We love travelling and we have been doing it for more than a decade. Earlier the travel stories used to find a place in the pages of my diary. But honestly, starting a travel blog was one of the best decisions we had made almost 6 years back. Travel blogging has definitely given us the freedom and opportunity to travel more and also make money online. Embarking on a blogging journey is not only an outlet for self-expression but also a potential avenue for growing your savings account. We have been often asked about how to start a travel blog and how to manage finances while travelling. In this article, we will tell you why should you start a travel blog, how to start a travel blog and also a bit about our travel blogging journey.
Most importantly, Agni and I will share with you all the mistakes that we had done on this journey.
Well, there are things we wished we knew before starting a travel blog. I am sure, you too will have such questions. Infact, if you are here, it means that you are thinking of starting a blog soon.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, it will incur no extra cost to you but we will get a referral bonus to fund our travels.
How it all started – Genesis of Tale of 2 Backpackers
As I had already mentioned, both of us are travelling for a long time, even before we knew what a blog actually is. We travelled, Agni clicked pictures and I wrote memoirs of our travels in my diary. It all started with the Roopkund trek when one of our trek mates casually mentioned, ‘why don’t you guys start a blog?’
‘Well, what the heck is a blog?’ was my initial reaction. Gradually we came to know about blogging and got interested. And so our blog was born and the first post about the Buxa Fort Trek was published in October 2014.
We both had a full-time job and also managed to travel a lot during this time. Blogging became a creative outlet for us. What started as a hobby gradually grew into a passion and later into my full-time job and lifestyle. Travel blogging has given me to travel freely without thinking about my leaves. It has given me a location independent lifestyle and also the means to lead such a life. Yes, I do things that I thoroughly enjoy and also earn a living from it.
Travel blogging is not an easy job.
If you believe that you will just start a travel blog and from the next few days income and free trips are going to pour in, then that is not going to happen. Gaining an audience and start earning money online is not going to happen in a jiffy. It is not that easy. So please set realistic expectations.
There is no dearth of data online these days and also a large number of travel blogs and websites providing information. Social media too is full of data and content these days. So capturing an audience right away might not be easy. It will take some time, a lot of hard work and patience.
Having said all these, it should not deter you from starting a travel blog. You can always make a difference with your content and creativity. And if you are going to stick to it, then it will definitely give you results.
Why should you start a travel blog?
The answer to this question should be clear to you before starting a travel blog. I feel that there should be some reason behind our actions. So let me give you a few reasons as to why start a travel blog.
- To chronicle your travel
- To learn something new
- To share your experience with the world
- Make new friends
- To get free travel experiences
- Make money online while you travel
Why should you read this blog?
I know there are a lot of articles on the internet that will tell you how to start a travel blog. A few of them are quite good, too. So why should you read our blog? You should read it because –
Along with the tips on how to start a travel blog, we have also written about the mistakes that we have done on the way.
Learning from one’s own mistakes is a great thing, but wisdom is learning from others’ mistakes as well. So here we mention the mistakes that we have made so that you do not repeat them.
Secondly, we have written about all those tips that we wish we had known before starting a travel blog. So here is a blog that will show you how to set up your blog in the right way.
How to start a travel blog
Whatever be your purpose for starting a travel blog, you have to follow these steps. But is one of your reason for starting a travel blog is earning income, then you should be very careful about how you start a travel blog.
Here is how to start a travel blog step by step:
- Know your niche
- Pick up a name for your blog
- Set up your domain and hosting
- Install WordPress and learn using it
- Download a professional theme and design your blog
- Install essential plugins
- Start your online presence
- Start blogging by writing the first article
- Grow your audience and start making money online
Step 1 | Know your niche
There was once a time when people used to travel first and then start writing a blog. Today, the situation is a tad bit different. You can travel first and then start planning your blog. Otherwise, you plan your blog first and then start travelling. Those who want to monetize your blog, the second option is more suited.
