When I decided to start up my travel blog, I had already faced the massive learning curve of setting up a blog through my book blog. Choosing an excellent host, choosing a platform, selecting a theme… there is a lot to learn and a lot to do when you want to start a travel blog.
In this guide, I will take you through choosing a host, choosing a platform, and ultimately setting up your travel blog!
Choosing a name for your travel blog
When you want to set up a travel blog, the very first thing you need to think off is your name. If you want to take blogging seriously this will become your ‘’brand’’ name, the name by which your blog will become known.
Although people in the past would have told you to at least use the words ‘travel blog’ in your domain name for SEO, we are looooong past that.
Sure, you might get a very small tiny winy boost on the keyword travel blog, but in the end you don’t want to rank for the words Travel Blog but rather for other key terms such as ‘’ Best hotels in Paris’’ or ‘’What to do in Johannesberg’’.
When you choose your name, pick something you like, pick something that is recognisable and brandable. In the end, Amazon did not pick the name ‘’best ecommerce website’’ because let’s be honest – it sounds dodgy and it is very hard to brand.
Why did I choose the name Glitter Rebel for my travel blog
Ugh – long story short, I was stupid. I first set this website up as a lifestyle and beauty blog when I was still working for a beauty brand in London. But it turned out I don’t like lifestyle, and I am not a beauty guru, so for the best part of 3 years, this blog became the equivalent of a haunted house. Some posts floating around but nothing much.
I had 6 to 10 visitors a day, and I was mostly focussing on my other website.
I first started blogging about travel when Josh took a job as an international teacher, and it honestly just morphed into a travel blog from there.
I have thought about changing the name a few times, but by then, I already had a good number of posts and visitors, so it did not seem worth it.
Why? Because in the end, the name is not that important – how you brand it is.
Buying a domain name or using a free website
Okay – let me get one thing straight… when you are putting up a post once a month and never really want to earn money through your blog, choosing a free site is okay. Set up a free WordPress website, and you can start blogging.
But I guess that is not the reason you are reading through this blog post.
Am I right?
Yeah, thought so.
If you are looking to earn from affiliate links, get free stays at hotels, go on press trips and actually reap the rewards of your blog, you NEED a self-hosted website. There are loads and loads of reasons for this – one of them being that a free site just doesn’t look professional enough. Some reasons have to do with SEO, but I will cover these in a separate blog post.
Buying a domain name – does your blog have to have the .com extension
When looking for a name for your blog, you also have to check whether or not the domain name for your blog is still available and whether there are other (travel)blogs or businesses registered on different extensions.
Wait, what do you mean?
It can be that tuktuktravel is NOT registered under .org or .net but that there is a blooming and popular travel blog registered with a .com
The last thing you want to do is anger other people in the community because you have a similar domain – and brand name.
Now – do you ALWAYS have to buy a .com domain?
The answer is no.
But there is a but. There is always a but.
I would recommend everyone blogging in English to register their domain with a .com extension. Not because of SEO or search rankings, but rather because people will almost always assume your blog has a .com extension.
So if people remember your blog name, the chances that they will type tuktuktravel.com rather than tuktuktravel.net are pretty big. And that way you miss out on traffic.
If you are blogging in a different language like Dutch or German – or if your blog is solely focussed on the UK, I can recommend using country-specific extensions such as .be, .nl, .de or .co.uk
I would always recommend buying your domain name – or at least transferring it to, the company you are hosting your website with.
Choosing a website host – an overview
When it comes to choosing a website host, it is essential to make the right choice early.
Changing host can be hand comes with its own annoying problems.
I am giving you an overview of website hosts I trust.
However, you need to make your own choice depending on your location, your budget and your situation.
I host my website with Versio.
Versio is a hosting company based in the Netherlands, and I initially signed up with them because they are both excellent and cheap – something you do not often encounter in the world of website hosting.
Their hosting starts from 30 euros a year for 25 domains and 5 gigs on space. Unless you are going to host hella big websites – this is all you need.
I would recommend Versio for all bloggers in the UK or in Europe as the alternative hosting websites can be quite expensive.
Versio also offers a site builder, great support, free SSL and you can easily buy your domain name from Versio as well.
If you are looking for a .com website with hosting the complete package will be about 16 euros in your very first year (I mean that is insanely cheap) and about 70 euro from the second (but by then you are making money, so that is not a biggy!)
Bluehost is a web hosting company you will probably see a lot when trying to look up how to start a blog. It is pretty famous – but to me, also pretty expensive.
Their smallest package will start at 35 dollars a year for the first year and jumps up to just over 95 for the second year.
Here you will have 50gb SSD storage which is very decent, free SSL certificates and you can have a max of 5 domains of which 1 domain name is included in the package.
