Starting A Travel Blog – What We Did [HOW TO GUIDE]

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Blogs are the modern newspaper and a public journal, providing a source of information on a massive range of topics. Travel blogs are popular, forming one of the best sources of relevant and insightful information related to destinations you are visiting or looking to head to on vacation.

2 Cups of Travel provides memories, tips, advice and personal anecdotes based upon our travel experiences. This guide provides an overview about how we started this blog and the steps we took to start it up. While we acknowledge that our site is not a finished product, we have enjoyed the process, and put this guide together in response to a number of questions. It is important to state at this stage that starting a blog does require time commitments, some level of skill and often a modest financial investment. This is often offset by earnings through the website, but it is something go consider when considering starting a blog. We hope you find it useful, and please share in the comments and tips you have found helpful in starting your own blogs or websites.

Step 1: why start a travel blog?

Our why..

For us, starting our travel blog was initially as a virtual diary for us, friends and family for a 6 month “holiday of a lifetime”. We love travel and were keen to share our experiences with others. The more we have travelled, the greater the moments we have shared and hidden gems we have uncovered. We aim to share our knowledge with others in a way that captures our experiences. We also love social media interaction, and enjoy sharing experiences. Find out more about us here!

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Your why?

This is for you to decide, but should play a big part in the type of blog you decide to create. You might want to use it as a creative outlet? Perhaps you want to document your travels like we did? Or you may be a photographer who wants to share your photos online? Maybe you’re looking to set it up as a side hustle? Whatever your reasons, and they can change as you go, it’s a good idea to have this sorted before you start.

Skills required = none! You only need your creativity and your own drive/reason to get started. Basic understanding of design, coding and social media can help, but aren’t essential and are easily learned.

Step 2: design our “brand”

We stepped through the following processes as we put “2 Cups of Travel” together. After contracting COVID-19 and isolating for a week (remember those times), we spent this forced break planning the travel blog.

  • Name: This wasn’t as easy as it sounded for us, however you may find it different. We wanted something that was catchy, and represented both of us travelling. There’s also many ‘business name generators’ online that you can use to help spark creativity (or ask Chat GPT).
  • Why/What: As discussed above, when planning the brand, it is important to work out why (see above), and what you are actually going to post. For us, the focus was initially on photographic blogs, documenting our travel memories and sharing tips/advice from our perspective. As the blog has grown, we look to further share high value travel content to assist others based upon our experiences travelling.
  • Logo design: Using Tess’s creativity and drawing ability mixed with Ky’s limited graphic design knowledge, we were able to put the logo together and we just love it! Take a look at the logo design process here. We used program GIMP (a free design program) but have used photoshop (the best paid program out there) for other projects before and after. Positively, for both GIMP and Photoshop there are numerous tutorials online which can walk you through how to do each of these steps.

Skills required: medium level artistic skills – Tess, and beginner-intermediate graphic design skills (or an ability to follow YouTube tutorials well) – Ky.

A few useful links:

Step 2a: set up social accounts

Setting up social accounts with the “name” is important and was a key step for us. We didn’t want to design the brand and then have the social media accounts not available. Before you are “set” on your name and “brand”, check if your desired social media accounts are available (e.g. Instagram, TikTok, Youtube etc pending your niche).

We would generally recommend an Instagram channel as a good start. Make sure you set it us as a “professional account” to get the insights about your viewers. If you are creating video highlights, then Instagram Reels, TikTok and Youtube shorts are all similar platforms you can use to increase your reach.

Consider the following accounts: Youtube (videos or shorts), Instagram (set up a professional account), TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter.

Step 2b: buy a domain

I have put this in with step 2 as I feel like having your domain name that matches your brand name is very important. Similar to above with the social media name, having a domain that matches the name of your “brand” is important. Additionally, try to steer away from having the domain to be too long if possible. Ideally, a ‘.com’ domain is best, but there are numerous options out there these days.

There are many sites sites you can use to purchase your domain, e.g. go-daddy, namecheap etc. We have used go-daddy often in the past and found it very reliable and well priced. However for this site we had a promo including a free domain with the hosting (see below), which can often be a good option (however, make sure you check renewal fees as the “free” domains often have much higher renewal fees).

