So, you want to get started with creating a travel blog? Fantastic! I have been blogging for the past 8 years and have grown my blog into my full-time business. But it didn’t just happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work (and it still does), a lot of mistakes and a lot of trial and error.
There are many things which I wish I had known earlier (Like how effective SEO is) so I wanted to write a guide to creating a travel blog to give you some practical information on how to make a website, but also how to make it successful in 2020.
Blogging has changed a lot since I first started. There’s no use in telling you what I did in 2011 because these days that would be useless.
I wish I had read something like this guide when I first started blogging. It would have made my life so much easier to begin with!
Creating a travel blog in 2020
Now, as I mentioned above, blogging is a different ballgame than when I first started. There are millions of travel blogs on the internet but most of them are shit.
Use my QUIRKS formula to creating a blog in 2020;
In tune with what you believe in
Realness and authenticity
King of your market, fill a gap
Specific & have a niche
As we go through this guide we will talk more about those elements.
1. Outline your goals and audience
Ask yourself: Are you passionate about becoming a blogger?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want you to ask yourself if you are truly passionate about becoming a blogger? The truth is blogging is hard work and thousands of blogs fail within the first year because people underestimate how much work you need to do to make money.
You will be tested several times, have no money in your bank account and have periods where you will think to yourself if all this is worth it. If you can make it through those times, you will be successful. Don’t give up if it’s something you really want to do.
With blogging it’s so important to be clear on why you want to do a travel blog. Is it because you love writing? Do you want to travel? Is it because you want to have job freedom?
Whatever the reason is, write it down and make it clear. Your ‘why’ is important because it’s going to help you make the right decisions so never lose your ‘why’.
For me, I started travel blogging because I wanted job freedom. I didn’t want to be stuck in a 9-5 job in a DIY store working for someone else. I wanted to be my boss and work when I wanted and do what I wanted. Blogging just so happened to stumble upon me and I found it to be a creative outlet. Your why will change over the years too.
It’s not only important to think about your why but what about your audience? Who will they be? What will they like doing? Why do they want to travel? How do they want to travel? Where do they want to travel?
Remember in school when you were taught the why, what, where, who, which and how. These are all important question starters to ask yourself.
Why should someone read my blog?
What can my readers get out of reading my blog?
Where are my readers from?
Who are my ideal readers?
Which topic/s will attract my ideal reader?
How am I going to attract the reader?
This brings me to some of the 2020 key elements for picking a topic – QUIRKS
Filling a gap, niching down, unique twist. These days you’re going to find it hard to succeed with something as vast as Adventure travel. Now there are so many quality blogs that are covering the topics. You need to find the balance of a niche and finding a topic you are passionate about that also is something unique to you and is something that is in tune with what you believe in.
My blog started as just an ‘inspirational travel blog’, then it changed to solo female travel, then it changed to adventure travel and then I got really fucking confused.
It wasn’t until I moved to Albania in 2017 that I realised I had the perfect opportunity. There was NO good content about Albania. I may have been the first full-time travel blogger living in Albania as an expat, so I ran with that.
I started to produce quality authentic (real) content about Albania, filling in the gap and providing my audience with practical and up to date information about the country, which only I could do as I was living there and Albania changes so quickly.
Every year restaurants shut and open, there are new roads being built, bus timetables changing etc.
My worry with niching down was that I will lose my audience, but my audience grew exponentially. Now my Albanian articles outrank everyone else and I found a true passion of mine – Changing negative perceptions about Albania and giving people practical information on visiting. Now, I am the top blogger covering content on Albania – I am the King of my market.
So, find a topic/niche and become an expert in that as well as something that unique to you. Dive deeper than anyone has ever done before and fill in a gap, be the King of your market. That’s one key to creating a travel blog and making it successful in 2020.
Creating a unique topic is crucial to success.
I help aspiring or struggling travel bloggers learn how to create a blog that positions themselves as an authority in a saturated market, so they can build a successful blog business that allows them to travel the world. If you have no idea what topic you want to get into, stop reading this article and sign up to the waiting list for my 2020 masterclass now. Even if you have no idea on the name or topic then I can help you find this with my framework!
When you find your niche, list 100 article ideas that you could write about. You want to become an authority in that niche and by doing that you need to have a lot of good quality content that is answering your audience’s questions.
Remember, if your blog doesn’t have the QUIRKS, those key elements we just talked about, then it’s going to be hard to succeed in 2020.
2. Branding the blog and picking a name
Now that you should have a niche and know the kind of people you want to attract it’s time to think a little about branding. Branding is important because it’s what gives you your uniqueness and so your name sticks in people’s minds. A great way to do this is to create a mood board online or on paper.
