Before you shake your head and sigh because you think I’m trying to dig money out from your pocket, give me a chance. I’m an honest guy so everything you see here will be fraud-free and I always give my best in my blog. The discount rate you’ll be getting here is the highest you’ll ever find anywhere else – $2.65/month! And there’s a trick for that, which I’ll talk about it later, so bear with me.
This article works for blogs of all niches, not only travel blogs. The reason I used a travel blog is that this article is a little bit more specific on that (I’m a travel blogger anyway), but everything works almost the same when it comes to the blogging world. SEO, ways to drive traffic, procedures to set up your blog, everything. So let’s dive in before you hit to close button.
Should You Start A Travel Blog?
Okay, so you’ve brushed your shoulder and made a life-changing decision to start your own travel blog. And I assume you’re here because you’ve either decided to start your new journey as a travel blogger or thinking whether you’re cut out to be a full-time blogger.
It sure tickles our heart when we saw travel bloggers got paid to travel, living in luxury hotels in London, traveling in an all-inclusive cruise to Galapagos Islands or catching The Great Migration in Kenya, Africa.
And as a travel blogger, I could tell you that they’re not faking anything, they actually got paid to travel. Some even receive a good wage after the trip.
Sounds pretty impressive, right? While it might sound like a far-fetched dream for most amateurs like us, the dream is actually within our reach. Being a travel blogger doesn’t mean that you have to travel full-time or live abroad. I’m a university student, and I’m a travel blogger. I customized the website all by myself too (which I’ll tell you how I did it in a second).
But being a travel blogger is hard. Why? Read on.
Determined and ready to give it all? Skip to How to Start a Travel Blog part.
Things You Should Know About Travel Blog
Why do I say being a travel blogger is hard? Actually, it could be one of the most interesting niches in the world. How many of us have a passion for exploring the world and experiencing something new every day? It’s actually a lot more than we think.
Being a travel blogger, you’ll be able to share what you’ve learned, what you’ve experienced and everything. I love sharing my stories. Swing Abroad is not my first blog, I actually had two blogs on Blogspot, one public blog to share my stories and a private blog to record my personal life.
In March 2018, I made this decision to start the blog despite being a full-time student and knowing my time could be packed like crazy.
When I said being a travel blogger is hard, it’s not about time or passion, it’s about monetizing. As I mentioned earlier, you’re envy toward those who got paid to travel and make money off their travel blogs. It might sound easy but it’s a rough, long way to get to that position where you could do all those things.
Admit it, monetizing a travel blog is awfully difficult. It’s one of the hardest niches in the blogging industry to monetize. Here’s why.
There are not many things you can sell
Selling Tsum Tsum mugs and fancy glowing shirts is hard, but probably way easier than selling travel insurance packages, hotel bookings, web hosting services, and your travel guidebooks.
The products that travel bloggers can put up in their blogs are so limited and not attractive to the general audience. Unless your audiences are interested in what you’re writing and trusted you, you’re going to earn peanuts.
And getting audiences to like you, to trust you is really difficult than you think. How many times you have repeatedly returned to the same blog and see what they posted on a weekly basis?
For most of us, never.
Travel blogger faces a stronger challenge when it comes to getting social engagement from audiences and getting subscribers. You’ll have to write in your own unique way interestingly in order to capture the audience’s heart.
Only those who trust you and subscribes to your email list will actually consider buying whatever you promoted and offered.
It’s a long way before you could get paid to travel
The fact is, there are way too many travel blogs out there competing for the first page in Google search results. Most of them have been around for several years and established a strong position and high domain authority for their site.
To get around the ‘big blogs’, you’ll have to write unique and lesser-known topics with long-tail keywords. For instance, Creating Your Free Professional Gmail Signature. I had trouble finding a way to create one so I wrote a tutorial for that after I found out how to do it. Go ahead and search for this and see how many sites actually offer the solution as I did.
Writing a less popular topic will help you attract audiences with a very specific problem. They’re more likely to stick around because you offered them a very special and unique solution.
When your site got more established, you could go ahead and write blog posts with higher competitiveness. As time goes by, you’ll get more and more monthly visitors to your blog, given that you paid the effort.
While it’s more about your ability to pitch and persuade when it comes to negotiating with travel agencies to sponsor you to travel, there are some conditions too. And the main killer will be the number of monthly visitors to your website. This factor alone has enough power to persuade companies to pay you to promote their travel packages.
