For me, travelling is the ultimate food for the soul. In fact, if given a chance to roam around the world while getting paid for it, I wouldn’t miss the opportunity. I am sure, you wouldn’t either but more than that, I would love to document my experiences and share them with the world.
Now, this isn’t a fantasy (yes, it is for me) but definitely not for some. True, there are struggles involved like the income is not always fixed or sponsorships aren’t available. Moreover, it is already a saturated niche with multiple travel bloggers, so you’ve got to be original while creating content. After all, it is going to be about a place that’s been seen by many and, so on and so forth. However, there is no limit to possibilities and if you would still love to be a travel blogger, well the sky is your limit and so is the web!
In this article, we’ve put together the key things you need to ensure while starting your travel blog. So, without further ado, let us jump right into it.
The Basic Six:
- Purpose of the blog
Diving deep into anything without figuring out the purpose might leave you in a lurch. The same is true when you’re starting your travel blog. It is extremely crucial to know the ‘why’ to figure out the ‘what’ and ‘how’ for a successful blog.
Here are some reasons why you can think of starting a travel blog:
- It is a hobby or passion
- Document your travels
- Collaborate with fellow travellers to learn and grow
- Build a travel repository (portfolio) to gain sponsorships
- Become an entrepreneur and help people travel with ease
There can be several reasons. However, once you’ve figured out the purpose of your blog, you can start building content around it and promoting it.
Tip: Take out time and figure out why you want to start the blog because if you can’t, it might be difficult to create content in the long run.
2. Figure out your target reader
Once you’re clear why you want to start your travel blog you need to choose the niche of your blog. This is important if you want to reach the right target audience. Many-a-times bloggers end up choosing either too narrow a niche or too broad, however, both these cases are extreme and can hamper your blog.
Just like you figured out the purpose of your blog, figure out the niche you want to build your blog around. It can be as simple as, you either want to focus on cities, countries, hiking locations, etc. If it is cities then start off from the city you live in, explore parts of it and unravel the hidden gems.
Tip: It is often recommended that you start small and then widen your horizons covering other places.
This helps you promote your city locally and amongst people wanting to visit and, eventually, you can move to bigger prospects. Moreover, you never know local businesses might tie-up with you to promote their products and you can gain sponsorships.
3. Setting up your blog
There are three main things that you need to take care of when setting up a blog:
- Choosing the name of the blog
- Choosing the blogging platform and,
- Choosing the domain extension and hosting
i. Let us start by choosing the name of the blog:
Shakespeare wrote, ‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’
However, when starting your own blog, the name is everything. The name of your blog should represent what it stands for, it should be a brand in itself. Now, this is specifically crucial if you wish to broaden the scope of your blog from a mere hobby and documenting to making it big. Deciding a name can be tough, so think carefully before choosing it.
Here is a checklist, to help you find the perfect name:
- It should be simple – no complicated words or spellings
- It should be short and sweet – no one remembers long names
- Make sure not to include numbers or hyphens
- Research it – i.e make sure no one is using it. If they are then don’t modify yours, choose a different one
Eg: travelstory.com is taken don’t choose travelsstory.com or travelstori.com
- Keep it as close to your niche as possible
- Use the appropriate domain extension (explained below)
ii. Moving on to choosing the blogging platform:
There are several options when thinking of blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Weebly, Joomla, etc.
However, WordPress is the ultimate best in my opinion. FYI, there is WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The basic difference between these two WordPress types is that with the former you get end-to-end hosting services for WordPress whereas with the latter you can download the software and personalise it as you see fit. If you are thinking long term, I recommend WordPress.org as it is easily customisable, perfect for beginners and you can continue to use it even if you plan to monetise your business.
Now, assuming you have taken our advice and decided to go ahead with WordPress. Let us move on to the final part of our initial setup:
iii. Choosing the domain extension and hosting:
You’ve decided the name of your blog, you’ve even decided our blogging platform. Now, you choose the hosting and domain extension.
Are you wondering, what a domain extension is? Well, to speak simply it is nothing but what comes at the end of your chosen domain name i.e .com / .org etc.
The right domain extension matters because it can speak a lot about your blog. Take, for instance, you choose the name ‘travellingme.domainextension’ think of what would look good. If it were me, I would choose something like:
.com, .info, .co.in (if Indian), .travel, .me and so on. At BigRock, we offer amazing domain extensions at equally amazing prices. You can check if your desired domain name is available and register it before someone else chooses it.
Now, you’re done registering your domain. Let us now head to giving your website a home (hosting). There are serveral options available for hosting a website but WordPress Hosting is perfect when it comes to a WordPress website. Reason being, it is simple, managed, has up to date security features, daily backups and more. So, all you need to do is create content and worry about nothing related to hosting.
4. Customising it
After you’ve set up your WordPress website, it is now time to customise it to make it more you. Your website should reflect both what your blog is about, as well as, your personality.
Few things you need to keep in mind when customising your blog are:
- Themes – There are several theme options available, free and paid. Choose a theme that fits your niche.
For example, if you want to focus on photographs, then don’t go for a content-heavy theme. Or travel is about positivity so the colour scheme also matters, choose light colours like pastels, white, sky blue as opposed to dark and bold colours like black and red. There are several themes available online, you can check them, preview them for free and then install them. If you’re thinking can I change my theme? Yes, you can.Tip: Choose a light-weight minimalist theme, a bulky theme could end up making your website speed slow.
- Colour Scheme and Font– Don’t mix up too many colours. Try to keep your website as professional as you can. The maximum you can have is 2 or 3 colours. Also, make sure they do not clash and are soothing to the reader’s eyes. The same goes for fonts, do not have too many fonts and make sure it is readable. If you’re confused you can stick to Montserrat which is a free Google font.
- Header – Your header should not be cluttered with too much information or a big image. If there is an image, please do not write text over it. You can either have the sections listed below the image or above. It is preferred if you can have them at the top of the header.This travel website is one example of keeping your header minimal and classy.
- Images – Images on a travel blog are extremely important, however, make sure that you do not clutter your blog. Add text to distinguish between images and make the article readable.
5. Installing the right plugins
Plugins can help you customise your blog and add functionality without coding, in fact, if you’re a non-techy person they are blessing in disguise. Some of the must-have plugins include:
- Backup plugin
- SEO plugin
- Contact form plugin
- Travel plugins like Travel Maps etc.
- Social media plugins for your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube channel
Tip: Having an Instagram and YouTube page helps to get you more audience.
- Creating content
Finally, we reach the end of your blog creation and that is creating content for it. As a blogger, it is totally up to you how you create content.
You can write blog posts, you can have journal type travel notes, you can list down itineraries, you can include infographics, checklists, to-do lists, image-based post, audio, podcasts, videos etc. It is up to you to decide what needs to be created.
However, marketing your content and making sure it reaches the right audience is also important. Make sure you include SEO keywords in your blog posts, have relevant footer content, don’t write jargon or repetitive words and most importantly, create quality content. In the end, quality and originality win over quantity.