How To Start A Blog: The Travelista’s Top 10 Tips

Since The Travelista was shortlisted for a Cosmo Blog Award earlier this month (yay!), I feel as if I’ve reached my first milestone and achievement with my blog. Traffic to my blog has gone through the roof, I’ve connected with some lovely people and discovered some rather fabulous new blogs to follow.

Recently I wrote a post on my career story so far, telling my fellow Travelistas I managed to go from Tea Girl to Luxury Travel Blogger. The response to this post was amazing and I was overwhelmed at how many comments it generated. Lots of people started asking for tips about how to get into blogging. I’ve been blogging for less than a year myself, so I would consider myself no expert, but I thought I would share my top 10 tips to start a successful blog. They worked for me so they can work for you too!

Whilst I write a travel blog, this advice applies to any context of blogs, so hopefully you will all find it useful.

Ready to trek the jungle walk

1. Identify What You Love

Ok let’s start with the obvious. If you’re thinking of setting up a blog, chances are you’re smarter than your average Doris. You’re probably internet savvy and enjoy stringing a snappy sentence together. But before thinking about putting finger to key, you need to decide what you want your blog to be about? Think about your passions and interests in order to find your niche. If you love what you’re writing about, you will attract like-minded people who share your interests. With the right niche, maintaining your blog will never feel like a chore.

TOP TIP: Find a unique angle for your blog. I love Hitched and Ditched relationship blog as it combines the musings of 1 single girl and 1 married girl. This unique angle on relationship blogging allows for great two-sided perspective and attracts a wide female readership. (H&D is also shortlisted in the Cosmo Blog Awards!)

2. Give yourself an identity

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to blog about, you need to give yourself a unique identity. With hundreds of thousands of blogs already out there in the blogosphere, this is becoming more and more of a challenge. If you think of a awesome blog name, make sure nobody has it already before you create your domain.

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3. Content is King

The core of any successful blog is unique and engaging content. You need to be creating posts that people actually want to read. When I say content, I don’t just mean the writing. Words, photos, videos and audio all come under the umbrella of content, and the more organic you can make these elements the better. I love blogs that are photo-rich. I take photos of EVERYTHING I do these days, just incase I blog about it (my friends and passers by think I’m totally mad). You don’t need a fancy SLR either. A smart phone and a bit of Instagram magic does the trick! A picture speaks a thousand words and colourful content will really help bring your blog posts to life.

 4. Social is Queen

What’s the point in writing all that amazing content if nobody is going to see it? When you become a blogger, your social media channels become marketing tools as well as platforms of communication. Be sure to share your posts across all your social media platforms to maximize the reach of your posts – a well hash-tagged tweet can get your blog in front of the all the right kinds of people. Once your blog has started to grow, I would recommend setting up separate blogger profiles to your existing personal ones. As a blogger, you’re clearly still a person, but your followers won’t care about your wild night out or those pictures of your sister’s new baby.

TOP TIP: When sharing your posts, be sure to compress your links using www.bit.ly.com to save on character space. You can use bit.ly to monitor click throughs too!

With my colleagues at Al Qsar overlooking the Burj All Arab

5. Be Prepared to Share Your World

Whilst you know you want to start a blog, you might find it a daunting prospect. You are essentially sharing snippets of your world with whole world! So you’ve got to make sure you pick out the best bits! Pick out the highs, the lows, the triumphs, the disasters, the out-of-the-ordinary. They’ll be the bits people want to read about. People love reading about people, so try to make your posts as personal and experienced-based as possible.  Show the world your personality from the very first post.

TOP TIP: Sharing is caring, but make sure you don’t publish any really personal information contact information such as your address or number.

6. Get Your Geek On

If you’re serious about getting a blog off the ground, you have to have a bit of a geeky side to you. Once your blog is set up, you’ll probably spend a lot of time Googling techy ‘How To’s” and get seriously addicted to the web analytics, hit rates and stats of your blog. You may even start to dabble in coding. But it’s such a great feeling when you start to see your traffic creep up!

