How To Start A Travel Blog: A Step By Step Guide

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Starting a Travel Blog

How To Start A Travel Blog

Blogging Tips

Travel blogging has given me the freedom to travel the world for the past 8 years. Want to start your own? This detailed guide will show you exactly how to start a travel blog.

Already have a blog? Make sure to read my more advanced post about the secrets of professional travel blogging.

I’ve been working as a professional travel blogger for the past 8 years, and earn six figures annually from blogging. So I regularly receive tons of email asking for tips about how to start a travel blog.

I know, I get it. Seeing constant photos from my travel adventures on your Facebook or Instagram feeds makes it look like a dream job.

After all, I get paid to travel the world! I admit it’s a pretty sweet gig.

But travel blogging isn’t as easy as it looks. Far from it. I rarely share the huge amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making this lifestyle possible.

So today I wanted to share a useful guide on how to get started travel blogging. Because that’s the first step if you ever want to become a professional blogger!

How to Start a Successful Travel Blog

10 Simple Steps to Start Your Travel Blog

How To Start A Travel Blog In 2018

Starting your very first travel blog is actually pretty easy. If you follow my guide, you can have your own blog up and running today.

Now keep in mind the following advice is for those who are prepared to take travel blogging seriously, as some of these steps require spending money.

If you just want to blog as a hobby, you can always start a simple travel blog for family & friends on WordPress.com. It’s totally free! However if you’re interested in making a living with travel blogging as I do, keep reading.

What Should You Call Your Travel Blog?

What Should You Call Your Blog?

1: Pick A Good Travel Blog Name

My first travel blog was called YearAroundTheWorld.com. Do you see the obvious problem with that domain name? Well, I didn’t, not until later.

I was backpacking through Central America, blogging about my experiences and having a great time — when I suddenly decided I wanted to travel for longer than a year. Whoops!

Make It Short & Memorable

Your travel blog domain name should be relatively short, easy to type, easy to spell, easy to remember, and easy to share. I recommend brainstorming by writing down a bunch of words you think will best describe your blog.

Adventure? Food? Culture? South America? What do you want to write about? Who are you? What is your passion? Write everything down and start playing with different combinations of words.

Try using a thesaurus. Ask your friends for advice & suggestions.

Avoid Hyphens & Numbers

This can be difficult to do these days, but it helps to avoid using hyphens or numbers in your domain name because otherwise you’ll be forced to explain it to someone. For example:

POTENTIAL READER: “You have a blog? Cool! Where do I find it?”

YOU: “Oh, it’s called expert hyphen vagabond the number 100 dot com.”

As you can see, this type of domain isn’t the greatest for word-of-mouth marketing, which happens to be the best kind of promotion.

Avoid Overused Words

Avoid trademarked company names or words that may be overused in the industry. Sure, you can pick something like Nomadic Bob, Adventurous Wendy, or Wandering Clarence.

But domain names like that won’t stand out very much in the travel blogging niche because those ideas have already been taken by others who are more established than you.

You’ll have better luck in the long-run with something more original.

Think Long-Term

Think good & hard about choosing your travel blog’s domain name, because changing it, later on, isn’t easy (or fun). Be careful not to pigeonhole yourself either.

If you call your blog Twenty-Something Travel like my friend Steph (sorry Steph!), what happens when you turn 30? Branding yourself correctly is pretty important in the business of travel blogging.

I was thinking long-term when I eventually changed my travel blog’s name to ExpertVagabond.com because at 3 months in I was hardly an expert.

Yet I was passionate about becoming a professional travel blogger and knew eventually this would be perfect. I’d just have to grow into my new name!

Hosting Your First Travel Blog

Your Blog is Hosted on Servers

2: Choose Hosting For Your Blog

What the heck is hosting? It’s not as confusing as it sounds. Most websites need to “rent” space on the internet. A place to store all your blog’s data, files, and photos so that people around the world can easily access it when they type in your domain name.

