A few of you have been asking me why I started my blog, usually followed by asking how. I thought I would do a post that walks you through my blogging history and gives you step by step instructions on how you can start a travel blog too. You don’t have to travel all the time like I do to have a blog, and you don’t even have to go that far away. I have friends who have blogs focused on traveling around the Midwest, or on how to bring travel into their everyday life. I’m lucky enough to be able to travel about 80% of the year, and when not traveling there is more than enough to explore in Chicago. My blog is a mix of everything I love, which brings me to my first point.
Have a Reason for Starting Your Blog
Whether you want to start a travel blog to share your adventures with your family and friends, you want to be a resource for others, or you want to turn it into a business, the most important thing is to have a purpose. When I first started blogging I was studying abroad in Jordan in 2010 and my blog had a different name that is now super top secret until I get the time to take it off the Internet. 😉 The blog continued as I did a backpacking trip around Asia and the Middle East, and looking back it was incredibly embarrassing. At the time though, it served it’s purpose, which was to share daily stories with my mom and grandma (the only people who I think actually read it). It was a lot of “today we did…” and “then we saw….”
The current version of my blog was started toward the end of living in Italy, when I knew I was going to quit my full-time job and start traveling more. I wish I would have started it earlier, because I did so much cool travel around Europe while living there. Guess I have to go back!
Curiosity and a Carry On is more of a resource than a daily travel diary. I give travel tips and restaurant recommendations for places I go, list observations that could be helpful to others, and provide packing lists. My favorite part of the blog though is the interview section, because I love meeting inspiring people around the world and sharing their stories.
So, think about the purpose of your blog before you get started. There are thousands of travel blogs, and you need to differentiate yourself if you want anyone aside from your immediate circle to read it. Similarly, before each post, think of the ‘why.’ Why would someone be interested in this? Why are you blogging about this? Why is it important? This helps you hone in on an idea and ensures it’s something people might actually be interested in reading. If there isn’t a why, it’s probably something better left in a journal and not online. At least in my opinion.
How to Start a Travel Blog
Ok, now the technical stuff.
- Come up with a name! This is the fun part. Do a Google search to make sure it’s not taken, and also check to see if all the social handles are free.
- Unless you want your blog to include ‘wordpress.com’ in the domain name, you’ll have to sign up for hosting. It’s exactly what it sounds like–a place to host your photos, stories, and more on the Internet. Bluehost is the best, and what everyone I know uses. It’s the cheapest (starts at $5.95/month), you get a domain name (your blog’s name) free, and their customer service has always been really helpful when I’ve called panicking because I’m actually really terrible at the tech side of blogging. You can sign up for Bluehost here.
- Sign up for WordPress. Yes there are other platforms, but WordPress is the most customizable and grows with you the most. It’s the biggest name in blogging for a reason, and even massive blogs with millions of followers use it. Plus, Bluehost and WordPress work together well. You can set up your WordPress account through Bluehost. Just go through the installation process on your Bluehost cPanel. Once installed, you can login to WordPress without going through Bluehost.
- Design it! You have a travel blog now, so you get to spend some time looking at themes, fonts, and more. You can go with something basic to get started, or if you’re good at coding (or have a friend who is) you can customize to your heart’s content.
- Start blogging and set up your social media accounts to get your posts out into the world. (And, um, follow me please!)
Within your city, your state, your region, your country, or the whole world. You can’t have much to say just sitting at home.
Keep Some Perspective
Blogging is a lot of fun, but it can also be stressful. If you’re trying to turn it into a career, know that most bloggers do not make a sustainable living off their blog. It seems like they do, but most don’t. There definitely are people who make a lot of money doing it (more on how to make money blogging in another post), but for most people it’s an illusion.
Also remember that to make a good amount of money blogging, it would need to be your full-time job. Even the bigger bloggers I know have other side jobs, though you would never believe it from following them on social media. Don’t let yourself get caught up in comparing your stats or progress with anyone else.
Remember the reason you started your blog in the first place. For me, it’s a way to share my travels with the world, give advice to others, and make a tiny bit of money to cover food expenses. I just got an email from a guy asking for advice on travel to Italy yesterday, and I LOVE getting those types of messages. Knowing people I’ve never met before are reading my posts and value my opinion is beyond worth it to me. If you can make a million dollars blogging that’s fantastic, but don’t get frustrated when it’s not happening, and remember it’s probably not happening for even those who make it seem that way.
There you go! Travel blogging is pretty easy. Are you starting a blog anytime soon? Make sure to send it to me once you’re all set up so I can read it!