Imagine getting paid to go on holiday!
That’s the dream, right?
And it’s this dream that most people have in mind when they first think about travel blogging.
However, the reality is not quite as black and white as this.
Travel blogging is about so much more than plane rides, hotel check ins and selfies at sunset.
Making it work takes hard graft, the right tools, and a generous dollop of talent, too.
To see if you’ve got what it takes and to pick up some insider tips, read on.
- Birthing your blog
- Do you have what it takes to be a travel blogger?
- How to make money from travel blogging
- The downside of travel blogging
- Travel blogging versus travel journalism
- Your getting started checklist
Birthing your blog
I know you’re probably anxious to start touring — but first, let’s do a little thinking.
1. Write a mission statement
Creating articles and videos for your travel blog isn’t simply about sticking a pin in a map and heading off to research and write about that destination.
The best travel blogs have a defined purpose.
It’s this purpose that draws in the readers.
To begin with, you’ll need to work out what travel blogging you’d like to do.
Do you want to write for:
- Solo travellers?
- Female travellers?
- Family travellers?
- LGBTQ+ travellers?
- Mature travellers?
Are there any specific areas of the world you want to concentrate on?
Do you want to focus on a particular type of travel experience? When it comes to travel blogging, there’s a huge list to choose from:
- City breaks
- Beach holidays
- Sustainable travel
- Foodie travel
- Adventure travel
- Walking holidays
- Luxury travel
- Budget travel
- RV holidays
- Off-grid travel
- Train journeys
- Road trips
- Cycling holidays
Once you’ve zeroed in on your focus, read this nine-minute article for help writing a mission statement.
Defining what you’re doing and why will make it much easier to choose topics, social networks and even partnerships down the line.
2. Choose a name
Now that you have an idea of the type of reader you want to write for, you’ll need to come up with a name for your blog.
Your name should:
- Be different to the names of other travel blogs
- Hint at what you stand for
- Be easy to remember
- Be easy to type
Here’s a few travel blog names I love:
- Alex in Wanderland
- The Blonde Abroad
- Bemused Backpacker
- The Poor Traveller
- Hand Luggage Only
Finally, before you set your heart on a name, you’ll need to make sure you can turn that name into a web address.
That is to say, you’ll need to check the corresponding domain name is available.
When you’re ready to do this, head to the GoDaddy website. Enter your blog name into the search bar and see if the matching domain name is free.
Already have a name in mind?
3. Start building your “brand”
Just like any business, travel blogging requires branding.
This means giving your blog a consistent look, feel, and tone that people will be able to recognise wherever they encounter it.
To begin with, you’ll want to develop a logo.
If you’re starting a blog because you love words, designing a logo might feel a little out of your comfort zone.
It helps to break down the process into the following constituent parts.
Think about your fonts
The fonts you use in your travel blogging logo will impact the way your readers perceive your brand. So, selecting the right fonts is very important.
If you want to deep dive into the topic of font psychology, you can invest in a book like “Why Fonts Matter” by Sarah Hyndman.Otherwise, here are a few pointers:
- Use serif fonts to convey luxury — serif fonts are those that have little flourishes on the ends of strokes.
- Use handwriting fonts to make readers feel more attached to your brand.
- Pick a narrow font to appear modern and contemporary. This could be a good option for a slick city break blog, for example.
- Choose a slab serif font to seem bold — in slab serif fonts, the edges of letters tend to be squared off.
Consider adding a graphic to your logo
Adding a graphic to your logo can make it more memorable.
There are three main types of graphics you could use in your travel blogging logo. These are:
- A literal image – this is an image that directly relates to your blog. Fortunately, travel lends itself nicely to literal images. You could use a globe, a flip flop, a campervan, a suitcase, a sunset — the list goes on and on.
- A narrative image – narrative images are those that hint at your story. If you’re writing about solo travel, for example, you might want to develop a logo that features an independent figure carrying a suitcase.
