How to Start a Successful Travel Blog in 2020
If globetrotting and writing are your resolutions this year, you might want to know how to start a successful travel blog to combine the best of both worlds.
Travel blogging is a heavily saturated market. Your blog is going to need something special to stand out from the crowd. Even so, it’s possible to create a successful travel blog with hard work, passion, and proper guidance. If you are all new to this and have zero coding knowledge, it is a good idea to start with WordPress as it is both a scalable and beginner-friendly platform.
Join us for a ride as we show you how to create a successful travel blog in 2020!
Before you actually start blogging, delve deeper into what makes your content unique. “Traveling” is such a broad and vague subject to start with. You can refine it further by asking a few questions:
- What are your interests?
- Who are you writing for?
- Who are your competitors?
- What other relevant topics can you write about?
First of all, find something you’d love to write about. Many people flock to blogs for authentic experiences, so make sure to be as genuine as possible. List down all the destinations you’d love to visit and the activities you’d love to do there.
Second, find your target audience and consider how your content can interest them. What is that special something that will keep them engaged? Going to museums might not be appealing to the general public, nor would cave exploration unless your demographics love history or outdoor adventure, for instance.
Third, know your competition. Adapt what they have done right, and avoid their mistakes. Use your own voice to describe places and situations. Take inspiration, but never plagiarize.
Lastly, personalize your blog concept further by finding micro niches suitable for your main travel focus. For example, if you’re well-versed in history, you can make historical tours a part of your sub-niche. Maybe you worked as a cook at a fine dining restaurant? Consider a food travel blog that explores high-class eateries around the world.
Setting Up Your Travel Blog
Now that you know how you’ll approach your audience, it’s time to create the travel blog. Below are some tips, tricks and the main steps to help you get started:
1. Picking Your Travel Blog’s Name
The name must represent your brand of traveling. It should be something descriptive that lets your audience identify what your blog is all about at first glance. Don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time mulling this over, as it’s the first impression you’ll make. If you’re having issues brainstorming you can use some tools that will help choose a blog name.
The name has to ooze with its own personality to make it distinct from competitors. Think back to your niche and list down relevant concepts or ideas. Get creative, but not too specific – it’s better to use a future-proof name should you want to expand the topics you cover.
It’s also equally important to choose something easy to pronounce and remember. After all, it’s most likely going to be your domain name as well. Avoid using numbers, hyphens, and hard to spell words.
Last but not least, make sure your preferred domain name available. You can do this by conducting a thorough check on various social media platforms and other blogs.
2. Hosting and Blog Creation
Self-hosted WordPress is the perfect platform to start a travel blog. It’s highly customizable, SEO-friendly, and cost-effective as you only need to pay for hosting and the domain. Plus, support for the most popular CMS is easy to come by, with the massive community of webmasters who are eager to help each other learn and improve.
With WordPress, you’ll have more control over your site’s features and looks compared to any website builder. Such independence also grants you more freedom to monetize your site, taking away restrictions and rules that other commercial platforms may have.
Setup will be a breeze as well, since most hosting providers offer a one-click installer for WordPress, enabling instant setup. When choosing a hosting plan though, make sure to consider your starting budget, the performance and uptime of the provider, and of course the quality and availability of their customer support.
3. Customizing Your Blog
Your site’s aesthetics are going to be a huge part of its brand identity. Luckily, the official WordPress theme directory is loaded with tons of stunning, free travel blog templates.
When picking one, look for responsiveness, speed, flexible customization options, SEO-friendliness, and typography options. Additionally, you’d want something with a clean and easily-navigable layout, a built-in gallery or map feature to showcase your travel experiences and footprints.
4. Optimizing Your Site
WordPress Plugins can further enrich your travel blog with useful features. Some worth your consideration are:
- Google Maps Widget – a fast and easy way to set up an interactive map on your site.
- Yoast SEO – offers insights for improving the SEO-readiness of a content piece or page.
- Mailchimp – helps boost user engagement with newsletter forms, email marketing features, and more.
- Akismet Anti-Spam – mitigates and filters spam comments.