Note that the number of followers of Instagram does play a huge role for travel influencers in this generation too!
And it’s not strange when a typical travel blogger takes years before reaching a satisfying number of monthly visitors. Well, of course, there are some awesome and unique bloggers out there who did it within a year.
Ready to start your blog? Skip to How to Start a Travel Blog part.
Which Web Host Should I Use?
So you’ve read what I wrote up there and decided that you’re determined to start your own travel blog. Here’s the main question. Which web host should you choose?
There are basically two types of web hosts: Self-hosted and Hosted.
Let’s start with Hosted. Hosted platforms provide users with a free website to share whatever they want to post, mostly for free. You might have heard of Wix, SquareSpace, Blogger and WordPress.com.
However, these Hosted platforms will restrict extensive customizations and designs in order to make things run smoother. This explains for the free-of-charge usage despite creating a beautiful blog out of it. Hosted platforms are also not suitable if you’re planning to monetize your travel blog in any time soon.
If you register under a Hosted platform, your blog name will appear to be, for instance, yourblogname.wordpress.com or yourblogname.wix.com.
A self-hosted website is what we’re trying to do today. With a self-hosted platform, you’ll be able to choose a unique domain name and establish yourself a professional travel blog, like www.yourblogname.com.
There will be a monthly or annual charge depending on which web host you registered with. We’ll get to that in a minute. But don’t let that scare you, it’s a hella lot cheaper than you think.
If you own a self-hosted website, you’ll need to do all the customizations and designs all by yourself. But no worries because life has been so much easier nowadays thanks to technology and coding guys.
When registering for a self-hosted website, make sure your web host supports the usage of WordPress.org (not WordPress.com). With WordPress, you’ll be able to create your own website without any coding knowledge.
Themes and website builder tools are literally everywhere now, with free or cheap price plans. We’ll also get to that later.
Hosted vs Self-Hosted, Which One Should I Go For?
If you’re just going to share your travel stories with friends and family, go for Hosted. But if you want to start your own professional travel blog, you must go for Self-Hosted. How? Well, that’s the whole purpose of this article.
Which Web Hosts Is Best For Me?
Well, in this article, I’m talking about starting a travel blogger which aims to attract global audiences and not only from your home country. So we’ll need to go for huge web hosting companies to get that done.
(They are actually much cheaper than you think…)
While the web host in your home country might offer you a cheaper price, I definitely recommend going for more internationally-renowned companies to ensure the smoothness and uptime of your blog. Uptime is the time that your website is not down, and it happens quite often with less decent hosts.
Okay, so which company should you go for? There are two companies standing on the top of web hosting among bloggers right now, Bluehost and SiteGround. You might disagree with me because there are way more than two big companies for hosting. But I’ve personally tried both Bluehost and SiteGround on my website.
Of course, there are a lot of websites and articles out there arguing whether Bluehost or SiteGround is the best host for bloggers. But one thing for sure, SiteGround is way better than Bluehost.
To be honest, people who used to have their websites hosted under Bluehost are leaving for other hosting companies. Why? Because their technologies are out of date. Way too many downtimes, slow resources delivery and many more issues.
Decided to go for SiteGround? Skip to How to Start a Travel Blog part.
Why SiteGround is Perfect For Bloggers
Officially Recommended by WordPress.Org
SiteGround is the hosting provider that is recommended by WordPress.org. This statement alone carries a huge weight into persuading customers to be hosted under SiteGround.
The platform is powered by Google Cloud
SiteGround server is powered by Google Cloud, which creates a powerful and superior hosting service compared to other hosting companies.
With distributed storage running on SSD hard disks, the server promises an optimal speed and high-level of redundancy. Google is also known for having one of the best connected networks in the world.
Crazy High Uptime
One of the most frustrating things about websites is that they went down for no reason sometimes. When that happens, you’ll have to contact the customer service to get them up again or wait until then.
One of the best highlights about SiteGround is that they offer more than 99.9% uptime, which is awesome because you don’t have to worry about your website going down anymore.
My website is hosted under SiteGround and I can confirm this if you’re in doubt.
24/7 Customer Support Service
Nothing is more frustrating than stumbling upon some technical problems and couldn’t find anyone to solve it, right? With SiteGround’s 24/7 customer support service, you will get all your doubts and questions answered in a matter of minutes. I’ve used the Live Chat service so many times, and I was never disappointed.
