How to Become a Travel Blogger
Thinking of starting a new career, and wondering how to be a travel blogger? There’s so many great resources out there, from blog posts, to classes, apps and more.
We’ve compiled the best resources in every category to help you get you started and make money as a travel blogger!
You might also want to check out these posts: 51 Digital Nomad Job Ideas, and 30+ Free eBooks for Digital Nomads & Entrepreneurs.
How to Be a Travel Blogger: Online Travel Blogging Classes
Superstar Blogging: Comprehensive travel blogging course from hugely successful travel blogger Nomadic Matt. It features interviews and content from travel bloggers, SEO and tech experts and more. The courses cover the business of blogging, travel photography, travel writing, and travel videography. You’ll also get access to their tech support to guide you through any issues or questions encountered when setting up your blog.
Travel Blog Success: This travel blogging course was recently acquired by and incorporated into Superstar Blogging (above)!
Udemy Travel Blogging Courses: There’s a couple travel blogging courses, as well as a wealth of general blogging courses on popular site Udemy.
How to Be a Travel Blogger: In Person Travel Blogging Classes
The Travel Bootcamp: An intensive one-day conference on how to be a travel blogger, created by Instagramer Lauren Bath, blogger Liz Carlson, and travel writer Georgia Rickard. They cover intermediate to advanced topics like building your following, branding, pitching ideas, how to price, and more.
Travel Bootcamp is held periodically in locations around Australia and New Zealand (an excellent excuse for a trip!).
Choosing a Name For Your Travel Blog
You’ll want to start out with a personalized domain name that matches the name you’ve
chosen for your travel blog. You can buy a cheap domain from many sites, and sometimes from your web host, which is the easiest way.
Take some time choosing your name: make it short and memorable, and avoid overused travel blog words like “nomad” and “abroad.”
Backing up, it can help to choose your travel niche beforehand, and name your blog accordingly.
For example, if you plan to focus on budget travel, let that inform your choice of name, so it’s easy to tell what you blog is about immediately.
However, be careful not to paint yourself into a corner. If you mention a particular country in your name, you’d better be prepared to continue focusing on that country for the life of your blog!
Do some research to make sure you’re not choosing a name that’s too similar to another blogger, and be sure to check that your name is available not only for a domain, but also as a social media handle.
You can start your blog completely free, through a WordPress.com or Blogger site.
However, most bloggers will advise against this.
These formats aren’t as customizable, you won’t have your own professional looking domain name, and when you decide to switch to your own site, you’re likely to experience issues moving your content over (re-formatting a year’s worth of blog posts = not fun).
Setting Up Your Travel Blog
The majority of bloggers use WordPress for their blogs. It’s an open-source (read: free!) website creation tool with all the features you need to run a blog. So we’ll focus specifically on WordPress setup here.
Managed WordPress Hosting is the easiest way to host your website. The host will install WordPress for you, keep it up to date, and help out with any issues. Here’s our recommendations:
WP Engine: We use them, and have only good things to say! Great customer service with 24/7 chat support, easy to use interface and set up, and reasonable prices. They offer free SSL, which is something you should spring for, as it will give you an SEO boost.
WP Engine doesn’t sell domains though, so you’ll need to purchase your domain elsewhere, like GoDaddy, then follow instructions to set up the DNS. It’s fairly easy, but if you want a seamless domain setup, go with Bluehost.
Bluehost: Another blogger favorite. They’re a little cheaper than WP Engine for lower level plans, and they do sell domain names, for a seamless setup. Bluehost also offers free SSL.
GoDaddy: They have the biggest name recognition, decent customer service, and sell domains. However, they don’t offer chat or e-mail support. This can be an issue if you’re traveling, or just hate talking on the phone. GoDaddy also doesn’t offer free SSL.
Design and Themes for Travel Blogs
WordPress includes a number of free basic themes, but you’ll no doubt want a more attractive, customizable theme. Here’s two great options for reasonably priced themes:
Creative Market: Beautifully designed WordPress blog themes. Can lean more towards feminine designs. We also love their weekly free goods, a new collection of free fonts, graphic design elements and more that they make available each week, no strings attached.
How to Promote Your Travel Blog
Don’t sit back and hope people will find you! Sign up for social media accounts, and get starting promoting your new blog on social media and beyond.
