How to Become a Travel Blogger

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ve probably noticed a lot of changes in the last few months. While I’ve been writing this blog for almost 3 years (?!!!), last May I did a complete 180 and redesigned my entire blog. I left behind the world of study abroad and teach abroad blogs to the mythical land of “travel blogging”.

How to become a travel blogger

What is travel blogging?

Before the spring of last year, I had no clue! It wasn’t until I stumbled on an article by Go Abroad titled GoAbroad.com’s Top Solo Female Travel Bloggers that I had even heard of travel blogging. I decided to check out the blogs and soon became obsessed with Twenty-Something Travel, Legal Nomads and Adventurous Kate. Their blogs were interesting, visually appealing and user-friendly, and I found all three girls to be extremely relatable. I spent countless nights devouring their blogs, and found myself desperately wanting to be friends with these people!

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After a few days of obsessing, I started reading their tips on blogging and how to become a “professional travel blogger.” Unlike many travel blogs out there, I never started my blog with the intention of making it a business. I just loved writing about my experiences and sharing my thoughts, memories, opinions, and photography with others. But after writing a blog for 2.5 years, I realized blogging was no longer just a hobby, it was a passion.

It was time for a change. A complete re-evaluation of my writing and my priorities. Rather than using my spare time to watch Netflix or surf Facebook, I spent hours researching and reading advice from other travel bloggers on how to start a travel blog.

I’m not the type of blogger who normally writes about blogging, and I’m by no means an authority on the subject, but I know a few of you reading this post either write a blog or are thinking of starting one. Whether you’re interested in starting/improving your blog, or you just want to know

Whether you’re interested in starting/improving your blog, or you just want to know why (and how) I made all these changes, this post is for you!

Bluehost

1. Be sure your blog is “self-hosted”

What does that mean??

The first step in transitioning from a hobby blog to a travel blog is becoming “self-hosted”. Firstly, this means having your own domain name. A lot of study abroad and teach abroad bloggers have a blog with the URL “www.name.wordpress.com” or “www.name.blogspot.com.” This is perfect for the average blogger because these domains are absolutely free, but if you want to be taken seriously you’ll need to drop the WordPress or Blogspot from your domain name.

Having a blog hosted on WordPress or Blogspot will also give you problems down the road. For me, it was a lack of stylistic options and storage space for my photos. To be honest, my blog was ugly. At the time I thought it was perfectly acceptable, but now I cringe whenever I think of it! Moving away from my wordpress.com blog gave me a plethora of new themes and stylistic options to choose from. Now I love how my blog looks! I also completely ran out of space to upload photos onto my blog, and had to pay WordPress to let me upload more. Trust me, that is not something you want to run into down the road.

So what did I do? I started a self-hosted blog! This means that rather than using WordPress to host all of my content on their servers, I pay a hosting company to do this for me. After much research and deliberation, I chose Bluehost as my server. It seemed to be the best out of the cheap-ish hosts, and they even have a live chat if you’re having any technical issues. Right now they’re having a sale where you can pay $3.49 per month for hosting and you get your own domain name for free!

If you are thinking of switching from wordpress.com to wordpress.org, here’s a great article explaining exactly how to make the switch. If I can do it on my own without paying for help, so can you!

UPDATE MAY 2016:

I recently moved from Bluehost to Siteground because I had too much traffic for Bluehost’s shared servers (I guess that’s a good problem to have, right?) The great thing about Bluehost is even if you sign a 3-year contract you can still cancel at any time and get a partial refund. Bluehost gave me my money back with no issues, and the transfer to Siteground was seamless and hassle-free.

I now equally recommend Bluehost and Siteground to newer bloggers. Siteground has a Start Up web hosting plan for roughly the same price as Bluehost, which is suitable for those getting under 10,000 pageviews per month. I currently have the “Grow Big” plan, but I may have to upgrade to the “Go Geek” plan in the next few months if my stats keep growing the way they are now.

I definitely suggest you shop around and see which host is right for you. If you are considering signing up for Bluehost or Siteground, I would really appreciate it if you click the link above before you do. I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, and that’s money I can put towards my blog that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Colombian food

For example, this food is visually appealing

2. Make your blog visually appealing

After signing up for Bluehost, I went about installing wordpress.org. This is the version of WordPress for self-hosted blogs. It looks exactly like the WordPress you’re used to, but with more options and themes to choose from! You can even transfer all of your old content from your old blog to your new one. The only thing I lost were photo galleries on my old posts. If you’re thinking about switching, please switch sooner rather than later. The longer you wait to switch over, the more painful, stressful and time-consuming the move will be.

