Start Here

Starting a travel blog can be intimidating,especially if you go with the self hosted pathway, which this blog recommends. This page will help you get started and will form somewhat of a checklist to get you up and running.

Domain Name

When you know what you want to be called, go to www.godaddy.com and register you domain name. Some points to consider:

  1. Get whois protection – otherwise, anyone can type in your domain name to www.whois.com and know you name, address and other real contact info.
  2. Try and get a .com domain if possible. Simply put these have slightly more authority when it comes to SEO than newer ones such as .info, .tips or even .photography.
  3. Don’t get hosting or email through Godaddy, we’ll get to that.

Hosting

Once you have your domain name, go to Bluehost and sign up for hosting. There are certainly others but these are who I am with I find them great – particularly their customer support. I have had two major issues (of my own doing) and without their support I’d have been screwed.

A few notes:

  1. The advertised price is for the hosting if for the first year only. I got surprised by this when I went to renew this year.
  2. For your first blog you’ll only need the lowest, base package to get you off the ground.
  3. I won’t walk through the ins and outs but remember that they have a lot of documentation you can search, and you can always ask the chatline.

Once in the cpanel, go down to the website section and click on “Install WordPress”.

Theme

Once you’ve logged into your site for the first time, you’ll need a theme to make your blog (reasonably) unique.

You can find free and paid themes through the WordPress Admin interface (at Appearance > Themes) and these are definitely a good starting point.

Themeforest has a great selection, as does the Mojo Marketplace built in to Blue Host. Both of my themes are premium themes (ATG and Next Level) from Mojo.

For further reading, The Theme Foundry has an excellent post on how to start filtering down your search, because it will get overwhelming real quick.

Note: whatever you end up going with, make sure it is a responsive theme.

Plugins

You will undoubtedly need plugins to enable you to customise your site and add features not included in a standard WordPress install or theme.

Make sure to read this post on my favourite plugins that I use and I think a travel blog couldn’t function without.

Start building an email list

Every online marketer will tell you “the money is in the list”. That is because these people have shared their email with you and want to know what you have to say. Start building it from day 1.

As a newbie travel blogger you have 2 basic options:

MailChimp – Free for basic accounts, covers the essentials, good flexibility, integration with many third party apps, attractive emails, simple to send a campaign, but setting up opt-in pages can get a little complicated. (I use MailChimp because it’s free).

Aweber – the first choice for most professional online marketers, no free option, highly customisable, A/B testing and list segmentation, simple email send format.

Create a Lead Magnet

People probably won’t want to sign up for your list just because of your content. Maybe they will, but your content will have to be outstanding. Most subscribers will need to be bribed so give them something awesome in exchange for their email address. Get creative and come up with something you think your target market would find value in.

Create an ad or optin box for the lead magnet and link to your MailChimp/Aweber sign up page.

Upload the lead magnet to a hidden page, and when someone signs up to your mailing list send the user to this hidden page as the thank you page.

It’s basic, but it’s free and will get your started in building your list.

Community

With the above 4 components you are well on your way to starting a travel blog. I’d highly recommend finding a community of fellow travel bloggers that you can bounce ideas around with and learn from. I run just such a group called Travel Bloggers Growth Hacking.

Get Customising

Once you get comfortable with WordPress, blogging and themes, you may find the need to tweak aesthetic components of your site beyond the theme’s capabilities. Here are few beginner tutorials to get you started.

SEO 101

Html Coding 101

CSS Coding 101

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A Little about Luke Marlin
Australian. Travel Blogger. Seeker of all things off the beaten track. Lover of nature, road trips and sunsets. Drinker of craft beer. Learning more about our world through the immersion in different cultures.
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