How to Start a Travel Blog In Six Easy Steps

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How to Start a Travel Blog

Anyone can start a travel blog — but starting a quality travel blog is a much more involved task. It involves time, it involves investment, and it involves a LOT of work.

Lots of people plan on starting a travel blog just to keep their family and friends updated on their travels. If that’s all you want, there’s nothing wrong with that! Go create a free WordPress.com blog.

BUT. If you want more people than just your friends and family to read your blog, if you want strangers to find your blog and thank you for it, and if you want the possibility of making money with your travel blog someday, this is how you want to go about starting it.

You’re ready. You’ve chosen a travel blog name, you have a few posts in mind, and you have some tantalizing travel plans on the horizon. Fantastic. Let’s put together your dream blog.

Step 1: Get Hosted

Don’t worry — hosting sounds scary, but it isn’t whatsoever! It’s just renting a little piece of the web for your site. So, which host should you choose?

I recommend Bluehost for nearly everyone, new bloggers included. I use Bluehost for almost all of my sites because it offers quality hosting for a low price ($6.95 per month for 12 months) and I can always get through to them when something goes wrong. They give you your domain name for free, too!

From the front page, start by clicking the big Get Started Now button:

Bluehost Home Screen

 

Next, choose the box on the left and put in your new domain name:

Bluehost Domains

You’ll be taken to a page where you can decide on your package and some add-ons:

Bluehost Plans

For your account plan, you can choose basic hosting plans for 12, 24, or 36 months. I recommend you go with the 12-month plan for $6.95 as anything can happen within a year and it’s just $1 more per month than the 24-month plan.

For the add-ons on the list, you don’t need Search Engine Jumpstart or SiteLock Domain Security. You can pay for the Site Backup Pro if you’d like, but I prefer to do the backing up myself. (I use the $80 plugin Backup Buddy).

Domain Privacy Protection, however, is something that you SHOULD spring the extra $9.99 for. Anyone can look up who owns any site; if you don’t pay for Domain Privacy Protection, anyone can see your name and mailing address on your site.

After your account is secured, it’s time to get WordPress up and running.

 

Step 2: Install WordPress

WordPress is one of the world’s largest publishing platforms. It’s immense, it’s easy, it’s used by multimillion-dollar publishers like CNN and People magazine, and nearly every blogger I know uses it, which means there are lots of professionals out there to help you out if anything goes wrong.

Bluehost offers easy one-click WordPress installation, which saves you from struggling through it or hiring someone to do it. On the cPanel, BlueHost’s home screen, you’ll see this button:

Bluehost cPanel

Click through and it will take you through a simple installation process. When it asks you where you’d like to install it, choose your domain (http://www.mynewtravelblog.com).

Once you install WordPress, it will tell you where to log in (usually www.mynewtravelblog.com/wp-admin) and your name and password. From that page, you’ll be able to log in to your WordPress dashboard:

Wordpress Home

Step 3: Install Plugins

Think of WordPress as a blank canvas — plugins are add-ons that make your travel blog functional. The vast majority are free; some free plugins ask for donations. Some premium plugins charge.

In the right side bar, click on where it says “plugins” and select “add new” to search plugins by keyword.

Here are the plugins that I recommend for new travel bloggers (and all of them are free!):

Akismet — Keeps spam under control (and yes, you will get LOTS of spam otherwise!)

Comment Reply Notification — Notifies commenters when they have a new reply to their comment. (It’s a courtesy thing.)

Contact Form 7 — Allows you to install a simple contact form so people can email you through your site.

Digg Digg — Displays social media icons on a floating sidebar, making it easy for people to share your posts.

Facebook Social Widgets — See that little Facebook widget on my right sidebar? That! Makes it easy for people to become your fan on Facebook.

FD Feedburner Plugin — Manages your feed, your stream of new content.

Google XML Sitemaps — Makes it easy for search engines to find your content.

nRelate — Puts little images of related posts at the bottom of each post, showing people more content they might like.

