How To Start a Successful Travel Blog

how to start a successful travel blog
how to start a successful travel blog

When I first started “Girl vs Globe” in 2014, I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to start a successful travel blog. Nada. Zilch. 

That is why I took to Google on a quest to become the one to rule them all… or at least attain a level of clarity that would make me feel more like an accomplished adult and less like a clueless toddler trying to build a Lego impression of a travel blog.

Surely enough my search returned lots of answers, mainly from full-time bloggers. They may as well have been unicorns, because at that time I did not particularly believe they could really exist or thought we were part of the same species.

After reading a few of their posts, I came to the conclusion that full-time travel bloggers were some of the most self-absorbed beings that ever lived. They started their posts with sentences like: “I get so many people asking me how to start a successful travel blog every day that I have finally decided to sit down and answer this question once and for all.”

How to Start A Successful Travel Blog
If you’re enjoying the post, be a star(fish) and pin this image! 🙂

“Show off. People don’t actually message you on a daily basis, do they? No way.” I was not convinced and I was not impressed.

Well, a year and a half has gone by since I published my first post on this website and I have now officially become one of the aforementioned unicorns. I’m a full-time blogger and I get so many people asking me how to start a successful travel blog every day that I have finally decided to sit down and answer this question once and for all. Did that sound extremely self-absorbed to you too? I’m sorry.

Because of all these questions, I have decided to sit down and give away some of my tips. This is just the first post in a series of “how to” posts about blogging in which I will share some of my top secrets to help you become a successful blogger! Today’s post is about starting a blog – but even if you already have one, feel free to read it as a refresher. Are you ready? Let’s begin…

1. Find a Name

What’s in a name? According to William Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But if the 16th century playwright were still around today, he’d probably rethink that ethos before launching his website.

You want your name to be memorable. You want it to define who you are. You also want a name that won’t be too limiting though. Sure, you may want to go down the descriptive route and call your blog “Fructarian Blonde in Paris”. But one day you will realise that subsiding on a diet of pure fructose is throwing your energy levels off whack, lose your patience with touching up your roots and get over Paris. Suddenly you’ll be an omnivorous brunette who wants to travel the world and your name will no longer fit!

You need a name that will grow with you. I started out writing only about travel, but now I cover fashion, lifestyle, food… Lots of things! I know many people would disagree with me, but in my opinion – unless you’re totally sure about it – you shouldn’t limit your blog’s growth by setting a time (“Travelling at Thirty”) or geographical limit (“Anastasia in Asia”).

Speaking of “Fructarian Blonde in Paris”, don’t make your name overly long and complicated. Your name is part of your brand and your brand should be as concise and memorable as possible. The simpler the better, in my opinion. Obviously, if the name is too simple – like “I Travel” – the domain (itravel.com) will likely not be available. But make it as simple as possible.

Now, some people will also tell you to think about SEO factors when picking your blog name. In a nutshell, SEO stands for “search engine optimisation” and refers to activities that improve your ranking on Google (as well as other search engines, but how often do you Bing stuff? exactly!). Don’t worry if you don’t really get it now – we’ll talk about SEO properly in another post.

Taking SEO into consideration in your blog title would basically mean including keywords like “travel” or “travel blog” – or even more specific ones such as “solo travel”, “female travel” or “LGBT travel”. If you can make it sound natural, I’d say go for it. But if you can’t, don’t worry about it. Your blog name shouldn’t sound like a run-of-the-mill travel website – it should sound like you.

peyto lake alberta
It takes a lot of work, but if you can turn travel blogging into your full time (or even part time) job all of it will be totally worth it!

2. Secure Your Social Media Handles

Found the perfect name? Now you need to make sure that all your social media handles are still available. What do I mean by that? If your blog’s name is “Sparkly Suitcase”, you want to make sure that @sparklysuitcase is still available on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube… all the social media networks you might want to use in the future. That’s one more reason why long blog names are not ideal – character limits won’t allow you to be @fructarianblondeinparis on Twitter!

