So you have decided to start a travel blog and you would like to make money from it, right?. Well congratulations, you have come to the right place to kick start your travel blog and new career. I have been blogging for about 20 years and I’d like to pass on my warts and all version of how to start a blog and make money from it.
Now I have read many posts from other people saying how easy it is to start a travel blog. For some it can be very easy. They say it will only cost you as much as a cup of coffee to set up. Or it will only take the same amount of time as to drink that same coffee. Well, I beg to differ here. For many of us some things can take a little longer and it will be a challenge. Therefore, we will need help from professionals.
You have probably done a lot of research already. And I guess you have been overwhelmed with the words domain, hosting, analytics, SEO, keyword, etc. A lot of these terms went straight over my head. It took a lot of research and reading to come to grips with them all. I will now do my best to explain them to you here.
If you are series about starting a blog and make money from it keep reading. Here is my warts and all post on how to start a travel blog and make money from it. I have tried to make the information as simple as possible and provide the steps to start your blog. The biggest piece of advice I can give you here is to not give up. It will be worth it in the end. You can make a good living from blogging. It may not happen right from the start but with perseverance success can follow.
What Do You Need to Start a Blog?
1. A computer (not a tablet or smartphone-they are a bit small to design on).
2. An internet connection.
3. Funds for the initial set up.
4. Time, and lots of it.
READ MORE: Essential Tech Gear for Digital Nomads
Starting a blog is a step-by-step process. So let’s get started.
How to Start a Blog in 11 Easy Steps
Step 1: Pick Your Name (and brand)
There are a number of things to think about when picking your name. Do you want it to become a brand? And want it to be found easily on search engines? You also want it to reflect what you are actually about? What if the name you want isn’t available? Is it very similar to someone else’s name? What will you do if it is? Questions, questions, questions!
It can be a hard decision on what to call your blog as you want it to last the test of time. I suggest you draft some names on a piece of paper. Take in to account the niche you are specialising in. There are plenty of niches to start a blog in – travel, lifestyle, recipes, coaching to name a few. To use the travel blogging niche as an example, many travel bloggers have already used backpack, nomad, travel, saurus or adventurous already. See, you have already drunk that cup of coffee and haven’t chosen your name yet!
When picking your name consider what you want your blog to be about. Having a relevant name to the area you are blogging about can help people recognise what you are about faster. For instance, I registered shazzatravels.com. The blog is about travels of someone called shazza! Or www.liveworkplaytravel.com – about living, working, playing and travelling around the world. What about www.londonworkingholiday.com. It is about a London working holiday.
Do a search on the Internet and check out other bloggers. See what they have called themselves. It will probably give you some inspiration. Once you have your list Google the names to see if anyone else has the name or something very similar. You don’t want to be seen to be copying anyone.
Tips for picking your name:
– Keep it short and simple. They say no more than three words however, I have seen many that are four to five words.
– Give it longevity. Don’t use my travels in 2015. Because that will soon be over.
– Don’t limit yourself unless you want to. A name such as my Aussie travels will mean you can only write about your Aussie travels. That is unless you only want to write about Aussie travels forever.
While picking your name also think about your brand. Ask yourself, what is your travel blog about? You probably just thought ‘duh, travel!’ well there are literally millions of travel blogs out there and you need to consider how you will stand out. Most bloggers choose a niche. For instance, some might specialise in working holidays such as myself with www.liveworkplaytravel.com. Others blog about luxury travel, budget travel, food they eat during their travels, travel tips, environmental travel, family travel, over 50’s travel or adventure travel. I think you get the gist that the list is endless as to what you can specialise in. Consider the direction and style of your blog and this might help you to choose the name.
Once you have chosen the name, you need to make sure it is available.
Step 2: Register the Name (as a business name and domain name)
Once you have decided on your name you need to register the domain name. If you want your blog to be a business then it is advisable to register the name as a business name as well. This is best done in your home country.
What is a domain name you ask? I will use a block of land and a house as an analogy.
1. You buy a block of land (domain name) from a real estate agent (domain name registry).
2. Then you build a house (website/blog) on your block of land. The house sits on the land like the website/blog sits on a domain host.
3. Your block of land has an address (domain name).
4. I add furniture (content) to my house (website/blog).
To put that in to reality.
1. I bought the domain name LiveWorkPlayTravel.com from GoDaddy.
2. Then built my website/blog. My address (domain name) is www.liveworkplaytravel.com
3. The domain lives on the domain host (Relentless Hosting).
4. I add content to my website/blog through static pages and blogs.
It should be noted that many of the places that allow you to register the domain name also offer hosting packages (see next point). There are many places to register your domain name.
Step 3: Set up Hosting for Your Domain Name (website/blog)
What is hosting? Why do I need it?
Hosting is basically a place you rent a little slice of the web to display your website/blog. Compare it to buying a piece of land on which you will build a house. The land will always be there but the house may be renovated/rebuilt a number of times. Basically a website/host provider acts in exactly the same way. You buy a little piece of space for your website/blog.
My favourite hosts are Relentless Hosting and BlueHost. Due to me having a number of blogs I use a number of hosts. Something to do with don’t put all your eggs in the one basket. I suggest you check them all out and go with the one that suits you and your budget. All are easy to use and offer step-by-step information to help you get your website up and running.
Step 4: What Blogging Software will Your Website/blog be Designed in?
Most website/blogs are now designed in WordPress. WordPress was especially designed for blogs. But what is WordPress I hear you ask? WordPress is basically a ‘content management system’ or CMS for short. It allows you to put words, pictures and style your website/blog without you needing to know coding or programming. Your host will allow you to download WordPress for you to work in.
