Have we really stayed in $500 dollar a night hotels for free? Yes. And you can too. But it’s not easy. Starting a travel blog means HARD WORK and DEDICATION. But, with the right effort, you can do it. Hey, we can as well so it can’t be that hard. As you’ve probably read, this is part I of III – the guides will consist of the following content:
- Basics: Setting Up Your Travel Blog (current)
- How To Reach People: Growth Tactics (in two weeks)
- Monetizing Your Content (in four weeks)
In this article, some of the links are ‘affiliate’ links, which means I get paid when you buy a product there. This does not mean I don’t stand behind the product. I only PROMOTE products I believe in.
In this aricle I’ll talk about the following subjects:
- Picking a name
- Getting a domainname and hosting for your website
- Setting up your website
- Installing WordPress
- Learning WordPress
- My favorite WordPress travel templates (including this one)
- My favoite WordPress travel plugins
- What to write about (data driven!)
Picking a name
Think this one through. This is like choosing your babies name (okay, that might be a bit too much), but it’s really important. If you really want this, you will be writing, saying and hearing this name A LOT. So make sure you like it, and that it fits what you’re trying to tell. We could’ve chosen to go with amsterdamvoyage.com, but.. that would limit us to Amsterdam. Choose something short, something that’s easy to remember. Don’t dwell on it too long though; most names you’ll try will probably be taken (sorry) and you have to settle at one time.
Get a domainname and hosting for your website
Now that you’ve picked a name, you’re going to have to create a website. WHERE TO START! I hear you say it. Well, it’s actually easier than you think. You need a domainname and you need hosting. This may sound a bit technical, but it’s quite simple to set up. Hosting is just a place where you store your website, and a domainname, well that’s dailyvoyage.com for example! Together they create the base for you to start your travel blog.
Hosting is not expensive. Bluehost offers hosting from $3.95 per month, including a free domainname.
I run a custom Virtual Private Network-server for this website, because we have gained some traffic over the years. But if you’re starting and ready to grow to some traffic, Bluehost is the way to go.
Setting up your website at Bluehost
- Go to Bluehost and click on the “get started now” button:
- Select a plan (basic is fine, don’t worry about it)
- Choose your domainname
- Finish your order!
- Install WordPress
Install WordPress (without Bluehost)
If you’re not using the above solution from Bluehost, you can easily install WordPress for yourself on your domain. How? There are some really good guides on doing that; the best really is the one from WPbeginner.
- Check out the “how to install WordPress” guide by WPbeginner
If you were using the Bluehost option, you must by now see your WordPress Dashboard. Congrats! You now have a running website! You are now on your way of being a REAL travel blogger!
Learn how to use WordPress
WordPress is one of the most easy-going, easy to use Content Management Systems available. Just try and try and try and.. try stuff. Spend some time getting familiar with the backend. Learn how to make pages, learn how to make posts.
- WordPress lessons from WordPress.org
- Honkiat is a great source of WordPress info
- Learn WordPress in week by WPMUdev
These are all great sources, but keep in mind that you really learn most by just working with it and going with the flow.
Step 1 in that taking is making sure you have the right template for your travel blog. On to the next chapter!
My favorite WordPress travel templates
There are several good and useful travel themes for WordPress. Most can be found anywhere, but I would advice you to actually spend a few bucks and get a really good one. The only and best place for doing that is Themeforest. Themeforest provides support, reviews and the best variety of WordPress templates.
A little selection of WordPress travel templates that I like:
This theme may look a little familiar to you as it is the theme we work with! It’s a great out-of-the-box template with really nice features.
“Barcelona. Theme is clean, simple and easy-to-use news & magazine wordpress theme that is built for you to create your own pages exactly as you want. Simple and clean page builder interface lets you easily combine 11 different page modules with 6 different featured posts style. Some home page combinations are displayed on the live preview demo.”
Hermes Theme – download from Themeforest for $49
“Hermes Theme is the quality WordPress theme for tourists who want to share an ardor for traveling, ideas, and encouragement. Put up submission integrated; visitors can contribute a travel tip, nice destinations, offer a recommendation to search out the great motel cost and so on. Comes with page Builder by way of Wiloke, it’s handy to create a lovely website online in no time.”
“EightyDays is a beautiful WordPress travel theme that is perfectly suitable for a travelling blog or magazine. If you are a traveler or a travel agency who writes and shares your experience, the places you visited or the photos, then EightyDays is the best theme for you.”
If you want to customize your website even more, I’d invest time myself to try and learn it, or look at communities like Fiverr and Upworthy (or ask in the comment section, I can help).
My favorite travel-website WordPress plug-ins (free and paid)
When it comes to customizing the functionality of WordPress even more, plug-ins are the best way of doing that. They can spare you a lot of time investing into making your own solution. Some of my favorite travel website plugin-ins that I use:
- Easy social share buttons for WordPress (Themeforest – $19)
ESSBFW (it takes to long to write it all down), is one of the best social sharing plugins available. I’ve tried a lot of them, also the free ones, but this one just has SO MANY OPTIONS. Out of the box you can also choose similar styling to some of your favorite blogs, but if you want to customize there are no limits. Highly recommended.
- Mailchimp for WordPress (Free – download here)
Building a mailinglist can be a great tool to get returning visitors. Mailchimp really is THE software to work with for smaller lists. You can sign up at Mailchimp.com and connect your WordPress backend with Mailchimp, this way you can easily make sign-up forms and load them into Mailchimp on your own travel website.
- Yoast SEO (Free – download here)
When you don’t have funds to invest into advertising, SEO is a very important source of traffic. Even when you DO have funds to invest, you should always keep SEO in mind. Yoast SEO makes it super-easy to fill out meta-titles, descriptions and keep in mind what focus keywords you’re targeting. MUST HAVE.
- BackWPup (Free – download here)
What’s worse than losing everything you’ve worked on for a couple of months? Nothing. So make sure you back-up your website regulary. It can be easily done with BackWPup.
Also keep in mind that SPEED is a major issue nowadays, especially when you’re hosting large photo’s. Always CROP photo’s before uploading them. I always use TinyPNG to compress images. It works quite well!
What should I write about?
The questions of all questions: What should you write about? Try finding questions people have! Do (keyword) research! I have some sources for this:
- Google Keyword Planner
Even though Google is now hiding their volumes (unless you have an active Adwords campaign), you can still get insights into search queries.
A place where people go to ask questions. My advice; use “site:Quora.com travel” in Google to find all travel related questions..
- Your own experience
Where have you been? What places inspired you? What adventures have you made? What lessons have you learned. Write about them, publish them. Inspire others!
Amazing FREE tool that let’s you search for exact search queries in Google. This can give you GREAT insights in what to write about.
Enough inspiration for you to start writing some interesting travel-blogs!
How do I reach people – Part II
You now have a website, some blogs, maybe even some traffic. In part II I will write about how to reach people – using Instagram, Facebook and other social media for exposure. I will explain THE BEST GROWTH TACTICS from a marketing point of view to use for your travel blog.