If they are not available, consider whether the name is epic enough to make that worth it. Having different social media handles on different platforms is not a deal breaker, but it is much neater and makes it significantly easier for your readers to find you on other networks.

If all your social media handles are available, register them now. It’s ok, I’ll wait! The last thing you want is for someone to come along and snap it up. All done? Let’s move on to the next step…

3. Choose Your Platform

Congratulations, you’ve officially got a name and a social media presence, even if nobody is really listening yet. We’re getting there. Now that your online travel blogger persona has been established, you need to create a blog to go with it!

There are lots of platforms to host your website. WordPress, Blogger, Jimdo, Squarespace… I’m not even scratching the surface here.

Don’t let that list overwhelm you. The two most common options for bloggers are WordPress and Blogger, by a long shot. When I first launched “Girl vs Globe”, it was hosted on Blogger. Now, Blogger is great because of its simplicity – you can just sit down and write, because there are limited customisation options. As such it feels like a great option if you’re starting out.

But eventually Blogger became too limiting for me and I had to go through the annoying process of switching over to a self-hosted blog WordPress.org. My advice would be… Spare yourself the trouble and go with WordPress.org from the get go. Sure, it will cost you a few dollars in hosting every month (more on that in step 4), but it will be worth it in the long run.

You should know that WordPress.org also has a free cousin called WordPress.com. I’ve never used it so can’t speak to its quality – if you’d like to learn more about the merits of choosing WordPress.org, WordPress.com or Blogger, there are tonnes of posts comparing the two just a Google away! Check this comparison of WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and this one between WordPress.org and Blogger.

calw germany
WordPress? Blogger? These questions are important, but don’t lose track of the most important thing – blogging because it genuinely makes you a happier person.

4. Get Hosted

If you’d like to go with Blogger, you can just register your domain via the Blogger dashboard with GoDaddy (although there are much better domain name registrars out there!). If you’d like to go with WordPress.com, you don’t need to do much either – you can register your domain through them for less than $20.

A word on domains… You don’t actually need a domain to start a blog – you can just get a free address instead, for example girlvsglobe.blogspot.com. But this post is about starting a successful travel blog and you won’t look professional without your own domain name. Domains are cheap (they start at about $10 per year) and there’s really no reason not to buy one.

If you’d like to go with WordPress.org – the one I, and most professional travel bloggers I know, use – it’s a little more complicated. Because WordPress.org sites are self-hosted, you’ll need to find a reliable host – and much like blogging platforms, there are lots of website hosts out there. Luckily, I use a wonderful host that I would definitely recommend to any aspiring travel bloggers – BluehostI’ve had a few posts go viral in the past and it never betrayed me by crashing or shooting me in the foot in any other way.

2-Plans

Let me talk you through the sign up process… First click here to go to Bluehost. Then click the green button that says “get started now”. Then pick a plan (see the photo above) – for a new blog, you can definitely go with the cheapest “Starter” option.

As for the add-ons I haven’t bothered with the Search Engine Jumpstart, SiteLock Domain Security or Site Backup Pro. You will need to backup your site, but there are free plugins on WordPress which you can use to do that instead! The only one I pay for is Domain Privacy Protection, because it prevents others from seeing personal information like the name and address tied to your blog.

5. Get a Design

Voila! The good news is that you’re officially hosted and your blog actually exists! The bad news is that it looks like poo.

You need a nice design to do your lovely blog justice. Now, when I say nice I just mean nice. I don’t mean breath-taking. I don’t mean perfect. Finding the perfect design is not something you should waste time or money on when you’re just starting out. There are tonnes of great WordPress (and Blogger) themes on Etsy which you can buy for as little as $10. You can also get a nice header designed on Fiverr for… $5. Bargain!

6. Start Writing

Before you start promoting the hell out of your awesome new blog, you need to make sure there’s some valuable content on it. I won’t go into too much detail about content writing here – it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do in regards to your blog and a short paragraph could never do it justice. Look out for a separate post about it instead!