Not even once. The staff is professional and attentive to all the issues I was facing.
Free SSL Certificate
See the green lock at the URL tab on top of your browser? Only websites with SSL Certificates get that. That will make your website from http to https too. What does that mean?
Https simply means higher security for your website to protect the information. Google actually prefers websites with https instead of http too and recently added them into ranking factors in organic search. (Source)
If you want more information on SSL Certificate and https websites, visit this website.
Amazing Security Level
SiteGround has a team of security experts keeping track of daily software vulnerabilities on the server and website level. The team, therefore, prevents numerous possible attacks on the websites hosted by them.
To save your time, here are the features that are offered by SiteGround.
- Free SiteBuilder
- Free customized email accounts (e.g. [email protected])
- Free CloudFlare CDN integration
- Free Daily Backups
- Unmetered Traffic
- 100% renewable energy match
- SuperCacher for out-of-the-world speed
Now, let’s dive in and see how you can start a travel blog now!
How to Start a Travel Blog All By Yourself
Step 1: Choosing Your Niche, Identity, and Focus
What is a niche?
Niche is kind of like a topic your blog is all about. Some examples for you – travel, photography, online marketing, tech, gardening, web design, and so on. You’re probably here because you want to start a travel blog, so our niche here will probably be Travel.
Note that this guide to start your own blog is suitable for all niches as the startup process is the same for all blogs.
At first, you might think that choosing ONE niche will be sufficient and get you going. But if you look closely to those successful travel bloggers, almost all of them offer services in blogging resources, photography tips, travel fashion, etc.
You’ll notice a good portion of travel bloggers do not restrict themselves into one single niche.
It’s important that you know what you’re expertise in, which led us to the next point. Choosing your identity.
Who are you and what makes you special? Are you a 50s woman who just started to go solo traveling? Or maybe a student exploring the world, like me? For now, you’ll have a task – Identify yourself and think about what makes you special.
Having an identity is extremely important in blogging because it differentiates you from other bloggers.
The third point, your focus. What will your travel blog be focusing on? Are you focusing on budget backpacking around Europe? Or did you fancy luxury travels and want to share the stories?
Some bloggers focus their blog entirely in a single country, providing extremely insightful and detailed information and tips about traveling in a particular country.
At this point, I might have put you in an awkward position because you just decided to start your own blog, and here I am, pouring water on your fire. But you need not to worry about that, you can decide on your identity and focus later. However, you couldn’t start without a niche, so…
Let’s move on anyway.
Step 2: Choosing Your Blog Name
Here comes the game-changer. People always hit this speed bump when it comes to choosing the blog name.
How many of us actually changed our mind to start a blog because we couldn’t think of a killer name for our blog. I did, several times actually. The idea of starting a travel blog came across my mind in 2017, but I didn’t have any idea how and couldn’t think of a suitable name.
If you’ve been following this blog long enough. You know the name was Swing Abroad before the rebranding of my travel blog.
I admit it, Swing Abroad is not a good name, to be honest. I never know what ‘swing’ was when I registered my domain. If you don’t know too, go ahead and Google it. It wasn’t until my roommate told me what a swinger is.
“Hello Swing Abroad. You know what swinger is?”
The decision to rebrand my travel blog is tough, but I had to do it. Swing Abroad is the brand that I want to build upon. Wandering Journal works great. It tells the audiences the niche and it sounds cool!
It’s great if you have an ideal name in mind but if you don’t, here are some tips for you to brainstorm.
Tip #1 Avoid Using Name From Big Blog
It’s not recommended for new bloggers to use names like Nomadic, Adventurous, Vagabond, Backpacker, Traveling, etc. It’s because those names have already been used by the huge blogs who got very high domain authority and ranks on first pages in Google search results.
If you gave your blog the name, say ‘NomadicChris’, you’re going head-on against huge blogs like NomadicMatt. You’re probably not going far with that. And people will think that you’re not professional enough to think of a creative name.
When you’re deciding on your blog name, remember to always relate it to your niche. It’s not compulsory but it’s highly recommended. If you pay attention to the names of big travel blogs, their blog name is highly relatable to traveling.
Having your blog name related to Travel makes it easier for new audiences to recognize your blog as a travel blog instead of a random blog sharing some high school stories.
Some blogs used their full name as the domain name as well, but most of them are not in the niche of travel, but tech, web design, online marketing, etc. It’s up to you whether you want to use your full name or not.
