Travelpayouts Blog

How to start a travel blog: First-hand experience

Reading time:  7  min.
239
0

Cynthia and Alexander – writers and entrepreneurs, were inspired to travel the world. “Normal” 9-to-5 jobs were not for them, so they decided to follow their dreams and started the Travel your Memories (#1 adventurous travel blog for everyone) with the goal of sharing their passion for travel. Cynthia and Alexander shared first-hand experiences on how they started blogging.

How the Travel your Memories blog started

We are Cynthia and Alexander from the Netherlands. We started the Travel your Memories blog in 2019 with a vision to share our passion for travel. 

How the Travel your Memories blog started

Before we started Travel your Memories, we travelled every year during the holidays. For us, that time was always one of the main highlights of each year, as traveling means a lot to us. Traveling forces us to step out of our comfort zone and grow as people. We really love discovering new places and cultures. You can check all the countries we’ve visited on our destinations page.

After working at jobs for a couple of years, we realized that lifestyle wasn’t fulfilling for us. We thought about what we really wanted and questioned if the traditional way of working was the right fit for us. 

With the modern technologies that are available to today’s society, there are so many opportunities to do what you really want. We wanted to follow our passion, so we decided to start our own travel blog: Travel your Memories. 

We’re writing articles about every destination we’ve been to, sharing our experiences, and offering tips to help other travelers have similar experiences.

Before we started Travel your Memories, we spent a lot of evenings researching what kind of business suited us best. Our main requirement was that we wanted to work from anywhere. Traveling is our passion, so the only question was how we could make a living from it. We came to the conclusion that travel blogging was a good business model for us. In the article below, you will find out how you can earn with a travel blog just like us.

To learn more about Travel your Memories, check out our about us page. 

How to start a travel blog

If you decide to start a blog, you will need to think about a number of aspects and clearly plan out your future steps before you actually start.

Do what you love

Maybe it’s a no-brainer, but you should start with something you really enjoy. Spend energy on the things you enjoy. If you’re creating a travel blog, write only about places you have actually been and share your own personal experiences. 

People often write about places they have never been. In our opinion, this is the wrong approach. You should think about where you have been before and where you are going in the future. Always make a plan for what you’re going to write about.

Writing only original text based on the firsthand experience is the best way to become an expert that is trusted by the reader.

Determine your niche

A very important part before you start is to determine your niche. We started a travel blog because travel is our passion and we wanted to make it our lifestyle.

You should do research on the internet to determine what kind of blog suits you best and what is in demand by the audience.

Step-by-step plan to start the blog

Starting a blog is very easy. All you need to do is follow these simple steps.

Choose your platform

First, you need to choose a platform to run your blog. We decided on a self-hosted WordPress CMS. If a hosting provider can offer you a pre-installed WordPress CMS, it will make things much easier.

Personally, we use Hostnet, because we have established our company in the Netherlands. If you aren’t Dutch, we recommend Hostgator or choose other hosting options.

Buy a domain

You can’t run a blog without a domain. Most of the attractive, short domain names are already occupied, so you must come up with a memorable blog name and find an empty domain to buy it. We bought the domain from our hosting provider, however you can buy a domain in any reliable place, such as godaddy.com or other services. 

When you buy the domain and activate WordPress, you can start building your site.

Set up your website

There are lots of free tutorials and videos on the Internet showing you how to build a website. You can find some web development courses in the Travelpayouts dashboard as well.

If you do not want to or cannot set up your blog yourself, you can outsource this task via Upwork

We always recommend building your site from scratch yourself, because it teaches you the structure and background of WordPress. Plus, if you want to change something later, you will easily be able to do this yourself.

Design

Design is a separate issue. Creating your own design from scratch isn’t necessary, as there are many free and paid readymade templates on the WordPress site and Themeforest.

We used the Newspaper theme and built everything around it. You can select readymade templates according to your vision and make the appearance of your website unique.

After you have set the structure correctly, you can start writing blog posts.

How to earn money with a travel blog

With a blog, it’s important to focus on multiple sources of income. 

In the beginning, Adsense and affiliate marketing are the most important and easiest sources of income.

Adsense is very easy to use. You sign up with Google Adsense and place advertisements on your website, then you receive a commission when a visitor clicks on an ad on your site. 

We believe affiliate marketing is the best way to earn money through blogging. You refer visitors to a product and, upon purchase, you receive a commission. Your blog should be authentic to make your affiliate marketing strategies a success. In the travel niche, you can earn on flights, hotels, and other travel services through the Travelpayouts affiliate network.