I’d recommend uploading at least ten high quality posts you’re really proud of before starting. Otherwise you risk people coming to your site, not finding anything of value on it and never returning… And now that you’ve worked on it so hard, that would be a huge shame!

how to start a travel blog
So, you want to be a blogger? I hope you’re ready to spend the rest of your days glued to your phone. Look how much fun I’m having during my romantic dinner with the boyfriend. So much fun.

7. Make Connections

“Oh, but I’m not even a proper blogger yet! Nobody is reading those ten posts I worked on for a week,” I hear you say. Well… it doesn’t matter. If you want to start a successful travel blog, you don’t need to do it on your own. You should seek out a support network of people who understand the business – your fellow travel bloggers.

One great way of making connections is joining Facebook groups. I founded one myself – Girls vs Globe with more than a thousand members. It’s not just for bloggers, but many of us do blog and understand the biz. It’s honestly the most incredibly supportive and passionate community I’ve ever been a part of. This will sound cheesy, but we make more than connections – we form proper friendships! My group is female-only (sorry boys!) but there are many others out there you can join (such as the “Under 1000 Club“) aimed at newer bloggers.

You can also reach out to travel bloggers whose websites you like directly – but don’t bombard them with questions like “how do you make money?” without first getting to know them or building rapport via social media. I get that you’re curious, but when did you last ask a stranger on the street that? Exactly.

8. Let The Games Begin!

This is the eighth and final step we will take together on this grand journey of starting a successful travel blog. You now have a lovely functioning website with a snappy title – all you need to do now is… get noticed. And you thought you’d done the hard part already…

If you’re wondering how you can stand out among the thousands of travel blogs already in existence, don’t worry. I’ve got your back. Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be sharing more of my blogging tips with you, helping you become a successful blogger in your own right!

Did you find these tips helpful? Which other blogging topics would you most like me
to talk about? Let me know in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post,
please like and share it – that would mean the world to me! 

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links which give me a cut if you make a purchase. This comes at no cost to you and allows me to continue running this blog and filling it with awesome free content! All photos of me were taken by Peter Parkorr (aka the boyfriend), aside from the second one taken by Ashley Colburn.

  • The.Restless.Worker

    Thank you for sharing! It’s often hard to know where to start – I’m 6 months into blogging and even though I’ve learned a lot I feel like there is still so much I’m not sure of or don’t know. My dream is to eventually one day be a full-time blogger but that dreams seems so far away from being real at the moment! Posts like this really help!

  • Thanks for sharing! I love your Facebook Group and find it super helpful, especially compared to expensive travel blog courses I enrolled in in the past.

    • Thanks Allison! So glad you like the GvG group – I find it so helpful myself, you girls are the absolute best! 🙂

  • Natalie Tanner

    Thanks for sharing! I’m watching for the upcoming posts, too!

    • Thanks Natalie!! There are many more to come 😀

  • Congratulations on your success! It seems as if you’ve achieved a lot in a short amount of time and it’s interesting to get a glimpse at all the hard work you’ve put into it. The tips you’ve shared are great!

    Alix

    • Thanks so much Alix! Really glad you enjoyed the post and found the tips helpful. I’ll definitely be talking more about how I managed to make my blog into a full time job in future posts, so stay tuned for that 🙂

      • I will definitely stay tuned! Thanks 🙂

  • Great post! My current blog is a tri-medley of photography, style, and travel, and I really hope to dive deeper within the travel aspect of it in the time to come. Thanks for the tips 🙂

    http://www.ADIMAY.com

  • Hi Sabina. This is great information for anyone who is interested in a travel blog! I’m glad you mentioned content, there has to be great content to keep readers going back. I would loved to have been a travel blogger, but I have a fear of flying so…it might not have worked out for me, hehe. Great stuff, passing this on!