Creating Content for a Travel Blog
Ultimately, the secret to starting a successful travel blog is making content readers will love. Here are some tips to save you from the initial trial and error:
Photographs help you convey a story people will care about. A recent survey on lead generation trends in 2019 shows that visual content increases visitors’ desire to read up to 80% and engagement up to 180%.
However, the visuals have to be attractive. After all, 67% of consumers use images to base their opinions on a product. Hence it’s important to use only high-quality photographs for your travel posts.
To take better pictures, pay attention to lighting. Scout a place to find the best time to take photos and learn about its weather and terrain. Avoid high tourist traffic and bright sunny days. The latter is especially crucial because intense lighting messes up shadows and tones. Be sure to read up on the basics of lighting for photography.
Composition and elements are also essential. Experiment with various angle composition rules to spice up your shots. For example, you can apply the rule of thirds, or learn about the golden ratio to create stunning photos.
Invest in a high-quality camera and a tripod. The former offers an arsenal of useful features to help you take better pictures. Meanwhile, the latter helps experiment with various manual settings without being interrupted by a shaky grip and is especially useful for taking panoramic shots or portraits.
While we’re on the subject, when starting a travel blog, it’s always good to include the human element in your travel photos, as people love to get a chance to relate or see local life up close. If you want to shoot portraits of locals, however, make an effort to learn basic phrases in their language. Be approachable and polite when asking. Most will generally be happy to oblige, but be sure to research the general outlook before going.
Last but not least, perfect moments often require patience to seize. Observe your surroundings closely, and always be ready.
Take Notes on Your Journey
Keep track of your travel experiences and notable aspects. It’s important to take notes of what you see and experience so you won’t forget. Bring a small notebook and a pen everywhere, and practice observing your surroundings. The more small details you notice, the more engaging your posts will be.
You can simply use bullet points to highlight what you experienced, or a few lines describing how you feel about a trip. The most important thing here is to keep exercising your writing muscle and observational skills.
Read a Lot, Learn More
Reading enhances your ability to write, so the more you read, the better your writing will be. Try not to let yourself get stuck in a rut. Read other travel blogs, magazines, or pick up something else that lets you learn something new. It will give you a fresh perspective and broaden your horizons.
Additionally, read up on the places you visit. Find out about their history, culture, and add your own spin to based on experience.
You want to make your blog as descriptive and informative as you can, but remember to not bore your audience with an unnecessary info dump.
Optimize Your Content
Follow good SEO practices by having your readers in mind. Create useful, readable content with relevant links and keywords.
Use SEO tools and get traffic insights using Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, or Google Tag Manager. Make sure your content is as SEO-friendly as possible to improve the chances of it showing up on the search engine result pages.
Growing Your Travel Blog
Now that you got your travel blog up and running, start devising marketing plans and campaigns for growing your audience and even earning a profit to fund future journeys:
Guest posting is an excellent method that helps establish credibility as an expert and gain new followers. Reach out to fellow travel bloggers to see if they accept guest posts.
It’s essential to mind your etiquette when asking – always be friendly and tailor your pitch to offer them something worth their time!
Advertising and Affiliate Marketing
These two methods are great if you already have a sizable following. Both require you to promote a product or a service, in return you’ll get commissions for every sale, lead, or conversion your blog generated.
Partner up with travel gear brands, agencies, hotels, or ticket-booking services to boost revenue. Expand your network with brands and industry influencers by attending travel conventions like TBEX, TravelCon, or Social Travel Summit. But remember to always keep promotions transparent. That way your audience won’t feel lied to, and it’ll save you from potential legal trouble.
Another way to make money off a travel blog is by offering consultations on content making to other aspiring travel bloggers. However, keep in mind that this method will only work if you’ve already established a name in the niche. Look to this as something to strive towards as you cross off countries from your “to visit” list.
Travel blogging is so much more than just pursuing wanderlust and documenting your journey around the world. You need dedication, hard work, and perseverance to triumph in this niche. Most importantly, you need to constantly refine your craft.
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!