- An abstract image – abstract images tend to work better in corporate branding; think Mastercard’s twin circles, for example.
If you need a little help with the design process, tools like GoDaddy Studio could come in handy.
Once your logo is ready, its colours, fonts and other aesthetic principles should inspire the design of the rest of your site.
Use the right tone of voice
Your tone of voice refers to how you want to sound to your readers.
Now usually, your personality will dictate how you come across, especially if you’re writing first-person pieces (e.g., I, me, we).
However, it’s worth considering the following, before you start travel blogging in earnest.
- How much humour do you want to have in your blogs?
- Are you the sort of person who would be comfortable swearing in their blog?
- Do you want your own regional dialect and turns of phrase to come across in your blog?
- How personal do you want your blog entries to be?
People connect with real people. So, the more personality you put into your travel blogging, the better.
The only caveat is controversial topics such as politics and religion. Best to avoid these altogether.
4. Set up your travel blog
The good news is you don’t need to be an IT genius to be able to build a good travel blog.
While some travel bloggers choose to pay a professional web designer to build their blogs for them, plenty of others find they can create a functional, good-looking blog by themselves.
The most popular option for travel blogging is WordPress.
To go down this route, you’ll need to purchase a web hosting plan like GoDaddy’s, which comes with WordPress pre-installed.
Choose a theme
The first thing you’ll do when you start building a WordPress blog is to pick a template, which WordPress calls a ‘theme.’
There are hundreds to choose from and some, like Maicha Blog and Roam, are specifically designed for travel blogging.
WordPress themes are basically pre-built websites that you customise with your own words and pictures.
Other more generic themes that are suitable for travel blogging include Minimalist Blogger and Hello Elementor.
The best thing to do, really though, is to make a brew, open a pack of biscuits, and spend an hour or so browsing the travel blogging themes. One will inevitably jump out at you as ‘yours.’
While there are many free themes, consider paying for one as these are often more secure.
Paid themes are more likely to be updated regularly with security patches. Some also offer help and tech advice to those who buy them.
Once you’ve picked your theme, you make it yours it by:
- Replacing the words and photos in the pre-built blog with your own
- Adding new pages, such as a Photo gallery or Recommended resources page
- Filling out your Contact and About pages (the latter a good place to put your mission statement)
Any WordPress website can then be further tailored through the use of ‘plug-ins.’ These easy-to-install packets of software can help you add everything from live chat to contact forms to your site.
In fact, plug-ins are one of the reasons WordPress is wildly popular around the world.
There are more than 50,000 free plug-ins out there.
They allow you to add all sorts of features to your blog without having to know a single thing about computer coding.
For example, there’s a plug-in that will add:
- An editorial calendar to keep you organised
- A booking form for readers interested in your tours
- A contact form to start building relationships with your readers
- Spam protection
- Social sharing buttons
- Maps of destinations you’ve recently visited
But there’s no need to worry about plug-ins just yet (although this is a good place to start). Just know that when you see a need to add a feature to your travel blog, there’s probably a free plug-in to do it.
Related: The best WordPress security plug-ins
5. Populating your blog
Once you’ve designed the look and feel of your blog, you’ll need to get to work filling it with travel articles.
A lot of travel bloggers make the mistake of publicising their blogs before there’s enough content on them to encourage readers to revisit.
Obviously, content creation takes a huge amount of time.
It can take a day or two to write a single city guide, for example.
However, if you don’t put in the groundwork, you won’t be able to reap the rewards further down the line.
How many posts you need to start
So, how many articles should you have on your travel blog before you start promoting it?
This is a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ style question.
In general, though, statistics suggest that the average online reader consumes about five articles per reading session.
Obviously, you don’t want your readers to run out of articles after only one reading session.
So, you’ll want to have more than five articles on your blog before you start bringing readers to it via social media.
If you can, aim to have enough content for at least a week’s worth of average reading sessions.
