How to Start a Travel Blog in 6 Easy Steps
I regularly receive questions about the process behind starting Thrifty Traveler. I figured it would help others to outline exactly how to start a travel blog. Let me walk you through six easy steps to get you started blogging in no time!
#1: Choose a Flexible Name
The name is almost as important as the content itself. I spent hours contemplating various names before I found one that really stuck. To start, I wrote down what the site was about and then tried different name combinations. I even used a thesaurus to find similar words to thrifty and traveler. Once I found something I liked, I checked Bluehost to see if the domain name was available.
It’s important to make sure the name is short, memorable, and fits what you’re writing about. Also, make sure the name is flexible, as you may want to change your original format later on. It’s very important to think long-term.
The tough part is most good domain names are already taken. If one is taken you can always message the owner and see if they want to sell. That’s what I did. Thrifty Traveler was originally registered in 1997, and I was able to purchase it from the previous owner. It never hurts to ask!
#2: Blog Hosting
Hosting is where your website’s data is stored. Think of it as “the cloud”. Bluehost is the gold standard for blog hosting, and it’s what I use to host this blog. Pricing starts out at $3.95 for a starter blog. I wouldn’t even waste your time looking elsewhere.
If your blog is successful you can easily upgrade from the starter plan. I’ve recently had to upgrade due to increased traffic, but that’s easy to do online or by simply calling into Bluehost. I’ve found calling in is the easiest way to answer any questions or solve any issues you encounter.
Thrifty Tip: When you are setting up your blog through Bluehost, I highly recommend Domain Privacy Protection. Otherwise anyone can look up who owns your site, giving them access to your address, email, and phone number. It’s worth the $9.99 to keep the creepers away.
#3: Install WordPress
WordPress is the software you will use to write and format your blog. You’ll want to set up a self-hosted WordPress account. This means the WordPress software resides on your hosting company’s servers, not on a free WordPress.com account. What’s the difference?
- Your website is “MyNewBlog.com” rather than “MyNewBlog.WordPress.com”
- You own your data and have full control (can sell advertising)
- You can install plugins & custom themes
- You can use Google Analytics tracking (very important)
Most professionals use WordPress, and it has the most support and plugins available. Installing WordPress with your BlueHost Account is super easy.
Click through the simple installation process on your BlueHost cPanel. When it asks you where you’d like to install it, choose your new domain (http://MyNewBlog.com).
Once installed, you’ll be able to log into the WordPress dashboard with your new username and password (usually www.mynewblog.com/wp-admin).
Thrifty Tip: Keep track of all your new usernames and passwords. When I first started Thrifty Traveler I had over 20 new logins, so keeping track of them is essential.
Congrats you’re officially a blogger! Pretty easy right?
#4: Install a Professional Looking Theme
Your new WordPress blog comes with several standard “themes”, which is the design for the website. Next to the name and content, the theme is critical to the success of your new blog. You will want to find a theme which is visually appealing as well as functional. You will want it to look good on a desktop computer as well as a mobile phone. There are lots of great free themes and others that cost $25-75. Don’t feel like you need to buy a theme, there are lots of great free options.
Top Theme Sources:
#5: Add Plug-Ins to WordPress
You can think of WordPress plugins as developer apps for your website. The plug-ins give your blog extra features that don’t come with the WordPress installation. Many plug-ins are free, but if you want a full featured app it will cost you, generally $5-25. You can download new plugins in the “Plugin” section of your WordPress Dashboard.
Essential WordPress Plugins:
- Akismet – Protects your blog from spammers leaving comments on your posts. Not perfect, but probably the best one out there.
- Disqus – Our favorite comment system. Can use one username to comment on multiple blogs.
- Yoast SEO – Very important plugin for optimizing your articles for Google search engine optimization (SEO)
- Easy Social Share Buttons – Slick looking social media sharing buttons for your articles.
There are others of course, but these will get you started.
Step 6: Own Social Media & Email
I hope you love social media because it’s an essential component of your new blog. Before launching your blog make sure a social media handle is available on the various social media services. Also, be sure to lock in your name as new forms of social media surface.
Social Media Accounts
Don’t feel overwhelmed at first. I promise you that if I can start a travel blog, you can too. There is a learning curve, and blogging takes dedication, time, and a lot of effort!
Now that you’re setup, you need to start writing! Work social media and begin to build followers. I won’t lie, it’s not easy but the rewards are worth it. Good luck!