My travel blog is the byproduct of my passion for photography and travel. I started to document my excursions and photographic adventures around the world and from that, another hobby (writing) developed. Travel blogging can be both rewarding and frustrating at the same time. Frustrating because of all the trials and errors that I went through for the nearly two years of development. Rewarding because once I learned from mistakes and realized some wins, the feeling is exhilarating.
From all the failures there were a lot of Eureka moments that more made up for those mistakes. Here I will share with you what I have learned and you will get something from this guide to help you start your own Travel Blog.
First, let’s do a reality check and set the expectations. You are NOT going to make thousands of dollars in your first few months (let alone the first year) of travel blogging, period. Forget about having a travel blog that will fund your travels. You will have to fork out the initial investment for your travel expenses so you will have something to write and blog about. I know there’s a lot of websites out there making outlandish claims that you can make thousands of dollars travel blogging. But guess what? You have to sign up for their newsletter so they can sell you something or take their how to make money travel blogging course.
Travel blogging is a small pond with more fish in it than the seven seas. Nine-five percent of people who start a travel blog give up after the first year. Nine-five percent of those that persevere earn next to nothing from their travel blogs. I know the temptation – traveling the world while being paid on a perpetual vacation. Who wouldn’t want this?
The reality of it is, most travel bloggers are actually digital nomads so they always have an income supporting them on their travels. I have landed gigs that allow me to work remotely so I can work anywhere. The travel bloggers I know are in the same boat – they are freelancers doing web development, content writing, copywriting, programming, graphic design, and any jobs that do not require physical presence.
I don’t mean to scare you. However, you need to keep your feet on the ground and don’t set yourself up for a huge disappointment. Nevertheless, people are always hungry for awesome content – there is still a lot of opportunities for travel bloggers who take awesome photos, entertaining content, and kickass videos.
There are many ways to make money from your travel blog and it can indirectly lead to other opportunities. My travel blog is a great promotion tool for my photography. Yours might promote your awesome writing skills. Maybe it can make money by selling tin foil – the possibilities are endless.
Another thing, Travel Blogging requires hard work and extreme dedication even without seeing the rewards for months. Some bloggers will not see a penny from all their efforts even after two years of blogging. However, if you are serious about it and have a passion to write great content, you will eventually see the rewards.
How to Start a Travel Blog the Right Way
- Determine your Niche
- Come up with a Cool Name for your Blog
- Secure the Domain Name and Find a Web Host
- Install WordPress and Setup SSL
- Learn How to Use WordPress and Setup Google Analytics
- Skin your Blog with an Awesome Theme
- Design a Cool Logo
- Install Essential Plugins for WordPress
- Create Kickass Content and Find your Voice
- Develop an Online Presence and Get an Audience
- Network with Other Bloggers
- Monetize your Travel Blog
Part 1: Determine Your Niche
To stand out in today’s travel blogging environment you need to have a niche. Generalized travel blogs simply do not have the influence to compete with a well-established general topic travel blog. How do you find this niche? Focus on an even more specific niche of travel that you are passionate about and want to cover.
Some very successful blogs focus on just one location like say, Costa Rica travel blog. Others focus on extreme adventures around the globe. Some Solo Female travel or Gay Couples travel.
The point is, you want to capture a certain demographic and audience. When I first started this blog, I did not know what my niche was and in some ways, I still don’t. I am just now starting to focus on adventure & photography because that is what I am good at and want to cover.
I also cover personal and motivational topics that makes me different enough from other travel blogs. If you can find your niche and voice on the get-go, you would be miles ahead of everyone in this game. How you do that is entirely up to you.
Part 2: Come up with an Awesome Blog Name
Your moniker is the most important thing that associates your brand with your audience. Do not rush this step. Take your time. Figure out what expresses your blog best.
Head over to Name Mesh to help you figure what your domain name is: https://www.namemesh.com/. Type in the name/sentence that best expresses your blog and it will come with different ideas you might like. This tool is cool because it will also tell you if the domain name is available or not and you can move on to a different one.
