Last Updated on January 5, 2023
Back in 2017, I saved up a chunk of money, quit my job, and started traveling. I had the world at my fingertips and big, shiny plans for the future. That’s right, I was going to start a travel blog and make money while exploring the earth at my leisure!
How’d that turn out, you ask?
Well, the ‘exploring the earth at my leisure’ part was a success. Quite delightful, actually.
But the ‘starting a travel blog and making money’ part? That part was a complete disaster. I had no idea what I was doing. Noeltrain.com was defunct after a couple of weeks and I jammed my failure deep down and kept on traveling. Ah, to be a millennial.
Fast forward six months.
This time, I decided to do this doing things the right way. With a newfound sense of determination, I spent countless hours learning everything I could about the industry. Failure was not an option, and I slowly lifted my new little website off of the ground for good.
Since then, I’ve meandered the earth, sharing my best travel and hiking advice on this blog as I go. The money I earn from blogging will allow me to continue exploring for as long as I choose. Life’s been good for me lately, but it wasn’t easy getting here.
That’s why I’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you start your own travel blog in 2023. I want you to breeze past the frustrating roadblocks that I experienced getting my blog off the ground. Hell, if you keep reading, I’ll give you the tools you need to start making a full-time income.
Ready to get your travel blog started the right way?
HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Should You Start a Travel Blog?
- Brainstorm Your Blog’s Name
- Set up Hosting for Your Blog
- Install WordPress
- Pick a Theme for Your Blog
- Install Must-Have Plug-Ins
- Start Building Your Blog
- Set Goals for Yourself
- Create Top-Notch Content
- How to Bring Traffic to Your Travel Blog
- How to Monetize Your Travel Blog
- Extra Tips & Advice
- Cost of Starting a Travel Blog
- More Blogging Resources
- Successful Travel Blogs
- Final Thoughts
⭑ BOOKMARK THIS GUIDE ⭑
This guide is packed with valuable information that can help you long after you’ve started your travel blogging journey, so I recommend bookmarking this page for future use.
Many of you are likely travel addicts struggling to decide if starting a travel blog is worth the time and effort. I get it. I had the same doubts for years before I pulled the trigger and started one of my own. Here’s what I can tell you about my decision:
Saving up money, quitting my exhausting job, and starting a travel blog was the single best life change I’ve ever made. I just wish I’d started earlier.
Why? Because travel blogging has been the most fulfilling journey of my life. I get paid to explore, hike, write, photograph, and help others do the same. What more could I ask for?
But for as great as it sounds, understand one thing: succeeding in the blogging industry is more challenging than meets the eye. To make a decent living, you’ll need to be extremely self-motivated, patient, and willing to invest some time and little money upfront. Sound good?
Great, because I’m here for you. So, stay tuned for my absolute best advice on how to start your own travel blog and get paid to live your dream.
It all starts with a name.
Coming up with a name for your website name can be tough, but don’t overthink it. The name you choose for your blog is important, in that it will represent you, your brand, and your beloved blog for years to come.
(No pressure or anything.)
Here are some tips that should help you out during the process:
Be Unique (Not Cliché)
The internet is swarmed with travel blogs, so it’ll be your personal challenge to stand out from the masses. When choosing a name, avoid using clichéd words that will lump you in with the hordes of other people trying to do exactly what you’re doing.
‘Wandering’, ‘wanderlust’, ‘nomad’, ‘vagabond’, ‘adventurous’, ‘roaming’ — overused travel buzz words like these will blur the line between you and other travel bloggers.
Get creative when choosing a name, and don’t be afraid to stand out.
Pick a Name That is Easy to Remember
I recently rebranded my blog from ‘Tenacious Travel’ to ‘The Packable Life.’ While I’m fond of the old name, the truth is that it wasn’t the most memorable moniker for my blog.
‘Tenacious’ is hard for many people to spell and tons of people don’t even know what it means! By switching to something more simple, I’ve made my blog’s name far easier to remember.
Keep it simple when choosing your blog’s name. Avoid using hard-to-remember words, hyphens, numbers, or anything else that might confuse your readers when they’re trying to remember your blog’s name.
Keep Social Media in Mind
When choosing a name for your blog, check for username availability across all social media platforms. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to lock up matching handles across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Twitter has a 15 character limit for usernames, so any blog names longer than that will have to be condensed.
My username across all social media platforms is ‘thepackablelife.’ Lucky me!