Once you’ve got your foundation content, you’ll want to continue to post regularly.
How often to publish new articles
So, how often should you post on your travel blog?
Again, there are no set rules here.
However, some of the top travel bloggers post every few days. Some post every day.
Where to get ideas
Next comes the question: how do you keep coming up with ideas for your blog?
With seven continents, 195 countries and around 10,000 cities, the world will never let you run out of travel blogging content.
However, to keep your blog varied, you might want to make an effort to feature a range of content types.
Options include, but are by no means limited to:
- Comprehensive guides to cities and regions
- Reviews, of hotels, attractions and foodie spots
- Storytelling articles that focus on a particular character from a destination
- News pieces on hotel and attraction launches
- Lists and roundups of the best hotels/beaches/things to do in a certain location
- Photo-led pieces
- Interviews with key players in an area/field
- Frequently asked travel questions (FAQs)
Whatever types of content you choose to fill your blog with, always try to make your pieces distinct.
Strive for lesser-known angles. Tell the stories of the people you meet along the way.
Avoid writing clickbait pieces as you’re travel blogging. These are articles with tantalising headlines that don’t deliver what they’ve promised.
And always try to ‘show, not tell’ by filling your articles with sensory information like scents, temperatures, sounds and tastes.
6. Bringing people to your blog
With your blog now fat with juicy content, it’s time to start promoting it in earnest.
There are a few techniques you can use to let the world know about your blog.
Get active on social media
Post images, blog snippets, videos and polls and ensure that every social post features a call to action that encourages viewers to visit your blog itself.
Due to its visual nature, Instagram is a particularly good tool for travel bloggers.
If you’re camera shy, don’t worry. Even though social media is full of shots of influencers, posing in glamourous destinations, often with their gaze turned away from the camera, you don’t HAVE to be in the photos you share.
A good landscape or action shot can perform just as well.
Be sure to use hashtags to help people find your content.
Some hashtags will be obvious to you.
If you’ve written a piece about Jamaica, you’ll probably want to use the hashtag #jamaica.
Other hashtags will take a little research, although you’ll get to know some of the most popular ones as you go along:
Experts suggest that the ideal number of hashtags to use on an Instagram post is between three and five, although you can use up to 30 on a regular post.
Seek out guest post opportunities
Guest posts are articles that you write to be published on the blogs of other established travel writers or photographers.
You’ll need to harness your networking skills to build relationships with other travel bloggers in your industry before you can start travel blogging for others.
Be sure to do you research before you approach another travel blogger to see if they’ll accept a guest post from you.
You’ll need to be sure the type of article you propose would be suitable for their readership.
For example, you wouldn’t want to suggest a round-up of the world’s best adults-only hotels to a blogger who writes about family travel.
Start email marketing
Add a newsletter sign up form to your website and you can start sending regular emails to all those who sign up, to encourage them to return to your blog.
This is a great tactic to grow your readership.
There are a number of ways to add a newsletter sign up form to your site.
If you’ve used GoDaddy’s WordPress Hosting to create your travel blog, you can add a plug-in like The Newsletter Plugin to add a sign up form to your blog.
Related: Best email marketing tips
Do you have what it takes to be a travel blogger?
As with most things, there are successful travel bloggers … and then there’s everyone else. Read through my list of must-have skills to see how many you already have.
It goes without saying that you need to be an exceptional writer to be successful at travel blogging.
Rudimentarily, good travel writing boils down to a few main things — grammar, spelling and creative ability.
On the grammar and spelling front, it’s a given that you’ll need to know your its from your it’s and your they’re from your there, etc.
- If you use Microsoft Word to draft your posts, it has a feature that checks for both spelling and
- Those who write in WordPress could install a plug-in like WP Spell Check.
However, here are a couple more things to watch out for in your travel blogging if you want to make it big.
Lazy use of adverbs
Adverbs are words that modify verbs and they often end in ‘ly.’ For example, ‘really,’ ‘extremely,’ ‘actually’ and ‘slightly’ are adverbs.
