How To Build a Travel Website: Make money while travelling
If you are heading off on your travels or plan to, a great way to document it and make money to pay for it, is with a website or blog. Here is my guide on how to build a travel website.
Why Build a Travel Website?
Many people travel to escape the the world that they are already a part of. But, if you stay connected on your travels, you can make travelling the world a full time job. Imagine, going through all the experiences that traveling has to offer and using it as your main source of income, so it can pay for itself.
Those with successful travel websites and blogs have many opportunities. Features in big name newspapers, magazines, TV and radio are all possible. Lauren from neverendingfootsteps.com says she earns six figures, if she works or not. She has also managed to get a book deal!
So, with a laptop, some creativity and some life experiences to write about, who knows what could happen?
There are loads of blogs out there that tell you how to build a travel website or blog. Some of them are not great. So, here is my take on how to build a travel website that will have a good chance of being successful. The best thing to do, is to make sure you are different than all the other travel bloggers out there.
How To Build a Travel Website
1. Think of a name
Finding a name for any website can be one of the most difficult things to do. It can take you ages to brainstorm your ideas before you settle on something. But, it is worth putting the effort in, as this name is what you will be known as, as long as your website is running. Here are a few tips to come up with a name for your website.
- Make sure it stands out – There is a running theme you see with travel bloggers. Their names are a variation on “travelling<name>”, “nomad<name> etc. You need to come up with something more original, as the world doesn’t need another Travelling Tom.
- Leave room for expansion – If you call your website “a winter season in the alps”, it isn’t going to work well when you decide to backpack through the Far East. Similarly, if you call yourself “Backpacker Bill” and your website allows you to afford a camper van, or to stay in nice accommodation, it isn’t going to fit your evolving lifestyle.
- Choose a name that other would be happy to endorse – “www.GanjaGavinontour.com” isn’t going to make serious and influential people share your stories. It will also look pretty bad on a business card.
- Make it easy to remember – If your website uses too many words and syllables, it is going to be difficult for people to remember. Therefore, you need to keep it short. Also, avoid hyphens if you can. This is something I didn’t realise on my first website. It doesn’t roll off the tongue very well and now I’m stuck with it.
- Make sure you can go .com – Having a .com domain name shows that your website is a serious one and it is easy to remember.
- Make sure the name is available on social media – Look at all of the social media channels and makes sure that your name is available on all of the ones you intend to use. Or at least make sure you can abbreviate it suitably.
I chose Adventurous Affiliate, as it is relevant to my audience and to my lifestyle. It is based around helping people start their own affiliate marketing business, so they can literally do what they want in life from anywhere. This is my niche for this website.
2. Get a good website host
Choosing a host can be tricky. Many people choose the cheapest one they can find. However, this isn’t necessarily a good idea. Cheap hosts may not be reliable or may make your website slow. However, it is pretty easy to set up when you find a good host. All my sites are affiliate marketing websites and are hosted at Wealthy Affiliate (more on this later).
However, a good host you may want to try is Blue Host. If you click on the button below, you will get fast, secure and reliable web hosting for €3.48 per month.
Blue Host is one of the cheapest web hosts, but they are proven to be very good. They have a really good customer service and the fix any problems within minutes.
3. Go for a WordPress Website
Once you have signed up to your host, such as Blue Host, you need to install WordPress (you will be prompted).
WordPress is an easy to use platform designed for bloggers. It allows you to build nice websites with ease and without needing any programming skills.
Just follow the prompts and you will have a WordPress Website in minutes.
4. Choose a theme
When you download WordPress, you have a huge amount of free themes to choose from. You can also buy themes. Themes determine what your website will look like and most are very customisable. You can choose any theme you want, but you do need to put some thought in to it. Your theme needs to be appropriate to your type of website. For example, there are many themes for online shops that won’t work well for a travel website.
You need to make sure your theme is responsive. This means that it works well for mobile devices. I made this mistake on my first website. It looked and worked great on a computer, but was terrible on a phone. This was a big problem, as 75% of my traffic was coming from people using their phones. Once you have found a theme you like the look of. Check out the reviews, to make sure others have had good experiences with it.
Themes are really easy to install, just follow the instructions. Once you have your theme, click on “appearance” in the menu and customise it to how you want it.
Creating your first content
- Create an about me page – This will let your readers learn more about you. It is super important for travel bloggers to do this, as reading the “about me” page, is one of the first things people do. You need to tell your story and give your potential followers a reason to stay with you and your travels
- Write your first post – This will be your starting point, so you need to tell everyone what your plans are, where you are going and where you have been. This is your intro, you need to make sure it is captivating enough to get people to follow you. Then you need to spread the word on social media. Use the proper hashtags, get your friends and family to share it too to get a bigger reach.
