The thing I probably get asked the most by avid travellers is how can they become a travel blogger. Well, it’s easy to setup, but I have to remind them of the long term commitment they are making. Like most businesses, the vast majority will have failed within the first 2 years, while with travel bloggers that figure is probably closer to 3 months. I have therefore laid out 10 steps you must consider in order to become a full blown travel blogger.
- Pick The Domain Name
- Secure All The Social Platforms & Begin Scheduling
- Build A Content Backlog And A Blog Schedule
- Decide On Your Travel Destinations
- Set A Site Launch Date
- Build The Site And Design Till You’re Happy
- Set Yourself Up With All The Tools
- Build Links
- Complete An SEO Checklist
- Build A Brand
Now I know those titles might not mean much on their own, so I’m going to go into a bit more detail on each point.
1) Pick The Domain Name
The first thing I would recommend for anyone considering setting up a blog would be to head over to Godaddy and begin typing in potential domain names. You will find yourself going through hundreds of potential names before you find the right one available. Don’t bother bidding for an expensive domain, hold out until you find a domain name you like.
If you can’t think of one, then here are some basic tips. Try to include something you like (for me, Spaghetti Hoops were something I loved so it felt pertinent) and try to keep some of the core terms in (Traveller is in my domain name), while also trying to pick something catchy. Try not to go over two words, otherwise it can be difficult to read and just look messy. Also, if possible, try to keep it all one word, rather than including underscores and hyphons.
2) Secure All The Social Platforms & Begin Scheduling
A domain name not being available isn’t the only worry for new businesses and blogs nowadays, you also need to check whether the social profiles are available and whether you will be competing with something similarly named. For example, one name I considered was very similarly named to a foot fetish social profile, hardly something I want to be mistaken for!
You will want to make a decision on what social profiles you will be focusing on. As much as I’d love to say go for them all, you can spread yourself a bit thin. If you’re spending 3 hours a day working on social platforms, you can find yourself getting tired and frustrated, so prevent burnout by focusing on a key few. Facebook and Twitter are inevitably on that list. You then will want to make a decision on the others. I’m quite keen on Instagram, while some prefer Pinterest.
You may want to consider purchasing a bot such as Ninjapinner and Ninjagram, to help automate some of the monotonous tasks. This will help you to build up your account much quicker.
Next you might want to start building up a schedule of social posts, so the account doesn’t look empty for extended periods of time. You can schedule all your posts on all of the different platforms via Hootsuite. I would also recommend using Tweetdeck for keyword monitoring and to help with Twitter chats such as #TTOT.
3) Build A Content Backlog And A Blog Schedule
One of the areas I find people go wrong with is they are so eager to get the site live, they make one or two general posts and then the blog lays stagnant for months. Avoid this obvious hiccup by creating some content in preparation. When I went live with Spaghetti Traveller, I built up enough blog posts to post every 4 days for 2 months. I also wrote up my bucket list which is still one of the most important pages on my site to this day.
Beyond just the posts you are writing up now, you also want to plan what you will be writing about over the next 6 months. I like to do some keyword research to find out what terms I should be going after. Use tools such as the Google keyword planner, SEMrush or Search Metrics to find out what big travel sites are ranking for, what terms would be relevant to your site and what you could realistically take a top 10 ranking on.
4) Decide On Your Travel Destinations
This is probably the easiest one on the list, but you need to plan where you’re flying off to and how long you will be away for. This will shape your content strategy (as well as your video strategy etc) therefore it is good to have it all planned out in advance.
5) Set A Site Launch Date
You need to have a big launch date in mind, one that you stick to. Not one so far in the future that you can delay the completion of tasks, yet not one so soon that you end up cutting corners on tasks. Trust me, if you don’t have a date saved in the calendar then you will begin making excuses before you’ve taken your first step.
Don’t just keep it to a big launch day. Try to add in deadlines for each task as well. I recommend saving them all in Trello and using this as a project management tool.
6) Build The Site And Design Till You’re Happy
First you should have a look at a few blogs and try to write down what you like about each one. Collect all your thoughts and draw something up by hand on what you think it should look like. If you have design skills then you could even create a wireframe of how you want the site to appear and how the site will be structured, however this will be a step too far for some.
You will also want to draw up an internal link structure, so you know how the site structure will break down (such as what the key categories will be and what will be in the navigation menu.
Providing you go for WordPress, have a look at some WordPress themes. I 100% recommend going for a paid one, the free ones aren’t great unless you plan on doing a lot of the manual work yourself. For a very cheap price of around £25-50 you can have 90% of the site work complete.
7) Set Yourself Up With All The Tools
There are many tools you should consider, both paid and unpaid, so I will quickly summarise the absolute key ones you should setup early on. The first one is setting up Google Analytics. Get the code on your site and create your free account, so you can start tracking where you’re getting visitors from. You should also setup goals (as you probably aren’t selling anything, you might want to setup a goal as an email newsletter signup).
The next free tool you absolutely must set yourself up on is Webmaster Tools, or now as it is called, Search Console (same thing, just Google wanted a funky new name). Get your XML site setup (on WordPress there are plenty of plugins that will generate one automatically for you) and then submit the sitemap on Search Console. Look for any improvements or error response codes.
8) Build Links
This one comes with a caveat, as I’m constantly scared to recommend link building to someone new to the marketing world, as the results could be devastating. If you were to create a number of shady links (albeit with innocent intentions) you could seriously damage your sites rankings. I know a large amount of people would read that and instantly hear alarm bells and avoid this task, but it shouldn’t be ruled out.
There are some tactics which work and are future proof, meaning you won’t have to worry about disavowing the links in the future. Send travel stories off as press releases to papers or find out if journalists need a case study. I like to save all the travel journalists on Tweetdeck, so I can monitor what they are posting and get a headstart on any link opportunities that may arise. This also helps in building a rapport with the journalists beforehand, so if you ever want to send off a press release to them, they are much more likely to give it a read.
Guest posts aren’t dead, so look to your fellow travel bloggers for opportunities. Try to get added to lists of travel bloggers. Create an infographic or illustration and submit it to other sites, along with a supporting article. There are a million and one ways to gain links (trust me, I’ve been doing it for 5 years for multiple brands) and the results can have a huge effect on your rankings.
9) Complete An SEO Checklist
So many sites jump the gun and don’t tick off some basic SEO tasks at the start. Then later on when it is recomended they make the changes, it can become an even more daunting task. The site can be held back by its potential due to a slight overlook of these tactics. From ensuring the title tags are keyword rich and readable, breadcrumbs are in place, internal link structure is optimised, pages are quick to load, they appear mobile friendly, errors are fixed and the site is easily crawlable.
10) Build A Brand
When you set upon this journey, you are becoming a brand in yourself. You need to create a logo which will be consistent across all the different platforms in which you project your brand. If you don’t feel comfortable with creating a logo, then pay a designer to create one, they are pretty cheap for a basic logo. I just mucked around on Photoshop and made my one, it isn’t unbelievably good but I like it.
Think of how you are going to present yourself. The type of language you want to use and how you want people to perceive you. If you are going to be producing video’s (which I strongly recommend) then you will need a video intro which will be at the start of each of your video’s.