How to Create a Travel Blog | The Invisible Tourist

So, you’re here because you want to create a travel blog?  Or maybe you’re just playing with the idea for now?

Deciding to do it is half the battle won! I personally pondered over starting my own blog for about six months before I decided to launch The Invisible Tourist. Let me tell you, what an amazing journey it has been since that day in April 2017.

I’d never really thought about sharing how I created my blog but lately I’ve had quite a few questions about how I started out, so here goes!

How to create a travel blog: Before we begin

It’s really simple to create your own blog. Although I mention travel blogging specifically in this post, your blog doesn’t necessarily have to be about travel. There are blogs for anything: beauty, fashion, gardening, parenting, snails… The possibilities are endless. Whatever your subject, I’m here to walk you through the process step-by-step so be sure to save or bookmark this guide for easy reference later.

Plus, I’ll throw in exclusive tips about branding your blog (I’m a professional graphic designer after all) and some things I learnt the hard way so you don’t have to! If you’re still interested in creating your own blog, read on for the juicy info.

 This guide on how to create a travel blog will cover:

  • Why create a travel blog?
  • Choosing your name
  • How to create a travel blog in 5 foolproof steps
  • Tips about branding your blog
  • What comes next?

This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

How to Create a Travel Blog + Exclusive Branding Tips | The Invisible Tourist
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Why create a travel blog?

Are you the go-to person that comes to mind whenever people in your life need travel advice? If you’ve relayed the same information about a destination over and over, having a blog means you have the perfect place to direct them to instead! It’s a great to have your own corner of the internet for people to come to get their questions answered.

Blogs are also fantastic digital record-keepers. If you’re heading abroad for an extended period, perhaps you want your own space to document your travels for sharing with family and friends back home. Maybe you’d like to treat it as a travel journal where you expose your travel mistakes or secrets? It could be to showcase your beautiful travel photos (without Facebook creeping on what you do!).

Whatever the reason, blogging is the perfect way to share your knowledge and expertise in a particular area. It can also be very rewarding when people aside from your immediate friends and family share your articles, or leave you thoughtful comments and questions. It’s nice to know your work can help and inspire others!

You may wish to share your travel tips, like how I nabbed this ridiculously cheap overwater bungalow in Bora Bora

So, why did I start travel blogging?

I’d been globetrotting for 9 years before I started my blog and I had LOADS of information stored away in my brain (and in spreadsheets) I wanted to put in one place for easy reference. To add to this, I began to notice the way people travel change drastically over the years. Yeah, I know that makes me sound old!

But as it became commonplace for tourists to hastily take selfies in front of famous monuments before rushing off to the next one, I wondered how much they were actually getting out of their trip. The insights I had were the reasons behind me wanting to spread my message about invisible tourism. You can find out a little background behind my blog here.

How to create a travel blog in 5 foolproof steps

STEP 1: Choose your name

Anyway, that’s enough about me. It’s now over to you! Here’s some things to consider when coming up with a name for your blog:

Make it interesting: Before you start your blog let’s get to the first things first. If you’d eventually like to turn your blog into a business you’ve gotta come up with an interesting name if you want to stand out in this game. With the travel blogging industry so oversaturated you need to be memorable.

Think about your purpose: To help decide on a name, firstly narrow down your audience. Is it aimed at friends and family while you travel abroad to keep them updated about your adventures? Or are you looking to turn it into a business? Either way, the first step is to narrow down your niche.

Tie it to your niche: Think about what you’re bringing to the table. Sure, travel is a niche in itself, but what type of travel will you specifically be focusing on: Family, luxury, budget, backpacker, adventure, expat…? The list goes on. Your name should reflect your niche and the message you want to get out there, so put a spin on it that is uniquely you and hasn’t been done before.

Time to imagine your new name

TIP: Choosing a name may come easily or it may take some time to think through. I took several days before I finally decided on my name. Also, make sure it reads easily when it’s crammed together in a URL!

Names to avoid: There are endless blog names containing the words traveller/travelling, vagabond, nomadic, wanderlust etc these days. They have been absolutely done to death and are no longer original, nor memorable. Find out why I chose “tourist”, despite no one wanting to be known as one!

Check its availability: Once you’ve decided on your name, you can use a site like Namecheckr to see if the domain name and related social media handles are available. You won’t be able to use a name that’s already been taken! I’ll take more about why this is important later on in this post. It’s also a good idea to type your new name into Google to see what already shows up for that name. Hopefully there won’t be any dodgy looking sites people may confuse you with.

