How to Start a Travel Blog: What You Need to Know
May 17, 2020
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost for you.
If you’ve landed on this page then you’re probably wondering how to start a travel blog. When I first started my blog in 2015, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I thought that I could write whatever I wanted, in whatever format I wanted, and that was that. Now sure, you can do exactly that if it makes you happy! However, if you want people to actually read your blog, there are a few things that you should know.
Tips from Travel Bloggers on How to Start a Travel Blog
I chatted with a few of my favorite travel bloggers, and asked them for their best tips! They packed in tons of incredible tips and information, so you’ll want to take some notes or bookmark this for later.
Pick a Niche
The very first thing that you’ll want to do when you want to start a travel blog is pick a niche. Picking a niche will allow you to focus in one your why, the reason behind your blog. Roxanne and Maartje of @onceuponajrny share their tips on picking your niche.
Before everything (before buying a domain, diving into SEO, purchasing hosting, and figuring out what designs you like) you have to decide what your travel blog will focus on!
Your niche will be your branding – it’s your expertise that will set you apart from other travel bloggers. ‘Travel’ by itself isn’t very specific – what kind of travel will you write about? Make sure you pick a topic you are knowledgeable in. Don’t write about luxury travel if you always travel on a tight budget for example.
How should you pick a niche? Take a hard look on your interests and knowledge. Are you travelling alone? With a partner? Family? Are you male, female, non-binary? This could be your niche! As a lesbian couple, we have a unique niche audience to speak to. So we write specific guides for LGBT people who want to travel. We write city-guides, but also tips like how to travel safely.
Or maybe you are into adventurous stuff? Or are you traveling for specific things like fashion, photography, hiking, or food? Starting a travel food blog is actually a really smart move. We recently started a second blog, where we share vegetarian and vegan recipes from all over the world. And since we’re from the Netherlands, we’re very knowledgeable in Dutch cuisine, so we write about that.
You can even start a travel blog focusing on just one destination that you know a lot about (it can be your home country/city)!
The options for niches are endless and it’s so important to start from a niche. It will decide the focus (and structure) of your blog and will help you to setup your strategy. Even picking a name for your blog will be easier once you figured out what it’s about!
Good to know: starting with a niche doesn’t mean you can only write about that one specific topic forever. But it’s very smart to start that way, become known for your expertise, and later on you can branch out and write about broader travel topics!
Choose a catchy name and secure it on all social media platforms.
Once you’ve zeroed in on a niche, you’ll need to find a catchy name that defines your brand. Here is what Charlie and Lauren of @charlieandlauren_ have to say on the topic!
The most important thing you’re going to have to choose when starting a travel blog is your name.
Your domain name will be the one thing that rings in peoples minds when they think of your blog. So make sure it’s catchy, it’s memorable, and most importantly – it’s YOU!
The next step is to make sure the name is available! Not just as a web address, but on all social media platforms too. You don’t want to go through the efforts of setting up your website just to find somebody has already taken that handle on Instagram or Facebook.
Another piece of advice, if you want your blog to last a number of years is to pick a name that will still be relevant even if your lifestyle or blogging topics change. It’s no good having a travel related blog name, if you find yourself then wanting to switch up to cooking and recipe advice.
The final piece of advice we have for choosing a blog name, is to not let it consume you. Yes, you will be stuck with the name but don’t spend a month picking it. That is one month you could have spent writing blogs and creating content for your new website.
You can check out their great travel posts on their blog, Wanderers & Warriors.
Setting Up a Domain to Start a Travel Blog
If you are entering the blogging world, then you’ll want to make sure that you set up a page that allows you to optimize for search engines. We’ll cover basic SEO a bit further on in this guide, but for now let’s secure your domain.
While it is totally possible to set up a free blog page, it is not nearly as professional. Just think, which account would you trust more: tavernatravels.com or tavernatravels.wordpress.com? When I first started out I used squarespace.com. This is an awesome option if you’re looking for a simple, aesthetically built website to use as a portfolio. However, if you are looking for more customizability, then wordpress.org is your best bet. This requires you to purchase your domain through a third party. I use SiteGround and love it, but Bluehost is a great, slightly cheaper option as well. I went with SiteGround, as it is known for better performance speed, reliability, and support than Bluehost, which were all top factors for me. Here you can find a breakdown or SiteGround versus Bluehost.
Once you’ve secured your domain name, you’ll find plenty of tutorials and videos on how to set up your SiteGround domain on WordPress! Trust me, if I can figure it all out, so can you!
Finding Inspiration When You First Start Out
Okay, so now you’ve got your website all set up and no immediate trips to write about? Dana of @danaberez shares her tips on finding inspiration when you first start out, no matter what your travel plans look like.
Want to become a travel blogger but can’t travel full time? It’s really a catch 22, but we all started from somewhere and my best advice is to just start (and forget about being perfect) Here are my tips for finding inspiration when you first start your travel blog.
Write about Past Experiences: Did you take any fun trips in the last year or two? How would you describe that trip to your friends? Just write about it, even if you don’t have the best pictures to go with it. With permission and proper credit you can use photos from other creators.
Find inspiration in your own backyard. Write about where you live. This might be easier if you live in a more well known place, but it’s a great option to write about when you can’t travel. If you live in a small town, put a focus on where you live and highlight things tourists should see. Get your community together and promote your local businesses.