Photo Dropper — Helps you add Creative Commons photos to your site the easy way and cites them legally. You should use your own pictures whenever possible, but this is good when you don’t have pictures from certain destinations.

Ultimate Google Analytics — Installs Google Analytics, the industry standard of measuring your site’s visitors and traffic.

WordPress SEO by Yoast — Helps you create content that shows up better in search engines.

WPTouch Mobile Plugin — Makes your site look nice and easy to read on mobile phones.

Step 4: Secure Social Media Handles

Grab your desired screenname on each of the big ones — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and yes, Google+. Try to keep your name the same across all domains, except for Google+, which uses your full name.

Keep in mind that Facebook will not let you create a custom URL until you have 25 fans.

Step 5: Start an Email List

I Heart AWeber.com

Do you really need an email list? Ask any marketer or web guru — an email list is the single most valuable thing that your site can have. People are far more likely to see your content via email than they are by any other social network, and while social networks come and go, email addresses are here to stay.

My first big blogging mistake was not starting an email list at first. When I finally did, I made my second big mistake — starting it on Mailchimp, a free provider. When it was time to switch to a premium service that gave me more options, I lost a huge portion of my email list in the process because you can’t just add all your names on a list — they need to confirm it yet again.

Today I use Aweber, the best email service out there, and I’m kicking myself because I wasn’t using it from the beginning.

Learn to Earn, While You Travel - 300x250

Step 6: Join Travel Blog Success

Editor’s note: Travel Blog Success was purchased by a competitor in 2017 and is sadly no longer available for purchase.

Now What? Blog Prolifically and Be Patient

I always tell new bloggers to write at least four times a week to start. In your early days, blogging prolifically is the best thing you can do — because you’ll develop your voice, you’ll see what resonates with readers, and you’ll gain a greater understanding of what your blog should be.

Know that it’s not easy. It will take a long time and a tremendous amount of work before you gain a valuable audience interested in what you have to say on a regular basis. But once you do that, the perks in this field are OUTSTANDING.

Good luck, you fabulous travel blogger, you!

Note that affiliate links are used in this post. If you purchase any products recommended, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. By purchasing items through my affiliate links, you’ll help reduce the ongoing expenses of running this site. Thanks! 🙂

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353 thoughts on “How to Start a Travel Blog In Six Easy Steps”

  1. God, why didn’t I read this a year ago after starting mine. Very helpful and I have learned from some of the same mistakes.

  2. I don’t know how to put this without sounding like a dick, but how can a person trust your integrity when it comes to recommendations when you’re getting a referral commission? I’ve seen a few successful travel bloggers recommending Travel Blog Success and I’m wondering if it’s genuinely worth the money, or whether it’s only worth it for the select few successful bloggers who are making money from their referrals to the site.

    It’s almost like you’re being paid to say it’s a good site is what I mean in a way.

    I don’t write this to provoke you, I’m generally interested in whether you have any thoughts on the subject. My girlfriend and I are thinking of starting a travel blog and I’m interested in how a person can monetise while still being transparent with readers. I don’t feel a post like this one (which seems to be setup only to share referrals) is very transparent…

    1. Hi, Dan —

      There are affiliate links used throughout the site, and there is a disclosure on every page: “Some links on this site contain affiliate referrals. By clicking through, you’ll be helping reduce this site’s running costs — and I only link to products I personally use and like!”

      These days, you can do affiliate links on almost everything. I don’t link to what will earn me the biggest commissions — I link to products that I use, like, trust, and recommend for others. (For example, I could make a lot more money by recommending people book flights on certain websites that pay out huge commissions for affiliates, but I don’t, because I think Momondo is the best site and I recommend people book flights there, even though I’m not in their affiliate program!)

      Travel Blog Success is a great program that I’m happy to be part of, and if you put an effort into it, I guarantee that it will help you build the kind of blog that will earn you money. But joining is your decision to make, not mine or anyone else’s.