One of the most important aspect while staring a travel blog is deciding the niche of your blog. You cannot just say that I write about travelling. Travel blogging is now a saturated niche. These days there are so many blogs, websites and articles on travelling that a generic new one might get lost in the crowd. It is always better to decide on a niche. Find out whether you want to write about adventure, luxury travel or budget travel or a particular city and set the tone of your blog. Deciding a niche will also help you to come up with the name of your blog.
For us, when we started travel blogging, we just used it as a journal for our travel. There was no specific niche, we just used to write about our travel experiences. But with time, we realized that having a niche is important. We still write about every topic, but the articles usually focus more on festivals, culture and people.
Travel is a vast area. You are lucky if your niche comes naturally to you. If not, here are some questions that might help you to know your perspective. Ask these questions to yourself before you start planning your blog.
- Why do I want to blog?
- What value am I going to add to my readers?
- What am I passionate about that I can inspire others also?
Here are a few popular micro niches that you can consider for your blog:
- Adventure Travel
- City Travel
- Country focused
- Budget Travel
- Luxury Travel
- Solo Travel
- Female Travel
- Heritage & Culture Travel
- Family Travel
- Travelling with Babies
- Vegan Travel
- LGBT Travel
Before you boil down to one niche, give a thought whether you will be able to continue writing about it long term. Do not select a niche that is too broad, neither that is too narrow.
Step 2 | Pick a name for your travel blog
Finding the name for your blog is the most important as well as the most challenging step. Being new to blogging, this is where most of us make a mistake. Your blog name should encapsulate your brand name and the message you want to convey to your readers. However, there is no hard and fast rule to it. I would suggest you to consider a few rules before choosing your name.
Make it short and memorable
The travel blog name should be relatively short and easy to remember. The name is how people will know and remember you. That is how people will find your blog. The blog name ultimately becomes your brand. Also keep your name classy. Remember, a few years down the line, you have to deal with various companies and brands. It will not sound very good to introduce a blog named “Drunken Traveller”!
So think carefully about what you want to write about, what message you want to give your readers. Take a paper and write down the answers to these questions. Play with different words and choose your name.
Avoid overused words and clichés
Avoid using common words and names as well as trademarked ones that are overused in the industry. Words like nomad, wanderer, backpacker, vagabond, voyager are done to death now. And so is ghumakkar (for Indian blogs).
You might say how to find words related to travel. Look for different words, be creative. You will definitely find a word suiting your personality and blog.
Think long term
While choosing your blog, think long term. You can well choose a blog name as travellingtwenties.com. But what will happen when you turn 30? Similarly, you can use words like “single” in your name. But will that still hold if you get married? So my suggestion to you is do not generalize your blog using a few typical words.
Avoid hyphens and numbers
Please try to avoid using hyphens and numbers in your blog name and domain. It becomes difficult for you to explain it to your readers.
I know, I know, we have the numeric 2 in our domain. Yes, it is a problem for us. Whenever we tell the name of our blog, we also have to mention it that two of Tale of 2 Backpackers is actually numeric 2.
“Yes, our blog is called Tale of 2 Backpackers. And 2 is numeric and not t-w-o”, we always have to say this at the end!
The name should pass the telephone test
This is perhaps the most important one. You have chosen a name that is short, memorable and classy. Now call up your friend and tell him/her that you have started a blog named ‘xyz.com’. If he/she can spell it at one go, you have got a simple and perfect name for your blog. And if they cannot understand what you are saying even after a couple of times, then you need to think harder.
See if the domain is available along with the social media handles
Once the name is decided, you have to check if the domain name is available. By domain name, I mean the URL of your website. For example, ours is www.taleof2backpackers.com. The domain name should preferably the same as the name of your blog. There might be a slight difference, but the two should be similar.
You can purchase a domain from Godaddy or Siteground.
The job of selecting a name and domain name does not end here. You will probably open accounts in social media as well for promoting your blog. So before you buy the domain name, check whether that name is available in Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other Social Media channels you want to open your account. The same name across all the social media channels will give you uniformity.
We both spent hours narrowing down on the name. But yet, it is not the perfect one. I will tell you why.
