So, you like to travel. You’d like to see the world; every nook and cranny of it. But, your job and money are the obstacles to fulfilling this dream.
What if you could travel wherever you want, and these travels would be paid for? What if the things you like doing the most would become your everyday reality, your dream job, and you actually earn a living from it?
Yes, I’m talking about professional travel blogging!
The biggest question people having been asking this year, is how to start a travel blog in 2020. And even if you’re not thinking about making money from your blog, hobby blogging can be a fantastic way to keep a record of your adventures.
Ultimately, a laptop, a mobile phone, and a camera are all the tools you need to make it as a blogger professionally. BUT when it comes to starting a blog, there’s quite a lot to think about; a lot that goes on behind the scenes.
So, if you’re thinking of starting a travel blog in 2020, strap in, as we’re about to introduce you to a world of domain names, hosting, widgets, and beautiful travel WordPress themes!
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How to Start a Travel Blog in 2020
Choose Your Domain Name
A domain name is your web address; your URL. Mine is Mappingmegan.com. Yours should be chosen carefully to represent your niche (travel topic) and sum up what your site is about.
Keep in mind that it’s an absolute pain to change your domain name, and for professional bloggers, this means having to go through a total re-branding, so whatever you choose should be permanent, and consider your long-term business strategy.
The first thing to decide is whether you’ll go with a free blogging platform, and piggyback off someone elses domain (ie Tumblr or Blogger), or buy your own .com.
For professional blogs, we highly recommend owning your own domain, as you have a lot more control, and it’s far more professional.
Free vs Paid Domains
There are plenty of platforms which let you create a blog, hosted on their own domain. For instance, Tumblr. Your blog will be hosted on their .com (for instance, whereintheworldismeganclaire.tumblr.com), which means it will cost you nothing.
If your plan is to just blog as a hobby, that’s fine, but if you’re planning on monetizing your site, and hope to become a professional blogger, I highly advise against a free domain.
Free platforms have total authority over your content, which means they can delete it if you write something that isn’t according to their rules. Though a much bigger problem is that these platforms don’t look professional.
They are simple, have very basic options and tools, don’t allow you to have a branded email address, and ultimately, you won’t have your own .com – it’ll always be mappingmegan.tumblr.com.
A far better option, and one that I highly recommend you choose, is to pay for your own domain. This often costs $15 a year (more if you’ve bought a really premium domain like travel.com), but it offers you much more than the free version.
Paid domains do not cost much, and what they give you is beyond the price you pay. You’ll have no limitations, and can access premium website templates and design plugins, as well as impliment coding to customize your site however you like.
Think about your domain name thoroughly and then visit an online domain registrar where you can choose and buy it, for example, iwantmyname.com.
You can also purchase your domain name at the same time you buy your hosting, which is the next thing you need to organize.
Choose Your Hosting
When you have decided which domain name to choose, the next step is a little bit trickier. Especially if you’re not an expert on the web, which is the case with most beginner bloggers.
But, there are a lot of hosting services on the market, and most have excellent support and straightforward processes which make it easy to navigate this step.
Firstly, what is web hosting? Web hosting is necessary for every website. You can’t avoid it. This is the physical location of your website on the Internet, an online storage center that houses all of the files, images, and HTML code that make up your website.
These files take up space and need a place to live. When you purchase hosting, you purchase space on your hosts server, where your website can live. It is then the server’s responsibility to deliver your website to someone’s internet browser when they type in your domain name.
Keep in mind that cheapest isn’t always the best; a host like BlueHost is great for beginners, at as little as $5 a month, though as your site grows and you get more traffic you might find you have to move to a different host who can offer better services for higher traffic loads.
The above recommended hosting providers are great for beginners; they are affordable, reliable and fast, not to mention WordPress can be installed in a click. They have amazing 24/7 support that will help you with all the issues you’ll encounter.