- Be you – Sometimes it is difficult to let your personality show and try to be professional. This makes your content a bit boring. Also, it is YOUR website and you need to be different from the other travel bloggers out there. Don’t be a guide book, be a person.
- Monetise your website – You need to treat your website as like other business. So, you should create a business plan. This way you will determine how your website will get traffic and make money. Set a timeline and find other companies and websites you would like to work with.
How To Make Money With A Travel Website
There are a few ways you can monetise your travel website. Some make more money than others, while some take more work than others. Some people say that you shouldn’t monetise a website until you have a good following. This isn’t necessarily the case if you do it properly.
By having adverts on your website is a super easy way to make money. Sign up to Google Adsense for the easiest way to place adverts on your website. You can put banners in side bars or in suitable spots within your content. You can do it with the Adsense plugin, to make it even easier.
As a rule of thumb, you can earn $1 per 1000 visitors to your site. However, when you get to 25,000 visitors a month, you can leave Adsense and join Mediavine and earn ten times more money. This will help fill your camper van up with fuel or live reasonably comfortably in a far eastern country.
This is how I make money from my websites. By writing reviews or mentioning products and services on your website, you can make money. For example, if you found The Lonely Planet Guide To Vietnam useful, you may want to recommend it to your visitors. By joining the Amazon Associates affiliate program, you can do just this, by dropping affiliate links on your website. For every product that is sold through your website, you get paid a commission.
Of course, you can promote anything that you can buy on Amazon. This makes Amazon Associates really versatile for many types of website. For example, you could promote:
- Camping equipment
- Backpacking stuff
- The best laptops for travellers
- Travel guides
- Survival kits
- Paddle boards
- Air beds
- Packing list
There affiliate programs for pretty much anything you can think of. For example, you could recommend travel insurance that you have found to be really good. By, joining the affiliate program for the insurance company, you can make money. Additionally, you can put affiliate links on your website for Booking.com, TripAdvisor or Skyscanner for recommended accommodation and cheap flights.
Make sure that you actually use the companies that you promote though. If you promote a company that turns out to be bad, it can look bad on you
How to Attract Traffic to Your Travel Website For Free
To make you travel website successful, your social media game needs to be on point. How many people have you seen on Instagram travelling the world, wishing you were where they are? These jealousy making photos are what you are aiming for. If you get successful at this, you can earn a ridiculous amount of money. This Instagrammer get £9,000 PER PHOTO!
As a travel blogger, you want to get as much traffic to your website as possible. So you need to entice people with great photos of where you are and the experiences you are having.
By choosing good keywords to base your content around, you will attract traffic. Keywords are what people type in to search engines to get information on what they are looking for.
By using a keyword research tool such as Jaaxy, you can find invaluable information. The image above is a screenshot from Jaaxy and it shows two similar keywords, that are relevant for people going to Barcelona.
The “Avg” column is the average number of searches per month for that keyword, the next column is the amount of traffic you will get, if your content based on that keyword should get if it gets on the first page of Google. “QSR” is the number of other websites using the same keyword.
Let’s pretend that you have just spent some time in Barcelona and you are going to write about your experiences. Writing your content around “things to do in Barcelona” has lots of searches, but it also has lots of completion. This means it would be quite difficult to get your content high up in Google. If you based your content around “things to do in Barcelona city center”, you have a better chance of it being seen. This is because it is more specific and bizarrely, you only have to compete with one other website.
The closer to the top of searches, the more people will see your website, giving you more opportunity to make money. Imagine a whole website with content based around these keywords. This is just one Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) technique that will get you free traffic.
Is it Expensive to Build a Travel Website?
So far I have covered how to build a travel website and how you can make money from it. But, how much does it cost? You have a few options, depending on what you want to do with your website.
Just document your travels – If you have no ambition to make money from your website, you can just build a free travel blog website. You can just head to WordPress.com and set one up, without having to pay for hosting and you will have a few themes to choose from.
Have a travel website and possibly make money from affiliate links – You can sign up to the Wealthy Affiliate Free membership. Here you will get two free hosted websites, training on how to make money from your website and the tools to do so.
Make money from a successful travel website – If you opted for the Blue Host hosting plan, it will cost you $3.48 per month for 36 months.
If you decide to monetise your travel website with affiliate marketing, you should check out the Wealthy Affiliate Premium membership. This will give you lots more information, access to tools and support, while giving you a better chance of being successful.
For access to everything the Wealthy Affiliate Premium Membership has to offer, you have a few payment options:
- Monthly payment: $49 per month
- Yearly payment: $359 ($29,9 per month)
- Intro offer for first month: $19 (If you decide to upgrade to premium within your first 7 days, you will get your first month for $19).