After much brainstorming, we had chosen our blog name as Tale of 2 Backpackers with the domain name www.taleof2backpackers.com.
We had chosen this name because it defined us as backpackers. Whenever we travelled, we carried 2 backpacks with us irrespective of where we were travelling. We continue to do so and will do it in future as well. People who have seen us travelling know that we travel with backpacks. So we chose the name.
Much as we love this name, there are a few problems with it also. Firstly, the name contains a number. When we decided on the name, we were just happy that we could finally decide. All these expert advice I am giving you was not known to us at that time. Our blog name also does not pass the telephone test many times. Some people spell ‘backpackers’ as ‘bagpackers’ and we have to spell it out to them. If I had to name it today, I would have avoided this name because of these issues.
So, when we started a new blog about Northeast India, we named it as Experience Northeast – a name that is easy to remember, pronounce and also striking.
Having said that, we both love the name of our blog. It defines us and is now our brand. People know us as 2 Backpackers now and we are quite happy with it.
Step 3 | Purchase your domain and sign up for hosting
Now that you have decided a nice and blog name and have probably have purchased the domain also, you have to set up hosting as well.
If you are considering serious travel blogging, then go for a self-hosted account.
Well, the question might arise, why I have to pay for hosting when I can get it for free at WordPress.com, Blogger, Squarespace and a few others?
The answer to this lies in the question itself. If you want to pursue serious blogging and want to make money online, you will have to go for a self-hosted travel blog. There will be limitations in the free platforms in terms of usability and design.
So what is hosting actually?
Hosting in simple words means that you are renting space on the internet. It is a place where you store your blog’s data, files, images etc so that anyone anywhere can access it, even if your computer is shut down.
You can get hosting from various companies.
For starting, Bluehost offers reliable hosting and it is one of the best in the market at a reasonable rate, And what more, if you sign up using this link, you can get the basic hosting at $2.95 per month instead of $7.99. You can also change the currency from the dropdown menu at the right-hand corner of the webpage.
You can also use the services of Siteground as your hosting provider. These are the 2 we recommend.
If you are serious about blogging and making money out of it, please go for a self-hosted blog. This is another mistake we made. For one year, we used WordPress.com platform for our blog. After getting considerable viewers, we decided to go for a self-hosted plan. That was not only a hassle but also losing a few viewers for a few days.
Step 4 | Install WordPress and learn using it
Now that you have your domain name ready and also purchased a hosting, it is time to install WordPress on your blog. We would strongly recommend you to use WordPress.org and not Blogger or Blogspot. WordPress is the king of blogging.
Remember, I am talking about WordPress.org and not WordPress.com (this is a free platform as I mentioned before).
After you have purchased your hosting, sign in to the control panel of your hosting provider with your details. Installing WordPress for your site is quite easy and can be done from your hosting dashboard. If you are unable to do it, your hosting provider will help you.
Once you are done installing WordPress, sign in to your WordPress Account and start setting up your blog. At first sight, WordPress might look a bit intimidating. But do not worry. There are a lot of free tutorials and resources online. You will also find a number of useful videos on Youtube as well. WordPress itself has a huge library of free WordPress lessons that will help you start.
Spend a day with WordPress and I am sure you will get a hang of it.
Step 5 | Download a professional theme and design your blog
Now that you have installed WordPress on your site, the next job is to select a proper theme for your site.
So what is a theme? A theme is the designs of your website that will help your readers navigate through your blog.
WordPress itself has a number of free themes and you can also find free themes online.
Decision Time | Free theme or Premium theme?
Should you invest in a premium theme or use a free one? Well, there are thousands of free theme available. So search for free themes in Google and find out what suits your blog. Usually, bloggers start with a free theme and then go on to a premium theme. I see nothing wrong in that. We too started with a free theme.
But for serious blogging, a premium theme is required. Free themes come with restrictions and you will not be able to customize it as per your liking. Premium themes offer more customization, perform faster and looks better.
Tale of 2 Backpackers uses Divi as the WordPress theme and we are quite happy with the look of our blog. Hope you like it too!