Don’t stress if you can’t secure usernames that are an exact match to your blog’s name. Just do your best to find a username that makes sense for your blog and is easy to remember.
Pick a Name That You Won’t Outgrow
Don’t paint yourself into a corner with a constricting blog name, because doing so might cramp your style down the road. Names like ‘Wandering Asia Aimlessly’, ‘ 20-Something Traveler’, or ‘The Vagabonding Vegan’ could limit your blog in the long run. Think about it.
What happens when you stop traveling Asia? How will you create honest content after you turn 30? What will you write about if you stop being a vegan? How will your readers react?
Keep the future in mind, and choose a name that will stick with you forever.
Why I Chose ‘The Packable Life’
Let’s look at the two main focuses of my blog:
- Minimalist travel
- Ultralight backpacking
Now let’s look at how ‘The Packable Life’ relates to all three:
- Minimalist travelers pack everything they need into a small bag and can travel for weeks, months, or years at a time. By promoting a ‘packable life,’ I’m relating to this mobile, minimalist lifestyle.
- Ultralight backpackers share the ‘lightweight and mobile’ approach to conquer multi-day hiking trails. Whether gear is ‘packable’ or not is paramount to the ultralight backpacking culture.
Once you’ve chosen a killer name for your website, it’s time to start building your blog from the ground up. The process all starts with web hosting.
Web hosting is the service that provides the necessary technology, storage, and support to make your website visible to the entire world.
Yeah, web hosting is super important.
You and your website need a web hosting provider that offers the following:
- Excellent uptime (your site never crashes or is offline)
- Fast servers (your pages load quickly)
- Great customer service (fast and helpful assistance on a consistent basis)
For me (and countless other bloggers), the company that delivers on these three aspects is SiteGround.
Thanks to SiteGround, my website has 100% uptime and lightning-fast page load times. Not to mention, their impeccable customer service has bailed me out of my own silly mistakes on several occasions.
I’ll walk you through the entire process of getting your travel blog started through SiteGround, from the first step to the last. This all should take about 10 minutes and will only cost $3.95 a month through this link or the button below.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Step I: Click the button below.
This will get the ball rolling on reserving your domain name and hosting plan through SiteGround.
Step II: Click ‘Get Started’ on the ‘Managed WordPress Hosting’ box.
This is important! Choosing this option will automatically install WordPress, the world’s best website building platform onto your blog for free. We’ll talk a lot more about WordPress later.
Step III: Choose the hosting plan that suits your needs and click the ‘Get Plan’ box.
Since you’re starting a brand new blog and likely won’t exceed 10,000 monthly visits right away, I recommend going with the StartUp plan. If you need to upgrade to a more powerful plan in the future, it’s easy to do so.
Step IV: Enter the domain name you’ve chosen for your blog.
Be sure to double-check the spelling of your domain name and stick with a ‘.com’ suffix. A web address ending in anything but ‘.com’ will be harder to remember and appear less professional.
Step V: Fill in your personal information and payment method.
Step VI: Choose from SiteGround’s optional extra features.
‘Domain Privacy’ keeps your personal information private and ‘SG Site Scanner’ automatically scans your website and searches for hacking or suspicious activity. I use both on my website, but they’re not mandatory to get started. You can always upgrade later.
Step VII: Select the top checkbox and click ‘Pay Now.’
This will process your transaction. SiteGround has a 30-day money-back guarantee for all shared hosting plans, so if you get decide blogging isn’t your style, you can get refunded no questions asked.
That’s it! You’ve officially reserved your domain name and web hosting, and you’re well on your way to starting your travel blog. There are just a few more simple steps to get your website up and running.
WordPress is a free online website creation tool that is, far and away, the most popular software for building blogs worldwide. It’s so popular, in fact, that it powers 35% of websites across the entire internet.
WordPress is intuitive, well-designed, and offers countless plugins to fine-tune websites to suit the user’s needs. You don’t need any web design experience to use WordPress, either. It’s a no-brainer.
SiteGround makes it incredibly easy to install WordPress on your website. Let’s walk through it, step by step.
Step I: Click the ‘Start Now’ button.
You should land on this screen after you’ve paid for your domain name and hosting. If you’re having trouble finding this page, simply visit your new blog’s web address.
Step II: Pick a temporary theme for your website.
WordPress will give you a choice of free themes (design templates) for your website. Pick any free theme for now, and I’ll walk you through how to install a professional-quality premium theme for your blog in the next section.
Step III: Choose recommended WordPress plugins to install.
