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

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.

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. Hi Kate,
    Thanks, this help me so much to broadened my mind.

    One thing I’m curious about, how much money do we need to start a high quality travel blog? With all domain and plugins of course.
    I just want to know how much money I should prepare before starting my own blog.

  2. Hi Kate. Thanks for this post, it was most helpful starting my new site. Now that I’ve migrated my blog over to my site I am trying to figure out a layout. I looked at woo themes and liked what I saw. Do you use a theme or did you have a Web designer do your layout?

  3. Hi Kate,

    Thanks for all of the useful tips! I’ve been toying with the idea of quitting my corporate job and traveling for at least 6 months. Today I made the decision to actually go for it b/c life is too short! I’ve been thinking of starting a travel blog based on feedback I’ve received from friends and family on emails I send during my recent trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. But I have no idea where to start. What’s your opinion on starting before you even begin travelling, as in during the organizing and prep stages of the trip.

    Any thoughts??

    Thanks!
    LP

    1. Hi, LP — you can absolutely start before the trip. You can blog about your past travels, like in Southeast Asia. It’s a good way to get used to blogging. Lots of people think they’ll just start once they arrive — and it never happens because too many changes are happening at once. Get into the habit now! And congrats on quitting your job to travel!

  4. I love this post and refer to it often as a reminder of what a great blogger should do. Thanks for being so candid and sharing your experiences. I know how hard this can be! Your blog is a great motivator and I hope you share many more good and bad adventures with us in 2015. Merry happy holiday. A fan xoxo

  5. Hi, I’m about to start a travel blog, but after reading this I have many questions; here’s my first
    Why self -host vs. a free site?

  6. This is awesome, thank you! I am currently on a wordpress.com – can you outline what the biggest advantages are for self hosting? Does it matter geographically with whom I host? I am based in Germany while I write in English and my blog is a .com

    Thanks!

    1. Hi, Annika — if you ever want to make money with your blog, or if you ever want to be taken seriously, you should go self-hosted. It’s a big difference in level of professionalism.

      1. Thanks for replying, Kate! I get the money part, but how does it affect being taken seriously? I am struggling to find an answer anywhere that goes into the details of what that entails. From what I heard changing from a wordpress.com to self hosting can be a bit of a nightmare, so I just want to know that I’m doing it for good reasons.

        1. If you ever want to make money with your blog, you’re going to have severe limitation with what you can do on WordPress.com. It might be your own blog, but it’s not your own property — it’s WordPress’s site. When you go self-hosted, you own your own site. And it’s really not as difficult as you think — do some YouTube tutorials!

  7. Hi! I am joe. I just created my blog a few days ago. And I am very grateful to see this blog, i saw this way before creating my website. I got a domain, some free hosting and WP and now~~ its all running.(you can check it if you want) Hehe. Im stuck at the ’email list’. Any tips regarding this? I don’t have any email list coming from other people.hehe, so are there websites that can provide for free?

  8. Such a great blog post and is definitely helping me grow my site. I started my blog just to inform my friends and family what I was up to but if I can make a little extra money in the process that’s a bonus.

    Love reading all your posts. Thanks so much Kate!

  9. Thanks for the tips! I followed them and started my blog getmeoutofheretravel.com. Only a couple entries so far but I’ve been wanting to do it and just felt overwhelmed with not knowing where to start. Glad I saw your page 🙂

  10. What a brilliant post. Thanks so much Kate. We are in the very early days of setting up a travel blog and it is rather a daunting time. We’re determined to make it work and your hints and tips have been a great inspiration. I’ve already installed Photo Dropper! Thanks again, great blog. 🙂

  11. Hi. I’m from the UK, I was trying to set up blue host, but it asked for for a VAT Registration number? And then had to do a entire registration from, to be stuck at a dead end with my national insurance number. And this is meant to be only recommend for ‘business’ that have a VAT taxable turnover of £81,000. And I will still have to wait 2 weeks for certificate to come through 🙁 🙁 🙁 do you have any other recommendations for a different site????

