For many travel lovers, being a blogger probably seems like THE dream travel job. Getting paid to document your experiences galavanting around the globe, with a few useful articles and regular social media updates sounds like a breeze!
Well, the reality of being a travel blogger is a bit like this but with waaaay more work thrown in. You will need to dedicate a lot of time to your new venture and you will realise that (despite what some get-rich-quick courses tell you), you won’t be earning six figures within a year.
Why Start a Travel Blog?
- I want to be a professional blogger – You may be interested in pursuing travel blogging as a career. If this is the case, you will need to be in it for the long game and dedicate a lot of time and energy to your vocation in order to stand out from the crowd! If this sounds like you, check out the Superstar Blogging course ran by Nomadic Matt. This is the course that I did to kickstart my own blog and it was invaluable. (You can read more about the course in the FAQ section at the bottom of this post.)
- I want to share my adventure with my family and friends – You may simply want to create an online travel diary for your family and friends back home. A travel blog is an easy way to update everyone at home at the same time and create a lasting memory of your once-in-a-lifetime trip!
- I want to boost my CV – You may want to show potential future employers just how creative you are (and make your travels look less like a three-month long party)!
Whatever reason you want to start a travel blog, you are in the right place. Despite the hard work, we can 100% vouch for the fact that it is definitely worth investing your time and efforts in creating a travel blog. (This website, which started as a simple travel blog, is now our full time job!)
Owner of this website, Nikki Scott, created her own travel website at the age of 23 and has kept it running for over a decade in an ever-changing backpacking and digital landscape. If you’re interested in the fascinating story being South East Asia Backpacker, Nikki wrote an honest book about her journey, Backpacker Business, which is a must-read for any inspiring travel entrepreneur!
So, if you follow the steps in this guide and consistently post good content for your readers, it could lead to all sorts of opportunities!
Start a Travel Blog in 10 Easy Steps
STEP 1. Choose a Unique Name for Your Blog
Although choosing a name for your blog appears easy on the surface, it is actually the biggest and most challenging decision you will have to make throughout your travel blogging journey. Although there is no ‘right’ name or ‘wrong’ name, the following advice should help you to make a good choice.
Pick Your Niche
As we have already discussed, there are literally thousands of travel blogs on the internet right now. Therefore, as tempting as it may be to copy what everybody else is doing, you need to think of something which makes you different.
There are fewer and fewer spaces for general travel blogs these days. They have been recreated again and again and there is no longer anything original about them. The blogs which are the most likely to succeed are the ones with a clear niche and as a result, a clear readership.
For example, here at South East Asia Backpacker, we write about backpacking Southeast Asia. By having this niche and sticking to it, it helps us to become experts in this particular area. It also gives us something to stand out against our competitors. Potential ideas for niches could include, country-specific blogs, family travel, 60+ travel, hiking or vegan travel. E.g. The Backpacker Granny!
Don’t Box Yourself In (Too Much)
I know we’ve just told you why having a niche is brilliant, however, you want to be careful to choose a blog name that you can grow with. For example, if you choose the blog name: A Year of Backpacking, you are pretty stuck if you want to extend your travels. Likewise, Mel in Thailand doesn’t really work if you decide you want to explore somewhere else later on.
As a general rule, try to avoid anything that pertains to a trip duration, style of travel (if you think your style might change), specific location (if you know you may want to explore further in the future) and your age. (Or your boyfriend/girlfriend if you think you might swap them along the way too!)
If you are looking for inspiration for travel blog names from the internet, you are likely to come up with pretty limited options. Nomadic [name], Intrepid [name] and Adventurous [name] should all be avoided as they have been done a million times before.
Try to go for something simple and easy to remember which still portrays the main niche/message of your blog. You should also avoid creating a blog name with numbers or unusual characters in it. There are a couple of reasons for this but mainly because you will need to constantly explain how people find your website. Most people intuitively expect a URL to be made up of lowercase letters only.
STEP 2: Buy Your Domain & Set Up Social Media Handles
Okay, so you’ve picked your perfect blog name and now Backpacks and Beaches is ready for launch. However, when you try to make an Instagram or Facebook account for Backpack and Beaches, you find that they are already taken by another travel blog.
Always check to make sure that the domain name (the unique name that identifies your site) and the social media handles are free before you decide on a name.
Buying Your Domain
To check if your domain name is free, use a website like namecheap.com where you can also buy your domain for a reasonable price. Domains are usually paid for annually and can cost anything from $10 US a year to $10,000 US! Depending on how serious you are, you can pay for one year or 10 years in advance.
TIP – Always go for a .com domain name when possible. People naturally expect most websites to end with a .com so it helps to make your blog more memorable.
Setting up Your Social Media Channels
If you’re serious about travel blogging you’ll want to set up a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even YouTube and/or Tik Tok account!
In an ideal world, you will want to keep everything consistent so avoid having variations of your name across platforms e.g. backpacksandbeaches, backpacks&beaches etc.
STEP 3. Set Up Hosting for Your Blog
This can be a little daunting because until you start a blog, you probably don’t even know what hosting is. (I know I didn’t!) In simple terms, it is like paying rent for some space on the internet. Plenty of different providers offer hosting services but in our opinion, the best option for beginners is Bluehost.