At this point, SiteGround will recommend certain free WordPress plugins that you can install onto your website. Plugins are meant to add features and will be helpful in tweaking certain aspects of your blog.
Add the plugins that sound useful to your website, and if they don’t work out, you can always uninstall them down the road. I’ll recommend my favorite must-have WordPress plugins for your blog very soon.
Step IV: Choose more recommended WordPress plugins to install.
Now, SiteGround will recommend three final plugins to add to your website. Of these three, I recommend installing Yoast SEO, which I’ll talk about later. Feel free to install Google Analytics and the Grow Subscribers List plugins, as they’re highly rated as well.
Logging in to WordPress
Though you’re likely logged into WordPress at the moment, you’ll get logged out from time to time. To access your login screen, visit YourBlogName.com/wp-admin. From there, you can log in and will have complete access to your WordPress dashboard where you can make changes to your website.
Making Sense of Your WordPress Dashboard
Once you’re logged in, you’ll notice a nifty little menu on the left-hand side of your screen. This is your WordPress dashboard. You’ll see a bunch of different menu items that give you access to different parts of your blog. Here’s a list of the most important ones:
- Posts: create, categorize, tag, and edit all of your blog posts
- Media: access and upload images, videos, and other media
- Pages: create, categorize, tag, and edit all of your pages (pages are different than blog posts, think: home page, about me, contact, etc.)
- Comments: approve, deny, and reply to comments left on your blog posts
- Appearance: change your theme, edit code, tweak your menu bar, and add widgets to your blog
- Plugins: add and subtract certain features to your blog
- Settings: change the settings for your blog
You’re not alone if this all seems a bit confusing. Learning WordPress takes a little time, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough. Just stick with it and get ready to learn.
Once you’ve secured your domain and hosting and installed WordPress, you’ll need to install a theme for your blog. Themes are templates that help users tweak the design and overall appearance of their websites.
I use a theme called WP-Prosperity, but I can’t recommend it to you, since it’s no longer available to the public. I’ve done plenty of research, though, and will point you in the right direction to find a great theme for your website. Here are a few popular options:
Theme Forest is a gigantic collection of premium WordPress themes — over 47,000 to be exact — from $2 and up. With so many well-reviewed and affordable options, it shouldn’t be hard to find the perfect fit for your blog.
In addition to themes, Theme Forest offers all sorts of other types of goodies for your website. From HTML to logo design to plugins, Theme Forest has loads of useful tools that will help you grow your blog from day one.
Do you find Theme Forest and its tens of thousands of options a bit overwhelming? Then give ThemeTrust a look. With around 20 easy-to-use themes to choose from, ThemeTrust offers simple and effective options to get your site looking good and running smoothly.
As you may have noticed while installing WordPress, there are numerous free themes built into your website, ready to activate.
I don’t recommend using a free theme if you eventually want to make money through your travel blog.
Free themes limit your blog’s functionality and withhold vital features in order to sway users into upgrading to the more feature-rich paid version.
Installing Your Theme
Once you’ve chosen a theme, download it and refer to the installation instructions to upload it to your website. For most themes, this step should be fairly straightforward, but I’ll go over how to install it just in case you get tripped up.
- Download your theme’s file (usually a .zip file)
- Visit your WordPress dashboard and select Appearance > Themes
- Click the ‘Add New’ button near the top of the page
- Click the ‘Upload Theme’ button near the top of the page
- Click the ‘Choose File’ button near the middle of the page
- Locate and select your theme’s .zip file from your computer
- Click the ‘Install Now’ button near the middle of the page
- Click the ‘Activate’ button that appears when you hover over your theme
That’s it. Once you’ve installed and activated your new theme, the overall look and feel of your website will be different than before. Getting your new theme to look the way you want will take a bit of customization and patience.
Don’t worry though. All professional bloggers go through these exact growing pains when learning a new theme. Be sure to read the user’s manual and take advantage of support forums when you run into any issues with your theme.
Now that you’ve installed WordPress and picked out a theme, it’s time to add some essential plugins to your site. Plugins are add-ons that add helpful features and enhance the functionality of your blog. Here are the top plugins I recommend:
If you want your blog to be on the first page of Google search results, install Yoast SEO. It’s widely used by bloggers worldwide and seen as the go-to plugin for search engine optimization. Yoast SEO has helped improve my search engine presence massively.
At some point or another, bots will barrage your blog with spammy comments (and they’ll never stop). The Askimet plugin identifies these pesky comments and deletes them automatically, which is a huge time saver.