      1. Hey, thanks for the reply.

        I’m just wondering if you ever feel like you’re writing more for the affiliates than you are for yourself. Do you think it shapes your writing in any way? (Either for the best or worst.) Obviously you have to make money to live, so does the money in no way affect your writing?

        I suppose it’s just a moral quandary that all media gets into. How to make money while still staying impartial.

  3. Usually folks are so vague & try to make it sound as if there’s just some gaseous magic… or they lead you to believe you have to buy their book. In truth, it’s as simple as is laid out here. THANK YOU for your clear, direct, specific, helpful information.

  4. Hey Kate, these are some great tips! I have come across your blog last year and it has inspired me not only to go traveling but also to write about my adventurous too! But I have to admit- sometimes it’s like a full time job! 😉

  5. WOW, thanks heaps for these amazing tipps!

    I’ve been an entrepreneur for quite a while now, but mainly just because I am so passionate about writing, traveling and all that. I didn’t really think of making a living out of it, but am just now realizing that I should at least try to turn my passion into something a bit more professional.

    So I think: all people out there, passionate about what they do: KEEP ON GOING! As long as we keep stepping out of our comfort zones, we’ll be successful! Follow your heart and TRUST YOURSELVES!

    Thanks a ton for this inspiring blog post Kate!
    It’s blogs like this that keep me motivated!

    xo

  6. Thanks so much Kate,
    I recently started my travel blog balanced backpacker.com and have had a heck of a time understanding the keys to a good blog, whether it be wordpress issues, plugins, or traffic. Thanks so much, this is seriously, the BEST, most HELPFUL article I have found. Happy Travels!

  7. Thanks so much Kate,
    I recently started my travel blog balanced backpacker.com and have had a heck of a time understanding the keys to a good blog, whether it be wordpress issues, plugins, or traffic. Thanks so much, this is seriously, the BEST, most HELPFUL article I have found. Happy Travels!

  8. Thanks! This is such a helpful post. I almost passed it by thinking that it would contain only really basic introductory information, but I’ve already downloaded some plugins.

  9. This is a wicked post to read, even if you’ve already started a travel blog. I really like the points you made about joining Travel Blog Success and starting a mailing list – because I’m currently in the same boat you were in.
    Thanks a lot Kate, you’re awesome!

  10. Hi just a quick thank you really – been debating whether to start a travel blog for my upcoming travels for a while now and your post really made me believe I could do it! Very useful and practical tips 🙂

  11. I just want to say thank you for putting this article up. I had already set up my own blog about two weeks ago, but I wasn’t aware of websites like Travel Blog Success.

    I have been feeling around in the dark with this project, and it’s nice to know that there is help out there. I’m about to look through your other posts, but a good follow up to this would be how to get the word out about your new blog. Just an idea.

    1. I’ll think about it, Danika. I’ve thought of splitting off to do more blogging about blogging, as I’m not sure that it would work here…something to think about!

  12. I just started a travel blog on Google Blogger but I’m thinking of switching it over to WordPress… do you think there’s a big difference? Do you know if getting hosted with Blogger is the same process? Thanks!

    1. Big difference between wordpress.com and self-hosted WordPress. WordPress.com is free; self-hosted WordPress you pay for. I highly, highly recommend self-hosted WordPress. You don’t own your site unless you go self-hosted.

  13. Hi Kate,
    Why do you only recommend WordPress? Are there other website building sites out there just as good? I currently use WordPress but the continuous glitches in the system mean my site comes down a lot. This obviously doesn’t happen to you but have you heard of this happening a lot?

    1. Crystal, are you talking about self-hosted WordPress (you pay for your own hosting) or the free WordPress.com? They are different things. Until you go self-hosted, you don’t own your own site and you don’t have the freedom to do things like run advertising. What kinds of glitches are you having?

  14. Hi Kate, some great tips here. Thank you so much. But could you explain on some things that could help grow the email list? Thanks in advance.

    1. Create an incentive for people to sign up. Have a product to give away. Have a contest, and have them sign up for your list to enter. Choose an unobtrusive popup (like one by OptIn Monster).