Take Short Weekend Trips: Do you live by any other popular towns? Plan a weekend getaway and write about your experience. I always found inspiration traveling to new places.I took any opportunity to write new blog posts on neighboring places just outside NYC when I was working full time. I traveled to Boston and Washington DC and wrote about my experiences just on a two day trip!
Dana has blogged about her experiences near and far on her blog, Dana Berez.
Keep a big list of all your blog post ideas
Carla of @bycarlavianna dives into one of her best blogging strategies, making a big list of all of your blog post ideas.
It may be difficult to figure out what to write on your blog at first—but if you follow this tip, you’ll have enough blog post ideas to last you for months! The reason I never run out of blog ideas for my blog, Travel By Carla Vianna, is because I keep a big list of potential posts that I can choose from on a weekly basis. To start this list, simply jot down any and all ideas you’ve ever had for a post. Think of all the destinations you’ve visited, and then jot down a few ideas for each. For example, if you’ve recently visited Portugal, you can write about your itinerary, a packing guide and a “10 things to know before visiting Portugal” post. Keep this list accessible as you’ll be adding to it all the time. Every time you think of a new blog post idea, jot it down on the list. Next time you’re writing a blog, just head over to this list and pull from one of the many ideas you’ve already written down!
Now that you have your list of blog ideas written down, you’ll want to figure out which keywords you can rank for. How your blog ranks for a specific keyword, or phrase, depends on many different factors. These factors include how many people are searching for the specific phrase, how many other pages have written answers to that keyword, and the Domain Authority of these pages. When I first started blogging, I had no idea what any of this meant. I would try to use keywords like travel, which has a search volume of 1.5 million searches. Spoiler alert, it’s not going to happen!
This is where long-tail keywords and niche topics come in. But we’ll save those details for another post. In the meantime, I recommend purchasing a subscription to KeySearch to get you started.
Learn Basic SEO
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the number one most important method of getting organic traffic to your blog. Here is what Lauren of @nytoanywhere has to add!
Honestly, the sooner you learn SEO and Pinterest the better! I really wish these were the first two things I did for my blog, but you don’t always know what’s right when you first start something.
Pinterest and SEO will be the backbone of your traffic so the more you know the better. There are plenty of courses out there, so you should be able to find some to meet your budget.
Some basic SEO tips would be to do your keyword research, write comprehensive content, and be mindful of search intent. Try to think to yourself, if you were typing this question in to Google, how would you want the answer presented? If it’s an “Ultimate Guide” it will need to be thousands of words to rank, but if it’s a simpler question, longer isn’t necessarily better. As for Pinterest, it’s way more about the visual. You want to catch their eye, but you also want good content to keep the reader on your page and on the rest of your site.
And lastly, stay as up to date as possible with trends and never stop learning! You can keep up to date with Lauren’s adventures on her blog, NY to Anywhere.
Decide How Often to Post
Now that we’ve covered what you’re going to post, the next step is to figure out how often. Taylor of @taylor_fuller shares the details on setting up a blogging schedule.
Use Pinterest to Promote Posts
When I first started blogging I really had no idea about how to promote my posts and get them seen. SEO can take up to 3 months for your post to rank on Google. However, there is a faster option!
Pinterest is also a search engine, people use Pinterest for holiday inspiration as well as planning! People will click on photos they are interested in, and this is the perfect opportunity to link that photo to your blog or website. I use a free app called Canva to create photos with text overlay for Pinterest. You’ll want to make sure you edit your photos nicely so that they stick out on Pinterest. The photos then have a brief description of what the blog is about. For example, if people are looking for ‘Instagrammable hotels in Bali’, they may see your Pin with a few photos of amazing hotels and want to click to read more!
Sometimes on Pinterest it can also take a while for posts to ‘rank’. However, I usually already get a few clicks overnight once I have pinned a new post. Use keywords, as you would in your posts, so that you rank for those keywords also on Pinterest. You can then enter your new pin into repin threads on Facebook where people share each others pins to gain traction fast after you have posted. Therefore you could already be getting lots of clicks as soon as you have posted a pin! A little way to trick the Pinterest algorithm.
It takes a while to understand how Pinterest works but it is well worth the time! I now have 700k monthly views on Pinterest which of course translates to an increasing number of click throughs to my website!
Using Tailwind for Pinterest
Hanna has already shared just how important using Pinterest is to promote your blog, but not everyone has time to be pinning 30, 40, or 50 times a day. Plus, for greater Pinterest success you want to make sure that your Pins are spaced out throughout the day. Now, you can do what I did when I first learned about using Pinterest for blogging and set a timer every 15 minutes so Pin something, or you can do it the smart way and subscribe to Tailwind.
Tailwind is the #1 tool for Pinterest management! It allows you to schedule your Pins at your top performing times, add your Pins to Tribes for more visibility, and use SmartLoops for your top performing Pins. I have their yearly subscription, plus add-ons for Tribes and SmartLoops. You can download Tailwind and get your first 100 pins scheduled for free. Note: By using my affiliate link I do receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (one of the many great perks of starting a travel blog).
How to Start a Travel Blog: Wrap Up
Now that we’ve covered all of the basics on how to start a travel blog, you should be in a good place to get writing. Remember, blogging success does not happen overnight. Make sure that you pick a topic that you’re truly passionate about, as creating a successful blog takes a lot of time and effort.
If you like what you read on how to start a travel blog, be sure to Pin it for later!