So you have been reading lots of travel blogs and have decided that you want to create a travel blog of your own. Good stuff. Welcome to the world of blogging.
Starting a travel blog can be a wonderful way to enhance your travel experience as well as providing you with a great way to document your travels for you to look back on.
We are going to try and provide you with an easy to follow yet informative guide to starting a travel blog. A travel blog tutorial if you will.
First we will define some terminology then we will move on to the concrete steps you need to take.
This is your blog’s address on the Internet. Our domain name is magictravelblog.com. Other examples of domain names are Google.com, ato.gov.au and ebay.co.uk.
What is hosting?
When you type magictravelblog.com into your browser your computer sends a message out onto the Internet that is directed to another computer far away. That distant computer is owned by a hosting company. When it receives your request it sends back a web page like the one you are looking at right now.
You will need an account with a hosting company who will host your website. Then when someone types your domain into their browser the Internet will have somewhere to send that request.
There are a vast number of hosting companies out there so choosing your hosting can take an eternity if you want to trawl through every option available. To save you some time, we use a company called Bluehost.
They are one of the most popular, if not the most popular blog hosting companies out there. Their prices are reasonable and we have never had any major problems. On the odd occasion when we have had cause to contact tech support they have been helpful and polite. We recommend them.
WordPress is free blogging software that lives on that computer at your hosting company. It stores all of your posts, photos etc and sits, patiently waiting to send them when someone requests them. WordPress also restricts access so that only you can log in and add new posts, upload photos etc.
There are many different pieces of software that do this job but we highly recommend WordPress. WordPress powers roughly a quarter of all websites currently on the Internet. We use WordPress. The vast majority of all bloggers use WordPress. Use WordPress.
Enough terminology. Time to make a decision. Don't worry we will make it as painless as possible.
1. Choose Your Hosting
There are two options when choosing your hosting. Free or paid.
Free travel blogs have the obvious benefit of being free. The downside is that your domain name will be something like yourblog.wordpress.com rather than yourblog.com which is not super impressive. Also, you won't have full control over your own blog. You are using someone else's service, for free, so they will put limits on what you can do and you have to accept their restrictions.
If you are simply starting a personal travel blog with no particular goal then starting a free blog may be a good option. Click here to try out wordpress.com's free blog platform.
Getting paid hosting means you have your very own domain and you have total control over your site. If you do not mind parting with a few dollars I recommend going straight for the paid option.
You can start out with the free option then moved to paid hosting but apparently moving is rather painful. We have not personally experienced it as we skipped straight to getting paid hosting which is what we recommend you do. Don't worry, it is not expensive. You can get going for $3.95 per month.
Lets get on and get you set up with your new blog!
The following is a walk through of the process. It contains a bunch of pictures of what you should see on your screen.
When you first go to Bluehost you should see something the following. Click the big green “get started now”.
Choose your service level. The low cost starter level is completely fine. Click on the green "select".
Time to choose your domain name. A domain is included with your hosting when you sign up with Bluehost. Why are domain names important? Your domain name will essentially be your travel blog name.
Hopefully you have a few ideas kicking around. Do not be surprised if your first few ideas are already taken. Catchy names are hard to come up with.
Once you have found an available name you like, open a new tab in your browser and google for similarly named sites. Just to make sure that you are not going to wind up with a travel blog that is too similar to someone else. You want your own distinct identity to make it easier for people to remember you.
Do not sweat choosing a domain name too much. As long as it is somewhat memorable travel blog names do not appear to be a massive factor in how popular a blog will be. Ours is called “magic travel blog”. Really? It’s magic is it?
Type in your desired domain name and click "next".
Next is entering your account information and credit card information. You will also have the option of choosing some (not free) add-ons. Some are worth at least considering in my opinion. Those are...
Domain privacy protection - This means that someone cannot look up the stuff you just entered under “account information”. By default information about who owns a domain is public so companies like Bluehost offer to hide it for you, for a price. Seems worthwhile to me.
Site backup pro - This is a little more uncertain. We have it but have never actually used it. I do not know how practical it is for someone non-technical to do something like a database restore. Presumably Bluehost’s tech support would assist (or do it for you).
SiteLock Security - Bluehost will regularly scan your site for security problems. Again, probably worthwhile although it is likely something you will never hear anything from. The idea is that if someone successfully breaks into your site and alters it to try to download a virus to your visitors Google will detect that and stop sending you visitors. That is bad. Better to have Bluehost spot the problem first.
You can also turn this stuff on later so do not feel like you need to spend too much time pondering your options right now. You can untick them now if you like, then come back to them later.
Once you completed this page, congratulations! You now own a domain name and have the ability to host your travel blog. If you have never bought a domain name or set up a website before this is a pretty big moment. Well done!
2. Install WordPress
Right now your hosting account does not really do anything. The next step is to go to your CPanel, your web host control panel, and install WordPress.
Find WordPress under "website builders".
If you are offered extra not free stuff at this point you almost 100% do not want it.
Click the big green "install" button.
Next you need to choose where exactly you want to install WordPress. This is because you could theoretically have many sites in your hosting account.
You do need to make a decision about whether you want www on the front of your domain name or not ie www.magictravelblog.com Vs magictravelblog.com. It is not particularly important. Personally I prefer without the www as it is simply less typing.
Next you will provide a user name and password to use when you log into your WordPress site. Change them both to something you will remember. Also, enter your site name then click "Install Now".
At this point there will be a little waiting, you may get to watch a progress bar but WordPress should be installed. Congratulations on completing step two.
3. WordPress Basics
We will now give you a super simple, step by step WordPress tutorial.
Go to your blog in the browser by opening a new tab and typing your domain name into the browser address box. Somewhere on the page you should see a "log in" link. Click it and enter the WordPress log in details you entered while installing WordPress.
Once you log in you will be taken to your Dashboard. Getting started with WordPress can be a little overwhelming at first but there are only a few bits of the Dashboard that you will use regularly.
The WordPress dashboard.
Lets create your first post.
Create first post
If you look over on the left hand side of the Dashboard there is a whole bunch of stuff. Find "Posts". Moving the mouse over "Posts" should cause a menu to pop up. Click "Add New".
You will be moved to the new post screen. It looks like this.
Enter your post title into the title text box. Type the actual content of your post in the big box. When you are happy with it click the Publish button. There are a myriad of other options and things you can play with but that is the core workflow.
Once your first post is published you officially have a travel blog! Congratulations!
Choosing a theme
Before you go, A bonus point.
In WordPress the theme is the look of your site. The color scheme and how it is laid out. While there are themes that cost money, there is also a vast collection of free themes available. You can change theme as often as you like.
Over on the left hand side of the dashboard there is an item called "Appearance". If you move your mouse over it and wait a second a little menu should appear. Click "Themes".
The screen that follows displays your currently installed themes. Click "Add New".
On the next page you can search for themes. Type in just about anything and relevant themes will be displayed. In the search results, click a theme to take a closer look.
This screen is a preview of the theme. To get back to the search results click the X in the very top left. If you want to use the theme click "Install".
You can install any number of themes then activate whatever theme is currently your favourite by going to Appearance > Themes in the left hand menu on the dashboard. Try out a few themes. Its kind of fun seeing how many looks are possible.
You now have a domain, a hosting account, WordPress installed, you have published your first post and even changed your blog's theme. You should be very proud of yourself.
This set up process takes some time but you should only have to do it once. Now that your travel blog is set up it is just a matter of filling it with great photos and compelling words. Best of luck with your blogging adventures 🙂
Just in case you read this whole thing before getting started here is that link to Bluehost again. Bluehost Have fun.