Here are Useful Tips on Picking your Blog Name:
- Avoid names have implied expiration – like www.teenyououngtravel.com or www.oneyeartravel.com (what happens when you are not young anymore or after you have traveled for a year?)
- KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid (the shorter and simpler the better)
- Try not to use Special Characters on the name (i.e., Always-Wanderlust.com, Always_Wanderlust.com)
- Try not to use a Name that’s already popular – I think wanderlust and travel in the name is already overused (If I could turn back time I would’ve picked something else)
- .COM vs .NET – use a dot COM if you can secure it.
- Make it easy to memorize and remember.
- Double check social profiles to see if you can secure the names – Somebody already owned AlwaysWanderlust on Instagram so I had to go pick something else.
How did I come up with Always Wanderlust?
It just resonated with me. I have unquenchable need to explore what is around me and beyond. It never stops. I wanted a name that was generic enough and did not include my name, which is unique but probably very hard to spell for most people. It also had to be a name that could grow with me even when I am not a Solo Traveler anymore. I wanted the ability to transition to different niches if I wanted to – Maybe I want to focus on more adventures or maybe more hiking. Whatever the case, the name is flexible enough to be able to carry different niches.
Part 3: Buy the Domain Name and Go with a WordPress Optimized Host
You need Web Hosting and the domain name you came up to start your travel blog. Web Hosting is service where your blog/website is going to sit and serve your audience. The Web Host owns the server and hardware that contains all your files, photos, and content so it is important to pick the right one that can scale up based on your traffic.
Many bloggers go the cheap route and regret it later (I did) when their needs and traffic increases. The Domain Name is your identity on the World Wide Web. It is the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that people type to find your website: htttps://www.alwayswanderlust.com. Let us go over choosing you’re the web host.
|GO WITH VIATOR!|
Viator is one of the most unique travel companies in existence. They offer unique tours and adventures that won't break the bank.
Tip: Many aspiring travel bloggers skip this crucial step and get free hosting on Blogger.com, Tumblr, or WordPress. This is a mistake. These platforms effectively own your content and they are very hard to scale once your travel blog gains traction.
You should find a hosting company that can scale up based on your traffic and needs. I started with a cheap option in my first year and then scaled up to next tier after my traffic started putting a strain on the server. It was easy and pain-free. You can buy the Domain name directly from the host or have them transfer from another host.
Here are things to look for in a Web Hosting Company
Types of Hosting — there are several types of hosting but below are the most common.
- Shared Hosting— shared hosting means that your website sits on servers shared with other websites. This is often the cheapest solution and has limitations on how much bandwidth your site can have.
- Virtual Private Servers (VPS)— this is an upgraded version of the Shared Hosting but acts like multiple separate servers where your website gets its own server. This often has an unlimited or increased bandwidth. This option can often be very expensive and the only cheaper version is Linux based servers with very rudimentary text interface – you’ll spend more time learning about how to get the server running than blogging. Luckily there’s CLOUDWAYS, it’s a hosting company that provides the graphical interface and management to VPS hosting like Digital Ocean and Linode.
Dedicated Server – You will be renting the entire server from the hosting company. If you have, the money then go for it!
Bandwidth — it is the volume of information allowed for a given time, this includes how much you and other people are accessing your blog/website. You will not need this in the beginning so I suggest you go for a lesser plan.
Storage Space — how much memory storage allotted for all your files/content. Unless you are hosting your own videos, you do not need to pay for a lot of storage.
Uptime — computers and servers crash, this is just a fact. Look for a hosting company that offers clustered servers and have good reliable uptime.
Support (24/7) — you want a very responsive tech support – you are bound to contact the hosting company. When I first started, I was in contact with mine almost daily.
Automation — you want to see what kind of automation your hosting offers. Automatic backups of your entire site, for example, is very important.
WordPress Optimized – I recommend you go with a hosting company that is optimized for WordPress. It provides you with WordPress specific tools and technical support.