After switching from “www.adventuresaroundasia.wordpress.com” to the shiny new “www.adventuresaroundasia.com” I set about making my blog beautiful. I spent hours picking out a theme and redesigning to my heart’s content. While I chose a free theme (Catch Kathmandu), many people choose to invest in a premium theme.

For those of you who don’t blog, a theme is the basic structure of your blog’s design. While some things are easily customizable, major changes can’t be made unless you’re very HTML savvy. A theme basically does all the work for you so you don’t have to hire a web designer to build your blog from scratch.

UPDATE MAY 2015:

After a year of Catch Kathmandu, I finally decided to redesign my blog using a new, premium theme. I chose the Crescent theme through Mojo Themes, a really well-respected platform. I love how many customizable options there are, as well as the clean and elegant design. I was beginning to get a bit frustrated with the limitations of a free theme. For example, I was stuck with the ugly dark blue color, and my self-made “about me” widget was pretty horrific.

With the help of a graphic designer friend, I’ve completely redesigned my blog (again) and I’m really happy with how it looks now! I got a great deal on my new theme through Bluehost, which offered 12 different themes for $30 USD (as in, you pay $30 and they give you 12 themes you can keep forever). Just the Crescent theme itself is usually $45 USD! Bluehost constantly has great deals like this, which is why I (still) love them so much! For a poor student like me, these sales are gold.

Whampoa Military Academy

I never told you about visiting the Whampoa Military Academy

3. Write good stuff

This should probably be #1. Basically, I learned a lot of things from reading all of my favorite travel blogs. To write good posts you have to read good posts. I spend so much time reading other people’s blogs. I like to follow all of my favorite bloggers on Facebook so their new posts show up in my newsfeed. I also have a Bloglovin account, which emails me everyone’s new posts in a straightforward email list every day.

The main thing I learned through reading is that I needed to stop stressing about documenting every place I visit on my travels in chronological order. I used to rip my hair out over trying to blog about every single place I visited. It’s just not going to happen. I still need to write about my trip trekking through Tibet, that one time I lost my passport in Nepal (sorry mom), hiking the rice terraces in Guilin and renting a motorcycle in Taiwan, to name a few.

No one wants to read your diary.

But you know what? Travel diary blogs are boring. No one wants to read about my trip to Taiwan in chronological order except maybe people who are planning on visiting Taiwan. Pick the best, coolest or most interesting aspects of your trip and write about those. For example, instead of writing about everything I did in Taipei, I wrote a post about Taipei’s street food and night markets. That way, even people who aren’t planning on visiting Taiwan can look at salivating pictures of shaved ice cream and laugh about the penis waffles.

I started realizing that my blog is more than just a place to talk about my travels and life in China. I’ve been trying to write more overarching posts about what I’ve learned from living abroad, and how these experiences have impacted me. I now organize my future post ideas into categories, pulling from different themes each time I write a post. I’ve got posts on Chinese culture, travel advice, politics, personal stories, travel gear reviews, etc. I actually have a notebook with 50+ ideas for future posts. Now all I have to do is just write them….

Travel Blog Success

4. Join Travel Blog Success

Travel Blog Success (TBS)  is the best class for beginning bloggers. Not only are there countless lessons you can take online, you also get access to private webinars with professional travel bloggers, forums, a super secret Facebook group and discounts for blog themes and travel conferences!

To be honest, I’m pretty cheap and I couldn’t imagine shelling out a few hundred dollars to join a travel blogging class. But the more I looked around the more I noticed that all of my favorite travel bloggers (literally all of them) were members of TBS. When a sale rolled around last may, I couldn’t help but jump on board, and I’m so glad I did!

How the course helped me

The classes have taught me so many things I would have had to spend hours and hours researching online. The webinars are amazing too! One of my favorite travel bloggers, Young Adventuress, recently did a webinar on how to use Instagram as a travel blogger. She has 24,000+ followers on Instagram and is often recruited by major brands for Instagram press trips. How cool is that?!

My favorite part of TBS is the very active, secret Facebook group. This group is full of professional bloggers that have no problem answering questions from newer bloggers. Reading all of their posts about working with brands and pitching to companies has inspired me to start working on a media kit of my own! If I’m going to spend this much time and effort writing and working on my blog, why not collaborate with cool and innovative travel services in Asia too?

become a travel blogger

5. Become a Social Media Pro

In the last few months I’ve created a Facebook page for my blog, and switched my Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest handles to my blog name. Keeping up with social media takes a lot of time and energy. In the last few months, I went from someone who barely understood how Twitter works to a person that schedules tweets in advance so I can tweet while I’m sleeping. I make an effort to post interesting and relevant content to each of my social media profiles every day. I also share other bloggers’ content too. It’s such a great way to make friends and support other people.

