Learn How To Start A Travel Blog From Scratch In 15 Easy Steps (2020 Guide)
“The number of bloggers in the US is set to reach 31.7 million by 2020” – Statista.com. This statistic shows how popular blogging is amongst people. Amongst different genres of blogging, Travel blogging is becoming more and more popular every day.
Thinking of starting a travel blog? Want to become a travel blogger?
Before we get started, we would like to recommend a few top travel blogs that will inspire you to create an excellent blog that will pull in a significant number of followers. Below we’ve listed some of the top travel blogs and we hope you’ll love the travel stories, photography, and videos these travel bloggers publishing from around the world.
Top Travel Blogs To Follow in 2020:
1. Spirited Pursuit: This blog has been nominated for “Shorty Awards For Travel 2019”. The travel blog is run by Lee Litumbe. She is a self-taught photographer and storyteller, Lee uses photography to shape poignant narratives on cultural immersion; bringing fresh perspectives to lifestyle and travel experiences off-the-beaten-track. With every published story, her longing to experience and explore deeper into all that exists within the world is re-ignited.
2. Backpacking Matt: The person behind this blog is Matt Kyhnn. He is from Aotearoa- New Zealand and he loves to share daily photos from his latest adventures on Instagram. Through his blog, he gives tips on how to travel the world and showing how living an alternative, unconventional life can be satisfying, rewarding and realistic.
3. Cookiesound: The blog is run by Nisa and Ulli Maier, a mother-daughter travel photography duo. The blog is for the individual traveler, for the one who tries to avoid the crowds, for the one who loves exploring places without a tour-guide and without pick-up service at an airport.
4. The Blog Abroad: The blog is run by Gloria who has a great eye for photography. She creates great content and has worked with top travel photographers. Also, she writes for Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and Matador Networks.
5. Salt In Our Hair: Salt In Our Hair authors Hannah and Nick are one of the best travel photographers in the travel blogging game. Their informative articles and stunning photographs can easily inspire anyone to visit the place.
We Hope the above blogs have inspired you a lot and will help you in your travel blogging journey.
15 Steps To Start A Travel Blog From Scratch
This comprehensive guide will teach you how you can create your own travel blog from scratch. Creating a travel blog is quite easy even if you are a non-techie and it takes about 35 minutes or less to set up a travel blog. Excited? Let’s dive into the topics which you’ll learn in this guide “How To Create A Travel Blog”
Why choose WordPress as your blogging platform
“WordPress powers 35% of all the websites on the Internet”- W3tech.com
Today, in the world of CMS (Content Management System) WordPress holds 62% of the market share. WordPress has two versions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Both versions are free of cost. The difference between both is that WordPress.org is an open-source platform and you have to buy separate web hosting while WordPress.com is a hosted version of WordPress.
If you want to monetize your travel blog or if you want to get an unlimited number of possible customizations, we would recommend you to go with WordPress.org.
Choosing your domain name and web hosting plan
Choosing a domain name for your travel blog:
A domain name refers to the web address of your website. An easy way to come up with the domain name for your blog is to use the name which is related to your niche and choose .com as the extension. Check whether the domain name is available using a website like Namecheap. If the domain is available, you can go ahead with it otherwise you can tweak the name a bit or choose a different extension such as .net or a country-specific extension.
Choosing Web hosting Plan
Web hosting is the place where your website data is stored. There are multiple web hosting service providers you can choose from, but for illustrative purposes, we will stick to Bluehost for this guide.
Go to Bluehost home page and click on the Get Started button to continue:
Upon clicking, you will be taken to their signup page where you will be asked to choose a pricing plan among the following 3 plans. We recommend you to choose the plus plan. You can always upgrade your plan.
(Note: While we were working on the article, Bluehost was offering a special discount on the choice plus/prime plan. We would recommend going for the Choice Plus plan if the offer can still be availed.)
After selecting the plan, you have to enter the domain name of your website.
If you’ve opted for the Choice Plus plan, you’ll get the domain privacy protection feature for free. For other plans, you can choose it as an add-on. Domain privacy protection is a useful feature as it keeps your details hidden from the public.
After adding the payment details, you’ll receive a confirmation mail. Once you’re registered with Bluehost, you’re good to go!
