You love to write, take photos and of course, travel!
Your friends and family have been telling you to start your own travel blog for awhile but you’ve just never gotten around to it. Your photo gallery is vast and the number of crazy travel stories you have to tell are numerous. You want to connect with like-minded travelers and inspire others to see the world.
Perhaps starting your own travel blog has been in the back of your mind for awhile and after reading other blogs, the idea of having your own has been growing and growing.
Well what are you waiting for ?
We can’t stress enough how much fun it is and so many doors have opened for us ever since we started. As professional travel bloggers, our career has taken us all over the world and to places we’ve never dreamed of going before.
We’ve blogged in over 20 different countries, at the airport, on a train, even at the beach! And with our detailed guide, it’ll take you less than 20 minutes to get your blog up and running and publish your very first post!
We’ll take you from the very beginning of choosing a blog name to setting up WordPress, a theme for your site and how to publish your first post with pictures, videos, everything.
How to Start a Blog
Keep in mind that the advice in this guide is for those who are serious about blogging whether it’s making it a new career or part time job. If you’re not quite there yet, you can always start a blog for free on WordPress.com.
So let’s get started with the basics and by the end of the tutorial, you’ll begin your blogging career once and for all.
1. First, what is a blog?
The main difference between a blog and website is that a blog has a series of content separated into items called articles or posts that are published frequently appearing in chronological order. So those snippets you always see on the home page of a blog? Yep, that’s what makes the difference!
Additionally, a blog is more personal. They can be about anything from sewing to mountain biking to travel. It’s your personal space of creativity and form of expression. There’s also usually a system where the blogger and the reader can communicate, like a comment system for our fans to let you know what they think.
Blogs encourage interaction and that’s why people love them as it is an outlet for them to express their opinions with like minded people.
Now you know the difference, let’s get down to the fun stuff!
2. Think of an Good Blog Name
The key to a good blog name is something that will stick with you and the reader and ultimately describes what your blog is about, aka your niche. Unfortunately, certain terms related to travel have become overdone and cliche, such as nomadic, backpacker and vagabond.
But not only are they unoriginal, there are a few other reasons why you need to branch out and think long and hard about your domain name.
- It needs to last. If you pick something like Backpacker Chick, what happens when you stop traveling as a backpacker? Or if it is something like My Year Abroad, what happens if you continue traveling beyond that year? Pick something that will last but also describes your niche.
- Short and sweet always wins. Do you think people will remember your blog if you name it Julia’s first round the world solo female trip 2015? Geez that’s kind of a mouthful! Along the same lines, avoid hyphens, punctuation and numbers. Unnecessary and very forgettable.
- Your blog name is your brand. Pick a blog name as if it will be your business – oh wait, it will be. In that case, it needs to be professional so none of this Sexy flirty blonde babe or Hot stud23. Likewise, don’t throw out the idea of using your name as the blog’s name. If you plan to brand yourself, it’s OK to consider something like Adventures with Abby or even Yeisonkim.com!
This is how we went about picking the name for our blog, Mytanfeet.
- Immediately threw out any names related to Costa Rica. We knew we wanted to travel around the world and didn’t want to limit ourselves to just Costa Rica.
- Our blog name is limitless – everyone gets funky tan lines when they go on vacation. Travel related yet not cliche or overused.
- It’s short, catchy and memorable. Everyone who we have worked with adore our name and it’s a pretty good one for a travel blog if I don’t say so myself. Mytanfeet. Hard to forget!
- We wanted to save using our own names for when we started our separate projects, plus Samantha and Yeison’s travels around the world is way too long. Once I decided to become an internet marketer and start my own blog, I had Yeisonkim.com waiting for me.
To brainstorm some ideas, first ask yourself what your blog is going to be about. Obviously travel, but there are plenty of sub-niches. Are you going to focus on food and travel? Solo travel? Adventure travel? Narrow it down and it’ll help you not only in picking your name, but in many other aspects in the long run when it comes to making your travel blog your business.
3. Buy Your Domain and Sign Up for Hosting
Now that you’ve decided on the perfect name for your blog, it’s time to claim it and the first thing we need to do is to sign up for hosting. What’s hosting you ask?
Hosting is a rented space on a server that is always connected to the internet. It’s essentially where you store all the information and data that make up a website. Every website needs to be hosted so your site is always available or “online.” There are plenty of hosting companies out there, each with their own pros and cons and pricing.