Hosting can actually be pretty cheap. I recommend new travel blogs get hosting with BlueHost. There are many different hosting companies out there, but BlueHost makes setting up a new travel blog crazy easy.

They offer quality shared hosting for a very low price (only $2.95 per month for 12 months through this link).

Plus they give you a free domain name! Even better.

[Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through these links.]

Eventually, when you have hundreds of thousands of visitors per month on your blog like me, you may want to upgrade your hosting to a dedicated server. But those can be expensive (mine is over $200 a month)…

So if you are just starting out, getting a shared hosting account with BlueHost is much more affordable.

STEP 1: Click on the green button that says “get started now.”

Hosting a Travel Blog

STEP 2: Pick a hosting plan.

Steps to Start a Travel Blog

STEP 3: Check to see if your blog name (domain name) is available.

Building a Successful Travel Blog

STEP 4: Add extra features if you want to.

Most of these you don’t need. However I do recommend Domain Privacy Protection. Otherwise, anyone can look up who owns your site, giving them access to your mailing address, email, and phone number.

Building a Profitable Travel Blog

3: Auto-Install Free WordPress Software

To start a serious travel blog, you want a self-hosted WordPress account. This means the WordPress software resides on your hosting company’s servers, not on a free WordPress.com account. What’s the difference?

  • Your website is “MyTravelBlog.com” rather than “MyTravelBlog.WordPress.com”
  • You own your data and have full control
  • You can sell advertising on your site
  • You can install plugins & custom themes
  • You can use Google Analytics tracking (important)

Yes, you want to use WordPress too. Not Blogspot, not Blogger, not anything else. WordPress is the king of blogging, and probably always will be.

Most professional websites use the WordPress blogging platform, even major brands like the New York Times, BBC, Time, Beyonce, etc. You’re in good company!

Installing WordPress with your BlueHost Account is super easy — because it’s done automatically.

Once installed, you’ll be able to log into the WordPress dashboard with your new username and password. Welcome to the club! You now have a travel blog. That wasn’t too hard, was it?

But wait, there’s more!

Travel Blogging Tips

Using WordPress for Your Travel Blog

4: Learn How To Use WordPress

Feeling intimidated about WordPress? Don’t worry. Because WordPress is the industry standard when it comes to blogging platforms, and has been for years, there are TONS of useful tutorials online that will teach you anything you need to know.

Here are a few of my favorite WordPress training resources:

Basically, spend a weekend learning how to use your dashboard, how to tweak your site’s settings, how to post an article, etc. You’ll get the hang of everything with practice.

If you have any questions about setting up your WordPress blog that isn’t covered in the tutorials, simply type your question into Google and you’re sure to find an answer because WordPress is such a popular platform for blogging!

5: Get A Professional Blog Theme

Your new WordPress blog comes with a couple standard “themes”, or designs for your site. While this is ok for playing around in the beginning, if you want to take this seriously and eventually make money with your travel blog, you should buy a premium design.

Professional blog themes cost between $25-$80, and they’ll greatly improve the look and functionality of your site.

I’ve changed themes a few times over the years, but the current one I’m using is called WP Prosperity. I’ve also tweaked the design a lot using my background in web-design, customizing how it looks & acts. Another great place to buy blog theme designs is a marketplace called ThemeTrust.

Many professional themes provide a support forum where you can ask questions about customization, and someone will help you get the look you’re after using CSS/HTML coding. Or, you can hire a designer through Upwork to do custom design work on your site.

You may also want to have a cool logo created. I used a site called 99 Designs for mine. A professional logo really makes your site and brand stand out from the thousands of other travel blogs online.

Travel Blogging How To

Some of My Travel Blog Plugins

6: Download Some Useful Plugins

You can think of WordPress plugins as third-party apps for your website. They give your blog additional features. Most plugins are free, some you have to pay for. You can download new plugins in the “plugin” section of your WordPress Dashboard.