  • Great post! I will join your FB group! 🙂
    I am looking forward to your next posts! It’s refreshing!
    I read a lot of posts about this topic and it is normally always the same! Finally, something different!
    abrokenbackpack.com

    • Awesome, I looks forward to welcoming you to my group 😀 So glad you found this post helpful and enjoyable… I didn’t want it to be a cookie cutter copy of everyone else’s 🙂 xx

  • Bart Steenbergen

    Wonderful post.. no boys in the FB group hmmm.. any others you can recommend? 🙂

    • The Under 1000 Club I mentioned is great! There’s also We Travel We Blog and Travel Bloggers Network, both of which are pretty helpful 🙂

      • Bart Steenbergen

        Now connected to the We Travel We Blog and Travel Bloggers Network. Appreciate your fast response!

  • Lovely post! Truly thankful for all the useful tips you have given. And I’ll definitely check out the Facebook groups!! With love,
    Vera

    theflashwindow.weebly.com/ (The Flash Window)
    https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/-flash-window–12782683 (Bloglovin)

  • Great post Sabina! and congrats on making it! I definitely think I’m on my way somewhere but I’m not prioritizing my blog so I don’t think I’ll ever take this as a career – it would make me a bit scared too I think to travel for a living and leaving my partner behind. Any tips to get rid of this weird anxiety?xx

  • This is such a very informative post and realistic 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing.

    STYLE VANITY

    • Thanks for the comment Alyssa, really glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂 xx

  • Great post. Really helpful tips for a new travel blogger like me 🙂

    Leonie ♥ Lo On The Go

  • Thank you for sharing all the Facebook groups out there, I have learned so much from yours in the just the few days since I’ve joined! The supportiveness of the community is amazing! Roar!

  • Those are great suggestions, especially the one about not limiting yourself and being open to explore other things to keep readers interested.

  • Well I got the 7 first covered! It’s the 8th one that’s been bugging me!! Looking forward to your tips on that front!

    • Hahah that’s the worst one of them all 😀 I’ll definitely be publishing more tips and tricks on here 🙂 Thanks for being an awesome part of the Girls vs Globe community btw! <3

      • You’re welcome! I love this community! I am a member of few FB groups (and moderator to one)…but rarely I see that much interation going on!! Thank you for setting it up!

  • Julie Becerra

    Love this thanks for writing it! That picture overlooking the lake makes me want to be there BAD 🙂
    – Julie http://www.onewhitebootblog.blogspot.com

  • Andrea Griffin

    Hi Sabina. Nice to meet you. I have a WordPress.com blog titled Rico a Roma (name chosen and blog started when I went to Rome last year for 2 months) but after reading your post, am thinking of changing the name. Although it’s a travel-related blog, I won’t always be in Rome or abroad. What are your thoughts regarding changing the name of an existing blog?

  • I love this post, Sabina! Keep up the good work 🙂

    • Really glad you liked the post Christina!! 🙂 <3

  • im a starting blogger so this was very helpful, thank you 🙂

    The Fashion Matters- Fashion & Travel Magazine

    • So glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  • So useful!!! 🙂
    I launched my blog just lately but 7k readers in such a short time still looks unbelievable. Well done! Could you share how you reached your First 1000 fans on FB maybe? Where did you promote your sites at the very beginning? Thank you!
    http://www.nextstopabroad.com

  • Jey Jetter

    Hi Sabine, very helpful! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge! I just started my own blog on wordpress.com and realised after that everyone is suggesting to go with wordpress.org instead… :-/ Also, I started spreading the word about my new blog with only very little content on it…now reading your advice about the ten posts for a start makes me itchy!! Gotta bring that content on quickly! 🙂 Thanks again, hope to connect and happy travels! 😀 http://www.jeyjetter.com

    • You can always transfer it to .org (posts, photos, url and all). Check out WPbeginner.com they have a tutorial about migration!

      • Jey Jetter

        Thanks Anna!!! I will probably do that soon 🙂

  • Hey Sabine, the to-do list that you have mentioned here is very much helpful for people who are at the inception point of there blog writing, but people can go for other hosting services good for a particular area of their target.

