In this post, I share why you should start a travel blog (and how to start your own travel blog in 8 steps).
Before 2013 I rarely thought about blogging. I didn’t understand the value of it or why people talked about it so much.
All of this changed when we hit the road in 2014 and started documenting our travels.
Since then, blogging has become the center point of everything we do in our business and while RVing.
It’s not only a way for our family to keep up with what we’re doing, it’s a place where we’ve built a community. We share our travel experiences, provide tips for people in the RV lifestyle, and our blog has even become a passive revenue generator for us (not a ton, but some).
Our blog has led to more opportunities than anything else we’ve done in the past 4 years. It has led to more opportunities than our diploma (which nobody cares about), our work experience, and even a series of national media we received while filming Hourly America. They all take a backseat to our blog.
I wrote this post for two reasons:
- To share with you why I believe everyone should start a travel blog (if you’re traveling, of course)
- And to walk you through a brief step-by-step tutorial on how to set up your blog
Let’s get started.
5 Few Reasons Why You Should Start a Travel Blog
1. It’s a chance to share your story.
When Alyssa and I started RVing in 2014, the first thing we did was start our own blogs to document our upcoming adventure of Hourly America. We were two 23-year-old newlyweds who quit their jobs, bought an RV, and came up with this crazy idea of visiting all 50 states on our honeymoon. In each state I was going to work an hourly job and Alyssa would film the entire thing for a documentary.
It was a crazy quest to go on during our first year of marriage, but we did it (and you can watch the entire film here).
Throughout year one on the road we blogged, took photos, and documented our story. We shared the breakdowns, the milestones, and key learnings from living in a 20-year-old RV (i.e how to get along in a small space, how to drive an RV through New York City, and how much it cost to visit all 50 states).
Other than having a great documentation of our first year of marriage, sharing our story led to countless real-life benefits.
One day CNN randomly stumbled across my Twitter account, which led to them on our website, which led to them doing an exclusive interview with us while we were in New York City (and then more media followed).
An author who helped inspire Hourly America noticed that we had taken his advice for working jobs across the country. Because we showed initiative and knew a thing about travel, he hired me to help him coordinate a 25 city book tour and help him promote his upcoming book launch. This was my first consulting gig ever.
Post Hourly America, Alyssa and I continue to share an honest account of our story on the blog. This has led to countless new relationships and a community of like-minded travelers who we now call friends (next month in Fredericksburg we’re hanging out with over 100 of them at our first RV Entrepreneur Summit!).
All of these things happened because we’d been sharing our story on a blog. There’s no guarantee that just because you start a blog that CNN will feature you or you’ll land your dream job or you’ll meet your life’s heroes or anything…BUT it gives you an opportunity to share your goals, dreams, and travels with the world. A blog provides you the chance to share your story and let others become a part of it.
2. Blogging can be profitable.
It’s not incredibly easy to turn a blog into a passive income generator, but it is possible. After a few hundred articles posted on our site over the past few years, our blog finally bringing in $500-$1,000/month for us in passive income. This took years, lots of mistakes, and a lot of hustle, but it’s an amazing feeling.
[For more on how to make money blogging, here’s a post I wrote about six things I learned while trying to make money from our blog.]
3. A blog gives others a chance to live vicariously through you.
By documenting our adventures on the road I feel we’ve given others, especially family, a chance to live through our experiences and share in the journey with us. It’s not always the right time for travel. Sometimes family members are sick, sometimes the money isn’t there, and sometimes we’re just in a dreaming phase. Having a blog to share our travels with others provides entertainment and value for people who haven’t yet or can’t hit the road.
I know this is true because at one point I was sitting on my butt in a cubicle, looking at Instagram accounts of people who traveled in truck campers. They gave me the travel bug and inspiration to go and do this. Now, we (and you) have a chance to do the same.
Simply by sharing an honest account of your travels you have the chance to inspire someone to go see the world.
4. Knowing how to write good copy is a sought-after skill in 2017.
Every company has a blog and needs people who can write great copy. Starting a blog of my own is what enabled Alyssa and I to start creating more location independent income over the past few years. A blog is a portfolio piece and something you can leverage to get additional paid gigs while on the road. It’s a great way for our potential clients and sponsors to get to know us and decide if they want to do business with us.
