How To Start a Travel Blog

Starting a blog is one of the best ways to build an audience, get your ideas out into the world, and possibly make some (or a lot) of money while doing what you love. Everyone has different reasons for beginning a blog and different goals in mind when they do so. Your personal path will dictate some of the choices you make along the way. One thing that is true for everyone, however, is that the only way to succeed is to get started.

Taking that first step can be a huge challenge, but by the end of this article, you should have the tools you need to feel confident and prepared to start your travel blog today.

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This article is a great place to learn the strategy of a travel blog. If you want step-by-step instructions on how to start your own travel blog, check out our free blogging course. 

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What Is Your Blog About?

Since you are here reading this article, chances are you already have a good idea of what you want your blog to be about - travel! But there are many areas of travel that you can cover. Are you writing a female solo travel blog? A blog about traveling with children? A blog about traveling in India?

You can really help move your blog along by having a specific subject area you want to cover. It will help you focus your writing and come up with content ideas.

There’s a quote that fits this situation perfectly:

"If you try to be everything for everbody, you will be nothing to no one."

Establish Your Niche

When creating a new blog, you need to find your niche. This is the corner of the market that you have the most knowledge about, the place you can establish yourself as an absolute authority. If you try to take on the Expeditioner all at once, you will discover just how overwhelming it can be to compete with a well-established blog.

The important thing is to find a niche that is not too narrow and not too wide. “Travel” is so wide that you will probably not stand out from the competition. “Travel in Midland, Texas”, will leave you without enough to write about or too small an audience. You need something in the middle. 

Some examples of niche travel blogs are:

Name Your Blog

Once you’ve found your niche, it’s a great time to start brainstorming a name for your blog. You’ll want to pick a name that’s brandable and available. Use our domain name tool to check if your name is available. If it is, scoop it up before someone else gets to it first.

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Finding Your Audience

Having a good sense of who is going to be reading your blog is one of the best ways to know what type of content to create, how to shape it, and, ultimately, how to grow your following. With a clear understanding of your niche, understanding your audience should come more naturally.

Finding your target audience - the people you want hanging out on your blog - isn’t only statistics and demographics. It requires a deeper understanding of who these people are and what they want. Your target audience is the people you’re writing to when you write your blog.

Are you writing to those who really want to travel, but have never taken the leap, or are you writing to an audience with plenty of traveling experience? Whatever the focus of your content, knowing who you are writing to will help you set your tone and decide exactly how you want to communicate with your audience.

Create a Persona

One way to understand your audience is to create a persona of your perfect target audience member. This essentially means creating a mock-up of the ideal person you hope to reach with your blog.

Here is an example of a target audience persona:

Tony Trusk Persona

Having a persona for your perfect audience member helps you to visualize and understand who you are writing for and provides important direction to your content.

Be Your Own Persona

Another popular way to find your perfect target audience is to be your own persona. Many of the best products and services come from scratching your own itch. It’s possible you’ve searched for the perfect travel blog to read, came up short, and decided to create it yourself. This makes you the perfect audience member for your own blog.

This can be a great strategy for creating highly effective content. If you’ve noticed a meaningful omission in blog content, chances are you are not alone. By writing personally satisfying content you are likely to reach an audience in search of the same things.

Where Is Your Audience Hanging Out?

No web content exists in a vacuum. While you should strive to create uniquely entertaining content for your blog, your target audience is almost certainly already out there reading other blogs, engaging on specialized forums, and using social media. Finding the sites where your audience already mingles is a great way to discover what topics they are most interested in, what language they are using, and what valuable content you can add to that mix.

Some examples for your travel blog may include:

  • NomadicMatt.com
  • ExpertVagabond.com
  • Wanderlust.co.uk
  • TheExpeditioner.com

Visiting these sites is also a great way to begin engaging with your audience before your blog has even gone live. Jump into conversations on forums and in comments sections and get to know the people you’ll be writing for. This is a great, organic way to build relationships and direct people to your blog in its early days. Sharing your passion with like-minded people will make them more excited and passionate about supporting you in your blogging endeavor.

How Will You Present Your Work?

Traditionally, when most people think about a blog they picture written content on a page. However, there are several different ways to present your ideas on your blog, depending on your subject matter and target audience. Every blog will thrive with different formats, so it’s important to think carefully about how to best showcase your content before you start.

There are several effective methods of presenting the material on your travel blog. They include:

Evergreen Articles

As the name suggests, evergreen articles are composed of content that lasts. These articles are designed to have a long shelf life and continue drawing readers to your blog over time. They are typically long-form, text-based articles that delve more deeply into a particular topic.

