Interested in getting paid to travel? Today on the Break Into Travel Writing podcast, I talk with nine established, successful travel bloggers about how to start a travel blog. These bloggers share actionable, easy-to-implement tips that will help you start your blog and grow your business as a travel blogger.
If you are passionate about traveling and writing, travel blogging may be your calling. Blogging about travel is fun and rewarding, but it is a job and you’ll need to do some work to set up your travel blog.
There are some essential first steps such as choosing a website name, registering your domain name, buying hosting, and installing a theme. You’ll find lots of help on the web for those tasks, so I am sharing tips from established travel bloggers on writing content, SEO, finding a niche, and more.
Already a travel blogger? You’ll find a lot of good info you can use to grow your travel blogging business. It’s never too late to implement good techniques and tactics.
>> Read on for how to start a travel blog, or click here to listen to the full podcast!
How to Start a Travel Blog in 2021
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1. Prioritize Content
When you’re first starting out, content should be your one and only priority, according to Zi from Craving Adventure.
Don’t get caught up in minor web design tweaks. Keep things simple in the beginning and come back to design once you have enough content to justify the effort.
New bloggers often get stuck for days or even weeks trying to design the blog they’ve envisioned. Partially, because everyone wants that perfect site and partially because moving that line a pixel up and a pixel left is a way of procrastination, a way to delay the things that really matter and a way to avoid that fear of putting yourself out there.
There are huge benefits to a well-designed site, but truth is, all the time you spend tweaking your site and obsessing over minor adjustments, is time you’re not creating content.
When you’re first starting out, content should be your one and only priority. Here are Zi’s recommendations to start a travel website quickly by setting up your site design and then you can move on to content creation:
- First of all, you’ll want to define your audience, your values, and your mission, as well as your brand personality and writing style.
- With the above in mind, you’ll move on to the more tangible and visual aspects of branding and create a brand board for yourself, this includes a logo, fonts and colors.
- Use your brand board to guide your design decisions and stick to your brand colors and brand fonts.
- Have readability and user experience top of mind.
- And here’s a designer’s tip – keep your line length to 50-75 characters for optimal legibility and stay clear of handwritten fonts.
Keep it simple. There’s nothing wrong with coming back to the drawing board and redesigning your blog once you have more real-life data to base your decisions on, or the funds to hire a professional to design your brand and site.
Craving Adventure is a travel blog with a strong focus on adventure, offbeat travel, and authentic experiences. Tom and Zi, the creatives behind Craving Adventure, provide in-depth destination guides and well-thought-out itineraries to help you travel more, better, and more adventurously, always encouraging you to take the path less traveled and to opt for authentic and unique adventures. Follow Zi on Instagram.
2. Post Consistently
When you first start a travel website, map out a plan for your promotion and communication strategy, says Samantha (Sam) Glauser from My Flying Leap.
It’s true that the more often you post, the better. However, it’s even more important that you be consistent so your readers know what to expect. And, it’s helpful for you to get on a schedule so you stick with it.
If you can’t commit to sharing a new blog post twice a week, then post once a week. Choose a day of the week and a time you’ll post and commit to it. If you’re going on vacation, work on the post early and schedule it in advance to make sure you get it out according to your plan.
The same strategy applies to your social media marketing. Find a cadence that works for you and be consistent. If you want to post five times a week on Facebook and three times a week on Instagram, then do it. Scheduling tools like Tailwind, Later, Buffer, and others make it really easy to make sure you’re following through.
Sam is a travel-obsessed animal lover on a quest to create a life of travel with her dog. She loves learning new things, snuggling a dog, architecture, hiking, and bold red wine. Join her in creating a life to dream about! Follow MyFlyingLeap on Facebook.
3. Find a Niche
The riches are in the niches, as they say! Niching down, though counterintuitive to getting more page views, works in two ways, according to Shelley Marmor from Travel Mexico Solo.
