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Better three hours too soon than a minute too late. —William Shakespeare
World Class Adventurer celebrated its three year anniversary this month. During this time, I transitioned from ESL teacher in China to KTV girl to ESL teacher in Japan to a full-time writer. I’ve been creating web content on and off since 2009 and a decade later, not only has the entire global economy shifted but internet trends are coming and going faster than ever. If you want to make money as a travel blogger, you’ll need to stay up to date on the latest movers and shakers in your niche.
Step 1: What’s in a Name?
When I started writing web content, I was taught to create evergreen niche articles in an area I had a lot of knowledge and experience in. Unfortunately, what no one told me was that the nitty-gritty of content creation is a lot more…well, complicated. The same applies to your blog name.
While having a niche, in this case—travel—is the first step to knowing what you want to write about, if your blog name’s too detailed, you’ll limit your options. Even if you’ve only traveled to a few cities on one continent, naming your travel blog something like danasadventuresinnorthamerica.com isn’t gonna help you when it’s time to go abroad.
For example, I haven’t yet been to Europe or Australia but I’ve been all around North America, Asia, and Central America. Even though the majority of my focus lies in Asia, I may branch out to other locations in the future. Also, World Class Adventurer is a name that holds deep sentimental meaning to me.
My advice: Take an afternoon to jot down ideas and bounce them off of a few trusted friends before purchasing a domain name.
Step 2: Hosting, Hosting, Hosting
Also, the customer service rocks and I don’t say that about many Internet companies! Signing up is a piece of cake. Just follow this quick set-up guide.
You can register a new domain or transfer one you already own.
Choose a hosting plan that’s right for you. They offer tons of discounts so you’ll never get stuck spending too much on web hosting.
I also like that they have a PayPal option for those of us who aren’t comfortable putting credit card info online or who live in China where payment systems remain insular.
That’s it! You should see this page when you’re all done.
Step 3: WordPress
Now, this is where it gets a little tricky for new-comers but don’t worry! The actual WordPress platform is incredibly user-friendly. Here’s mine:
As you can see, the navigation bar on your left is pretty straightforward. The tabs on the homepage tell you about traffic data, insights, and ads. These ads are provided by Google Adsense. I wouldn’t recommend using them since Adsense revenue ain’t what it used to be.
Also, I’d advise staying away from ads until you get at least one piece of content that’s consistently getting decent traffic from search engines. If you’re interested in monetization, this article provides excellent tips for blogs that aren’t generating a ton of traffic.
Step 4: Themes, Plug-ins, and Coding! Oh my!
Again, don’t freak out! There’s a lot to learn about WordPress. While the front end’s user-friendliness appeals to us writer-ly types, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. First, choosing a theme can be a daunting task because there are so many options out there.
- Should I choose a free or paid theme?
- Should I hire a web designer or use a WYSIWYG editor?
- What even are plug-ins and how can my blog benefit from them?
These are all questions you’ll need to ask yourself during the design process. In my opinion, the best travel blog themes are minimalist because travel blogs usually have a lot of visual content within posts. Too much going on in the header and sidebars gets distracting for your readers.
The bottom line is you don’t need to be a programmer to run a successful WordPress blog but a little bit of surface knowledge about HTML and CSS can go a long way. If you’re interested in the development side of WordPress to increase your blog’s success and job prospects, check out this article on IndigoThemes.
Step 5: Content is King
Yes, I know it’s cliché but it’s true. Your blog’s content needs to be consistent, on-topic, evergreen and fresh at the same time in order to run a successful blog. Some people don’t have time to post every day, once a week, or even twice a month. That’s perfectly understandable and I’ve been there!
While I can’t tell you how often to post new content, as a general rule of thumb, bloggers who post twice a week seem to see the most success. If you’re like me, wearing a million different hats and running around like a chicken with your head cut off, so burnt out by the middle of the week that you can’t even answer your Facebook messages let alone write a blog post, don’t worry. You’ve got options.
First, you could create your content ahead of time and post on a schedule. This is an especially important tactic for travel bloggers since traveling costs money and we don’t always have it. Or, like in my case, sometimes you’ve gotta spend six months back in your own country taking care of unforeseen circumstances.
When you create a new post, there should be a drop-down menu on the right side of your screen. Click Post Settings –> Status then choose a date and time. WordPress will automatically post it on your schedule. How cool is that?
The easier option, if you’ve got the cash, is to outsource your content. Sites like UpWork and Freelancer make it easy to find freelance writers to collaborate with. The only downside is that quality content is expensive and you don’t have total control over elements such as grammar, word choice, and style.
Step 6: Fly, Social Butterfly, Fly!
Yep, this one’s all about social media. While the biggies like FB and Twitter are still important, Instagram, YouTube, and SnapChat are the most relevant social media sites for the younger generation in 2019. Video streaming sites such as Twitch and YouNow also have vast numbers of hungry eyeballs waiting to devour content.
“Oh no!” you exclaim. “But I’m an introvert. That’s why I became a writer. Please don’t make me go in front of the camera!”
To which I respond: Silly goose. It’s all about hybrid media these days. Let me explain. Yes, visual content is on the rise and people don’t read as much as they used to, sadly. But that doesn’t mean the written word is dead. Far from it, in fact. From book vloggers on YouTube to teen Instagram models to Twitch eSports players, there’s always one common denominator: the ability to influence. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those influencers and ask them for a little mention in exchange for promoting them. Bartering FTW.
Step 7: Follow (and copy) the Pros!
Look, we all wanna be one step ahead of the hottest trends in our industry but the fact of the matter is, most of us won’t be. I’m here to give you practical advice about how to start out and make it as a small to mid-level blogger. If you see something blowing up on Instagram, hop on that bandwagon. You gotta follow until you can lead.
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