If you’ve ever looked for advice about starting a travel blog, you probably found a list similar to this:
- Get a website!
- Pick a name!
- Sell all your belongings and travel the world!
- Write about it!
- Make money!
All the advice out there seems to be pretty vague and not really that helpful for the everyday 9-to-5 worker with bills to pay and mouths to feed. Most of us aren’t able to just pick up our lives, sell our belongings and start traveling like Colin Wright from Exile Lifestyle. And besides, where do all these people get the money to start traveling full time in the first place?
Luckily, even if you go to school or work or parent (or all three!) full time, starting a travel blog is still possible! So we wrote this post to give you realistic, actionable strategies that you can implement right now to get started on your journey to becoming a crazy awesome travel blogger.
Find Your Angle
Before you start throwing together a website, consider what you want to be about. You want to write about travel, sure. But what’s your angle? What will make you unique? What will make you stand out in your niche?
Will you write about sustainable travel? Will you focus on the U.S.? Only take weekend trips? Only use Airbnbs? Maybe you’ll focus on family travel like The Bucket List Family?
Or maybe you’re a solo traveler like Dan from Dan Flying Solo?
Or you could combine your love for travel with your love for food!
The trick is to cross-pollinate your passions. Doing so not only allows you to write about other things you love, but it gives you a hyper-specific focus. This kind of focus is what will encourage your audience to say “she’s different!” and subscribe to your blog or follow you on social media.
Figure Out What’s Sustainable
If you’re working a 9-to-5 job, writing five posts a week may not be sustainable. If you have a gaggle of children to feed, affording a trip every other week probably isn’t your best option. So map out your plan; ask yourself “What will work for me?”
Maybe you take one weekend trip every month, or maybe you take one big trip with the kids twice a year. Maybe you blog two times a week during your lunch breaks. Or maybe you don’t even have time for that. Maybe you write one post every Saturday when the kids are down for a nap.
They key is to create a plan of action that will work long-term. The last thing you want is to buy a domain, build a website and get started only to face burnout a few weeks in! Besides, success isn’t necessarily determined by the number of blogs or videos you publish; it’s about consistency. Even if you’re working a 9-to-5, if you’re really ambitious and remain consistent, you may look back months or years from now and realize you’ve visited 50 countries like Megan Jerrard of Mapping Megan!
Build Your Site
Once you’ve figured out your angle and a publishing schedule that works for you, it’s time to brainstorm some names for your blog. There are all different ways to do this. You could use some alliteration or you could create a name based on a favorite quote like Amanda from A Dangerous Business Travel Blog who got her name from J.R.R. Tolkien. You could even base your name on your niche like Dan from Dan Flying Solo.
Once you’ve settled on a name, you can get to work on your blog by choosing a blog platform and hosting site (like WordPress or Squarespace) and purchasing a unique domain that fits your brand. There are plenty of resources out there that will help make the process of building a blog oh-so-easy!
Now, if you’re reading this and thinking “but I don’t want to blog!” don’t worry! You can still be a crazy successful influencer with a YouTube channel or even just an Instagram account! There are so many ways to be an influencer – all you have to do is pick what platform is right for you!
Once your blog is set up, you can start designing! If you’re not confident in your design skills, consider investing in a graphic designer. There are lots of freelance designers out there who work with bloggers and small businesses at an affordable rate. If you want your travel blog to stand out, investing in design is a great way to do just that!
If a hiring a designer isn’t an option, don’t worry! Most blogging platforms offer templates that make this step relatively easy. You can always hire a designer later down the road after you start making a little money.
There is a huge travel influencer and blogger community on social media. While your ultimate goal may be to get blog subscribers, platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram give you a ton of tools to send your followers to your blog.
On Facebook and Twitter, just share links to your posts! On Instagram, share photos of your trips and include the link to your blog in your bio. Anyone who is interested in your photos will go to your profile and head straight to your blog! You can also update the link to send followers to your most recent blog post so even long-time followers come back and visit again and again.
As you grow your audience on Instagram, more features open up. Once you pass 10K followers, you can even add links to your Instagram Stories that can send viewers straight to specific posts!
Social media is also a great place to share livestreams of your trips and interact with your audience in real time.
Getting social is about more than just posting content – it’s about engagement. A truly loyal audience only comes when they have the opportunity to get involved and feel connected to you and each other.
There are plenty of ways to get your audience engaged, and they all come back to one thing: giving clear calls-to-action. A call to action is anything that, well, calls your audience to act.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Host a Q&A about budgeting for travel in your Instagram Story.
