The Travel Blogger’s Online Toolkit
For travel enthusiasts, getting paid to see the country or world—or at least making enough money to defray some of your costs—is a very appealing idea. That’s why so many avid travelers start their own travel blogs.
To help you go after your travel-blogging goals, we’ve mapped out a few of the tools you’ll need to begin your journey.
1. A travel blog name and URL that are unique to your “brand”
When you think about what to name your travel blog, think about your travel style and scope. For example, popular travel blogs like The Viking Abroad deliver what they promise in the title – unique perspectives on travel. Think about what makes your travel stories unique as you consider name options.
You’ll also want to think about what URLs are available. You want something short, catchy, and easy to remember—and of course, something that isn’t already registered as someone else’s domain name.
Before you decide what you’ll call your blog, make sure you understand the best practices for choosing a domain name, see if the domain name you’d like is available, and understand which top-level domains will work best for your blog. After you find a domain name that works for you, register it with your chosen top-level domain (usually .com) as well as other TLDs that you can redirect to your travel blog.
2. A web host that loads videos and images fast
A travel blog must have videos and photos to appeal to visitors, and internet users don’t like to wait for media to load.
You’ll need to choose a web host that loads even video- and image-heavy pages quickly to keep visitors from navigating away before they see your trek through the Yucatan jungle to Dzibilchaltun or your cool surfing videos from Nosara. Photos and video also call for lots of storage space for site backups.
HostGator’s WordPress cloud hosting options give you speed and storage space so you can show, not just tell, your adventures.
3. A travel-focused design theme for your blog
To help show off those fast-loading photos and videos, as well as to showcase your travel tips and stories, you need a site design built for travel content.
There are more than a hundred travel-oriented free WordPress themes, including Travel Stories, Pugini, and Travel Lite, to make your blog look great from the start. Later, if you like, you can move up to a paid theme or hire a designer to create a custom look for your travel blog.
4. Plugins for SEO and analytics
Just as you want to discover cool new destinations, travel blog fans want to discover new blogs. It’s up to you to make that easy for them by optimizing your site for search-engine results.
And if you plan to make money from your blog, it’s up to you to include and learn to understand the data that shows who’s visiting your blog, where they’re coming from, and what content appeals to them the most.
WordPress plug-ins like Jetpack offer SEO and social sharing tools, while Yoast focuses on SEO and proper keyword choices, and MonsterInsights makes it easy to integrate Google Analytics with your WordPress site.
5. Social media accounts
Yes, you’re already busy traveling, blogging about it, and planning your next adventure, but to help people find your blog, you’ll need to share at least tidbits of your travels on social media, too.
That doesn’t mean you have to post on every social media platform. Find the ones where people who share your travel interests spend their time and post there – under a handle that matches your blog name. For example, your work might be a great fit for #familytravel on Instagram or one of the many travel boards on Pinterest.
6. A professional email address tied to your blog
Once you have a site name and a web host, you can set up blog email addresses for yourself and anyone else who works on your blog with you.
These branded addresses look more professional than using your personal email, and they make it easier to keep blog and personal email separate—important when you may have only a few minutes at a WiFi cafe or in an airport lounge to check your emails. A blog-branded email address is also important for building and using your email list.
7. An email list and newsletter
Make it easy for readers to keep up with your latest adventures by offering an email opt-in form on your home page.
You can generate more signups if you have content to offer in return, such as a “top ten tips for road trips with kids” or “the definitive budget guide to getting around Spain.” Later, if you have books, courses, or other products to sell, you can offer those items to your email list, too.
As your travel blog covers more ground
If you write great content, provide eye-catching pictures and videos, and share a perspective that connects with readers, you can develop whole categories on your blog devoted to a particular topic, like posts on visiting Taiwan with toddlers or finding the best surfing in Portugal—whatever you’ve built up a library of posts on. You can also create a press section to showcase your blog’s mentions in the media and offer reporters an easy way to contact you if they’re writing a story and need your expertise.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.