Do your research before choosing a web hosting company. Do not go cheap on this crucial step. It will save you from many headaches later.
Here are a few choices:
BlueHost – Bluehost is the cheapest of the bunch. Really cheap and might be a good place to get started. You can always migrate your blog later.
Siteground – This used to be my service. Highly recommended for experienced bloggers. Very scalable system, cheap, reliable, and great tech support. You can start at $4 a month and scale from there based on your needs.
WPEngine – More expensive but fast and optimized for WordPress. If you are serious about making your travel blog a business and don’t want to deal with the technical side, you should go this route. Get 20% off with a Personal Account!
1 & 1 Hosting – Another decent hosting company offering around the same quality VPS and shared hosting.
Cloudways –I use Cloudways now with a Digital Ocean Server. They’re a little-known company that should get more recognition. I’ve increased my bandwidth and overall speed after switching from Siteground. I would have to pay more to get a VPS on Siteground but got it for a fraction of the cost on Cloudways. Highly recommended!
Here are the steps to get your travel blog started.
I used Siteground in this example but they should all be similar across different hosting companies.
I suggest starting out with the 1-year StartUp program. It works out to be $3.95 per month as opposed to the $9.95 per month for a year. Sure, investing on your travel blog is a significant commitment, but if you are aiming to build a successful one from the start, it is important to get into the right mindset. If you go into it thinking you are in for the long haul like a marriage, then you are more dedicated to making it happen.
Here you can register a new domain or transfer an already existing domain. Siteground has very good tech support. You can use their chat program to chat with a very responsive tech if you have any questions.
Part 4: Install WordPress and Optimize the Website
CDN, SSL, Caching – Once you have picked the hosting company you want to install WordPress and then set up SSL for your site. WordPress is your kitchen. Here is where you will do all your content cooking and you are the chef who is going to deliver this gourmet content to the world. My history with the WWW dates back in its early days when we were viewing content on monochrome and text only monitors. It used to be that proprietary CMS’ were only available to the rich but thanks to the open-source WordPress, it is available free to the masses.
Once you’ve signed up for hosting you will have an interface like this one called CPanel. Here you can install WordPress. Follow the steps outlined by the Install Wizard.
What is a CMS and what is WordPress?
Find the security tab in CPanel and click on Let’s Encrypt. Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated and open certificate authority. Go ahead and install it for your domain. Once it’s approved you are now ready to access your site via https protocol.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer
These are the websites with the HTTPS vs HTTP. Why am I advocating SSL? SSL is optimized for the new HTTP2 protocol. You get a slight boost in performance and it will also give you a slight boost in SEO. SSL is also good for making your users feel at ease because they’re browsing a secured website. If you decide to do e-commerce later on and do credit card transactions, then SSL is necessary.
I did not have it set up for my website when I first started and it caused many headaches when I made the switch. It’s good to get this out of way now so you don’t have to face the same problems I faced.
Now it’s time optimize your WordPress Installation by enabling caching and CDN. If you went with Siteground, they have their own Caching plugin that you can control under CPanel and WordPress. If not, you can download W3 Total Cache plugin or similar. Caching helps in speeding up your website by temporarily storing your frequently used data for faster retrieval.
Click on SuperCacher to start the options of caching your website for better performance. SiteGround SuperCacher was developed by their server optimization experts to increase the number of hits your site can handle seamlessly and drastically boost its loading speed.
This screen gives you the options of several caching methods. Stick with Static Cache for now.
Now it’s time to enable CDN. Under the Site Improvement tab, click on Cloudflare. Clik on Activate and follow the prompts. There are several options you enable and experiment with.
CDN is short for Content Delivery Network
You can use Cloudflare basic, offered as an option by Siteground. A CDN distributes your content across a larger area. So say, your web host has their server located in San Jose, California. Somebody accessing your blog in California is going to load it faster than somebody in Sweden does. That’s where a CDN comes in – it places your content in their network. Therefore, they might have a server located in Norway and a copy of your content served to everyone in Sweden and the general area.
