Today I’m going to show you how to start a travel blog in a matter of minutes; for only $2.95/month; 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 every once in 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 This means now it’s easier than ever to start a travel blog, but it also means you will find a lot of outdated information out there.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 virtual.
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. 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.
To continue with our analogy, 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 for the first year.
Besides all the perks, I also recommend Bluehost because they are super easy to start with 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 that 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 makes sense for the type of blog you want to build. Check to see if the .com is available (this 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 moving on to step 2 though.
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.
10. Write password down for safe keeping.
11. Click ‘Next’.
#2 Log into your WordPress dashboard
Now that you’ve purchased your domain and hosting, you are ready to start building your blog.
1. So once you’ve clicked the ‘Next’ button in the step above, the new screen will look like this. Click the blue ‘log in’ button.
2. Bluehost will tempt you with some free WordPress themes. Pick the one you like best or skip this step. Don’t overthink it. You’ll probably change it later on anyways.
3. Now it’s time to go to your WordPress dashboard and create your blog. Click the ‘Start building’ button.
4. WordPress will ask you what kind of site you want to set up – Business or Personal. I recommend you skip this step by clicking the ‘I don’t need help’ link. Why? Because I prefer to start with a clean slate. Plus both the business and personal options will ask you a series of questions you might not have the answer to if you are totally new to this.
Congrats! You’ve completed setting up your new travel blog. Now it’s time for the fun stuff!
#3 Make it pretty
Remember how I compared Bluehost with a real estate agency? Well, just like you don’t pass by the real estate agency on a daily basis once you’ve bought a house, you won’t have to visit the Bluehost website often either.
All the blogging and the fun stuff takes place in your WordPress dashboard that you access via the following link: www.YourNewDomainName.com/wp-admin – replace YourNewDomainName with your own domain name.
This is where all that behind the scenes magic happens.
Here you will write new blog posts, add images, change the look of your website, and install new plugins.
If you haven’t chosen a theme in the previous step, your brand new house is empty. You need furniture. In blogging terms, this is called a theme.
But even if you’ve chosen a theme but you think you can do better, you can have a look at the hundreds of free themes in the WordPress repository.
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.
However, please do yourself a favor and don’t just install 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’.
You can change your theme as often as you like.
#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 throw 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 of your 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 at first, but that’s secondary.
Hear me out. When you start a blog, you have no audience – 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 two 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.
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.
If you want to know more about this way of monetizing your blog, I recommend you read this post on affiliate marketing for beginners.
Stage 2: Create your own products
Start creating your own products (ebooks, courses, printables, etc.) from day one too, although 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 your peeps 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 newsletters 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.
If newsletters and email marketing are new and strange words to you, this articles will walk you through the first steps of starting an email list with MailerLite.
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 to your first media trip or score a discounted hotel stay.
Unless you get financial compensation for joining a media trip or manage to you sell your travel photos, 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’ve looked up how to start a blog because you wanted to make money with it, the two options above should be the 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 the proud owner of a brand new blog now. 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!