I’ll give you a hand on this. Here are some names you should avoid because those have already been used by big blogs out there.
- Nomadic / Nomad
- Adventurous / Adventure
- Traveling / Traveler
- Backpacking / Backpacker
You are, of course, welcome to use any of the names above as long as you think they fit well and is not too fancy and hard to remember!
Tip #2 Avoid Using Identity That You Might Change
What I meant is that you shouldn’t be using terms like Single, Broke, or similar terms. What if one day you found the right one on the road, or you got a jackpot and started luxury traveling?
Try not to use terms that define you right now, but not necessarily the future you.
Even so, there are some successful blogs out there with these terms, like TheBrokeBackpacker (who is making huge money right now from the travel blog). Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what name is best suited for your travel blog. Who knows, you might establish a huge fame for your blog with those terms.
Tip #3 Avoid Using Symbols and Fancy Words
NEVER use symbols, numbers, dashes, periods and hyphens in your domain name. There is a very good reason behind it – it confuses the hell out of people.
For example, your blog name is Climbin3. Imagine how are you gonna tell your mom when she asks what’s your blog name?
“Mom, it’s Climbin3, climbing without the g, and the tree is the number 3.”
It also makes your blog sounds very unprofessional and immature. It’s like the nickname for your character in MMORPG when you’re a kid.
Other than being confusing, it’s also bad for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Imagine someone remembering your blog name but forgot how to spell it. He typed in ‘Climbing Tree Blog” in Google, what are the odds Google will display your blog? Very unlikely, unless your blog is very well-established and has high domain authority.
Using fancy words like replacing an ‘s’ with ‘z’ places you straight into the category of ‘bad first impression’. Google algorithms hate these fancy misspelled words because it shows unprofessionalism in your content.
So, avoid using these at all cost! Remember, you want to make your travel blog sounds professional and engaging at the same time, it can be either one but never the opposite of each.
Tip #4 Avoid Using Excessively Long Name
A long name gives people a hard time to remember the name. For the best results, think of a blog name of around 2 to 4 words. 2 words are probably the best and most popular structure in the blogging world.
Tip #5 Should You Use Your Name?
This is actually a very frequently asked question when choosing a blog name. There are numerous blogs (not just travel blogs) that established authority with a domain name consisting of his or her name, be it a full name or first name.
For instance, one of the top-rated travel blogs, NomadicMatt.com, SEO expert, NeilPatel.com and entrepreneur blogger MelyssaGriffin.com.
What if your blog got bigger and bigger, and you’re hiring more writers to contribute to your blog? Sort of like a magazine. It’s kind of weird to have your own name but multiple writers behind the blog.
Most of the figures like Neil Patel and Melyssa Griffin established a name for themselves somewhere else before creating a domain with their full name.
Tip #6 Are You Destination-Specific?
Are you going to write solely on one destination instead of travel guides on different countries and continents? If so, it would be wiser to include the destination name in your domain name.
Let’s say you are going to write a blog focusing solely on Nepal. In this blog, you want to include literally everything in the country – travel guides, tips, things to do in every towns and city, etc. It’s best to include the term ‘Nepal’ in your domain name, like NepalTravelTips.com, EverythingNepal.com, and so on.
Having a destination-specific also places you in a great position when it comes to SEO. And it gives a perfect first impression to those choosing between the 10 options in Google search result page.
Tip #7 Check the Availability
This is the most frustrating part of all.
So you’ve finally come up with a killer name which is the most tailored to describe you and your blog. You’re so pumped up and imagining your blog name goes onto the international stages and featured on Forbes, CNN Travel or Lonely Planet.
But that dream just came to plain destruction, because… THE DOMAIN NAME IS USED!!!
It’s important to check the availability of the domain name before you put too much hope into one name.
Use this link to check whether your desired domain name is still available for use.
Note that a lot of domain names were bought by parties that resell domains at a high price. Honestly, it’s hard to choose an unused yet amazing name. I once planned to name my travel blog Leap Abroad instead of Swing Abroad. But you guessed it, the blog name was used and was reselling at a high price tag. I changed my mind then.
Step 3: Set Up Your Domain & Web Hosting
So we’ve arrived at the main part of the article – registering your domain. As I mentioned, we’ll be using SiteGround as the reference here because it’s simply the best web host in my opinion.