Not only does Bluehost provide amazing customer support but they are also one of the most reasonably priced hosting companies. This makes them a great choice for newbie bloggers. If you use this link to set up your website, you’ll only be paying $3.95 a month for 12 months – a pretty good deal when you think about it!
To start a website with Bluehost, choose one of the hosting packages. I would recommend going for the basic as you are only just starting out. As your following grows, you may find that you want to upgrade or even that you need a dedicated server. Now that we regularly get hundreds of thousands of visitors, this is a good investment for us. However, it is costly at $100+ a month!
Once you have chosen your plan, you will need to select your domain name. This is where you put in your chosen website name! Be careful to double check it – you don’t want a typo in your web address!
This is where you have the option to add extra features to your package. To be honest, you don’t really need many of these, but I would recommend adding the Domain Privacy Protection. There will be some nosy people who want to know who owns your site and by paying for this added extra, you keep your contact details hidden from them. It’s worth the extra pennies for some peace of mind.
STEP 4. Install WordPress
WordPress is one of the most popular website builders and is favoured by some incredible brands including The New York Times and the BBC (as well as this website!). Using WordPress makes building your website super easy and also gives you full control of the process.
Luckily, when you make a website with Bluehost, installing WordPress is very easy. With just a click of a button, you can have yourself a WordPress site. WordPress is likely to ask you to choose one of its themes. At this moment in time, you can choose any. You will probably be changing it later on anyway!
STEP 5. Set Up Your Website
Just so you know, the easiest way to log into your website is by typing the following into your URL bar: https://yourdomainname.com/login.
To give you a very general overview of how WordPress works, the screen that you will see when you log in is your dashboard. Down the left-hand columns, you will see everything you need to create your website.
- Posts: This is where you write your articles. Ideally, you will want to have at least five posts published before you start sharing your blog with your family and friends.
- Pages: These tend to be static pages such as your contact page.
- Settings: You can alter your website settings here.
- Comments: Where you approve, delete or reply to comments left on your posts.
- Appearance: This is where you can customise your website and change the way it looks. Don’t worry about this too much yet as we will be covering this more in the ‘choose a theme’ section.
- Plugins: These are site add-ons which allow you to do more with your website.
We recommend installing the following plugins when you make your website:
This plugin will catch spam comments.
- Yoast SEO
Although SEO (search engine optimisation) requires far more work than simply installing a plugin, this one allows you to format both your SEO title, URL and meta description. This is the title for your article that appears in Google, the URL and the description underneath.
- Contact Form
Using this plugin you can add a contact form to your site to invite visitors to get in touch.
- Super Cache
Regular caching helps your website to run faster.
STEP 6. Choose a Website Theme
After choosing a name for your website, this is probably the second most important task. Your website’s theme will enable you to personalise your site and getting it looking as beautiful as all of the other travel blogs out there.
This is an important decision as your website theme will affect how visitors see your brand. By opting for a clean and professional theme, you will encourage both website visitors and trust in what you offer. Always aim to go for a theme which is easy to navigate and not too cluttered.
Premium Theme vs. Free Theme
For beginners, it is not necessary to splash out big bucks on a theme. Even for more experienced bloggers, this is not always necessary. Free themes are easy to come by and they also allow you to keep the costs of running your website down. This is probably the way to go, to begin with. You don’t want to splash out loads of money on a theme to discover that you can’t be bothered with writing content regularly. wordpress.org offers some good free themes.
There are a few positives that come with investing in a premium theme. The first is that these kinds of theme generally allow more customisation. They usually come with developer support too which can be super helpful for getting started with your new theme.
Regardless of which kind of theme you go for, you will want to look for one which is SEO friendly and mobile responsive. It is important to consider how your website will look on a number of devices in today’s ever-evolving world.
Studiopress, Elegant Themes and ThemeForest are all great places to find themes. Be aware that more customisable themes such as Flatsome and Generate Press can be tricky for newbie users to navigate.
STEP 7. Design Your Logo
Now that you have your theme, you need to start working on your branding. Firstly, you will need to create a logo which should aim to sum up your blog and what you write about. It does not need to be flashy, in fact, the simpler the better!
Although many people feel intimidated by creating a logo and hire someone on a website like Fiverr, logos are actually quite simple and easy to make using online software such as Canva. Remember that if you use any images in your logo, they should be ones that you own the rights to or be usage free.
When creating a logo, aim to stick with a maximum of 3 colours for simplicity. You should also aim to use these colours when customising your theme to give your blog a strong brand identity.
STEP 8. Create Your Main Pages & Write Your First Post!
Your blog will need an about page, as well as a contact page and a privacy page. These are static pages that will feature on your blog’s homepage. Unlike posts which get pushed further down your list as you continue to publish more, pages are designed to contain information that will always be needed by the website user.
To get a few ideas when making your own about, contact and privacy pages, have a look at other websites and see what they do. This is particularly important for your privacy page which can be a bit overwhelming at first sight!