- Ask your audience to reply or leave comments on a social media or blog post with their favorite vacation spots.
- At the end of a blog post, give suggestions for what post your audience should read next. (Make sure the suggested posts are related to the one they just read so you get as many clicks as possible!)
- Ask your readers to sign up for a travel newsletter (and make sure you deliver something of real value in exchange – maybe some downloadable content!)
- Host a contest or giveaway on social media. The prize doesn’t have to be big or pricey. What about a funky fanny pack for traveling? (They’re making a comeback!)
- Post a poll on Instagram Stories or on Twitter asking where you should travel next and ask participants to share it.
Whatever engagement strategy you use (we recommend using all of them at some point!) make sure your social media profiles and posts include a link to your blog. That way, your audience is guided to your blog rather than siloed to your social media!
Traveling does not come easy when a plane ticket from one state to the next costs hundreds of dollars. Factor in additional costs for any international flights and you’ll soon find yourself spitting out your coffee when you open your credit card bill at the end of the month.
Most travel blogs seem to skim over the whole “how do you actually afford to travel” part, so we’ve compiled a little list of things to help you start an awesome travel blog without maxing out your credit card.
It’s Not All About the Trip Itself
You may not have the money to travel right now. Does this mean you should wait to start your travel blog until you save up thousands of dollars so you can travel every weekend? Of course not!
There are thousands of people who want to travel but aren’t sure how, so even if you aren’t able to actually travel just yet, you don’t have to wait to build an audience! Consider chronicling your journey to becoming a travel blogger. Why not blog about how you’re saving money in order to travel later? Or you could talk about budgeting like The Professional Hobo. You could even talk about the tools you use to plan your travel! Do you use platforms like Airbnb for cheap housing? Apps like Hopper and Hitlist? Do you get deals from Groupon?
Sharing your process is a boss way to provide value to your audience that they can actually apply to their own lives. And then, when you have enough money to take that first exciting trip, you’ll already have an audience to share it with!
A European tour would be awesome, right? But it’s not necessarily a financial option for everyone.
Instead, consider starting local. Whether you live in Austin, Texas or Portland, Maine, there are probably people traveling to your city and looking for things to do. They’ll be scouring Google for restaurants and sites to visit and stumble across your blog and WHAM! You’ve got yourself a follower.
Then, EXPAND! When you’ve exhausted all the blog posts you can write about your own city, take a short drive to the city next door!
Then, go a little further: what’s the farthest city you can visit in a day?
When you’ve saved a little money, take your first weekend trip! There’s no need to drop money on a plane ticket yet. Just find a city a few hours away and snag a cheap Airbnb. Better yet, find a city where you have a friend with a guest room (or even just a couch)!
If you want to make money as a travel blogger, you have to have an audience. Starting local and working your way out is a good way to build your audience without dropping thousands of dollars on a plane ticket. Who knows? You may just find yourself with thousands of followers before you ever get out of your own state! You may even fall in love with your own city all over again and decide to start a city blog like Jeremy and Angie from Travel the Burgh.
Jeremy and Angie had been long-term international travel bloggers but created Travel the Burgh as another way to make ends meet by blogging about their home city of Pittsburgh.
Use Old Trips
If you’re wanting to start a travel blog, chances are you went on a trip or two that sparked your passion for travel. Even if it’s been months or years since your trip, who’s to say you can’t write about it now?
Writing about old trips is a good way to build up content at the start of your travel blogger career or to fill in the gaps between trips.
You’re not the only wanna-be travel blogger out there. In fact, there are probably plenty of people who are in the exact same situation as you are – wanting to start a travel blog but having little money or time and no idea how to start.
So why not help each other out? If you live in Raleigh, North Carolina and and another travel blogger lives in Arroyo Grande, California, why not swap posts? You may not be able to fly out to Arroyo Grande any time soon, but collaborating with other travel influencers is a great way to cover more locations on your blog and expand your audience.
Collaborating is always a great way to expand your audience. Travel bloggers and YouTubers Kara and Nate know this well! They’ve collaborated on plenty of videos with other travel bloggers – like The Budgeteers!
Not only will you get content in front of your collaborator’s audience, but you’ll also gain more audience members just by expanding your reach beyond your state or country. You’ll be on your way to a crazy awesome travel blog in no time!
You can also collaborate with experienced travel bloggers! Learning from the pros is a great way to accelerate the learning curve. Heck, why not start your blog by interviewing amazing travel bloggers?
Perlu makes this process easy as pie by giving you a platform to find other travel bloggers to work with. There are endless opportunities to collaborate on fresh, new content!