March 23rd, 2015
5 Steps to Starting a Travel Blog
So you’re considering starting a blog to document your travels, huh? Here’s the lowdown on where and how to begin.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you may have considered starting a travel blog to share your stories, enlighten readers about other cultures, and allow friends and strangers to live vicariously through your journey as you experience the world with your sole BFF by your side: your backpack or luggage.
Anyone can start a travel blog as a hobby, but creating a successful blog and building up a following requires a large time investment and moderate financial commitment. You also have to love both travel and writing. Here’s how to get started.
1. Have realistic expectations
Don’t start a blog with the goal of making money or earning free perks. There are much easier ways to do both of those things. While it’s true that some travel bloggers receive advertising revenue and work with tourism boards to participate in press trips, those bloggers have sizable readerships (think at least 10,000 page views per month), and it typically takes quite a while to reach that level.
To run a successful blog, you’ll also need at least a basic ability to take and edit photographs (and video, if you’re so inclined). While a journalism or writing degree isn’t necessary, travel bloggers should be able to craft interesting stories that hold readers’ attention.
2. Choose your niche
You can write about whatever you like, but to attract a loyal audience, consider specializing in one particular topic. The subject of “travel” is far too broad to cover adequately, so picking a narrow niche with more focus and less competition can be beneficial.
The list of possible travel blog niches is almost endless: Budget travel, luxury travel, solo travel, couple travel, adventure travel, travel with children, senior travel, RV living and road trips, and culinary travel are just some of the options. Choose a topic you’re passionate about and go with it.
3. Select a blog name
To stand out in the crowded world of travel blogs, select a unique, memorable blog title. Pro tip: Avoid the most commonly used words in travel blog names, such as “nomad,” “wander,” “vagabond,” “backpack,” and “adventure.” Consider something a bit more unique that still clearly has a travel theme. Examples of popular blogs in this vein include Breathe Dream Go, Traveling Canucks, LL World Tour, Everything Everywhere, and No Vacation Required.
4. Set up a professional website and social media channels
Once you’ve selected your blog name, you’re ready for the technical nuts and bolts of running a website. First, purchase the .com domain and acquire web hosting from a company like Hostgator, Bluehost, or GoDaddy. Install Wordpress and select a free theme, or purchase one that you like. You can always pay someone to take care of any of the technical aspects you’re not comfortable handling on your own, though many of them are very easy.
Branding is important, so unless you’re a graphics whiz, consider hiring someone to design a logo. While we’re on the subject of branding, now would be a good time to begin setting up social media accounts. Twitter and Facebook are generally considered vital for serious bloggers, while Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube can all be worthwhile, too, depending on how much time you have to devote to them.
5. Post your stories!
Once the blog is set up, start posting content. Publish on a regular basis to build up a serious readership—figure at least once a week, at a minimum. Stick to your chosen niche and take your time to make sure each post is quality work.
Remember, this is just the beginning. Once your blog is established, continue posting regularly, network with other bloggers, and promote your content. And, of course, pick up a laptop bag and keep traveling to new destinations so you’ll be inspired to write. Running a travel blog can be a lot of work, but it’s also a fun and rewarding experience.
Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at http://quirkytravelguy.com.
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