How to Start a Travel Blog and Make Money Online
Do you love to travel? Do you love to tell other people about your travels and give them advice? Consider starting a travel blog.
Successful travel bloggers have turned their blogs into an opportunity to travel around the world and make money doing it. Some have found fame, being interviewed in newspapers and on news shows. They’ve gotten to travel the world and help their fellow travelers see the sights – while avoiding the same pitfalls they encountered.
Before you dive in, though, you’ve got to realize this is work. It’s not only work to be a travel blogger. It’s work to get it set up and noticed. Here are some tips to getting your travel blog off the ground.
Yes, you’ve got to have a good plan before you get started. You can’t just push a button and have all this appear. Like what are people going to call you?
Seriously. What are they going to call you? What’s your blog going to be named? You’ve got to pick a good name so that you can be noticed. You want to stand out from the crowd, after all.
A short and memorable name is great because people don’t have to think too hard to remember it. There’s more of a chance they’ll be able to log in later if they hear about a great travel blog someone read just when their phone happens to die.
What are you passionate about? Do you favor certain areas of the country or world, like the southern United States or Central America? Try to fit that somehow into your blog title. Here’s some other tips.
- Think staying power. Hopefully your blog will be super successful and last many years. So don’t do something like name it 2016 Central America Travels.
- Avoid clichéd or overused words. Everything’s adventurous, to the point it really doesn’t mean anything. Find original wording to build your hype and stay away from something like Wild Trips or Traveler Karen.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens. Again, you want someone to be able to remember your blog name. Plus you don’t want them to get the number mixed up or transposed when they are writing it down.
- Check to make sure a domain name is available. It’s preferable to have a domain that ends in .com because that’s what people are used to when it comes to a business, though that won’t always be possible.
- While searching for a domain name also check out social media to make sure no one’s running a blog or another business with a similar name. You will want to publicize your blog.
Choosing a platform
What platform do you plan to use? Think this through because it can make a difference. You may be tempted to save money up front by using a free platform like Blogger, but will this really make you stand out? Some of these blogging sites have also shut people down because they questioned their content, either because they didn’t like it or doubted it was the owner’s original content. Going with a common free site also makes your blog look cheap to some, making them wonder how professional you are.
Many bloggers use self-hosted WordPress sites. The blogging platform gives you plenty of templates from which to choose. You don’t need to know how to code to get your blog looking like you want it. There are thousands of plug-ins available to customize and enhance your site.
Let’s talk more about WordPress later. First thing’s first.
Set up hosting
It’s time to register your domain name and set up hosting. Often you can register your domain and host your blog with the same provider. If you plan to use WordPress, or a similar blogging software, research web hosting companies to make sure what they offer is compatible. Here are some other things to keep in mind.
- Start out with a budget hosting plan. Many web hosts offer buyers an introductory price. Remember you’re just starting out blogging. You don’t know yet if you’ll like it or be a success, and you can always change hosting later. So consider pricing when you choose a host.
- Research your choices to find one that is reliable. Check reviews and look for such things like if users experience a lot of down time or if their support teams quickly help customers.
- Try to limit the hosting to a year or less. You may save going out to three or more years, but this won’t be much of a savings if you decide it isn’t really for you but still owe money for the hosting.
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Many web hosts will have an option for installing WordPress on their control panel. Look for the control panel and a section called website builder or a similar name. You will be asked onto which domain you want to install your WordPress. You will then enter a user name and password before it begins installing.
Choosing a WordPress theme
Choosing a theme is a fun but challenging part of blogging on WordPress. There are numerous choices pre-installed, plus you can find many free and affordable themes elsewhere.
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a theme.
- Again, you want to stand out from the crowd. Look around at other travel blogs and make sure you don’t pick a theme used by everyone else.
- Think through whether the theme fits your needs. You will want a mixture of type and photos, so find a theme that displays photos dynamically but also lets you post enough text to tell your story.
- Don’t get too crazy on your color scheme. It’s OK to give your blog some personality, but make sure your colors aren’t tacky or too off track like Christmas colors for a blog about traveling in the summer. If you plan to write mainly about traveling in one country consider using colors that match that country’s flag.
- Consider purchasing a theme. Purchased themes often give you even more customization power and they may give your blog an even more unique style. A few sites to find themes are ThemeForest and Elegant Themes.
Plugins make your blog more functional. There are plenty to choose from to give your blog an extra something that sets it apart from others. But there are also basic plugins that you will want to get. Here are some of them.
- Akismet: Comments let you interact with readers, but you’ll notice quickly that most of what you get will be spam. Akismet catches and deletes most of the spam so you don’t have to deal with it.
- Contact form: A contact form gives your readers an easy way to email you and ask you questions.
- Jetpack by WordPress.com: Jetpack adds stats into your dashboard among other valuable features.
- Social shares: Make it easy for people to share your stories on social media like Facebook and Twitter. There are plugins to help you do this.
- Yoast SEO: Search engine optimization increases your chances of being ranked higher in Google so that more people can find your blog. Remember you are competing against other travel blogs. Yoast SEO includes many features to help you do so.
Start blogging and market yourself
Now it’s time to blog. Make sure to fill out your about me section with a proper introduction so that people feel like they know you. Include your travel preferences and a little bit about yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your personality show. You want to be unique. Let people see the real you.
Let people know you have a blog. You won’t get traffic if no one knows it’s there. Social media will be your primary tool to get the word out. Again, let your personality show. Use photos to increase the chance that your blog will be viewed. Don’t give away too much. You want them to refer back to your blog.
That lays a solid groundwork to start your travels in blogging. Enjoy your journey as a travel blogger and let your readers see the world through your eyes.
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