5. It becomes a virtual journal that helps you keep track of lessons and destinations.
While our blog hasn’t focused as much on the destinations, we’ve been able to document some our biggest life lessons here on the blog. We’ve been able to document our journey of paying off student debt, creating a documentary, a book, a podcast, and starting our business together while RVing.
This is something that can live on and one day we’ll be able to share with our kids. Plus, maybe our lessons can be helpful to others who want to venture down a similar path. Without a blog and platform for sharing our lessons, we wouldn’t have a medium to provide that value to others.
Also, while we don’t blog often about our travel destinations, we do plan on chronicling this more on our vlog this year 🙂
Starting a blog has been one of the best decisions Alyssa and I have ever made. It’s helped us grow our business, make countless friends, build a community, and continue this nomadic lifestyle. If you want to start your own travel blog to document your adventures, I outlined a basic tutorial below to help you get started.
How to Start Your Own Blog in 8 Steps
This tutorial contains an affiliate link for Bluehost, who Alyssa and I have used to host all of our websites.
Now that you’ve decided you want to start a blog, I’ve outlined 8 steps to getting your own blog up and running. Lego!
1. Pick a topic for your blog.
What do you want your blog to be about? There is a blog for almost every single topic on the internet. The more niche of a subject, the higher likelihood that you can develop a following for your blog (if that’s your goal).
For example, my blog specifically caters towards people who want to live, work, and travel the country in an RV. While there are a lot of people who aspire to travel the country in an RV, there are fewer people who want to work while on the road. I write blog content and record podcasts specifically for people who want to create an income while they travel.
A few pieces of advice I’d give on finding and honing your niche:
- Pick a subject that you love and could write about for years (if you get sick of writing about the subject after 50 blog posts, it’s not a good subject)
- Try to come up with a niche within a niche (i.e RVing is a niche, but I focused down even further to making money while RVing… aka a niche within a niche)
- Pick ONE thing. You may love yoga and antique cars and deep sea fishing, but your blog shouldn’t be about all of these things. Focus on one key topic and don’t let yourself get distracted.
2. Decide what you want your URL to be.
I’ve gone through countless bad domain names — theimportantblog, wordswithheath, happiness4sale, and many, many others.
Now, our blog is staying put with HeathandAlyssa.com. Straight to the point, descriptive.
Since you know what subject you’re going to be blogging about, you now have to decide on a name for your blog.
The name of your blog is a BIG deal! For the longest time, Alyssa and I went back and forth about what we should name our blog. Most RV bloggers use some kind of cutesy travel name, but we knew that we wanted to keep blogging after our stint in the RV life. This was the reason we chose our name as our blog. This way, if we decide to give up the RV life at some point, we can continue blogging on our site.
Bonus: Now we will for sure stay married forever because switching domain names is a HUGE hassle (plus I also love my wife). 🙂
If possible, pick a domain name that is relevant to your subject. Here are a couple blogs I follow and whose names I really like. It’s witty and descriptive of who they are and what their blog is about.
- GoneWiththeWynns.com (a travel blog by Jason and Nikki Wynn)
- DitchingSuburbia.com (a blog about ditching the suburbs to hit the road)
Here are a few tips on choosing a domain name:
- Make it short and memorable
- Don’t use any dashes or weird symbols that are difficult to type
- Avoid difficult to spell words
- Make it relevant to your topic
- Use an appropriate name extension (.com is still by far the most popular, but you can also use a .me if you’re just going to be a personal blog)
While it’s important to pick a name that’s memorable, I wouldn’t overthink this step. It’s easy to sit around and procrastinate picking the name for your blog. It’s best to simply start and get things moving. Worst case scenario is that you can change it later.
Where to buy domains:
- Bluehost— A good place to buy your domain, especially if you choose them for hosting!
- GoDaddy— I prefer searching for available domain names on GoDaddy.com, just because they give you good alternative options if your desired name isn’t available. However, I recommend buying through Bluehost for better price and ease of use.
3. Buy hosting for your blog.
After buying your domain, you have to buy hosting through a provider, such as Bluehost. I’ve used Bluehost for every website I’ve ever set up and they’ve been great. You can also register your domain directly through Bluehost, which makes life a lot easier.
