1 - Choose the Perfect Niche and Name Before you even think about launching your travel blog, you need to have a good hard think about a) what is your niche going to be and b) what are you going to call it. These are two of the most important things to consider because to launch a successful travel blog, you need to be clear on your ideal reader and have a catchy name that is well thought out.
- Clearly define your ideal reader in terms of demographics, interests, behaviours and online habits. Also think about what type of traveller they are.
- Think about how that ideal reader fits into a travel blogging niche.
- Consider your passions, strengths and also what has potential as a niche.
- Choose a name that is short and catchy, easy to remember and describes your niche.
- Make sure you check if it is available as a domain and on all social media channels before you get too carried away.
- Think long term.
2 - Set Up Your Domain Hosting and Blogging Platform
So you've thought of the perfect name and travel blogging niche, but where do you actually launch a successful travel blog? You'll need both a place to host your domain name and a blogging platform. My preferred domain host is Bluehost which I have used from the very beginning of my blog. They are affordable, reliable and most importantly offer 24/7 support. They have also been recommended to me by many travel bloggers and you there is nothing better than a personal recommendation.
Then, you need a blogging platform where you can actually create your site, design it and load content. The majority of bloggers out there use Wordpress, because it is user friendly to non-coders, easily customizable and is the most popular platform to launch a successful travel blog. Installing Wordpress is even easier with Bluehost's One-Click Install feature.
- Step 1 - Login in to your Bluehost account and along the top menu bar you will see 'cpanel'. Click here and it will take you to a page with lots of options.
- Step 2 - Click the green button that says 'One-Click Installs'.
- Step 3 - Click the Wordpress option and then click install.
- Step 4 - Select your domain to which you want to install Wordpress.
- Step 5 - Show advanced options to change your username and password and update your email address. Then click install now.
Now you will be able to log in to your Wordpress dashboard and start experimenting with themes and plugins.
3 - Be Consistent in Your Branding
To launch a successful travel blog, you must be consistent in your branding and believe me, it can be hard to keep consistent e'rry single day. For me, the easiest way to remain consistent in my branding and ensure I am building trust with my readers is to outline my brand guidelines in a document. I keep this document open on my computer 24/7 so I can easily refer back to it for each piece of content I create. Your brand guidelines at a bare minimum should include your brand colours (primary and secondary), brand font, design elements and a description of your unique brand voice. If you ever feel like you are straying, you can re-motivate yourself by returning to this document again and again.
4 - Choose a Beautiful Theme
Once you have your Wordpress or other blogging platform set up, it is time to decide on a theme that fits your branding and has the features you need to launch a successful travel blog. Once you have chosen a beautiful theme, it is time to install. For Wordpress, go to your Dashboard and click Appearance > Themes. Then, click Add New at the top of the page, choose your theme and click Install. Once it is installed, just click Activate and you will be able to start customizing your theme. If you have paid for and downloaded a theme from elsewhere, click Upload Theme from the Add Themes page, choose the zip file and Install and Activate that way.
- Look at other blogs you love to get ideas and inspiration.
- Check the reviews, for the love of god, check the reviews. This can be a great indicator of ow user friendly the theme is to customize.
- Generally paid themes have more customization options than free ones so have a look at the difference in features and support before you decide.
- Pick a theme that provides support when you need it. This is so important for both new and experienced bloggers!
5 - Install Plugins Which Make Life Easier
Plugins are like little applications which make your blog run smoother by allowing added features and capabilities. To launch a successful travel blog, the right plugins will go a long way. To Install, go to Plugins > Add New on your Wordpress dashboard, then search for the one you're after, then Install and Activate just like your did for your theme.
My favourite Wordpress plugins are:
- Yoast SEO - helps you write search engine optimised content with easy to follow suggestions in the post creation stage.
- Jetpack - an all-rounder with many features such as traffic growth and insights, security, image performance, subscriptions and contact forms.
- Backup Buddy - a backup plugin that protects you from hacks, server crashes and user errors.
- Disqus Comment System - a comment system which is linked to an online discussion community.
- Essential Grid - a basic grid building tool which can be used for anything and everything including galleries, e-commerce shops, testimonials and products.
- LeadPages - integrates with LeadPages which are landing pages that you can use to grow your email list by offering a free lead magnet such as checklist, giveaway or email course.
- Magic Action Box - great for creating opt in forms to start growing your email list from scratch. These 'boxes' can be placed in your blog header on the home page or before and after blog posts.
6 - Make a Start on Your Email List
Your email list is the holy grail of your travel blog. Why is your email list so important you ask? Cultivate it, nurture it and you will have an engaged and ideal audience to market your products or affiliate links to. To create an email list and grow your audience you will first need an email service provider such as Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign. Mailchimp is a fantastic provider to start out on and it is completely free until you have over 2000 subscribers. Set up a free account, create a list and you're good to go.
7 - Post, Post, Post
This may sound like an obvious one but in the earlier stages of your travel blog you need to post, post, post your content. You still want to ensure you are posting quality content but in the early days if you can double or triple your regular content schedule, then do it. This is a good way to quickly build up your categories and make sure you have lots to offer those early readers.
8 - Collaborate
To launch a successful travel blog, I cannot stress this enough, collaborate with your fellow bloggers, brands and others within the industry. The online world provides such opportunity for collaboration, even if you are a little bit introverted like I am. Contribute to guest posts, webinars, giveaways and other projects. All of these are great opportunities for your brand to grow its reach and for you to grow your email list too. Collaborating with other influencers in your niche will establish you as an authority and make you a better travel blogger. And you never know, the people you network with today may be big players in your future.
9 - Content Upgrades
Now the basic idea of a content upgrade aka an opt in or lead magnet is to offer something for free in exchange for a reader's email address. The best way to do this is to write a blog post and think of a complementary content upgrade to offer your readers. Content upgrade ideas include: checklists, worksheets, wishlists, podcasts, e-books, downloadable PDFs and more. LeadPages is my favourite way of adding in content upgrades to my blog posts. You can add a LeadBox to your post which means when you click on an image, a pop-up will appear for your reader to enter their details and received the freebie.
- The content upgrade must be truly valuable and relevant to your readers otherwise they won't give up their email address for it.
10 - Get Social
Before you go getting crazy, choose 2-3 key social media channels you are going to focus on for your travel blog. To launch a successful travel blog, make sure your blog name is available on all channels but only choose a couple to begin with. Think about your ideal reader and where they hang out online. Perhaps they are more visually focused and hang out on Instagram or Pinterest or perhaps they like to hear about things in real time and would be better suited to Twitter.
- Promote your blog posts and content upgrades.
- Join as many travel blog Facebook groups as you can for access to link sharing threads and community support.
- Make sure your social bios contain what your blog name, niche, call to action and link.
What is your greatest travel blogging struggle? Is there a barrier to your success as a travel blogger? Comment below!