First, a woman who wants to take a solo trip to Mexico will want to consume *all* of my content, versus just reading one blog on my page, as she’d do with a general travel site.
Second, Google recognizes me as a Mexico expert and a solo travel expert and sometimes gives me ranking priority over bigger name travel bloggers with high DA sites.
For those who aren’t in an exotic destination like Mexico, remember you can do something like starting a travel site for your city, country, state, geographic area, or anywhere you see a gap in the market — all of these would be more effective for growing your blog quick, versus just making a general travel site.
In fact, I am planning to start a second blog about the city I live in, as there’s no one with a specific site for my city… so even I am planning to take my own advice and niche down further.
Shelley is a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world. She ended up traveling all over Mexico solo, and now inspires other women to travel Mexico solo through her blog and podcast. Follow TravelMexicoSolo on Instagram.
4. Use Concentric Circles
Jennifer Liao from FamilyTripGuides says her number 1 practical tip for starting a travel website is to think in “concentric circles.” Creating content in concentric circles, starting in the center and working your way out, is important for SEO and building an audience.
Once I created blog posts in the topic I knew most, my first inner circle, I started to have more traction with traffic and SEO. For example, my inner circle is DC with Kids which I know best. The second circle out from there is the Mid-Atlantic Region of Virginia, Maryland, DC and Delaware. And then national and international.
Specifically, working in concentric circles helped my SEO by building authority between related areas. Before I thought in these circles, I wrote family travel posts about different cities in Europe, DC museums, travel tips etc. They were all over the place in terms of topic.
Once I started writing just about my inner circle of DC with Kids, I started to gain a lot more domain authority and higher #1 rankings on Google.
Secondly, creating blog posts in terms of these concentric circles helped me find an audience to serve locally first. I met many local parents who have asked for lists and tips that become blog posts. These are topics I can rank #1 for but I never would have thought to write like “Best DC Area Carousels!”
Jennifer writes about making family travel easy at FamilyTripGuides.com. She lived in 4 countries as a child. And now continues to explore with her family around DC where they are based and Europe and Asia when they can! Follow FamilyTripGuides on Instagram.
5. Develop an SEO Strategy
Develop an SEO – search engine optimization – strategy right from the start, says Kris Morton from My Michigan Travel. It’s a lot easier to build it into your website from the beginning than it is to go back and try to rewrite posts, restructure your categories, and make other changes to bring invaluable search engine traffic.
Use a keyword tool like Keysearch to find topics that web users are searching for but which don’t have a lot of competition. Incorporate these keywords into your posts in the title, URL, headings, text, photo captions, and other places.
Consider connecting with other well-established bloggers for guest posts or collaborations that provide backlinks to your homepage or specific posts to increase your site’s authority in search engine algorithms.
Starting off with a strong foundation like this will enable you to grow much faster and target users looking for your content right from the beginning.
Kris is a lifelong Michigan girl who has always adored traveling. After years of blogging about the US and Europe, her brand new site is all about her home state – Michigan. Follow MyMichiganTravel on Pinterest.
SEO Resource: Use Keysearch. It’s just $17 a month and offers lots of great reports and features. I am an affiliate, which means you can get an extra 20% off using the code KSDISC when you sign up.
6. Use H Tags in Your Posts
Ucman Scher at BrownBoyTravels recommends the correct use of headings in writing as well as using a plugin to create Table of Contents automatically for each post. The easiest plug-in is ‘Easy Table of Contents’. It is very simple to use and does the job perfectly well.
H1 headings are reserved for page title and WordPress usually does this automatically. Each heading level after this up to heading level 6 (H6) is to divide and subdivide the topic. This not only improves the readability and helps the reading to skim through the content and get to their desired section, it is also used by the search engines to ‘crawl’ and whenever someone searches for information, they can also present it accordingly instead of entire article or website.
The plugin also uses this information to create the table. This is really helpful and google and other search engines prefer sites with table of contents because it is easier for the reader as well as for the search engines to classify this information.