STEP 2: Set up your domain name and hosting

There are a few steps within this step, so I’ll break them down into bite-sized chunks:

a) Select your host

At this stage of the game, any host is fine.

Select a hosting package that is best suited to you. If you’re just starting out and looking to keep costs down, shared hosting plans are perfectly fine and affordable. Remember, you can always upgrade later down the track as your blog grows.

b) Enter your domain name

Now’s the time to use that golden name you thought up earlier! Type in your shiny new domain name. If you already bought an existing domain name, you can use that.

Once approved, you’ll then proceed to fill in your account and billing information.

Next, choose the options that are going to suit you. How long will you want your hosting for? If you’re in this for the long haul, the biggest discount is applied to the 36 month plan. But if you’re unsure, 12 and 24 month options are also available.

I also recommend ticking the box for Domain Whois Privacy. This will prevent your personal details like name, phone number and email address from being visible to anyone who looks up your domain name on Whois. It’s worth it to curb the number of pesky emails or phone calls you get from random web developers wanting to set up your website! It’s so easy to build your blog yourself with WordPress and the right theme.

c) Purchase and Login

The next step is to enter your credit card details to complete your purchase.

After the transaction is processed, you’ll be asked to create a password then login. Make sure it’s easy for you to remember but tricky enough for someone else to guess. Pretty straightforward, huh?

d) WordPress

Now your hosting is all sorted, it’s time to install WordPress. This is super easy with Bluehost as it’s done automatically. And here we are! The next screen will ask you to choose a theme for your blog. A theme is the appearance and look your blog will have. These can be changed at any time, even if you have hundreds of posts on your blog:

Select a theme

Simply select one of the free themes WordPress suggests to get started. Don’t worry too much about whether it’s the perfect one for you because it’s just temporary for now. I’ll explain why in more detail below.

Hey presto, you’ve just created your travel blog!

Start building

Go click the big “Start Building” button. This is essentially the behind-the-scenes of your blog where the magic happens!

WordPress dashboard

Enter in your blog’s name, and a quick description of what your blog is about. Like most things, this can be changed at any time so no need to stress about getting it perfect just yet.

Launch your site

Go ahead and click the “Launch” button. Don’t be afraid! No one is going to see your blog in this early stage, and I have a little solution for you that looks nicer than the default WordPress “Coming Soon” page, so read on.

Bluehost tools

STEP 3: Install a theme

What I wish I knew before starting my blog

Oh, to step back in time for a moment! If you have an idea in your mind of how you’ll want your blog to look, you may find that the free themes within WordPress and online are a bit restrictive with what you can do. I’m pretty picky considering making things look nice is what I do in my day job.

Truth be told, I spent an entire week after work trying to figure out why I couldn’t get my blog to look how I wanted before I launched it publicly. If you’re not technical like me, this can be super frustrating. What I didn’t realise was it all came down to my free theme not having the features I needed!

You’re going to want to customise your blog freely

Let’s get real. In life I like to say that good things aren’t cheap, and cheap things aren’t good. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a free theme if you’re just starting out. They’re a great option to fill the void before your blog begins to make money (if that’s your end goal), but they are usually free because their functionality and customisation options are limited.

As I like to only recommend products and services I’ve used myself, go take a browse over on ThemeForest. My theme is by ThemeSphere, but there are loads of responsive and customisable themes available for around USD 54. It’s also worthwhile paying a little extra for the technical support if you’re a newbie.

ThemeSphere’s support team are AMAZING as they usually answer and fix any queries you have within 24 hours. The number of times I contacted them in my first few months meant the USD 15.75 for technical support definitely paid for itself!

Once you’ve purchased your theme, the next step is to log into WordPress (also known as WP Admin). Use the username and password you created earlier:

WordPress admin login

Once you’re in WordPress, head to Appearance > Themes on the left sidebar and click on the “Add New” button to upload the theme .zip file to WordPress to install it.

Voila – now you have your beautiful theme!

STEP 4: Install useful plugins

Now you’ve got your theme all sorted, you may need to install a few plugins like social sharing buttons or widgets to add the finishing touches to your blog.

Some plugins I use and recommend are:

  • Grow by Mediavine (Pro Version): Used by many bloggers and great for tracking your social share numbers
  • Yoast SEO: Helpful for optimising your blog posts so they can be found by Google and other search engines
  • WP Spamshield: A great (and free!) alternative to Akismet that filters spammy comments
  • MonsterInsights for Google Analytics: To help track pageviews, audience and their behaviour on your blog.

