So you want to start a blog. Or maybe you’ve already started and, just like I did, dived in without really knowing what you’re doing. Hold your horses, let’s backtrack a little. I’ve already given you this post, 6 steps to start your blog ( opens in a new tab), I’m sure you’ve seen it, that’s the nuts and bolts. Let’s talk a little more about why and how to blog and some things to think about before you even start your website.
If you managed to randomly find this post in the travel blogging section of our website and aren’t signed up for the whole series of free stuff, head back to our main travel blogging page ( also opens in a new tab for your convenience) and put your name in the box now.
Things To Do Before Starting a Blog
Think About Your Why
I hear it so, so often.
I run a group where I help and coach bloggers and family travellers and so many people tell me they just want to start a blog to share with friends and family while they travel.
That’s fine. If that’s all you want to do, do it. You can even use one of the blogging platforms like WordPress dot com, Wix, or Blogger. ( although I don’t know why you would) Go ahead, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need me. Unless it’s to tell you how to get off those platforms and go self hosted later. That information is further down the page.
But what if you want to get into blogging in any serious way with a view to making a few dollars? That is an entirely different scenario.
That’s what I’m here for, to help you with that.
Writing a travel diary to share with the folks back home and creating a blog or website to attract an audience that will make you cash are two entirely different things.
I’m going to be brutal, nobody cares about your family gap year beyond a vague interest. So many have gone before you, people have been blogging about their travels the whole eight years I’ve been involved with this world. Nobody cares. Some will stick their hands up and say ” I’ll follow!” These people are so few as to be insignificant compared to the traffic you should be getting.
Sure, you could very well pick up a few hundred followers and a few thousand monthly clicks, but that just isn’t going to be enough. You need a plan.
Consider Income – Does Anyone Make Money Just Writing a Travel Diary Type Blog?
It’s possible I suppose, but you would have to be an incredible writer or have something amazingly interesting to share. I’ve only come across one new blogger who wrote well enough to make that happen and it was the incredibly talented Liz of It’s a Drama.
She’s funny, smart, honest, dry and a natural writer. Not many of us can be like Liz. Read one of her posts and you won’t be able to get your email address in the sign-up box fast enough, she’s that good. But don’t go there just yet, go later, stay here, you have work to do.
Even Liz wouldn’t make a living online with just that skill. You also need some know-how.
How Soon Did I Start Making Money as a New Blogger?
I had my first $2000 month very soon after starting, it was under 6 months but I got lucky, very lucky. I doubt the same would happen today because the industry has changed too much.
If you’re an SEO guru setting out from scratch to build the perfect niche site, are able to build backlinks like crazy and be 100% dedicated to your job, maybe you could do it. But I’m not that person and I doubt you are either.
Your income is more likely to start as a trickle. But it will grow along with your traffic.
Think About Your Domain Name and Buy It
Your URL will cost you almost nothing and you buy it on a yearly basis.
Before you buy put some thought into it.
Keep it short and memorable.
Don’t use hard to spell names or apostrophes, keep it easy to type into Google.
Don’t lock yourself into anything too specific, so avoid names such as “Travel with my toddler” because that toddler won’t be a toddler for long.
I regret picking ” World Travel Family”. In some ways it’s perfect, 3 fantastic keywords. But I don’t always want to write about family travel, kids grow up and I want to stay a travel blogger. People make assumptions based on that word ” family” in the URL. I do not only write ” with kids” posts and don’t want to. I don’t want to be tarred with the family travel brush.
If you only write ” with kids” posts you’re massively limiting your audience.
Remember that your website isn’t about you, it’s about the information you can provide for your readers. This means that titles like ” The Smith Family Go Travelling” just aren’t the best plan. Remember ” your readers” means the people who find your site from Google or social media, not necessarily subscribers and followers.
Keep it a bit broader and try to get good keywords in there.
Keywords are words people type into Google when they’re searching for information. If your site is to be about travel, it will help you, somewhat, to have travel related words in your website’s name. We’ll talk more about keywords and keyword research later.
Where to buy your domain, well, I used Go Daddy, it’s quick, easy and cheap. Visit Go Daddy and have a play around, see what names are available. Go for a dot com if at all possible, you’re aiming for a global audience not a country specific one. Unless of course, your site focusses on something very niche in a particular country, that foreign visitors will have no interest in. If that’s the case you could maybe go for a dot com dot au or dot co dot uk, but my preference is dot com.
Alternatively, if you plan to use SiteGround hosting, you can buy your domain direct with them which will save having to transfer the domain to them after purchase. The prices should be the same, but double check. Visit Site Ground to register your domain here.
I never bought their additional Domain Privacy nor Site Scanner.
Get Off WordPress Dot Com
If you started on a blogging platform other than your own, self hosted, site, you need to get off there. Luckily, the lovely people at Site Ground will generally help you with that.
Site Ground are a hosting company and I recommend them without hesitation. All of our smaller sites are with them and my big site, well, I’m thinking of moving it back. I pay $125 per month to host World Travel Family and I think I may get a better, cheaper service at Site Ground with one of their premium plans. I’m just telling you that to be totally up front. Your hosting, at a beginner level, will be just a few bucks a month.
We recommend Site Ground because they have the best support I’ve ever seen with any hosting company. You can chat live with one of their support crew any time of the day or night. They are incredibly helpful and just keep giving. We love Site Ground.
So pop over and have a chat to them about moving your site over from WordPress dot com, they should be able to help, often for free. Click through here.
Become an Instant Expert
What are you Expert in ?
Don’t think you’re an expert ? Well that’s imposter syndrome taking over your self-confidence.
I bet you know one heck of a lot more about your home town or country than I do.
Could you write ” Things to Know Before Visiting / Travelling to / Vacationing in My Home town / Country ”
If the answer is yes, then you’re more expert than me or millions of other people.
Be that expert, own it.
Create content around it.
Did I Say Something About Free Travel Blogger Checklists?
I did, there is a free printable pdf here. Now don’t look at it and panic and don’t think you need to do everything right now. It’s pointless signing up as an Amazon affiliate before you have any tradffic or sales content, for instance. Don’t go trying to join Adsense before you have a site, you will be refused or maybe evicted, but all these things you need to know about or do, let’s say in your first few months, just to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
In the next post we’ll talk about site structure and content, but for now I’d also like you to read this post on The Great Blogging Myths and Ignoring Them and familiarise yourself with this one on How Bloggers Make Money. And then we’re done. Go start your blog. We’ll have a little chat about themes in the next email too. Thanks for joining my blogging Not-a-Course, this is fun. If you have Questions put them in the comments below. If you have a lot of questions and need one-on-one blogging support and mentorship, you’ll have to join our private bloggers’ group, but that’s not open right now, I want to explain everything so clearly that you’ll never need to pay a cent for courses of any sort. Nice easy language, that’s what we’re about.