We personally use Traffic Planet Hosting, a premium service. It is on the more expensive side, around $20 a month but there are plenty of others that are less expensive and work well for a starting blog. We started with Bluehost for YeisonKim and Mytanfeet that offers plans as low as $6.95 a month for a year which is what we recommend.
Click the green button that says Get Started Now.
Select your plan. I suggest going with the 12 month package for $6.95 a month and it’s recommended to get the Domain Whois Privacy, it privatizes your personal address and phone number.
Check if your domain name is available.
Now onto installing WordPress!
In case you are wondering why you should purchase your domain instead of hosting it on say, wordpress.com, there are several reasons.
You can advertise, it is 100% yours, you own all data and have full control, can install plugins and Google Analytics. Want your blog to be your business? Then you need to take all the necessary steps to take it seriously.
5. Install WordPress
When it comes to building a successful blog and making an income off of it, you want to use WordPress. Not Blogspot, not Blogger. WordPress is the most powerful and easy to use content manager system (CMS) with nearly 30% of all websites using it. At the beginning it was exclusively for bloggers only but nowadays it can be used for all kind of websites.
Benefits of Using WordPress
- Flexibility to develop any kind of website: Thanks to the variety of WordPress themes, you can develop almost every kind of website you need, even an automated online store.
- Plugins: WordPress has the power to integrate “pre-built” packages of code to the current installation. These plugins add different features to your blog and you can find a plugin for pretty much everything you need.
- Easy to create content: WordPress was originally designed for “bloggers” and the text editor is very simple to use. You can create a new article and publish it on your website in minutes.
- Search engines love it: Another important aspect is that Google indexes WordPress content very well and this will help your website rank higher in Google results.
So let’s install it already!
Log into your account on Bluehost, click CPanel and then WordPress.
After it finishes checking the requirements, click Start. Select the domain you want to install WordPress which will be the one you just bought.
Next, click Advanced Options and fill out the form. Remember this as you will use it to log in.
Now WordPress will begin installing. It takes a few minutes so just let it do its thing and relax 🙂
Are you getting excited? You should be! You’re just one step away from being a full fledged travel blogger!
And it’s done! You just installed WordPress on your blog!
Click My Installs to access your brand new WordPress domain.
Click Admin login and it’ll take you to this log in page. Enter the information you filled out earlier.
And that’s it! You have just completed the first steps to starting your own travel blog!
You are now officially the owner of a travel blog! Congratulations and welcome to the blogging world!
See how easy that was?! Now comes the fun part!
6. Making it Your Own
Now you can personalize and customize your blog to make it your own. The first thing you need to do is pick a theme. You can find a bunch of free and paid WordPress themes to make your blog look nice and professional.
We started Mytanfeet with ThemeForest which we highly recommend. They have a huge selection of premium themes with excellent customer support in case you have trouble installing it or have any other problems. They even have some themes that are geared especially for travel!
Now we use the Genesis Framework for our blog which we absolutely love. It’s light, super fast and flexible. For those starting out, it is easier to find either a free or paid pre-made template if you have no web design experience. And don’t worry, you aren’t stuck with the theme you chose forever. You can change it as your blog develops and grows in the future.
7. Pick Some Plugins
As I have mentioned before, WordPress is an excellent platform to build your website and one of the main advantages is the integration of plugins and widgets. So let me explain how to use both tools and how to make the most of them.
Plugins for WordPress
Plugins are “code extensions” that integrate into WordPress adding specific functions. There are a lot of plugins meeting almost every need ranging from making your blog faster, turning it into an online store, adding a forum, a photo gallery or automating it to do a specific process.
The above functions are a handful of applications you can find and there are many more. The best free plugins directory is WordPress.org. On this website you will find comments, reviews, instructions and a support section.
It is important to keep in mind that not all plugins will be compatible with your theme or it might present some kind of conflict with other installed plugins. After installing a plugin, if you see something unusual on your site there is a great possibility that the cause is the plugin you just installed.
Before installing any plugin it’s always beneficial to read reviews from other users and if possible, make a backup of your entire website before you install it so you won’t lose data in case something unexpected happens.
Sites like Codecayon.net offer a lot of premium plugins but unlike WordPress.org, they are not free but the support and help you get is well worth the money you pay.