Good news! SiteGround offers as low as $3.95 per month for its StartUp package, which is ideal for new bloggers.
If you’re in no rush, there will be a bigger discount on Black Friday and Digital Monday.
Follow the screenshots below to get started and get your blog ready in less than 10 minutes!
In the first step, click on this link and you’ll be brought to the screenshot page below.
Basically, there are 3 plans – Basic, Plus and Choice Plus. If you just started out and don’t want anything fancy, go for Basic. Personally, I think the Basic plan does a pretty great job and is perfect for any startup blogger.
When you start getting more and more traffic to your website, then you should consider an upgrade. Bluehost customer service will be more than happy to assist you with this.
The next step would be creating your own domain. Got an idea of what your blog’s name should be? Go ahead and type into the box under ‘new domain’, and click ‘Next’.
The second box is for those who previously had a domain with other web host and is now planning to transfer to Bluehost.
If you never owned a domain before, the first box is all you need to care about.
When I was talking about choosing your blog name, I mentioned that you don’t need to decide on a name to create domain yet for now. How to skip this step?
Simply hover your mouse arrow to the top of the screen and a pop up will appear. Click on ‘Choose Free Domain Later’ and you’ll be brought to the next step.
If not, scroll down and you’ll see the option to choose domain name later.
After the ‘Next’ button, you will be brought to the following screen.
And here’s where the magic happens – You’ll get the cheapest $2.65 per month rate on this page. Sounds exciting? Read on!
Fill in your information as instructed. This step is so easy so I think I need not explain further.
Now, learn how to trigger the cheapest $2.65 monthly rate offer.
Move your mouse cursor nearer to the close button of the browser. Then the following pop up will be triggered, showing you the further discounted plan or $2.65 per month. Works exactly like the ‘Choose Your Domain Later’ part.
Rest assured, this is the cheapest monthly rate you’ll find anywhere else with Bluehost, 65% discount!
Click on ‘Claim Savings’ button to grab the offer.
Quick Tip: If you somehow closed the button and is not seeing the pop up anymore on your next visit, simply Clear Browser Cookie and you’ll be able to see the pop up again on your next visit! Or you can use Incognito Mode to sign up!
On the next part, you will be able to select your plan. For now, let’s go for the Basic plan.
The discounted price is only available for 3-years plan. If you’re not sure whether you’ll make it that far, feel free to select the period of your choice. For 1-year and 2-years plans, the price will be higher than $3.95 per month.
I highly recommend the 3-years plan. Why?
If you’re serious about blogging, having a 3-year plan will keep you motivated for a considerable amount of time. You paid for it, don’t quit! And you’ll save quite a lot of money too, you know the math, right?
In ‘package extras’ box, you’ll see several add-ons for your domain. Although all of them are optional, I highly recommend adding ‘SiteLock Security – Find’ for your domain.
SiteLock scans your website regularly for malware to ensure it is not being blocked or spammed. This page from Bluehost explains thoroughly about SiteLock Security. As I said, I recommend it but it still depends on yourself.
I would opt out for Codeguard Basic and Bluehost SEO Tools Start.
Codeguard takes daily backup of your website and makes it easier to roll back in case of any disaster strikes. Basically, it detects the changes you made to your website regularly and just backups everything.
If you skipped them and added only SiteLock Security – Find, the total would be much lower at $119.28. For both SiteLock Security and Codeguard Basic, the total would be $226.92.
The final part, where most people quit – Payment.
Here, you will need to enter your credit card information to get the payment done. I tried using my debit card but it didn’t work so I would suggest opting for a credit card if your debit card doesn’t work as well.
Following the payment, you will receive an email from Bluehost. You will find your receipt there. But first…
Congratulations! You have officially kickstarted your blogging career! Your dream is half accomplished now, not a far-fetched dream anymore.
Feeling excited yet? Let’s move on to the next step!
Step 4: Setting Up Your Bluehost Account
Before you’ll be able to access your Bluehost dashboard, you will need to create a password for your account. Click ‘Create Your Password’ button and you will be led to the next step.
Go ahead and log into your account and get started!
Step 5: Setting Up Your WordPress
The first thing WordPress wants you to do is picking a theme. Now I know the theme is the face of your blog and you don’t wanna mess with it. Yes, its’ true, but we’re just gonna simply pick one to bring everything forward to the next step.