Update Your Site to Use the Latest Version of PHP
Using the latest version of PHP (the programming techniques used to create WordPress), you are making sure you have the latest and greatest running your blog. It should give your site a slight boost in performance.
Here’s how to do it on Siteground:
1 – Login to your cPanel account
2 – Go to 1H Software section -> PHP Version Manager
3 – Go to the directory you would like to modify the PHP version for (note that the switch will apply to sub-directories for it as well)
4- Click on the directory name
5 – Select the highest PHP version and click Save
Part 5: Learn How to Use WordPress and Set Up Google Analytics
Your content is what you serve and WordPress is your kitchen. You have to master how to utilize the kitchen so it does not get in the way of your cooking. If you have never used any CMS before it can be daunting. However, fret not, like millions of other WordPress users it is very easy to pick up.
Here’s a typical WordPress Admin section. Your screen may vary depending on what plugins you have installed.
Here’s a Quick Rundown on WordPress
- First, you need to visualize how you are going to structure your website by creating categories where your content is going to be organized.
- You’ll also have to set up your user info by navigating to Users > User Profile.
- You also have to setup your site name via Administration > Settings > General
- Setup your Landing Page, About Me Page, and Contact Page via Administration > Pages > Add New
- There is going to be a lot to cover learning how to use WordPress that I will not be able to cover here.
- For the rest, you can head on over to http://learn.wordpress.com/
- Alternatively, simply do what I do and learn it by trial and error.
Set Up Google Analytics
What is Google Analytics? It tracks all the happenings and goings of your blog. This provides you with insights so you can better analyze your audience and make sound decisions about how to improve your blog. It can track where the user is from whether they’re using a phone or tablet, their age group and demographic, what page they accessed, how long they accessed it, and so on. Things that can give awesome information about your blog so can put it to actionable results – like finding which posts are popular and unpopular.
Setting it up is easy. Just open a Google Analytics account and verify your website/blog in the administration panel. Once done, you can either manually add your tracking code in the Head Section of your Index.php or simply have a Plugin like YOAST SEO(more on this later) handle it all for you. Here is a detail information to get you going: Google Analytics.
Part 6: Pick an Awesome Theme to Style Your Blog
A theme dictates your blog’s look and feel. It allows you to make your blog look like it is professionally developed without any design skills or coding expertise. The good news is there are thousands of free and premium themes available out there for WordPress.
The bad news? There are thousands to choose from! So how do you wade through the needle in a sea of needles? I spent almost eight months switching and moving from theme to theme until I finally found the current theme I have on my blog now.
My site was a broken mess after switching themes from one to the other. You have to make sure you pick the right theme from the get-go so you do not run into the same trap. Here are things to look for:
- Is the Theme Responsive? This means that your theme can handle the entire different medium that your users are viewing your blog whether it be a laptop or a mobile device. You can also enable Google Amp to handle this part. Some themes might look great but it might be bog down with some many things that it loads very slow, losing your users in the process. Run your theme’s demo page through a themes speed tester: http://www.wpspeedster.com/
- Look for Simplicity. Too much clutter can detract the user from your content.
- Plugins Compatibility. Make sure all the plugins you have works with the theme. It will save you many headaches later.
- SEO Optimized. A good theme is properly coded for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Support. Premium themes should offer technical support if you have some issues with the installation.
Where to Get Premium Themes?
You can get premium themes at Theme Forest. I played around with several themes like Soledad, which is a very adaptable and mobile-friendly theme. Finally, I settled on the Ness Theme, which I liked because of its minimalist design. I then modified it to my own preference.
Themes cost around $60 each (the cost varies, but averages out at approximately $50) and there a hundred to choose from and offer endless customizations. You can play around with some free ones that come with WordPress but save yourself time, pay the $60 and save yourself the time and effort it takes to build a theme to premium standards.
Once you have picked your theme, it’s time to install it. It is straightforward. However, you want to make sure you installed the “Child Theme” that should in included with your theme download. The Child Theme is a subset of your main theme. You can do all your theme edits and whatever customizations you do here.