Divi Theme is one of the most widely used WordPress themes and is quite easy to use without having much knowledge of coding. You can design your website simply by using the drop and drag features of the Visual Builder of the Divi Theme. There are a number of layouts in Divi that you can choose and design your blog.
Design your blog
The theme is sorted, now you have to design your blog. Get a cool logo created that will define you and your brand. Get a fantastic header for your blog. And finally, create a few pages for your blog. If you are not so sure of your designing skills, then you can use Fiverr and Upwork for it.
Initially, I would suggest not investing much time and money in these. You can always do your site designing once you are comfortable with the blog and have gained a considerable following.
Step 6 | Install essential plugins
Plugins are essentially third-party apps for your site that will help the functionality of your blog and give you access to many new features.
And this is the beauty of WordPress.org. You can use tons of plugins to give additional features to your blog. Some of the plugins are free while for others you have to pay.
Here are a few plugins that I would recommend you to install in your travel blog.
Akismet: One of the most important plugins to have on your website. This one protects your blog from spammers leaving comments on your posts. Spammy comments are pain and believe me, you will get a lot of them. Deleting them manually is no fun. Akismet might not be 100% full-proof, but definitely the best one.
Yoast SEO: SEO or Search Engine Optimization is very important for ranking in Google search. Yoast SEO will optimize your posts and pages for SEO and will also help in integrating Google Sitemaps and analytics.
Contact Form 7: This will add a contact form to your page so that people can email you.
W3 Total Cache: This Caching plugin will help keep your site running fast.
Social media sharing plugin: Ever wondered how the Facebook or Twitter share button floats on a blog post. The social media sharing plugin does that. We use Sumo plugin for social share buttons on our website.
Step 7 | Start your online presence
If you want to build an audience, posting regularly to social media is important. Initially, social media will be the maximum source of traffic for your blog.
As I have earlier mentioned, try to keep the name of all your social media accounts the same. This will not confuse your audience.
This is another mistake we did. Before choosing the name for our blog, we had not thought about social media. So we have @taleof2backpackers for the Facebook page and Instagram and @2backpacker for Pinterest.
We do not recommend using all the Social Media platforms. Find one that works best for you. The point of social media, in this case, is to drive traffic to your site. Find the ones that you are most comfortable with and use them properly.
For us, Facebook and Pinterest work best for driving traffic and Instagram for building our brand.
Step 8 | Start blogging by writing the first article
Now that your blog is set, it is the time to start writing articles for your travel blog.
Do write an About Page and at least 3-4 articles as you start. In the beginning, I would suggest you to write at least 2 posts per week. But do not compromise quality for quantity. As you must have already heard or will hear it for a thousand times in blogging – “Content is the King”.
The About Page in your blog is quite important. This is the page where you tell your story about travelling and blogging and connect with your readers. This is the page where you should give your readers a reason to follow you.
As for writing posts, the first few posts can be about why you started travel blogging or about your recent trip. As you write more and more, not only you will get a hang of what kind of posts your readers like, but you will also understand how to publish a blog post with images, formatting and others in WordPress.
What if you are not travelling now? No worries. You can write about your trip plan, your travel bucket list or maybe tips on how to save money for travelling.
Write about different topics and find out what does well in your website. You will gradually understand that.
A few things to remember when you start a travel blog:
- Write quality content with attention to SEO
- Use beautiful images in your posts. Use your own image in the posts. It helps connect with your readers.
- Be consistent in publishing your blog. For us, we usually publish at least one blog post per week.
Step 9 | Grow your audience and start making money online
Initially, your only readers might be your family and friends. That is quite natural. Use social media platforms to share your blog and gain readers. Know each platform and use it accordingly.
The next important advice is to find similar minded travel bloggers and network with them. Read other travel blogs and interact with them and leave thoughtful comments on their posts. Join Facebook groups and communities to connect with likeminded bloggers.
We were quite lucky to connect with a number of likeminded travel bloggers who helped us grow. There is mutual admiration for each other’s work and that helped us grow.
Finally, start making money online
You can make money from your blog only when you have a considerable audience. The more traffic your blog gets, the more money you can make. But it takes some time to build an audience. So please do not think that you can make money as soon as you start blogging.
Some of my friends do tell me that they want to leave their jobs and start a blog. The only thing I tell them is that all these did not happen overnight. There is a lot of hard work and patience involved and so is passion. You really need to be passionate about what you like and work towards it with full determination.
Ways you can start making money from the blog
- Google Adsense
This is the most common way to make money from the blog through advertising. Sign up for Google Adsense account and place your ads. These days, there are other Media partners that help you put ads on your website.
- Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate programmes let you recommend things like gears, clothing, equipment, hotels and tours on your website. If anyone clicks the link on your website and buys something, then you earn a certain commission. Amazon Associate is a good and easy way to start affiliate marketing.
You are almost set with your blog and to make money online. But while you are getting headlong into making your blog a success, do not forget to enjoy the whole process. Since you are starting a travel blog, I am sure you love to travel. Keep the love for travel, writing and photography alive and keep blogging.
Be ready to work hard and success will be yours. Remember, you are creating your brand. There are ways to improve brand and make sure you use them properly.
How to start a travel blog FAQs
Q. How much does it cost to start a travel blog?
Well, this depends entirely on what purpose you want to start a travel blog.
If you want to simply chronicle your travel for family and friends, then you will probably have to spend nothing. There is no need to invest. You can build your site at WordPress.com for free and write your blog posts.
You only have to buy the domain which will cost about $ 3-4 (INR 199-299) in the first year.
If you want a professional travel blog, then there are some expenses involved with hosting and a premium theme. Here are the costs that you have to pay upfront.
- For Hosting, you might have to pay $ 2.70 – 4.50 (INR 199 – 329 per month)
- For a premium theme, you have shell around $ 50-60 (INR 3500 – 4500)
- For Domain, you have to shell out about $ 3-4 (INR 199-299) in the first year.
Q. Is it too late to start a travel blog in 2023?
Not at all! I definitely agree that travel blogging is a much-crowded place than it was even a decade back, or when we started it 5 years back. These days it seems like everyone is having a travel blog. But most of them are not quite serious and dedicated. So it is up to you about how you see your blog.
Nowadays, there is also far more opportunities of income than it was earlier. As the market has become crowded, opportunities have also increased. So do not be discouraged by the number of bloggers, but pay attention in building your audience and driving traffic to your site.
Q. Can you really make money by blogging?
Yes, of course. To become a successful blogger, you have to provide value to your readers. And if you are providing the information people are looking for, they will come back to your site. The more the traffic in your blog, the more money you will make.
Q. Do you need to be social media savvy?
These days, almost everyone is social media savvy. This is for those few who have asked me this specific question. Well, yes, it is good to be social media savvy for promoting your blog. The initial readers to your blog will come from social media. If you do not want to use all the social media platforms, it is all right. Use the ones you are comfortable in.
Q. Do you need a laptop and a camera?
Yes, you will need both. A laptop is essential for writing, publishing and sharing your blog posts. You will need a camera to capture pictures of your travel. They might not have to be the best, but for working, you will need a decent laptop and a camera.
Q. Do you need to enrol in any course?
An online course is not an essential requirement for starting a travel blog. But yes, some training definitely helps. I would suggest you to start blogging first and see whether you like it or not and how well you can manage it. Only after that, think of taking a course.
Now Start Blogging
Now that you have read all the advice I have given, it is the time to implement them. I am sure you will have questions. Ask them straight away in the comments below.
Setting up a travel blog is easier, but building an audience is tougher. I repeat it again, a lot of hard work and dedication goes into it. It might take a year to get a large number of readers on your blog. You might have to blog regularly for a year and work at least 10 hours a week. I work for 40+ hours every week and I am sure most professional bloggers do the same.
So do not worry and start blogging. It is definitely a dream job and you have to work hard to be successful in this. I am sure you will be successful in it. All the best!