How to start blogging is the most current guide to help you earn money for your travels. We've cleaned up the out-of-date information that has been reconstituted by younger bloggers. The same old, tired, and now out-dated material that is slightly reworked and put out again.
Great News! You are joining a group of people who travel the world (Country, State, or City) and chronicle their adventures through their travel blog. We are happy that you made this choice and want to offer our help on your journey. We have been in this business and constantly traveling now for over 5 years. We'll give you first hand knowledge and current information on how to start blogging. We want to help you along the way.
First things first. How to start blogging is not at all hard. Second it only takes you a short time to be up and running and ready to post your adventures and travel information. Third and the most difficult part is growning that blog and sending traffic to it. That is where we come in, we will share our knowledge. Show you tips and tricks to get more traffic to your blog with our articles and information posted in Our Big Escape. Last we will help you monetize that blog to offset your travel expenses and earn the money you are looking for. All this by reading and following ‘How to Start Blogging'.
We currently make over $10,000 every month from our blog and we have had our best month at over $31,000. Yes that is for a single month. This blog provides two people that are over 67 years old with a substantial income and allows us to visit the world. Over 93 countries in 5 years and we will be at a 100 by the time you read this.
We know that since you are on this page, you want to live this lifestyle, too. You want to travel and are tired of the 9 to 5 life of going to work every day. It will provide you with insight and an understanding of the world that you never knew existed.
We will discuss things like SEO, hosting, analytics, domain names and more that you are not aware of. Most of them are really just internet names for things you use in any offline business. We break them down and after you have your blog up and running you will understand everyone of them so don't be intimadated, just follow our lead.
Lets get started with ‘how to start blogging' and have your blog up and running before you go to bed tonight.
What you will need to get started.
- A computer or laptop (not a smart phone).
- An internet connection.
- A credit card or debit card.
- 1 hour of free time.
Step 1: Name and Brand
The Name: Sounds easy, but you will find this to be the hardest chore on the entire list. You will want a name that describes your blog. Remember, it needs to have at least a ‘.com' extension. Believe me, if you write down your 25 favorite blog names, more than likely, none will be available. You will have to be creative to get one that meets the following criteria.
- It will have a .com extension – you could/should also get .net, .org, and .io extentions.
- Made up of 1 to 3 words in length with no numbers or hyphens.
- It needs to describe what your blog and brand is about.
- You want it to be something everyone will remember.
The critical part of the name is its length — no more than 3 words. If your travel blog is going to be about adventure travel then the name needs to convey that. For escaping your 9-5 life and showing others how to do it — a name like OurBigEscape works. FoodInAsia would be about just that — Food In Asia.
- Use a name that will stay current over time. Do not not use a name like ‘OurBigEscapeIn2019'. First, it is too long and second, you have confined yourself to 2019.
- Choose a name that gives you breathing space. If you choose a name like SEAsiaAdventure and then want to expand your blog to cover the U.S. or Europe, the name would no longer convey that and would be confusing.
- Do not confine yourself. Think outside the box on the name. Don't use ‘LifeOfASingleTraveler' — you may get a partner. ‘$1travel' is not realistic. Keep it short and simple and something that will always be viable.
What No One Explains In ‘Getting the Right Name and Brand'
Now that we know what to choose, we have to find something available. That is why we said that this would be the hardest step. The first most important piece of advice, when you are starting out is to pick 25 favorite domain names you would like to use. But there is more to it than that.
- You need to make sure that it is available — not in use.
- You want to be able to get the .com, .net, and .org extensions. This is how you begin to protect your brand.
Purchasing all 3 is not a must, but as you become successful, it protects you from someone using your domain name with those other extensions, cloning your site and siphoning away your traffic.
- You want the domain name to also be available across all the social media platforms. Now you are expanding your brand.
What a bummer to purchase the perfect name, only to find out it is already taken on a lot of the popular social media platforms. Now, what do you do?
The best tool we have found to accomplish these tasks is a FREE service called Namecheckr. It checks domain & social username availability across multiple networks. In the world of brand management, Namecheckr makes it easy to see if the name you have in mind is available across a multitude of networks.
Branding: Define Your Brand
To define a brand you will have to think long and hard about the focus of your travel blog. And, No, “Travel” is not the answer. You will have to determine what you are going to blog about. If you want to be a success you should choose a topic with the greatest reach. For example, you will find many more people wanting information on ‘Budget Travel' than on ‘High-End Travel'. More people with less money will want that information than a person where the money is not a concern.
Here are some questions that may give you ideas on a focus and domain name as well. Will any of these things be a part of your travel focus?
- Selling Travel Photos and Videos
- Is Your Life Story Unique Like Ours
- Food You Find As A Focus
- Environmental or Political Issues
- Other Cultures
These are some of the more common and all have an audience. Some more than others, but more than enough for your blog to be a success. Our story is unique due to our age and health status. We are nearly 70 and travel with 18 to 25-year-olds virtually every day. While most people are on the golf course or watching soap operas, we are learning about the world and the people in it.