Here’s my recommended list of plugins to install with your travel blog.

  • Akismet – Protects your blog from spammers leaving comments on your posts. Not perfect, but probably the best one out there.
  • Yoast SEO – Very important plugin for optimizing your articles for Google search, plus integrating Google Sitemaps and Analytics.
  • Easy Social Share Buttons – Nice social media sharing buttons for your articles.
  • WP Rocket – Caching plugin that speeds up your travel blog
  • Imagify – Automaticaly optimizes your media library images for fast loading

There are others of course, but these will get you started.

Travel Blogging Social Media Tips

Use Instagram to Help Promote Your Blog

7: Important First Steps

Create An About Page

One of the first things you should do on your blog is to create an about page. This is one of the most highly trafficked pages on any travel blog, because it tells people who you are, gives your background, and explains why someone should follow you.

Keep it fun and personable. Let your readers know who you are!

Embrace Social Media

If you want to build a successful and profitable travel blog, posting regularly to social media is important.

Learning how to master social media is a huge topic, one that I cover more here: Secrets Of Professional Travel Blogging

To begin, sign up for all the most popular platforms, and keep your social media username the same if possible. Otherwise, people will get confused.

A note on social media. Sometimes people ask me if they should start their travel blogs on Facebook or Instagram instead of having an actual website.

No, I don’t recommend relying on Facebook or Instagram. You don’t have any control over those platforms, and they could easily disappear in the future.

Use social media to promote and support your blog. Don’t build your business on a platform you have no control over, it’s just too risky.

Write Your First Post

This can be about anything really. For example, tell people why you are starting a travel blog. Maybe share what you’re packing for an upcoming trip.

Or if you just returned from a vacation, share some of your best highlights from the journey!

Whatever the topic is, writing a post will help you understand how to publish images, headers, and all the other formatting that comes with publishing on WordPress.

Starting a Travel Blog

8: Enroll In A Travel Blogging Course

No, this isn’t a requirement to building a travel blog. But like anything in life, if you want to get good at something, investing time & money to be trained by professionals works wonders.

When people ask me for travel blogging tips, my first recommendation is to join a specialized blogging course like Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging.

Why? Because becoming a professional travel blogger, as in someone who makes money with this, is far more difficult than it looks.

You need to learn how to build an audience. You need to learn how to use social media. You need to learn how to market yourself. You need to learn how to work with brands. You need to learn how to implement SEO.

Learn From The Best

Can you learn everything on your own? Sure. But let me tell you from personal experience, it takes a long, long time. As in years. With plenty of frustrations & wasted effort along the way.

Learning exactly what works, and what doesn’t, from professional travel bloggers who are making it work, is HUGELY helpful.

I can’t explain SEO or affiliate marketing to you in an email. Fortunately there are lessons dedicated to mastering these topics (and more) on Superstar Blogging.

The course also has a very helpful community where top travel bloggers chime in with answers to your questions every week. Investing in professional education up-front will save you so much time & money in the long-term.

Travel Blogging Tips

Start Blogging about Travel!

9: What Should You Write About?

Now it’s time to begin creating content for your travel blog. When you first start out, I recommend publishing new articles at least 1-2 times per week. But remember, quality is more important than quantity!

Take your time to craft excellent, useful blog posts that have impact. You want your articles to inspire wanderlust, but they should include plenty of actionable tips too.

Share your favorite (or not so favorite) parts of a country. Give tips for fun things to do, share your crazy travel stories, show-off your beautiful images in photo essays, create a short video tour, or give food recommendations.

Try writing about different topics to find your voice, and see what kinds of posts actually resonate with readers. For example, road trip guides do really well on my site, but I didn’t discover that until later. You need to experiment!

Need some ideas? Here are some of my most popular blog posts.

What If You’re Not Traveling Now?

Are you still planning your travels? Well, you can write about that too. Share different ways you are saving money for travel or maybe a bucket list of activities you want to try.

