How to start a travel blog in just an hour
Since starting this website a couple of years ago we have had many readers and friends ask us about starting their own travel blog. Most people just want to document their travels for friends and family back home and decide on using an off the shelf type blog like travelpod or wordpress.com. If you just take an hour out of your time however, you can create your own personal travel blog that might even make you a little money!
1. Think of a name
Before you start you need to think of a name for your blog / website. Have a brainstorming session with friends and family and pick more than one choice. globalhelpswap was our second or third choice name as our first choice was already taken. You can search for names here. Once you have a name you are ready for the next step. (Try to grab all of the social media sites with the same name too. There is nothing more frustrating than having a website with one name and a facebook page with another.)
Whenever we mention the term hosting people either give us a blank look or they look terrified. Think of hosting like you would renting an apartment. It’s a place on the web where you rent to put your blog / website. We use a great company called A Small Orange. They are smaller than some of the other hosting companies but their service is excellent with a free 24 hour technical support team on hand instantly. We highly recommend them, plus it’s good to give smaller companies some business.
From the front page click on Sign Up Here and then choose your hosting plan. They start from as little as $3 a month for their smallest plans. Once you have chosen your plan, click on the green sign up button.
Now you should be on the payment page. You can choose to pay monthly, annually or even every two years. For now we would recommend to pay monthly just to make sure you are happy with everything. The next step is to register your domain name (website name) if you have not already done so. You then can add some add-ons like Free SSL certificate and Basic Security Scans. After paying you are all set for stage 3!
3. Install WordPress
WordPress.Org is THE platform that bloggers use. Every single blogger we know uses WordPress. A Small Orange has an easy one click installation which will set you up in no time. When it asks you where you’d like to install it, choose your domain name. Once WordPress is installed, log in at www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin and hey presto you are into the dashboard of your new website!
4. Choosing your theme and adding plugins
WordPress has almost 3,000 themes to choose from, most are free but there are also some premium themes that you have to pay for. A theme is the general look of your site and layout. Have a good look before choosing your theme. Plugins are one of the best things about WordPress. Think of WordPress as your empty home and think of plugins as the cool furniture you put in it. There are thousands of plugins if not millions of them. The great thing about them is that most of them are free! To begin with we would recommend these plugins:
Akismet – This plugin stops the inevitable comment spam that you will start receiving once you go live.
Facebook – Add a facebook social plugin to your site.
Google analytics – Google analytics is the best way to see all the traffic that is coming to your blog.
Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.
Shareaholic – Whether you want to get people sharing, grow your fans, make money, or know who’s reading your content, Shareaholic will help you get it done.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
5. Create a sign-up form
Once you start writing you will want your friends, family and fans to receive notifications of your new blog post direct to their e-mail inbox. We use MailChimp to send out our campaigns. Mailchimp is free for the first 2,000 e-mail addresses that you capture. If you start sending to more than 2,000 inboxes then you definitely should complete our final task.
6. Join Travel Blog Success
If you want to take your blog to the next level then you really should join Travel Blog Success. We joined after about a year of blogging and was instantly impressed with the resources available, the community spirit and the help you get from your fellow travel bloggers. Once you join Travel Blog Success you will have access to online resources, forums and webinars.
And that’s it. You now have your very own website! However, now you are just at the beginning of your journey. Blogging takes time. When we did our first around the world trip we did not realize how long it takes to write a post, upload images or video and then send it out to all friends and family back home. It’s even worse if you have very slow wifi speeds. You will be spending lots of time in coffee shops!
However, persevere with it. Not only will your friends, family and fans appreciate your effort to write your stories you will also have a great memento of your travels when you get back home. I often look back at our old blog and it always brings a smile to my face.
Happy Travels and remember what Benjamin Franklin famously said: Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.