Go nomadic

How to start travel blogging
as a digital nomad

This step-by-step guide will teach you how to create your travel blog, where you can collect all your travel memories as a digital nomad.

Contents

How to create a successful travel blog - Guide by digital nomads

As a digital nomad, you probably know many ways of combining work and travel already. Travel blogging is one of the most obvious choices. Maybe you’ve been considering giving it a go yourself but you didn’t know how to start. Or you’ve been thinking that it’s a lot of hard work and not worth the effort. Well, let’s be honest. Chances are rather small that your travel blog will turn you into a millionaire. However, starting a travel blog is surprisingly beneficial and being paid for your travel writing is possible, and we’ll show you how in our beginner’s guide that will teach you step by step how to make money as a travel blogger…

What is travel blogging?

Travel blogging started as an opportunity for individuals to write diary-style content when they went abroad, so they could share their experiences with friends and family. However, the blogging concept has undergone some big changes and many now see it as a lucrative business model, that comes with a great amount of freedom.

As companies started to recognize the potential of influencers and their niche audiences, travel bloggers with a large audience and online presence, were suddenly able to turn their passion into a side-hustle. 

Why you should start a travel blog

First of all, it is needless to say that starting a travel blog should go hand in hand with someone’s passion for travel. Maintaining a travel blog is about sharing travel stories based on your personal experiences, so it should be something you really enjoy doing and you should be able to finance the lifestyle.

As you know, life as a digital nomad can be really exciting, so why not write your experiences down to share them and at the same time being able to look back at them yourself?

You will learn a lot about yourself when you’re blogging. It happens often to travel bloggers that they sit down to write about an experience only to realize how much their perceptions have changed from the person before that experience to the person after that experience. This can be very eye-opening and is a deeply insightful journey that both affects your writing and your own personal growth.

Another benefit is that you can help people avoid mistakes you might have done and to find hidden treasures and having the best possible experience on their trips. You will inspire people to travel more and to visit places that they may have never even considered. Imagine someone travelling to the other end of the world just because they’ve read your blog!

Being a travel blogger is a never-ending process of learning new skills. From creative like writing and photography to strategic like understanding how to grow traffic and people skills like working with influencers and interacting with your community, you will constantly be pushed out of your comfort zone. One thing is for sure: It will never get boring.

Last but not least, you can monetize your blog and use it as a side hustle. Let’s be realistic. You won’t be offered free trips overnight. Building a successful travel blog requires a lot of commitment and consistency. You might not see any results the first year and many fail because they start their blog for the wrong reasons. Do it for the passion of sharing your travel experiences. However, if you manage to get paid for what you love, you will feel that there’s no bigger reward in the world (and you know the world pretty well, don’t you?)

How to create a travel blog - Step By Step guide

Step 1: Build your brand identity

The very first thing you should do is find your niche and name your travel blog. You may think that travel in itself is already a niche but if you want to be successful, you should consider defining it further. There are various opportunities, like backpacking trips, travelling on a budget, sustainable travel, adventure travel, specific destinations, a specific age group, traveling with a baby, etc. Think about what’s most important to you personally when you travel and if you have a specific background or skills.

When coming up with a name for your travel blog, make sure it fits your niche, while being short and easy to remember. This might not be as simple as it sounds, especially because many domains are taken, but don’t give up and keep trying. Do think about a name that will stand the test of time. If you run a family blog for instance, keep in mind that you won’t always be traveling with a toddler.

Make sure your blog name is not too similar to someone else’s. You won’t be able to build a strong brand, not to mention potential legal struggles. There’s also nothing that confuses people more than when searching for you on social media to end up on an unrelated account.

As social media will be a crucial part when growing traffic, you should also check if social media handles are available for your preferred blog name.

Step 2: Buy your domain and get a hosting plan

If you are serious about travel blogging, it is best to get rid of any WordPress attachment as it looks more professional and is essential if you want to achieve good rankings in Google. This is why you will need to get a domain name. This is your online address and it should be the same as your blog name. If you want to write in English, it makes sense to buy a domain name that ends with ‘.com’.

You will get one free domain name with Bluehost which is one of the most highly rated web hosting companies. Bluehost is the best option for you to use when setting up your domain and hosting plan, as they cover both. Setting up a hosting account is like building a house for your blog – it is where it lives on the internet. Whereas the domain name is your blog’s address, a hosting plan is your blog’s home which functions as the space on a web server that stores all your website files.

Step 3: Set up your blog through WordPress

Most bloggers use the blogging platform WordPress as it’s free to use and gives you a lot of creative freedom. To put it in perspective, 34% of all websites on the internet use WordPress and we do as well. Getting started is very easy. If you purchased hosting and a free domain from Bluehost, they will start installing WordPress for you automatically. In case you will need to do it manually, simply login to your Bluehost account, find the website section and select “Install WordPress”. You will then be able to choose the domain name to install it to.