What is hosting?
For every website you go to, there is a hosting provider that allows that website to be online. Somewhere there is a large warehouse of physical servers that power various websites. In order to launch any website, you need to host it on a server. Bluehost is a company myself and many others have used for years who can host your site.
First, go to Bluehost.com and click “Get Started”
Then, you will select your plan.
Basic should be good enough to get you started. You can always upgrade later if you need to! However, the “plus” plan will give you quite a bit more storage on your site if you’re planning on uploading a lot of photos and videos.
Next (if you haven’t already done so), you’ll want to register the domain. (Note: When you sign up for Bluehost hosting you’ll receive a free domain with your hosting plan).
While on the check out page you can select any extras you’d like to include with your hosting. I typically only include the domain privacy protection so as to keep my information private, which is only $.99/month.
4. Connect your domain and hosting.
You can skip this step if you set up your domain through Bluehost.
If you bought your domain through a site like Godaddy, you’ll need to switch your DNS servers to point over at Bluehost. Here’s how to do that.
- Log into your Godaddy account and go to your domain manager section.
- Click the domain you want to point to Bluehost.
- Launch the domain manager and under the Nameservers tab, click on “manage”.
- Select the Name Servers as custom and then change them to point at the default nameservers of Bluehost, which are:
Next, you’ll need to add the domain you bought through Godaddy as an add-on domain within your Bluehost Account. To do this you’ll log into your Bluehost Account, click on “Domains” and then click “Assign”.
5. Connect your Bluehost to your WordPress.
Now that you’ve bought your domain and hosting, you can get to the fun stuff… launching a WordPress site! WordPress is by far the most popular blogging and content management system in the world. I’ve used it on every site I’ve ever built and it makes it super easy to launch your site.
Now hold onto your hats, because there are a lot of steps here! But don’t worry, Bluehost makes this very, very easy for you!
- Log into your Bluehost account (You should see a dashboard that looks similar to this)
- Click on Install WordPress
- Select Get Started
- Select the domain name you want to be hosted on WordPress
- Click on Advanced Options. Here you’ll add your site name and title (which you can always update later). Accept the “Admin Username” and “Admin Password” that Bluehost suggests. You can always change your password, but be sure to write down and remember your username! This you won’t be able to change.
- You should receive an email with a link that will take you directly to your new WordPress Login on your site. For future reference, you can always type yoururl.com/wp-admin and it will take you to the login form.
Woohoo! You’ve got a WordPress site!
6. Log into WordPress.
It’s time to get started on building your site!
First login to your WordPress account. It will automatically take you to your “Dashboard” or the back-end of your website. Only you will ever see this. Here you’ll see a left-hand menu guiding you to where you can add posts, pages, media, plugins, etc.
Now, you’ll want to install a theme to get up and running on your site. Once you’re inside your WordPress account you can go to Appearance > Themes to install your first WordPress theme. WordPress comes with many free themes out of the box, but you can also Google search “free WordPress blog themes” and find a plethora of themes to choose from.
7. Write your first post.
Before you get lost in the theme wormhole, let’s get content up your website! Go to Posts > Add New to start your first blog. Your page should look something like this:
Go ahead and write your first blog to test everything out. A good first topic is an introduction to the blog explaining why you’re starting it and what you plan on blogging about. This would also be a great place to add a call to action for people to join your email list to receive your blogs every time you post. [Learn more about starting an email list here]
8. Check out your new site!
After you hit publish on your first post, let’s see how your blog looks! There will be a “View Post” button at the top of your page after you hit publish.
If you haven’t added a theme yet, your site will look very basic. But hey, it’s up, it’s live, and you already have one post! That’s awesome!
I’ve learned that with blogging, the hard part is consistently showing up over time to create new content for your readers. It’s not difficult to start a blog or pick a subject to talk about, it’s difficult to write new posts every day or week while you have little to no readership. But don’t get discouraged, this is all part of the process and every blogger starts at zero.
Do you have any questions about setting up your blog or are you getting stuck? Drop a comment below and I’ll answer all of them.
Or if you used this tutorial to create your first blog, drop a link to your URL in the comments so I can check it out! 🙂