The theme is changeable anytime so don’t worry about it. You’ll have plenty of time to play around and experimenting with different themes soon. It took me a month to finally settling down to my current theme. I’ll talk about my theme in the next step.
After picking your theme, press ‘Start Building’ and you will be brought to your WordPress dashboard.
The URL of your WordPress dashboard should be yourblogname.com/wp-admin. You will want to bookmark this page because you’re probably going to visit this page more than YouTube.
Between ‘Business’ and ‘Personal’, go for Business. They don’t make a huge difference so if you accidentally picked the wrong one, don’t worry too much about it.
I’ll just briefly talk about the tools in the left column.
Posts – For all blog articles you want to create, you will need to create them here. Posts are literally just for blog posts or articles. For pages like Destinations page, Travel Resources page, or pages where you want to display multiple blog post thumbnails, read the next one.
Pages – This is the section where you create landing pages and the pages I mentioned above. For a more solid idea, I’ll explain using the components of my blog. Head over to my header, select anything like ‘Destinations’, ‘Discover More’, ‘Contact’ or ‘Nepal’ under ‘Destinations – Asia’, those are pages. For posts, you are reading one right now. In the right column (sidebar), you’ll find my Popular Posts and Through My Eyes Series Post. Those are Posts.
I know things can be very confusing at first, and I took a few days to actually understand what the differences are. Well, I had zero experience, literally, when it comes to blogging at first. I designed my Destinations pages with Elementor, which I will talk about later.
Media – This is where all your uploaded images and videos are stored.
Plugins – You’ll find all the plugins you’ve installed onto your website here. If you click on that now, you’ll find several plugins that came with the signup. I uninstalled Jetpack because I think I don’t need it. Scroll down for Step 7 where I talked about the plugins.
Appearance – Here you will find tools to customize your website. Under Appearance, you’ll find ‘Customize’ where you’ll able to design your blog on the frontend, or visually if you prefer.
Just play around the dashboard for a day or two and you’ll get it.
Step 6: Launching Your Blog
When you think your website is ready to be launched and made public for all your friends to see, head over the ‘Bluehost’ tab on your left column.
You’ll see the ‘Launch your site’ section. From there, just click on ‘Launch’, fill in your Site Title and Site Description and get your travel blog officially launched! Hooray!
If you made a mistake and want to undo the launch, you could do so by heading to the Bluehost dashboard (as shown above). I definitely recommend bookmarking this page as well. In any case that you forgot how to access this page, just Google ‘Bluehost dashboard’.
Blogger Tips: If you want everything to be organized, create another Google account so your bookmarks and frequently visited pages won’t get mixed up with your old account.
Under ‘My Sites’, select your website. Then select the ‘Settings’ tab, scroll all the way down until you see the ‘Coming Soon Page’. Turn on the toggle and your website will be in Coming Soon page now.
But when you’re just starting out, it doesn’t matter a lot. So just edit your website with your website launched. Visitors might find it weird when they visit while you’re editing but to be frank, there will almost be no visitors when you’re just starting out, right?
Step 7: Designing Your Blog
Should You Use Elementor or Premium Theme?
Sooner or later, when your blog starts driving more traffic, you will need something more than a free theme. For starters, I would suggest investing straight on a premium theme or Elementor Pro to design your website instead of switching in after a few months.
This will save you a lot of troubles of transferring the massive amount of posts and pages and redesigning everything.
Here’s the question. Which one should you go for? Elementor Pro or a Premium Theme?
What Do I Use?
Personally, I use Elementor Pro (visual website builder) to design my website on Astra Pro theme. This option allowed me to customize my website to what I want it to look like. Carbon copy from my imagination.
It might take a lot of time before you can truly unleash the potential of Elementor Pro because there are too many features to explore. The team behind Elementor Pro are very innovative and keeps on updating the plugin with new features. I definitely see a bright future with Elementor Pro.
Astra Pro theme also kept all the codes to the minimal and simplest, boosting my website’s speed tremendously. And it is fully compatible with Elementor Pro, a perfect duo.
What Should You Use?
If you want to save the trouble of designing your own website, go for a premium theme. I spent more than a hundred hours designing my website. Yes, I’m not kidding. As a beginner blogger who got zero knowledge towards website building, I had a really tough time.
There are a huge variety of premium themes at ThemeForest, one of the best WordPress premium theme markets in the world. When choosing your premium theme, try not to go for a multipurpose theme because you too will spend a lot of time customizing your website. Sort of like what I did with Elementor on my website. Some premium themes have visual website builders too.