Bluehost and almost every major web hosting service provider offers 1-Click Installation for WordPress and other CMSs such as Joomla and Drupal.
Below are the steps to install WordPress using the 1-Click Installation feature:
1. Log into Bluehost (Or any web host you are using)
2. Go to the control panel
3. Click on the WordPress icon (Install WordPress) which you can find under the website section
4. Choose the domain where you’d like to install WordPress
5. Enter the site name, admin username and admin password of your choice, and once you’re done, click on Install Now
Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WordPress, and now you are ready to build and customize your site.
Installing and activating a theme
The WordPress theme directory is a great place to find free themes or you can check this list of top 100 free WordPress themes. In this guide, we will use the free Responsive theme(one of our own popular WordPress themes with 50,000+ active installations) that can be installed and used as any standard free WordPress theme.
Follow the below steps to install the Responsive theme manually from the WordPress admin dashboard:
1. Download the latest Responsive theme from the WordPress repository
2. Login to your WordPress Dashboard
3. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New
4. Upload the downloaded theme zip file
5. Install the Responsive theme
6. Activate it
Installing and activating Responsive ready site importer plugin?
We will use the Responsive ready site importer plugin which comes with free ready-site templates to import the “Travel Blog” ready-site template. To install and activate the plugin first, download the latest free Responsive Ready Sites Importer by visiting https://wordpress.org/plugins/responsive-add-ons/.
After downloading the plugin zip file, follow the below steps to install the Responsive Ready Sites Importer Plugin manually from the WordPress admin dashboard:
1. Login to your WordPress Dashboard
2. Go to Plugins > Add New
3. Upload the downloaded plugin zip file
4. Install the Responsive Ready Sites Importer plugin
5. Activate it
Importing “Travel Blog” ready-site template
Before proceeding make sure you have the Responsive theme installed and activated (Explained in Step 4).
Follow the steps below to import “Travel Blog” ready site template:
1. From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Responsive Ready Sites Importer and select the “Travel” website to import.
2. On the preview page, you will see the website and you can see the “Import Site” button.
3. On clicking the Import Site button on the preview page you will see actions that will be taken to import the website.
4. Now you can click on the Import Site button and the import process will start. You will see a checkmark in front of the actions that are completed.
5. After Import is complete you will see the Launch Site button which will take you to the newly imported site.
How to change the logo?
Follow the steps below to change the logo of your website:
1. From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Customize
2. On the next page, select Site Identity
3. Next, click on the “Change logo” button to upload your logo image file.
*Note: Suggested image dimensions are 300 by 100 pixels. The maximum upload file size is 40 MB.
How to add & style the navigation menu?
To add a navigation menu using the customizer, follow the steps below:
1. From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Menus
2. Now, you need to click on Pages and View All. Select all the pages that you want to appear in your menu (use the checkboxes next to the pages’ names) and click on the Add to Menu button.
3. If you want to edit the name of the added Menu, look below the Menu Structure and click on the name of the page you just added. Let’s say we want to edit the name of the Resources and rename it to Media and to do it, we will click on Resources to rename it to Media (Refer the picture below).
4. Next, click on the Save Menu button to save the changes.
To change the style and look of the Navigation menu, follow the steps below:
1. From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Customize
2. Next, go to Header > Menu. Then, you will get the below screen.
3. Now, from the left panel, you can
- Change the header menu padding
- Change the menu background-color
- Change the menu text color
- Change the menu hover text color
- Change the active menu color
- Change the menu hover color
- Change the menu border-color
- Change the mobile menu layout
- Change the toggle button color
- Change the submenu border-color
- Change the submenu divider color
- Change the submenu color
After making all the changes, click on the Publish button to save all the changes and make it live.
How to edit your travel blog using Elementor?
Follow the steps below to edit the “One Page Business” website using Elementor drag and drop page builder.
1. From the WordPress dashboard go to Visit Site.
2. Your website will open up, select “Edit with Elementor” to start editing your “One Page Business” website using Elementor.
3. On the Elementor editor page, you’ll see two blocks reminiscent of Customizer. On the left you can find Elements (1) and Global (2) tabs, allowing you to change global settings and choose the content modules for adding and editing.
4. Click on one of the content sections you want to edit. It will be encased in the thin blue frame. It means that the section is active now.
Hover on the section to see the available options.
