Would you like to start a travel blog?
Whether it is just for keeping an online travel diary or because you really want to get into the business of travel blogging, creating a travel blog is a very simple task that doesn’t require any coding or technical skills.
Like you, when I first started with travel blogging, I had absolutely no idea about websites and terms such as web hosting or WordPress were completely new to me.
Today, it’s been 4 years since I created Against the Compass, time in which I managed to turn a simple travel website into a successful travel blog from which I make a full living.
Here you can read my 6 ways of making money from travel blogging.
And, for this reason, I often get asked for tips on how to start a travel blog, so in this post, I wanted to give you a detailed step-by-step guide to how to create one from scratch, as well as all the costs involved.
In my opinion, this is the most – and only – difficult part of starting a travel blog.
Do you know what was my blog’s first name?
It was awful, right?
It really was but, when I decided to get serious about travel blogging, I spent several weeks thinking, re-thinking and brainstorming before coming up with a proper name like Against the Compass.
Here are some of my best tips.
Today, the internet is saturated with thousands of blogs, so you really want to choose a name that stands out from the crowd, ideally, a name that defines the concept of your blog, as it will be easier to remember and it will be good for your personal branding.
Here you have some great examples:
Ideally, your blog name should be related to your blog’s concept but there are many successful travel blogs out there with an original name instead.
For example, think about Nomadasaurus.
Alesha and Jarryd focus on adventure travel but their blog’s name could suggest so many things. However, it is very easy to remember and they have done a great job in communicating their personal branding.
Both will work as long as you take the following tips into account:
Keep it short and easy to remember – Take a look at my first blog’s name, myownworldperspective.com. There were so many issues with that name, one of them being it was too long. Keeping it short and simple will not only be easier to remember but also, keep in mind that social media ID handles have character limitations.
Don’t complicate yourself, be simple – Don’t use complicated, philosophical terms or slang words that could lead to confusion. Otherwise, you will have to explain the meaning of it each and every time anybody asks you for the name of your travel blog.
Think in the long term – Unless you are already a senior traveler who wants to name their blog Senior Backpacker, don’t add any age-related term into your blog’s name because over time, you will get older and it will become useless. Furthermore, if you are starting your journey in Latin America, don’t use names like davidinsouthamerica.com, as you don’t want to limit yourself to this region unless, of course, you clearly want to focus exclusively on that specific destination.
These terms used to be cool so many years ago, but not anymore.
There is no more room for Nomadic Johns or Adventurous Jennifers, no thanks.
These terms have been used thousands of times so, if you want to be original, stay away from them.
As I said, it literally took me weeks to come up with my blog’s name and what helped me immensely was creating an Excel file with 3 different columns:
I took my time in thinking about all possible words and then, I made as many combinations as I could between columns and, as you may imagine, compass was in the travel-related column, and against in the niche-related column.
Once I found a good combination, I asked my friends for feedback and, very important, give it some more thought for a few days, as you may find a combination which seems cool at the beginning but, after 2 days of repeating it in your head, it sounds completely ridiculous.
Do you know that I almost named my blog The Curious Camel?
I really thought I had found the ultimate name for my travel blog but then I realized it was crap.
Sooner or later, a great name will come up.
Do you know what web hosting is?
Basically, web hosting is a parking spot for your website.
All your website’s data needs to be stored somewhere, which is in a server located in a specific location. Mine is somewhere in Ireland.
There are, literally, thousands of hosting companies out there, some of them are awful, some of them are great, and I strongly recommend HostGator, one of the most popular hosting companies for beginners.
Over time, however, once your blog starts growing, you may want to move to a more expensive, and self-dedicated host and, in case you are wondering, I am currently with Performance Foundry but I would never recommend it to beginners, as their cheapest plan starts at 115USD a month.
It is very easy, and all you need to do is following some very easy steps.
1 – CLICK HERE to go to HostGator main promo page
2 – CLICK ON Create your site now!
3 – Choose your plan. For beginners, I recommend you choose the cheapest one – Hatchling.
4 – Choose your domain (IMPORTANT). Here, you will have to see if your domain is available. If it isn’t, they will give you similar suggestions, as you can see when you type againstthecompass. Usually, any domain has a yearly fee but with HostGator, you can register 1 for free.
5 – Choose your hosting plan. You need to select how many months in advance you want to pay for. The more months you pay, the cheaper it will get. To be honest, if you are planning to get very serious about blogging, I would only purchase 12-24 months, for the simple reason that your website might grow and you may want to move to a higher quality hosting sooner than expected. When I first started, I did purchase 36 months, but my blog grew quickly and I moved to another hosting after 18 months, so I lost all that money. Either way, it is your own choice.