The reason you want to do all your customizations and modifications on the child theme is that you do not want to affect the global theme files. When it’s time to update your theme there’s a chance that all your changes and modifications will be overridden by the update if you did your changes globally.
Part 7: Design a Smokin’ Logo
A logo is important for your brand’s face. It sets you apart from other bloggers. If you do not have any design skills, just head on over to Fiverr and have somebody else make it for you. If you are inclined and are motivated, go and design it yourself. Make sure it resonates your blog’s message.
You can use Photoshop, which is what I used to design mine. I purchased a few vector stock images, played around with the fonts and went to town with it in Photoshop. There were a few iterations before finally settling in with my current one. I also design the Favicon with “AW.” A Favicon is a little icon you see on the tab of your browser. It’s little touches like these are what makes your blog pleasing to look at. You can use tools like Canva to design your logo.
Part 8: Get These Plugins
Plugins are essential to your travel blogging success. They help keep your travel blog’s performance and help your day-to-day management smooth. Here is a list of plugins that I believe every travel blogger must have. To install the plugins, go to plugins panel in WordPress admin and click on “Add New” and then search for the plugin.
YOAST SEO – This is an essential plugin for WordPress. There are other SEO plugins out there but this is the easiest to use and by far the best I have used. It can also produce a sitemap that it will automatically send to Google and other search engines for indexing. Indexing allows your blog to be found on search engines around the world.
Jet Pack – This is actually a bunch of plugins packaged into one rolled out with any WordPress Installation. It allows you to connect your WordPress account to your self-hosted WordPress blog. It also has a Social Sharing portion where you can share your content across your social media channels
Akismet – The only good spam is the one that comes out of a tin can. There’s so much bad SPAM out there you are bound to be attacked. Akismet protects your blog from SPAM.
Contact Form 7 – You can place this cool contact form in a post or a separate page. It allows your audience to contact you in case they have a question about your latest escapade with Selena Gomez.
Broken Link Manager – Eventually you will have a bunch of broken links from editing content and moving it around. This helps manage all of that.
Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS) – This is like AutoOptimize. However, it is made for optimizing your Google Analytics Tracking code. You will score higher on page speed test with this one.
Enhanced Text Widget – This allows you push HTML code in your widgets so you can display links and images properly. You can also add custom ads if you want.
Instagram Slider Widget – Ties your Instagram account to your blog.
SumoMe – Social media sharing and automation tools for your blog.
SG Optimizer or W3 Total Cache – SG Optimizer is a home built caching plugin by Siteground or similarly W3 Cache. These plugins cache your content for better speed and performance.
Disqus or Some Comment Plugin – Allows your readers to leave comments on posts and pages.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – I love this plugin. My site loads almost 3 times as much on this platform than the mobile responsive version. It converts all your posts and pages into AMP ready content.
Some Backup Plugin – if your hosting doesn’t provide automatic backups of your site get one of these.
EWWW – Optimizes your images for the web.
NextScripts Social AutoPoster – A godsend! It allows me to publish my content automatically to all my social media channels. There is the bunch in here – Medium, Instapaper, VK, Tumblr, Weibo, and much more!
Part 9: Cook up Some Awesome Content
Your kitchen is ready. You got all the recipes. You got all the plugins. Designed an awesome logo and themed your site. You got all the bells and whistles but now you need to cook up awesome content.
What makes an awesome content? Things that will keep someone like me glued to your site. A cool video with you chased by a drunk monkey with a baseball bat? Check. Awesome photos? Check. A story about the time you got pissed drunk that you ran around naked during the Rio carnival. Hell yes!
1 – Create a Landing Page – This is your home page where your users land first. It is like a door with a red carpet leading to it, to entice your reader to enter your site. At a minimum, it should have content that you want your audience to read first. It could be your most popular posts or a bunch of latest posts. Your theme probably already has default one so play around what works best for you.
