Is your job tying you down?
Many people have a passion for travel, but with work, they find themselves with a limited number of days each year to get out and explore.
You’re here because you already know the solution.
If you can start your own website and earn a modest income, you can support yourself and travel the world without ever taking a day off. Furthermore, running a website can be extremely fulfilling, especially when building a community around travel.
If you’d like to start a travel blog and use it to earn an income online, here’s how…
How to make a travel blog
I don’t want to give you the wrong idea.
Creating a profitable website is not easy. However, creating the website itself is easy and also a great way to get your momentum started.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to create a beautiful new website, and you can complete the entire process in an afternoon. Then I’ll give you some tips for growing your audience and making money from your blog.
There are six steps in total to create your own travel blog:
- Pick a domain name
- Get hosting
- Install WordPress
- Pick a theme
- Add your starter content
- Customize your site
Let’s tackle each step now, starting with the domain name.
What’s it cost? You can’t create a website on your own domain for free, but if you follow the steps here I’ll show you how to do it for just $59.40/year.
Pick a domain name
Let me save you some time and heartache.
Don’t dream up the perfect brand name just to find out it’s already taken. “Domain squatters” buy up thousands of domains and hold them for scenarios just like this. Unless you want to spend a few grand for your domain, it’s best to try and find one that’s not taken yet.
Come up with as many domain names as you can. Seriously, brainstorm a list of dozens of names and list them all out in a notepad app. Then you can use a bulk domain availability checker. There are many options, but I like to use NameCheap.
Finding domain names was getting really tough, and that’s one of the reasons so many new TLDs were added in 2017. If you have a hard time finding an available name you like, consider using the .travel domain extension which will open up tons of available brand names.
If you do choose to use a .travel domain just make sure the .com variation isn’t being used by a competing travel site. That will complicate your brand and potentially get you in legal trouble.
Don’t buy your domain name yet!
Once you have a domain name you like that is also available, it’s tempting to purchase it right away before someone else does. Don’t buy it until you read the next section of this tutorial.
I know you don’t want to spend a fortune getting your site online, but some costs are unavoidable.
If you’re going to start a website, you have to get hosting. Without hosting, there’s no website.
I got my first website online with Bluehost about 8 years ago and they’ve only gotten better. They’re competitively priced and beginner-friendly which makes them ideal for anyone starting their first blog.
Bluehost will also make this next step much easier.
Get your domain for free
Did you find an available domain already?
When you create your Bluehost account, they’ll let you register your first domain for free. They’ll also automatically configure your DNS zone for you if you get the domain from them. With that out of the way, there aren’t any technical steps required to get your site online.
You can click here to signup with Bluehost and get your first domain for free.
Installing WordPress has always been pretty easy. That said, you would need to name a database table and fill out some fields that may be confusing for a non-tech savvy user.
Bluehost eliminates this entire process and automatically generates a WordPress site for you the moment you signup.
Maybe I shouldn’t have even included this step!
If you want step-by-step instructions, you can follow my WordPress site creation guide.
Pick a theme
A theme will completely change how your site looks and provide design customization tools.
If you’re looking to create your site for as cheap as possible, you can use a free WordPress theme. We have 18 free WordPress themes all of which could work well for your site. Chosen and Morning, in particular, are popular choices for travel bloggers.
While I’m obviously biased, I have to admit that there are some premium themes available from other developers that contain a lot more functionality. If you want a theme with more customization features, check out this collection of WordPress themes for travel blogs.
Add your starter content
Before you go wild customizing your site, it’s easier if you get some content added first.
Your homepage will simply display your latest posts, but you also need pages for:
- About Me
We have a tutorial here that will help you not only add that content but also cover some other basic customization steps for a new site.
The first blog post is always weird and awkward, so just come up with a few things you want to say and kick off your journey. You’ll get into a rhythm once you get around 10 posts published.
Customize your site
The customization tools at your disposal will ultimately come down to settings available in your theme.
If you choose one of our themes to create your site, you can find a premium upgrade for every theme that will add a lot more functionality. Otherwise, a premium theme will have all of these tools built in.