Give some consideration to it all and if you are not ready to commit to a topic then use the open end domain name and you can choose as time goes along.
NOTE: Purchasing your domain at the same place you plan to host is a good idea — but not a requirement in how to start blogging.
Step 2: Hosting
Number One is to avoid the free hosting plans. Places like BlogSpot, wordpress.com, Wix, and others. They simply do not work longterm if you want to earn a living blogging. The problems and headaches you will encounter are not worth the $5 a month that a hosting account costs. We are also aware that 95% of all bloggers push Bluehost. Part of that is ‘mob mentality'. They are copying each other's information. No one is doing fresh research. We tried Bluehost and was totally dissatisfied. To be honest, in 5 years we have tried over a dozen hosting sites — a very painful process. Learn from our mistakes.
Now that the name is in the bag and we have considered branding, it is time to get started putting your blog together. This is easier than it sounds and something you can do in less than 1-hour start to finish. So let's get started.
Hosting is something like a rental home or an apartment. You are not an owner so you will have to rent space to keep your blog online. The hosting companies have rooms full of servers that are permanently connected to the internet. Your blog will rent a tiny space to live in, to begin with. As your blog grows and you need more space you can rent a bigger room or if you want, at some point, you can rent a whole server and be the only person using it. This is not something of great concern to you now and by the time it is you will be experienced and know how to handle the upgrades. Back to ‘How to Start Blogging'.
You should start with a hosted account from the beginning. That being said, we strongly advise you use SiteGround.com. We know you will be happy with their service. They are on call with internet chat 24 hours a day 7 days a week to help you with any problems you have. They are a hosting provider that is recommended by WordPress.org – the most popular, community-driven site-building software worldwide. Getting your domain from the same place you host is a good plan.
The one thing that is very important is picking a company that does not rent too much space to a large number of people because it could slow down your site speed. It is crucial to have a fast website for 2 reasons. First, you do not want potential readers to leave because the site is too slow to open. Second, Google rates your site on different topics and the most important one is site speed.
Our host is SiteGround.com and while our hosting with them only costs around $7 a month or $72 a year our site is blazing fast as you can see from the Google Site Speed Tests above. We have great support, free SSL which is a must for a website again because of Google requirements and they do not overload their servers. If you do nothing else in this tutorial then click on Siteground and make them the home for both your domain and website hosting.
Here are the reasons we promote them.
a. Customer Support
b. Easy Interface
c. High Uptime, Nearly 100%
d. Easy Setup
e. Site Speed
f. Free SSL certificate
g. Free Managed Hosting
h. Recommended by WordPress.org
All of these add up to easy startup, great speed and support and easy on your pocketbook.
Stressing again? All you need do through the rest of the process is jump on the SiteGround.com online chat and ask any question during the rest of the setup. In most cases, they don't answer the question per se. Instead, they tell you to hold on and a couple of minutes later return and tell you they have fixed it for you. This is the best $7 a month you can every spend.
You are free to choose any hosting company, but do the research and see what the record of the hosting company is online. There are other great hosting companies but most cost around $25 a month to get the service and uptime you get with SiteGround.
Free Managed Hosting
This is available on the $7 a month plan with SiteGround and something you will pay extra for with most other providers. Managed hosting means your host and server is constantly optimized to run WordPress faster with no issues. It also provides premium plugins developed in house to promote site speed. While you can get SiteGround.com for $3.50 a month we urge you to use the $7 managed WordPress option.
As you’re going to go with WordPress (the best option by far), it’s good to get dedicated and managed WordPress hosting solution.
Note: We pay for our hosting just the same as everyone else does (and in fact are on their higher-end cloud plan due to us needing to trust the best hosting out there to manage our website). We just really, really love them.
SiteGround Signup Step 1
a. Go to SiteGround.com and click on “Sign Up”
b. Choose the “Grow Big” plan. This is only $7.00 a month and has all the features you’ll need to get started.
SiteGround Signup Step 2
a. Choose the “Register A New Domain” section. Enter whatever your domain is, and click proceed. You can choose to buy a new domain, or sign up with an existing domain with free website transfer, which is included for GrowBig and GoGeek plans.
b. Enter some account details and your payment options. We recommend paying for at least 12 months upfront.
Siteground now charges $15.95 a year for registering a new domain.
c. Unlike many other hosting providers SiteGround's advertised discount applies to any of the initial periods chosen during the sign-up process.
SiteGround Signup Step 3
a. Enter your account details.
b. At the top under hosting services change your Data Centre to whichever city is closest to you.
c. Uncheck Domain Privacy and SG Site Scanner.
d. You’ve now come to a verify page. SiteGround will run a fraud check to make sure everything is all good.
e. Complete your order.