2- About me page – It’s narcissist as hell but this is your blog. You need to talk about yourself, the author, to your audience. It tells your readers why they should be interested in following you on your adventures. You want your personality to show here. Talk about why they should be reading your blog. Share some things about you that are interesting.
3 – Write interesting posts – You do not need to have landed at your latest destination before you can start writing your first 20 posts. You can write about your bucket list, why you want to visit a particular country, and you can even write about why people should check out your city. There is a lot of travel-related content to write about without even leaving your home. Here you want to resonate with your readers. Be more personal. Be who you are. Write from your own perspective while leading your readers to believe they are actually living the adventure themselves.
4 – Write “for everyone” – When I first started, I tried to be fancy and used heavy words to make myself sound intelligent – it only made me sound like an idiot. You want to write to a broader audience so you can capture more of them. The goal is to write content that even a 10-year-old can understand. You do not want to limit yourself to the top 2 percent of intellectuals in the world unless that was your goal. A good plugin to keep tabs of this is YOAST, it will tell you if your content is human readable or not.
5 – Stand out of the crowd – Travel blogging is extremely saturated. You have to stand out and have a unique voice that your audience can identify with. Be personable. Respond to every comment somebody makes about an article you wrote. Find your voice. Fortify your niche.
6 – Update Often but Focus on Quality, not Quantity – when you first start out you will need to churn out a lot of content. Maintain a regular posting schedule. Google likes websites that are updated often. However, content is king as they say in the web universe. I maintain a “Daily Photo” section where I post random photos of all my travels. It keeps my blog fresh even when I have not posted a lengthy post in a month.
7 – Wear Multiple Hats – If you are good at producing videos you might have the tendency to focus on this aspect. While this is good. You have to be good at writing articles, taking photos, editing photos, editing articles, marketing, networking, SEO, and more specializations than you can throw your hat at. The more successful travel blogs out there have virtual assistants doing various things for the travel blog. When you first start out, you will not have the same resources so you have to be doing everything.
8 – Optimize your images – You can use the EWWW plugin to trim your images for faster download. My blog has a heavy focus on photography so I do all my optimizations in Photoshop. I “Save For Web” with a medium quality of 55 (out of 100). This is a compromise between image quality and size of the image. If your image is so amazing but takes the page 3 minutes to load, your viewers are going to leave before they even see your image.
Keep writing awesome content. It took me about 100 articles and hundreds of photos before I gained traction from my blog. Just keep at it. There will be some days where you will not be motivated to write or produce content. Take a break and then get back at it.
Part 10: Develop an Online Presence and Gain an Audience
Now that you found your voice, cornered your niche, and can stand out in the large ocean full of other travel blogs. It’s time to focus on getting that traffic and audience. Without a steady audience, you might as well quit blogging. Here are techniques to get more traffic to your travel blog.
1 – Maintain and grow your Social Media Channels – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Google+, Flipboard, etc., With a good following in your social channels, you will have a good distribution channel to deliver your content. Here are other ones you should consider: VKontakte, 500px, Weibo, Flickr, DeviantArt, Medium, Instapaper, Scoop.it!, Diigo, Storify, Triberr, and PearlTrees.
3 – Auto Share your articles – Whenever I publish a post, I share it automatically using the NextScripts AutoPoster and the JetPack Publicize feature. This way my content is either replicated or posted to all my social media channels and reaching a larger audience.
4 – Learn SEO – It’s short for Search Engine Optimization. This is will take time but with good practice and devotion, you should be able to pick it up. It’s important because of the more SEO friendly and optimized your blog is, the bigger your online presence become. You can start by following the suggestion produced by the Yoast SEO plugin when you’re writing a post. Be careful not to go overboard! You should be writing for your audience first and SEO second.
5 – Focus on Pinterest – SEO is not going to land you a lot of traffic in the beginning. It takes time. When you are first starting out, focus your attention on Pinterest. Pinterest is actually one of the largest search engines out there. If you make beautiful and search optimized PINS you can get a lot of referral traffic on Pinterest.
