Imagine for a moment that you’re on a beach. You have some kind of frozen fruity drink in your hand, the sun is shining down on you, and you can’t think of anything except for how absolutely amazing it feels to have the cool sand beneath your toes.
This is your life when you have learned how to start a travel blog.
Now imagine that, in that same scenario, you’re getting paid for every single second of it.
For those of us with a perpetual wanderlust, travel blogging may seem too good to be true. These bloggers have built a real business and get paid to go around the world – to see sights, to visit hotels, and to write about their experiences.
It doesn’t stop there, either. Monetizing your travel blog is one thing, but getting free vacations? That’s another perk of the trade.
In the past year, my travel blog has brought me to these amazing places for free:
From the beaches of Dubai to the busy streets of Tokyo, I have had the privilege of visiting some of the world’s most beautiful places – and I did so without breaking the bank.
What you need first and foremost is an interesting point of view and a unique voice. From there, just about anything is possible.
If you think you have what it takes to become a travel blogger and get paid to go on vacations, you’ve come to the right place. Here you will find just about everything you need to know on how you can go from a drab 9-5 job to traveling in style in no time.
Step One: Come up with a unique domain name for your travel blog.
Anyone who says that first impressions aren’t important is either naive or just plain, flat out wrong. A great domain name goes a long way, and is pivotal to your site’s success. Choose something catchy and interesting, but not cheesy or kitschy. To help you out, here are a few tips on what to do and what to avoid:
- Skip out on the cliche, overused terms that all travel bloggers seem to be using. No nomads, no vagabonds, no travelers. I know you’re trying to have your title representative of your travel blog, but these words are so painfully overused that you’re going to end up blending in instead of standing out.
- Don’t use numbers, hyphens, too much alliteration, or anything difficult. If a twelve year old can’t spell it, don’t use it. You want your website to be EASY for your readers – easy to type, easy to say, easy to spell. Don’t give people a reason not to check you out!
Here is a list of 77 excellent travel blog name ideas if you still can’t decide on one.
Step Two: Head over to InMotionHosting and click “Order Now” to Host your Travel Blog.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to self host on InMotionHosting. Why, you ask? I know there are plenty of hosting companies to choose from on the internet, and many of them are perfectly viable options, but InMotionHosting has a great customer support service, they’re cheap, and they’re very newbie friendly.
Once you click the “Order Now” button, you will be asked to choose a plan. For newbies, I highly recommend you start off with the Launch plan.
Step Three: Enter your desired domain for your travel blog.
Remember when we discussed the importance of the domain name before? Here’s where it really comes in handy.
You are going to enter the domain you’ve come up with to see if it is available. If it is, perfect! Continue on with the process and enter your personal information. They will ask for your first and last name, billing address, etc., so make sure to double check that you have avoided any and all errors.
If your desired domain name isn’t available, it’s time to head back to the drawing board until you come up with the perfect name. Once that is taken care of, enter your personal information and continue on with the process.
Step Four: Enter your billing information and click “Install WordPress”.
We’ve all purchased things online before and this billing portion is no different. All you have to do is enter your information, double check for typos, and move forward.
The most important part is still to come. Directly below the billing information are two small boxes.
For Domain Privacy, if you want to keep your private information hidden, select this option. Otherwise you can select “No Thanks”.
For Content Management System, click “Install WordPress”. This will automatically install WP for you, and save you a step later on.
Once that has been done, click “Purchase Account”.
You will then receive an email. Make sure to look over the email to receive your username, password, and a link to your control panel.
If you lose the link to your cPanel, it’s okay. All you have to do is go to your website, then add /cpanel to the end.
So, for example, if I just created www.cupcakecraze.com, my cPanel would be located at www.cupcakecraze.com/cpanel.
Step Five: Set up your theme and install necessary plugins on WordPress.
One of the best things about WP is its large marketplace for both free and premium themes.
Because you are presumably a blogging newbie, we are going to stick with the top 3 themes and the top 3 plugins to help prevent you from becoming too overwhelmed.
If you are unfamiliar, a theme is essentially the look of your blog, and plugins are optional additives that help your blog run more smoothly.
Top 3 WP Themes
This theme is great for travel sites because it’s very picture heavy, which means you can really show off your travels with a sleek look. It also has an incredibly fast loading time and offers 6 months of free support.
This theme, much like Goodlife, is great for a travel site because minimalistic style. It also promises that you need absolutely no custom CSS knowledge to be able to work it, which is an added bonus for those of us who aren’t all that comfortable with graphic design.
This free theme is just about perfect. It is fully responsive and mobile friendly, and easily customizable. It is an especially good choice for blogging newbies who don’t want to spend $40+ on their theme when they are just getting started.
Top 3 WP Plugins
This contact form plugin helps WordPress users to create and manage their content forms all over their website. It fully supports CAPTCHA, and is easily customizable so you can create exactly what your website needs. With 4.5 out of 5 stars in the WP marketplace and over 1 million unique downloads, it is apparent that this is a plugin used by (almost) all.
Yoast is an absolute essential for all bloggers, no matter what kind of blog you plan to write. It boasts to not only help bloggers to become better writers, but to help them optimize their search engine optimization with its unique list of criteria. On the down side, although it is extremely helpful, it is also geared towards advanced users. It can easily become overwhelming for newbies, and may take quite a bit of getting used to. I highly suggest checking out a few tutorials to learn all about it before you get started.
Jetpack is a one stop shop for all of your important administrative duties. Whether you want to optimize pages, check your visitor stats, or check out advanced security measures, Jetpack is where you go to do it. The best part of it all is that the good majority of features are automatically turned on as soon as you install the plugin, so very little needs to be done on your part in order to optimize your site.