One good idea for travel content that stays evergreen is reviews of travel gear. Your opinion is unlikely to change about a piece of gear, at least not soon, which means your reviews will stay accurate for years. You can review new gear, but you can also review gear that everyone recommends as tried and true. Your reviews will be appealing to new readers, especially those that are trying to get an opinion about something that everyone assumes is important - but may or may not be.

Videos

While the video format is not new, the explosive growth of YouTube and the advent of new and innovative video-based tech like Snapchat and TikTok have shown the true power of video as an online medium. While you may think that creating video is much more difficult and expensive than writing your content, you have access to all the technology you need to make high-quality video content right on your smartphone.

Travel blogging really lends itself to video content - you are going to all these amazing places, and your audience cannot wait to go along with you. You can make videos of your travels and post them on your blog each time you travel somewhere new. Don’t worry too much if your video making skills are not where you want them to be. Regular practice will make you better and help you get results that you are more eager to share. You might consider taking a class on videography as well if you think videos are going to be a major part of your content strategy.

News-type Articles

News articles or other “announcement” type content can be a great way to gather new readers. One benefit of news content is the short-term but powerful increase in search volume during an event. While this bump may be temporary, it can be a great tool for grabbing new readers who end up coming back for more.

Writing about current events or new happenings also means there will typically be less competition for readers. Other blogs and media sources are all getting the information as it develops. Since the base of knowledge available is smaller, this gives you a good opportunity to add your own flavor to the article.

The downside to news-type articles is that they tend to lose popularity much more quickly than evergreen content. While the interest for an event may be very large one day, the next day people may already be moving on to the next shiny object.

Travel gives you some options when it comes to news-type posts. Depending on your niche, you could create posts about things that are happening in specific destinations, posts about new travel gear and books, or other news that you think are relevant to your audience. You are already encountering news each day you research your niche. All you have to do is write some blogs about what you find to have your own news-type content.

Image-heavy Content

While most people expect to be reading when they visit a blog, image-heavy content can be very appealing and break up your text-focused posts to keep people’s attention. Depending on the topic of your post, displaying multiple images per page on a single subject can give your audience a better sense of what you are trying to convey.

While some topics may take to images very easily, like a car blog or a celebrity gossip site, others may require some deeper thinking to make this strategy work.

Since you are creating a travel blog, there is a strong possibility that you are already heavily invested in photography. Even if you are not practiced in taking photos, you are probably planning on improving your travel photography skills to enhance your blog. 

Images are such a major part of travel blogging that it would be unusual for you to not have image-heavy content on your blog. If you are the rare travel blogger that is intimidated by photography, take heart. Everyone can learn to take quality photos with practice and instruction. Try taking a travel photography class to get your feet wet. Once you gain some basic skills, you will have a lot of fun recording your adventures.

Mix and Match

Your travel blog should mix and match content delivery strategies to attract the widest possible audience. It will keep your work interesting and make your audience more excited when you try out different types of content. Don’t worry, it is normal to have a preferred style of content that you like making. Whether you prefer writing, photography, videography, or something else, you can gain proficiency in other areas. Take a chance and step outside your comfort zone periodically to try making different types of travel content.

How To Make Money From A Travel Blog

One of the main reasons people start blogs is to generate some sort of profit. Whether you’re looking for a few hundred dollars per month or a job-replacing income, blogging is still an excellent way to make those dreams a reality.

There are a few great ways to make money from a travel blog:

Display Ad Networks

Display ads are the simplest way for websites to generate any sort of income. Ad networks, like Google Adsense, are fairly simple to be accepted into, and implementation onto your site is streamlined and clean. If you’re just beginning to see some traffic to your blog and want to turn this into dollars, display ads are where most people start.

There are a few downsides to display ads, however. The first is that some feel they detract from the user experience on your blog. Most people have been to a site where large ads pop up and block the content in the middle of reading. This can be distracting, frustrating, and even drive people away from your blog. While it’s possible to clean up and control the type of ads you use, it can be a constant battle to balance effective ad placement with aesthetics and readability.

The other main downside is that they don’t pay a lot. These networks generally use a pay-per-click (PPC) model which, depending on the niche, can pay anywhere from $0.01 to $1.50 per click, most on the lower end.

While display ads are a great way to make your first dollars, you’ll want to make sure any negatives they bring are worth the profits they provide. Once you develop a solid following, you can consider moving on to more lucrative and effective profit-making options.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Affiliate have become much more popular over the past few years, as they take the payment model from pay-per-click to cost-per-acquisition (CPA). This means you can refer as many users to an advertiser’s product as you want, but will only get paid when the user makes a purchase.