Social media management apps can automate your posts, freeing you up to explore:
Viraltag: Affordable and easy to use social media scheduling and analytics. Give them a try for free: they’re one of the few sites that don’t ask for a credit card for their free trial.
Hootsuite: Social media management app. Not quite as user friendly, but they offer a free limited plan.
Buffer: Social media management app similar to Viraltag. They offer a free plan, but you don’t get analytics until a mid tier plan.
Most bloggers recommend that you start an e-mail list right away. Some popular e-mail providers include:
Aweber: E-mail marketing with tons of features, including WordPress integration, free stock photos and templates.
ConvertKit: E-mail marketing designed for bloggers, with WordPress integration, templates and more.
Constant Contact: Another popular e-mail marketing service, offering plenty of features including templates, analytics, and a generous 60 day free trial.
Other useful promotion links:
Canva: Easy blog, Pinterest and logo graphic creation for non graphic designers. They charge for some features and graphics, but you can generally accomplish what you want without paying.
Gleam: Giveaways are a good way to drive traffic and encourage people to follow you on social media–and you don’t need to offer a huge prize to hold a successful giveaway. Gleam offers an attractive, easy to use giveaway widget. There’s paid plans available, but you can run a basic giveaway for free.
SEMRUSH: SEO is crucial to being found online. Educate yourself on the basics, and sign up for a keyword research tool, even if only for a couple months. In addition to researching the best search terms to target for topics, you can also dig into the strategies your competitors are using to get them on the first page of Google.
A Note on Advertising:
Paying for advertising through Google or Facebook Ads can add up quickly–often with little benefit.
Be sure you know exactly how to target your ad campaign before you pay for advertising!
Advice From Travel Bloggers
CNN: How to be a Travel Blogger: The Pros Share Their Tips
Nomadic Matt: 9 Ways to Become a Successful Blogger
Expert Vagabond: 11 Secrets to Becoming a Professional Travel Blogger
Adventurous Kate: The Reality of Being a Professional Travel Blogger
Wanderlust: Get Paid to Travel: Become a Travel Blogger
Young Adventuress: So You Want to Be a Travel Blogger
World of Wanderlust: Exactly How Do You Become A Travel Blogger?
Hecktic Travels: A Comprehensive Guide to Budgeting for Long Term Travel
How to Make Money Travel Blogging
Unfortunately, we can’t help you with industry contacts; you’ll have to network with other travel bloggers, join a professional association, or take a travel blogging course.
But here’s some affiliate programs and ad programs to consider if they fit your blog content. Most affiliate networks include at least some travel merchants like hotel chains and airlines.
Amazon Associates: Earn commissions for referring purchases to Amazon.com.
Affiliate Window: Affiliate network with a large number of merchants, including Etsy.
Commission Junction: Another large affiliate network with a good variety of travel related merchants.
ShareASale: Large affiliate network that leans more toward fashion and home merchants (but still has some travel merchants worth checking out).
Google AdSense: Show text and display ads from Google’s ad network. Doesn’t pay much until you have high traffic, so consider what the best use of your ad space is.
Cooperatize: A “Marketplace for Travel Advertisers, Bloggers & Micro-Influencers.” Sign up for sponsorship opportunities.
Here’s some great posts and case studies from travel bloggers laying out how they make money:
Expert Vagabond: Here’s How I Get Paid to Travel the World
Girl Tweets World: 13 Ways I’ve Made Money From Travel Blogging
Monetize Pros: How to Make Money Travel Blogging
Business Insider: A travel-blogging couple who earns up to $6,000 a month shares exactly how they make money on the road
TIP: If you plan to display ads, it’s best to do so from the start, so you don’t surprise your readers with a sudden influx of ads.
Professional Travel Blogging Organizations & Conferences
Travel Massive: Large networking site open to anyone in the travel industry. It’s free to join, and many of their educational and networking events are free. They have local chapters to facilitate networking in your area.
Professional Travel Bloggers Association: A small association of travel bloggers and travel industry members. You’ll have access to some discounts and a private Facebook group, as well as appearing the search results as a potential blogger for their industry member’s campaigns. Our sources say it can be ok for networking, but the membership is pricey for the actual benefits.
MatadorU: They used to offer online travel writing courses, but seem to have discontinued them. However, they’ve maintained the community, and you can sign up for a free account with access to the forums and job marketplace.
