Despite blogging from 2006 on various topics , I recently ventured to an exclusive travel website only late last year. I felt the need to express my passion for travelling in a separate travel niche site, to give it full justice. So I realized the difficulty in starting a travel blog and lack of information thereof. Hence this post on travel blog startup guide.
Being a travel blogger is not easy and certainly not something you can become overnight. The years of travelling, the experience you get,the places you visit,the photographs you click, the stories you discover gives the soul for your website.
However quality content with above information alone do not make you a successful blogger. You need other skills such as social media skills, digital marketing skills, a good follower base, SEO skills etc to make your blog widely known. The segment is a tough entry now, given thousands of bloggers trying to provide similar content, such as location information, hotel reviews etc
Questions to ask before a “Travel blogging” journey
- What do i aim to achieve out of this ? – Fuel my passion / share my experience with others to benefit/ make money /get free invites & hotel stays/ become a popular travel influencer.
- What’s new from my side? – Would I be writing the same thing what others have already written? Do I have content that others may not have access to?
- Travel Experiences : How many cities/states/countries have you visited? Have you explored any interesting destinations that’s usually not on the tourist radar?
- What do I write about? Would I be covering only places? or Itineraries? or travel hacks like getting cheap international flight tickets / interesting videos to share?
Travel Blog Startup Guide
Steps to start Travel Blog
- Get a domain & hosting space : Yes, there are sites like Blogspot and WordPress, that hosts free blogs. These blogs will either end with .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com. However if you aim to create a professional site, you should mandatorily go with a custom domain (like xyz.com or xyz.in). It’s preferrable to have a .com domain for a wider reach. Prefer to choose WordPress as your blogging platform, as its generally considered to be SEO friendly and the design is much better. Some of the best options in Hosting include :
- Once you buy the hosting and the domain, begin writing the content
- In parallel, work on a beautiful fast loading template and design. The images should be optimized, so that the size is small and helps in faster loading.
- Install necessary plugins in the site . This includes Yoast(for SEO), Akismet(to prevent spam hits), Google Analytics(For traffic analyzer). You can also install any other free plugins you want from the plugins page.
Travel Blog content – Debating What to write?
- The most crucial element of your blog is your content. So if its boring, repetitive or very common, you won’t find a lot of takers for your blog. Visuals alone could make a significant difference to the blog content.
- Apart from that if you are listing price information for a trip, try to insert tables or so , for better clarity and understanding. This also adds to readability
- If you are writing a comprehensive guide about a place, think how to structure it. Read official travel guides about destinations and understand the structure. It might start with a brief description, how to get there, cost of living and itinerary. Else, you could follow an interesting pattern on your own.
- If you can manage to have a downloadble “PDF” of the same, it can help prospective travellers to just save it in their mobile device or easier to print it out.
- Different kinds of travel blogs include : Travel Photography blog, Itinerary blog, Off-beat destination blog, Travel hacks” blog or in most cases generic Travel blog. The final one could be a safe bet as it helps to diversify.
- However maintain drop down menus to segregate the different content for different users.
Frequency of Blogging
- Google loves websites that updates frequently and ranks the most recent ones on top. So if you are planning to update once a year , post your annual vacation, you can very well forget the rankings.
- Even if you have not been on recent trips, keep yourself updated in travel communities. Read about travel news in paper and share any interesting content in your site, in your own words (duly crediting the owner of the same).
- To increase the frequency of blogging, you can also employ “Guest Bloggers”. There are 100’s of people who’d love to contribute to your website for free i,n exchange for a simple Do-Follow link to their site. You can find them in Facebook communities ( try searching for travel bloggers).
- Most ideal frequency is one post a week
Generating Visits : Inorganic Traffic with Social Media Promotion
1.Facebook : You can use Facebook to promote your travel blog in different ways. Here are some interesting ways by which you use Facebook to drive traffic to your site:
- Status post : If you happen to have a lot of friends and followers, you can share your latest blog post in your wall. A nice featured image in your blog post should be added, which is click worthy.
- Facebook Page : You can create a Facebook Page for your travel site , invite friends and others to like your page. This can be an effective way to build a large audience . You can use “Boosting” to show your page to other intended target audience and get more likes. This will be an effective way to drive traffic site every time you post content (Do read in detail about getting blog traffic from FB Pages).
Have you joined my Facebook page for this site?
- FB Travel Blog Page : Search for travel blog communities in Facebook. Join them and respond to people’s need about a certain city if you have written about it. Some communities also allow link sharing on certain days of the week.
2. Travel Forums (LonelyPlanet, TripAdvisor etc) : This is an untapped gold mine (Ok the Secret’s finally out). ThornTree forum is a forum in LonelyPlanet website that connects popular travel bloggers across the world. The best part is they allow you to share your travel blog links for each country .This , if tapped smartly can really get you some good traffic .
3. Submit the url to Google or Bing : You can directly submit a URL to google/bing, for it to do faster indexing. Once indexed, it can appear in search results, if it meets the relevancy and criteria. This is helped, if your post is SEO optimized (With good focus keywords, backlinks, internal links etc).
4. Instagram Posts : Share one of the blog images to instagram and also remind people to check the blog link in the bio. (To be honest, I am not 100% sure if this is a way to get traffic. But if you have a sizeable follower count, who knows )
5. Twitter / Pinterest/ Other Social Media Sites: Each site offers a powerful method to generate traffic to your blog, if you use it smartly. So once again, spend time to understand how to utilize these websites and put them to the best use.
Tips on Writing “Optimized” Travel Content
- Add Alt text to all images
- Add watermark to all images. Watermark should contain the website link
- Write Longer, comprehensive posts. Such posts are ranked by Google higher than short ones
- Make your post about one central theme. Research on that theme (Which should be your focus keyword).
- Search your central theme and see if very similar content is present. If yes, try to present your content in a much better or more interesting way to stand out
- Sharing a personal experience (Positive/Negative) can go a long way in helping tourists to plan something about a place.
Getting Paid Projects / Sponsorships to Travel
Travel blogging is an attractive niche compared to others, given the plethora of opportunities people get. However these opportunities are not easy to find. Unless you are “discoverable”, you may not be in the lens of countries and organizations who invite bloggers for a visit & review opportunity. For the first 4-5 months, focus on content, build backlinks to improve your score and keep sharing your site. Start with your hotel/tourism review pitches slowly and reach out to concerned organizations with a detailed portfolio.
Do check out this site where they invite travel bloggers for a free visit in Yangon, Myanmar.
These are some of the basic steps you can follow to get started on a travel blogging journey. I’ll try to have this updated as often as possible, to include more detailed and useful pointers.