If you’re ready to start a travel blog, then bravo! You’re taking the first step towards entrepreneurship and financial freedom. Blogging is something that has not only changed my life, but countless others’ as well.
Nowadays, you can start a travel blog on nearly any destination or travel interest and find a way to make it profitable. While travel blogging used to be dominated by men, today many women are finding success as female travel bloggers. Whether you prefer budget travel, luxury travel, traveling through a specific country, family travel, or even eco-responsible travel, there are a ton of travel niches to choose from that you can dive into.
Now, is travel blogging a get-rich-quick scheme? Absolutely not! Travel blogging can be extremely profitable in the long run, but make no mistake: it takes a lot of up-front effort to see a return on your investment.
Here is how to start a profitable travel blog today!
PS. If you aren’t sure you want to start a travel blog, then head over to my How to Start a Blog guide to read about starting a blog when you aren’t sure of what your topic will be!
How to Pick a Name for Your Blog
Sign up for Web Hosting
Choose a Theme
Post Your Articles
Create Income Streams
Complete Your Web Presence
Find a Travel Blogging Topic
Many people begin travel blogging because they simply want to share their travels around the world. This is perfectly fine, but if you want to make money from travel blogging, then you’ll need to find a purpose for your travel blog.
Start to think about how you can help people. Who is your ideal traveling reader? What do you want your blog to help them do beyond “travel”?
That being said, make sure you are passionate about the topic, too. When it comes to travel blogging, you’ll never succeed unless you write articles and post them consistently and it’s easiest to keep a steady writing flow about a topic you are passionate for.
Here are a few ideas for travel blogging:
- Sustainable travel
- Solo female travel
- NYC City Guide
- France travel
- Luxury Travel
- Hostel Travel
- Over 40+ travel
- Family travel
- Hiking & Trekking
- Art & Culture Travel
As you can see, there are endless topics and niches when it comes to travel blogging. The important thing is to choose one! Don’t make the mistake of writing about something that thousands of other people have already shared. Unless you’re a stellar photographer, you’ll find it difficult to attract readers and make your travel blog profitable.
Because travel blogging is so popular nowadays, you’ll want to find a way to stand out from the crowd. It’s very difficult to start a successful general travel blog, for example, but if you start a blog about sustainable travel, or how to travel on the cheap, then you’re much more likely to find success due to lower competition.
I recommend writing the first 10 articles of your travel blog before you even set up your site. This is good for a few reasons:
- You can see just how passionate you are about a topic, and how much you really have to say.
It will help you come up with names for your blog.
You will realize if there are any other topics you want to cover that you may not have thought of originally, and it may shift the direction of your blog!
At first, the important thing is to just write. Aim for at least 1,000+ words per article but if your articles are image heavy, then you can get away with as little as 300 or so words. The more the better when it comes to travel blogging!
Over time, you’ll want to start to pay attention to the structure and organization of paragraphs within your blog posts, especially if they are long. Be sure to read my guide on how to structure a blog post when the time is right.
Choose a Name
Once you’ve written the first few articles of your blog, you’ll need to choose a brand name. Maybe you even thought of one as you were writing your articles! Whatever you choose, the name should be short, catchy, and easily memorable. Be sure to verify your name is available as a domain before settling on it!
Purchase Your Domain & Hosting
If you’re serious about blogging, then a custom domain name and web host are a must.
Using a free Blogspot blog or WordPress.com blog domain isn’t professional and won’t allow you to work with a lot of the major advertising networks and affiliate marketing networks (where the big bucks are made). Furthermore, you technically don’t own your blog when you host it with a free blog provider like Wix, Blogspot and WordPress.com. These companies can shut your blog down on a whim!
You’ll want to invest in a web host to store all the files, images and text associated with your blog in one place. The good thing is that hosting is the only major expense you’ll have when starting a blog!
Many hosting providers offer free domain names when you purchase your first hosting plan like Bluehost. If you’re a first-time blogger, then this is a great deal!
As mentioned above, the purpose of a host is to securely store your blog files. They serve these files as necessary to your website visitors from their servers as quickly as possible. Good hosts will back up these files regularly so you don’t lose all the work you’ve put into your blog in the event of a hack! Generally it’s best to choose a host that is located in the country where your visitors reside.