6 – Join a sharing Facebook Group – There are many Travel Blogging groups design for sharing each other’s content. Pinterest shares, Facebook shares, Twitter shares, Flip Board, etc., There’s even ones facilitate commenting on your blog content.
7 – Share other people’s content – It’s counterintuitive but by sharing content that’s not your own, you get yours shared more and gain even more traffic. Social channels like Flipboard and StumbleUpon has exactly this mechanism or rule in place. The more you share other people’s content the better you do – it’s roughly around a 10:1 ratio where you share 10 posts that is not yours and 1 that’s yours.
8 – Join Viral Content Bee – VCB is a social sharing platform. You get points by sharing other people’s content to your various social networks (Pinterest, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and Twitter). You can then turn around spend these points to have others share your content across their social channels. That more content you have shared on social media the better your SEO ratings are going to be. Google uses Social Media Signals as a ranking factor in SEO.
9 – Join a Tailwind Tribe – Tailwind is a place to promote your Pinterest and Instagram. Joining a tribe allows you to schedule and automate Pinterest while getting your content shared by other tribe members. Seriously, it’s a great way to steadily increase your traffic. I started one myself. Here’s the Link to my Tribe.
10 – Be active – You need to publish content regularly to gain a following. That doesn’t mean write something every day. Just keep your blog fresh at least twice a week and keep your social media channels updated daily. There are automation tools out there that can help you with that – Mass Planner and Buffer for example. Again, it does not have to be your own content, it is ok to share other people’s content on your social media channels.
11 – Build An Email Subscribers List – I wish I had focused on this earlier. Your email subscribers are your best source of traffic. SEO rules and algorithms change all the time and may affect your traffic at any given moment. Your email list isn’t affected by SEO.
13 – Guest posts – It’s important you guest post on other blogs that are popular. It may not give you massive traffic but it will give your blog credibility and “dofollow” backlinks. What are backlinks? Backlinks are links on other websites that point back to your website, so when people click on the link it takes them to your blog.
A quick primer on SEO/Backlinks. Google used to have this tool, Page Rank, used to rank the importance of your site based on an algorithm. It has since been somewhat replaced by a third party ranking systems developed by Moz called Domain and Page Authority. You can download the Moz bar to see where you rank.
What is it for? It predicts how well a website rank on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). How many “dofollow” backlinks a website has on other high-ranking websites is a huge factor in getting high ranking with Moz. Suffice it to say, planting your website’s link via guest posting or other means is a worthy endeavor.
The Most Useful and Free Tool for SEO:
Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool – When you create content you want to rank it on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). This tool is very useful for determining the competition for the keyword and the search volume for that keyword. So say, you are writing about an awesome hike you did in Norway in the Reinebringen. Using the YOAST to help you optimize your post for SEO, you figured you want to rank for Reinebringen the keyword.
You punch in the keyword “reinebringen” in the search box of the tool and find the search volume. You can see here that the keyword get’s about 100-1k searches a month and competition is low. It also gives you a bunch of other keyword that relevant to the one you entered. You want to use competition keywords with high search volume whenever possible. If the keyword you have has high competition, try to change it to a “long -tail keyword.” Long-tail keywords are ones with multiple words in it, like “Norway hiking trails” in this example.
Using these methods, I’ve placed a few of my articles on page one of Google Search Engine Results page. You can also use an alternative tool called KewordFinder – it’s a paid service but allows you to search 5 keywords a day for free if you sign up.
Part 11: Network with Other Bloggers within Your Niche
Travel Bloggers can be a competitive bunch. You might think that you shouldn’t be working with your competition but it’s actually counter-intuitive. That’s why you will rarely see a bar on a street by itself. As soon as a couple bars open up in the corner, other bars are bound to open up – before long, you’ll have a dozen bars lining up a street.
One search lets you filter, compare and sort over 12,000,000 available properties from the world’s top vacation rental sites including HomeAway, VRBO, TripAdvisor, Booking.com and more.