One of the reasons why I will include Bluehost in this write up – and the same goes for the next one, siteground, is because so many bloggers use this host which means you will ALWAYS find people who can help you in Facebook Groups and forums.
Siteground – another blogger favourite
Another blogger favourite is Siteground because it is highly reliable, and the people at Siteground are known for their excellent customer service – which is essential as a blogger!
Siteground offers dedicated WordPress hosting here you can get 1 WordPress website with a free WordPress installation.
They will also do a daily backup of your site, and you ill get a free SSL certificate.
I would say that Siteground is on the pricey side.
For your first year, you would pay 43 dollars in all, but after your first year this goes up to a staggering 143 dollars.
And that is for one website.
But it comes so highly
Recommended by other bloggers for the fantastic customer service and the fact that they install WordPress on your website for you!
Godaddy – one of the biggest hosting companies
I don’t think I can really make a post about hosting companies without leaving out Godaddy.
Godaddy is a world-wide recognised brand and one of the biggest hosting companies out there. They have 24/7 customer service – something I actually do miss at Versio.
But this does come at a price.
And believe it or not – it is actually more expensive than Siteground for the first year.
In fact, I was surprised when I opened up their price lists.
You would pay 84 dollars for your first year (includes 1 WordPress website) but this goes up to 120 per year after your first year.
Another negative of Godaddy is that you won’t get a free business email – you will need to pay for an email such as email@example.com rather than getting unlimited free emails such as with the other three hosting services.
I don’t really recommend Godaddy for beginning bloggers.
Who do I really recommend
When it comes to hosting, I would recommend Versio for the price. Their customer service can be slow (trust me – it has already frustrated me countless times), but I am willing to sit through it for that price!
If you are looking for excellent customer service and you are willing to pay a bit more, I would recommend Bluehost.
Choosing a website platform when setting up a travel blog
Now you have your domain and host, you need to start thinking about the platform you will start using for your travel blog.
This platform will not only decide what your blog will look like but also what plugins you can use and the functionality of your website.
I will give you a small overview of the most popular blogging platforms. Still, I would ALWAYS – AAAAALWAYS recommend using WordPress.
WordPress platform for your travel blog
The one platform I would ALWAYS recommend is WordPress.
WordPress just has so many amazing themes, so many amazing plugins, and it is relatively easy to use.
You can easily find WordPress developers to help you with your website on Fiverr and Freelancer, and WordPress ranks slightly higher as a platform when it comes to SEO.
Blogger platform for your travel blog
Where I would have said that Blogger was the right choice a decade ago, I do think it is relatively irrelevant now.
You just have so many more themes and plugins on WordPress, and since websites in Blogger lost the slight edge in SEO, I would not recommend going for Blogger if you are new.
If you are used to using the blogger network, you can obviously choose for blogger.
Wix platform for your travel blog
Don’t get me wrong – I love using Wix for showcasing a portfolio – but the platform itself just has not enough plugins and features for a great travel blog.
Especially when you want to build your blog and start making money off your blog, it falls short in many ways.
Furthermore, Ahrefs (a leading SEO tool I use weekly, if not daily) researched thousands of Wix websites and noticed that most of them got no to very little SEO traffic (traffic through Google) in comparison to similar WordPress websites.
It is safe to say that you would shoot yourself in the foot when using Wix – not only because you won’t have the great plugins you get with WordPress, but also because your ability to rank will be impacted. Sure – Wix has a built-in SEO functionality. Still, it gets trickier when you want to perform in-depth SEO optimisation.
Conclusion about the best platform for your travel blog
Guys – I am going to be honest.
Using WordPress might be a bit of a learning curve, but in the end, you will not only do you have more choice when it comes to themes, but you will also get better plugins.
If you are an age-old Blogger user, you can opt for Blogger.
But for new bloggers, it is best to dive in with WordPress
Installing WordPress on your website
When you have chosen your website name, your host and ultimately your platform (let’s presume it is WordPress), you need to install your CMS (content management system) on your website.
Installing WordPress is very easy and takes less than 5 minutes.
After you ordered your hosting, you will be given a password and username to log into the user dashboard on the website of your website hosting.
Here you will probably see an installer – via this installer, you will be able to install a variety of content management systems and platforms. Just click WordPress and let the installer do its work.
If you do not have an installer, I would recommend asking your hosting company to explain how to install WordPress.
In NO circumstances – I repeat: IN NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you install WordPress via FTP as a beginning blogger. It is like trying to drive a car by first taking apart the engine.
Paying someone to install WordPress for you
Quite a number of hosts will install WordPress for you for a fee – this can be anything between $25 and $50. Some hosting packs have WordPress installations included which is great!
If you don’t want to shell out $50 for something that will in ernest only take 5 minutes, you can have WordPress installed for $5 via a gig on Fiverr.