HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG

Time and time again I get asked how I started She Travelled the World and how someone can kick start their career in the travel blogging sphere. It's been three (long) years since I started my own journey and it hasn't been easy. My dream started from just an idea with very little knowledge of running a business, photography and even creating a website. I had absolutely no idea where to even begin. The whole industry seemed so saturated with talented creators who had it all figured it out, and it was intimidating to say the least. 

 

If I'm perfectly honest I never really thought about writing a blog post about this topic as I've always felt there were people far more equiped to teach you on how to get it all started. However, I get messages and emails daily from you asking for my help, so I thought there must be some value I can provide for you, and I'm excited to share what I know!

I started looking into creating my blog in early 2017 and began watching YouTube videos on where to even begin this journey. I was already travelling a fair bit and had fallen in love with photography, even though I wasn't very good. I would look through Instagram and dream of living a life of adventure, so even though I knew my blog wouldn't be great to begin with, I decided to try. The photos below are some of the content I posted when I started blogging, not the best, right? I started off with just my iPhone 5s and VSCO cam but I was determined to make it work, and I'm so thankful that I kept going, even though it definitely wasn't easy.

Luxembourg, 2017

Budapest, 2017

HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG

 

FINDING A BLOG NAME

She Travelled the World actually came from my Tumblr name when I was 15 and has just stuck in my head since. I was unbelievably surprised when I saw the username was available on Instagram and as a domain for my website, so I took it as a sign from the Universe that I needed to use it! 

Take your time when thinking of a blog name because once you pick one it's a lot of effort to change over to something different. Ideally you want something short, memorable, unique, fun and not too generic. You also want to try and avoid using numbers, hyphens or something that is already quite similar to a larger account in your niche, for example I've seen an Instagram account that's called @shetravelstheworld , which is obviously very close to my page. 

HOW TO FIND A GREAT BLOG NAME

KEEP IT RELEVANT

If you're going to be a travel blog focusing on backpacking, don't name your blog Jess's Luxury Life, as it's not really relevant to your account or what kind of content you're planning on creating. Make sure people can tell what kind of website/account you are straight away!

MAKE SURE IT CAN LAST

Calling yourself Amy's Asia Adventure is great while you're travelling around Asia, but what happens once you leave Asia? Make sure your name continues to make sense during the length and isn't r

DON'T GO FOR THE OVER SATURATED WORDS

If I'm being completely honest, She Travelled the World is a pretty generic name (I still love it) and I wish I had been told to spice up my name a little more! Try and avoid over saturated words like 'wanderlust' 'adventure' and 'explore', as they are all very overdone and it will make your site harder to find through the sea of other travel bloggers.

SIMPLE AND FUN

As I previously mentioned, keep your name light hearted and fun! You want people to easily memorise it so they can quickly check out your blog without sitting there for hours trying to remember what your name is. Something unique, punny, recognisable is ideal!

SET UP A WEBSITE

If you're planning on blogging you will obviously need a website to get yourself started. There are dozens of website platforms which are perfect for designing your own website with simple drag and drop instead of using coding, which is what I use as I don't have a tonne of tech knowledge. At first I started off using Weebly, as that's what my friend had told me she used for her online shop. I used Weebly for over 2 years and although I loved it to begin with, as my skills improved and I wanted more out of my website, I found that it couldn't really facilitate my needs anymore. So, after doing some research I switched my website over to Wix, which is what I currently host my site on

I find Wix a lot easier to use and it also gives me a lot more freedom to make my website look how I want it. Three other options I would recommend looking in to are Shopify, WordPress and Squarespace, I think they are all great for different reasons and it all really depends on what you are looking for on your site. Spend some time researching each one and what their capabilities are, as well as their price points for subscriptions if you decide to upgrade to a paid domain (we will talk about this in a second).

My first website took close to 2 months to set up on Weebly, mainly because I didn't really know what I was doing and I tried to pre write 10 - 15 posts before launching. Below is a screenshot of my original home page for my first Weebly website, and although looking back at it I can see it's not great, it was a starting point! 

When you're setting up your website you can either opt for a free or self hosted domain. The difference between the two is a free domain would look something like www.shetravelledtheworld.wix.com compared to a (paid) domain would look like www.shetravelledtheworld.com. You can get a free domain when you sign up for a website server like Wix, however if you're serious about your blog I would suggest spending that little bit of money to buy a domain either straight from the website host (Wix, Squarespace, etc) or from a third party site like GoDaddy. Typically a domain will last a year before you have to pay to renew it, however the cost isn't too expensive and it does make a huge difference with a website. It is important that you are 100% sure about your brand name because if you decide to change after you've already paid for a domain, you'll have to pay for another domain with your new name.