  15. This post has really helped me over the last few weeks as I set myself up with a blog. I went into it blind with basically no idea what I was doing and this post was one of the first things I found that helped me out. Now that I’m all set up I wanted to come back and let you know that I really appreciate you sharing all of this great info. Thanks!

  16. Hi! Thanks for all your tips! We are sold all our things and started travelling August 2013 and have just recently started a travel blog. Thanks for all your tips, it’s always challenging figuring things out and getting started. Your blog is great! Keep up the good work!

  17. Hey Kate

    Great advice thanks for sharing.. I have recently started a new website on Wix….any thoughts you can share about them? I found a top 10 website list and they were No1 so that’s why I went with them. Thank you.. your site is fab 😉

  18. When I first started my blog, I had no idea where to start and pretty much just got going whereas I really wish I’d seen a post like this which would have helped me out along the way. Do you know of any sources of information with helpful tips for improving blogs which are wordpress.com rather than self-hosting? Thanks for all these hints and tips 🙂

  19. Hi Kate, great post! Thanks so much for helping us out! So my question…I read your reasons for an email list, but still unclear on why you would need one at all. My understanding is that when folks enter their email address to subscribe to a blog, new posts auto notify them with a link in their email in box. So why would you need a list beyond that? Again, sorry…I must be missing something.

    Thanx!!

    1. Hi, Vanessa —

      When people sign up for RSS updates, all you can do is send them your RSS updates. When you take control of your email list, you’re able to send them whatever you want and have access to all the emails with full analytics of who is opening your emails. I choose to send a post once a week with a short update on where I am and links to the post of the past week.

  20. Kate, this is a great post. Travel Blog Success is interesting though.. I haven’t heard of this before. Looking into it now. Is it very important in your opinion, though?

    1. If you’re new to travel blogging and you want to make money from your travel blog someday, it is invaluable. It will help you get to that point faster and earlier. If you’re an advanced blogger, you can get by without it, though the community is pretty great.

  21. Dear Kate,

    Greetings from Vietnam. My name is David who is one of those who love your travel blog. It inspire me a lots. I am going to open a new travel website which offer tours, travel tips, travel guides of Vietnam.

    I find it difficult to drive traffic to my website. What should I do to get traffic. Which information should I put on my website, I mean topics which people are interested in such as travel stories, guides, foods, culture etc…

    I would be very much appreciced if you could give me some ideals. I would love to learn from you.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you.

    Regards,
    David

    1. Hi, David —

      There’s way too much for me to put in a single comment, but that’s exactly the kind of stuff they teach you at Travel Blog Success and that’s why I recommend it!

    2. David – Its about the emotional connection. Look up Kindred Spirits: basically its a connection with another through a shared experience (either at the same time or uniquely). What’s Great about Kate – is she shares her emotions (if not through Words, Through Images) and the reader (Such as myself) feels a deeper connection with her, than if she just – wrote. I went to Vietnam. The food was tasty. Try the _______. No its the word Adventurous, it connects to people on a deeper level of consciousness – Come On, Who hasn’t had 1 Adventure in their life??? 😉 Cheers!!! -jamie:D Owner of TravelWithOstomy.com (136k hits last month, Yo 😉 )

  22. I’m planning on starting a travel blog very soon for my upcoming trip. I’m hoping to travel indefinitely and settle in various places before moving on. Do you think it’s worth starting a free blog on wordpress or blogger or should i just take the plunge and start self-hosted?

