Figuring out how to start a travel blog isn’t really that hard. Figuring out how to start a successful travel blog, however, take a little more work…
Well, 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 start.
To help you out, I’ve put together this quick step-by-step guide to walk you through everything you need to do to start a successful travel blog in just 6 easy steps.
Why should you listen to me? Well, 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. I’ve learned plenty of lessons along the way — many of them the hard way — so I’m hear to help you avoid common mistakes while you quickly and easily start your travel blog.
So, let’s dive right into our six steps for how to start a travel blog (oh, and be sure to bookmark this post 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 this post 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 click here to input your name ideas and check availability.
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 claim that domain and sign up for a hosting company (the company that serves your content to your readers) and register your domain.
There are a bunch of hosting companies to choose from, but I personally use SiteGround for my hosting. I used to be on a different more popular host, but I switched to SiteGround because it’s the fastest, most efficient hosting company on the more affordable side of the spectrum.
Their “StartUp” plan, which is their cheapest, should be more than enough for a new travel blog. Then, if your blog takes off, you can upgrade for a few dollars more to their fancier plans.
Although SiteGround is the best starter option and 100% worth the money in my opinion, if you’re on a budget, another popular dirt-cheap hosting provider is BlueHost (>>click here to check out their plans<<). BlueHost isn’t quite as fast in my experience, but if you’re just starting out and on a tight budget, BlueHost has the cheapest quality hosting around (their start plan costs just $3.95 a month!).
But what about free hosting sites, you ask?
Well, yes, it’s possible to host your blog on sites like Blogger.com or WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org). But I very strongly recommend getting your own host. 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. 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”). As of 2018, Google strongly suggests it, and doing it later is a bit of a pain.
Unless you are a hard-core coder capable of building your own site, you’ll need to use a website building tool like WordPress, Wix, or SquareSpace to actually create your blog. Of those options, WordPress (I’m referring to WordPress.org, not to be confused with the very different WordPress.com) is by far the best and most popular platform for managing your travel blog. I would guess that 97% of travel bloggers use WordPress.
The WordPress platform is 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 (click here for detailed instructions on how to do that).
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, and the best theme for travel bloggers I’ve found is the one I currently use – Rise by ThriveThemes.
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.
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.
At a minimum, you should definitely sign up for (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. Plus, I’ll give you links to my 7 favorite insider Facebook groups for bloggers (you’ll definitely want to join those if you’re serious about blogging!). Just enter your email below to sign up for free:
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, and recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico.