A 5-step guide to starting your own travel blog in less than 30 minutes
As a travel blogger one question I often get asked is how do you start a travel blog?
Starting a travel blog has been one of the best business decisions I’ve made. I started my own travel blog in 2009 which has since brought me all kinds of benefits. It’s given me a platform as a travel writer and helped me become a leader in the digital nomad space. I’ve been offered paid writing jobs in international press, invited to countries from tourism offices, and received leads for my web business.
From a non-business perspective I’ve made countless friends with people who found me via the blog, and I love having an online archive where I can look back at all the stories and photos from my travels.
Whether you’re looking to become a professional travel blogger or just want online travel journal to share your travel stories with the world, I’ve put together a quick-start guide to starting a travel blog.
Following these steps will get you online in less than half an hour. From there it’s up to you how much time you put into your blog; from a once-a-week hobby to a full-time business.
How to start a travel blog in 5 steps:
- Choose a name for your travel blog
- Register your domain and buy hosting
- Install WordPress
- Choose a theme
- Install plugins
Step 1: Choose a name for your travel blog
If you already know what you are going to call your site then you can progress to the next step of ordering your domain and hosting.
If you’re still thinking about what to call your site I have written a guide to choosing a domain name for your travel blog.
Once you have picked a name you’re ready to register your blog name and get a domain and hosting package.
Step 2: Register your domain and buy hosting
For domain and hosting I personally recommend Bluehost, which I use for many of my sites – including travelbloggersguide.com. With Bluehost you get a free domain with your hosting (a domain name normally costs about $10-15 a year to register).
You can buy the cheapest package available (starter) which is enough for a new blog.
Start setting up your site by ordering your domain and hosting here and follow these instructions.
On the Bluehost page go to the top nav bar and select products > shared web hosting.
From there click get started now and select starter. If you will be hosting more than one site select plus (you can upgrade later if you start a another site).
Next you will be asked to register your domain name.
Assuming your chosen domain is available you will then be taken to the account information page. Fill in your account details as required.
For the package information I opt out of the extras, but if you want to keep your domain ownership private you can opt in here. Domain registrants are required to publish the name and address of the owner of a domain. If you are not comfortable with your address being made public then select Domain Privacy Protection.
You now have domain and hosting for your travel blog. The next step is to set up WordPress.
Step 3: Install WordPress
WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform and I use it for this site. I have used other blogging platforms for other sites and WP is by far the most user friendly. WordPress is free to download and can be done within your hosting account.
WordPress is so popular because you can create a website without having to know anything about code. You can make a website with a ready-made website template (called a theme) without worrying about how it works. All you need to do is type in your content into a box (similar to an email composition box) and hit “Publish”.
WordPress also have thousands of plugins available which can be downloaded to enhance your site. You won’t need any to get started but you will soon learn about plugins once you start designing your site.
To install WordPress onto your blog, login to your Bluehost account which will take you to your cPanel.
Click on the hosting menu, find the section called Website and select “Install WordPress”.
Next you will be taken to an installation page. Select Install at the Do it yourself (FREE) option.
From here select which domain you would like to install to. You can choose to select your domain with a www or without. I’ve written about which one to use, but I say just pick which one you prefer.
At the next step select Show advanced options. Here you will set your username and password for your site.
Enter your details and select Install Now.
Congratulations, you have now installed WordPress on your blog. You will get an email with your login details, or you can go straight to your login page at yoursitename.com/wp-login.php.
Before you start blogging you should change the WordPress URL structure for your blog.
Step 4: Choose a theme
After WordPress is installed on your domain you can technically start publishing immediately using the pre-installed theme. A theme is separate to the WordPress installation which controls the look and functionality of the website. This system allows you to pick a pre-made design without having to know anything about PHP, HTML, CSS, or any other scary coding acronym’s.
While the pre-installed themes are practical to get started, you are better off finding another theme to differentiate yourself from the thousands of blogs that didn’t bother to change the default theme.
For free themes you can start looking in the official WordPress Theme Directory. This is a good place to start if you are starting out and haven’t settled on a look for your site.
I personally use and recommend StudioPress, which I use on this site. This is a premium theme, which you can buy for a fraction of what a custom-made site would cost.
There are thousands of themes to choose from though, so here is a more detailed guide for choosing a WordPress theme.
Step 5: Install plugins
In addition to themes, the other feature that allows you to change the look of your site are plugins. A plugin is additional software that can be installed on your blog to enhance its features and functionality. At the time of writing there were over 40,000 available plugins, but you should use as few as possible (I use 9 here) because too many may slow your site speed.
To get started here are the plugins I always install on new sites:
Akismet – Filters out the avalanche of spam comments that WordPress blogs attract.
Wordfence – WordPress security plugin provides free protection from hacks and malware.
Jetpack by WordPress.com – Provides a range of features within one plugin, including adding site stats to your dashboard.
Plugins are something you can play with as you get used to how WordPress works. For example there are dozens of social sharing plugins, which allows readers to easily share your blog on social media. They all have different styles so browse for the one that best suits your site.
You might find that you need a specific functionality added to your theme, so just Google it and see if someone has already made it.
Getting started and other tips
You should also reserve your Google email alias, preferably the same name as your domain. You will need a Google account to set up Analytics (for your site stats), as well as many other useful Google services.
You should also reserve you social media names as well. Even if you don’t think you’ll use them it is better to get before someone else takes them. The top five social accounts to register are:
The instructions up to this point will get you online but what you spend on improving your WordPress theme and promoting your site is up to you.
Now that you have a site up and running the most important task at hand is to start writing. After all, no one is going to visit an empty site, no matter how cool your site looks.
More travel blogging questions
If you have any questions regarding travel blogging or WordPress, leave a comment or send me a message.
And if you have found this guide useful for starting your own travel blog let me know the name of your site.