Hosting really isn’t that expensive. It can be as cheap as $3 per month! That being said, you want to choose a host that is reliable and helpful. I recommend hosting with Bluehost if you are a brand new blogger, since you will receive your domain name free of charge with a 12-month plan. Bluehost is based in Utah and is the first web host recommended by WordPress itself.
While it’s possible to run a casual blog with a custom domain using a free service like Blogspot or WordPress.com, I highly recommend against it if you are serious about creating a profitable blog. You may get by for the first few months, but after your blog takes off, you’ll wish you had set up a self-hosted blog in the first place!
Visit Bluehost and click Get Started Now to begin.
From there, I recommend choosing the Basic plan. You can always upgrade later if you need to!
As far as the length of your hosting plan, I highly recommend choosing 12 months or longer. Blogging is something you need to dedicate yourself to for at least one year. If you don’t think you can commit to blogging for that amount of time, I don’t recommend getting started at all because it simply won’t be a good investment for you.
Now, I know I just told you not to sign up for a free WordPress blog, so why am I telling you to “install” it now?
Well, there are actually two WordPresses: WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress.com is for free blogs hosted on WordPress servers. These blogs typically have WordPress.com attached to the end of them (sampleblog.wordpress.com). WordPress.com is meant for casual bloggers who don’t want to make a profit with their blog.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted, content management platform for publishers and serious bloggers who want to turn a profit. It’s a backend content management system that allows you to easily control the content put forth on your blog.
WordPress.org is the golden standard when it comes to blogging. In fact, it currently powers around a third of the entire web!
I highly recommend WordPress.org due to their numerous integrations, plugins, and advanced features. Plugins are essentially add-ons created by thousands of developers that improve your blog in a simple, easy way. If you want your blog to do ___, then there’s probably a plugin for that!
WordPress.org is totally free to use on the majority of web hosts, too. It’s so popular that you can most likely log in to your hosting admin panel and have WordPress installed for you automatically as I explain here.
Choose A Theme
A blogging “theme” is just a set of files which make your blog look pretty and easy to navigate! The theme determines how information is presented to your readers on the front-end portion of your blog. There are themes that are better for visual content, and other themes which are better for written content. Most themes are pretty good at managing both, of course!
There are many great themes you can get for free through WordPress and various developer websites.
If you’d like to purchase a more advanced theme, then I recommend looking through Creative Market and Etsy.
To add a theme to your website, click over to Appearance on the black lefthand admin panel. From there, you can either upload a theme, or search for one that exists in the WordPress repository.
Start Posting Your Articles
Once your theme is installed, it’s time to start creating your posts! You can do this by clicking the “+New” button on the top navigation bar, or from the lefthand admin panel, you can mouse over “Posts” and then select “Add New.”
Now, you can paste in the body of your pre-written article and give it a title, too.
Before hitting “Publish,” you will want to assign the article a Category and a Featured Image.
Categories are basically sections where groups of articles are filed within your blog. Here are a few examples of Categories and the articles that might be filed under them for a travel blog:
- 10 Best Cities to Visit in Spain
- How to Ride the Metro in Madrid
- 15 Spanish Meals You Must Try in Spain
- The One Trick to Save Money on Flights
- Here’s What’s In My Carry-on Bag
- Iceland Air Flight Review
- 21 Ways Traveling Makes You a Better Person
- This is What Shocked Me Most about Long-Term Travel
- 19 Unforgettable Moments of 2019
As you can see, Categories are broad topics which can hold a variety of blog posts. You may only have 1-2 categories at the beginning of your blog, but over time you can add more.
As for the Featured Image, this is one image assigned to your post that provides the reader with context as to what your post is all about. It usually appears in a few places around your website, like the home page, depending on your theme. Sometimes it appears within the blog post itself, and other times you may wish to manually add it within the text yourself.
Taking Photos for Your Travel Blog
Since travel blogs are inherently visual in nature, your blog photography is going to have a large impact on your success. People want to get a good look at the destination you’re writing about before booking an expensive ticket to get there!
You’ll want to aim for at least one high quality travel photo per blog post, but the more the better. Sweeping landscapes perform really well on travel blogs, but you can also experiment with shooting up-close details that show the charm of the destination you’re writing about. Play around with different styles of travel photography to see what works for your audience.