A paid domain also registered with specific properties and services such as an email with the domain name which just helps make your whole brand seem more professional. A professional email would look more like info@shetravelledtheworld.com instead of shetravelledtheworld@gmail.com, trust me, it makes a huge difference!

 

BENEFITS OF PAYING FOR A DOMAIN

EASY TO REMEMBER DOMAIN NAMES

So instead of someone typing in www.shetravelledtheworld.wix.com which is long and hard to remember, people can easily remember www.shetravelledtheworld.com

 

IMPROVED SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a super powerful tool for getting your content found by new people and Google (plus other sites) rank a paid domain much higher than free domains as it looks more professional - more professional = more clicks 

ESTABLISH A BUSINESS IDENTITY

You want your site to look professional and reliable, so having a proper domain is a great starting point!

MORE SECURE

Having your own domain also means your site is far more secure and you can take extra measures to make sure your customers and audiences' information is kept safe, especially if you plan on selling products or services!

YOUR NICHE + BRAND

A niche is a specialised section of the market which is what your blog will focus on and will determine what type of content you produce. Under the 'blog' realm you could have anything from a baking blog to a flower blog, so technically being a travel blog is its own niche. However you want to delve further and find something more specialised and specific for your audience, so you can clarify what kind of brand you are. 

For example instead of being just a travel blog, are you a sustainable travel blog? Or a vegan travel blog? Or a luxury travel blog? Be more specific with your niche.

 

Your brand will be what makes you recognisable to your audience, so although your a travel blog, you're known for being a travel blog that focuses on travelling solely by bus. Or a travel blog that travels with your pet cat on the back of your motorcycle. You want to be specific and clear with your intentions for your website! Make sure your recognisable and unique with your brand approach and the most important thing is to share WHY you are doing this, what does your brand stand for?

 

My eBook Instagram: Making it the Dream Job, goes into detail about how to find your niche and brand, as well as how to fine tune your overall business using Instagram! You can shop my eBook here.

SOME OF THE TOPICS THE EBOOK INCLUDES

  • Everything you need to know about growing your account

  • Creating a brand and finding a niche

  • Showing your personality online

  • How to curate your feed

  • The importance of being consistent

  • Repurposing content

  • Understanding Instagram analytics and algorithm

  • How to use hashtags

  • Creating connections online

  • Expanding your audience + finding loyal followers

  • How to monetise your account

  • Emailing brands + email structure

  • Marketing yourself

  • How to use emotion and Psychology 

FINDING A THEME

The overall 'look' of your blog is obviously important to create eye catching content and capture the attention of your audience. I didn't know where to start when I first thought about creating a blog, thankfully, website servers will provide some basic templates that you can choose from and easily edit to help achieve the look that you want for your site. Start basic at first, with just your best content (photos and videos) on your home page and 1 - 2 blog posts for people to look through when they click onto your site. It's better to showcase your best work and as you create more content and write more posts you can build up your website, but no one is expecting you to have a website full of pages right off the bat!  

These are some of the templates you can choose from on Wix!

I would also recommend planning out your brand colours and fonts, this will make your site look more professional and cohesive. Canva offers a great basic brand kit which you can play around with if you sign up for a 30 day free trial or have Canva Pro, if not Pinterest is always a great source for any sort of inspiration. Below are just some of my personal favourite colour palettes from Pinterest which I think would work beautifully on travel blogs.

A tip for colouring is to always keep it simple and if you're not sure how to add accent colours throughout your site, less is always more. My site only has 3 -  4 colours which I use throughout, but don't be scared to play around and find what works for you and your brand! Just make sure the colour palette works with your theme and style. For example when I think of minimalism I think of neutral tones like beige and browns (similar to the colour palette on the left) whereas if I think of adventure and exploring, brighter colours pop into my head because it's fun and exciting - so make sure you're not only choosing colours you like, but colours that will work for your brand!

CONTENT

Now you have your site all set up it's time to start writing content for people to read! As I said you only need to start off with 1 - 2 pages of content for people to look through and that could be as simple as a home page, a page about you and a page about your recent trip. I think it's easier to launch a site with a minimal amount of content and build it up as you go, letting your audience know when you're posting new content along the way so you can create that connection with them and build a reliable following. 

My first version of She Travelled the World was posted just to my friends and family online, and typically it will be the same for you, so it's a great opportunity to ask for feedback on your site as sometimes staring at the same screen too much can affect your judgement so it never hurts to get a second opinion! 

