Hey there! Are you thinking about starting your own travel blog? Great idea!
Having a travel blog is an amazing creative outlet, but it is also a demanding and time consuming one. If you’ve been researching the topic lately, you already know that there is a lot going on behind the scenes in terms of skills, time, energy and even money.
There’s just so much to learn/plan/create and – if you’re anything like me – you may sometimes feel all over the place. From content planning to photography, copywriting, SEO, Pinterest strategy… The list never seems to end. So, where do you even start?
In my short experience in the blogging sphere, I’ve learned that the key is to focus your time and energy on the right things. If you feel stuck and don’t know where to start, make sure to keep these 5 tips in mind to start your travel blog on the right food!
1. Give your content some thought to save time later
Even though I firmly believe that every small imperfect action is better than no action at all, I also think that there are a few aspects you should figure out before jumping right in. In the mid/long term, this will save you time and help you get a clear direction in terms of what you’d like to achieve with your travel blog and other platforms.
Without a plan, chances are you will be left demotivated sooner rather than later. Why? Simply because you will feel like you are not making progress, no matter how much energy you put into your blog.
So before you even start writing your very first blog post, make sure you have an answer to the following questions:
What are you going to write about?
Start by defining your travel blog’s main 2-4 subcategories and write down a few topic ideas for each of them.
Here’s a good exercise to get you started. Draw a list of your 3-5 favorite travel bloggers and write down what they are known for/what you personally like about them and their content.
Once you’ve highlighted a few keywords for each (is it a skill or passion they regularly share about? Is it their photo style?), do the exact same exercise for yourself.
Think about your own skills and centers of interest, and try to close the gap! Of course, your niche will evolve along the way, but you need to start somewhere, right?
Still unsure about this? Then try to find the answer to the next question!
What do you want your travel blog to be known for?
The great thing about travel is that the possibilities are basically endless when it comes to finding relevant subtopics: outdoors, luxury, food travel, solo travel, travel with kids, ecotourism, and the list goes on!
For example, my own 3 blog categories are:
1. ‘Travel’ where I share general travel guides and tips, photo spots, hotel reviews, etc.
2. ‘Brussels’ where I share my favourite spots and tips as a local.
3. ‘Content creation’ where I share photography and content creation tips in general.
Defining your niche is more about finding your own unique combination/recipe than it is about focusing on one specific topic.
The key here is to find the right balance between competition, what you’re passionate about and what offers potential in the long-run.
Will you be able to keep creating content even when you’re not traveling?
I am my city’s biggest fan and it seemed obvious to me to dedicate a whole category to it. Of course, as a Brussels local, you could argue that this is not strictly travel content. But the thing is, it is to everyone else who doesn’t live here, and that’s what makes it interesting!
Another great thing about my ‘Brussels’ and ‘Content Creation’ categories is that they allow me to stay active and create content even when I’m not travelling! After a year like 2020, this is essential, so definitely take this aspect into account while elaborating your content strategy.
What do you want your travel blog to look like?
If you want to achieve success with your travel blog, you want your reader to stay around as long as possible. And let’s be real, you only get one chance at making a great first impression. This is the reason why a quality WordPress theme is one of the BEST investments you can make at the beginning of your blogging journey.
Keep in mind that the aesthetic aspect shouldn’t be the only thing to pay attention to while looking for a WordPress theme for your blog. For example, SEO and user experience are definitely aspects you shouldn’t overlook.
My go-to resource for beautiful and SEO friendly WordPress themes
It took me weeks before I finally found the perfect WordPress theme for my blog. If you’re curious about it, I’m currently using Mia by 17th Avenue and I would spend every penny again!
- They’re customizable
- They’re SEO friendly
- They’re responsive
- They’re modern and aesthetically pleasing
- They’re easy to set up and personalize
If this is the first time you create a blog, setting it up will definitely take some time. I was pretty intimidated as well at first, but I found an answer to all my questions by reading 17th Avenue’s tutorials and I was able to set up everything without any prior technical knowledge. In case of question, their customer service is also pretty responsive, which is real a bonus point.
If you’re looking for inspiration, here are my top 3 favourite WordPress themes by 17th Avenue:
Important: these themes are compatible with wordpress.org and NOT wordpress.com.
Of course, your blog and content will evolve overtime, but starting off on the right foot will definitely make you more confident and help you set solid foundations for your travel blog.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission for each purchase/subscription made through my links with no additional cost to you. I only recommend services that I use and love. Thanks for helping me get one step closer to my goal as a travel content creator!
2. Set up your blog on the right platform from the start
In this section, I will cover the differences between:
- Content management systems (for example WordPress, Wix, Squarespace …)
- Web Hosting (for example SiteGround, BlueHost,…)
- Domain names
As well as the options that I use for my own blog.
If your blog were a house, a content management platform could be compared to a toolbox that gives you everything you need to build and personalize your blog. However, before decorating your house to your taste, you actually need somewhere to build it and an address, i.e. a Web Hosting solution and a domain name!
What is the best content management platform?
If you’re still trying to figure out which platform is the best for your blog (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress?) The answer is pretty straightforward in my opinion: WordPress.org is without a doubt the best option, and it comes down to more than personal preference.
WordPress is free, easy to customize and it is the best option if you consider monetizing your blog at some point, whether you’re thinking about offering digital products or placing ads.
Going for some “all-in-one” solution might be easier at the beginning of your blogging journey, but what seems like an approachable and time saving solution at first glance will start to show its limits once you gain more knowledge and finally feel ready to monetize your travel content on your blog.