In the next video I’ll show you how to install a plugin in WordPress.
6. Post & Pages
Post and pages are the main communication channels between the author of the blog and their audience. They look similar but have different functions and characteristics. In this section we will discuss about the main differences between a post and a page in WordPress and when it is appropriate to use each one.
What is a post?
To explain this in a simple and practical way, what you are reading at this moment is a post. A post is an article that contains information which talks about something related to my blog’s niche. In this case it’s “How to start a blog”.
Posts are listed in chronological order in a predetermined section of the blog usually in the home page or in another designated location in the blog. Depending on the WordPress theme you use, you will be able to use a “featured image” to illustrate the content of the post where they are listed. The author’s name and the date of publication should be there too.
In the next picture you can see how the blog posts are listed chronologically on the home page and “blog” section.
How do I publish a post?
Publishing a post is very simple, just enter your WordPress dashboard and then look in the left menu for “Posts” and click on “add new”. Write your content in the text box and then when you are done,hit “Publish” and your post will be live.
In the next video I’ll show you how easy it is to publish a post:
What is a page?
WordPress pages will not be in constant rotation like a post are, pages are usually used to write sections like about me, contact us, media galleries, relevant information, etc. To create a page the process is very similar to a post. In your WordPress Dashboard go to Pages > add new Page> write content> Publish.
7. Images and Videos
One of the great features about WordPress is the easiness of inserting images and videos. You don’t need to be a web designer or have programming knowledge to add different elements to your posts or pages. In this section I’m going to show how you can add all kinds of images and videos to your WordPress blog.
Inserting an image in WordPress
Images are essential when writing an article or page since they help illustrate your text and make your posts more attractive to readers. You can also use infographics or other forms of visual content.
In this video I show you how to insert an image in a post or page:
Add a video in WordPress
If you want to add a YouTube or Vimeo video in your articles or pages, the process is very simple. You just have to go to the Youtube or Vimeo site, copy the embed code and paste it in your post. It is very important that you copy the code in the “Text” of your blog or page otherwise it won’t work.
In this video I will show how easy it is to do so.
Widgets in WordPress
In WordPress, an element that most websites have is a “sidebar.” If you are wondering what a sidebar is, it’s the section located next to the blog that contains different elements which may link to other pages, show images, have a subscription form, etc.
As you can see in the picture, everything surrounded by the red lines is the sidebar of this blog and the position will be up to you. You can put it on the right or the left and you can also hide the sidebar on certain pages if you wish.
Now that we know what a sidebar is, let’s talk about widgets. Widgets are each of the elements in a sidebar or footer.
To add or delete widgets, you have to go appearance> Widgets. In this section, you can add or remove the items you want. In the next video I will show you how to add elements to your widgets.
Plugins and widgets are great tools and are essential for a professional website. Be careful not to overuse these tools however. Although they are easy to install and handle, if you have too many or don’t maintain them they may affect the performance of your site.
9. Menus and categories in WordPress
To provide a better experience for your readers, all of the information you’ve published has to be available and readily accessible. A common way to organize sections of a website is through the menu and categories. Categories help you to index your website better.
Categories in WordPress
Categories are a way to group together posts that discuss a common theme. For example, if you look at my blog you will see that this article is in the “Start your Website” category because in this category, I’m talking about all topics related to starting a blog.
In this video I show you how to create categories in WordPress.
Menus in WordPress
Menus in WordPress are a very useful and easy to use tool. The amount of available menus and their location will depend on the theme you’re using. Some themes offer a lot of menus in different positions and others only offer one menu which is usually located at the top of the website.
You can also create sub menus in your menu very easily. When you edit your menu settings on your dashboard, add the item you want (page, post, category, etc.) and it’ll pop up on the bottom. Click on it and drag it to where you want it to go, you can even put it underneath another category or menu option.
In the next video I’ll show how you can create and manipulate menus in your blog.
And that’s it for the basic introduction and main points to starting a blog! You now have enough knowledge to start a blog on WordPress! Congratulations!
I know you must be excited for your new blog and I wish you the best on your new project, this is just the beginning and you will learn something new everyday. Like any other project the success will depend 100% on you. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment at the end of this article.
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliates which we earn a small commission if you purchase through them. All the products we recommend are ones we use ourselves. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll do our best to answer them.