TOP TIP: Spend some time deciding which blog hosting site to use. This article shows the comparisons between Blogger and WordPress, the two main contenders. I have only ever used WordPress and I love it.

On the Malaysian island of Langkawi

7. Network the Blogosphere

Starting a blog opens up endless new opportunities for networking with people all around the world. Blogger communities are massive and incredibly supportive, and once you start blogging, you have the chance to become part of one. Reading other peoples blogs is just as important as making sure people read yours. If you read an awesome post – leave a comment and tell the blogger! 9/10 they will check out your blog and repay the favour. Staying on top of what other bloggers are doing can provide inspiration for your own blog too. Consider it as a bit of friendly market research.

8. Make Friends with Your Audience

In order to build up a loyal readership and steady traffic to your blog (warning: this takes time), you need to give your readers some love. Talk to them like you would talk to your friends. Make sure people can see that behind your blog there is a human with thoughts, feelings and personality. If you present yourself to be friendly, approachable and real, people will be 10x more likely to relate to you. If someone kindly leaves a comment on your post, endeavor to respond to them.

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9. Get your head around SEO

SEO is something I really knew nothing about before I began blogging and working in digital content. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which basically means sneaky tricks to ensure your blog appears at the top of Google’s search listings (other search engines are available!). Google uses something called an algorithm to scan content online and pick out what is most relevant to a ‘Googled’ term. Eg. If someone types: How to start a travel blog into Google – then chances are this post might end up somewhere near the top. This is primarily to do with the matching title. Other things that improve your SEO rankings are keywords, links to reputable websites, reputable websites linking to your blog, well titled images and entirely unique content.

TOP TIP: The Moz Begginers Guide to SEO is a great place to start if you want to find out more.

10. Be Patient

Growing a successful blog doesn’t happen over night. When you start, it’s a little planted seed that needs lots of love to grow! Think of your blog title, niche, strapline as the roots and your design, layout and content as the stalk. With a bit of sunshine and attention, your plant (blog) will begin to expand and grow. The roots will get stronger and the flowers will bloom! Don’t get disheartened if you don’t see results as soon as you’d like. If you love writing your blog, it will show. The hard work will eventually pay off. As it did for me.

I believe everybody is entitled to their little own piece of the Internet where their voice can be heard. You can fill it, dress it up and sculpt it however you please. So what are you waiting for? Take your piece of Internet today and own it!

Did you find this post helpful or inspiring? Did I spark a burning question that you’re dying to know the answer to? Perhaps you just want to say hi! Please leave me a comment in the box below. I’d love to hear from you.

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41 Comments

  1. 20th May 2016 / 9:12 am

    Found this post via Facebook this morning. Really inspired me! I’ve recently started a Travel blog and fly to Asia in June for 2 months to visit 5 countries- I wasn’t going to bring my laptop with me as its extra baggage- I was considering using a journal and writing when I’m back, what are your thoughts? I could always take it if I have extra room in my backpack, I just didn’t want another thing to worry about as I’m already taking expensive cameras. Hope to be as successful as yourself someday! If you ever get chance i’d love if you could give me advice or your thoughts on my blog. Thankyou!!
    http://www.wanderwithsteffy.com
    Stephanie

  2. Cicely
    12th June 2015 / 9:06 pm

    This was extremely helpful. I’m in the begining stages of starting a travel blog. I want to write about destination that have character, history , and intrigue. For example; old hotels. I do have a question for you. If you have decided that you want to blog about a certain restaurant, hotel, etc, do you contact the hotel to get permission. Or just let them know you are stopping in. Especially if you are new to this blogging business and dont have a lot of credentials, are some people reluctant to writers coming in asking questions, and taking pictures. Thanks, I would really appreciate any advice.