Set Up WordPress
Once you have chosen the domain name and your web hosting, it’s now time to decide how your blog will look. You’ll need to install a CMS (content management system) which is a program that lets you create pages or posts without having to learn all that complicated HTML code.
Essentially, a CMS is your website’s back end. It’s what you log into to create posts, design your site, and the like. The most popular system most bloggers use is called WordPress.
The host you choose should guide you through setting up WordPress; once you’ve got this sorted, you can choose a theme, which is what your website will look like.
WordPress themes give you numerous options to customize everything you’d like. These are preset templates, but which allow you to change colors, sections, fonts, images… everything is customizable. And you can use them instantly – you don’t have to learn complicated coding or wait for developers to build a site for you.
There are many free WordPress themes, though these are often very basic in look and feel. Buying a premium theme is a great way to achieve the look you want, and this is much cheaper than having to pay developers.
Themes will come with demos, which show you how your blog will look once you install it, and there are plenty of internet tutorials on almost every theme that explain how to install, customize, and use it.
How to Choose a WordPress Theme
When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme, there are a LOT of them out there on the market. Even though this part of the job is much more fun than the previous, it’s not always as easy as it seems.
If you don’t know what to look for, here are a couple of themes you can check out. You should aim for something that looks professional, modern, and screams ‘travel’, or says something about your niche.
Everything you’ll ever need as a travel blogger is packed into this WordPress theme. Dozens of blog layouts, galleries, social media integrated buttons and maps with destinations are the main needs of each travel blogger and also of each visitor of travel blogs.
This WordPress theme lets you share your experiences with 9 different homepage options that are customizable google maps allowing you to pin your travels if you want to.
There are dozens of post variations to stand out from the competition, flexible headers, great inner pages, amazing blog layouts, and various post styles. You can learn how to use Backpack with this Youtube tutorial:
Amazing features and layouts make this WordPress theme ideal for travel bloggers. Though it can be used by everyone in the travel and tourism industry, it has been specifically built for travel bloggers and adventure tours.
With a lot of plugins, such as Contact Form 7, Slider Revolution for beautifully creating interesting posts, WP Bakery that allows you to move and rearrange elements around, this WordPress theme is easy to work with, and all sections are fully customizable.
There are a huge range of google fonts and colors to help you spice things up, and three main blog options – standard, masonry and single – are at your disposal.
Single blog posts can be presented in 6 different ways, even as a video. Its different picture formats, scattered around, are dominant and make this theme stand out in the crowd.
Another WordPress theme worth your attention is Roam. It offers a massive 11 homepage designs and 5 all-purpose Inner page designs. A lot to experiment with!
The theme offers practical layouts for travel agencies but can be used for outdoor sports websites, tourist offices, adventure tours, and bloggers.
Its key features include multiple layouts, beautiful galleries, review sections, and it even has a shop option. Different headings, blog post options, lists, and counters will make your posts interesting and attention-worthy.
This travel theme has a great design, though it’s the gallery, sections, and possibilities that it offers that are truly amazing.
The theme was made for world explorers, and comes with 6 different homepage designs. Each of them has its own beauty and magic. Images are a strong focus of this theme, and it allows for big, beautiful galleries to be a base for your travel blog.
Among other key features, there are travel modules, booking capabilities, advanced search, tours, and destination pages. While this is a great choice for a travel blog, it would work equally as well for travel agencies, city guides, and tourism offices.
Even though Bridge is not specifically made for travel bloggers, this is the number one selling WordPress theme on Theme Forest. It’s a multipurpose theme, which makes it quite perfect for anything.
Numerous features, more than 400 demos, a drag-and-drop interface and flexible options to change just about anything you’d like, make this theme so amazing. And the website setup is quick and easy.
Its main features are amazing galleries, maps where you can pin your traveling destinations, video posts to bring life to your adventures, and many more. Social icons are also integrated, so you can have all your social media accounts in one place.
This theme will make your website look professional, beautiful and most importantly, it will grab your visitor’s attention so they’ll remember to come back again for more!