If you’re paranoid about your blog being seen before you’re ready for it to be launched, I can also recommend the free Coming Soon Page & Maintenance by SeedProd plugin. Simply install and activate this little baby and your site will display a customised “Coming Soon” page while it’s under construction.

TIP: Despite what you may read on other sites, I don’t recommend using Jetpack as it’s a bit clunky and can show down your site’s loading speed. It comes installed by default when you start your WordPress blog so feel free to just delete it.

Social sharing icons

STEP 5: Start publishing!

Today you created own little corner of the internet – congratulations! Now it’s time to get writing and sharing the message you want to get out there.

First, you’ll want to create a few essential pages for your blog like a homepage or blogreel (which is a feed of your blog posts in chronological order) an About page, Contact, and maybe a Destinations page if you’ve got a few travel related posts to share. Set up pages that suit your niche.

Get your work out into the world!
Get your work out into the world!

Exclusive tips about branding your blog

TIP: It’s super important to BE YOURSELF because everyone else is already taken!

Starbucks use their logo on everything
Credit: Kal Loftus via Unsplash

Advice from a graphic designer about branding

Who am I to give you advice about the importance of branding? With over 15 years experience as a graphic designer who’s worked within advertising agencies and publishing houses, I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty good idea by now!

Ever noticed how big brands like McDonald’s, Apple, Starbucks and Coca-Cola are instantly recognisable and stand out against their competitors? They all have one thing in common: Consistency. They have strong, memorable logos they use across all their ads, products and correspondence. It’s memorable because their unique logos and style are used on EVERYTHING.

To be successful as a blogger you need to be consistent and memorable, too. I highly recommend creating a logo or header incorporating your own unique style to use across your blog and social media channels. Some tips for a banging visual identity are to:

  • Think outside the box to develop your own style. Check what other bloggers are doing and create something different
  • Limit your fonts and colours to 2-3 of each, tops. Remember, less is more
  • Use similar fonts and styles on your designs that are used on your blog so all your artwork is consistent
  • Branch out of the travel blogging sphere for inspiration because many things in the same niche tend to all look the same after a while!
  • Most importantly: Do not – I repeat – do not copy someone else. More on this below!
Branch out for inspiration

Chances are you may not be a designer like myself… Never fear my friend. I know other bloggers have commissioned affordable designers on sites like Fiverr or Upwork to create a logo for them. Be sure to read reviews and go with someone who has great results. Alternatively, you can use a free desktop publishing site like Canva or PicMonkey to piece something together yourself.

By having your own visual identity, your audience will instantly recognise your work against other bloggers in your niche. It’s awesome to know something along the lines of “hey, I know that’s an article by *insert your cool blog name here*!” will go through your readers’ minds when they’re wading through a sea of pins on Pinterest.

Why it’s a bad idea to copy someone else’s designs

There’s something crucial to note if you become inspired by other blogs and designs that no one seems to talk about: Copyright. If you see a design or content by another blogger you like and want to use, you need to change it 100% to ensure you are not infringing their copyright. Not 10%, not 50% not even 80% as some of the myths claim. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

For instance, if the original copyright holder (other blogger) realises your design or content is too similar to work they’ve been using for some time, they have grounds for your work removed from social media platforms such as Pinterest. They can even file a DMCA takedown of your work for derivative copyright infringement. In more serious cases, you could end up fighting a legal dispute in court.

Credit: arnel hasanovic via Unsplash

As bloggers, we all know it’s terrible to copy or steal someone else’s written content. The same attitude needs to be applied to visual content as well. The number of people who have ripped off my designs (and other travel bloggers) is truly ridiculous. I wish I was lying. Not only is plagiarism super unethical but it will give you a bad name in your blogging community.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be original. Copyright can be a tricky thing and many bloggers are in breach of it everyday, without even realising. It’s not worth the disadvantages so be sure to check what others are doing in your niche and ensure your work can be easily differentiated. Riding on the coattails of someone else is not rewarding!

TIP: Don’t be that person. It will be noticed and your reputation will be put at risk.

So… What comes next?

You’ve set up your domain name and hosting, got your theme figured out and created a few essential pages for your blog. Your logo and visual identity is unique to you, maybe you’ve even published your first few posts! So, erm… What comes next? While it would be incredible to just sit back and let the traffic pour in, this won’t happen without a little work.

Use social media

I mentioned earlier about taking a quick look at whether your desired handles are also available on social media platforms. This is important because you’ll want the handles to all be the same to avoid a viewer confusing your account with someone else with a similar name. Go claim those handles!