Your blog should load quickly and efficiently, or else people visiting your site might get impatient and leave. Autoptimize will help streamline your blog and improve page load speeds, creating a better experience for your readers.
Grow by Mediavine
See the colorful share buttons at the top of this blog post? Those were created with the Grow by Mediavine plugin. Buttons like these give readers an easy way to share your articles with the world, which will bring more people to your site and spread your message further.
Uploading large media files to your blog is a big no-no, as they will slow down your page load speeds. The Smush plugin automatically compresses media files as you add them to your site, which will speed up your site automatically.
Contact Form 7
On your blog’s contact page, you’ll want to create a form for people to fill out and email you. Contact Form 7 is the most simple plugin for the job.
How to Add Plugins on WordPress
Installing plugins is a simple process. Here’s how:
- Find the ‘Plugins’ menu item on your WordPress dashboard and click ‘Add New.’
- Type the name of the plugin you want to download into the ‘Search plugins…’ field.
- Click the ‘Install Now’ button.
- Click the ‘Activate’ button.
You’re not going to love every plugin you download. If a plugin is clashing with your blog or simply isn’t working out, just deactivate it, delete it, and move on.
After you’ve installed your must-have plugins, it’s time to put together the skeleton of your website. These are the steps you should take care of right away to get your blog off on the right foot.
Create an About Page
Travel is very personal, which is why readers want to know exactly who is giving them advice when they’re visiting your blog. These readers are likely to have several different questions while they’re busy browsing your content.
Who is the person behind this article? Are they qualified to give me advice? How much travel experience do they have? Can I trust them? What do they look like? Would I want to travel with them?
A solid ‘About’ page should answer all of these questions, so offer up a candid glimpse into your life. Include pictures, stories, and unique quirks about yourself. People should feel like they’ve met you once they’re done reading your ‘About’ page.
Place links to some of the best posts on your ‘About’ page, and make it clear to your readers where they should click next.
Write Your First Post
No need to stress, writing your first blog post isn’t as tough as it sounds.
Choose a memorable travel experience you’ve had, make a blog post outline, write your post, add a few pictures, and edit it. It’s that simple.
If you’re having trouble deciding on what to write about, make a short post introducing yourself and explaining why you started a blog in the first place. Tell people about the places you’ve been and where you want to travel in the future.
Email the post to family and friends and share it on social media. Ask everyone for their honest opinion. Both positive feedback and constructive criticism will stick with you and help improve your skills.
Design Your Homepage
Your blog doesn’t need to look professional right away, but it will need a decent-looking homepage at some point. Readers, for better or worse, will judge your website by its homepage, so it’s up to you to leave a good first impression.
Get a piece of paper, sketch out what your ideal homepage looks like, and use your blog’s theme to will it into existence. You’ll likely need to reference your theme’s user manual and visit its support forum to turn your sketch into reality.
Stumped on your homepage design? Visit some of your favorite blogs, check out their homepages, take notes on what you like, and start sketching your own unique design from the top down.
Set Up Email for Your Blog
Which email address looks more professional?
The answer here is painfully obvious. People are going to take your blog more seriously once you have an official email address attached to your site, so let’s take care of that right away.
Here’s a helpful guide on how to set up your official email address through SiteGround.
Get Your Blog a Logo
While you don’t have to create a logo for your blog right away, you’ll eventually need one. A well-designed logo will make your site stand out from the thousands of other travel blogs and will help strengthen your brand.
You have many different options when creating a logo for your site. Here are a few that I recommend:
Make Your Own Logo with Photoshop: If you use Adobe Photoshop and know the basics, creating a simple logo for your website shouldn’t take long. Browse videos and tutorials on YouTube if you need help learning how to make your own logo on Photoshop.
Cost: Adobe Photoshop is $9.95 a month
Make Your Own Logo with Snappa: Find Photoshop a little difficult to use? Then try out Snappa, an easy-to-use graphic design platform where you can edit photos, design logos, make banners, and more. Think of Snappa as a simplified Photoshop full of useful templates.
Cost: Free for basic membership – $1o a month for pro
Hire Someone to Make Your Logo on Fiverr: If you’d rather not fuss over your logo and want a professional to design it instead, go to Fiverr. There you’ll find hundreds of graphic designers who can make your logo in a flash, often at a very affordable price.
Cost: $10 and up
Install Google Analytics
Ask any successful blogger how they measure and analyze their internet traffic and they’ll all give you the same answer: Google Analytics.