In many cases, an adverb and verb combo can be replaced with a completely different stand-alone verb that works harder and sets a better scene.
For example …
Lazy use of an adverb: The yacht was really fast.
A harder-working alternative: The yacht sped through the water.
One of the most common mistakes you see in travel writing is the use of dangling participles.
These little demons occur when a writer uses an adjective to modify the wrong noun in a sentence.
I feel eyes glazing over here but stay with me!
Here’s an example:
“Weary from a long swim, the hammock was inviting.”
As written, this sentence suggests that the hammock was weary from a long swim.
The correct form of this sentence would be “Weary from a long swim, I found the hammock inviting.”
Now let’s move on to creative ability
We’ll begin with cliches.
The travel blogging world is a minefield of cliches, but a good writer can successfully banish them from their work.
Here’s a list of some of the most commonly used cliches in travel writing. These words have the power to make experienced travel writers gag!
- Sparkling sea
- Hidden gem
- Cosmopolitan city
- Golden sands
- Best kept secret
- Off the beaten track
When you’re tempted to write one of the above turns of phrase, pause for a moment. Look again at what you’re trying to describe and analyse the scene in front of you like a painting.
What does the colour of that sand really remind you of?
Caramac chocolate perhaps? Shortbread? Cookie dough?
How much of a secret is the place you’re visiting? If it’s in a guidebook or you can research it on the internet, it’s not really a secret. However, it might be accurately described as:
Next, let’s take a look at long sentences
When many people begin travel blogging, they believe that they need to fill their articles with long, literary sentences, full of descriptions and colour.
This isn’t always a bad thing.
However, it’s worth remembering that short sentences can work just as hard as long, verbose ones. And more readers will understand the shorter sentence.
Don’t forget, Hemingway always said ‘write as straight as you can.’
Finally, we’ll talk about ‘diary’ blogging
Many travel bloggers fall into the trap of simply writing a blow-by-blow account of their experiences in their blogs.
Very rudimentarily, these sorts of articles read like this:
- On day one we did this
- Then we did this
- Next, we did this
- Then we moved on to this
On day two we did this, and then we did this, and then we went here, and then we saw this. And so on.
These sorts of articles can start to feel dull and monotonous very quickly.
So, when you’re writing your travel articles, try to think in terms of themes and ideas rather than chronology.
No matter how great a writer you are, you can’t have a travel blog without imagery.
If you’re serious about travel blogging, you might want to think about taking a photography course.
Take a look at your local college to see if they offer any night courses in photography.
A typical ‘Introduction to digital photography’ course will usually require you to attend a single two- to three-hour lecture a week for between eight and 13 weeks. Prices start at around £200.
Another option is to check out the courses available at the The Open University.
If you’ve not got the time or money to invest in a full qualification, here are some things to bear in mind when taking travel shots.
Shoot away from the sun
This is one of the most basic tips in photography, so you’ll probably already know it. Just in case you don’t though, when you’re starting out as a travel photographer, you should always try and take photos with the sun behind you.
When you get more experienced or skilled-up, you can start playing around with light.
Remember the rule of thirds
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but some of the best travel photographs demonstrate the rule of thirds.
So what is it exactly?
The rule of thirds is a compositional technique that involves breaking down a potential shot into thirds, both horizontally and vertically.
So, you imagine a grid of nine boxes, like the one below, over your photo.
The trick is to place the subject of your photo on or near the left or right vertical gridline and to try and compose a photo that has three fairly equal parts — for example, sky, sand, sea.
This image demonstrates the rule of thirds:
Use leading lines
In a photograph, leading lines draw a viewer’s eye to the subject. They can take the form of a road, a railway track, or a bridge for example.
As you can see, the bridge draws the viewer’s eye to the subject — the person walking away.
When taking a photo, consider the foreground, midground and background. You can play around with objects in these areas to offer scale and context to images, as in the below photograph.