    1. A VAT registration number?! There’s no reason for that. Unless you’re trying to sign up as an affiliate or buy something more in-depth and complicated. Try it again; I really don’t think they would be asking you for that for a regular hosting package.

  12. Great advice and tips, I may put it all into practice soon !!
    Q. I have used Google blogspot for the last two years, is there anyway to import an existing blog into the Worldpress application or will it all need to be re-entered ?
    Q. What equipment do you use on your travels ? Laptop,smartphone ? I have been using a tablet but it has its limitations.

  13. Hey Kate, i’ve just installed Bluehost and world press, now i can’t find any of the pluggins !! It keeps just trying to sell me complete templates ? Even if i search for the first pluggin suggested Akismet it comes up with nothing ? Has the site changed since you last did this ?

    Frustrated Simon !

  14. Hi Kate,

    These tips were really great. Thank you so much for sharing them and being so open to helping others like myself reach their success goals as well. Traveling is my life’s passion. I have still so much to learn with blogging and now I have a much better idea on how to take my blog to the next level! Thanks 🙂

  15. Hello,
    I really enjoyed reading all the informative things you had to say. I’m only 22 (almost 23) and I graduated college about a year ago. I’ve been blessed to be able to travel at such a young age, I’ve been to Indonesia, Singapore, Bali, England, Mexico, all over the US, and have a Canada trip planned currently. When people ask what I want to do as a career they laugh when I say I want to get paid to travel. they note that that’s not possible, but I don’t believe them. and I don’t believe in living a 9-5 “typical” job, which I’m currently doing just to get income. I’m looking to get started in the travel agency but just looked around and brainstorming on what would be the best. I love planning trips and of course traveling. I would love to see the world and to live a life that’s worthwhile. feel like I’m in a daze right now working a desk job. I’m not made for this, and I won’t let my life pass wishing I would’ve done something when I had the chance. after reading your blog, I wouldn’t mind doing what you do, and I really appreciate you being honest about the legwork it takes to do what you do, and honestly, English has always been my worst subject, and i liked how you touched base on that too. but my one questions is, how do I start a travel blog when I’m not traveling day to day. what do I talk about? my recent experiences? any help would be greatly appreciate. thanks so much,
    Kelsey Sanders

    1. Hi, Kelsey — you can absolutely blog about your past experiences. That’s how I started! But you should also keep travel a priority so you can continue writing about new places as well.

  16. Hi Kate, we are travelling the world for 12 months and I started to look for ideas for our blog and came across your site. I wish I had of read it in December 2014. Needless to say I am going to look into all that you have mentioned here, especially the plugins, thanks. I have explored a few and find them easy to install and use and when you don’t like one or it does’nt give you what you want you simply uninstall. Even I get that. Could you please let me know, which is more useful for generating interest in a travel blog, Pintrest or Instagram? Thanks Christie

    1. Hi, Christie — Honestly, if you’re going to be serious about a travel blog, you need to be serious about every social network. You can’t skip anything. But Pinterest and Instagram both offer enormous growth potential, so I would focus on both. Pinterest will send you traffic if done well; Instagram is better for awareness.

  17. I’ve written a lot of articles before and I just wasn’t earning from it yet… maybe because I haven’t found the right strategy. Thank you for this!

  18. Really nice blog you posted i read all the 6 steps you gave nice tips for starting of blog .
    Thanks for sharing such a valuable information it is very useful.
    keep on sharing !!…

  19. this is amazing… i read your posts and it made me want to cry… iv’e been wanting to become a blogger/travel blogger myself but i just don’t know where to start. i really hope you could help me out but i would like to start in the Philippines first which is where i’m from

    1. The Philippines has an awesome travel blogging community, Aleckzandra. I know they have meetups in Manila frequently — perhaps get in touch with them? These steps above are how you get started!

  20. Thank You!! You’ve put me onto a very good beginning. I’ve been traveling on occasion for a few years, and now it’s time to travel more, with the tools you offer for my success. ☺

    (PS I plan to get that gravitar tomorrow!)