It should be noted there is WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is for free blogs and you usually have WordPress in your website/blog name. WordPress.org is for people who want to own their own website/blog name. The second option is most preferable and this is the one you want. And WordPress will need to be installed on your website.
Step 5: Design Your Website/blog
Designing your website/blog can be a very a time consuming thing. I actually went and did a WordPress course to learn the basics. My course helped me to set up my name, buy my hosting and then design my website/blog. The course was one morning a week for 8 weeks. If you know nothing about WordPress, like I didn’t, are not tech savvy and don’t want to be consumed (sometimes with frustration) in designing your website/blog I would suggest you enlist the help of a specialist WordPress website/blog designer. The cost involved will vary but you will need to weigh up the time and potential frustration of doing it yourself to having someone do it for you.
A WordPress website/blog allows you to have static pages like on websites. This is where you put information for people to refer to. Then there are Posts which are blogs.
Step 6: Choose Your Theme
Before you start putting information or your website or posting blogs you need to decide on the Theme of your website/site. This is basically the appearance of it and you will need to choose fonts, colours, layouts and the overall appearance. The home page is basically like a book cover, it is what will attract people. WordPress comes with a number of free themes for you to choose from.
Step 7: Choose Useful Plugins
Once you have chosen your theme you can add pictures and words to make it your own. Then you will need useful plugins. What is a plugin you ask? Well a plugin allows you to do extra things to your website/blog. Such as have a shop on your website/blog. I use Woocommerce for my shop. Possibly SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plugin like Yoest SEO to help you add keywords so people will find your website/blog when they do searches. There are also useful plugins like SMUSH that reduces the size of your photos to help with speed. Speaking of speed. People will leave your website if it loads slowly. If it takes longer than a second or two most people will leave. So a caching plugin such as Litespeed Cache will help to cache your updates and allow you site to load fast.
TIP: I decided to hire a specialist web designer to help me with the logistics of setting up my website. I’m more creative than technical so instead of creating hours of frustration trying to work out the technical side of things, I hired a specialist to set everything up. It cost around $400 and took about a week. It was a simple design with a few pages and some good plugins. She gave me loads of information to be able to create blog posts myself. I found my web designer through Fiverr.
Step 8: Map out Your Web Page Design with Pages and Categories
Before you start writing it is wise to think about the pages and categories you will have on your website. This will allow you to put your blog posts in the right places for people to find them. For instance, on my travel website LiveWorkPlayTravel I have a Page called Work. On this page I have different Categories of Work – Work Abroad and Work Online. When I write a post I assign a category to the post. For instance, this post about ‘How to Start a Blog’ is assigned to the category ‘Online Jobs’. With these things in mind, I can categorise my posts so my readers can find the information they are looking for.
Step 9: Write Your First Blog Post
This is my favourite step, writing posts. Here are some simple tips for creating your blog posts:
- When I have an idea for a post I do some keyword research to find out what people are looking for. Then I ensure I include those keywords in my post.
- Posts should be around 1000 words plus. The more words you can write on the topic shows that you are an authority on it.
- Create a catchy title that will reel readers in. Using words such as ‘best’, ‘ultimate’, ‘how to’ are great to use.
- Break up your content by using sub-headings (H2 and H3).
- Write short sentences and only have about 4 or 5 sentences in a paragraph – with no more than about 300 words in each paragraph.
- Add images to break up the text and enhance the reader experience.
- Proofread your post for correct grammar and spelling before you hit submit. I often get my partner to proofread for me but if he isn’t around I use Grammarly.
- Think about how you can make money from your blog and include links to them in your post. See next step.
Step 10: Ways to Make Money from your Blog
There are a number of ways to make money from your blog. They include:
- Monetise your website by adding affiliate links to your blog post. As I have a travel blog I include affiliate links for accommodation with Booking.com. As well as travel options with Eurail. There is also travel insurance with WorldNomads. These are just a few of the affiliate programs I am with. There are affiliate programs for many niches. I suggest you do a Google search of affiliate programs to find one that suits your niche.
- Join an ad network such as Google Adsense or Mediavine.
- Create and sell your own products which could be electronic products such as ebooks or a course or physical products such as t-shirts.
- Offer your services to other bloggers such as VA (Virtual Assistance), creating Pinterest Pins or Coaching.
Step 11: Marketing Your Blog Post
Now you have a blog post which you hope to make money with you need to let people know about it. So how do you do that? Options include:
- Social Media. To help spread the word I have created social media profiles on a number of platforms. Most of them send traffic to my blog but some work better than others. It is trial and error what works best. The major social media channels are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, TikTok and YouTube.
- Email Marketing. From the day you launch your blog, you should be collecting email addresses from your readers. Then you can keep in contact with them with newsletters and marketing. To collect email addresses you will need to sign up with an email marketing provider. Some are free while others aren’t. Check out Mailchimp, ConvertKit and MailerRite, they seem to be the most popular.
- SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimisation. Remember when I mentioned keywords? Well when you write your content, you will want to put in keywords. It is the keywords that Google looks for when people type in a request. For instance, if I want to know how to make money blogging, I would type this in to Google and all the blog posts that have this keyword, will show up, preferably on page 1. So consider SEO when writing as this is one of the best ways to market your work – to be found.
Are You Ready to Start Making Money from Your Blog?
I’m a huge fan of starting a blog to make money, after all I have done it. I love that I get to write about a niche that I am passionate about and in return I make money to live, work, play and travel my way around the world. I’d love to hear from you about your blogging challenges and triumphs in the comments following.