Katherine in a cafe
Blogging and Social Media

So, you want to be a travel blogger? (A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Start a Travel Blog for Filipinos)

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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.

Group shot in Alibijaban Island
We mainly write about backpacking. (Photo by Hali)

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

Setting up a WordPress blog

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.

READ: Self Hosted WordPress.org vs. Free WordPress.com [Infograph].

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.

Wordpress blogging platform
Start writing your posts!

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!

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  • Ivan Jose

    Wow, great read. I do believe in good content, too, but I have also come to terms with the fact that it won’t attract people on its own.It needed to be “pushed” to people. This is where social media comes in. It’s only lately when I became really serious with social media. While bulk of my (little) traffic is from search engines, social media is becoming a good contributor/referrer, too. Been trying to learn good SEO practices lately too so I’m going back to my old posts and making improvements. I hope that can bring my search rankings up.

  • Swati

    I visited this post out of curiosity, to see how challenges in Philippines is different from the rest of the world. I would say it is pretty much applicable to Asia. I am glad you took time to share your thoughts and learning for new bloggers. Do you have a view on which social media platform worked best for you ?

    • Katherine

      Hi Swati, glad to hear someone else can relate! Our biggest traffic driver is Google and then Facebook. 🙂 We don’t focus much on other social media. A lot of people swear by Pinterest but I think there’s also a big geographical factor in there. What about you?

  • Mahadev Majaladar

    Hey Katherine, Thanks for such a great guide on starting a travel blog. I like the way you said 20% content creation and 80% promotion.

  • nathalie salcedo

    HI! This was very helpful and interesting 🙂 I just started with the promotion stage of blogging. And yeah, it is true that content isn’t just always enough :p
    I have no idea with SEO? can you share some tips as well for it? Thank you!!!

    I wish to have a blog as successful as yours. More powers!

    • Katherine

      Hi Nathalie! Glad you find this helpful.

      SEO is actually a huge topic that it’s impossible to discuss everything in a single post, let alone in a comment. But basically it’s the process of “optimizing” your website so that it can rank higher in Google search results. For the basics, you need good-quality content (Google prefers lengthy content nowadays… 1k+ words), choose a good keyword for your post (e.g., “budget guide to Palawan”) and promote your post in social media channels.

      You can read more about SEO for beginners here – https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo

  • Eloisa

    This is a good content. Im also a newbie blogger and I’ve been blogging for a couple of months now. I still don’t buy my own domain as well. The truth is, I’m having a hard time promoting my blog since there are a lot of aspiring bloggers out there. I’m still on the learning process. Hope my blog can be as successful as yours.

    • Katherine

      Blogging is a continuous learning process… you have to move along the changes in social media, Google, trends, etc. Just keep doing it. 🙂 (Just followed your blog!)

  • Migz

    Hi Katherine and Hali, I am curious about how you approach brands and tourism boards to invite or sponsor you. I guess it’s also 80% trying and failing and 20% succeeding? I don’t want to feel down as I have only tried a few times, but I really want to learn. Hope you can share some tips. Thank you.

    • Katherine

      Hi Migz. So far, 100% of our travels are self-funded… Aside from that invite in Burachest, we had other invites locally but there’s always conflict of schedule or other issues coming up.

      If you’re going to pitch, you’ll get mostly no’s. This is normal. I tried pitching once before and it was mostly ignored haha. Anyway, businesses aren’t really obliged to accommodate you… But as your blog grows, there are higher chances of acceptance and tourism boards/organizers may even be the ones to approach you.

      As for now, I suggest networking and joining blogger groups in FB. In Bloggers Community (you can search them in FB) there are often invites for lifestyle, food, travel bloggers. If you’re acquainted to more established bloggers, you’ll be in the loop for brands/tourism boards looking for bloggers.

      If you think you aren’t in that stage yet, focus on your blog and content first. 🙂 Does that help?

  • Frank

    Great read Katherine! Always enjoy your take.

    I was a little taken aback by the 20/80 Paretto rule. Wow!