  3. 30th January 2015 / 9:36 pm

    These tips are super helpful! Travel blogging seems so hard to get into, this has definitely helped!

  4. 2nd November 2014 / 4:41 pm

    Hey thanks for these tips. As a newbie, it’s great to read that there are supportive blogging communities out there.

  5. 26th October 2014 / 1:16 am

    Fabulous suggestions – esp. 9 & 10 – still have trouble getting my head around correctly working out SEO so will read this article back to front – AND patience – as they say ‘Rome wasn’t build in a day…’ – neither was a blog. Thank you and cheers

  6. 28th July 2014 / 3:47 pm

    I find your advices pretty useful. I have to admit that sometimes bloggers don’t consider others that much, even after comments, events attended together etc. Too much competition maybe? I hope mine will grow in the future 🙂 Now let’s answer to Virginia’s questions “Blog Hopping” 😀

  7. 28th March 2014 / 7:36 am

    Hey girl! I’m really happy I found this blog post/your blog. I’m also a ‘somewhat’ recent grad (graduated about a year ago) and have been struggling with finding an after-grad path that’s right for me. I know I love travel and I want to stay abroad as long as possible…. but that’s about it! I started a travel blog recently hoping that might be my chance to find a career potentially right for me–and I know it takes ages to build an audience–but it is really easy to get discouraged. I’m looking forward to trying out some of your tips (although not looking forward to trying to understand all of this SEO stuff and coding…).

    Anyway, it was really just comforting to read an article written by someone who was in a similar situation to myself and managed to make this travel blogging thing work for her. Let’s see if I can do it someday!

    And if you’re going to be in Belgium or southern Germany anytime in the next few months, let me know 🙂 I’d love to grab a coffee together!

  8. dibach
    6th March 2014 / 12:12 pm

    Very inspiring article (and the Tea Girl one too). Having only just started my own blog and getting to grips with building up the traffic, you had a lot to say that helped! Looking forward to reading more!

    • 9th March 2014 / 10:25 pm

      Thanks so much dibach! Love to be of help to aspiring and start up bloggers. I was there myself not long ago. Keep up the awesome work! x

  9. 11th February 2014 / 1:21 am

    Thanks for this. Stumbled across your tea girl post and as an ex PA see where you came from.
    Off to read the rest of your site now. X

  10. Amy Louise Nash
    8th January 2014 / 11:34 am

    Hi there travelista, thank you for this useful blog. I am very passionate about travel, photography, beauty and fashion. After graduating this November, I decided year 2014 was going to be the year I set myself a goal to become a blogger. Enjoy your travels and i’ll be soon to follow and watch your space. A x

  11. roadjesstravelled
    11th December 2013 / 6:49 am

    Sooo good to be able to read a how to that’s helpful and practical and not just confusing!
    Loving this blog and congratulations for being short listed for Cosmo, amazing!

    • 11th December 2013 / 10:08 am

      Thanks for your comment! Glad you found this advice post useful. Please do keep reading 🙂

      Jess x

  12. 6th December 2013 / 3:09 pm

    Enjoyed reading your article: it was very inspiring and full of great tips and ideas! We just launched our site last month and starting to dive into the tech side of blogging. This article and all the great tips your site offers is awesome…I love the analogy you used…it makes it so clear!

    And of course, Congrats on being shortlisted on Cosmo Blog list!

    • 7th December 2013 / 6:30 pm

      Hi ! Thanks so much for your comment. I’m so glad you found this article useful for your start up site. I will be sure to follow and check out what you guys are getting up to

      Happy Blogging & good luck 🙂

      Jess

  13. 20th August 2013 / 8:40 pm

    I’m currently a Creative Visual Merchandiser for Topshop. I think the Surf option is for me because I plan to tie it in with my mini adventures and can always lightly touch on other aspects that fit in with surf stuff:)
    Thanks! xx

    • 27th August 2013 / 9:07 am

      Stephanie, Why not have 2 blogs one for each and if one takes off and one doesnt you know which to go with. They both could do well.

