How to Start a Travel Blog & Travel the World for Free
A travel blog is a great way to not only document your trips and share your experiences with friends and family, it can also provide the perfect topic for building a successful blog that not only has a substantial readership, but also earns revenue. If you have been thinking about starting your own travel blog, but aren’t sure where to start, this guide will take you give you step-by-step instructions that include: how and where to buy a domain name, which publishing platform is best for you and how to choose an appropriate design for your site. Tackle these steps one at a time and you can have your travel blog set up and ready to publish posts in less than an hour.
Choose a Hosting Service
Luckily, you don’t have to be a computer whiz to start your own blog. There are plenty of reputable and affordable services out there that have streamlined the process to make it as easy as possible for everyone, from beginners to experts, to start their own site.
Once you start an account with a hosting service, you will be able to have full control of your site and benefit from 24-hour customer service that will help you troubleshoot any problems, so even if you do run into problems, you have help right at your fingertips.
Essentially, these companies sell you space on their server and allow you to secure an internet address. On average a hosting plan costs around $10 per month. The most popular services include:
All three offer comparable services for around the same price. Each of these hosting services features fast loading times, around-the-clock customer service and technical support and years of experience in the industry. Not sure which service is the best for you? Click here to read a more detailed comparison of the top three hosting services.
Buy a Domain Name
Once you have chosen a service, visit the domain buying section of your hosting service dashboard and type in your first choice for a name. Essentially this is your address on the internet and the name people will enter when they want to navigate directly to your site. That’s why it helps to choose something catchy and memorable. Avoid choosing a name that is hard to spell or simply full or numbers and letters. Use recognizable words that directly reflect the topic of your blog. Chances are that a lot of addresses with the word “travel” in them will already be taken because it is a popular term and topic. In this case, try a name that incorporates a hyphen.
Once you type in your first choice for a domain name, you will immediately be notified if this option is available. If it has already been taken, you will be prompted with a list of other similar variations to choose from, including some that include hyphens. Browse the list to see if any of these appeal to you or opt try a different name altogether. Purchasing your domain name will typically cost around $9-12 per year.
Choose a Publishing Platform
WordPress is far and away the most accessible and popular publishing platform on the web. Best of all? It is free. Anyone can visit the WordPress site, download the program, and use it to customize their blog and publish posts. Most people with basic computer knowledge will find that WordPress is intuitive and easy to use.
The absolute best aspect of WordPress is the great customer support. The program’s creators constantly receive feedback from expert coders and amateur designers that lead to frequent updates and constant improvements. There are also many forums available where users can ask questions and quickly get answers either from WordPress staff or other users who have encounter similar problems. The customer service team at your web hosting service can also help you navigate any problems with WordPress, so there is a lot of support out there those experiencing a bit of a learning curve.
For a step by step guide on how to download WordPress, click here.
Choose a Theme
Once you have downloaded WordPress, it is time to choose and theme and start thinking about how you want your site to look. There are thousands of options out there that are fully customizable and feature responsive design capabilities, which mean that your site will look great on any device from a home PC to a smartphone. Many companies sell themes, but there are also plenty of free options available. To help narrow down your choices, here is a list of free themes that have been especially designed with travel blogs in mind:
This free theme features a simple design that will allow you to easily organize your posts and publish great picture from your trips. The homepage provides an image slider with plenty of space above the menu to include social media icons that will encourage readers to share your work.
Display your posts in a magazine style layout that includes a picture and a small snippet from your post. Newer blog postings get pushed to the top and feature a larger image. If you are fan of Pinterest, this free theme offers a similar layout that is designed to offer a lot of information all at once.
A lot of travel themes on the market focus on highlight images, but if you want your words to be the focus of your blog, then Travel Planet is an excellent, free choice. This theme combines text and images to create a more balance presentation of your writing. It also offers fast load times, a responsive design, and a highly customizable template.
Customize Your Site
In addition to thousands of themes, WordPress users also enjoy access to thousands of plugins that allow you to customize your site and all sorts of functionalities. If you are browsing other sites and see something that you like, chances are that you can replicate that same element by using a free plugin that can be downloaded in seconds.
Simple click on the plugin tab listed in the vertical menu on the left side of the dashboard screen. Here you can search for and download any available plugins and customize your site almost any way you want. Start by browsing through the list of most popular and featured plugins. These two sections will provide you with an excellent starting point for identifying helpful tolls and familiarizing yourself with the installation process.
You made it! You are the proud owner of a website and now it is time to start writing and publishing posts and reaching people all over the world. If you are interested in attracting readers and not just updating friends and family members on your latest exploits, then you want to be very deliberate in the kind of posts you write so that you are engaging readers and presenting new information.
If you spent a week at a popular tourist spot, focus on lesser known attractions and give readers more of an off-the-beaten-path account. Add a catchy title that includes a list and implies that visitors to your site will learn information that they couldn’t find anywhere else: “7 Hidden Gems of Mexico City.”
For more tips on writing intriguing and engaging content and killer titles that will help you build a readership, click here.
Monetize Your Site
The final aspect to think about once you have built your blog is using it to bring in revenue and make some money. There are a variety of ways to do this. The two easiest methods are by allowing Google AdSense to post small advertisements on your site. Every time a reader clicks on one of those ads, you will make money. Typically one click doesn’t bring in more than a few cents, but if you are attracting thousands of visitors a day, a few cents here and there can quickly add up to real money.
Another popular method for monetizing blogs is to join an affiliate program, which works in much the same way as AdSense. The difference is that you are specifically advertising for one product or company. If a reader click on that ad, goes to the company site and makes a purchase, then you receive a commission. Some companies offer up to a 10% commission on every sale you help make.
Learn about more ways you can use your travel blog to make money when you click here.
Now that you have a step-by-step guide on how to start a travel blog, it is time to start collecting photos, thinking about which stories you want to tell and start publishing your posts. With a little effort and some networking, you can quickly build a readership and start making money.
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