Once you have installed WordPress, you can install plugins and customize your blog design based on your personal preferences. Fully understanding the potential of WordPress is crucial in order to use it to your advantage. It’s helpful to use free material on Youtube and pages like Skillshare or Udemy. These are learning platforms with online classes taught by professionals. The more you explore WordPress, the better your blog will be in the end. And exploring is what travel bloggers do love anyway, isn’t it?

Step 4: Find a theme

Themes on WordPress control the design and appearance of your blog. A WordPress theme is essentially a collection of templates that define the visual aspect of your blog. Themes affect all design-related things on your website. However, bear in mind that even though a theme is primarily responsible for the design, it can also have a big impact on the functionality.

There are many themes available and the huge variety can make it tricky to decide on a theme. Luckily, when it comes to options, ThemeForest is a great site to help you with your choice. It is the world’s most popular WordPress theme marketplace. Every theme on ThemeForest has a live preview which is a helpful tool that allows you to see your selected theme in action on a preconfigured website. You can also test some of the customized settings, such as changing the color scheme or seeing different layouts and backgrounds. This gives you a good idea of how the theme could look and work in the end after it’s been adjusted to your own branding.

Step 5: Install plugins

Plugins control functionality and can best be described as software pieces that contain functions that can be added to your blog. By downloading some of the most popular plugins, you are able to improve the look and performance of your site, without having any coding skills:

  • Elementor
    Elementor is a plugin that allows you to customize any WordPress theme without needing to know code. It gives you the freedom to have full control over the design and layout of every element of your blog by using a visual drag-and-drop interface.

  • Yoast SEO
    This WordPress plugin is for real-time page analysis and helps you to optimize your blogs’ meta titles, meta descriptions. content, image tags, keywords, and much more. All these factors are important steps to a healthy SEO strategy. It’s so smart, it can even analyze the readability of your copy by things like checking the lengths of your sentences or telling you if you use good transition words or subheadings.

  • WP rocket
    Speeding up your site is extremely important to give your visitors a good blog experience and it also impacts a website’s performance in search results. WP Rocket can help you with that. It makes sure that images are loaded when scrolling down the page and it reduces the weight of your JavaScript, HTML, and CSS files which will improve load times even more.

  • MC4WP
    This plugin makes it very easy to gain subscribers to a Mailchimp mailing list. You can create great opt-in forms or integrate with any forms, like your comment, contact, or checkout forms, so it’s simple for your visitors to sign up for your newsletter. MC4WP will also help you write better emails by collecting information about your subscribers.

Step 6: Design your blog and create unique content

In order to become a successful travel blogger, you will need to create a lot of content on a regular basis. Your own personal storytelling is the most effective way to connect with your audience, especially when people can relate to your experiences.

A great source of content inspiration is new travel trends and social media. Join groups in your topic area to see what other people are interested in and what they are talking about. By doing this you can see what your target group’s problems are which is a great basis for a blog post. Another great source for this is Quora which is literally a platform based on people asking questions. Do also check your competitor’s blogs. If you copy-paste their blog address into BuzzSumo, you will even be able to find out what content on their site is performing the best. The comment sections are also insightful as people will tell directly what they would like to hear more about.

Keyword research is one of your best friends. Start writing down anything that could be of interest into the Google search bar and it will automatically complete the phrase for you. This can give you concrete ideas.

And if all this doesn’t help (anymore), there are a number of tools that can support you with generating content ideas, like Answer The Public or Ubersuggest where you submit a keyword and it will pull lots of data from Google about what people look for in connection with it

Don’t forget that not only your content should be on point but also your grammar. Use free tools like Grammarly to make sure it’s error-free. Canva is great for creating online graphic designs which is a very important addition to your written content.

Step 7: Connect Google Analytics and search console

Knowing how your audience uses your blog is crucial if you want to be a successful blogger. The best way to get these insights is to explore your traffic statistics and this is what Google Analytics provides. You Google analytics data will give you knowledge about your audience, how the navigate on your blog and what traffic channels they visit your blog from. If they mainly visit your blog through Facebook, you will know that you need to focus on Facebook content. If your referral source is an external website, you might want to think about a partnership with them.

By better understanding your target audience and their interactivity on your site, you can provide more suitable content and strategies for them.

Another great tool to track performance is Google Search Console. Whereas Google Analytics was made with behavior tracking in mind, Google Search Console is about offering blog owners data regarding online visibility, organic reach, and technical optimization. You can monitor your blog’s performance in Google search results which is crucial to your blog’s success.

After setting up both your Analytics and Search console account at Google, the best way to intergrate it with your blog is through the plugin Site Kit by Google.

