This is the best weekend of the year to save money on starting a travel blog! That's why I rounded up the best deals on travel blogger products in my latest post (click button to see)
Looking to start a travel blog?
Believe me: you want to make sure you set it up correctly from the start.
The decisions you make when you are just starting a travel blog have cascading effects later in the life of your blog. That’s why it’s important to get it right from the beginning.
To help you out, I’ve put together this quick step-by-step guide to walk you through everything you need to do to set up a successful travel blog in just 6 easy steps.
Can’t wait to get started? Click here to jump straight to Step One.
But first, a small bit about me:
I started this travel blog in 2017, and in just over a year grew it to over 35,000 followers and more than 15,000 visitors per month. Along the way I’ve had some pretty unique experiences. And I’ve learned plenty of lessons along the way — many of them the hard way — so I’m here to help you avoid common mistakes while you quickly and easily start your travel blog.
Note that this article assumes you are a total newbie to travel blogging, so spends a lot of time on the basics of getting a site up and running properly. For more advanced tips on how to build an audience, work with brands, monetize your traffic, and the hundreds of other advanced topics you’re going to need to learn (it’s a lot, trust me!), there are two things you should do:
Anyway, let’s dive right into our six steps for how to start a travel blog (and be sure to bookmark this post by hitting the star in your browser, or click here to save on Pinterest so you have it for later!).
[affiliate disclosure: one of the main ways travel bloggers earn money is through affiliate links. If you use a link on this page to make a purchase, I might receive a commission. You don’t have to use my links, but it’s a nice gesture if I helped you!]
You can’t start a travel blog until you have a decided on a name. But that doesn’t mean you should rush through this step, as it’s a decision that you can’t easily change down the line.
A lot of names are already taken, so use the tool below to see if your name is available:
Here’s a few tips for picking a travel blog name:
For more tips, check out my detailed step-by-step guide to choosing a travel blog name.
After you’ve decided on a name, the next step to starting a travel blog is to:
Here’s the good news: you can easily do these two parts simultaneously through your host.
And here’s more good news:
Hosting nowadays is ridiculously cheap. Typical hosting costs for a small to medium sized website are only $10-20 a month.
But I have EVEN MORE good news!
I’ve partnered with one of the most popular hosts on the web, BlueHost, to offer a special deal just for TravelLemming readers, allowing you to start your site for a mere $2.95/month! That’s less than I paid for my coffee this morning! Oh, and they even through in the domain registration (usually $12) for free.
Here’s all you have to do to access the special promo and get up and running in 5 minutes:
Note: when you check out, you’ll see some “extras” in the checkout screen. You probably don’t need any of those except maybe the cheap domain privacy protection (I don’t personally pay for it, but doing so will help keep your personal details from being publicly accessible).
Ready to move on? Click here to skip to Step Three.
Now what if you don’t want to use BlueHost?
No worries: there are a bunch of hosts to choose from. I personally run this site off of SiteGround. I like SiteGround as it’s one of the fastest, most efficient hosting company on the more affordable side of the spectrum.
Again, their “StartUp” plan, which is their cheapest, should be more than enough for a new travel blog. If your blog takes off, you can upgrade for a few dollars more to their fancier plans.
There are other hosts out there but many of them just plain stink, and others are too expensive, so I can’t really recommend them.
Click below to compare BlueHost and SiteGround:
But what about free hosting sites, you ask?
Well, yes, it’s technically possible to host your blog for free on WordPress.com. But I very strongly recommend at least paying the $2/month it will cost to get your own domain through WordPress.com. Otherwise you won’t actually own your own travel blog domain (it will be something like “www.mytravelsite.wordpress.com” instead of “www.mytravelsite.com”). For a bunch of reasons I won’t go into, that makes it really really hard to start a successful travel blog.
And at that point, you might as well just pay the extra 95 cent it costs to go with a self-hosted company like BlueHost. And let’s just say this: I can’t think of even a single successful travel blogger who isn’t self-hosted.
So even if you’re just trying to figure out how to start a travel blog to keep your friends informed about your travels, at a minimum it’s probably worth shelling out the couple dollars a month for a cheap BlueHost plan. That way if it later turns out to be more serious than you imagined, you won’t have put your travel blog into a box you can’t get out of.
Pro tip: opt for an SSL certificate when you register your site (meaning your site will be “https”). You’re gonna need it eventually and, as of 2018, Google strongly suggests it, and doing it later is a bit of a pain. Plus, it’s included free with BlueHost anyway.
Unless you are a hard-core coder capable of building your own site (yeah, I didn’t think so 🙂 ), you’ll need to use a website building tool to actually create your blog.