However my favorite strategy is to write about what you know.

As an example, let’s say you live in Richmond, Virginia. Maybe you don’t think it’s an interesting city to write about, yet there are thousands of people looking for travel tips about Richmond every day.

Share what you know with them! Help these people have a great trip, and they will become regular readers.

TripAdvisor recommends 225 things to do in Richmond. That’s easily a year’s worth of blog posts right there.

Network With Other Bloggers

Remember to read other travel blogs for inspiration and ideas, and leave thoughtful comments on their articles. Link to other people’s blog posts from your site when appropriate. Become an active member of the travel blogging community.

Earning Income with a Travel Blog

How To Make Money With Your Travel Blog

10: Making Money With Your Blog

At first, your only readers will be family and friends. But that’s ok! We all started like that. To begin making money with your travel blog, you need to have a larger audience than just family and friends.

The more traffic your blog receives, the more money you can make with it. It takes time to build an audience and grow traffic. Don’t focus on making money right away, focus on building your audience.

However, you can start earning income early with Affiliate Programs like Amazon.com and Booking.com.

Basically, affiliate programs let you recommend things like clothing, travel gear, photography equipment, tours, or even hotels you stay at within your blog posts. You then earn a small commission whenever someone clicks on one of these tracking links and buys something.

Another option is showing display ads with Google Adsense, which lets other companies post banner advertisements on your travel blog.

How Much Money Can You Make From A Travel Blog?

Honestly, the sky (and your imagination) is the limit. In the beginning, you won’t be earning too much though, and it really depends on how much time you put into it.

All these income streams grow only when your audience grows. So that should be your first priority moving forward!

Attracting new readers to your blog with great travel content.

To give you an example, you might be able to make a few hundred dollars (or a few thousand) a month after a year of blogging.

While it took me about four years to start earning 6-figures annually, others I know were able to achieve this milestone earlier.

For additional ways to earn income from your travel blog, please read: This Is How I Get Paid To Travel The World

11: FAQs About Starting A Travel Blog

A: Can You Really Make Money Blogging?

Of course you can. However, you need to think about it practically. To become a successful travel blogger, you need to provide value to others. Blogging about your day is not the same as blogging a detailed travel guide for a destination. Produce stuff people are actually searching for!

B: Is Travel Blogging Too Saturated?

While it may seem like everyone and their grandmother has a travel blog these days, most people don’t take it very seriously. Blogging is a lot like photography. Most people are hobbyists, and only the most dedicated and hard-working bloggers make a living with it. So it’s really up to you how much effort you put in.

C: How Much Does It Cost To Start A Blog?

With a cheap hosting plan like BlueHost, and a basic theme, you can get started for under $100. However eventually, as you grow, you’ll want to start investing in your blog just like you would with any business. I spend a few thousand a month on mine (but make much more).

D: Can I Start A Travel Blog For Free?

Yes, when it’s hosted on WordPress.com. However, this is how you get labeled a “hobbyist”. These people generally don’t make any money with their blogs. It’s difficult to attract readers or make money there. It’s like trying to become a professional photographer with your iPhone on Instagram. Real pros have their own websites.

E: Do You Need A Laptop & Camera?

Yes, you’ll need both. They don’t have to be top-of-the-line, but you will need a computer for writing and sharing blog posts, and a camera for capturing images from your adventures. If you’re looking for a great travel camera, check out my post reviewing some of the most popular models.

Good Luck Blogging!

Setting up a travel blog is easy, but please be aware that building an audience is much tougher. You shouldn’t expect to see any large reader numbers for at least a year, probably longer.

That’s one full year of blogging on a regular basis, paying for everything yourself, and putting in at least 10 hours a week (most professional bloggers work 30+).

Yes, it’s a dream job, but travel blogging is still a job that requires hard work. Creating a successful travel blog won’t happen overnight either.

But no risk, no reward! Good luck, and happy travel blogging. ★

Pin This!