You should also check out Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging course. This is a comprehensive guide on building a successful travel website and is a good continuation of this post. The Business of Blogging Course costs $267.
What if my Travel Website Doesn't Make Enough Money?
It can take time to make money from any website. But, if you don’t seem to be making enough money to fund your travels, there are a few ways you can top up your bank account. Some ways won’t pay much, but are very easy to do.
For example, you can fill in surveys, do data entry, look after other people’s social media. So, if you are struggling to get money together for your next flight, bus ride or to fill up your camper van, check out the buttons below.
How to make money online and how to make money on the road
Travel Blogging Tips
1. Focus on a niche
Choosing a travel blog niche narrows down your audience to people that would be interested in it. You could be an Eco-Traveller, going round the world on a bike, visiting the snowiest places on earth, travelling to see interesting wildlife, visiting the best dive locations etc. This can be difficult if you have lots of interests, but the more focussed you are, the clearer your message.
2. Have a business plan
I touched on this earlier, but a business plan will prevent a lot of head scratching later on. A structure outlining your goals will keep you focussed and give you somthing to aim for.
3. Build a brand
Along with your niche, you need a brand to compliment it. A suitable logo and consistent style of writing will work together to get your message across and to attract regular visitors.
4. Leave room to expand
This is something else I touched on earlier. Choosing a name that will prevent you from evolving later on will be frustrating in the future. If you pick a name that ties you in to visiting the campsites of the world, you will find it difficult to become a luxury travel blogger when you fancy sleeping in an actual bed.
5. It takes time to make money
You need to build your brand and trust, which takes time. It also takes time to learn writing and blogging techniques. Therefore, you may want to have additional forms of income to start with. Getting work in places you visit will give you contacts and experiences to write about. But, as I said earlier, you can also earn money online in different ways.
6. Create content around your readers not your sponsors
If you get to a point where people want to pay you for promotions, that is great. But don’t let that dictate how you create your travel website content. By focussing on your audience, they will keep coming back, which in turn could attract more sponsors.
7. Keep learning
You will be surprised at what you don’t know. Keep yourself open to new things and you will learn new ways to do things that will make everything easier and/or better.
8. Be an expert at something
Being an expert at at least one aspect of having a travel website will add value to it. Whether that be story telling, photography SEO or social media. This will also be useful if you want to do any freelance work on the side.
9. Don't get distracted by numbers
This is difficult and I am sometimes guilty of this. Constantly checking your analytics etc is a distraction and impacts on your productivity. Therefore, just focus on what you are doing and check the numbers occasionally.
10. Take advice (with a pinch of salt)
There are lots of experienced travel bloggers out there, some will give you useful information and some won’t. But, you need to make sure it fits with what you are doing. What worked for them, may not work for you.
11. There is no such thing as free
Offer an exchange of promotion for an experience or accommodation. Never say “I have a travel blog, can I stay for free?”. There are a lot of people doing this now that claim to be influencers and people don’t like it. Also, never use the “do you know who I am?” line, even if you get to be “a big deal”, you will get abad reputation and news travels fast.
12. Being a travel blogger can be lonely
Find a group of people you get on with that are travelling. You will bump in to people as you go, but make sure you stay with the right people
13. Ignore negativity
You will get trolls and weirdos sending you comments when you get a following. Ignore them as best you can, delete negative messages and don’t encourage these people by getting in to internet arguments with them.
14. You are a public figure
Anyone that puts themselves out there on the internet is instantly a public figure. Be conscious of how you behave and come across to people.
15. Don't be afraid to give stuff away
Obviously, don’t let people take advantage of you, but if you give away some photos or video to a tour operator, they will remember you and maybe give you work in the future. Make sure they credit you in on any content you give away, this can increase your reach.
16. Make sure your content is interesting
People want to be entertained and have experiences vicariously through you. If you end up somewhere that isn’t particularly interesting, you will have to find a way to make your content interesting. Funny will always work.
17. Get newsletter subscribers
Sending your content to a list of subscribers is a great way to engage with your audience. It is also a great way of putting your content in from top them. They are not searching for it or stumbling up on it, it just lands in their inbox. Create a sign up form to allow people to sign up to your newsletter.
18. Create a Media Kit
This should be easy to find on your site. It should include details on your background, your website, stats, any media outlets you have been featured in, memberships, brands you have worked with and the best way for people to contact you. This reenforces your credibility and leaves you open to other organisations.
19. Do Freelance Work and Guest Blogs
This will either top up your bank or get you some great exposure.
Not just within the travel blogging world, but outside too. Building a reputation in areas such as ecotourism or in the travel industry itself can expand your audience and give you business opportunities.
So now you know how to build a travel website
Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts on this subject in the comments section below. Good luck and happy travels.