Congratulations! You are now the owner of a new domain and hosting account! (Don't forget to set up your social media accounts with your new domain name)
Step 3: Installing WordPress
What is WordPress we hear you ask? WordPress is your “Content Management System”, or CMS for short. The CMS lets you put your posts up for people to read, add images, and you can do it all without any former internet experience. WordPress changed the world when it became available by making owning a website free. If you like, for a small fee, you can upgrade the look with a custom theme, which we will discuss later. This caused many web designers to go out of business and made owning a website within everybody's grasp.
Follow the steps outlined below and you will have your WordPress installed in less than 5 minutes.
Login to SiteGround and click on “Get your new site up and running – Set up in 2 min!”
a. You’ll get a popup with the SiteGround Account Setup Wizard. Select “Start a new website at (URL)” and hit proceed.
b. Now you’ll be asked what type of website you need. Select “Personal/Blog” and then scroll down. The software you are going to use is WordPress, so select that and move onto the next part.
c. You need to make up your WordPress login details. We recommend choosing something that would be really hard for people to guess, as this is the door to your website. So don’t choose “Admin” as your username for example. You will need these login details to access the “behind the scenes” section of your blog.
d. Now you’ll be given an opportunity to choose your web design template. This is otherwise known as a theme, which we will go into more in Step 4. Feel free to click around and see if you can find a design you like. Otherwise, you can skip this part for now.
That's it, you are now ready to login to the backdoor of WordPress (admin panel) and begin blogging. Simple and less than 5 minutes.
Congratulations! You just installed your Content Management System, WordPress!
Now, let's take a quick look at the website.
a. Simply go to the address bar in your internet browser and type in “YourDomainName/wp-login.php”. You’ll be taken to the login page for your website.
b. Put in your login credentials and you’ll be taken to the WordPress dashboard. This is what it looks like (with fewer options on the left panel)
d. Welcome to your WordPress dashboard.
This is the spot that you will come to every day to add images and posts, create pages and change the appearance of your blog. This is where you will spend most of the time you allot to your blog.
Step 4: Choosing A Theme
Your site is set up and functional and there are a number of Free Themes available but some are better than others. These will be a basic look and you will have to make some adjustments to make them look like you want the world to see. Like the inside of your home. now that you have paid the rent and are ready to receive guests.
In days past, every time you wanted to redecorate you had to hire a person who understood website coding to make every adjustment for you. Now you do it all yourself with no training thanks to WordPress.
There are 100s if not 1000s of themes available and for several years designers kept chunking more and more options into them trying to offer more to the buyer to make sales. These gave the themes many options but unfortunately, they became slower and slower.
With the new Google site speed initiative, they are not what you want to choose. You want to have a theme that looks great but is built on a minimal outline.
We have chosen a theme that is minimal but looks great and has adequate options called ‘Trawell' and is part of Thrive Themes. The entire theme is designed with a Travel Blog in mind and you can look at it and others here. After you have chosen a theme you want to use follow the steps below and remember that MINIMAL IS FAST.
a. Go into your WordPress dashboard.
b. Look for “appearance” on the left panel and click on themes.
c. Now you can choose the theme you will be using by uploading it to your site.
We have chosen a theme that is minimal but looks great and has adequate options called ‘Trawell'. The entire theme is designed with a Travel Blog in mind and you can look at it and others here. Here is a direct link to the Trawell theme if you wish to have a look. Another Minimalist Theme is Minimum Pro Theme. Either of these themes would be a good choice. Below is a section on ‘Custom Design Your Blog' where we recommend using Thrive Suite. This grouping of tools has all their themes you can pick from for FREE, including the Trawell Theme.
Once you load your theme you will have an online working travel blog and you are ready to write articles and amass photos and videos to add to them.
NOTE: A word of warning, placing videos on your blog or linking to them on Youtube will critically hurt the speed of your site and we would advise you not to use them.
Step 5: Choosing the Right Plugins
Plugins are like appliances for your new home. They make day to day life easier and let you do more with your blog. Some of them are to speed up your website. If you use Siteground much of that is already done for you.
There are thousands of plugins and some are great some not so much. Always look for the following stats when choosing plugins.
a. when was the last time it was updated and make sure it is current.
b. does it work with your version of WordPress.
c. if it pulls from the internet (a third-party site) like Instagram Photos, etc. DON'T USE IT — EXTREME DRAIN ON SPEED!
This is an anti-spam plugin that filters out crap messages left on your blog. Don’t ask why (you’ll find out as time goes on), but you’re going to end up with hundreds of spam comments on your posts. Just install this plugin and let it do all the filtering.
