How do I start a travel blog and make money? I actually hear this a lot from people that I’m the closest to because they have no idea how I’m making money from what I put out on the internet. So you’re reading my blog right now and you may be wondering… how the heck does she make money off of this? Well I’m glad you’re here and ready to learn how to start a travel blog and make money from it. There is a lot to learn when it comes to blogging. Many people blog for a hobby but there is an entire world out there of people who blog for money. Myself included in that group.
I quit my job in May 2017 to stay home and blog full-time. So far it’s been a huge leap for me, a lot of work but a lot of fun too. But I don’t just blog full-time. I have tried my hand at a number of things and the two things that have stuck with me for so long have been blogging and building my Pinterest marketing agency. So are you ready to get started?
Choosing A Niche
When you think about starting a blog you need to think about what you want to talk about. You want to choose a niche and really narrow down on a topic. It sounds crazy but the more narrow your topic the better you will do. You will notice on my blog I talk about motherhood, family time, relationships, tips to help moms like meal planning and budgeting topics can be found. I have really narrowed in on filling a need for moms who are looking for topics on making their lives less stressful at home. Choose something you can easily talk about forever — I’m going on 2 years in my niche! You can tweak this a little bit as you go and get to know your audience. However, knowing what you want to talk about from the get go is going to help tremendously when it comes to choosing your blog name.
Set Up Hosting
First things first. We need to talk about hosting and what it means. Many people when they start their blog ask what the difference is between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. WordPress.com will be yourblogname.wordpress.com… meaning you have less control over the look and feel, monetization and so many more things. You want to set your blog up on WordPress.org from the beginning. For hosting I use and LOVE SiteGround. They have a 99.9% uptime on their servers and their customer service is out of this world. You won’t be disappointed! You will need to choose a plan. I always recommend to go with the mid-tier. It’s easy to go up from there if your website grows quickly! Here is where you will buy your hosting services and put in the domain that comes in the next step.
Choose Your Domain Name
Next you will need to choose your domain name. Now you can do this when you set up your hosting through the host, but I prefer to go through NameCheap or GoDaddy because I can get the domains and add-on protections for cheaper. I primarily use NameCheap these days. It’s incredibly easy to buy a domain from them. Once you’ve purchased your domain you need to head back over to SiteGround to finish your purchase. Next you fill out the remainder of the information for purchasing hosting. It will look like this: When I bought SiteGround I migrated from a different host so I’m going to walk you through how to find your domain name servers from inside your SiteGround account. Go to your account dashboard > Go to My Accounts > Choose Information & Settings and the following is what you should see. You will need those to URLs above.
Now that you have your hosting setup you do this you will need to set up your domain name up to point to SiteGround. On NameCheap you will want to go to domains on the left side of the screen > from the domain name list click manage next to the domain name you need to set up. Where it says nameservers drop the arrow down and choose custom. You will now input the 2 server URLs from SiteGround here. Make sure you save your changes. It might take a few minutes even up to a few hours to point to SiteGround. So don’t be alarmed if it takes a little while!
Now that you have your hosting set up, domain pointed to SiteGround through NameCheap you will need to install WordPress so you can start the fun part! But before we move forward I suggest opening up the support tab inside your SiteGround dashboard and asking Support to help you install your FREE SSL on your website. An SSL is pretty much a requirement from Google now. Visitors trying to go to your site will get a big fat warning that says your site isn’t secure when they try to go to it. So head over now and have them help you install your SSL! Here’s an extra tip for you… You can have Support install WordPress on your site for you right now too! If you want to do that yourself keep reading. **If you had support install both your SSL & WordPress for you, and you’re ready to move on skip to the next section.** Moving on… Go to your SiteGround tab that you had open earlier. Choose My Accounts on the top menu bar. Click the red Go to cPanel button. Inside your cPanel you will see this menu. You will click the WordPress icon under the AutoInstallers tab. Click install. You will see the next screen below. You will choose the domain from the list. Here you will choose HTTPS:// since you just set up your SSL. You will need to fill in the following:
- Site Name
- Site Description
- Admin Username (I would use your blog name here that’s too easy to guess!)
- Admin Password
- Check the box for classic editor
I would skip the remainder of the options and click INSTALL. Once this is finished you will get a success message. If you navigate back to your SiteGround dashboard and go to My Accounts you can easily access your new site. Or you can go to the following: yourblognamehere.com/wp-admin and put in your credentials you set up just a few minutes ago. When you login you will be taken to your dashboard and that looks like this.
Choosing a Theme
I originally purchased a theme that came with the Genesis framework. You will need the framework for any child themes to work. Currently this website is designed with Genesis but in the near future I will redesign the site with Divi. Think of it like the framework being your body and the child theme being your clothing and makeup. You can purchase your framework from StudioPress. I purchased my child theme from Restored 316. They make beautiful feminine child themes that are very responsive in all aspects. If you’d like to see the Restored 316 theme called Refined in action head over to my first blog The Balanced Mamas.
Installing Your New Themes
Now you’re ready to install your theme. When I installed my theme it came with recommended plugins. So I like to do it in this order first for new sites. Go to Appearance > Themes Your screen should look similar to this one. At the top you will choose Add New. You will be prompted to upload your theme .zip file. You will upload this in it’s zipped format! You will need to install your Genesis framework first. Then you will install your child theme. Once you install your child theme you will see the screen above where the themes are listed. Hover over the child theme you installed and click Activate. Once you’ve done this you can start customizing it to look however you want.
Installing your plugins is a lot like installing your theme. If you went with a theme from Restored 316 you will be prompted once you install the child theme to install recommended plugins. You can go ahead and do that. But there are a few plugins that may not be recommended after installing your child theme that you should get installed. I run the following:
- Akismet for spam protection. It’s free!
- Social Warfare Pro — this is a set of sharing buttons for your blog posts. This is a paid plugin as well but again highly recommended.
- Wordfence — this is a security plugin that protects you against hackers. It’s free!
- WP Rocket — optimize site performance. This costs $35 but it is highly recommended.
- Yoast SEO — You can purchase the full version but I just use the free version!
- Pretty Links — this will save your life later down the road when you monetize affiliate links. I just use the free version.
- Updraft Plus — This is a free backup plugin. You will want to get a backup going on your site!
- CommentLuv — I don’t use this one specifically but everyone raves about it. It’s free!
- Ultimate No Follow — This is a free plugin that allows you to no follow affiliate links. You will want to do this for Google’s purposes!
To install plugins go to the Dashboard > Plugins. At the top of the screen choose Upload Plugin if you’re uploading a plugin you purchased from elsewhere. Or you can search for plugins to install on this screen as well. For uploading plugins just upload the .zip file and click install. It will install and unpack the plugin right there and you will be promoted to activate it. It’s as simple as that for uploading and activating. If you choose to install a plugin from the menu here you will simply search for it and choose install. From there you will click activate.
Creating Content Writing Your First Blog Post
Now that you’ve installed your theme and customized it you may be ready to write your first blog post! How exciting is that?! You will go to your WordPress dashboard and on the left hover over Posts > Add New. You will see this screen next (minus the edit with thrive architect). You can choose to write your post like I do in Google Docs or write it in your text editor of WordPress. Whatever your heart desires. **If you want your site to run quickly (which I recommend) then you should use a site like compresspng.com to compress all of your images. I do this for all of my images.** A few things to keep in mind when creating images for your blog posts is to check with your themes support documents to find out what works best for your theme. For my specific theme and the design I have to create featured images to a certain size. Just check in the theme support docs for whatever you buy to see if they have suggestions. Image sizes you may want to create are: Pinterest — 735×1102, 800×1260, 600×900 Facebook — 1200 x 628 Instagram — 800 x 800 Instagram Stories — 1080 x 1920 Featured Image — This is per your theme. I use 820×550 on this site. I like to use Canva for all of my image creation needs and I get all of my royalty free photos from Deposit Photos.
Marketing Your Blog
Now we’re getting into the more complicated but potentially fun part of this whole blogging world. You will need to go secure your social media handles that match your blog name. If you want to learn how to start a travel blog and make money you have to get a hang of marketing. Bloggers generally have a lot on their plate and this is a major part is marketing. I’m going to give you a piece of advice you might hear elsewhere, but you may not. Start with 1-2 platforms and build up from there. Don’t waste your time on schedulers and trying to curate all the things for all the platforms. You will need to figure out how each one works, your avatar for each, etc. That’s where the things I have learned and courses I have taken come into play.
You need to get set up with a Pinterest Business account and get your content over there. Pinterest IS NOT a social media platform. It is a SEARCH ENGINE and therefore I don’t count it in my social media platforms. If you need to learn how to use Pinterest and you want to consume these things:
- Subscribe to my Pinterest Marketing YouTube Channel
- Join my Pinterest Marketing Email List
- Join the Waitlist to my Pin Profit Plan Course
- Book a Call WITH ME and let my agency help you grow your Pinterest marketing
Pinterest is my best friend. I love it and that is where I spend the majority of my time for my blog. Learning and mastering this platform is fun for me and it makes sense in my type-a brain which is why I started a Pinterest Marketing Agency. When you start a travel blog you start a travel Pinterest business account. Learn how to get started on Pinterest right here.
Facebook is another beast in and of itself. You will want to get started by creating a page for your business. From there you will need to figure out strategy and what will and won’t work for your business over there. This is where the Moolah course comes into play. I have learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work through this course. I haven’t taken the time to grow my page to thousands like this course promotes, however this is a great place to start if you have the money to invest in learning her methods and strategy. My page does okay over there but my focus is my Facebook Group.
I don’t have a recommendation for a course to take for Instagram but you will want to create an Instagram for Business account and tie it to your Facebook Page. This allows you to see analytics. My biggest piece of advice here is to research hashtags and post once per day. Go interact with other bigger profiles and comment on others photos that use the same hashtags as you do. These are the 3 things I do currently for my business. I have Twitter of course, but strategically I don’t use it. I have my posts auto-tweeted for me when they go live. Lastly, I would set up a Google Plus page for your blog to capitalize on SEO for Google. Share your posts there through your Social Warfare plugin.
Yes you need an email list if you want to learn how to start a travel blog and make money. Absolutely from the very beginning. You may not have an opt-in just yet but you need to create an account with an email marketing company and absolutely start collecting emails. If you need to learn how to do this I would suggest reading Monica’s content on this topic. I use ConvertKit for all of my email marketing needs. I have been with them since the beginning and I love them. You can get started for as little as $29 a month.
Creating Your First Opt-In
When I created my first opt-in it was ugly and took hours. I would suggest using Canva to create something that goes with your niche. For me I was talking a lot about budgeting and meal planning. So I created a budget sheet and a meal planning opt-in. You can learn how to create lead magnets like I did on YouTube. It’s super easy to do!
Do you have questions about how to start a travel blog? You might want to pop over to find a few Facebook Groups and ask questions, network and meet other wonderful people. Blogging is a journey. For many it’s a hobby, but for others it’s a career. This is how I provide for my family now and I love it. I’ve found my passion and calling. Get started today! Learn how to start a travel blog that will fund your travels. You won’t regret it.