How To Start A Travel Blog: Easy step by step guide to building your first blog. More at ExpertVagabond.com
How To Start A Travel Blog: Easy step by step guide to building your first blog. More at ExpertVagabond.com

Have any questions about how to start a profitable travel blog? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

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467 Comments

  1. Hi Matt, this is a great blog for the people who’re consistently battling within themselves to figure out their love for travelling and the prospect of actually pursuing it :) . Loved the detailing , this is a great motivation .
    – says another Matt from India :D

  2. Hi Matt, thanks for the information and congratulations on your success. I started a blog in 2013 and gave up after a few months, because I didn’t know how to get anybody to read my blog. I kinda wished I kept it up, so I started again last week, but now I feel like i’m so behind and starting from scratch. This time I have to keep going and not give up, it is super hard when you get 20 visitors a day on a article that took you all weekend. Any tips or words of motivation to help me keep going when the chips (or visits) are down?

  3. Hey Matt,
    Thank you that was really helpful. I have a question I hope can can help answer. If i start a new blog. I have been travelling a lot for the past 5 years, and I want to start writing about that, but can I “backdate” a blogpost so it looks like i wrote it at that time. Or should i just be honest and write about my experiences and trips from the past years first. I know that being honest will always be the best. But i would be able to blog content fast, with many quality post, that would look like I have been working on it for years i guess. Any thoughts would help a lot. I’m going to be blogging in my native language, danish about America, Asia and europe traveling.

  4. I am hoping to start a travel blog with my mum and younger brother. We want to go around the world and stop at lots of places for a few weeks each or something like that. There is just one problem and that is that we are really low on money. Is it possible to start a blog on a low budget and get enough money from it to fund the trip? My mother will be doing the general blog post, I will be doing one that is for readers my age and my brother for his age. We will also be posting once a week. Will this be enough??
    Thank You

  5. Hi Matt,

    I have been following your blog for atleast half an year now and I am convinced that I want to start blogging. The difference between us is that you are full-time traveller but I am an engineer who can travel only on weekends or vacation. My intention behind blogging is to talk about my experiences and also lead people on their itinerary. My only concern is regarding the frequency of posting. I wont be able to post once or twice a week simple because I am not travelling that often and hence don’t ave much content. How do I go ahead?
    Thanks

    1. Hey Sourabh! You can actually write about all kinds of subjects after one trip. An article for each attraction you went to, one about general travel tips, one about food, one highlighting all the best things to do, one talking about your budget, etc. Squeeze as much content as you can out of each trip. And there are all kinds of other possible topics related to travel, like packing, planning, safety, saving money, etc.

  6. Question for you. I hate to bother you but you are well versed in travel blogging and seem to definitely know how to be successful. I want to start a travel blog and have done tons of research. My only concern is that I haven’t travelled as much as I think a travel blogger should. This concerns me because I do need to monetize my blog. Can you provide guidance or your opinion? I’d greatly appreciate it.

    1. Hi Tammy! Can I ask where you’re based? Many people start their travel blogs by writing about the area they live in. Or at least nearby. So for example, if you live in Florida, there are millions of people traveling to Florida for vacation. So you don’t have to travel far to write about travel.

      Check out this guy, who’s site is just about California (I was a frequent reader when I wanted tips for visiting that state!): https://californiathroughmylens.com/

      From my estimates, he’s got about 200,000 visitors a month!

  7. Thank you for sharing! I also consider a travel blog and introduce the place of his homeland, Vietnam! But do not know where to start until you see your share!
       By the way, the places you went through were really beautiful, I was so impressed with the scenery!

  8. Great content Matt . I just started my journey catering to Middle East traveling. I’m yet processeing a way to figure out how to monetize on my blog. It would be great to have you as my mentor.