By far the best and most popular platform for managing your travel blog is WordPress.org (not to be confused with the very different WordPress.com). I would guess that 97% of travel bloggers use WordPress.org.
The WordPress platform is 100% free to download and use, and there are tons of free “plugins” that can help you customize your site without writing a single string of code.
The first thing you need to do is install WordPress. Assuming you signed up through BlueHost, this is a super simple process:
- Log in to your Bluehost cPanel account (you’ll receive this in an email).
- Find the Website section and select Install WordPress.
- Click the Install button.
- Choose the domain name to install it to. In the field next to the domain, you can enter a subfolder such as ‘blog’ or leave it blank if you want the site’s main page to be the blog.
- If necessary, you can edit the email address, username and password for the new WordPress installation. Click “advanced options” and you can change those settings.
- Read through the license and service agreements and check the boxes.
- Select the Install Now button.
The next thing you need to do is pick and install a WordPress theme, which is basically a pre-made design for your site.
There are a ton of themes out there. If you’re on a tight budget, WordPress comes pre-installed with a few free ones. But since those are fairly basic and over-used, most travel bloggers choose to purchase a premium theme.
The options for premium themes are overwhelming. I’ve tried out several different themes, but I currently use Thrive Themes and love them.
Thrive works a bit differently than other theme companies: you can either purchase an individual theme for a one-time fee, or you can purchase a monthly “subscription” that gives you access to all their themes, plus a ton of premium plugins. Click here to check out all the themes offered by Thrive Themes.
I personally opted for a subscription, because I love using the Thrive Architect plugin, which lets you easily and intuitively modify your site’s look without having to known a bit of code (even after two years, coding stills scares me!).
Whatever WordPress theme you install, you’ll need to customize the theme to build your own travel blog. Most importantly, you’ll want to set up a homepage that looks professional and slick, using your own travel photos and your custom logo (to get one of those, you can hire a designer on Upwork or you can just create your own on Canva).
I’m not going to lie: if you are not a coder, customizing your theme can be a bit painful. I crashed my site several times when I was trying to figure out how to get it set up!
That’s another reason I love using Thrive Themes: you’ll get access to Thrive University, which has dozens of step-by-step instructional videos that walk you through exactly how to set up your blog in WordPress. No need for special coding knowledge!
If you’re not using Thrive and find yourself banging your head against the wall, one option for setting up your site is to hire a WordPress designer to do it for you. You can find some decent freelance designers for hire on Upwork.com.
Starting a travel blog requires more than just setting up your site! You also have to start social media accounts to help build your following (sign up for my mentorship program for insider tips on how to build a following across each platform).
At a minimum, you should definitely sign up for the following (links are to my handles as examples):
Additionally, if you plan on create travel videos, you should make a YouTube account for your brand. Note that you’ll need 100 followers before YouTube will let you claim a custom URL.
The above are the main social media platforms, but others you might consider using include: Flipboard, Snapchat, Reddit, and Quora.
Ok, so now you have figured out how to start a travel blog! But you still need to make your travel blog successful.
What’s the best way to do that?
Sign up for a travel blogging course!
Travel blogging is like anything else: it takes a lot of skills, and there are a lot of aspects to it that don’t seem intuitive. You’ll save yourself a ton of time, and give yourself a much better chance of success, if you take the time to learn from someone who has been through it.
Personally, the first thing I did after starting this travel blog was to >>sign up for Nomadic Matt’s SuperStar Blogging Course<<.
Nomadic Matt is by far the most successful travel blogger out there, so I figured it made sense to learn from the best. His Business of Blogging course runs through everything you need to know to grow your travel blog, from building a social media following, to figuring out how to get your posts to rank in Google, to working with brands. It also gives you access to technical help from his team, as well as an exclusive Facebook group where you can network with other new bloggers.
To see my full thoughts on the course, check out my detailed review of SuperStar Blogging.
Want more tips for making your travel blog successful?
Sign up for my free newsletter by entering your email below, and I’ll send you some advanced secret insider tips for how to build your audience and how to make money.
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As I mentioned at the start, figuring how how to start a travel blog is easy. Starting a successful travel blog, however, takes time. Here’s a few bonus tips I’ve picked up along the way that can help jump-start your travel blog:
That’s it for this quick guide to how to start a travel blog. If you have any questions about starting your blog, or if you just want to connect, please scroll down and leave me a comment! I’d love to read your blog once it’s up and running!
Oh, lastly, if you’re on Pinterest (and all travel bloggers really should be, as I mentioned above), you can pin this post on how to start a travel blog for later here:
Nate Hake has traveled to 65+ countries across six continents around the world and blogs about his travels at TravelLemming.com. He is from Denver, Colorado, recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico, and is now currently traveling in Thailand.