TBEX: The largest conference for travel industry professionals. They hold multiple conferences each year around the world; check to see if one is near you.
ITB Berlin: The world’s largest travel trade show. Good for networking and frequently attended by major travel bloggers. ITB also holds conferences in Asia and India.
World Travel Market: Another travel trade show popular with travel bloggers, World Travel Market is held in London every year.
Women’s Travel Fest: A lesser known travel conference focused on female travelers.
Women in Travel Summit: A larger female focused travel conference; looking at the speakers and schedule compared to the Women’s Travel Fest, our money’s on this one.
The Social Travel Summit: A travel conference that connects the travel industry with professional travel influencers. The focus is geared towards online publishers, so it’s a great option for travel bloggers.
Bookkeeping & Taxes for Travel Bloggers
Treat your blog like a business from the beginning, and track your income and expenses.
Wave Apps: Online accounting software for small businesses. Free for basic services, you only pay for payment processing and payroll services.
Quickbooks: Online or desktop based accounting software for small to large businesses. There’s a monthly fee, but more available features, including the ability to project and pay quarterly taxes online.
Speaking of taxes, consult with an accountant or do your research to understand your tax situation and potential tax liability from your earnings. Some helpful links:
Susan Shain: What You Need to Know About Taxes for Travel Bloggers
Clark’s Condensed: Tax Tips for Bloggers
GoCurryCracker: Never Pay Taxes Again by Moving Abroad
SEO & Analytics for Travel Bloggers
Knowing how to optimize your blog to rank well in Google, and how to analyze your traffic is an important aspect of travel blogging as a business.
Google Analytics: A necessity. Install the code on your website (or use a WordPress plugin to do so), and Google will track where your website traffic is coming from, what pages people visit, how long they stay, even give you some info about who your visitors are. You’ll need this to know if your promotion methods are working, and to prove your traffic to interested sponsors.
Google Search Console: Allows you to see how your posts are ranking on Google, what pages Google has indexed and any errors Google has encountered on your site.
SEO is vital to your blog, but can be a big learning curve. We recommend formal tutorials like Nomadic Matt’s SuperStar Blogging, which has a section on SEO.
Here’s some helpful SEO links:
Chasing the Donkey: Comprehensive Guide to SEO for Travel Blogs
Make Time to See the World: Social Media & SEO Tips to Boost Your Blog
Travel Blogs with CommentLuv: Links back to your blog help your SEO, and the CommentLuv system gives you that backlink, sometimes a valued “dofollow” link. Visit the blogs, leave relevant, thoughtful comments, and include your blog URL in the “website” field of the comment form.
How to Be a Travel Blogger: Traveling Cheaply
Until you’re making boatloads of money, or getting your travel comped, you’ll want to control expenses. Here’s some guides to traveling on a budget:
Nomadic Matt: How to Move Abroad and Save Money
Trusted Housesitters: House sitting can significantly reduce your costs, allowing you to stretch your dollars while you travel– all while staying in nicer accommodations. Many homeowners are looking for someone to care for their pets while they’re gone, so it helps if you’re an animal lover and have experience taking care of animals.
The Professional Hobo: Financial Travel Tips
The Points Guy: The Beginner’s Guide to Points and Miles (he’s also a good example of a highly successful niche travel blogger)
Many bloggers take jobs abroad to finance their travels and make money while building up their blog. Here’s some useful guides and websites:
Help Exchange: Find work and volunteer opportunities while you travel. You’ll help out a local farm, hostel, or other small business, and get food and lodging in return.
Workaway: Similar to Help Exchange, but with more paid opportunities.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL): Most schools will require you to be certified, but once you are, hunt down jobs on Dave’s ESL Cafe, and Go Overseas. If you’re just out of college, and interested in Japan, JET is also one to consider.
Essential Gear for Travel Bloggers
We could give you a giant list of shiny new travel gear, but the truth is you don’t need much to start. Don’t feel bad about sticking with your battered suitcase or old laptop.
There are a couple things you should have:
A good camera for travel. Photos are an incredibly important part of travel blogging, and many bloggers have upped their game in recent years, taking pro level photos.
A lightweight, portable tripod. We like the flexibility of the GorillaPod, but you may prefer a full size tripod.
A laptop and smartphone; whatever you already have is probably fine, so long as your laptop is powerful enough to run the programs you need. The smartphone you’ll mainly use for Instagram and other social media.