Google Analytics gives you access to all sorts of helpful stats about your blog. It’ll show you how many people visit your site, what countries they’re from, what pages they’re viewing, how they found your blog, and how long their session lasts.
Consider Google Analytics a must-have tool for your website.
Did I mention it’s completely free?
Signing up for your Google Analytics account is simple and easy.
The process of starting a travel blog from scratch can be overwhelming at times, so set some simple goals to stay focused throughout the process.
To help create these goals, ask yourself a few very important questions:
- What type of site do you want to create? (What’s your niche?)
- What type of audience do you want to reach?
- How do you plan on bringing traffic to your website?
- How will you turn that traffic into income?
- Where do you see your blog a year from now?
- How will you free up time to grow your blog?
Give these questions plenty of thought, answer them honestly, and create a list of detailed goals. Forge a realistic plan of attack and let it be your guiding light as you grow your blog. And when you lose focus or motivation, ask yourself these questions over again and use your answers to get back on track.
Finally! It’s time to start creating those lovely posts and pages that make your little website so interesting.
But I’m not here to tell you to create just any old average content. No, I’m here to inspire you to create the best possible content you can offer the world.
Because to be successful in the competitive travel blogging industry, you must crank out killer content that people love to read. You need to help, inspire, and teach your readers in the most effective way you can. That is how you succeed in this business.
- Tell a compelling story
- Use wonderful photos
- Make your content easy to navigate
- Be thorough
- Edit your writing
- Relate to your audience
- Entertain your audience
- Teach your audience
- Be yourself!
If creating content becomes overwhelming and you get stuck, visit some of the more successful blogs to gain inspiration. While enjoying their content, ask yourself a few questions.
Why do I enjoy reading this particular blogger’s content? What have they done to become so successful? What sets them apart from other travel bloggers? How do they connect with their readers?
Once you start to ask questions like these, answers will begin to present themselves. After you have an idea of the direction you want to go, plop yourself down in front of your computer and get to work. Inspiration and clarity will point you in the right direction.
Now that I’ve preached to you about creating killer content, let’s focus on something even more difficult: getting all that content in front of an audience.
How exactly are you going to make that happen? It’s not as easy as it may seem.
Let’s go over all the strategies and tools I use to bring tens of thousands of people to my blog every single month.
Optimize Your Blog Posts Show Up on Search Engines
About 85% of this website’s traffic arrives through Google searches, and that’s not by accident.
To get this type of traffic, I utilize SEO or search engine optimization. SEO is the science of studying what keywords people search for, writing blog posts around them, and tailoring those posts to rank on Google. When people search for your given keywords, your post will eventually show up in the results, hopefully on the front page.
Showing up on Google searches isn’t always easy, but it is worth all of the effort you put in. The traffic you earn through search engines is passive, targeted, and completely free. Use SEO correctly and people will visit your blog consistently, plain and simple.
Free tools like Google Search Console, Ubersuggest, and Keyword Sh****r will help you dip your toes into the SEO world, but eventually, you’ll want to pay for a service that’ll raise your SEO chops to a professional level.
I use Semrush for all of my SEO needs. It’s an incredibly helpful tool that helps me analyze my traffic, research keywords, and improve the SEO of my existing posts. It has been a game-changer for me and can’t recommend it enough.
Collect Email Addresses
As a blogger, the biggest gift a reader can give you is their email address. By trusting you with their direct line of contact, readers are giving your blog a vote of confidence and asking you to send them more quality content. Gaining new email subscribers is downright flattering.
The beauty of having subscribers is that you don’t have to worry about search engines, social media, or advertisements to reach your audience. You can contact them instantly with a click of a button and send your content straight to their inbox. That’s powerful.
I recommend using a service like ConvertKit to help automate your emails, grow your blog, and improve your traffic to your blog.
Use Social Media to Connect with Your Followers
Relying on social media for traffic can be tiresome and time-consuming, and isn’t the most sustainable method out there. To be honest, I’m not very passionate about social media for this reason alone.
So, then why the hell am I telling you to use social media?
Because social media gives you a chance to connect with your readers on a more personal level. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allow you to join conversations, ask and answer questions, and get to know the people who support your blog.
Focus on social media to develop relationships with your audience and consider the traffic it brings as an added bonus.