While you don’t NEED video content to succeed as a travel blogger, adding the odd video to your site can significantly enrich your articles.
It also gives you something extra to post on your social media accounts, to entice people to your blog.
Videos may even increase the time visitors spend on your travel blog, which could improve your search ranking.
The good news is you don’t need thousands of pounds’ worth of expensive video equipment to be able to produce watchable video content.
It’s acceptable to shoot footage using your mobile phone.
If you’re using your mobile, read up on the editing functions available on your device.
Alternatively, you can use a tool like GoDaddy Studio.
So how do you decide whether a photo or a video would work best for your blog at any given time?
Generally speaking, videos work well for:
- Depicting action — like zip lining, off roading, scuba diving etc
- Showcasing emotion
- Detailing how something works
- Interviews with locals
- Showcasing aerial views — however, for this kind of footage you’d need to learn how to pilot a drone and be sure that the location you’re filming in permits drone photography.
Even if your travel blog is about solo travel, you’ll need to be a people person to make your site a real success.
Networking is an essential skill for any budding travel blogger.
- You’ll need to befriend press representatives, to find out about the latest news from destinations and tourism providers around the world.
- You’ll be invited to attend tourism product launch parties, where you’ll have to hobnob with other writers, photographers and press representatives.
- You may be asked to join press trips alongside other travel bloggers, influencers and journalists and you’ll be expected to spend almost all day every day with them.
- You’ll need to attend conferences to source information.
On the topic of conferences, here are two that all the best travel bloggers try to attend:
The World Travel Market, London, early November
More than 3,000 travel destinations, hotel brands, airlines, attractions and more have stands at this three-day exhibition.
Visitors can simply browse the stands to discover the latest news from worldwide brands and organisations.
Or they can set up meetings with representatives from those brands to discuss opportunities.
ITB Berlin, Berlin, March
Just like the World Travel Market, this convention sees thousands of tourism organisations from around the world converge on Berlin to share their latest news and meet with members of the press, influencers and each other.
How to make money from travel blogging
It’s not always easy to make money from a travel blog.
In fact, there’s a bit of a joke in the industry that behind every successful travel blogger there’s a:
- Rich spouse
- Trust fund
- Former job in tech or finance
That’s not to say it can’t be done by the average Jo, though. You just have to be realistic that it takes time and effort to monetise your site.
Once you’ve built a decent audience, using the steps mentioned above, you can try the following tips for making money from your blog:
If you’ve never heard of affiliate links before, they’re links to external company websites that you add to your blog copy.
If a reader clicks on one of these links and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a fee.
Some of the world’s most recognisable travel brands offer affiliate partner schemes, including the likes of:
- Get Your Guide
Commissions vary, but you can earn as much as 25% of the commission the external company receives for the booking that’s made.
Every affiliate scheme is slightly different, so brush up on the rules and participation requirements on their website.
Of course, there are two things to bear in mind when including affiliate links in your copy:
Firstly, readers don’t like to feel like they’re being manipulated. You should always add a disclaimer to articles that include affiliate links, explaining that you’re using them.
For example, Nomadic Matt’s disclaimer reads as follows:
Secondly, be sure to only link to companies you genuinely respect.
Your readers are coming to you as a source of expertise and will follow your advice and guidance.
If you link to a company with a bad reputation or poor product offering and your readers use these links, they will lose trust in your blog and your audience could dwindle.
Some of the world’s leading travel bloggers sell products and services through their blogs, too.
- Self-written guidebooks
- Travel blogging workshops
- Photography masterclasses
- Curated group tours
- Travel-related fine art prints
- Travel luggage
- Travel gifts
This is something to consider after your blog is established.
If you decide to start selling products from your WordPress blog and are using GoDaddy’s managed hosting, just upgrade your plan to Managed WordPress eCommerce.
If not, add WooCommerce to your WordPress blog.