- Edit Section – click on the options icon to open the section editor on the left. Here you can view the section layout options, access section styles, such as backgrounds, borders, and apply advanced settings.
- Duplicate Settings – click on this icon to clone the section on the page. This option might be extremely useful if you want to use the same style and content settings and there is a need to create the same content block on the website’s page.
- Add Section – here you can add a new section to put more content on your web page.
- Save Section – click on this icon if you want to save the section to the templates Library. You’ll be able to export and reuse it on any webpage.
- Remove Section – click on this icon if you need to delete the section from the page.
1. To access the column options you need to hover on the top left column corner. A gray icon will appear with a hamburger options menu. These are very similar to the whole section options (Edit Column, Duplicate Column, Add Column, Remove Column).
2. Click on the Edit Column icon to access column layout and style settings.
3. If you click on the Add Column icon, another column will be added to the current section.
Editing Content Modules
To edit content modules hover on the top right content block corner. Here you’ll see the module hamburger menu. Expand it to view all the available options.
- Edit Widget – click on the top-right icon to proceed to edit the content module.
- Duplicate Widget – the option duplicated the content module with all the content and style settings and places it in the same section and column.
- Remove Widget – use this option to delete the content module.
Editing Content Modules
- To start editing one of the modules you need to click on the Edit Widget button in the top right corner of the content module. The module editor will open in the left column.
- Switch from editing content to editing style or apply advanced settings using the buttons located in the top panel of the editor.
- The modules content and style settings may differ depending on what content you need to add to the page and what module you’ve chosen.
- Click on the Save button in the bottom left corner to save the changes.
How to customize the blog layout using Customizer?
Follow the steps below to customize the blog layout using customizer:
- From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Customize
- Next, select Blog > Blog Entries
- On the next page, you will see different options to change the layout of your blog page.
Below are the options which you will see:
Post Content: You can choose between Content (This will show the full content of a blog) and Excerpt (This will show a short overview of a blog).
Excerpt length: You can set the maximum excerpt length for a blog content to show.
Read More Text: You can change the text of “Read more” button
Default Blog Posts Index Layout: You can change the layout of your blog posts index from 9 available layouts whichever is more suitable for your business website.
Post elements: You can Show or Hide any particular post element and also drag up-down to change the position of a particular post element.
Post Meta: You can choose to Show or Hide any post meta elements such as Author, Date, Categories, and comments. Also, you can change their position by dragging up-down.
Post Pagination: This option allows you to set up post pagination without coding. You can choose the Default option to set up numeric post pagination and Infinite option to set up infinite pagination which can offer a more fluid experience to your website visitors who want to quickly browse through lots of pages of posts without waiting for a new page load.
Blog Post Background color: Here you can select your blog post background color to match with your website theme or logo.
How to customize the post layout using Customizer?
Follow the steps below to customize the blog post layout using customizer:
- From the WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance > Customize
- Next, select Blog > Single Post
- On the next page, you will see different options to change the layout of your blog post.
Below are the options which you will see:
Sidebar Position: You can change the position of the sidebar. You can choose to put your sidebar on Right-side, Left Side, Right side half page, Left Side half-page or No sidebar.
Post Elements: You can Show or Hide any particular post element and also drag up-down to change the position of a particular post element.
Meta Elements: You can choose to Show or Hide any meta elements such as Author, Date, Categories, and comments. Also, you can change their position by dragging up-down.
Writing your first blog post
Now that you have set up your travel blog, it’s time to write your first blog post. It’s very easy to create a blog post in WordPress, just follow the below instructions:
From your WordPress dashboard: go to Posts > Add New. Now you will see a text editor, where you can write your blog post. You can add images and also embed your YouTube videos.
When you are done writing your blog post, you can click on the Preview button to see how your blog post looks. Once you are satisfied with your blog post, you can click on the Publish button to make it live and your first blog post will go live on the internet :)
Must have WordPress Plugins for your travel blog
With the help of WordPress plugins, you can integrate a specific set of features into your website.
Let’s look at a list of must-have plugins for your travel blog to take it to the next level.
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a must-have plugin if you want to improve the rankings of your blog in the search engine. This plugin helps with SEO friendly content, XML sitemaps and provides an easy template to add a title, meta description, and other SEO tags.