  9. Thanks for this, I’ve been wanting to do this for some time. I came across your site and found it really useful. I am however a bit of a skeptic so had to search around the Internet for awhile to see if this was the best information for me, the best host and the best site builder. …. I even spoke to friends and just anyone I came across in the last week. Now, here I am back here and ready to take the plunge.
    Thank you Matthew for keeping it real and easy to follow.
    Perhaps we’ll bang into each other around the World somewhere.
    Thanks

  10. Thank you for your awesome tips! I just started a travel blog and these tips really helped me about what to do next to improve my website.

    Keep going, Matthew!

  11. This is one post that I read from start till finish and put it in bookmarks for future reads. Wonderfully put together and very helpful!
    Thank you!

  12. I want to start a blog soon, but I’m so scared! I also feel like I don’t know what my first blog should be! It just seems so intimidating that I am in a constant battle with myself on whether I should start one or not!

    1. That’s the best way to think about it. Keep a record of your adventures for yourself, and maybe over time, others will start tuning in too. It’s a wonderful way to keep track of your own journeys.

  13. As a travel aspirant, I look up for starting my travel blog, this blog would really serve Informative & help me in my future endeavors while I start up writing the content related to travelling.

  14. I’m back here. I started my blog after reading this post for a passion. I really love to write article on traveling now. This was most easy explanation on how to start a blog.

    I checked another blog with same post title. But it looked like they were selling something. So finally i read points from here and implemented.

    Now i can easily use wordpress and have basic knowledge about SEO.

    Thanks a lot for all your tips which helped me a lot.

  15. Thank you for your nice tips! It was really helpful and now I know how to make my dream come true. It looks like hard work yes, but seeing you achieving it with such happiness makes me want to achieve it too!

    Keep going and thank you so much for sharing :)

  16. Great post! I already have 5 other tabs open with other articles you’ve written about different topics. I want to improve my blogging and do more travelling related posts so your tips are perfect.

    1. Awesome! That’s what I’m hoping for. I just payed attention to the types of articles I enjoyed most myself, and tried to produce more of those on my own site. Useful content is key! Practical tips to help you plan.

  17. I just built my first wordpress site, and i ended up using 4 of the 5 plugins you recommended, after reading your page. There are some really good tips on here, and i have no interest in a travel blog because im a dad…. and well, kabosh! But good tips generally for website builders too!

  18. Wow great guide.

    I’m really liking that theme. I’m going to upgrade my travel blog and my Amazon niche site to it.

    PS: Don’t worry, I’ll use your affiliate link. You provided tons of value in this post for free, so that’s my way of paying you.

  19. i have been traveling for several years now and am curious in starting my own travel blog. i have pictures and written writings from all of these trips. my question is even if its stories and trips from 3 yrs ago do i make them recent for the readers sake or try and make the past relevant again?

  20. Hello, Great article! I agree with you, self-hosted WordPress is definitely the way to go! I’m able to get more done, be more creative, and have more options.

  21. I have been a bit discouraged in my first week of travel blogging, but after reading yet another recommendation to join Nomadic Matt’s group, I went ahead and did it. The cost was hard to swallow, but you know what? Chunking down that kind of money made me feel like I’m really serious about making this thing work. And I am!

    Thanks for all the good advice on your site. Can’t wait to read more.

    1. Great to hear Carmen! The course, and community, really helps with direction. Because it can be intimidating… there’s a lot to learn. Having a roadmap based on the experience of others who’ve already faced the same challenges is hugely valuable.

  22. First of all, I want to thank you for the useful informations!

    I am a french woman and actually, I am starting a travel blog.

    My goal is simple: To communicate detailed travel itineraries day by day. Thus, for each stage of the trip, you will find interactive maps, advices on visits, transports, restaurants, hotels … Also tips for organizing, finding local guides, hotel bookings, budgets …

  23. Hey Matthew, what an amazing post. I was looking to start my own blog, but was confused from where should I start and how will be the flow. But after reading your article I have good plan already in my mind.
    Thank you so much.
    Keep up the great work👍👍