For example, unlike wordpress.org, most free platforms do not offer integrated e-commerce solutions, which are more often than not essential to blog monetization.
What is the best Web hosting solution?
Your blog’s information will need to be stored somewhere on the internet which is the reason why you need a hosting solution! Likewise, to reach your blog, your future audience will also need to know the right address, i.e. your domain name.
In my case, I chose rosesandpostcards.com as a domain name, and SiteGround as a web hosting solution. Good to know for beginners: once you’ve chosen your web host, you will be offered to buy your domain at the same time. Depending on the company, you might get a discount or might even get it for free during the first year!
SiteGround: the perfect solution for beginners
Once you start researching and comparing the different options available out there, you will quickly realize that the same compagnies keep being mentioned over and over again in most review articles: BlueHost and SiteGround.
As a SiteGround user myself, I can only share my own experience with this platform. While SiteGround might not be the cheapest option around, it offers what beginners need most when launching their blog: support!
The quality and responsiveness of their customer service is simply unmatched. I launched my blog without any prior technical knowledge and I think I might have given up if it hadn’t been for SiteGround’s impeccable and professional customer service.
All you have to do is open a ticket, describe your issue and choose the Chat option. SiteGround Webmasters are always very friendly, patient and helpful. I never left a chat without an answer to my question and it has saved me a lot of time and trouble in my blogging journey so far!
How much does it cost?
During your first year of subscription with SiteGround, you’ll be able to save up to 69% on your hosting plan. At the moment, the StartUp plan, which is a great option for new bloggers, is available for 3.99€/month. Whether you live in Europe or in the US, this is a great option for your blog.
If blog monetization is part of your blogging goals, make sure to choose the right solutions from the start. This will spare you time (and headache) in the long run.
3. Invest in the right skills step by step
All the resources you’ll ever need are just a few clicks away! It’s actually crazy how easy it is to build a new set of skills once you’re ready to commit. If you’re looking for courses to improve your blogging skills, here’s what I recommend and use myself.
Skillshare (free trial)
Skillshare is an amazing resource for new travel bloggers. Photography, SEO, email marketing, photo editing? Skillshare offers courses for all needs and all levels.
Here are a few courses that might spark your interest if you’re planning to launch your own travel blog or are looking to improve your skills, from content creation to monetization:
- Blogging Masterclass: Build A Successful Blog In 2021 And Beyond
- Become a Better Blogger: Content Planning
- Getting Started with Email Marketing
- Monetization for Bloggers
- How to Beat Writers Block Forever
- Introduction to SEO: Tactics and Strategy for Entrepreneurs
Sign up for your free trial and decide whether Skillshare is the right platform for you. If you’re not convinced, all you have to do is cancel your subscription before the end of the free trial period and you will not be charged.
I’ve been using Skillshare since the very first months of my photography and blogging journey and even ended up investing in a Premium yearly account.
Pinterest is my go to free resource whenever I have a question about blogging or photography. The (travel) blogging community on Pinterest is pretty active and there’s so much quality content available. If you don’t know where to start, have a look at my Pinterest board called ‘New travel blogger tips’ where I pin all the blogging resources that I find useful.
If Skillshare is my favorite platform when it comes to developing new skills from scratch, YouTube is my go-to whenever I have a very specific question in mind. I have learnt so much about photo editing and Lightroom thanks to YouTube creators:
- Lightroom: tutorial basics
- Learn color grading in Lightroom
- Quickly master the tone curve in Lightroom
4. Don’t overthink the process
In other words, do not aim for perfection! While jumping right in without a plan might make you feel lost and demotivated after a while, over planning is just another extreme to avoid at all costs. Indeed, procrastination is not your friend!
Once I was finally ready to put in the work, I started creating a huge content calendar based on my main blog categories as well as the cities and countries I had planned to visit in the near future.
Even though that’s a great first step, a plan means nothing if it isn’t followed by concrete and consistent actions.
Let’s be honest, more often than not, we tend to overcomplicate things because we wish we could have everything figured out from the start. That’s why it’s so important to set attainable goals for your content.
If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few steps that should help you get the ball rolling:
- Define your first 10 travel blog topics based on your main categories
- Do your keyword research (SEO + Pinterest)
- Write your first 5 blog posts (tip: start by outlining the structure of your blog post by using subtitles + keywords)
- Gather all the pictures you need to illustrate your content
- Create 3-5 pins per post using Canva
- Set a realistic deadline
Of course, you won’t turn into a copywriter, brand designer and SEO expert overnight. Adjust as you go and learn one step at a time, you’re not releasing a novel. Luckily, a blog post can be edited and improved as many times as necessary…. Thank God!
5. Always write down your ideas and make it a routine
Sometimes, a good idea may randomly come to your mind and it is so good that you’re convinced that there’s no way you’ll forget about it. Actually, I’ve lost count of how many times I forgot about a good topic idea for my blog by not writing it down. It’s time for a change of habit!
Choose your favourite method:
- Phone notes
- Excel spreadsheets
- Google Drive
- A good old notebook
And organise your notes by category:
- Blog post ideas
- Pin ideas
- Instagram posts ideas
- Caption topic ideas
When your ideas are written down, anytime you feel completely uninspired or aren’t sure what to do next, all you have to do is have a look at your list to spark your creativity! As simple as it may seem, this habit has helped me improve my habits when it comes to content planning and writing.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! I hope you enjoyed it. If you’d like to connect, make sure to follow and DM me on Instagram @rosesandpostcards.