You can shoot quality images yourself with a smartphone camera like the iPhone, or you can invest in a digital camera like the Sony Alpha, which many bloggers swear by to shoot enticing travel photos for your blog. Don’t be intimidated by a professional camera, even if you have no experience using one. The majority of DSLR or Mirrorless cameras often have an “Auto” mode for beginners to use. The lens should do all the work for you. This is what I have done for the majority of my travel blogging career!
If you do decide to invest in a professional camera, I highly recommend choosing a mirrorless camera like the Sony Alpha because they weigh much less than a DSLR. I made the mistake of purchasing a bulky camera for my travels and I really regretted it when I had to lug it around.
You’ll also want to consider purchasing a tripod to take photos of yourself in different locations. This little iPhone tripod might be all you need to get the shot you want!
Lastly, if you’re not able to shoot any travel images yourself then you can find a variety of free, non-copyrighted images from websites like Pixabay and Unsplash. Keep in mind that these photos should be used as a last resort, and original imagery is always preferred when it comes to blog photography!
Once your blog is set up you’ll need to find a way to get people to visit your site! There are many ways to drive traffic to your site including:
- Writing guest posts for other blogs
- Leaving comments on other blogs
- Sharing your posts on social media
- Improving your Google Search presence
- Optimizing your content for Pinterest
Personally, I have succeeded at getting traffic to my site by optimizing my content for Google and Pinterest, two of the most popular search engines in the United States. On this blog I share several ways to drive traffic using some strategic methods.
I highly recommend reading these articles about getting traffic from Pinterest and SEO Basics, which is the method I used to optimize my content for Google search results. SEO stands for search engine optimization.
Google and Pinterest are businesses themselves, so relying on them for traffic is never going to be 100% secure. Their algorithms are constantly changing and you can easily gain and lose traffic from one month to the next.
For this reason, many people opt into creating an email list to which they can always market. While you cannot change the whims and interests of Google and Pinterest, you own your email list and no one can take that away from you. It’s important to sign up for Mailchimp, Mailerlite, or another email newsletter service so you can start collecting your readers email addresses.
Develop a Monetization Strategy
Once you’ve got your blog set up, and a few posts published, you should start thinking about how your blog will earn income and developing a monetization strategy.
There are a few key ways to monetize a blog. Depending on your audience, you’ll need to figure out the best way for you to make money. Is your blog product-focused, or more informational?
The easiest way to start making money with informational travel blogs is often by using display ads. Google’s AdSense program is an easy way for new bloggers who want to put ads on their site and start earning some money.
If you’d like to learn about the best strategy to make money with advertisements, then read this post:
If you write about travel products like suitcases or travel shoes, then you should probably monetize with affiliate marketing, a strategy where bloggers link to products they love and earn a commission when a reader makes a purchase.
These posts will give you a solid foundation to succeed with affiliate marketing:
- Introduction to Affiliate Marketing
- 5 Affiliate Networks you should Join
- 8 Creative Ways to Monetize a Blog with Affiliate Marketing
Personally, ads and affiliate marketing are where I’ve found the most success on my journey to make money travel blogging! On posts that are informational, display ads earn me money. On posts where I recommend travel products, I use affiliate marketing to earn a commission from sales I generate. Posts like: What to Wear in Paris, What to Pack for Iceland, or 10 Best Travel Beauty Products, work really well for this type of monetization.
Beyond ads and affiliate marketing, you could also pitch yourself as a freelance writer to larger publications, sell products like ebooks and courses, or offer consulting services to your readers around your blog’s topic.
These tend to be monetization strategies for more experienced bloggers but it’s great to keep them in mind even during the beginning stages so you can start brainstorming about products you can sell in the future!
Go through the Newbie Blogger’s Checklist
Now that your blog is set up and ready to go, head over to my newbie blogger’s checklist to sign-up for social media accounts and services that will ensure your online presence is complete. These tips aren’t immediately necessary, but they should be done as you have time to really give your blog an edge.
I hope this post has been helpful to anyone who wants to start a profitable travel blog. Making money from your blog may seem like a dream, but trust me it’s not! Just take a look at my income reports for proof. I have found a way to monetize my travel blog using affiliate marketing and ads so if I can do it, you can do it!
That being said, making money travel blogging takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It won’t come easy, but it will be worth it!
Be sure to sign up for my mailing list below as I’m always sharing new ways to optimize your blog for success!