How to set up a travel blog that pays
If you are sick of the 9 to 5 grind, it might be time to consider a change in career. Travel blogging is growing in popularity, as more and more people choose to follow their dreams and live life on the road.
You don’t need to be an expert or an experienced writer to become a successful travel blogger. All you need is a solid plan, plenty of determination and a source of income until your blog starts earning for you.
A 4-step guide to starting a lucrative travel blog
Here are 4 steps to help you set up and start making money from a travel blog.
- Plan ahead.
- Create your travel blog.
- Build a following.
- Monetise your travel blog.
In time, a travel blog can even fund your adventures.
1. Plan ahead
Before you get into the technical aspects of setting up your blog, define your purpose by asking yourself why you want to blog and what you hope to achieve. You will also need to do the following:
Find a niche
Travel blogging is a competitive field and you’ll need to stand out to draw readers in and build a strong following. Will you focus on eco-tourism, the world’s best beach vacations or some other corner of the tourist market?
Choose a name
Next, you’ll need a name for your blog. It should be:
- Unique, with a matching domain name that’s available
- Easy to remember so your readers can find and recommend it to friend
- Embody the essence of who you are and what you will be writing about
Define your brand
Creating a strong identity for your blog will help solidify its personality in the minds of readers. Branding includes everything from what colours you use on your blog to your photographic style and the tone of voice you use in your writing.
Think about the values you want your blog to embody and the look you want to create:
- Will you focus your attention on luxury travel options … or will you specialise in budget travel?
- What colours would you like to use on your blog? Narrow it down to two or three.
Once you’ve made decisions, stick with them. Over time, people will come to expect your posts to look and sound ‘your’ way. This is branding.
2. Create your blog
Now you have a strong foundation, you are ready to start building your blog.
Choose your blog tool
There are a number of different blog tools out there, with the most popular being WordPress. And the fastest way to get a WordPress blog up is with GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress — no need to buy hosting separately or download WordPress yourself. GoDaddy does all this for you.
Related: Start a WordPress blog this weekend
Map out your travel topics
Travel blogging is about travel, so you’ll need to decide where to go first. Whether your blog takes you around the city or across the globe, you’ll need to:
- Go places people are interested in
- Review any restaurants you eat at or stores you visit
- Check out local attractions and points of interest
- Take photographs everywhere you go
Video will earn you extra viewers, so make sure to shoot some. Don’t worry about buying expensive equipment — just use your mobile device.
Once you’ve actually made a trip, write an article about it. A few tips:
- Answer the question “why should my reader go to this place?”
- Add links where readers can learn more about the places you mention
- Include plenty of beautiful photographs
You can use a free tool like Canva to format your photos, then compress them with an app like compressjpg.com before publishing them. If you have a video you’d like to include, learn how to make it blog-ready here.
Set a schedule and stick to it
Remember that consistency is key to a successful blog. Readers will want to know when they can expect new posts and can grow bored if you don’t post regularly. You don’t want anyone wandering off.
To keep on track, make a blogging schedule that outlines how often you intend to post (one to two times a week is a good place to start). Learn more about the nuts and bolts of blogging here.
3. Build a following
Before you can make money from your blog, you’ll need to build up a strong following. Taking time to grow your audience will increase your potential earnings.
These are a few of the ways you can promote your blog and reach a wider audience.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) helps your blog posts rank well on Google, moving them toward the top of search listings where they’re easy to find. Check out this post to learn how you can use SEO to attract followers.
This one is a no-brainer, as social networks are natural places to showcase your beautiful photographs and lure readers to your blog. Instagram is a great place to start and Sue B Zimmerman has an excellent guide for beginners.
Sometimes you have to spend a little to make a lot. If you are struggling with low traffic to your site, consider investing in some paid online ads though platforms like Google Ads and Instagram Business.
4. Monetise your blog
Making money from your travel blog won’t happen overnight. It will take time and lots of posts, along with a little trial and error.
Here are a few of the best ways to get your blog earning you money.
Affiliate marketing is a simple and low-maintenance way to make money from your blog. Basically, you allow another company to place ads or links on your website in exchange for a small fee whenever one of your readers clicks on them.
In order to make a decent amount of money, you will need steady site traffic and a loyal following.
Avoid cluttering your blog with too many ads as it can make it seem cheap. Choose just a few businesses you trust and value, so audiences feel as though you are sharing companies you love rather than relentlessly selling to them.
Products and services
The more you travel and blog about travelling, the more insight and advice you can offer to your readers. Use your new skills and experiences to create digital content for your audience that they pay for. Some popular options include:
- Online courses
- Live webinars
- Travel eBooks
Sites like Redbubble and Society 6 also make it easy to sell physical items like clothing, posters, mugs and more with your logo or designs printed on them.
Your blog can serve as a CV and portfolio for your freelance career. Writing for others provides the opportunity to make money while you wait for your travel blog to pick up steam.
Brands will pay bloggers with large followings to promote their products, services and experiences. But don’t overload your blog with sponsored content like this. Find the right balance by spacing out sponsored blogs and choosing partner businesses with products or services you think will be useful to your readers.
Work your way into a lifestyle you love
A travel blog that generates money takes time and steady work. At times it may be challenging, but don’t give up! Remember to be patient and persistent as you plan, create, build and monetise your travel blog.
For those who love to travel, it’s really the perfect job.