As a blogger, you can also sell digital products, such as courses, set up a Patreon, or start coaching. However, in our opinion, this is not what you should be focused on in the beginning.

We currently are focused on Adsense and affiliate marketing.

What is essential to know before you start?

Be unique, honest, and positive. Know how Google works, make sure your site is fast and appeals to target visitors, maximize your Adsense income, and get a high ranking in Google’s search queries.

Know how Google works

To have a successful website, you should focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Keyword Research (KWR). There is a lot of information online about both topics. For example, you can read the SemRush blog and other resources.

On our blog, we’re using Rankmath, which is a WordPress plugin that is very similar to Yoast SEO and is used by bloggers to focus on SEO and KWR.

We personally like to work with Rankmath because it’s more user-friendly then Yoast SEO. The most important tip we can give is that, before you start writing a blog, you should already know what your KWR is. Do not go for a difficult KWR at the beginning, because as a new website you’re still too small.

To grow your site on Google, you need to increase your Domain Authority (DA). In general, when you have higher DA, you will rank higher in Google search queries. To increase your DA, you need backlinks. There are a lot of tactics on how to increase your DA with backlinks. You can use Neilpatel’s blog or Backlinko as informational resources.

Have a fast working site

To score well on SEO in 2020 you need a fast working site. No one wants to visit a site that is slow and search engines care about this as well. 

Be careful not to make your site too heavy with photos and other visual elements. It’s important to have a good hosting company, because some servers are faster than others. You can check the speed of your site on Google PageSpeed or GTX Metrix.

The theme you use also affects the speed of your site. When choosing our theme, we kept this in mind, which is why we chose the Newspaper theme. You can buy the same theme on themeforest.net.

Income is about targeting your visitors

Affiliate marketing is the number one source of income for us as bloggers and is likely to become your number one source of income as well. 

Do not put random links on your site that you have no knowledge of. You should only post affiliate links on your site that you have looked into personally and will help your visitors.

Example: We do this by writing an article about each destination. We always give our top two accommodations for every destination. We have always been to both accommodations, so we know where we’re linking to.

Example

Make sure you know what you’re linking to and that it makes sense to put a certain link somewhere. Links must be helpful to the reader.

If you’re an affiliate marketing newbie, linking to Amazon products is one of the easiest ways to generate fast results. To earn on travel-related products, you need to join travel affiliate programs, such as Booking.com, GetYourGuide, and others. Most of the travel affiliate programs are available through the Travelpayouts affiliate network.

How much does creating a travel blog cost?

How long it takes to make money is difficult to say, because it depends on many factors. At this moment, we do not earn any money with our travel blog, because we just started. We can’t blog full-time because we both work.

Our plan is to travel for a couple of months at the end of this year, so we can focus on expanding our blog.

Fortunately, running a blog doesn’t cost a lot of money if you do a lot of the work yourself. Below, you see an overview of our costs per year for running a blog. In addition, we have also included a costs overview.

  • Domain: €18 per year
  • WordPress via hosting: €95 per year
  • Theme (Newspaper): €55*

*Amounts are one-off expenses

So it costs us €113 per year to run a blog and roughly €55 for a theme as a one-time payment at the beginning.

You shouldn’t forget that there are a lot more things that you need to purchase, but these vary per person. To give you insight into what additional costs we’ve had, you can consult the overview below:

  • Camera and accessories: €2,900*
  • Drone: €500*
  • GoPro: €450*
  • Laptop: €2,000*
  • Travel costs: €5,000+

*Amounts are one-off expenses

As you can see, the cost of purchasing products to make high-quality content is around €6,000. We spend approximately €5,000 on travel costs per year. Our first year cost us about €11,000. In our case, we will have a long trip for a few months with a budget of €24,000. All in all, starting a travel blog can be very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to follow in our exact footsteps. You can also start small and local and expand from there.

Expectations

At this moment, we both work full-time. Our plan is to save money to travel for a few months.

After we return from our long trip, we want to evaluate our situations and hopefully quit our jobs. We expect to have realized a source of income with Travel your Memories.

How much do we expect to earn? That is difficult to estimate. If we receive €1,000-2,000 monthly, we’re already satisfied and will continue to expand from that point.

Conclusion

Don’t wait too long to follow your dream! If you really want to do something, don’t wait too long. 

It’s never too late to start doing what you really want. Just like us, ask yourself if you can step out of your comfort zone. We’re going to do this and encourage you to do the same.