Once you have it all down you will then be able to see a theme within your ideas. Some important points for branding are:
- What will be your colour scheme? Is there a meaning behind the colour?
- What will your logo and favicon look like?
- Which fonts are you going to pick? And why?
With every branding aspect ask yourself why I picked that colour or font. There should be a why with every decision you make.
If you look at my blog, for example, my colour theme has always been white and turquoise. This hasn’t changed over the years at all.
3. Picking a blog name
This is SO important. It’s so easy to think short-sighted when picking a blog name. Picking a name you will regret is a huge downfall. Don’t call your blog ‘livinginperu.com’ because what happens when you move elsewhere. Its awkward AF. Pick something travel-related and not destination themed. This is the safest name.
However, that doesn’t apply if you are creating a niche blog. If you are creating a region themed blog and plan to keep growing content for that region even if you do move, then it’s safe.
For instance, I recently created a second blog called Travelling Balkans because I know this website is dedicated to information only in the Balkan region.
Make it easy to remember and easy to spell.
If you have picked a name, sit on it for a few days. Write it down, is it easy to write, for people to remember, does it spell something else when the letters are all together? Picking a name shouldn’t be taken lightly!
4. Buying a domain name and picking a host
Now that you have picked your name you should secure that with a domain. You may have to rethink your blog name if the domain name is already taken.
Whenever I buy a domain name, I buy it through Siteground or GoDaddy. Buying a domain name is an on-going cost of starting a blog but thankfully a domain name is very cheap.
Make sure you buy a standard .com domain, not a .net, .org, .co etc.
Getting another custom domain ending can limit your traffic, and .com is the standard so it’s easier for people to find you!
5. Setting up WordPress.org + host
When making a blog I always recommend WordPress.org. WordPress is the most popular platform for bloggers to set up their website. The reason I don’t recommend any other website is that it can be limiting. WordPress is customizable which makes it easy in the long run as your blog grows.
Not only do you need a domain name, a WordPress platform account but you also need a host. The host will essentially hold your website and put it online so you must pick the right one.
Picking a bad company with no support can be a nightmare if your website goes down. It can also slow down your website considerably.
My host is Siteground and 100% recommend because I love them.
I used to be with GoDaddy but found their support system horrible and very limited.
SiteGround may look complicated but, trust me, if I can use it, you can too. To be honest, most of the time I just hop on live chat and ask, “WTF does this mean?” and they respond every single time and do most things for me because I am too incompetent.
For this reason, the live chat is my favourite feature. Within a minute, I am talking to a technical assistant who fixes any problems or answers any questions I may have.
Here’s how to create a WordPress account with Siteground
- Once you have signed up for hosting and your domain name you will now need to login into Siteground to the “My accounts” tab. From there, click on the orange “Go to cPanel” button and it will take you to the next step.
- Under the “Autoinstallers” tab you will need to click on the button called “WordPress”.
- From there click “Install Now”. This will install WordPress to your account.
- Next, you will need to fill in the blanks which include your domain, which has already been registered, your site name, description and set up a username and password.
- Once it is all filled out you press Install and it’s done!
6. Picking a theme
Picking a theme is an important step. Not just from an aesthetic standpoint but also a backend standpoint. There’s much consideration when picking a new theme. It can make your website look amazing, but it can also make your website incredibly slow if you’re not careful.
No matter what your budget is, you can either go for a free theme with WordPress or you can pay $50, $100 or $1000.
Have a look at Creative Market, there are lots of great themes on there for a reasonable price. One thing you should do is to test the speed of the theme. You can do this by going to live preview of the theme, copying the URL and going to GT Metrix.
Ideally, a website should be under 3 seconds to load. If it takes more than that then maybe it’s too heavy and by the time you add plugins and other elements to your blog, it may become extremely slow.
Things you should investigate when purchasing a theme
- The layout options
- How customizable is it
- The speed
One thing I do before I look for a theme is, I draft exactly what I am looking for. Get a big sheet of A3 paper and draw what you want your ideal blog to look like.
Do some research and see what blogs stand out to you and what features you love most about them. Make a note of them when looking for your theme and make sure your requirements match up with what you are looking for.
7. Adding plugins
Plugins are like beautiful little addons on your site and they are essential to most websites. Some that are great to add are:
- Akismet Anti-Spam: This is essential! You do NOT want spammers gaining access to your site and deleting everything.
- Cookie consent: This is another legal thing you need to add to your blog for EU readers.
- Google Analytics: Google analytics is essential to track traffic. No other traffic tracker is reliable, not even your WordPress dashboard. More on it below!