Credit: LoboStudioHamburg via Pixabay

Popular social media platforms for travel blogs are:

 

As a blogger, social media is the best way to get your work seen and out there in the big wide world of the internet. Whenever you publish a new blog post, let your audience know on each platform to help generate traffic to it. You can also ask your close friends and family to share the post on their social media, too. They share it, then friends of friends share it, so on and so fourth. Blogging is about building your audience first and foremost.

TIP: Don’t forget to link your social media icons within your blog’s theme so your readers can easily follow you on different platforms!

Create a travel blog, get networking

Blogging has become a relatively new profession in recent years and much mystery surrounds it. Believe me when I say no one really understands bloggers like other bloggers! Seek out some blogging groups within your niche because other bloggers will be some of the first people to support your blog – they can relate the best, after all!

It’s awesome when you can connect with like-minded people to share your triumphs and ask for advice. The travel blogging community in particular is very welcoming and generous.

I owe much of where I am today to the generosity of other travel bloggers, and for that I am so thankful!

So, overall that wasn’t so bad was it? Are you thinking of starting a blog? Or do you know of someone who’s considering creating their own blog? Let them know about this guide! I’m also here to answer any of your questions so feel free to ask away in the comment section below.

As always, if you found this helpful I’d love if you could share it on Facebook, follow me on Instagram or don’t forget to pin it to Pinterest. You can now follow me on TikTok, too!

Until next time,

The Invisible Tourist


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How to Create a Travel Blog + Exclusive Branding Tips | The Invisible Tourist

This post contains some affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase and if you do, thanks for your support! This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. As always, I only recommend a product or service that I genuinely love and use myself!


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9 Comments

  1. Great post! Thank you for sharing these useful tips. Especially the information about design and copyright. It will be really helpful to me to create a successful travel blog.

    1. I’m so glad you think so, Alex! I’m always surprised how many bloggers aren’t aware about copyright and even derivative copyright. Plagiarism of articles and written work is never ok, designs and visual identity need to be treated in the same way.

  2. Great post thanks for sharing this wonderful information with us all. As the travelling blogs are a thing of the present and after creating the blog it’s branding is necessary and if done wrong it can cause a whole lot of problems in the future. Nice work keep it up.

    1. Thanks a lot! Branding is such an important thing. With a low barrier to entry in blogging, many people aren’t aware of it and end up copying those who are in the know 😉

  3. This was a great article!
    I finished my website after working on it for about a month, but I had been putting it off longer. Getting it started is half the battle won for sure. I’m not sure about logo design because of my template I use, it kinda makes the rest of the page look strange. But for right now, I’m happy with where everything is at.

    PS–I have family visiting here (Japan) in April, and I will definitely be referring to your Hidden Gems in Kyoto more closely when the time gets near.

    (I had a comment written up earlier, but I’m not sure if it went through. So sorry if there are similar comments that pop up!)

    1. Hi Myra, thanks so much for your comment! Really glad you found this helpful and congratulations on starting your own blog ? that’s very exciting!
      A logo is something you can definitely think about later down the track once you’ve settled into blogging a bit. It does take some thought (unless it magically pops into your head right away!) and figuring out how to set it the way you want.
      I’m so happy to hear you’ll be using y Kyoto Hidden Gems article when your family visit as well ?
      If you have any other questions feel free to let me know and best of luck with your blogging journey!

      1. Hi Alyse,

        I had to come back here to check if I had a response which I knew I would, because you seem really great about engaging with your audience. I hope it’s not my new email not receiving messages. *cries* But I was able to confirm my subscription so yay on that end.

        Anyway, I will definitely be in touch if I have any major questions. I appreciate the support on this new blogging journey!

        1. Hi Myra,

          Ah I’m sorry, I don’t think my theme has the capability to notify people by email of comment responses (unless it’s a plugin I need to look into and install).
          Sure, I would love to hear from you! I run this blog in addition to my full time job so I may take a day or so to respond to you.

          All the best with your blogging journey! 🙂

  4. This was super helpful!

    The way my template is set up on Squarespace. When I did a logo to put at the top of the page, it just didn’t go. I’m not sure what logo I would do if any at this point, as I just got my website up this month. But it’s just super exciting and rewarding to finally do it. That feeling of completion is so satisfying. Especially since I put it off for a while.

    PS—I have some family visiting us here (Japan) in April and I will definitely be referring again to the Hidden Gems in Kyoto.

    Myra

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