5 Things to Know Before Starting a Travel Blog

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5 Things to Know Before Starting a Travel Blog

So the time has come! You’ll be starting travel blogging soon. To put everything under the sun, I wrote these things to know before starting a travel blog.

Well, it’s plenty of people who push you to open a blog – most of them are already acknowledged travel bloggers, photographers, writers, millionaires, etc. Of course besides your family and friends. In all travel blogs worth of respect, there is at least one ‘ultimate guide’ for launching a travel blog. It usually consists of a bulleted list like this:

  • Buy my hosting provider
  • Buy my theme
  • Set up the blog
  • Copy my content. Nah, kidding.

Does anyone in those guides tell you how difficult starting travel blogging can be? I’m supposing that most of us, budding travel bloggers, are not web designers, nor programmers, travel writers, marketers or affiliates. I found out all these sub-tasks when I started to do some research. Here comes the first point.

  1. Find your niche

Sounds easy, ah? It’s one of the first things you are advised to do: find your niche. The narrower the better. At the beginning you probably believe to be an expert in your field: you just came back from a hitchhiking trip through Europe and you want to open a blog to share your knowledge.

You start looking for competitors, and you find it’s full of hitchhiking blog and there’s also a Wikipedia for hitchhikers (here).

Broaden your niche? Why not, but more competitors. The niche topic is quite complicated and my (many will dissent) advice is to write about what you like, trying to have always a common target (e.g. budget travel, diving in Thailand, Patagonia trekking, etc.). If you are an expert hitchhiker, nobody will stop you from writing an article about a (paid) car sharing experience or a two-days itinerary in one of the towns you have visited. These are not strictly hitchhiking-related, but they will make content and people will not complain.

You’ll eventually find your niche after a while.

  1. Endless research is time-consuming

If you are not following word by word one of those famous definitive guides, you’ll have to do some research.

The first thing you do when you open a website is surely picking a domain name. Think it’s easy? Many domains are already taken and you’ll have to think twice. Furthermore, there are some general guidelines to follow:

  • no hyphens, no numbers
  • not too long
  • must be memorable and easy to remember
  • do not use common travel-related words like nomadic, vagabond, passport, wandering, backpacking, etc. or words that can be misspelled.
  • .com domains are always the best, but sometimes more expensive. WordPress recently came out with a .blog one and you might one to buy one.

Choosing the hosting provider took me at least 4 hours reading pros and cons, which include: uptime, support service, cost, webspace included, etc. You’ll read disharmonious opinions, and you’ll have to carefully weight each parameter according to your goals and your budget.

The choice of the theme is not a joke as well. An initial investment can save you a lot of time and money in the future. Many free themes do not provide direct support and you’ll have to rely on community support and tutorials, which is equal to say countless hours spent learning and problem-solving or waiting for a one-sentence answer. The Envato Market is a good repository of all you need for your website, including themes and plugins.

  1. WordPress is not that easy

Cool! You got your domain, your theme and now you expect that something will magically happen and throwing in a couple of blog posts, an awesome blog will appear in front of you. This step is where most ‘open your travel blog’ guides end.

Ganz falsch. Completely wrong.

Using WordPress – for beginners with no or little previous knowledge – is quite tricky. You ask something in a forum or in a Facebook group, and you struggle to understand the answer which is full of weird acronyms and never-heard-before functionalities.

It’s not easy at all.

The good thing here is that is plenty of tutorials – I usually check Udemy if I want to focus on one aspect (e.g., using the dashboard, or secure my website). There are both free and paid courses, simply on everything – from blogging to photography). Just want you to know that you’ll have to spend many, many hours to have a good-looking, fully responsive blog.

  1. Social media managing: a pain in the ***

That’s, of course, part of the things to know before starting a travel blog. We are all using social media, either for work or leisure. I thought it was easy to manage a Facebook page, open accounts in at least 6 different social media and publish regularly. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Stumbleupon, Google +, Reddit, and there are more. This sucks a lot of time. Luckily, there are software (Hootsuite, for example, which I’ll properly test soon, or Buffer) which help you manage them all.

There’s a reason why social media manager is now an acknowledged job – it takes time. And you won’t have a lot.

  1. Travel blogging doesn’t just mean travel blogging

A common misconception I noticed among non-bloggers is that they believe you write an article and you publish it. What? Every day something new comes up, and you have to solve it. Practically, things accumulate during the day and at the end, you’ll end up with many more stuff to do than you have planned.

SEO writing is not easy and you have to dedicate a good amount of time, as you know that from SEO is responsible for a relatively big slice of your success.

You have to create appealing graphics for your content and do a lot of research on what you are going to write.

You have to deal with troubles with your hosting provider.

Understanding how a newsletter works and get into it properly will take weeks.

Last but not least, if you want to monetize your blog, you will have to face the huge world of web and affiliate marketing.

Alright, I think I mentioned about 30% of the tasks you will have to do. ‘Travel then blog’ is a good motto. Don’t let the blog overcome your travels. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be starting a travel blog. It’s an amazing thing that you want to share with people your experience and your tips!

I’m just warning you that is not an easy job and you will have to spend a lot of time on it to do it right! So these are several things to know before starting a travel blog. Don’t lose your thread and go on. Happy blogging!

May wanderlust be with you.

Stefano

 

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5 Things to Know Before Starting a Travel Blog