Step 3: choose your hosting

There are a multitude of hosting options. I would have a few recommendations here, first, try to stick away from free hosts, and second, you often “get what you pay for”, but comparison and review sites give you a good guide. We weighed up between BlueHost, Hostgator and A2 Hosting. In the end, we chose Hostgator and have been overall happy for the price, uptime and service. The site speed can vary, which is something we may look to upgrade in the future as the site grows. We have also used hosting on GoDaddy before and found it faster but more expensive.

Skills required: not many, good analytical skills and decision making. Shop around and read reviews.

Step 4: setting up your blog

The can be simple or very complex, pending on the host, platform you use, and if you are using custom themes. We would recommend using WordPress. It’s the best. Simple as that. Plus the range of plugins, themes and the SEO (stands for Search Engine Optimisation, we’ll touch on this later) friendly nature mean it’s generally a no brainer. Installing WordPress is often as simple as “one-click” installers on your hosting control panel. If you aren’t sure how to install WordPress, a simple Google search should help you out here.

We used a paid theme, and overall, I would recommend a paid theme as often free themes are basic, lack the “pop” and are well used. Themeforest is generally the best place to search for themes. Once you purchase a theme, you can just ‘upload’ it to your WordPress site and get started customising and designing your blog.

Skills required: basic level website/tech literacy for most themes, however some require moderate level skills and you may need to hire someone to help you.

Step 5: get some content onto your blog

This step is probably the most important of the whole list, and it’s the reason you started this journey in the first place! If you don’t have good content, it doesn’t matter if you blog is aesthetic, no one will visit. The key to the content is deciding on your niche and where you can ‘add value’ with your blogs. This may be through recommendations from travel experiences. It might be through sharing ‘hidden gems’ or top travel hacks that may help others.

Another key consideration is around being authentic! These days, content is plentiful everywhere. On websites and blogs, online through Youtube and social media.. it’s literally everywhere. Stick true to yourself and your message as this will be more likely to resonate with others.

A general recommendation would be to put up between 10-15 blogs before you start to promote your blog to others. Typically, a ‘minimum content’ amount is important when applying for Google Adsense (see below) and to show others your website is ‘legit’.

Step 6: start building your social media channel

The social media channel is an important way of building your brand, but also getting traffic to your blog. When we post a new blog to the site, we will link it on our Instagram channel in a story. This will regularly get us up to a few hundred views to the new blog straight away, highlighting the importance of building a social media following.

Whilst it is not the purpose of this blog, a few tips to build your social media channels would be:

  • Post content regularly – this is key to building an audience.
  • Research what works best for the algorithm on the platform you are wanting to use e.g. Instagram vs Youtube.
  • Have lots of travel content e.g. photos/videos ready to post/share.
  • Get your friends/family to follow and engage to start to build your engagement.
  • Join travel communities and help support each other growing.
  • Comment and follow like minded and similar content pages.

Step 7: work on SEO for your blog

This is super important if you want your blog to grow over time. This section of the blog is only a very brief overview. SEO can be whole course/post on its own and can take years to learn and master. However, with some simple steps you can set yourself up to get your blog posts ranking higher on Google.

  • Quality of content: Having high quality blog posts with well-written paragraphs is key! Having key-word rich sentences also helps here!
  • Make your blog title and URL catchy & relevant: This is important factor for ranking on search engines. Make it relevant to what search terms you want to rank on.
  • Have multiple headings in your article: Break up your blog with multiple headings.
  • Rename your images and make the description/alt text/caption filled with relevant keywords.
  • Link between your articles: Google can help discover and uprank the blogs if you link between each blog. This will also help readers discover other articles.
  • Sign up for Google Search Console: This gives you insights into how you are ranking, your traffic, and what pages are or aren’t submitted to Google. You can also submit blog posts to Google here.
  • Submit your sitemap to Google: This will help Google to see all of your posts and pages and index them. See more about how to do that here:
  • Use Yoast SEO Plugin: This is one of the best WordPress SEO plugins. It helps to make your website and blog posts a whole lot more SEO friendly which the search engines like Google love. Read more about how to use it here:
  • Build backlinks: A backlink is a link on another website that points to your website. This is one of the key ways your website is ranked by search engines. More backlinks generally = higher ranking which = more traffic. Building backlinks is often complex, and not a short topic. Backlinks are broken into “Do-Follow” and “No-Follow” (read more here). Do-Follow are best but all backlinks help build your profile. Some good targets for starting to build backlinks are listed below.
    Good backlink options to start:
    – Website directories
    – Blog post comments
    – Social media profiles (e.g. Pinterest)
    – Guest posting articles on other blogs or websites
    A few guides:
    Check your backlinks:

Step 8: tell all your friends and family

This point could arguably be earlier, however I would recommend building the site to be “finished product” first before really starting to promote it. This is what we did. You want a product that you are ‘proud of’ before you start to broadcast it.

Step 9: getting traffic to your site

Easier said than done. We are still working on this, but it’s continually growing. We are currently in a growth phase, up 10 x from this stage last year and increasing every month. We put this growth down to our consistent high-quality content, SEO work, and the demand for travel information as people look to get travelling again.

Use some of the following: friends/family promotion, social media your accounts personal and your new “professional” account, SEO is important (see above), posting your links to relevant posts in Facebook groups and other question/forum services e.g. Quora etc (avoid spam).

Ads – consider the value if not selling products initially. Ads are likely best used when trying to hook customers in to “sell” a product.

A few other options we have found useful for traffic:

  • Reddit: groups like the reddit “Travel Blog” allow posting of links. This is an example of how we have used it for promotion (see here)
  • Pinterest: Our Pinterest Channel often has between a few hundred to 1000 views per month, however don’t expect that many to turn into traffic. It’s still a useful option in the early stages.
  • Facebook travel groups: Be careful with spam here, however if you have a blog that answers someone’s specific question and adds value, this is a good was of posting and promoting to a relevant market.

Step 10: making money from your site

When starting your blog, remember that it’s not all about the money. Actually, you will likely make very little money initially. However blogs can generate reasonable revenue pending the traffic and set up. These are a few of the ways we support the running of this site to make some money:

  • Adsense (and other options)
  • Affiliate Links: options like works particularly well
  • “Shout me a coffee” donations to help with running the site
  • Paid promotions

The focus of this blog isn’t about making money, but this section is here to help spark discussion and thought about the area.

Step 11: don’t stop making good content and providing value for your viewers

The only way your blog will continue to grow is with continued activity. To build loyal readers you need to have regular high quality content. To engage the search engines like Google, an ‘active site’ is considered very important. You are likely to rank higher on the search engines (a key factor for getting traffic to your blog) if you regularly post new content. Additionally, you want to find ways to keep refining and improving the quality of the information you post.

Step 12: optional customisations to your blog

We have given the ‘bare minimum’ steps to set up your blog. This section will list a whole range of things you should consider adding to your blog to add further value, style, functionality or earning capacity.

  • Social media integration: Instagram feed plugins like Smash Balloon or Spotlight are great to allow you to visually highlight your social media on your website and in your blog posts.
  • Email subscription: Set up the ability to subscribe to your website to receive automatic emails for new blogs. This is a great way to build repeat readers.
  • A store? There’s multiple options for store integrations to your blog to allow you to sell products. If you want to run your own store, consider the popular ‘Woocommerce’ plugin, however options are available to sell content like photos (picfair, alamy) or through 3rd party platforms like Shopify.
  • Setting up your different pages: The ‘About Me’ page is a classic one that you will likely add. Consider also adding information for contacting you (e.g. for business inquiries).

We hope you have found this blog both useful and interesting as you consider the process of setting up your own site. We would love to see how your travel blog looks, so don’t hesitate to share the link in the comments, or DM us through our Instagram channel. Overall, enjoy the journey!

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Check out some great moments from our travels, including our tops picks, recommendations and more!

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Comments (2):

  1. Ian

    March 18, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you, this is so helpful. I am struggling so hard to grow my audience, but I keep trying!

    • Ky

      March 19, 2023 at 8:29 am

      No worries! Good luck and nice blog!


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