Starting a Travel Blog
Travel stories bring a destination to life. They transport the reader or the listener there through the traveler’s experience.
Besides newspapers, magazines, guidebooks and travel brochures, the internet is another great channel through which one can publish their stories.
Every time you search the web for travel related information, thousands of results come up. Some of these are from Travel Blogs.
What is a Travel Blog?
A travel blog is one of the channels for publishing a traveler’s writing and photos. If you live to travel and love to write, read through on how to start and run a successful travel blog using WordPress?
The Challenge of starting a Travel Blog
When I started this Blog, I didn’t have any knowledge about creating a blog leave alone the right way to do it. That meant I had the options of engaging a web design company or learn how to “Do It Myself”. I opted for the later and made a very boring and ugly design.
Starting a blog can be overwhelming and may seem impossible. The good news is, it is easier than you think. After learning the hard way, I created this step by step guide on how to start a Travel Blog using WordPress CMS. This guide is very easy to follow and does not require you to have any technical knowledge whatsoever.
Why Start a Travel Blog
There are a number of reasons as to why you would want to start a blog and the following are some of the most common.
- As a Hobby or Personal Diary.
- To make money both online and offline.
- Helping others with information.
- To share your experiences with others.
- To enhance your writing skills.
- As a way to grow your business.
Why use WordPress over other platforms?
There are many other blogging platforms out there to choose from. All of them have their pro and cons and the choice depend on your goals. Some of the common ones are Weebly, Blogger, Joomla, WordPress (Free version) and Wix.
WordPress (Self-hosted) is the best of all and powers most of the blogs in the world. Other than the ease in customization, it is the best platform for anyone serious about making money online. Most blogs on the web today are running on WordPress and there are a number of travelers making good money from them.
WordPress (Free) Vs WordPress (Self-Hosted)
Many beginners make the mistake of starting a blog the wrong way. They end up using wordpress.com instead of WordPress.org.
As a personal advice, it is always good to start with a self-hosted option. This is great especially if you are looking to make money online and have full control of your blog. If you just want a free platform for fun and no control, then the free platform (wordpress.com) is good for you.
What exactly do you need to start and run a successful WordPress blog?
When starting a blog, there a few things you require. These are like the building blocks for your online journal. They include the following:
Domain name: This will be the name of your blog. It is what people will be typing to find you online. It is simply your brand. For example www.kenyanbackpacker.com where Kenyan Backpacker is the brand name.
Hosting Service: This is a server or computer where your website files and images will be stored on the web. Think of it as the house where your domain lives in.
A Blogging topic: What is your blog about – Backpacking, Hiking, Food, and Luxury Travel? The topic should be accompanied by passion, skill or both.
Internet: An internet connected device and less than 1 hour of your time.
congratulations for getting this far, now let’s get into the real deal where I will show you exactly how to start a blog the right way step by step.
Guide to creating a successful blog with WordPress
- Choosing and signing up for a hosting service.
- Registering a domain name.
- Installing WordPress.
- How to install a theme and necessary plugins.
- How to customize your WordPress.
- Adding your first page.
How to buy a domain name and sign up for a web hosting service
When you search how to start a blog, most of the results that come up are related to bloggers who are based in Europe. None of them talks about how you can easily start a blog in Kenya or Africa and most of the recommended hosting services are based in Europe.
I have personally used the hosting services and they are great with Bluehost and NameCheap being my best international hosting companies. In Kenya I can recommend Madayer Hosts as the best web hosting company and Quest Web Designers for Domain Name and Web Design.
Purchasing your domain name and hosting service (Using A2 Hosting)
By now you have an idea of the name you want to give your blog. Go to A2 Hosting Website.
- Click on hosting and choose the best package for you.
- Register a new domain: Here you can choose the extension that suite you from the drop-down menu. These include (.com, .co.ke, .org, .net etc.). Type in your domain name e.g. kenyanbackpacker.com and click Check.
- If the domain is available, you will get a success message, if not you will get a domain unavailable message. In case of a domain unavailable, try another option or a different extension.
- If your domain is available, that is good news. Click on the continue button.
- Payment: Create an account for the hosting and domain registration and then make payment.
CPanel and Installing WordPress
Once the payment goes through, you will receive an email confirmation in your inbox with your receipt and blog setup information.
- In the “New Account Confirmation” email, copy the Control URL, Username and Password. Click on the URL and use the username and password to log in to your Cpanel.
- On the Cpanel, scroll down up to the place where you see a WordPress icon. Click on it and then on “Install Now” in the next window.
- Create a username, password, input your correct email and then click on Install.
- NB: Make sure you save the Username and Password somewhere safe. You will be using them to log in to your blog.
- Once WordPress is installed, click on the administrative URL domainname.com/wp-admin which will redirect you to your Blog Dashboard. At this point, you are as good as done starting your blog.
Customizing your WordPress Blog from the Dashboard
The Dashboard is where you will be doing all the work. To access the dashboard you will be following this process.
- Type in the domainname.com/wp-admin
- Click on login with Username and Password.
- Enter your Username and Password from the previous process.
The appearance of a WordPress blog is dependent on themes. You have to install a theme for every new blog. By default, WordPress blog comes with a theme. To install a theme of your choice, hover on appearance and then click on themes.
On the next window, click on Add new and then install and activate your favorite theme. In the search bar, you can browse through thousands of available themes.
After activating your theme, go to your blog URL and view how it looks like with a new theme.
Plugins improve the functionality of your blog. When you start your blog, there are plugins that are very necessary to install. I always recommend to beginners that they install contact form 7, Yoast SEO, Akismet, Jetpack and WP-Cache as a start. Along the way, you will learn about other useful plugins.
To install plugins, go to your Dashboard, click on plugins, Add New, search for the plugin you are looking for then click install now and Activate.
Creating your first page
Unlike blog posts, pages are static and are necessary for your blog. The most basic and important pages include an about page and a contact page.
To create a page, go to the Dashboard, hover over pages, click on Add new, type in the title, add your content and then click on publish.
How to create your first travel blog post
Creating a blog post is almost the same as adding a page. Go to posts; Add new, Add a title and your content. Before you publish it is necessary to categorize your post and insert some related tags.
Always remember to add a featured image to your posts too.
Best Practices and ways to grow your blog traffic
Once you have mastered the art of creating posts and pages, you need to learn how to grow your traffic if you want to achieve your blogging goals. Some of the things you can do include.
- Creating unique content that people will read and share
- Be consistent with your blogging
- Ensure your blog posts are shareable
- Network with other bloggers
- Do SEO research and implement what you learn
- Be active on social media networks
- Sign up for Google Analytics and Google console accounts
- Be persistent
I hope by now you have been able to start your own blog. If you would want assistance in setting up, leave me a message and I will do my best to help you.
Check out my list of travel resources for Backpackers.
All the best!