The SetSail theme is primarily made for travel agencies and travel agents, but it can also be transformed and used by travel bloggers. Its astonishing travel features and layouts give numerous options for creative souls.
Your website or blog will be remarkable, with one of 9 different homepage designs. There are numerous tour templates, and you can pin destinations on the map, display tour plans, and even have a shop option if you’d like to sell products.
This WordPress theme can be used for all kinds of travel blogs, and is one of the best choices for tour sites. It has 6 fantastic homepages 12 stunning inner pages. The installation and setup are easy, especially with online support.
With multiple ways to display tours, a modern gallery, and great box layouts, the theme is retina ready and responsive, which will give your visitors a top-quality experience.
There are a ton of useful features beyond the travel blog section, such as integrated booking, contact form integration, check ticket availability, google maps, weather widget and many, many more are included.
This theme allows you to keep your options open if you see your strategy evolving down the line to incorporate a wide variety of business options into your existing travel blog.
Packed with everything you need for setting up an impressive travel blog, this WordPress theme is worth considering. Its 6 homepages, each stunning in its way, will fulfill the dreams of the most creative among you.
While being impeccably designed, the BonVoyage theme is also very easy to use. It’s great for a travel blog, but also fantastic for travel agencies, with extra sections where you can present the best offers for the month, or write about the latest news in your business.
As far as the blog functionality goes, you’ll find creatively designed gallery displays, as well as features like Instagram feed integration to keep your blog visually stunning.
Iver is a WordPress theme made primarily for modern hotels and booking websites. Though as a travel blog, this theme will make a strong impression because of its sleek design and all the features that come with it.
This WordPress theme is packed with a collection of beautiful layouts and elements. 6 modern homepage designs, a user-friendly booking form, and fantastic galleries are only a few of many advantages this WordPress theme offers.
Like the Iver theme, Albergo is primarily designed for hotels and other accommodation booking websites, but if you love the photo heavy design, it can definitely be used for travel blogs as well.
It comes with 8 beautiful homepage options. Each has a nice and clean design, which is easy to read, easy to navigate and yet still very memorable.
There’s a drag and drop page builder that will make it ridiculously easy to design the way you want it, and if you’re a hotel owner who wants to integrate a travel blog with your hotel booking system, there are a lot of useful features.
How to Install a WordPress Theme
After you’ve chosen a WordPress theme you love, you need to install that theme on your hosting server. Once this is done, you can start to create your first post and publish it!
Here is a tutorial on how to install a theme easily.
Checklist [Recap] for Starting a Blog in 2020
➡ Register your domain name: iwantmyname.com
➡ Purchase hosting (you can do steps 1 & 2 at the same time): a2hosting.com
➡ Set up WordPress
➡ Choose and install a WordPress theme
Congrats! You Have a Blog! Next Steps
WordPress is pretty straightforward, and easy to use, though there may be a bit of a learning curve at the beginning as you familiarize yourself with where everything is, and how to do things like create a post.
That said, the internet is full of tutorials that will explain everything you need to know. I would recommend first setting some time aside to familiarize yourself with the WP Dashbord and then learn how to create a post.
After you’ve published your first blog post, it’s then time to start thinking about how you’ll attract readers. The next steps will be to learn as much as you can about search engine optimization (SEO), which means writing your articles to target traffic from sites like Google.
A great website for learning about SEO is Make Traffic Happen; run by Laura and Gemma, there are a tonne of free resources that will guide you through everything you need to know about optimizing your content for traffic, and you can also join their helpful Facebook Group.
In creating a strategy for monetization, I recommend immersing yourself in Sharon Gourlay’s Digital Nomad Wannabe; she teaches how to make money from blogging and niche sites, with free in depth tutorials with everything you need to know.
So, what are you waiting for?! If there’s one thing most professional bloggers say they regret, it’s that they didn’t start their website sooner.
So, go forward with this knowledge of how to start a travel blog in 2020!