How do travel bloggers make money?
This varies from blogger to blogger, but here’s the main ways that travel bloggers earn money:
Affiliate Links: Travel bloggers frequently earn money by linking to gear, services, hotels, tours, and more that they recommend to their readers. See our list of the most popular affiliate programs under “How to Make Money Travel Blogging” above.
There are many ways to approach this; while it’s possible for a blogger to make a living off of Amazon links alone, others focus on high dollar commissions from purchases of things like tours.
Sponsored Posts/ Brand Partnerships: Established bloggers frequently get offers from brands to write sponsored posts, and even form brand partnerships. This can anything from a one-off sponsored post like this recent Adventurous Kate post advertising Skillshare, or longer term relationships, like Legal Nomad’s partnership with G Adventures.
Your blog might not even be the most valuable platform you have. Instagrammers with large followings can make quite a bit of money from sponsored posts. Take a look at Gypsea Lust’s account; the frequency of sponsored posts is a bit heavy for us, but you can’t argue that she’s hurting for money.
Paid Trips: While many bloggers will use unpaid press trips to travel for free and build their blog, the serious, more established bloggers ask to be paid for their time. They are, after all, working during the trip, taking and posting photos and videos, AND after the trip ends, when a blogger usually must edit photos and craft blog posts about the trip.
Bottom line is, the pros expect to be paid for trips. You can and should work towards this goal as well.
Advertising: Sidebar advertising through pay-per-click networks like AdSense is a common way to make money from a blog. Vloggers can also support themselves with YouTube’s monetization through ads.
Ebooks/ Online Courses: If you’ve got knowledge to share, consider writing an e-book or offering an online course. For example, travel blogger Wandering Earl has written multiple e-books to help others start traveling, including “How to Work on a Cruise Ship“, and “How to Live a Life of Travel.” And travel blogger Nomadic Matt created a popular travel blogging course to help others get into the business.
Is it still possible to be a successful travel blogger now that there’s so many out there?
We certainly think so! Keep in mind that many of those blogs are hobby blogs and won’t last beyond the author’s year abroad. There’s room to succeed for those who treat it like a business from the start. Do your research and see what others are writing about. What can you do that’s different and interesting? What niches aren’t being addressed? Don’t expect to find success writing the millionth generic “guide to Paris” post.
How can I start getting free hotel stays and other comped items as a travel blogger?
Our advice is to first build your audience so you’re offering valuable exposure to brands. The good news is that you don’t need 100k Instagram followers! More and more, brands are realizing that working with bloggers who may have smaller but highly engaged audiences nets them better results.
We recommend taking a travel blogging course like Superstar Blogging that will teach you how to pitch to brands.
What are some common mistakes travel bloggers make?
Want to be successful travel blogger? Avoid these common mistakes:
- Not treating the blog as a business from the start–ideally with a basic business plan. It helps here to build connections with other travel bloggers, or take a travel blogging course so you’re not devoting hundreds of hours to figuring out things that professional travel bloggers could share with you in minutes.
- Skimping in the wrong areas- You don’t have to write about luxury travel, but you do need to set the foundation by educating yourself, paying for reliable hosting, and spending a couple bucks on an attractive blog design, to name a few.
- Related to above: Not purchasing your own domain at the beginning. It might be cheaper to use a site like Blogger, but “lauratravels.blogspot.com is never going to be as professional or flexible as your own domain: “lauratravels.com”
- Copying what other travel bloggers are doing without adding your own spin to make it new or interesting.
- Posting bad photos- Early on, travel bloggers might have been able to get away with terrible photos, but nowadays great photos are everything. It doesn’t have to be expensive–you can manage good photos with an iPhone–just learn how to use the equipment you have.
- Another faux pas we often see is not even using your own photos. Instead, many aspiring travel bloggers use stock, or even outright stolen photos to illustrate their articles. Copyright infringement isn’t a road you want to go down, and using your unique photos will always make your posts more interesting!
- Not learning SEO- Search Engine Optimization is a vital aspect of driving traffic to your blog.
- Giving up when you don’t see immediate success- It takes time to build a successful business. Make sure you have savings or a plan to support yourself until your blog makes money. Our post on Digital Nomad Jobs is a good place to start –and who knows, maybe you’ll find something you like even better than travel blogging!