  21. I noticed you recommend both WordPress SEO by Yoast and Google XMP Sitemaps. I have the Yoast plugin, but when I try to activate Google XML, it says they’re incompatible. Do you use both of them somehow, or do you use either or?

    Thanks! Awesome site!

  22. Great tips Kate! Thanks to this list I’ve managed to create my own website to blog about my round the world trip this year!! Regarding social media, which channels do you think are essential to cresting a successful travel blog?

    Jade

  23. Hi Kate,

    This was really helpful, hanks for all the great tips!
    I would just like to ask, what is an email list, I have no idea what they are.

    Thanks

  24. Saved this page on my screen for 5 days! Read it over and over and took your advice. Getting started on my very own blog has been very exciting and I loved reading your success story. See you around the bin. 😉

    Autumn

  25. I’d like to say THANK YOU KATE!! for sharing this incredibly helpful informaiton. You made it sound so easy that the day after I read this, I did in fact set up a website!

  26. Hi Kate!
    I know that this is a post that is about a year old but just wanted to say thanks! I am currently living and working in South Korea but would love to start up my travel/lifestyle blog. I am currently fixing up my blog that I have played around with in the past three years. I have read a few other posts that you have written. Wanted to thank you for the great information. Keep up the great work!

  27. I am so glad I found this post now while my blog is still brand new and not later! I had never heard of Aweber, is it as simple as Mailchimp in terms of being user friendly? Aside from that the Plugins you mentioned were a huge help too! I was concerned about spam as I am already starting to experience that.

  28. Hi Kate, I am a travel nurse that loves to take and share pics of all the places I have been. Is there a limit to the number of pics I can upload to this site? Also, I’m traveling off and on with a couple of friends so I guess the hardest part has been deciding on a name. I must get started because I have 16 months of traveling and pics to catch up on…thanks for the site and any feedback.

    1. Nope, no limit, but that’s an issue with a host — you may end up paying more eventually. You can also host images on an outside site like SmugMug, which gives you unlimited storage for $60 per year.

  29. Hi Kate, great post! I’ve never created a website/blog before, so I was curious as to what part of the set up allows for choosing formats/templates etc and customizing? Do you have tips on choosing what to go with at that point? Thanks! 🙂

  30. Hi Kate,

    Great post. I’ve done steps 1-5. Looking at step 6 as we speak. Struggling with getting people to subscribe to my blog but I am working on it.

    Did you ever do any paid advertising? How did you spread your posts in the first 6 months?

    Thanks,

    Tyler
    http://www.life-of-ty.com

    1. I only did a very small paid campaign for a certain post, but it didn’t convert well, and that was four years into blogging, so I didn’t do anything in the beginning. Not sure what you mean for the first six months…

  31. This is definitely an article to read before you start a travel blog. Full of great info and useful tips. I wish I would have read it when I started blogging a few years ago!

    Thanks Kate.

  32. Hi, Kate, I have been travelling for almost two years now, but never thought of starting a travel blog. I was scared with all the technicalities involved in designing and setting up the blog. If that was not enough all these terms SEO, backlinking, Social Media etc. kept me away from starting my own blog, until one fine day I came across this post of yours. This clarified lot of doubts. One, setting up the blog is not difficult, second, running the blog will require tons of work and equal tons of patience. Needless to say that you have motivated me enough. I have now finished with setting up of blog, following your step-by-step guide, and it has also gone live last week. Of course, it still requires hell lot of fine tuning which I will be working upon in the next few days. I hope the blog works out.

  33. hello kate i used your tips to set up a website and im having trouble getting my site to look how i want. every time i post it goes to my home page i want to do something similar to your site and set it up where my post go under my blog page like yours can you give me some advice?

  34. 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.

  35. For me the biggest problem at the moment is the knowledge to create a blog and get all the complicated work done. Is there a chance tom pay people to set up the blog with all plugins so that i just start posting and focus on my stories? I have no computer skills and it seems so hard learning it online by reading blogs on how to do it.
    Best wishes, Michael

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