Today I’m going to show you how to start a travel blog in a matter of minutes; for the least amount of money possible; even if you and computers aren’t on the best of terms.
The purpose of this guide is to build a travel blog that’s set for success; the kind that will make you a handsome income within the first 6-months. Because let’s be honest, that’s the main reason why you want to start a blog, right?
I’m here to tell you that you are not just a dreamer. Making money blogging is totally achievable. I’m a full-time travel blogger, which means I make a full-time income off my blog. And I want you to be successful as well.
To put it bluntly, travel blogging is a pretty amazing job; and not only because you get to see the world more than the average person. It’s also because you meet and help people on a daily basis, and because it gives you unprecedented freedom. Literally, this is the kind of job you can do from anywhere in the world, be it from a lounge on the edge of an infinity pool overlooking the jungle in Bali or the comfort of your own home.
Which takes me to the next point: you don’t have to lead a nomadic life to be a successful travel blogger. Many travel bloggers, I included, don’t travel around the clock. And that’s okay because if experience has anything to do with it, anyone gets tired of the road after a while.
So my advice is to do what feels right for you. Regardless of your travel style, you will always find like-minded people to listen to what you have to say.
The interwebs have changed (a lot!) since I started this blog back in 2010. This means now it’s easier than ever to start a travel blog, but it also means you will find a lot of outdated information out there.
I want to help you start off on the right foot in 2017. Below I will show you how to start a travel blog with zero headaches and a ridiculously low amount of money. (Seriously, if you think you can’t afford to invest $2.95 per month in your dreams and business, then I don’t know what you are doing here.)
Ready? Just follow this easy step-by-step tutorial and set up your blog like you mean business…
#1 Let’s go shopping: Grab a domain name and hosting with Bluehost
Sounds fancy, I know. But simply put, the domain is like your home address. Web hosting, on the other hand, is your house. Only this time around, instead of being a brick and mortar property, it’s a virtual one.
To make it even easier to grasp, imagine you are planning a tea party. You can’t invite friends over when all you own is a PO box. Nor will anyone stop by if you don’t give them your address. Simply put, just like you need both a house and an address to host a party, you need both a domain name and hosting to start a blog.
What do you do when you want to buy a house? You go to a real estate agency. When you want to start a blog from scratch, you go to a hosting company.
Similar to the physical world, there are many hosting companies to choose from, but you should go to one that sells you both the domain and the hosting, and Bluehost does just that. Even more so, when you buy the hosting via them, Bluehost gives you the domain name for free. I know it makes total sense because in the physical world you don’t have to pay extra to get a home address. Regardless, most hosting companies do charge an annual fee for this, but I don’t know why you would want to pay for something you can have for free.
Besides the fact that the domain is free, I also recommend Bluehost because they are easy to use and they have great customer support. They are widely used by bloggers and their hosting is cheaper than coffee. Seriously! You only pay $2.95 per month. Do you know of any other business you can start for this little money?
So let’s get to the nitty-gritty stuff and actually buy that hosting and domain, baby!
To start with, CLICK HERE to go to the Bluehost website. This will open a new tab for you, so you can easily switch between this guide and the Bluehost page while you sign up for your hosting and domain.
Once on the Bluehost page, follow these steps:
1.Click on the green ‘get started now’ button.
2. You will be taken to a new page where you can choose between 3 different hosting plans. For now, I recommend you opt for the cheapest (basic). You can upgrade later. Click ‘select’.
3. Get your free domain. This will be your blog’s name and it is what people will type in the browser when looking for your blog. Type only the name, without www. and without .com and don’t use spaces.
Make sure it’s something easy to remember and that makes sense for the type of blog you want to start. Check to see if a .com is available (the .com is selected by default), but you can choose something different, like .net or .info from the drop down menu.
If you can’t decide on a domain name right away, moving your mouse around the screen will trigger a popup that says ‘choose free domain later’. Click on it. The domain name will still be free for you, but you can go on with your purchase for now. You will need to pick one before following with step 2 though.
Once you’ve found a domain name you are happy with, hit ‘next’.
4. You will be brought to a page where you will have to fill out your account info, like your name, address, and email. Make sure you introduce a valid email address you have access to because this is where your order confirmation will be sent.
5. Scroll further down to choose a plan. I highly recommend you go with the 36-month plan since you only pay $106.20 for 3 years and save tons of money. (As a comparison, if you opt for the 1-year plan now, you end up paying $59.4 for the first year, but subsequent years will renew for $95.88 each, which makes a grand total of $251.16 for the first 3 years).
6. Uncheck all the boxes.
7. Scroll down and enter your credit card details (don’t worry, it’s 100% secure). Tick the ‘I confirm’ box and click ‘submit’.
8. You will be taken to the ‘welcome to Bluehost’ page and asked to create a password for your account. Click on the blue ‘create your password’ button.
9. A new page, that looks like in the image below, will open. Make sure the password you introduce is something complicated for others to guess but easy for you to remember. Don’t forget to tick the ‘I confirm’ box.
10. Write password down for safe keeping.
#2 Log into Bluehost and install WordPress
Now that you’ve purchased your domain and hosting, you are ready to log into Bluehost. To do so, go to https://my.bluehost.com/web-hosting/cplogin and enter your domain name and password and click ‘submit’.
You are literally only 5 minutes away from having a fully functional website.
To make your blogging life easy, you have to install WordPress. WordPress is basically the most popular blogging software in the world, it’s free and since you purchased your hosting via Bluehost, you can install it in just one click and with zero technical knowledge.