Utilize Other Methods
Though SEO, social media, and email marketing should bring in the majority of your blog’s traffic, there are plenty of other ways to get people to visit your website. Here are a few:
- Paid Ads: Many bloggers spend money on ads that will get their content in front of a larger audience. Google Ads and Facebook Ads are two of the most popular ad services in the industry.
- Referrals: Getting other websites to link to your blog can be a decent source of traffic, and will also improve your search engine presence. The more well-known the website, the better.
- Guest Posting: Writing for other blogs is a great way to get your name out there, so many bloggers create content for other websites, which brings traffic and builds their reputation.
Bringing traffic to your website is great and all, but monetizing that traffic is the key to becoming a successful full-time travel blogger. Here are a few of the popular methods that you can use to turn your passion into a profession.
Placing ads on your website is an easy way to earn income through your site, though you’ll need a significant amount of traffic to earn substantial money. Google Adsense and Mediavine are two of the most popular ad services among bloggers and make placing ads on your website straightforward.
When you recommend products or services through your blog, you can insert special links that earn a commission when a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. This is called affiliate marketing, and many bloggers earn the majority of their income through this method.
Here are a few of the most popular affiliate programs for bloggers:
Keep in mind, it’s mandatory to disclose to your readers when your blog posts have affiliate links. Let your audience know that you’ll receive a commission when they purchase products or services through your links at no extra cost to them.
Once your site starts seeing significant traffic, companies might be willing to collaborate with you to create a sponsored post. They may ask that you write a post on a specific topic or destination and include links and references to their product within the article. They’ll pay you, often handsomely, in return.
Be sure to put together a solid ‘Work with Me‘ page to attract potential partners for sponsored posts.
Many travel bloggers earn income freelance writing for other publications and often get paid well to do so. Freelance writing jobs usually pay anywhere between $.05 and $1.00 per word, though the higher paying gigs are usually reserved for writers with well-established blogs and/or impeccable portfolios.
Here are a few websites that pay travel writers
- Matador Network
- Lonely Planet
- Transitions Abroad
- Go Nomad
- Pathfinders Travel
- World Nomads
- National Geographic Traveler
- Backpacker Magazine
Sell Your Photos
If you’re a talented photographer, you can earn money selling photos from your adventures online. Websites like Adobe Stock, Alamy, and TourPhotos are a great place to get your photos in front of a large audience and collect commissions when they’re sold. Want to sell your photos without a commission? Just advertise them on your own website.
Just keep in mind, that once you sell a photo online, it may no longer be yours to use as you please.
Sell Your Services
Once you become a successful blogger, you’ll have developed plenty of marketable skills to offer the world and yes, people are willing to pay for those skills.
Do you love to design websites? Are you an expert at SEO? Can you translate another language?
Great! Now advertise those skills through your blog’s ‘Work with Me‘ page and find people who need your expertise.
Through my blog, I’ve accepted work helping other bloggers with their websites, arranged SEO consulting sessions, and been paid to guide a 10-day hiking tour in South America.
Create a Product
Another great way to make money is to create a useful product and sell it to your audience. The types of products you can market on your blog are endless, so get to know your audience and create something that will improve their lives enough that they’re willing to pay for it.
Need some ideas of products to create?
- Online Courses
- Travel apps
The great thing about selling your own product is that you should receive most, if not all, of the commissions from its sales. Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, only nets a small percentage of sales.
Learn from the Best
Trying to monetize your blog all on your own can get overwhelming, which is why I recommend the Business of Blogging course offered by Nomadic Matt. His online crash course is jam-packed with helpful information on how to turn your travel blog into a money-making machine.
I took the course after a year and a half of blogging and still managed to learn loads of useful new information. At only $100 to enroll, this course will pay you back in spades.
While I could keep going on endlessly about travel blogging, I’m going to keep it short. Here are six final pieces of advice that should help you along your journey.
Make Your Travels Inspiring & Memorable
People want to be inspired by travel!
So, don’t visit the same places, do the same things, and write the same articles that thousands of other bloggers have already overdone.
Instead, take part in unique and fascinating adventures and put your own personal twist on them.
If you’re visiting Paris, ditch the Eiffel Tower, and write about the city’s most unusual and offbeat nightlife spots. Or seek out and share the city’s best hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Or write about that time you got lost and wandered into a live sermon at a historic church.
The world wants a fresh and exciting perspective, so be the one who provides it!
Help People Solve Problems
Whenever I find myself on a travel blog, it’s because I have a question and I’m searching for an answer. The same is true for billions of other internet users and will remain true for years to come.
People use the internet to solve problems and answer questions, plain and simple.