Both advertisers and publishers benefit from an affiliate marketing setup. The advertiser pays nothing until a sale is made and the publisher enjoys much higher commissions than the pay-per-click model.

Travel bloggers can make an excellent income from affiliate marketing programs, especially when they are incorporated in a way that really serves the blog’s readers. You can try as many affiliate programs as you want, but you will probably find that some are more appropriate for your niche and your personal preferences than others.

Booking.com is a great affiliate program used by many travel bloggers. You can write about the places you loved staying and encourage your readers to book through Booking.com. For each booking that your audience makes, you get a commission from the Affiliate program. 

Eurail is another affiliate program that makes a lot of sense for any travel writer writing about European travel. You can encourage your readers to buy their Eurail passed through your affiliate program. Each sale that you make through the affiliate program will give you a commission.

Sell Digital Products

Digital products are an online entrepreneur's dream. You create the item once, then sell it as many times as you can, with little to no cost of reproduction. This means that you can scale your business to infinity.

Examples of digital products are:

  • Ebooks - A piece of writing, generally in PDF format. These can contain literally anything that your audience would want. They can either be true book-length all the way down to a few pages of content. Depending on your niche, audience, and subject, these can run from $1 to $100 per sale fairly easily.

  • Gated Content - This is content that is served on your website just like any other article, except that is behind a “paywall”. If you are creating content that you don’t want to be released to anyone but your true followers, you have them sign up for an account on your site and charge them a subscription fee for access. Generally, authors charge anywhere from $5 to $200 per month for access to gated content.

  • Online Courses - If you can teach a skill that your audience wants to learn, you can create an online course to sell to them. These courses can be formatted in whatever way makes the most sense to you, but most nowadays are video courses. Online courses can sell from $10 to well over $10,000 per course, obviously depending on the subject matter and audience.

An excellent example of a digital product that a travel blogger could create is an online course in travel photography. If you are great at taking travel photographs and believe you could teach others to do the same, you could design an online course that answers all the basic questions about travel photography and package it to sell to your audience. A well-produced course in this niche could sell for $200 or more.

Sell Physical Products

Selling physical products is the original money-making strategy. You gather an audience that is hungry for something, you sell it to them, and everyone wins. You don’t have to be an inventor, designer, or manufacturer to sell products. Sites like Alibaba and AliExpress import already-made items into the United States and sell them for a markup.

The two main methods for the distribution of these items are: dropshipping and self-fulfilled.

Dropshipping is a method where you advertise a product on your site that you do not own. Once you make the sale, you inform the manufacturer, who will handle the shipping and handling to the end-user. While this is simple because you don’t have to worry about storing or shipping any items yourself, you’ll find that the margins can be quite slim.

Self-fulfilled sales are much more of a hands-on approach to sales. You buy the item from the manufacturer, store it, then ship it to the end-user once you have made the sale. While there is much more work involved, you’ll find that the margins per sale are much higher.

It might not seem easy at first, but you can figure out ways to sell products on your travel blog. Many bloggers begin with simple, inexpensive products that they can mark up before sale to their readers - like branded apparel, stickers, stationery, and so on. You can buy these things for a few dollars apiece and sell them for much more, particularly if your audience is enthusiastic and loves your brand.

While it can be very profitable when done well, selling products is not generally recommended for the beginner blogger. It’s best to secure an audience that you know will be receptive to the product before making a large investment in product development or acquisition.

Create A Service

Providing a service is another very basic money-making plan. If you can provide a service that you know your audience needs, you have a viable business on your hands.

Whether this service is delivered through one-on-one interaction with the user, through a piece of software that you develop, or by directly completing a task for the user, this is a great way to monetize your skillset and your blog.

If your travel blog focuses on travel writing skills, you could put on workshops for would-be travel writers. If you focus on travel photography, you could offer seminars on taking travel photographs. Once you know your niche and your skillset, you can determine which service is right for you and your audience.

You have positioned yourself as an expert on your blog, which means you can charge a premium for your services. Try to avoid overcommitting yourself, though, because you need to keep your blog going to serve your audience and keep attracting more business. Even if the money seems great, remember to balance your services with your blog for long-term success.

Next Steps To Get Your Travel Blog Started

Now that you have the strategies in place to build and grow your own blog, check out our free course: How To Start A Blog.

This course includes all the essentials on how to get your blog out of your head and onto its own website. Starting a blog is simple and inexpensive, so there’s no reason that you shouldn’t start today!

Free Course: How To Start A Blog

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