Let’s see the step-by-step process:
1. Once you’ve login into Bluehost, you will be taken to your dashboard. Under ‘Website builders’ section you will see written ‘WordPress’. Click on it.
2. A new page will open. Click the green ‘Start’ button.
3. Select the awesome domain name you picked in step 1. Since this is a new account, this will be the only domain available anyways. Click ‘Check domain’.
4. Be patient while WordPress is installing. It only takes a few seconds, a couple of minutes at most.
5. Create your WordPress username and password. Just like before, these are very important and I recommend you write them down so you never ever run the risk of getting locked out of your own account. Plus you will need these to log in almost every time you want to write a new blog post or do other administrative tasks on your blog. Tick the ‘Terms and conditions’ box and hit ‘Install now’.
6. A new page will load, announcing the install is complete. Congrats! You’ve completed setting up your new travel blog. Now it’s time for the creative stuff!
#3 Make it pretty: Log into your WordPress blog and install a theme
Remember how I compared Bluehost with a real estate agency? Well, just like after you’ve bought a house you don’t pass by the real estate agency every day on your way home, you won’t have to visit the Bluehost website often either.
All the blogging and the fun stuff takes place on your WordPress blog that you access via the following link: www.YourNewDomainName.com/wp-admin – replace YourNewDomainName with your own domain name.
You will be prompted to a page that looks like in the image below. Enter the username and password you created in step 2.
Welcome to your WordPress dashboard! This is where all that behind the scenes magic happens.
This is where you write new blog posts, change the look of your website, add new plugins and functionality to your blog, etc.
But right now, your brand new house is empty. You need furniture. In blogging terms, this is called a theme.
Go to the left-hand sidebar and hover over ‘Appearance’. You will see a new menu. Click ‘Themes’ and then ‘Add New’. Here you will find thousands of blog designs to choose from. Don’t sweat it, though. Right now, it doesn’t really matter which theme you choose. You will probably change it anyway once you get the hang of blogging. What’s important now is that you familiarize yourself with the WordPress dashboard. You can easily pick another theme later on.
However, please do yourself a favor and don’t just upload one of those basic themes that look like they are stuck in 1999. Make use of the ‘Search themes’ box. Type in ‘travel’, for example, and you will get over a hundred FREE themes specially designed for travel blogs. Your theme should inspire you and it should inspire your readers too.
You can preview any theme with one click. Once you’ve decided on a theme, click ‘Install’ and then ‘Activate’.
#4 It’s time to entertain, inspire and charm your guests
Exciting times! You’ve created a blog, brought in the furniture and you are ready to through a party. Not so fast! If there are no drinks and cookies, you can’t expect your guests to stay.
Write your first blog post and upload some images.
Close to the top left corner in you WordPress Dashboard you will find the ‘Posts’ tab. Click on it and then hit ‘Add new’. Write your first blog post.
What should you write about? Well, write about something you can’t stop talking about. Something you are really good at. It doesn’t matter, as long as you claim your space in the spotlight.
The golden rule in 2017 is that you have to stand out. Be like Cirque du Soleil and make the competition irrelevant.
To add a photo, click ‘Add media’.
I always recommend you use photos you’ve taken yourself. But royalty free photos are always better than no photos at all. Websites like Unsplash and Pixabay have tons of high quality, do-whatever-you-want photos to choose from.
And of course, don’t stop here. Building a successful blog requires dedication and consistency.
#5 Keep the party going aka building a profitable blog
I showed you how to start a blog, now it’s time to talk about how to make it profitable.
Whether you should start monetizing your blog from day one or wait until you build an audience, it’s debatable.
Here are my two cents.
Start monetizing right away. No need to wait. You might not turn out a big profit the first few months, but that’s secondary.
Here me out. When you start a blog, you have no audience – okay, your mother and your cat don’t actually count. You have to work hard to get people to your blog. Some of those people will come back, some won’t.
Ideally, blog monetization should have to stages:
Stage 1: Sign up for affiliate programs.
Be it Amazon Associates or CJ.com, grab those links and insert them into your content whenever it makes sense.
It goes without saying that you should only recommend products you have used yourself and think your audience will find useful. Always use a disclaimer.
Use affiliate links sparingly; don’t plaster your new blog with them because it will look spammy. But this way your loyal readers will get used to the idea that you don’t do all this work for free. And those one time visitors might actually leave your website via one of your affiliate links and earn you a small commission.
Stage 2: Create your own products
Start creating your own products (ebooks, courses, printables, etc.) from day one too, but it doesn’t make much sense to launch them until you build a loyal audience.
However, I’m going to let you in on a secret – the size of your audience doesn’t matter (much). What actually matters is how interested they are in what you have to offer. And for this, you have to build relationships. One at a time. Seriously. It’s like high school all over again.
Start building an email list and actually send out regular newsletter even if you only have 3 subscribers. There are plenty of success stories of people who made 5 figures from a product launch with an email list as small as 500 subscribers.
Stage 3: The perks of owning a travel blog – did somebody say free travel?
You can actually start making money blogging via the above-mentioned methods way before you are invited on your first media trip or get a discounted hotel stay.
But unless you get financial compensation for joining a media trip or you can sell your photos to a hotel, for example, look at free travel as a perk of having a travel blog. Because free travel won’t pay your bills and it won’t make your blog a profitable business.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with free travel, but if you looked up how to start a blog because you wanted to make money with it, make the two options above a priority. At the end of the day, the more money you make, the more you will afford to travel the world.
Phew, you’ve made it until the end of this guide. Congrats! I hope you are now the proud owner of a brand new blog. It wasn’t hard at all, was it?
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you buy via them, I will get some coffee money at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping me stay awake!