I’m often asked on how to start a travel blog or how we’re able to get our own domain/URL. 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!
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: Things You Didn’t Know About Travel Blogging
Now let’s start with creating your blog. Here are the steps:
1. Think about your niche
Everybody’s blog is different. What do you want to focus on?
Do you want a general travel blog? 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? Or maybe you would like to be a little flexible on what you write about.
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.
Some travel blogs have themes. Backpacking with a Book is a blog by self-proclaimed modern hippies, with a focus on storytelling. Travels with a Hobo is also a couples travel blog on budget travel. Coffeehan is a blog about travel and coffee, with more topics on self-reflections.
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 tips.
It’s important to decide what your blog is about early on.
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 an account in WordPress
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.
WordPress.com versus WordPress.org
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. It’s more flexible, which means you can easily change your website’s appearance 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.
Choose a hosting company
There are different web hosting companies you can choose from. As of 2021, some of the most recommended ones include Siteground, Cloudways, and Dreamhost.
SiteGround is one of the most recommended hosting companies by professional bloggers and businesses. It’s cheap and apparently service is superb.
Check out discounted packages in SiteGround.
Since 2016, we’ve been in InMotion. At that time, I did a lot of research about web hosting and it stood out in terms of price and performance. InMotion is good, but as our monthly traffic grew the site also slowed down. However, their customer service is always superb. We plan on changing hosting as soon as our 2-year plan is done. We pay about $190 for every 2 years and around $10-15 for domain name every year.
Set up your blog in WordPress.org
After choosing your hosting, you need to set up your blog in WordPress.og. The steps depend on your hosting. After signing up an account with your hosting, you will receive an email on how to start.
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.
Here is our experience.
I started writing drafts in wordpress.com to get a feel of it. 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. 🙂
3. Install a theme and essential plugins
This step entails everything you need to do after creating a WordPress blog.
First, 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 find a theme that requires little to no changes. If you still want to customize your blog’s appearance, researching in Google helps a lot. You can also hire professional web developers if you have the budget for it.
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.
- Any SEO plugin, such as Yoast SEO, All in One SEO, or RankMath. An SEO plugin offers features to help you rank in Google.
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. Create your first blog post!
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 in the early 2000s, 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.
- Set up accounts in social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or Tiktok. Depending on your audience demographic, your social accounts may bring you lots of traffic. Regardless, you’ll want to have an existing and active social media presence so other people can follow you, including tourism boards and brands.
- Learn SEO. Online and offline SEO 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. 🙂
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!
Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).