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Learn how to drive traffic to your new travel blog

Now that you know all about building your travel blog, the next and arguably most crucial step on your journey is learning how to drive traffic(readers) to your blog.

Build organic traffic with SEO optimization

In order to increase the quantity and quality of organic traffic after starting a travel blog, you will need to implement search engine optimization to your blog. SEO starts with keyword research as you will need to know what keywords your potential visitors are typing into Google. By understanding what your audience is looking for, you will be able to optimize your keywords and improve organic traffic. 40% of website traffic begins with a search query, so you get why SEO optimization is so important.

In order to research keywords, you need a keyword research tool like Google’s Keyword Planner. After you’ve found out about keywords with a high search volume, check your blog’s content in terms of meta titles, meta descriptions, internal linking, keyword density, header tags and imagery.

Grow your traffic through a strong Social Media presence

If you want to be a successful travel blogger, you should be present on different social media platforms. As imagery is probably one of the most exciting parts of travel blogging, Instagram is an important one. The engagement of the Instagram community is incredibly high, so it’s the perfect place to raise attention to your blog and link to new posts. You should try to use as many hashtags as possible to target all people who are interested in travel.

Facebook is great for variety as it allows you to post content in multiple formats. You can also join groups.

If you like to publish video content, post on YouTube. As of 2020, video is the most consumed form and content and it gives your visitors great insights into your trips.
Pinterest is another great social media platform for travel bloggers as many people use it as the main source of planning their trips. They basically search for blog content here, so it’s perfect for sharing your travel ideas and inspiration.

Never forget that the whole point of social media is to be social. Don’t only wait for likes rolling in but take the initiative of liking, commenting, and sharing other people’s content. Be engaged.

If you have product landing pages, then consider paid traffic through Facebook, Google and Pinterest

There are various sources of paid traffic: Pay Per Click (PPC), Pay Per Display (PPD) and fixed payment advertising. You can see all these as a way of buying visits to your site.

As the name suggests, when doing a pay per click ad you will be charged for each click on your ad. When people search for something in a search engine like Google that’s related to your blog (and keywords), your ad will appear at the top of Google and people are likely to click on it.

Pay per display ads, also known as banner ads, are all about pure visibility instead of clicks and you pay for how many times the ad is shown to visitors on search result pages of search engines or on websites with related content.

You can also buy space for your ad for a certain time on a particular site; this is called fixed payment advertising.

When you prepare an advertisement campaign, always do it with your target audience in mind: their location, gender, interests and other demographic data. These factors help you to communicate the relevant information and – hopefully – to get more responses.

Network – Get mentioned by influencers in your niche

Influencer collaborations are a great way of building brand awareness. The good thing is that nowadays thanks to social media it’s extremely easy to find content creators who are influential within your niche. It’s best to reach out to influencers farther down the spectrum. Look for great storytellers with unique, relevant and engaging content whose followers respond to their posts with real interest. Make sure that the influencer is really known by your audience. When reaching out, maybe offer them to mention their Instagram handle in your next blog article to increase chances of working together.

By using Google Analytics, you will be able to see a list of hashtags and accounts personalized for you based on your location and activity. Keep in mind that the most popular hashtags are rarely the best. Instead, pick hashtags that are more specific.

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How to monetize your blog - Earn money as a travel blogger

When you start gaining some noticeable traffic to your blog, you need to consider how to monetize the traffic, to be able to earn an income from your blog.

A travel blogger can earn money in two different ways, by earning active income and passive income. Active income refers mostly to freelance work. Many bloggers use their travel blog as a kind of online portfolio in order to prove their travel insights and writing skills to visitors. This can be a good way of putting your name out there.

The other income source is passive income. Let’s explore some passive income strategies to see how to make money as a travel blogger:

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great way to promote products and brands by earning a small commission if someone makes a purchase after clicking on the unique affiliate link on your blog. The average commission rate is normally ranging between 5% to 30%. There are plenty of affiliate marketing programs to pick from and subsequently different ways to get paid. 

Banner advertising

Many bloggers are worried that putting banner ads on their travel blog would diminish the user experience of their visitors. However, it can be an easy way to make money as a travel blogger and you should keep in mind that it can just be temporary. Google AdSense is the most popular advertising network that also works with smaller bloggers. Joining their network is a great way to put ads on your blog. Ad Inserter is a WordPress plugin you can use for optimizing your ad placements. It is said that the placement of your ads is almost more important than the ads themselves, so you should decide wisely on where to place them.

For larger blogs with more than 50.000 monthly pageviews, there are other and more exclusive advertising networks like Mediavine. The benefit of a network like Mediavine is better targeting, matching ads with the niche you are in, and higher commission rates.