  23. Kate – I Have a friend who travels, shares pictures, Basically the whole shebang – But doesn’t make a penny from it, have followers (outside of FB friends) – I “mentioned” Wow – This Adventurous Kate site is really AWESOME – But I think I need to tell her, “Hey, Yo its your life – You can make money and expand your travels, YOU NEED TO START A BLOG” But maybe it’s not what she wants. Any suggestions to talking to her or just let her continue with her life (and I’ll focus on mind [Which Is Always Good Advice LOL Yo;)]) And yes, obviously my feelings for her extend beyond the friendship boundaries LOL Obviously!!! LOL Cheers!!! -jamie:D

    The comment is making me answer “two + _____ = eight” . I Just learned the answer is not banana. No, two + banana does not equal eight. GOD, I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE STUDIED HARDER IN CLASS. LOL!!! 😉

  24. Hi Kate,

    I was just wondering a couple of quick things:
    Do you manage your own website or do you have someone do it for you?
    If so, who do you get to manage it and how much does it cost?

    Thanks very much,

    Crystal

  25. Fantastic guide, very thorough! I had always used blogger until recent months and tried out the world of WordPress. Wouldnt go back now. The possibilities are fantastic.

    Still cant find a decent enough social network plugin for my theme though. How do you find digg digg?

  26. Hi Kate,

    Just found your blog and am loving it! Great tips, though I feel like I am you all those years ago (sleeping 2am -6am is me most work days) and just blogging about travel as a way to express myself and my passions – travel, writing, blogging, photography, fashion, food, art etc!

    I am just hosting 2 blogs through wordpress.com for free, not sure I’m quite ready for my own domain names yet, but would definitely look into it in the future (hence I’ll bookmark this post!) I have already experienced web hosting and the wordpress hosting and templates world helping my fiance build 3 websites, so I’m sure when I’m ready that won’t be so daunting.

    Blogging 4 times a week – wowza, not sure if i can do that, though lately I have been writing 2 or 3 posts a week then scheduling them over a few days, helps to have regular posting without sitting down every night.

    I’ll also look into travel blog success too, hadn’t heard of them!

    Thanks for the tips!

    Justine

    http://www.travelspotter.wordpress.com

    1. Hi, Justine —

      I do think you should get self-hosted as soon as possible. There’s no such thing as being ready or not — it’s simply whether you want to have a professional site that can stand on its own, or a site that’s technically owned by another company. Most people I know who started off not being self-hosted say that they wish they had migrated sooner.

      Good luck! And if you don’t have the time for blogging four times a week, just do what you can!

  27. Hello Kate!

    Thanks so much for this article. I’m going to share it with another friend of mine who is looking into travel blogging as well.
    I have a question though… I’m a recent college grad with some loans to pay off and not a ton of money at my finger tips right now… I travel as much as I can when I can when I have a bit of income, but it’s nothing that can get me out of the country yet. Is it okay to start off small, like city or state wide and then expand from there once I start generating a larger income? For example, I live in Texas, and there is sooo much to explore, but I want to turn my blog into an international one at some point, so I don’t want people to search me up and think I’m only a Texas travel specific blog when I plan on expanding in the future. But I DO want to write about my travels around Texas. Do you have any suggestions for bypassing that kind of confusion? Or does it matter? I mean in addition to writing about my personal travels, I can write about other travel related subjects as well…. But yeah what do you think, any suggestions? 🙂

    1. You can absolutely write about both your Texas travels and world travels! There’s no shame in that. I know a lot of bloggers who write about world travel but particularly specialize in certain countries or regions. “Texas and the World” could be perfect on you!

      Good luck with your loans and travels!

  28. Hi Kate,

    Thank you for all the valuable information. I just got started with my blog and was wondering what your thoughts are on selecting a theme for the blog. How should I go about selecting the right theme? Where is the best place to look for one? Are the free featured themes in WordPress good for beginners?

    Thanks.

  29. Hi Kate, thank you ever so much for the advice. This is fabulous!! Do you know if Travel Blog success plan to offer a big discount at some point again? I would definitely join if it was 40% off….

  30. Hi Kate, I hope you can help me as I start loosing my mind and I am really stressed out. I just created my own blog with the help of instructions you provided, thank you so much for that, transferring some of the posts from my old, free blog on wordpress. I fallowed your instructions and I am happy with what I created, but if you put wandering veronique into google search, the old blog is coming up – although you cannot access it as I deleted it. Why there is nothing coming up about my new website??? Nothing at all. I do not understand what is happening at all, any advice? Please? Thanks a lot!