Instead, I would suggest going for theme likes 15Zine, which has a limited design and does not need much time customizing. The modern and minimal design also makes everything look extremely professional.
Okay, so what do I suggest? Premium theme. But like I said, if you want to customize everything by yourself, Elementor Pro and Astra Pro are definitely worth checking out.
Step 8: Plugins to Kickstart Your Travel Blog
Yoast SEO is one of the most famous and most used plugins for WordPress user. We all know how important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, but how to best optimize your blog post?
With Yoast SEO, simply activate it and you’ll see a section for it under the content of your blog post. Yoast will tell you your article’s ease of reading and how to create a stronger and more engaging content.
But the best part about it is, of course, SEO. Just beneath the Readability part, you’ll see Focus Keyword. Here, you can set the focus keyword for your article. Before you go ahead and pop in whatever you like in your mind, check out Mangool Keyword Research Tool.
Yes, it’s an affiliate link. Yes, I hope to make money out of it but I never recommend plugins and websites I do not trust. Mangool Keyword Research Tool is the BEST keyword searcher out there. It’s user-friendly, easy to use, and offers all the details and suggestions you need while searching for the optimum keywords.
You’ll be able to see the search volume for the particular keyword and how easy to rank with the keyword. Free users get to search for 5 keywords every 24 hours so utilize it to your best.
After you found a suitable keyword, for instance, ‘best things to do in Penang Malaysia’, optimize your content, title, snippets, etc according to the suggestions in the Yoast SEO section.
SEO couldn’t get any easier with this plugin.
With the Yoast SEO Premium version, you’ll be able to set up to 5 additional keywords!
Smush is great for compressing images you upload to your WordPress Media. It automatically compresses the images you upload right away, without compensating the quality of the images.
The reason we want to compress images is that large images take a long time to load. That means your audience will have to wait for a long time before getting to see your content. If it takes more than 4 seconds, you’re in trouble because they’re gonna hit to Back button.
And page speed is one of the factors Google considers when ranking your website in search results.
There is a Pro version but the free version is pretty enough especially for startup bloggers.
According to EU GDPR regulation, websites have to inform first-time audiences about the usage of cookies. With this well-coded plugin, you can customize the appearance of the notice without compensating the page speed.
Social Warfare is the best social media share counts plugin I’ve ever come across. It has a professional look and works the way I want.
With the plugin, you can choose which social media buttons you want to see in your blog posts. Your share counts could get pretty high if you use Pinterest for driving traffic, which you should be doing. Each re-pin equals one share.
For Facebook, each like brings one share count. Pretty tempting, huh?
WP Rocket is by far the most effective page speed booster I’ve come across. The plugin itself, however, is not free. And it’s not really cheap, but it’s definitely worth it if you want the best for your page speed.
There is a ‘lazy load’ feature which allows images to load as the audience scrolls further down the page. This ensures the page to load and shows your content faster initially.
Visit here for more information. This part will get too long if I were to elaborate on everything.
Now, this is not a plugin in WordPress but it’s something you should have. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. With CDN, the data of your website is stored at multiple data centers worldwide.
This greatly boosts your page speed because audience from another corner of the world will be able to access your website from the nearest data center to them.
And for Bluehost users, the service is free. Just head over to CloudFare website and sign up. The instructions are very clear and well-explained.
It might be a little tricky to change the nameservers in your Bluehost control panel, but this page can help you solve the problem.
After installing CloudFare CDN, go ahead and integrate it into WP Rocket if you’re using it. You can do it under Add-On panel.
MonsterInsights has a great and user-friendly interface to provide you information about unique visitors to your website – sessions, pageviews, bounce rate and average duration per session.
This statistics is important to measure your blog’s growth and as motivation to keep you going when you see your blog is getting more and more traffic week by week. There is a pro version of it but I personally don’t use it because the free version is more than enough.
Again, not a WordPress plugin but a good Chrome extension to have. Grammarly checks instantly your grammar whenever you type into your post draft.
When I first started out, I proofread my articles at least two times before publishing and let’s be honest, it took me a lot of time. Now with Grammarly, A LOT of my time was saved and I could better use my time for other purposes.
Having proper use of grammars in your articles also shows your professionalism. No reason not to use it.