    • Of course, there are many hosting services like I said 🙂 I’ve just had a really good experience with BlueHost which is why I’d recommend choosing them. But my word isn’t the final word on the matter of course and I’d encourage people to do their research 🙂

  • Shailender Kumar

    Great post! Thank You! I am in the process of setting up my blog and have been working on it for more than a month. Your post will definitely be a great help to me, especially your suggestions regarding making connections. Thanks again!

  • Lauren

    Thanks for the great post! I’m considering starting to blog next year when my adventure begins 🙂

    • That’s awesome Lauren! So glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 Let me know when you start your blog or if you have questions in the mean time 🙂

  • Great post thank you so much! I am really looking forward to reading the next installment.

  • Carlotta

    Thank you very much for your tips!

    • So glad you enjoyed this post Carlotta! 🙂

  • Olga Rabo

    I love Girl VS Globe group on Facebook! It’s such a great (and easy) way to connect with everybody! And it’s so cool that the group is growing every day -yaay! 🙂
    But regarding this post – you make really good points, especially about choosing a name. It’s important to take your time and think about THE best name for your blog you can ever come up with because honestly, that’s just THE most important thing when you set up a blog! Sometimes it can take weeks to come up with something, but it’s better to wait than to rush, in my opinion.
    http://www.therussianabroad.com

  • disqus_o7YWYeUEXl

    Great post, I look forward to the next one!

  • Katya Jackson

    Very useful tips for those who are just starting 🙂 I’m blogging about different coffee shops in London and abroad (when travelling) – does it mean it’s a travel blog? Would be very interesting to know your opinion. Thanks!

    Katya

    Ok, But First Coffee

  • I wish I’d done a lot more researching before starting my blog! I got impatient and dived In head first without reading posts like this and now regret it! Thanks for the tips…

  • Ilia Usmanov

    Great tips! Thanks Sabrina. Im thinking of starting a blog to document my time in Australia and the travels I intend to do while Im living there. This helps a lot 🙂

  • Jonny Butterworth

    Thanks for the heads up – just joined the under1000 club!

  • Nice blog! Just joined GVG 🙂

  • Ana

    “The good news is that you’re officially hosted and your blog actually exists! The bad news is that it looks like poo.” – you had me actually ‘laughing out loud’. Thanks for the great tips!

    • Hahah I’m glad you found this entertaining 😀

  • Bliss Around The Corner

    An awesome post! Funny written, pleasure to read and at the same time practical and informative. I recently started my own blog (http://blissaroundthecorner.com) and turns out I’ve done everything right, except for #5 (it still looks like poo). Looking forward to reading through the rest of the blog, hope there is another post following this one.

  • I love these tips it’s so true that social media is a must 😀 !

  • Thank you for this! …I am very jealous of that starfish right now *glares at snow*

  • Louise

    I tried to join both Facebook groups and still haven’t been accepted, are you able to help please?

    Louise

    • Hi Louise! I *think* I just approved you yesterday? Let me know if you’re still having problems!! 🙂 xx

  • Luisa

    This is such a massive oversimplification! Not fair to readers who trust you. It’s not possible to just sign up with Bluehost then great, have a website. The domain name needs to be pointed to the hosting site, that’s long before get to wordpress any anything like a blog (you miss all of this out!), it’s complicated, need to understand name servers, DNS, how to navigate the bluehost site which is really difficult, their online chat wait time of assistance is 30 mins and doesn’t reduce as you wait, the email they send doesn’t have the correct information so need to contact them, they also require scanned copies of credit cards to verify and let you use the site, it is not as simple or nothing as you make it sound, not at all. Then there’s managing the domain provider website information to attempt to point, which after hours of trying altogether proves impossible. I didn’t want to make money blogging, but I didn’t want to end up paying for something that is not even nearly as you describe it and its only after paying that these things become apparent. Really not a good article, so misleading and disappointing. Would also be good to see some actual travel experiences, becoming disappointing in content and writing style in general. Lifestyle blog not travel blog is really more what is happening here now. Disappointing and the “Voila you have a website!” is just not true or fair to say.