6 – Enter your personal data. No secret here.
7 – Add additional services. Don’t buy any of these services as you will only need them once you start getting more serious with the blog, plus there are many plugins fulfilling these functions.
8 – Final price and proceed to check out. I selected 36 months and, as you can see, the price is just $105 for 3 full years. It can’t really get lower than that for a serious blog.
In technical terms, WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) written in PHP, which basically translates into an easy-to-use blogging tool that will make your travel blogging journey very smooth.
By the way, you may have heard of other blogging platforms such as Wix or SquareSpace – and there are many other alternatives – but WordPress is the smartest choice as other CMS have many limitations, plus Google loves WordPress the most.
The vast majority of professional websites worldwide are built with WordPress.
Installing WordPress on your brand-new travel blog takes only a few minutes, as it is a default option incorporated in your Hostgator account.
For that, go to your HostGator’s Portal (C-Panel), click on the WordPress icon and follow their very-easy-instructions.
Once you have successfully installed WordPress, go to yourdomainname.com/wp-admin
Enter the credentials you created at the WordPress installation and voilà, your travel blog is up and running.
This is what the main WordPress dashboard looks like:
On the left side, you have the main menu in which you find options such as creating a new post, managing your comments and settings.
At this precise point, WordPress feels quite intimidating and I suggest you browse WordPress beginner tutorials on YouTube to start getting familiarized with all the functions.
It just takes a few days to understand its functionality.
Essentially, a WordPress theme is a default design for your blog, so you don’t need to code it from scratch.
However, the beauty of WordPress is that most themes can be tweaked, so, if you don’t like a certain design or feature, it is possible to customize it but, for that, you will need some coding skills.
For this reason, you must to choose the theme that is closest to the design you have in mind.
WordPress comes with many FREE themes but they come with lots of limitations.
If you just want to create a travel blog to keep an online travel diary, that’s fine but, if you want to get seriously into travel blogging, you should buy a premium theme, which starts at 30USD, approximately.
Premium themes have the advantage that they can be customized, are more SEO friendly and you can usually get customer support from the theme’s developers
Now, there are thousands of themes out there but I started my travel blog with The 7 from Theme Forest.
The 7 is a great WordPress theme for beginners, as it comes with so many added functions, so you don’t need many developing skills to customize and set up your travel blog, but remember that the more functions your theme has, the more code it has, hence the slower your website will be.
After 18 months creating my travel blog, once my website started growing, I hired a developer who helped me set up a more professional theme. For that, I paid around 1,000USD.
By the way, the most professional, SEO-friendly themes are the ones from StudioPress.
This is an important, essential part of WordPress.
Basically, a plugin is a third-party app that provides additional features.
Some of them are free, whereas others are you have to pay for.
Each website will require different plugins but keep in mind that most plugins will add some extra code into your website, which may slow down your site, so choose carefully and don’t abuse.
These are some of my plugins, I have 19 in total:
And, for starters, I recommend you install the following ones:
Your plugins will change over time based on your needs and website’s functionality, as some plugins may cause incompatibility issues with your theme, WordPress version or even with other already installed plugins.
Your blog will contain both blog posts and pages and the main difference between them is that pages are static, don’t have a date and usually, link to blog posts.
Must-have pages when starting a travel blog:
Your blog is almost ready to be launched and the only thing you are missing is creating your first blog post.
What are you going to write about?
Let me tell you a secret: I don’t keep any of my first 20 blog posts, not a single one.
I either deleted or completely re-wrote them.
Once, I wrote a post about visiting a temple in Myanmar, in which half of the article was the story of a monkey who stole my bananas. After months of blogging, when I re-read that article, I just found it ridiculous, and even felt kind of ashamed for writing that. I mean, who the hell cares about that story?
Believe it or not, this happens to many bloggers, but there is nothing wrong with that, as it only means that you are getting better day by day, not only your writing skills but also because you are figuring out which content does well for your audience and which doesn’t.
A few tips:
I am not the biggest fan of social media and I don’t invest a lot of effort into it because I prefer other aspects of blogging, but they are great for communicating your brand.
In summary, this is what you are going to spend:
In my opinion, this is a very small initial investment, assuming that you can really turn this into a very profitable business.
Over time, as both your blog and income grow, your expenses will also increase, of course, as you will get a higher hosting, hire freelancers to do specific tasks and buy tools that will be key for your strategy.
Learn here my 6 ways of earning money from travel blogging.