  31. Kate, I have read your recommendations for AWeber. However, Mailchimp is indeed attractive as it is for free for a long time…or at least until you have reached 2000 subscribers. Since it could take a long time until you can make money from your blog, I’m wondering whether it is wise to invest into Aweber right away. What are your thoughts on this? Many Thanks 🙂

  32. Hey Kate!
    I have so enjoyed this post! I am a new travel blogger, ten posts in! I wish I had understood hosting before i began… I have paid for a year of word press hosting how would it work to switch to blue host (the one every blog i have read has suggested) and or does it matter? Still a little confused by plugins and hosting but coming along! Thanks for this post!

    1. It depends whether you’re happy with your current hosting. If you’re happy, stay where you are until your contract runs out; if you’re not happy, Bluehost could be a lot better for you!

  33. Hi Kate! I am a huge fan of your blog! This post is exactly what I was looking for. I am in the process of planning my own travel blog. Where do you recommend for finding WordPress themes? There are so many and those little thumbnails basically suck! Ugh finding a theme is so daunting.

  34. Hi Kate. I’m a huge fan of your blog! I am using your recommendations for starting a blog this weekend. I’m finally going to take the plunge after dragging my feet long enough. I know nothing about WordPress or creating a website. Your post makes it sound super easy and manageable. I do have a question. When do you install a theme? I found the theme I want on StudioPress, so when do I go over to StudioPress.com and purchase that? Would it be after Step 3 or right do I start with StudioPress? Thx!

  35. Do I need create completely new accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or is there a way to link my new “blog” accounts with my existing personal? Thx!!!

  36. Wow! This is fantastic information and so beautifully clear. I had already bookmarked Bluehost from when you mentioned it in an earlier post. I had been doing research – you’ve pulled it all together for me. Thank you, I will definitely click through the links on this blog when time to get started.

  37. Awesome Post.
    I too wish I had seen this before I started my blog on blogger. I tried to do everything myself and for free (even taught myself a little html coding which I am proud of) but I think it would have been so much better to pay a little and have so much more function and smoothness. Then again I don’t write as often as I should because I can’t decide how serious I want to be. I would love to see my little blog be successful but the time commitment has been struggle so far. Especially since I am travelling with my boyfriend who doesn’t blog.
    Urgh.
    Great explanation Kate.

  38. Hi Kate,

    Should I get my new travel blog hosted already or wait for more time to get more page views?

    I recently became a fan of your blog and I must say seeing you travel around the world also inspires me to do just that 🙂 But since I live in the Philippines with 7,107 islands, I decided to start exploring my home country first before going abroad.

    Thanks in advance!

    Anne-Di

  39. I want to travel a lot I want to go foreign lands and have an adventure there, my main reason for wanting to travel is not the beautiful places but its the food. I want to try different kinds of food that the world can offer, back here in my country there’s lot of exotic food. Well for me as I look for delicious and exotic food i get to see the world, places that holds beautiful scenery. Well but before I travel abroad I want to explore the whole Philippines first, right now I’m limited only to urban places here in the Philippines, I tried urban foods but I’m really hoping to go to Batanes in the North and to Sulu in the South, and I just realized that only few travel/food blogger are interested here in the Philippines. I don’t know why they’re not interested in my country although we can offer a lot of things, well there’s some others reason probably but getting a Philippine tourist visa is not one of them. Anyway, These reason made me decide to write a blog about the Philippines after exploring my whole country I want to go abroad and try what they can offer.

    Although I’m very interested in writing a blog is not that easy, passion is not enough I need to have knowledge about how to do it, what to use etc. I want to be a blogger but don’t know where to start, I don’t know what platform should i use or what tools would be best for my blog but thanks to this article, somehow, I got an idea on what to use or where to start this is very helpful.

  40. A belated thank you for this post which helped me get my blog up and running in a couple of hours! For a complete novice the list of plugins was priceless 🙂

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