Sponsored posts

Sponsored posts are paid articles that a client has asked you to write and publish on your blog, featuring their company and linking to their website. You could for instance get in touch with different hotels you like and if you’re lucky, they might offer you a free stay if you write about your experience.

In order to find good contacts, simply search for “all opinions are my own + {travel destination} blog” in Google and you will find brands or sponsors that have worked with bloggers. When you contact them, you should communicate your unique selling point and why they should work with you and you should be as personal and specific as possible.

Sell digital products like photo presets or travel guides

Digital products are another great way of making money as a travel blogger. The process can be automated so that after setting everything up you can relax while the money in your bank account grows.

You could offer:

  • Blueprints/Templates – Often, people ask the same questions again and again in your comment section or DM’s. These questions could be anything, for instance about how to pitch to clients. When questions like these occur regularly, you could think about turning them into a source of profit by creating blueprints or templates for them to use.

  • eBooks and guides – Travel guides or eBooks are a great option for those who have a lot of travel knowledge. If you have valuable insights, consider combining your posts into a helpful guide or eBook which you can sell on your website.

  • Photography and Lightroom photo editing assets – Especially in the travel industry, photography is a great source of income. You could think about selling your images as stock photography. Or you could sell photo editing presets so your visitors can edit their travel photos just like you do.

  • Virtual Workshops – Teaching your knowledge is a win-win as it’s a great way to combine various benefits at the same time: You can interact and build a better relationship with your audience, teach them valuable skills, personalize your brand… and make money at the same time.

  • Online courses – When you want to teach your valuable skills but don’t have the time to offer virtual workshops, you could offer online courses and sell them. You could sell them via your blog or on learning platforms.

Create physical products to your loyal audience

When thinking about selling physical products, make sure they are somehow related to your travel niche and that they are easy to ship. You could also partner with a company to make shipping as easy as possible. You could cooperate with other brands and sell their products on your page by earning a commission or it could even be merch travel accessories, print books, stickers, and more.

The key to becoming a successful travel blogger

We’ve already mentioned that passion is the secret ingredient to creating great blog content. But what else do you need to turn into a successful travel blogger?

Create authentic and high-quality content

Content is king, especially in the case of Google ranking factors. If you create unique, insightful and new content, Google will rank it higher on its search engine page results. Great content is about adding to the conversation instead of being the star of it. No one needs another influencer showing us the unrealistic side of travel with posed images in flowy dresses, big hats and tons of makeup. People want to see the real world and the real you. If you want strangers to read your blog, don’t make it about yourself, but them. Be a giver, not a taker.

Be consistent

The famous saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” can be perfectly applied to any blog. Don’t expect anything but to work really hard for the first year. Be realistic and know that it takes time until you will see a noticeable increase in traffic. When you post a minimum of 3 times a week, every week for at least a year you should be able to start earning from your blog. Apparently, in order to start earning, many travel bloggers have to publish 100-200 high-quality blogs first. Be patient and consistent. The only way to fail as a travel blogger to give up.

Understand the power of SEO

Did you know that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results? This is why your blog has to appear high up on the search result pages. Always make sure that all content on your website is keyword optimized, unique, and up to date. You could have the most amazing content but if you don’t pay attention to SEO you won’t be able to drive the traffic to your blog.

A good example of the power of SEO is the story of a successful travel blogger who had a horrible Airbnb experience and decided to review over 1,000 horror stories to see what is most likely to go wrong when booking on Airbnb. He named his article “Is Airbnb safe?” which led to being featured on the front page of Reddit and being picked up by the mainstream media. This strong title boosted the SEO strength of his entire blog.

Know how to monetize your blog

The most popular question asked in terms of travel blogging, is how to start a travel blog and make money. The first thing to know is that as long as people read your blog, you will make money. After the first hurdle of driving traffic to your blog is done, you can apply the ways of monetizing your blog we’ve explored in this article. From sponsored posts to affiliate marketing, virtual workshops, and courses, blueprints or templates, eBooks or guides, photography skills, or even physical products, the most important thing is to be creative and persistent.

In the beginning phase of a new blog, it’s important to understand where your time is best spent. Many new bloggers use a lot of time signing up to affiliate networks and adding affiliate links to their site, while there is a possibility that the site never gets any noticeable traffic.

Start by building a strong fundament of killer content, then learn how to build traffic to it, when you nailed these two steps you know it’s time to start monetizing it!

Now, starting a travel blog is not only about writing a handful of fancy articles from the comfort of a swinging hammock while sipping one Pina Colada after another. It is hard work, involves a massive skill set, and is only for those who are truly passionate about travel. However, if you are one of those who love travelling and storytelling more than anything, if you enjoy helping other people making their lives better, and if you don’t give up too quickly, then you tick all the boxes for becoming a successful travel blogger and you should get ready for the most important journey of your life: the journey to yourself.

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