      • 10th September 2013 / 9:20 pm

        Only just saw this reply. Thanks, I have kept both for now, the new one needs to take shape but seems a bit more lifestyle (just need to get out more now haha) and the other is more a review type thing. Thanks though xx

  14. 14th August 2013 / 3:08 am

    Loved this article. Found it really inspiring and helped me figure out where I want my blog to go, I want to blend art/fashion/surf into a sort of lifestyle blog but feels like I go on a tangent all the time. Any tips?

    • 15th August 2013 / 8:40 pm

      Hi Stephanie, thanks for your sweet comment. Love that this has inspired you and spurred you on to set up your on blog. I’d say that you should either focus your blog niche on EITHER surfing OR art and fashion. If you try and post about all 3 subjects in the same blog your message might get a bit muddled and your readers might be confused. Art and Fashion go hand in hand perfectly, but a girl’s surf blog sounds absoultely awesome, and I bet you would already have a read made niche audience of cool surfer girls. Take your time and decide what would work best for you! Let me know what you decide – I’d love to follow your blog once it’s up and running. Good luck, Jess / The Travelista x

      • 19th August 2013 / 5:09 pm

        Thanks again for helping send me in the right direction! I already had one where I tried to combine it all but now I’ve taken your advice and know what I want to do so I will link you up when I am done.
        Thanks again, and I loved your post a few hours ago about the full time job and blogging. I have an awesome job at the moment but I would love to get into something more relevant to my interests and linked to the blog. You have inspired me yet again 🙂 xx

        • 19th August 2013 / 5:35 pm

          Hi Stephanie! No problem at all, glad you found my advice useful. I definitely think you will see the benefits of focusing your blog niche into either Art and Fash or Surf. What do you do for work at the moment? I am sure if you establish your blog this will help you find a role linked to blogging or your interests. Finding your ideal job is a work in progress – I’m ultimately still in search of mine! Keep up the good work 🙂 x

  15. 4th August 2013 / 4:56 pm

    Hello!
    I found you on cosmo awards and ive come over to say hi!
    I have been blogging for a couple of months now and found this really useful! particularly the advice and link for SEO which is still pretty new to me!

    I love your blog and congratulations on the growth – im still early stages but its nice reading that alike bloggers are becoming successful!

    I would love for you to pop over and check mine out!
    molliebylett.blogspot.co.uk

    I look forward to reading more post 🙂

    warm wishes and lots of luck with the awards!
    Mollie
    xoxo

    • 4th August 2013 / 7:28 pm

      Hi Mollie – thanks for checking out my blog! I love that people are discovering it through the Cosmo Awards – one great thing about being shortlisted! It’s also a great way to meet new fellow bloggers like yourself.

      I’m so pleased that you found my post useful – most of these things I’ve discovered since blogging and I’ve still got much to learn. It’s all a learning curve that you learn by doing! Give the SEO stuff a go and see if it makes a difference to your traffic – I’d be interested to hear if you find it makes a difference?

      Just had a little nosey at your blog, I think it’s fab. Great that you can write about such a wide range of things, It’s almost the ultimate diary! That’s what’s so great about blogging.

      Keep it up and let’s stay in touch !

      Jess xxx

  16. 1st August 2013 / 7:50 pm

    Congratulations on getting shortlisted for the Cosmo Blog Award. That’s such an amazing accomplishment especially as you say you’ve been blogging less than a year. Really inspiring and motivating for me as a one month old newbie. It’s also great to read that someone loves travel just as much as me! X

    • 1st August 2013 / 9:15 pm

      Hey! Thanks for your lovely comment. I am so pleased about the Cosmo Blog Award short list and very proud to have got there having been blogging under a year! So glad to have inspired you and given you a few more ideas – I think anyone can grow a good blog if they have the right ingredients and passion for what they are writing about – which you clearly do! Keep up the good work, I will be following 🙂 x

  17. 23rd July 2013 / 10:31 am

    Great inspiring tips for new travel bloggers like me 🙂 🙂 Giving you a follow hope to see more interesting posts ..