While I’m nowhere near a social media expert, I’ve been reading a lot of articles on how to improve my social media presence. Some of the best posts I’ve found are Girl Vs Globe’s advice about Facebook and the Hungry Partier’s “How I got 10k Followers”.

become a travel blogger

In Conclusion

If you aren’t a travel blogger and never plan to be, I hope this post has given you a little insight into all of the changes that have been going on in the last few months. My life has been pretty insane, with updating this blog, freelance writing, and attending grad school. But busy is good, right? I really hope to make this blog something I can be proud of, and something you all enjoy reading!

If you’re about to move abroad or start a big trip and are thinking about starting a blog, go for it! The best advice I can give is to start out on a self-hosted blog right from the start if you see yourself writing for more than just an audience of family and friends. I can’t stress how painful it was to move to a self-hosted site after 2.5 years of blogging!

Also, be sure to manage your expectations. No one becomes an internet sensation overnight. It may feel like no one is reading your blog, at first. We all feel that way! But if you really want to improve your readership, try out my tips above and I guarantee you’ll see a huge improvement in the response you get from your blog. I know my life (yes, my life) has drastically changed since I moved to a self-hosted blog and started taking the TBS course.

become a travel blogger

Want to Learn More?

I’m constantly reading articles about how to improve my writing, search engine optimization (SEO), and social networking. If you’re looking for more resources on how to improve your blog and become a travel blogger, be sure to check out these articles below!

Finding the Universe: How to Become a Professional Travel Blogger

Adventurous Kate: How to Start a Travel Blog 

That Savvy Backpacker: How to make money travel blogging

Globe Guide: How to Start a Travel Blog

Are you about to start a travel blog? Looking to transition to travel blogging? Let me know!

Comments

comments

About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

87 comments on “How to Become a Travel Blogger

  1. I don’t know what your blog looked like before, but this design looks very nice! I’m working through some of the same changes myself on my wordpress.org site. How did you find a good free theme? I’m looking to change mine but worried it will take hours of poking to find something that looks nice.

    • Thanks so much, I’m glad you like what I’ve done! I’m using Catch Kathmandu right now, which has been working pretty well for me, but I have been considering upgrading to a premium theme. I liked how Catch Kathmandu is easy to read, and I enjoy the blue colors it comes with.

  2. I am kind of in the boat you were in. I have been writing a travel blog for a few years but never on a professional basis but am looking to change that. This post is a great incentive. I will hang onto to it and reference it as I make the transition. Thanks Richelle.

    • Awesome Tim! Yeah I’ve found that most of the advice out there is for people starting blogs from scratch. Switching over from wordpress.com was extremely intimidating, but it was actually much easier than I anticipated. I just spent a lot of time doing research, which I tried to sum up here.

  3. These are really great tips. I would love to travel and blog about it. Maybe when my kids are done school i will try it out.

  4. Great tips and much food for thought here. We have recently moved to our own domain too, so am keen to see whether it will be as beneficial as we hope….Thank you!

    • That’s awesome Sarah. I noticed a HUGE change in the response I’ve been given, but it took a month or two to build my readership back up. Don’t be discouraged if your views suffer at first.

  5. Good job on switching over and finding another niche after blogging so long. I don’t think I’ll go the travel route but I hear you on the social media sucking up a lot of time and energy. thanks for those links, I’ll be sure to check them out!

  6. Most travel bloggers I know started their blogs because of their love for travel. Some now has their own businesses of arranging trips for clients and make money out of their passion.

  7. This is a really helpful post even for non-travel bloggers. I have been blogging for awhile and I’ve been thinking of the best web host. I’ll consider bluehost because of your review. Thanks!

    • That’s how I felt for a while… until I ran out of room to store my photos. The longer you wait the harder it will be to switch over. Consider sooner rather than later!

    • Thats so true! I feel like I spend 3x the amount of time participating in social media threads and reading how to improve my blog and social media presence. I almost miss the good old days where all I did was write and post to Facebook.

  8. Great suggestions! I was in the same boat not too long ago, as my blog started because of my study abroad program. But I recently went self-hosted with Bluehost and joined TBS, and I’m loving everything about being a travel blogger! It’s a lot of work but is also really fun, and I hope to make a career out of it someday :) Looking forward to connecting in the blog-o-sphere!