So, share your amazing adventures with people, but also help them create a similar experience for themselves. Are you writing an article about a historic castle in Lisbon you just visited? Great! Now tell your readers how to get there.
What’s the address? Which train do they need to take to get there? Which stop should they get off? How much do the tickets cost? Where can they buy them?
Provide all the thoughtful advice possible to help them create their own wonderful experience. Be thorough, knowledgeable, and help them through the process from start to finish.
Take Good Photos and Learn How to Edit Them
If you don’t offer your readers engaging visuals, you might lose their focus (and they’ll leave your website). That’s never a good thing.
The good news is that people are more likely to stay on your blog if you provide them with enough captivating photos to complement your quality writing. Readers visit travel blogs to visualize destinations, and they’re more likely to keep reading if you give them vivid and inspiring photos.
You don’t need a $2,000 camera to take great travel photos, either. For my travel photography, I use the lightweight and packable Olympus O-MD E-M10 mirrorless camera and bring a couple of compact lenses. My camera takes much better photos than my smartphone ever could.
I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to edit all of my photos on my computer. The learning curve for these apps was a bit overwhelming at first, but I stuck with it and learned them in no time.
Don’t Become Obsessed with Social Media
When I first started my blog, I stressed out way too much about social media.
How can I get more Facebook followers? Why are people following me on Instagram and unfollowing me a couple of days later? Why isn’t anyone liking my Tweets? How the hell does Pinterest work?
Social media is disheartening sometimes, I get it. I’ve been there. But listen…
Don’t let social media stress you out!
Refuse to let it overwhelm you and take away from the time you could spend creating killer content. If you let social media distract you from your blog, then you’ll have a lesser product to offer your followers – however many or few they are.
Spend an hour a day tops on social media, and use the rest of your free time creating thoughtful content that engages your readers and helps solve their problems. When you publish quality content, your posts will rank on Google, people will share your content, and the followers will come naturally.
Find Help When You Need It
After you’ve started building your blog from the ground up, you’re going to get frustrated (and it’s probably going to happen on a regular basis for a good long while). You’ll see.
Instead of letting these growing pains discourage you, take a deep breath, and find solutions to these problems.
Bury yourself in your theme’s support forum, research ways to combat writer’s block, ask other bloggers for their best SEO methods, and never give up. The solutions to your issues are out there, and you’ll find them if you look hard enough.
Never Stop Learning
I’ve taken in an insane amount of new information in the two years since I started The Packable Life, and there’s still so much to learn. This industry is far more complex than I’d ever imagined, and it’s evolving every single day.
You’ll need to be hungry to learn and extremely self-motivated to become a successful travel blogger. Nobody is going to put together a killer travel blog for you (unless you pay them a lot of money) so it’s your responsibility to figure it out as you go.
Learning the intricacies of the blogging industry will take time and effort, so work hard, ask as many questions as you can, and trust that it’ll all be worth it in the end.
The cost of starting a travel blog varies widely from person to person, so let me give you an idea of how much (or how little) you can expect to spend during the whole process.
You can start a blog for free on various different websites, but I don’t recommend doing so if you want your blog to earn money.
Free blogging sites are often crippled by a limited set of features and a lack of access to helpful plugins. Businesses will run pesky ads on your site that make their brand money off of your content. These platforms restrict enough features so that you’ll eventually upgrade to their paid blogging services.
Based on the steps I walked you through earlier, starting a professional-looking website with the potential to make money is quite affordable. All you need to invest is $3.95 a month for a basic hosting plan from SiteGround and $50 for a premium theme. There are really no other significant starting costs.
Serious bloggers should consider these start-up costs a no-brainer, as anyone who puts their mind to it can make this money back easily.
Cost to Start a Basic Travel Blog: $50 upfront and $3.95 a month
What I Pay to Run My Blog
When I first started this site, I paid $100 for my theme and signed up for a $3.95 a month hosting plan. I’ve since upgraded my hosting plan and signed up for a number of paid plugins and apps that help me run my blog. These services include:
- $30 a month for email services with ConvertKit
- $25 a month for various WordPress plugins
- $13 a month for hosting with SiteGround
- $9 a month for photo editing with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom CC
- $5 a month for image compressing with Kraken.io
- $3 a month for VPN services with NordVPN
Cost for My Travel Blogging Setup: $100 upfront and $85 a month
What High-Earning Bloggers Pay to Run Their Sites
As your blog’s traffic and income grow, so will your monthly costs. And while the prices of many plugins, apps, and software are fixed – hosting plans and email services get more expensive as your visitors and subscribers increase.