Akismet Anti-Spam is a very useful plugin if you want your blog to be free of spam comments. This plugin will help you to identify and keep genuine comments by going through them one by one. It blocks the spam comments and shows only genuine comments. You can unblock the ones that don’t appear to be spam.
Editorial Calendar helps you to plan and schedule the content that keeps you on track. You can view the schedule of your content, manage posts from different authors and reschedule your content just through the drag & drop feature. You can also view your drafts, edit the title, content and publish posts in advance.
One of the crucial ways to grow your travel blog is by increasing your subscriber base. This way, you can send out new blog posts, announcements, and any other communication periodically.
MailChimp is a popular email marketing tool that enables you to build an email list and send mass emails. Using Mailchimps’s WordPress plugin you can collect emails via your website. You can create forms on your site through which you can build your newsletter list. It also integrates with major contact form plugins giving you one more avenue to build your database. To learn more about building email subscriber lists, check out this article.
You’re churning out content on a massive level, but still, you’re finding it difficult to drive quality traffic to your website. What if you could ask your users to rate your blog posts and show the ratings in the search engine result pages (SERP)?
Rating-Widget does exactly that! At the bottom of every blog post, you can ask your users to rate your article which then reflects in SERPs.
As your website starts to gain more traction and traffic, it becomes more prone to security threats. To protect your website from these potential website attacks, Sucuri is a must-have plugin for your travel blog. It is available for free and offers features such as security activity auditing, file integrity monitoring, remote malware scanning, blacklist monitoring to name a few.
If you’re looking for a user-friendly and easy way for your users to get in touch with you, go for the Contact Form 7 plugin. It is very intuitive, and you’ll be able to set up your contact form in absolutely no time!
The plugin is free of cost, and if you are still not sure whether or not to go with the plugin, we think 5 million+ users count should convince you!
If you want to add some tracking code or script such as Google Analytics or Tag Manager, instead of editing theme files (which is not recommended if you’re not a coder), you can use the Insert Headers and Footers plugin. You can add a tracking script on your website through this plugin within a minute.
And if you are getting serious about blogging to treat it as a side project, then you need to use multiple analytics tracking and monetization tools. In such cases, this plugin proves to be super-efficient.
If you want your content to get shared across the social media platforms, you need AddThis. AddThis is a powerful plugin that comes with multiple features such as social media share and follow buttons, list building, link promotion, related posts through pop-ups, floating bars and sliders. The most surprising element of all this is, despite being a feature-heavy tool, AddThis is absolutely free!
Legal pages are a must to safeguard from liabilities and prevent GDPR and CCPA penalties. WP Legal Pages can generate policy pages on your website in just a few clicks. It is a popular plugin with over 190,000+ downloads.
How to get your travel blog on Google?
Getting your travel blog on Google is quite easy. To do this, follow the below instructions to make your travel blog go live on google:
- First, you need to submit your blog to Google Search Console and request for indexing.
- Share your blog content on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get your travel blog indexed quickly by search engine bots.
- You can also try Ping services like PingoMatic and Pingler to get your blog indexed.
Setup Google Analytics tracking
Google Analytics is a must if you want to get insight data from your website’s visitors. You can track the effectiveness of your online marketing strategies, user behavior, traffic sources, device functionality, onsite content, and many more.
To set up Google Analytics tracking with your travel blog, First, install and activate the above-mentioned plugin called Insert Headers and Footers. Now, sign up with Google Analytics with your Gmail account. Follow the on-screen instructions and you’ll get a tracking code which you need to copy.
Next, from your WordPress dashboard: go to Settings > Insert Headers and Footers
Now, paste the copied Google Analytics code into the headers section.
That’s all, you have successfully installed Google Analytics on your travel blog.
Free resources to help grow your travel blog
Below is the list of some free resources that will help you to grow your travel blog:
- For free stock photos: Pexels and Unsplash
- Designing tools for blog material: Canva, Snappa, Visme and DesignBold
- Free music for videos: Scott Buckley and Ben Sound
- Monetize your blog with this tool: Google Adsense, Amazon Affiliates, Affiliate Window, Share A Sale and Clickbank
Congratulations! You have successfully set up your travel blog on WordPress.
Drop us a comment if this article has given you enough information to get your travel blog off the ground. Happy Blogging :)