When you’re ready to really kick things up a notch, check out our WordPress customization guide. You’ll learn some more advanced approaches for changing every element of your site’s design and even creating new templates.
Travel blog complete!
If you follow along with the steps outlined above, you’ll have your own gorgeous travel blog live on the internet in no time at all. Then it’s up to you to create amazing content and promote it to the world.
Here are a few tips for promoting that content and earning money from it.
How to grow your audience
The way you’ll get more traffic to your blog is primarily by publishing new posts.
There are two main sources of traffic that will drive new visitors to each post you write: social media and search engines.
Here’s how it works…
Getting traffic now with social media
It may be tempting to signup for every social media site under the sun, but you should just pick one and get really good at it. For instance, I would recommend learning how to make either Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram work well for driving traffic to your site.
Every time you publish a new post, share it multiple times on your social platform of choice. For instance, you could include 10 photographs of your travels in each post you publish. Then you can publish each of the 10 images on Instagram over the course of a week or a few days and link back to your site every time. Each Instagram post will get a few more people to your website.
Getting traffic later with SEO
Publishing new content is always the best way to grow a blog, but it’s not a good idea to only utilize social media for traffic. If you do, you’ll have to publish new content to get traffic. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
The idea is that you do “keyword research” for each post you write and then it will come up in Google when people search for that topic. When executed correctly, each post you publish will continuously send you traffic month after month.
Social media will get you traffic now, but with proper optimization, you’ll grow your SEO traffic with each post you publish. We have a complete keyword research guide for bloggers you can follow along with to get started.
How to make money with your travel blog
There are four main ways that blogs make money online:
- Sponsored content
- Affiliate revenue
Trust me, there’s no other magic method to monetize your site. These are the methods that all successful blogs employ to generate large revenue streams.
I’m not going to dive into each method in detail, but I can save you a lot of time with a few tips here.
Should you use ads?
Let me be frank, advertising is the worst way to monetize your site.
Websites that earn a lot from ads are absolutely massive. You need a ton of visitors every month to make decent money with ads, and you’re always at odds with your visitors who don’t want to see any ads at all.
You don’t need massive traffic to make a six-figure income from your blog using other methods.
Which method is best?
Sponsored content is probably the best way to get started. You can get paid to simply publish content about a product or service. Your perspective and the trust you build with your audience is so powerful that companies are willing to pay good money for your honest referral. And it probably goes without saying, but don’t promote crappy products!
When your site is only getting enough traffic to make $10/month from ads you could already be getting paid a few hundred bucks for one sponsored post.
As your traffic increases, affiliate marketing will become an increasingly promising avenue. As an affiliate marketer, you’ll recommend products you like and get a commission for anyone who purchases the product. Initially, you’ll earn more from sponsored posts, but affiliate marketing has greater long-term potential. Most blogs that generate significant revenues rely heavily on affiliate marketing.
Lastly, you may decide to build a product of your own a few years down the road. Your blog will be the perfect platform to announce and promote this product. While that certainly reaches far outside the scope of blogging, it’s nice to know that while building your audience you are also unlocking greater profitability potential that you can tap into later.
I hope this guide has gotten you excited to start your own travel blog.
The honest truth is that you can get a site online with your brand in a short period of time. Easily less than an hour if you have a domain picked out already.
The most important work will come after you get your site live. That’s when you officially become a travel blogger and begin publishing your best content. Large online audiences don’t come quickly, so get yourself prepared to stick with this for a long time and if you consistently publish great posts, you’ll see your traffic, followers, and earnings moving up-and-to-the-right in every chart.
To review the steps one last time, here’s how to start your own travel blog:
- Pick a domain name
- Signup with Bluehost
- Install WordPress
- Pick a theme (our free themes)
- Add your starter content
- Customize your site
Publish new posts frequently and promote them with social media and keyword research to grow your audience, and use sponsored content to begin earning an income before you have a ton of traffic.
With this plan in place, there’s nothing you else need except some ambition and elbow grease, and I’ll leave those to you 🙂