When creating content it's important to remember people's attention spans are very short so make sure your site is fun and easy to navigate, I like to use photos to break up words as no one likes to be bombarded with a sea of paragraphs and no time to breathe. Using links to create a 'web' throughout your site is also a great tool for people to easily look through your different blog pages and it also boosts your SEO for your google ranking!

Something like the example below is a great way to link to a new page on your site while breaking up big chunks of text! (feel free to click the link if you're interested in the post)

P3232191.jpg

Content is obviously very personal to you and your brand so what you write about is completely up to you. When you're starting out, as I've already mentioned, less is more! I would start off with a home page, about me, and maybe 1 - 2 blog posts of recent trips or recommendations. My writing style and how I structure blogs are very different to how I used to post back in 2017 so don't stress too much, as you learn and grow with your site your skills will improve! 

Below is a screenshot of one of the first blog posts I wrote on She Travelled the World! You can click here for the updated version of the post!

Here are some of my recommendations for what you should write when you are starting your blog:

CONTENT ON YOUR HOME PAGE

Your home page is the first thing people will see when they click on to your website so it has to be clear what you and your brand are. So you're a travel blog that focuses on sustainable travel, do you have a beautiful green banner with your logo and a photo of you in the mountains? Make sure that your content is clear and spaced out with room for the eye to travel down the page.

Some things you should consider including:

- Your best photos as either a banner or featured on the page

- A menu for all your different blog pages 

- A photo linked to your latest blog post 

- Links to your other socials + email (Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest)

- Links to your important pages like 'about you' or 'FAQ'

- A small picture and bio of you and what your site is about + welcoming a person to your site

- Call to action (what do you want someone to do on your page? Read a new blog? Visit your insta? Buy your products?)

ABOUT ME

Your about you page should be an introduction to you and your life. You want someone to feel like they know you and what you're about so don't be afraid to be open and honest. 

- Who are you?

- Where are you from?

- What made you want to start blogging?

- What are your core values?

WRITING A POST

Obviously as a travel blog you will be writing about your trips and experiences! As I said previously I would recommend starting out with only 1 - 2 posts live on your site, although I know it's easy to get carried away with excitement! There are so many things you can write about with a travel blog and it's completely up to you how you want to structure it and what you want to include. Start simple in the beginning, I find recommendations for a city or country the easiest to think of and lay out, but travel guides are my favourite to write!

Some things you could consider writing about:

- Travel guide for a city or country (where to stay, what to do, where to eat, what to see, what to avoid, tips and tricks)

- Best things to do in a city/country

- Travel Itinerary

- Travel tips/recommendations

- Product recommendations (if you focus on sustainable travel what products do you use to help that?)

- Specialised advice (solo travel, female travel, backpacker travel)

SEO + CROSS PROMOTION

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is basically Google's way of ranking web pages that are best designed for what you are looking for. I'm definitely not an SEO wiz by any means and I still find it very confusing to understand, however having basic knowledge of it will be incredibly helpful in ranking your site on Google. 

Using the proper keywords for your blog posts and metadata can be a super powerful tool to boost your website higher on Google and ideally be at the top of the first page. I would definitely recommend spending some time researching and learning how to utilise SEO effectively throughout your blog as it can make a huge difference in the amount of eyes who see your content!

Cross promotion is where all your other social media's come into play. Don't be shy to share your new blog posts all over Insta, Facebook, Pinterest (I would definitely recommend utilising Pinterest), TikTok, Youtube and so on. Especially in the beginning, it will be vital to share your new blog content on your social media to get exposure for your website. It also tells Google that your site is reputable as you have people clicking to your site through external sources. As your website grows and you post more content, there are more opportunities for people to see your social media and follow your journey there as well! For me I've found Instagram has been the most powerful platform for my website traffic, as well as being able to grow my account. Below is a screenshot from when I first started She Travelled the World and now.

If you want to learn how to grow your Insta account, here is a link to my eBook which covers everything you need to know!

CONNECT WITH OTHER BLOGGERS

Travel blogging is a community so make sure you spend the time to connect with other bloggers whether it be leaving a thoughtful comment on someone else's blog post or sending someone a DM on Instagram, You can also opt to link to someone else's blog post on your own site (when appropriate). Being an active member of the community is not only fun but essential to create a profitable and successful blog site - plus don't forget to engage with the people who spend the time to message or comment on your content!

HAVE FUN AND WORK HARD

Blogging is the best decision I've ever made and I'm so thankful that I took the leap of faith to follow my passion. It has not been easy and I have had my fair share of late nights and quiet sobs thinking "what the hell am I doing?", but perseverance, consistency and hard work will always pay off and if blogging is something that you think you would love, do it because I promise it will be worth it!

 

I am excited to see what you create and I know you will love every second of your blogging life!

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