BrownBoyTravels is a solo gay travel blog about culture, food, yoga, and sustainable and ethical traveling for destinations where gay guys usually don’t go. Follow BrownBoyTravels on Instagram.
7. Use High-Quality Photos
When starting a new travel website, try to invest in good quality camera equipment, says Bradley Williams at DreamBigTravelFarBlog. With countless blogs out there, you have to make yours stand out. High-quality photos are an excellent way to do this as people are generally attracted to visuals.
Excellent photo quality also increases your chances of collaborating with brands and tourism boards. After all, companies like bloggers who can accurately and attractively represent their products! Not to mention that good camera equipment will save you time in post-editing, which adds up when you’re producing lots of posts.
I recommend getting the Canon M50 for beginners who want an all-around camera that is still affordable. It can take beautiful photos and 4K videos, while featuring an excellent autofocus system. This is great for snapping quick travel photos! Plus, it lets you use an external mic in case you want to vlog too.
Alternatively, the Sony a7R III is perfect if you’re looking to build a social media presence in addition to your new travel website. It has stunning 42MP resolution and incredibly easy connectivity. You can use its WiFi, NFC or Bluetooth connectivity to transfer files to your phone and immediately upload them on social media!
Bradley and his girlfriend Cazzy are currently driving around the world in a campervan they converted themselves! Follow Bradley on Youtube.
Camera Resource: Best Blogging Camera for Travel (13 Best Options for 2021)
8. Claim Your Social Media Accounts
While you would always be more inclined to one or a couple of social media channels, Anukrati Dosi at Bulbulonthewing advises being present on all.
All social platforms help you connect with your customers, increase awareness about your brand, and boost your leads and sales. Therefore, don’t leave out any of them, no matter how few your followers are.
Although not every social platform will work the best for your industry, it will help in increasing your brand awareness. For example, if Facebook is not working well for you, try joining some industry-specific Facebook groups, where you can put your links. If you have built a solid subscriber base on your blog, try getting into podcasts and YouTube as you already have a foundation to spread the word.
Similarly, If you have a good amount of listeners to your podcast, try pushing your blog there. You never know which platform could give you traction. In conclusion, do not leave out on any social platform available to you, and try to tap the audience from all possible platforms.
Anukrati is a dreamer, writer, and traveloholic from India. One day I got tired of answering all the questions about my trips, so I started writing about them. I share my experiences in the form of travel guides, travel tips, and travel stories so that you can get new ideas about your next travel destination. Follow Bulbulonthewing on Instagram.
9. Niche Down (Yep, It’s Important Enough to Mention Twice)!
Daria at The Discovery Nut recommends starting a niche website that covers a specific area, country, or region. For example California travel, West Coast travel or honeymoon destinations.
Google likes niche websites as they are much easier to rank and focus on specific areas, as opposed to being “all over the place.” Additionally, when you have a niche website, your completion drops, as you don’t have to compete for attention with tons of other websites in the general travel area.
When you provide specialized advice, search engines start to recognize you as an expert and rank you higher as a result, if you write in-depth content focused on a specific area.
To pick a niche, think about your area of expertise. As a blogger, you should share advice with your audience and make their life easier by providing valuable advice. What are you good at? What area have you been working on? What do you consider yourself an expert in? These are some of the questions that you might want to answer to determine your niche before starting a blog.
The Discovery Nut is a travel blog focused on all things adventure. From roaming national parks and hiking scenic vistas to exploring ancient Mayan ruins in Central America, adventure is always at the forefront of my brand. Follow TheDiscoveryNut on Instagram.
Travel Blogging Resources
- Learn more about honing in on a niche on episode 163 : The benefits to creating a niche travel website
- Want to contribute a tip to an upcoming show? Please check out the current topics.
- How To Start A WordPress Travel Blog — Step by Step
Grow Your Travel Blog by Being a Guest on this Podcast!
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