High-earning travel bloggers with large amounts of traffic (100,000+ visitors a month) spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a month to keep their sites up and running.
A small price to pay to live the dream and earn a living while you do it.
Cost for Elite Travel Blogging Setup: $200+ a month
Here’s a complete list of all my go-to blogging resources. These are the websites, apps, and tools that have kept me afloat as I’ve pursued my passions over the last couple of years. Without them, The Packable Life would be far more stressful to maintain.
As I mentioned earlier, I use SiteGround to provide hosting for my blog. They keep my site live 24 hours a day, use fast servers that load my pages quickly, and have incredible customer service.
Business of Blogging
If you want to learn how to blog from the best in the business, sign up for Nomadic Matt’s Business of Blogging course. I highly recommend it to beginner bloggers who want a detailed look into the business side of the travel blogging industry.
Choosing a solid theme to help your blog stand out is so very important. Browse through loads of great choices on Theme Forest, a widely trusted site that offers premium themes for around $50 a pop.
Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop
I’ve edited every single photo on this website with Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop. Every. Single. One. Cropping, adjusting colors, adding text – you can do practically anything with these two apps.
Who needs a real-life editor? Grammarly automatically scans your content, runs a top-to-bottom report, highlights mistakes, and makes helpful suggestions to improve your writing.
Gaining email subscribers is insanely important if you want to make money from your blog. ConvertKit will help you capture email addresses and create timely targeted messages to all of your subscribers.
If you want your blog pages to load quickly, you’ll need to use optimized images sitewide. I use Kraken.io to compress my images and shrink their file size by over 80%.
Using a VPN will thwart cyber thieves who try to steal your personal information (passwords, credit card info, data) from unsecured networks. I use NordVPN daily to protect my blog and my online identity.
Looking for a fool-proof way to become a better travel blogger that costs absolutely nothing? Here’s how:
Visit the top blogs across on the industry and spend hours surfing their websites.
By exploring the best travel blogs in the industry, you’ll notice many of the tips and tricks these bloggers have used to become so successful. Immerse yourself in your favorite blogs, take notes, and ask yourself: What can this blog teach me?
Here are a few bloggers that inspired me to start a website of my own:
Matthew Karsten, the Expert Vagabond, is an incredible photographer who seeks out thrilling and obscure adventures – the types of trips many travelers would shy away from. He has been a huge inspiration to me and my blogging journey.
Nomadic Matt Kepnis is a blogging powerhouse, plain and simple. In fact, he’s widely viewed across the industry as the most successful travel blogger alive. His blog is clean, thoughtful, and has an insane amount of quality content.
I highly recommend taking his Business of Blogging course.
Derek “Wandering Earl” Baron has been traveling non-stop since 1999, and he’s been keeping track of his adventures in an honest and refreshing way. His blog is heartfelt, personal, and completely ad-free.
João Leitão created Nomad Revelations in 2003 as an outlet for his aimless wanderings, which have since taken him to 100+ countries. His destinations are well off the worn-down tourist path, which makes his blog a fascinating collection of adventures that take place in far-flung destinations.
The Broke Backpacker
When Will Hatton started The Broke Backpacker, he could barely even type. Since then he’s worked his tail off – blogging, hustling, and budget traveling around the world. He’s scrappy, hardworking, and determined – all the characteristics you need to become a successful travel blogger.
There you have it. I’ve given you all of very my best advice on how to start your own successful travel blog and make money with it in the future. That was a heap of information all at once, so thank you for sticking around to take it all in.
How does the thought of starting your own blog make you feel? Overwhelmed? Excited? Intimidated? Motivated? Confused? All of the above?
That’s how I felt too. I get it.
So, channel all of that chaotic energy into starting your own top-notch travel blog to share with the world today. Don’t put it off any longer. The longer you wait, the more silly excuses you’ll make.
And remember that creating a successful travel blog isn’t going to be easy. The entire process is bound to be one of the biggest learning experiences of your life. The journey will be frustrating and challenging at times, but incredibly rewarding if you’re willing to put in the work and stay the course.
Ready to take the leap and start your own successful blog today?
If so, welcome to the industry. It’s going to be a wild ride.
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Do you have any questions about how to start a successful travel blog in 2023? What’s the biggest thing holding you back? Any tips or pointers that I left out? Leave me some feedback in the comments below!