Now that your website is nearly up and running, it is time to write your first post! You can write about anything but make sure to put your own unique stamp on it and stick to your niche when possible. It is a good idea to make your first post an introduction to your blog and the type of content you are creating. Once you have a handful of good posts, you can take your site live!
STEP 9. Build Your Following
Networking and marketing are two of the most important things for any travel blogger. Make sure you share all of your articles to your social media pages and invite people to like those pages. Although growth can be slow, regular posting is the key to retaining a readership.
In terms of which social media to sign up to, we recommend being choosy. Running a blog is a lot of work in itself and that is without all of the associated hours you will need to put into social media. Make sure to choose your favourite platform and also consider opening a Pinterest account too. If you like visual media, YouTube is also a great place to create content to embed in blog posts and establish connections.
Another great way to get your name out there is to start guest posting for other bloggers. Take a look at their site and pitch them an article. In return for the article, bloggers will credit you and usually provide a link to your website. This is a great way to use someone else’s audience to get lots of eyes on your writing.
Making connections with bloggers also comes with other benefits. Not only is it beneficial to build a community but through establishing relationships, you never know what kind of doors will open. My own career at South East Asia Backpacker is a direct result of guest posting for them and continuing to build on our existing relationship!
STEP 10. Start Making Money!
We here at South East Asia Backpacker are not going to kid you by telling you that you’ll be making millions within just a few weeks of blogging. Whilst this happened for some bloggers back in the day, it doesn’t really happen anymore!
Whilst blogging might not be the way to fast riches, there is no doubt that it can bring in cash. There are a few ways that you can monetise your blog which we’ll discuss below.
This is one of the easiest ways for bloggers to make money on their sites. Basically, affiliate marketing involves recommending products you use and love to your audience. You can include a link and if somebody clicks on that, you may earn a small commission. Different companies offer different affiliate schemes and some are better than others. Some require the website visitors to make a purchase whereas others just want the users to follow the link.
You can also advertise on your website. Initially, if you are a small blog, you won’t have many options in terms of ads but Adsense can be a good place to start. It doesn’t pay much but when your blog is just a side project with all extra money going into the travel fund, even small amounts help!
Once you reach 25,000 visitors a month you can then apply to join Mediavine which pays much better by comparison. Depending on your website traffic and content, running ads with Mediavine could earn you enough to pay your rent in a country with low living costs!
Starting a Blog FAQs
Aren’t there too many travel bloggers already?
There are a lot of travel bloggers out there, I won’t lie. However, in amongst that group, there are only a few that make good money from what they do. There is also room for more because of the people with blogs, few take it very seriously. To make it in this industry, you will need to put in the work.
How much does it cost to start a travel blog?
Starting a travel blog does not need to be expensive. You can sign up for hosting with Bluehost today and pay just $3.95 per month. If you decide you want a premium theme, you should expect to pay on average, around $50USD, however, they can cost hundreds of dollars. Free themes are just that, free!
If you can make your own logo (and you probably can), you can save yourself some buck. However, even hiring a freelancer to do this for you can be cheap on a site such as Fiverr and 99 Designs. It would probably cost you around $50.
This amounts to around $50USD for a premium theme plus $3.95 per month for hosting. Not a bad investment, especially if you’d be writing a journal to document your trip anyway!
What equipment do I need to be a travel blogger?
The only thing you need to become a travel blogger is a computer with internet access. However, there is no doubt investing in a good camera (nothing too flashy), is also going to help.
How long until I start making money?
There is no clear answer to this. Some bloggers propel their way to traffic within just a few months and begin making regular cash from affiliates in this kind of time scale. Other blogs will take years before they start getting regular traffic and bringing in a decent income stream. It goes without saying that the more time and effort you invest in your blog, the more likely you are to see positive results.
What if I am not travelling all the time?
This is a common question from travellers. Not everybody can travel full-time (as much as travel blogs tell them they can) and it can be hard to know what to write about when you are not on the road.
Rest easy though, you don’t need to travel all the time to produce great content for your blog. You can always write about past trips, adventures in your home town or funny anecdotal articles – like one of our most popular posts about the Bum Gun. (Probably more relevant than ever before in light of recent circumstances!)
Should I do a blogging course?
You do not need to do a blogging course to become a travel blogger. However, there are some great courses out there and if you are looking to get started, having a look at one is not a bad idea if you can afford the investment.
We here at South East Asia Backpacker recommend the Superstar Blogging course, ran by Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. It is great for newbie bloggers and guides them through setting up Google Analytics, finding guest post opportunities, learning about SEO, working with brands and much more. I actually did this course myself personally before landing a job at South East Asia Backpacker and the things I learnt have been invaluable in my new career!
Before you splash out on a blogging course, make sure you have done a fair bit of writing beforehand and even set up your blog beforehand. You want to make sure you have a basic knowledge (which you will after following the steps in this article) to make sure that this is a hobby you genuinely want to pursue.
Always remember you can learn plenty from YouTube tutorials too and they are free!
We here at South East Asia Backpacker love lifting up other content creators. Whether you are interested in guest posting for us, sharing your YouTube video on our platform or doing a takeover of our Instagram, head to our collaborations page to find out how! Good luck on your blogging journey!