    • We’re twins!! No one ever tells study abroad bloggers to consider self-hosting. I didn’t find out until way too late in the game. I’m loving the travel blogging community though. Looking forward to connecting with you too. I’ll be sure to check out your blog

  9. This is great information for anyone really. It is my job to read and comment on them but I really loved reading this post. You have great information in here. I think I missed your post about the penis waffles which even reading the words made me laugh. :P Lol Thanks for sharing.,

  10. Loved, loved reading your article, twice actually, which happens rarely to me. I wish you could be a beauty blogger too, so you can offer such useful advice also for that particular niche.
    Good luck,
    Rally

  11. This all sounds good and solid. It’s only that I feel like I never will find time to travel and discover new places, which inspire me to write fresh content, if I start to follow all advice and be active on all social media channels there are.

    • I have that same problem! It’s hard to balance traveling and keeping up to date on social media, especially with all of the internet censorship in China. Sometimes it becomes way too much! It’s easier to manage when I’m just living in China as an expat. I don’t know how full-time travelers do it.

  12. Hi Richelle,

    Totally agree with each tip.

    Writing really helpful, in-depth stuff is the fool-proof way to draw in readers, and to become a pro travel blogger.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Tweeting soon.

    Ryan

  13. Great article! I think that we all learn as we go along. I know that my style has definitely changed a bit over time. When I first started, I was writing it more like a diary and then I realized…that might be interesting to me, and that’s about it! I’ve switched and now I blog way more about individual things I did or destinations. And not having to blog chronologically, I totally used to think that way as well! Now I don’t mind hopping around a bit.

    • Thanks Lauren! I think blogging is always a work in progress, and I’m still trying to figure out what works for me and my readers. I’m so glad I broke the habit of blogging chronologically. So much less pressure!

    • Sometimes I feel like I need to have a partner because there aren’t enough hours in the day to write and do social media/ SEO. I still need to go back and SEO optimize all of my old posts!

  14. Fantastic post, Richelle! As I’ve mentioned to you before, I’ve been trying to be more active on my blog lately, and it seems to be paying off in dribs and drabs – I’m getting a lot more pageviews, but no more followers unfortunately. I’m going to try up my social media game in the near future. I’m also considering the move to a private host, but I’m holding back for two reasons; firstly, I’m hoping for more followers before I commit to that, and secondly, I want a catchier name for my blog but can’t think of one, haha.

    I loved your advice about not treating the blog as a diary. That’s something I’ve been trying to do in my last few posts, but it’s so tough! I just want to talk about everything that’s happened to me! But I definitely see how succinct posts focused on a theme are much more fun for readers, so I’m going to focus on improving my content for now!

    Thanks for all your tips, they’ve really inspired me :)

    • Thanks Annabelle. I’d love to check out your blog! I’d recommend switching sooner rather than later, but definitely think of a good name first. You can join a few Facebook groups for new travel bloggers (Part-time traveler, We travel we blog) and ask for their advice. People love to give their opinion, so if you’re choosing between a few names people might help you decide.

      • Thanks for the tips, Richelle! I joined both those facebook groups, plus a few more :) If you yourself have any tips for my blog, I’d love to hear them, too. I’ve found it hard to keep on top of this week as work has suddenly gotten a lot busier, but I’m hoping to play a bit of catch up on the weekend.

  15. I may mention some large vacations I have gone on or big family events but I have this real nagging feeling not to just “give it all away” as if it were a diary. I haven’t made the leap on getting my own domain, I think I’m just a bit to intimidated and don’t feel like my blog is evolved enough. Great tips! Loved reading your post!

    • Thanks Caden! I’d definitely recommend switching sooner rather than later. If you’re serious about blogging (as in you write in your blog all the time, and spend time promoting it on social media), you can build your blog up with your own domain, rather than switching once you’ve already got tons of followers and possibly losing a large chunk of them.

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  19. Teaching people how to use your camera… STORY OF MY FREAKIN’ LIFE. I just can’t sometimes. I go as far as positioning people exactly where I want them to be. Sometimes I’ll even take a shot and show them EXACTLY what I want the framing to look like… and it’s still drastically off. But whatcha gunna do. If only I could be Kim Kardashian and hire a personal photographer… (hehehe jk who wants to be Kim Kardashian *nervous laugh*).

    • Hahaha! Yeah I met up with another travel blogger for a day and it was a miracle. Thankfully it was the day I went to Angkor Wat so I got a ton of amazing photos. I just need to get myself a photographer boyfriend and force him to take pictures of me when we travel together.

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  28. Hi Richelle,

    My name is Daniel Chan from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I love your site and very interesting. I just quit my job as a commercial photographer and want to work as freelance travel photographer. How can I reach you :)

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