Here are starter tips to get traffic to your blog.
To start, make sure that you’ve set up profiles in prominent social media websites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest). Normally you only have to focus on 1-2 of these. Even if it doesn’t bring much traffic, you’ll want to have social media presence so other people can find you (brands, tourism boards).
It’s also essential to learn the ins and outs of SEO (both online and offline), which I’ve briefly mentioned above. This will help you rank higher in Google search results.
You’ll learn that blogging actually takes a lot of time! The most important thing is to have fun while you’re at it. 🙂
As further resource, I also recommend reading Oneika’s article about advice to newbie (or would-be) travel bloggers.
Have this guide on how to start a travel blog for Filipinos been of help to you? Have any more questions? Feel free to post them in the comments below! 🙂