If you’ve never started a website before, it can be daunting. Trust me, I’ve been there.
You may not even know how to find a domain name or even heard the term “hosting” before. Don’t worry. I started from scratch to build a group of websites about cruising that generate up to $8,155 per month. And I did it myself — not by paying other people to do it for me.
If I can do it, I know you can too.
To help you out, I’ve rounded up a group of questions that I’ve found most people have when they first start out. I’ve tried to get into as much detail as possible and share the nuts and bolts of my experience.
1. Why Would I Want to Start a Travel Blog?
Ah, the million dollar question. I started to write about cruises for two reasons — I was interested in the topic and I thought I could make a little extra money outside of my regular job.
Now that I’ve been doing it for awhile, I really enjoy researching new topics because each article is like a mini vacation. For example, the other day I put together an article about restaurants in Cozumel. With all the maps and pictures I looked at, it was like I was back in Cozumel again.
Why would you want to start a travel or cruise blog? That’s entirely up to you, of course. But I think you’ll find it a fun hobby to write about the place you are going or have been, interact with readers, and daydream about a destination until you can actually get there again.
2. What If I’m Not an Expert About Travel?
I started my first blog about cruising… before I had taken a single cruise. Believe it or not, that actually helped me.
Say you’re writing about Iceland, but you haven’t been yet. You know who else hasn’t been? Literally billions of people around the world. And if they were to travel, chances are they’d have the same exact questions about traveling there that you do.
Being able to approach a topic as a complete novice is actually a benefit. As you learn about it, you can share your knowledge with others. You don’t have to know every single thing about a topic to write about it. You simply have to be willing to share what you do know.
Don’t let being a novice hold you back.
3. Can I Make Money From Travel or Cruise Blogging?
That’s not to say you will be a millionaire. When I started my first site, I wrote several dozen pages in the first year and just let them sit. They naturally attracted search engine traffic over time. By the end of the first year, I was earning about $400 a month.
Now I’ve earned more than $8,000 in a single month, and I continue to grow my income. I’ve even quit my job and now work full-time on Cruzely.com.
If you are interested in the money aspect of travel blogging, your focus shouldn’t be on making millions overnight. But with enough work you can build up a solid income stream just by writing about things that you like doing anyway!
4. How Do You Generate Income From a Website?
The easiest way to make money is with Google Adsense. This program places ads on your site for you that are relevant to your content. Every time someone clicks on an ad, you get paid.
Beyond that, there are tons of way to generate income. Affiliate programs pay you whenever someone buys something from your site. For instance, you can get money every time someone click a link to a hotel from your blog.
Sponsored posts are also an option once you get enough traffic. You can also sell out advertising space yourself, create a product to sell, and dozens more things to generate some money.
Starting out, however, it’s best to worry about putting up content and generating traffic. Then you can worry about making money.
5. Will I Get to Travel for Free?
We have heard of some big-time bloggers receiving free travel in exchange for reviews of locations.
We haven’t been lucky enough to receive that sort of offer. Our advice? Don’t plan on receiving free travel, but be happy if you get it!
6. How Do I Get Quoted About Travel?
I think one of the cool things about Cruzely.com is that I’ve been able to get quoted in some major publications about cruising. For instance, I was once quoted in an Associated Press article that ended up on the New York Times. I’ve also been quoted by CBSNews.com, Yahoo, MSN, and more.
To pull this off, I use a cool site called HARO. It stands for Help A Reporter Out. By signing up (it’s free), you can get a 3X per day email featuring stories where reporters need sources. If you fill the need of what a report is looking for, you stand a good chance of seeing your name — and website — in print.
7. How Do I Create a Website or a Logo?
When I first started, I didn’t know anything about making a website. Luckily, it’s not that hard. We’ve put together a complete guide here that has lots of details on getting started.
The general gist of it is to find a domain name, get hosting (about $5-6 per month through Bluehost), and then install WordPress.
With WordPress, you have a framework to build a site (and it’s free). You can also download themes that change the look and feel of your site. Again, check out our full guide for more details.
For things like logos and images, you can either do it yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. People on Fiverr are super cheap to hire and can usually do a good job. I use a program called Fireworks to create images — it’s old software, but does a decent job.
8. What If I Don’t Like to Write?
We know writing isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. That’s what is cool about travel blogging. Yes, it helps if you enjoy writing, but with travel, a picture is worth a thousand words.
One of our most popular articles compares the size of cruise ships to famous landmarks. It’s basically a series of pictures.
Having image-dominated posts from your travels is a great way to create engaging content without having to write a ton. Just let the pictures tell the story! Even better, videos and podcasts are huge in the travel industry… and they don’t take any writing at all.
9. What’s the Next Step In Creating My Own Travel Blog?
First things first, you need to figure out what domain name (the address you type in your browser to go to the website) you want. One of my favorite sites for finding available domains is NameMesh. From there, you’ll need hosting (we recommend Bluehost) and to install WordPress.
We’ve actually created a walk-through designed for first-timers to get started blogging. You can read it here and it will take you through the process step-by-step. It’s the best way to get started today.
Have more questions not answered here? Put them in the comments and I’ll respond ASAP!