When your blog started to attract more visitors, you will start getting spam comments, intending to promote their irrelevant products – like online betting, SEO services etc. It’s quite frustrating to reject those comments one-by-one.
And here’s where Akismet Anti-Spam comes in handy. It automatically filters out spammy comments so that you could be surprised when you see a pending comment, knowing that it came from a real person who actually read your blog article.
jQuery Pin It Button for Images
It took me quite some time to look for a nice and functional ‘Pin It’ button for Pinterest. Most of the plugins and even the one from Pinterest looked bad and not always working.
With jQuery Pin It Button, you can customize the ‘Pin It’ button on the top left corner of your images to allow people to pin the image to Pinterest. In the settings, you can also choose the minimum dimension for images to be allowed for pinning.
MailChimp for WordPress
It’s been a long debate between MailChimp vs ConvertKit when it comes to building an email list. I’ve used both ConvertKit and Mailchimp but I stuck with MailChimp.
To be frank, ConvertKit offers a lot more functionalities and is a lot more user-friendly with their interface. With ConvertKit you also have a much higher chance of getting your email into Primary Mailbox instead of Promotional Mailbox. The downside is the high price, which is why I prefer MailChimp.
MailChimp actually took me a lot more time to learn using it compared to ConvertKit because there are not many instructions for beginners there. However, as soon as you got better with it, MailChimp has more to offer than you think. Sort of like Elementor, the more you play around with it, you’ll discover the hidden potential.
Open external links in a new window
Having this plugin allows your readers to open your external links (the links you put in your blog post that links to another article in other blog or website) in a new window instead of the same window.
Having external links to be opened in new window ensures that readers will not be disturbed when they click on the link. They might be attracted to the article and not return to your blog after that.
Table of Contents Plus
I’ve been searching for this plugin for a while because my theme does not offer this. What this plugin does is put a Table of Contents before your Heading 1. You can customize where you want it to appear to better coop with your way of writing too.
Did I mention you could also design the table itself?
Step 8: What Should I Do Next?
Set Your Goal
Setting your goal helps to keep you focused and motivated. Bringing in passive income within the first 6 months of blogging? Hit 25k sessions within the first year? Posting three times a week? Take your time and remember, blogging is a fun career and hobby. Don’t make yourself stressful over it! Enjoy the process.
Google actually likes websites that update consistently. If you’re planning to post twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday, stick to it! There is a ‘Schedule’ button on the post-draft page which you can use to schedule the time you want your post to go live.
Submit Your Sitemap to Google
Submitting your sitemap to Google makes it easier to crawl your website and has a higher chance of ranking. How to do it?
First, do yourself a favor, and install Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast will create a sitemap for your website, and all you have to do is submit it to Google. A few minutes and you’re all set. Here are the instructions on how to do it.
Setting Up Google Webmasters
If you care about people finding your articles on Google search results (which you should), then you must set up Google Webmaster Tools. The procedures are a bit long so again, here are the instructions.
Get an SSL Certificate (Free)
Bluehost offers free SSL Certificate for its users. Simply head over to your Bluehost dashboard, then ‘My Sites’, and select your website. Head over to the ‘Security’ tab, and turn on the ‘Free SSL Certificate’ toggle. That’s it!
Step 9: Join Superstar Blogging
Well, this is optional, of course. But it’s a course I highly recommend joining if you have the budget and want to quickly get your blog on track. Superstar Blogging is compiled by one of the most renowned travel bloggers of all-time, Matthew Kepnes a.k.a. Nomadic Matt.
I never have the budget to take much blogging courses and I had to spend a MASSIVE amount of time learning everything by myself. It’s not something bad either because I enjoyed the process but you don’t have to do that. There is no shortcut to success but there is an easier way.
In this Superstar Blogging course, you will get a no-BS guide to succeeding as a blogger in whatever niche. Learn to strive as a travel writer, vlogger, and photographer. This course includes literally everything you’ll want to learn.
And it’s not just one instructor. See below!
Skip being a beginner like anyone else. Take the quick path without compensating the experiences and enjoy the results sooner. Join Superstar Blogging!
Be more than another influencer. – Matthew Kepnes
Wrapping It Up
So that’s all for how to start a travel blog. If you need some time to rethink, I would appreciate it if you would bookmark this post and come back later. Feel free to comment below on what I can improve on this article. And of course, please share it with your friends who love traveling! Dreams are always within reach. Have faith in yourself and take the first step. Happy traveling, til next time!