    • 23rd July 2013 / 11:36 am

      So pleased you found this inspiring! Thanks for following and for leaving your comment – more posts like this to come x

  18. Karisa
    23rd July 2013 / 9:43 am

    Great advice! My blog is just about 4 months old and I’m still learning about SEO and defining my niche. It’s a fun ride but like you said, everything takes time!

    PS: I love the look of your blog! And congrats on being shortlisted for the COSMO blog awards! That’s really amazing! <3

    • 23rd July 2013 / 11:34 am

      Thank you for your lovely comment Karisa! I really appreciate it. Hopefully my tips have inspired you to keep at it. Your blog is still only a baby and has a whole life ahead of it! Keep working on your blog and your hard work will pay off – and thank you for the congrats for COSMO – I’m over the moon – feel free to swing a vote my way 😉

      Jess, The Travelista x

  19. 23rd July 2013 / 1:05 am

    Hi Jess, thank you for the tips! I am just reading the SEO guide, and I have to say it’s pretty darn awesome. Congrats on the success of your blog, from a newish reader.

    Hayley x

    • 23rd July 2013 / 11:31 am

      Glad you found the SEO guide useful Hayley! I think it’s a great reference point for new starters getting their head around it, it really helped me! Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂 x

  20. Anna Roberts
    22nd July 2013 / 5:19 pm

    Very helpful thank you! When I first started, I didn’t promote my blog and was in the horrible stage of feeling unmotivated to write as no-one was reading. Except I needed to write in order to get readers! So social media is something I know I need to work on.
    Anna x

    • 22nd July 2013 / 7:00 pm

      Hey Anna! How are you? Thanks for stopping by again. I definitely think social media becomes an invaluable tool when you want to start promoting your blog and increasing hits. Using effective hashtags on Twitter can make your post travel a long way! You can also use the less obvious channels to promote a post too such as Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ 🙂

      Jess, The Travelista x

      • Anna Roberts
        23rd July 2013 / 6:19 am

        Thanks Jess, I’ll start factoring in how I’ll promote each post when I’m planning/writing one and then get on with it!
        I’m great, thanks for asking 🙂 Hope you are too!

  21. 22nd July 2013 / 1:03 pm

    Great tips, especially the last! I find it a little disheartening at times knowing I’m pretty much just speaking to myself, but I enjoy what I’m blogging about and that’s the most important thing. Congrats on being shortlisted, it’s well deserved 🙂 x

    • 22nd July 2013 / 1:13 pm

      Hi Karis. Wow I’ve just checked out your blog and I absolutely love the design – the content is fab too. Looks like your ‘roots and stem’ are perfectly in place, You’re clearly brilliant at what you do, you just need to wait for the rest of the world to catch up with it 😉 Keep it up!! & Thank you for the congrats, I’m over the moon.

      Jess, The Travelista x

      • 22nd July 2013 / 5:39 pm

        Thanks 🙂 The plant analogy is a good one, will have to keep on reminding myself as the weeks go by!

  22. 22nd July 2013 / 9:36 am

    Found this post ( and your previous ‘from tea girl to luxury travel blogger’) so useful – thank you! I’ve just graduated and knew this is what I wanted to start when my degree was done and dusted! Fingers crossed if I work at it it will pay off! Thanks again, fab blog x

    • 22nd July 2013 / 12:18 pm

      Hi Chloe. Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m really glad that you found this post (and my previous) useful. I do a lot of travel posts so for a change I wanted to try and give something back and provide a few ‘behind the scenes’ type posts about my blogging. So great you want to pursue your own blog after your degree! Keep up the good work and good luck 🙂 x