Do you have a burning desire to share your travels with hundreds or thousands of readers every month? Do you plan your next vacation while you’re still on your current one? Do you just dream of quitting your day job, trotting the globe, and meeting new people? You should totally become a travel blogger! If you’re still wondering how to become a travel blogger (yes, that intro was sweet, but not super informative), read on!
How to Become a Travel Blogger #1 Piece of Advice: Read (A Lot!)
The reason I became a travel blogger is because I would spend endless hours reading about faraway places in magazines, like Travel and Leisure, Budget Travel, and Afar. I’m also a sucker for Hemispheres, the United in-flight magazine that you get in first class (you can also find it in the lounge if you’ve got two free passes a year like me!).
I’ve been a freelance writer for 15 years, but I was too chicken to pitch these magazines. What if they hate me? What if I feel so bad about the process I no longer find joy in reading them?
Yet reading these magazines gave me some serious insight into the types of stories they publish.
Read a lot.
Then read some more.
Reading helps you hone your voice and gives you invaluable information about what the major pubs are looking for. You’ll need these guys when it comes to establishing credibility and getting backlinks to market your blog and increase your traffic.
There’s no time like yesterday to start writing about travel. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be pen to paper or digits to keyboard. If you’re like me, you can start by making a list of the articles you want to write and why you want to write them.
When you’re first starting out, you don’t need to have a fully fleshed-out plan to be a travel blogger. You simply just need to have a love of writing and travel.
You also don’t need to be currently on a world trip to get the most out of your writing. If you’re land logged and can’t pull a trip out of your derriere ASAP, here are a few writing prompts to get you going:
- Where is your favorite place in the world? Write why you love it. Include sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and colors. Don’t leave out any detail.
- What was your worst vacation? Why did you hate it? Why did you choose that vacation in the first place? How does remembering that trip make you feel inside?
- Where are the top 10 places you want to travel? What is appealing about these places?
You can also write about your hometown, take daytrips, and write about past trips to help you start to get the gears turning.
Create a Plan/Find Your Niche
If you’re like me, you want to create a plan for your website before you even begin posting. I chose my niche because I’m a NYC tour guide, and I already know a lot about the city. Being a tour guide establishes my credibility—something you’ll need if you want people to trust you.
Are you an expert on anywhere/anything?
Make a list of some of your favorite travel-related topics. Remember, you don’t want to pivot your blog too often, so you’ll want to pick a topic you’ll be able to stick with for months/years/decades.
Do you want to write a travelogue or a how-to ravel blog? How do you want to format your blog?
My blog is formatted like a travel book. I sell my tours here, offer tips and tricks, recommend hotels, and teach people how to ride the subway.
Yet, you might want to format your blog like a travel journal. Some travel bloggers make this work really well. But you generally need to have some sort of a following for people to really get behind it since a lot of travelers want advice or tips.
Sign Up for a Class
There are a lot of classes out there for travel bloggers. Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging is the one I chose (and possibly one of the most popular out there right now).
If you’re new to blogging, you’ll learn how to set up your blog, find inspiration, find readers, and join a blogging community.
I kinda wish I had waited to sign up for the Nomadic Matt class before starting my website. I’m going be frank with you guys, a lot of the information in the course is for brand-new bloggers. When I signed up, I’d been blogging for about a year. But had I signed up at the beginning, it would have saved me a lot of sweat and tears. I made a lot of mistakes that signing up for this course would have prevented.
But I ended up getting a lot out of the course anyway. I got a kick-ass community, tons of backlinks (super important as you’ll see down below), a recommendation for a website theme that was a game-changer for my site, and one-on-one help from Nomadic Matt’s tech guy (who responded to my questions ASAP—even on the day his kid was born!).
Create a Website
It’s never too early to create your website. Just. Do. It.
I use WordPress as my content management system (where I write my articles for my blog). I recommend them. So does the Huffington Post. And the New Yorker. And the Star Wars Blog.
You’ll also need to find a host for your blog. I use DreamHost. How did I finally choose this host, you ask? I simply Googled, “Best web host 201X,” and found a list of highly rated website hosts. DreamHost always seemed to make it to the top of the list. I then asked my brother-in-law, who is an IT director of a world-famous insurance company. He agreed that I should get DreamHost.
I’m happy with the decision because as a non-tech person, I’m always clueless on how to do things, like fix my website when it crashes. DreamHost has a customer service chat that allows me to get help immediately for these types of issues.
Increase Your Traffic
One of the most important parts of running a travel blog is getting visitors to want to care about your content. You can do this in a variety of ways (many of which you’ll learn about in the Nomadic Matt class), but the most straight-forward way to find customers is to insert SEO keywords into your posts so potential readers can find you.
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. All it means is that you’re optimizing your blog posts to be found by potential readers.
When you’re trying to find a good Chinese restaurant in your town, you’d probably open up your browser and type, “Best Chinese Restaurant, Akron,” or something like that. Your potential visitors all have ideas of what they want before they know they want them.
They might type in a keyword like, “How to get a good deal on a flight,” or, “Best way to see Mt. Kilimanjaro,” or something like that.
The idea of SEO is that you need to figure out how your potential readers think in order to be found.
One of the best tools I use is SEMRush. You can do keyword research, check out your competitors’ keywords, and even discover your competitors’ web traffic stats. You’ll also want to download the Google Suite for analytics and keyword research. I also recommend taking a class on SEO. I took one at General Assembly, taught by an ex-Google employee. Who better to learn from?
You’ll also want to start building backlinks to your blog. This is simply a way to create authority with Google. When Google sees that other sites link to you, it means you’re an authority. Again, this is something else Nomadic Matt teaches in his class that is too meaty and lengthy to dive into too deeply here.
Once you find a tribe of other travel bloggers, you’ll have no problems getting people to link to your blog.
Get On the Road
The final step is to actually get out on the road and travel. Even if your blog is all about your hometown, you’ll want to check out some of the sweet destinations you find on other travel blogs.
You may also want to find out how it feels to be a travel consumer. There are dozens of things you’d need to know about a destination before you get traveling. Yet, it’s hard to think like a traveler if you’re not traveling too much yourself.
You can also find a travel tribe when you’re on the road—especially if you travel solo. There are so many solo travelers out there who just want to link up with other travelers. And who wouldn’t want to hang out with you for a few days?
Got any question? Comments? Ideas for band names? List them in the comments below!
Oh haaaay. If you happen to click on some of these links and sign up for any of the programs, I’ll get a little somethin’-somethin’ for sending you their way. But guess what?! I only refer stuff I actually use and enjoy. Nearly everything I’ve referred in this post I earn a commission on. But to keep it even-stevens, I’ve also included some links to other products.