- Smush Pro: This is a great plugin to help with site speed. It will ‘smush’ your images to make them smaller, among other things which will speed up your site.
- Social warfare: These are a button which you can place within each blog article to make it easier for people to share your content.
- YoastSEO: This is going to help you immensely with your SEO. If you don’t know what SEO is, don’t worry. I will cover that in step 9!
- Elementor: This is not essential at all, but it can help you custom design your website if you want to make your site even more beautiful or if your theme has standard options. You could easily buy a free and simple theme then customize it using Elementor.
- There are tonnes of great plugins out there which you will likely add as your blog expands. Just don’t go overboard with them as some can slow down your website by A LOT.
8. Connect google analytics
As mentioned above connecting google analytics is only traffic tracker you should trust. When brands want to work with you and ask how many readers you have, you will give them the stats from your analytics, so you don’t want to miss any traffic on your site. This needs to be set up before you launch!
9. Learn about SEO
SEO= search engine optimization
Man, I wish I learned about it when I first started blogging. Only in the last year or two have I started taking SEO seriously and since then my traffic is double, even triple of what it used to be. Now I don’t publish anything unless it’s been optimized (apart from travel stories where I don’t worry too much about SEO and focus on just telling the story).
If your post is optimized for Googles search engine, then the chance is that you could appear on google page 1 and can you imagine how much traffic and readers that can bring to your site? The answer depends on what the topic is, but it could be thousands, even hundreds of thousand off one page. The opportunities are endless.
This is where Yoast is going to help you greatly with understanding how SEO works and how to implement it into every post that you publish.
10. Creating pages
Once you have picked your theme it’s time to create pages to make it easier for people to navigate through your website. You want your website to be as user-friendly as possible otherwise people are going to click off within a second and you have just lost a reader.
Here are some pages I recommend you start with:
Homepage: You need a home page! Make this a static homepage so you can show not just your latest posts.
Remember that your homepage is possibly someone’s first impression of your website so make it stand out, simple and again, easy to navigate.
You can include a tagline, social media, a little about yourself and some popular categories to help people get started. Just don’t add too many things otherwise it’s way too noisy and slow to load.
Blog page: I recommend you have a separate blog page where there’s a list of your latest articles. I recommend this because as a reader you sometimes want to find a certain article and not the latest one. Some people do want to see what you have written lately so this page is for your diehard fans.
Start here page: A start here page is like a more in-depth continuation of your homepage. This is a great page for a new reader to help them understand what kind of content they may be interested in and a way to draw them into your blog (if done right!).
About me: You need to have a page where you get a little personal. People want to know the person behind the screen, it makes people connect with you more and may get you regular readers if you’re relatable and personal.
Contact me: If a brand, other bloggers or readers want to contact you, this is a great page to have to make it easy for them. This may bring you some great opportunities.
Work with me: This is essential for a blogger, no matter how big or small. If you’re new your stats won’t be so big so I would include that information after the first month or two. For now, you can tell brands what you can offer them. What are you good at, what can you offer them that’s different from everyone else?
Category page, e.g. Destinations: This is a great page to have which will hold a bunch of sub-pages. If you have a travel blog you can make the main page called ‘destination’ (make the URL # so nothing happens when someone clicks it), then create sub-pages like countries or continents that you cover.
This way if someone is looking for information on a certain destination it’s easy for them to find! If you look at mine, you will see that I also have my two main categories which I cover ‘Albania’ and ‘New Zealand’ because this is what many of my readers want to find more about.
Later, you can create pages like:
Press page: You can create a page where you mention all the places you have been mentioned or awards you may have won. This gives you some credibility when brands are looking for your blog.
Stuff I love: You could create this page from the beginning! This is a page full of your favourite travel products where you can insert affiliate links and earn a commission if someone clicks and buys the products!
Shop: As your site grows you may want to create an amazon storefront to earn some more affiliate commission. It’s super easy to make and could be another option if you don’t want to create a ‘stuff I love’ page.
11. Creating content
Now it’s time to brainstorm what content you are going to create! My recommendation is to do my FF (Flourish Framework). This is something I am teaching in my Online Masterclass in 2020. Sign up here to be on the waiting list (only 5-10 seats available).
Not only should you do my FF method but your content should be for the reader, remember, so make it as easy to read and super informative. If you’re creating story-like content, then do what you need to do to suck the reader in and keep them interested.
When creating content, I create what I want to write about but I also check what the SEO potential of that article is and maybe adjust parts of it so people can find it via google. There are some instances where I will create SEO-focused guides to bring people in. Sometimes I just simply tell a story and don’t worry too much about SEO. I think having a good mix is a great thing to do.