    • Hi Luisa, hope your day is going well. I’m genuinely very sorry to hear you’ve had such a negative experience! I’ve been using BlueHost for a long time now and have never had issues with them which is why I’m recommending them to people who are just starting out.

      Their 1-click install worked well for me so it’s disappointing to hear that it didn’t work for you. Have you tried contacting them and asking for a refund or more technical help? Sadly I can’t grant refunds but it’s definitely worth asking them if you have legitimate grounds for complaints (which it sounds like you might have).

      I have found the online chat wait time a little long as well but it’s never been more than 5 minutes and my issues were usually resolved fast. Having said that I’m really sorry to hear your experience on that front was so negative as well and understand why you’re angry.

      I set up my site myself without anyone’s help and never had to deal with complicated name serves or DNS… so I’m not sure why your installation required you to do that? 🙁

      Were you starting a new website or transferring an existing one to BlueHost? Because if it’s the latter that is way more complicated (I went through it with this blog, from Blogger to WordPress) and it’s not what I’m explaining here. This is for people starting new blogs.

      Who is your domain provider? I recommended buying through WordPress because then you have it all on one platform. My domain was bought via a different provider initially but I transferred it to BlueHost for ease.

      I haven’t had anyone else contact me about being unhappy with the service and I’m really sorry that you feel like I’ve let you down.

      Believe it or not, I try to do my best to keep my readers happy and interested, and I really thought I was being quite thorough with this article. Lots of people seem to have found it helpful and I’m really sorry that you weren’t one of them.

      If you’d like to link your blog here, please go ahead and I’ll try to see if there’s anything I can help you with…

      As for my latest posts, I am transitioning toward more lifestyle content and while I understand not everyone will be happy with it this is a personal blog and it reflects my evolution as an individual. I’ve been really interested in food and lifestyle tips lately and it’s very clean on this page.

      I will definitely be writing about more of my travel experiences in the near future which I hope you will find interesting.

      I’m sorry this is such a long reply but I’m really sad that you feel like I’ve let you down and I’d love to help you out and undo the bad impression this post seems to have made on you. I really value my readers and know I’d be nobody without you guys, so it pains me that you feel cheated.

      Once again, let me know if I can help you in any way! 🙂

      Best wishes,
      Sabina

  • Planes & Champagne

    Hi Sabina,

    I am just starting out (2 weeks in to be exact!) and after lots blood, hours, sweat and tears I feel like I’m starting to get there. Your boost has given me a great boost so thanks so much for sharing your tips!

    http://www.planeschampagne.com

  • Great tips! I finally started my travel blog (www.nomadilogue.com) just a month ago and getting the hang of it. I have made a promise to myself to be prolific at writing and updating the blog often. Hopefully, I can keep that promise. At the moment, what I find laborious is getting connected with fellow bloggers and increasing my followers on social media. Do you have any more tips on this matter?

  • melinabanana

    These are great tips!! I hope one day I can really make it 🙂

  • Great tips.
    We just started with our blog and these are so helpful!

  • Awesome post. I love your humorous style of writing and that’s a tip I would say has helped me, although I have an extremely modest following but I am loving the journey! Writing should be consistent in style and timing. Uploading on the same days and sounding like yourself, otherwise your loyal following wont stick around. Thank you for the tips and for always being transparent 🙂 x

  • Dani

    This was an amazing post and a tremendous help! I’ve attempted a blog before with little research and after reading this I realize I wasn’t exactly setting myself up for success. This was incredibly insightful, I feel like I have an attainable goal that I will most definitely reach. I recently left my job to be there for my kids and with money running low the last thing I wanted to do is have to leave them & miss out on so much again to go back to work. You’ve given me hope that I can still be there for them while contributing to my home financially.
    Thank you!

    -Dani