    Here’s my take on it. When I started blogging (for real) 3 years ago I really gave social media a go. Signed up for all those accounts. Did the rounds, followed all the stupid rules that bloggers give you. Didn’t do a thing for me. Plus I didn’t enjoy it, it was just wasted time spinning my wheels.

    I said “screw it”. I started blogging because I enjoy writing and I enjoy connecting with people.

    I decided to concentrate on my own content. I do social media (a bit) but my primary outreach is/was reading other people’s blogs and commenting which I also enjoy doing.

    We get about 1000 people a day now on the blog, about 60% of which come from Google. Which means concentrate on content!! I’m glad I decided on the strategy I did. About 20% comes from one stream on social media which I’m not giving away (Facebook and Twitter stink in my books and, unless you pay – which I won’t do – you don’t get much traffic there). The balance 20% comes from our regular (subscribed) readers.

    I probably have much to learn about the business side of blogging. But my thing was always to do what I enjoy and concentrate on content, which I knew would eventually mean bigger numbers. And that has meant blogging revenue -although we could monetize more but honestly I haven’t concentrated on that yet (I have always had the opinion that you get to a certain level of traffic BEFORE you start monetizing).

    But social media – for me at least it was a lot of time down the drain. So I’m curious about where this 20/80 Panetto rule comes from (could it be from the big bloggers who are always encouraging the newbie bloggers to promote their stuff? Sorry if I’m cynical). I’d be curious about your opinion on that.

    Anyway, as always, interesting post.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Katherine

      Hi Frank, I enjoyed your take as always. The 20/80 rule is my own philosophy… and it’s the same with others I’ve talked to, so I assumed it’s the norm! 😀 It’s nice to read a different approach to this.

      By promotion I mean both social media and SEO – you know getting backlinks for posts you want rank for and so on. Everything you need to do to get your content out there.

      Most of our traffic comes from Google as well. I kinda suck at social media to be honest haha. But social media clicks/shares factor in Google ranking. If we have a new post and it got traction in Facebook for instance, it easily ranks in the first few pages of Google. I have one post that got lots of Facebook shares and ranked in the first page after 1-2 weeks.

      I know that a lot of bloggers swear by Pinterest too – have you looked at that? I read about bloggers with a one-year website with 30k monthly traffic, mostly coming from Pinterest. It hasn’t worked for me so far, I guess because of our current audience (mainly coming from the Philippines) or maybe I’m just not fully committed on it yet.

      Anyway, I love your blog and how you’re straight to the point in telling what’s on your mind. Your content does shine. 🙂 That’s something that I find challenging considering the environment I grew up in (community oriented, people avoiding confrontations…), basically you need to blend in.

      Strategies are really different depending on what your goals are. I’m glad it’s working out for you!

    • Adrenaline Romance

      We are employing the same strategy with Frank. We focus on publishing quality, useful, and interesting content that readers can enjoy and relate. We also do a whole lot of engagement (e.g. replying to emails and comments, inviting readers to join events, giving them advice, etc.). This strategy allowed us to generate around 1,000 unique viewers per day.

      In the first place (and even up to now), we never intended our blog to earn or to become popular. In fact, we have absolutely zero knowledge on monetizing our blog. The money, sponsorships, and freebies just came later after we crawled in the mud.

      We remain focused on our objectives, which are 1) promote outdoor adventures (the promotion of is just an offshoot) in the Philippines, 2) inspire people to get off their sedentary lives, and 3) help local guides earn income.

      • Katherine

        That’s good to hear. I love your adventures especially when you guys go diving!

        I also like helping local guides. If we’ve had a guide and he/she does an exemplary job, I make sure that we include that in our travel guides. If not, we just don’t mention it. Also, I think a lot of places in the Philippines will benefit from a boost in tourism… as long as they are effectively managed of course. There’s so much more to see in the country.

        We started the blog as a hobby but since it’s time consuming might as well earn from it. 🙂

  • Katherine

    Hahaha! Yes, it takes a bit of learning curve. I discovered most plugins when I needed them. SEO is a whole course in itself. There are even websites dedicated solely to SEO. 🙂

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