How much content should I create before I publish?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this but I would say at least 6 articles. This way when people reach your site when you begin, they will have a fair amount of content that they can read. Think about the user. If you only have 1 article published, then after reading that they will likely leave your site because there’s nothing more to consume. Have as much content as you can.
I started my new blog with around 15 articles ready to go so my readers had a bunch of things to consume before leaving.
12. Marketing of your blog
Marketing is a crucial part of any blogger’s life! Social media and email marketing are great to grow your brand and readership.
Make sure you create social media accounts, but I have one piece of advice, focus on 1 or 2 really well and that’s it. Don’t sign up for every type of social media because you won’t be able to keep up, the quality of work will go down and you’ll be spreading yourself too thin.
My recommendations are Pinterest, Facebook groups and Instagram. Pinterest is a huge traffic referral if done properly. Instagram is more for building your brand and won’t bring you too much traffic to your website, but you can monetize it if you are authentic and have something to offer.
Instagram stories can be great to connect with your readers and show your more personal and authentic side.
Here’s a quick lowdown on how to use social media to grow your blog.
Pinterest: Pinterest is an incredible platform. It’s not like Facebook or Instagram because Pinterest is great for long-term strategy. Your pins can live for years at a time whereas Instagram and Facebook posts can last for a day, a tweet is said to last 3 seconds!
Instagram: This is a great platform to build a community, but you must be consistent. These days Instagram is hard to build a large following however if you do it properly you can have a close-knit community that turns into customers.
You do need to commit a lot of time to Instagram for that to happen so if you’re not passionate about using Instagram for business then this may not be for you.
Facebook: Facebook has changed over the years and growing a page can be difficult however, Facebook groups are golden and are where the audiences are at these days! Make a niche Facebook group and you can gain an audience very quickly! I created a group and within 1 year I have nearly 1000 members.
I promote my posts and videos within the group and people ask questions about Albania and I help when I can. There is a real sense of community because everyone helps answer everyone’s questions and I get to do some article research by seeing which questions keep popping up in the group. This gives me ideas on which articles I need to create for the future.
Twitter: Twitter can be a great platform to connect with brands and so on. It’s not a great place to connect with your audience, however.
Quora: This has been something I have been experimenting with over the past month and I have seen great results. Quora is a question/answer platform and can be a great way to lead people to your website if you help them with their questions.
Become an authority in a niche and then you can link back to your website and gain thousands of views nearly instantly if you post in the right questions.
Email marketing is also important. Your email signups are essentially the most dedicated people of your website. You can collect email addresses by having a sign up somewhere on your website. To lure people in, you can give them something for free like a pdf to give them an incentive to sign up to your newsletter.
A really important point I have on email marketing is that we will always have email, but we may not always have Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest – remember that!
13. Be consistent
Being consistent is key to blogging. Have an upload schedule that you keep to, so readers know when to come to your site. When you start, try and upload as much as possible so you can get a lot of content up on your website fast! Just don’t compromise quality over quantity.
14. Keep learning to grow
It’s so important that you keep learning in this industry so you can grow your travel blog to its full potential. That is why I want to announce a new project that I have been developing over the past year!
My blogging course is an in-depth master class on not only how to create a blog but how to do it in 2020 and to grow it to start earning that cash baby! Let’s take your blog to the next level and learn how to monetize it!
You will learn my Flourish Framework and other methods on how to streamline and grow your blog.
There are several courses on the market already but most of them are developed by travel bloggers who have had early success and use old ways. And yes, I have been in the industry for 8 years, but I also launched another website which I have been monitoring and testing my formula on. With that information and the 8 years of expertise, I am confident that I can give you the ultimate formula to creating a travel blog that’s successful in 2020, and start to make an income off it by using my blueprint.
If you’re a new or struggling travel blogger, then I would love for you to join the waiting list for my 2020 online Masterclass.
Make sure you sign up above to be put on the waiting list. I will ONLY be accepting 5-10 people for the first masterclass which will start in January 2020. Are you ready to take it to the next step? Are you ready to commit? If it’s a yes, then leave your email address and I will contact you soon.
15. Connect with others
It’s not only important to work hard but you should also connect with other bloggers, make online friends, tell each other about your struggles. There are some fantastic Facebook groups out there which are great to connect with other bloggers. Make sure you join in on some conferences too. This can be a great way to meet new blogger friends and connect with brands and companies.
I hope this article has given you some tools and confidence to start a blog. Remember if you would like to join my 2020 Masterclass and learn my exact methods and Flourish Framework then sign up to my waiting list.
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