Hi. My name is Tanner.
I’m the founder of Cruzely.com. I started blogging about cruising and travel a few years ago. Today, it’s my full-time job.
That’s right. I make a full-time income (more than I used to make at my regular 9-to-5 job) just by writing about cruising.
Frankly, the job is awesome. I get to write about one of the most fun topics imaginable. I make money even when I’m not working, and I have a ton of freedom — which means more cruises, or just being able to hang out with my son.
When I first started to blog, I had no idea that this could happen. I barely knew anything about how to set up a website, much less how to actually make money. Through a lot of trial and error (and a lot of writing), I’ve built something that has surpassed my wildest dreams.
Turns out, it’s much easier to get started down that path than I realized.
You can read more about my story here.
Now, you won’t make thousands overnight. Blogging isn’t that sort of thing. But if you want to make extra side income — I was making a few hundred bucks a month within months of starting — then it’s a fun way to make some cash.
In the meantime, I wanted to share an easy guide on how to get started as a travel or cruise blogger. This is meant for people that don’t know the first thing about creating a website, so it’s all laid out in simple step-by-step terms.
The good news that anyone can create their own blog and start down the path of earning extra money today, for less than $100 out of pocket to get started.
How to Start a Cruise or Travel Blog
- Pick a Name for Your Blog
- Choose a Hosting Company
- Install WordPress
- Choose a Theme & Get Free Plugins
- Brainstorm Ideas & Start Writing
- Earn Money (The Best Part!)
Pick a Name for Your Site
Just a like a new baby, the first thing you have to do to start your travel blog is come up with a name. This is not only what people will call your site, but it’s also the address they will type into their browser to go to your blog.
That’s why it’s usually best to come up with something short and memorable. For instance, I chose “Cruzely.com” because it was it was short and simple. It only takes a second to type into a browser and it’s easy to tell people about at parties.
There’s just one problem with short and simple names. They are widely popular, so many of the good ones have already been bought up. (I like to use a site called NameMesh.com to find available names.)
What’s also important is that your name be as descriptive as possible to let people know what it’s about. This way if someone finds it in search results like Google, they know instantly what your site is about.
Get Your Site Hosted
Once you’ve found a name you like, then it’s time to get the domain bought and host your site. If you don’t know what hosting is, no big deal. It’s when the files and webpages are put on a server so that people all around the world can then visit your site.
Hosting is renting a little space on a server to store your website so others can access it.
While that sounds technical, don’t worry. It’s pretty cheap and easy. I recommend blogs that are just starting out use Bluehost. In fact, it’s what I host Cruzely with right now.
Note: While I use Bluehost personally, I’m also an affiliate. I receive a commission if you sign up through the links in this post.
Bluehost has great hosting for blogs that are just starting out and the customer service is great as well. When I was first starting, I would call them with issues and despite paying next to nothing (hosting is about $5-6 a month for your first year), they treated me like a king.
Best of all, when you pay in advance for a year’s worth of hosting, your first URL is free.
To get started, just visit Bluehost and click on the big green button that says “get started now”:
From there, select which plan you want. If you’re a first-time blogger, then the basic package is plenty for your site. Keep in mind that the $3.95 price per month is if you buy three year’s of hosting at once. If you buy a year’s worth of hosting, the price increases to $5.45 (still cheap!).
Enter the domain name you want. (It’s free to register the name for a year with Bluehost. It cost about $15 a year thereafter.)
Confirm the package information. There are usually a couple of add-ons included that drive up the price, but you don’t really need. The one option we keep checked is the Domain Privacy Protection.
This service makes your personal details (like name and address) hidden when people search for who owns your site. Instead, if people try to see who owns your website, it will show Bluehost’s address.
That’s all there is to it to registering and hosting your travel blog. It literally take minutes to buy your domain and get started.
WordPress is a “content management system” or CMS. That’s fancy for a program that makes it easy to build your site and add content. (Cruzely is built using WordPress.) Best of all, WordPress is free.
If you signed up with Bluehost, all you have to do is login, go to the control panel (cpanel on Bluehost) and just click “Install WordPress.”
It will walk you through a couple of steps, but if there are any questions, you can give your hosting company a call. They will help you through the process. (I know from personal experience that Bluehost is awesome in terms of walking you through the process.)
The process only takes a few minutes. Once WordPress is installed, you’ll be able to login and start setting up your blog for the public to see.
Just go to “http://yoursite.com/wp-admin”. From here you can login in and get to work.
If you want some lessons on how to use it, good news — they are a ton of them and you can watch for free. My favorite thing to do is simply head over to YouTube and search for “WordPress lessons”.
Set Up a Theme and Plugins
What are themes and plugins? Themes are basically designs for your site. They change the overall look and feel very quickly.
For instance, Cruzely runs on the Newspaper theme. It allows me to do things like change colors, fonts, and the location of content with a few clicks.
There are tons of free themes, but in our experience paid themes are worth the money (they usually cost about $50). Paid themes are much more user friendly and they almost always come with free support included so you can ask any questions you have.
Plugins are like “apps” for WordPress. They make it easy to do little tasks. For instance, there are plugins that will automatically backup your sites files and send you the file. What’s nice about plugins is that they are usually free.
Here are some plugins that I use on Cruzely:
All In One SEO Pack – A free plugin that makes it simple to optimize your posts for search engines so that you can rank highly in Google.
BackUpWordPress – This plugin sends me a backup of my entire site on a set schedule. This way if something happens, I still have a backup of all my files.
WP Super Cache – You can speed up your site for visitors by “caching” — storing files that don’t change much so they can be delivered faster. This plugin does this for your site automatically.
In all, there are thousands of plugins to help improve your site.
Brainstorm and Write Articles
Now it’s time to brainstorm and start writing articles. Where do you come up with article ideas?
First and foremost, you should start out with what interests you. I like articles where I research and answer a question I’ve been wondering about. Chances are, if we are interested in the answer, then someone else is too.
From there, Google is a great place to find topics. Start writing in a search about cruising or travel and see what it suggests. Their suggestions are what other people have been searching for.
When it comes to creating a successful travel blog, however, nothing is as important as writing and creating content.
Content is what drives people to your site. The more of it, the better. For instance, we wrote about 150 articles for Cruzely in the first six months.
You don’t have to write that much, but the more you do, the more traffic (and income) you’ll earn. (Don’t forget to write things like “About” and “Contact Us” pages too!)
Our favorite thing to help us write a lot? Open a blank document in Google Drive and just write — don’t edit yourself yet. Just get it all on the page. I find that the fewer distractions and hang-ups I have during the writing process, the more I get done.
How to Earn Money From Your Cruise/Travel Blog
Ahh, the big question. How do you make money from your site? I’ll be honest. It takes some hard work. But it’s not impossible.
The easiest way is to sign up with Google Adsense. This is a program where you put in a small bit of code on your site and it will display relevant ads. When I first started out a few years back, I earned money exclusively through Adsense:
Once you grow more traffic, then you can increase your earnings any number of ways, including affiliate offers, sponsored posts, and more. I won’t get into those here, but they are extremely lucrative.
Be Patient and Keep Writing!
I’m not joking when I say success doesn’t happen overnight. But if you’re passionate about writing, travel blogging is something that you can do in your spare time and earn a nice side income.
The most important thing is to be patient. Don’t worry if no one is reading at first. Just keep writing. Over time you will build traffic and income.
Good luck! You can take your first step to get started with Bluehost here.
Have other questions about getting started? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll answer them ASAP.
Great post Tanner and some really useful information. Thanks for sharing, I will be using some of these tips in my own blog writing.