They feed off each other’s customers. The best way to network with other bloggers is to join Facebook groups. There are several that have a different purpose – like sharing each other content across social channels, blogging collaborations, link exchanges, and even tribes.
Here are my personal favorites to get you started:
- Travel Bloggers MegaShare
- Travel Bloggers Social Media Sharing Group
- Ultimate Pinterest Group for Travel Bloggers
- Exchange Travel Blog Comments
- Flipboard for Travel Bloggers
- Making Money from Blogging
- StumbleUpon for Travel Bloggers
There are much more! Once you join a few of these groups, Facebook will routinely suggest other groups on your feed to join. Join as many as you can and be proactive with networking with other bloggers.
Part 12: Monetize your blog
This is the end goal, isn’t it? You have an audience; you have a steady flow of traffic so now it has time to convert your sweat and blood to cold hard cash.
How I Make Money from my Travel Blog:
I have always mentioned that my travel is a platform to promote my photography and in this sense, it is very successful indirectly. It has landed me gigs that where I can charge $85 an hour and $85 per photo prints. I also maintain a growing microstock portfolio that I built during my travels. It varies, I can earn anywhere from $200 – $500 a month.
It is not something to brag about but it is passive income. I don’t have to do anything else once I have uploaded my photos. I also sell the occasional prints from FineartAmerica which could earn as little as $10 to $70 a month. Other times I get a commissioned work that can earn up to $500 for several hours’ worth of work.
Here are a few places you can sell your photos to:
- Shutterstock – The best place to sell stock.
- Adobe Stock/Fotolia – Another great place to sell stock.
- Dreamstime – Different buyers than the above, a decent earner.
- 123rf – The third highest earner of this group.
- Bigstock – Owned by Shutterstock, a good earner.
- Creative Market – Set your own prices. Great earner if you market your photos right. Most potential for big sales.
- Deposit Photos – A steady income generator. Sales are not huge but it generates a few sales a month.
- Istock/Getty – Used to be a great earner but they have changed their process to be more complicated.
- Alamy – Editorial photos do well here.
I earn most of my income from affiliate sales. This is a passive income and probably the best way to make money on a travel blog.
I’m getting a decent income from ads. If you’re just starting out, Google Adsense is a no-brainer. You need a decent amount of traffic to move up to Ezoic and they would at least triple your income from Adsense. There are several ad companies you can work with as you progress and all have different requirements for entry. You should just focus on getting an audience and increasing your traffic.
Web Development, WordPress customization, consulting, $500 to $1000 a month, which makes up the bulk of my income from this blog. Freelance writing gigs is also common amongst travel bloggers. You can leverage your travel blog to land these gigs.
I take sponsored posts. Some companies are willing to pay $250+ to place their links on my blog or have written content to be published on my blog.
Join the Decentralized Revolution!
I also make income by replicating my travel blog on Steemit. Here’s my REVIEW after 6 months of travel blogging there.
Other Ways to Make Money from a Travel Blog:
- Sell a tangible product like an eBook or travel related accessories.
- Paid Marketing campaigns with brands and tourism boards.
- Public Speaking – Speak at conferences organized by travel brands and tourism boards.
- Mentor and Coach – You can mentor and coach other would be bloggers.
- Collaborate with Tour Companies – Guide a tour or do a marketing campaign.
- Social Media Takeover– You can take over somebody Instagram account or manage their SEO campaign, etc.,
- Sponsored travel/Press Trips – Very lucrative amongst travel bloggers. I haven’t done any of these. I prefer to pay for all my travel expenses for the freedom it allows.
There is really no hard and fast rule to have a successful travel blog. For some, the reality is disappointing based on the expectations set beforehand. Others will find great rewards through years of attrition by just plowing through. But, if you follow the steps outlined in this guide and you are passionate about what you do. You will eventually reach that goal.
That’s All There Is To It! If you want further advice, leave me a comment!
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I receive a commission from the sale at no additional cost to you.