You’re going to hear the term “SEO” a lot during your journey as a travel blogger. SEO stands for “search engine optimization”, and that basically means when people go to a search engine like Google and type in something – for example “things to do in Berlin” – the posts that have the best SEO go to the top of the results, meaning more people click on them. It’s complicated and you’ll learn a lot more about it later, but for now, just install Yoast.
Yoast is a plugin that pops up at the bottom of the section when you are writing a blog post. You put in whatever keywords you think you are writing about (like “best places for breakfast in Sydney”) and it will give you a list of things you can improve on to help make your post rank higher in Google.
Another plugin that is hard to explain for beginners, but essentially the quickest and most advanced performance plugin. Makes your site super fast and helps you fix PageSpeed issues with one click! Try different settings to find the best set of options for your site.
Note: If you signed up on the Siteground “Grow Big” account, you also get their great caching feature free with your plan (SG Optimizer)
Step 6: Traffic Tips
Now that the blog is up and running and you have added some content, you are ready for the world to see and visit. The question is how to tell them you are ready. Many times the best blogs go unseen because the owners fail at this process. We would advise you have a minimum of 5 posts but actually recommend you have10 posts before publicizing your blog.
Google Analytics is a program that tells you how many people go to your travel blog, and how they found it. When you first start blogging you’re probably really interested to know if anyone is reading what you write! Google Analytics will tell you.
Learning about how to set up Google Analytics and how to use it is an entire blog post in itself – something that we won’t get into. But you should read this article about How to Set it Up Properly from Moz.
Get On Social Media
Now that you’ve got an awesome travel blog, you need to sign up for social media so people can learn about you and follow your journey! The most obvious ones are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and, but you’ll also want to look into Snapchat, YouTube and Pinterest. Go to those websites and make accounts using your “new domain name”, and start connecting with the world.
Make An ‘About Page'
One of the critical things to travel blog success is familiarity. People want to know who you are and what you are doing with your travel career. Blog posts are to clinical for this so you need an about page. Tell people who you are, share as much information as you are comfortable with. The more they feel like you are a person who knows what you are writing about the more they will stop by to visit.
Tell them here why you travel and what the focus of your blog is along with pictures of you and your recent trips. I cannot tell you how many people write about places they have never visited. One of the easiest ways to know if a blog is truly real is by their pictures. I have looked at 100 articles about Mongolia in the past few days and everyone had the same images downloaded from free images sites. None of them had visited Mongolia as I have. Show yourself on the road for more credibility and do it often so people will know you are real.
Now that you have Trawell or another theme – Minimum Pro Theme – you can go to WordPress and click on ‘Appearance'. You can make 100s of adjustments like using a sidebar or not. What side the sidebar is on. What colors to use as your brand colors. Add a Logo and adjust font style and size. Anything you want to make your blog look like something you are happy with.
Network With Other Bloggers
Join Facebook travel groups, meet other bloggers and start conversations with them. Tell them you are new and ask for advice if you need it. They can help you with their knowledge and as time goes by you can help them. All of this leads to one thing and that is big for SEO on your blog, BackLinks. These are what give you credibility on Google and boost your rankings in the search engines.
Step 7: Sign Up For A Travel Blog Course
This step is optional and one that you may or may not choose to act on. If this is your first blog then a good course on blogging and monetizing can be essential to your success. We work with Create and Go and can say that they can help you with all aspects of making money with your blog. They currently make over $100,000 every month and cover everything you will need to be a success. Let Lauren and Alex take you by the hand and make you a success.
We strongly advise that if you are serious and want to earn enough money to retire and travel for as long as you want to subscribe to their PRO BLOGGER BUNDLE which covers everything from traffic to monetization to content and writing to succeed.
If you are confident with writing and providing content and you want to just want help with monetization then get their BLOG MONETIZATION BUNDLE. We do want to warn you that travel content is hard to get right if this is your first attempt and writing. Do not make your posts sound like a diary or you will be a failure as we were for the first year. Content must be enticing, factual and provide needed information to build up a following. That is why we suggest the PRO BLOGGER BUNDLE.
Step 8: Start Blogging
That is it for this article, if you are here you have a travel blog. You have set up your own site posted articles and images and are now ready to go on to the next big step which is monetization which we touched on earlier. You will not make a ton of money at first but you should monetize from the very start. If you don't, you will not make anything and it will be harder to set up the more content you have to go back and edit.
Now start blogging! Take a trip, take photos, write stories and make the best damn travel blog on the net! Be sure and read our article about Why You Should Keep Travel Journals This is the secret to travel content if you do it 10 minutes a day you will have all of the details of every trip to go back to for information. If you haven't already signed up for our newsletter, do so now and receive a FREE 95-Page Journal you can download and immediately use.
If you have any other questions please feel free to email us. Also, make sure to check out those Facebook groups. Our other last tip is to use Google for research. I promise you cannot ask any question on Google that has not been asked before. If you find one send it to me. I have never seen one.
Happy travels and enjoy the journey!