When you add adverts to your blog, you get paid whenever a visitor clicks on one.
You can use Google’s AdSense to add adverts in areas like the footers (bottom) and sidebars.
All you have to do is set up an AdSense account to get a piece of AdSense code and copy and paste that code to your site. (You can find complete instructions here.)
Google will be in charge of determining which ads to place on your site, but it will try to place ads that are relevant to your content.
On a travel blog, AdSense might place an advert for an airline.
The Adsanity plug-in is another option for WordPress travel blogs.
This lets you add your own advertisements to your travel blog, by adding an image and a link. You get to choose how long the ad will appear on your blog.
Sponsored content is the term given to blog articles that are commissioned by third parties to promote the third party’s goals. For sponsored content and actually for any type of collaboration you should have your contact information easily accessible on the blog and for the sake of looking like a pro, a business email is preferable, either with your name or a simple email@example.com address.
In exchange, the third party pays the travel blogger — either in cash or products/services.
These blogs mimic the content formats that usually appear on a travel blog and travel bloggers tend to write them in their usual style. They just need to get sign off from the third party before they publish the article.
As with affiliate links, it’s important to highlight which articles are paid content, so readers don’t feel manipulated or duped by you.
Here’s an example of a disclosure from Alex in Wanderland:
According to OptinMonster, travel bloggers charge around $200 for a sponsored post.
The downside of travel blogging
If you can make travel blogging work, you’ll experience a long list of perks.
- You’ll see the world
- You’ll meet quirky characters
- You’ll inspire people
- You’ll work with words all day, every day
- You’ll make indelible memories
However, even travel bloggers have down days.
Before you truly launch yourself into the world of travel blogging, it’s important to understand the following:
It can be tiring
Jet lag, packed itineraries, late nights and early mornings all contribute to making travel blogging tiring.
Trying to fit the writing up of articles, the marketing activities and the networking with everyone from travel PRs to affiliate scheme reps around busy trips can tip some writers into burn out.
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You can find it hard to turn off
Taking a trip for travel blogging purposes is very different to going on holiday.
You can’t simply sit down for a sundowner cocktail, for example.
You need to:
- Take photos of it
- Make a note of the ingredients
- Write down what it tasted like
These always-on behaviours easily become a habit.
You could find yourself on your friend’s hen do interviewing the bartender about his approach to mixology, when your friends only want to move on to the next bar.
There will be times when you miss your loved ones
Successful travel bloggers can be away from home for months of the year, sometimes more.
This can lead to missed time with everyone from partners to parents.
You will meet some amazing people when you’re a travel blogger and many of these people will be fellow writers.
Over time you’ll form a network of peers, and you’ll all support each other.
However, travel blogging is a competitive world and every now and again you’ll encounter a writer who might:
- Steal an idea
- Poach a connection
- Brag with an intention to undermine your confidence
- Behave unethically
When this happens, just turn to your network of trusted peers and they’ll pick you back up again.
Travel blogging versus travel journalism
While both travel journalists and travel bloggers write about the world for a living, their jobs do differ.
To get into travel journalism, for example, you’ll usually need to have completed a journalism degree or a National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) course that teaches you all the essential journalism skills:
- News reporting
- Sub editing
- Shorthand (often)
Some travel writers also get into their positions by completing internships.
When you’re a travel journalist, you’ll write articles that suit the readership of the publication/s you write for, rather than set your own agenda.
You’ll also have to write in the tone of that publication.
Your getting started checklist
So – ready to go?
Here’s your checklist.
- Appraise your photography skills — do you need to take a course?
- Get to know the video functionality on your phone
- Define your mission
- Choose a name
- Design a logo
- Set up a blog site
- Get writing
- Keep writing
- Start promoting your work on social media
- Think about sending out a newsletter
- Seek out guest post opportunities
- Look into affiliate schemes
- Add advertising to your site
- Write some more
Good luck! Maybe I’ll see you out there.