Hacks

Things to Know Before Travel Blogging

before travel blogging manila city tour

Are you an aspiring travel blogger? Make your life easier by knowing the things you need to prepare before travel blogging!

We are writers, we collect photos, and we like to tell stories. Does this mean travel blogging is an easy task?

Reality check: it takes a shitload of discipline to keep a travel blog up and running. You have to think about topics you’re going to write on a regular basis and present your experiences in a readable way.

Still, all those travel experiences accumulated over the years can be forgotten… but you will immortalize and possibly earn with your travel blog when you start travel blogging. That’s why I encourage everyone to start their own travel blogs.

So for aspiring travel bloggers, this “Make Your Own Travel Blog” series is for you. Let’s start!

What stops you from blogging?

Wrong grammar. Imperfect grammar is a reality, and even the best writers get it wrong. Don’t overthink this part, as there are many tools out there to help you out. Try installing the free Google Chrome extension of Grammarly. Once you install it, it will automatically check everything you write — from comments to blog posts! Now you have an automatic proof-reader.

No time. This is a reality for us with full-time jobs and limited vacation leaves. I myself am a working student! I find time to write about blogs after a trip. During less demanding times at school and work, I try to write as many as I can. It helps to set a realistic calendar of when you’re going to publish. Accept your limitations, but work hard to keep that schedule (mine is once a week). Most of all, make a good use of all your VLs!

No camera. One of the best thing about technology is that good photos are not limited to DSLR cameras anymore. Smartphones with good cameras are becoming a popular alternative to bulky cameras. Action cameras are also becoming cheaper thanks to the development of Chinese brands. So, you don’t have to buy an expensive camera immediately. You can blog by just sharing your itinerary first, and rely on few but very good shots.

No budget. Traveling entails spending on trips, such as for transportation, food, and stays. It really takes some good financial discipline to be able to go out regularly. You don’t have to keep traveling every weekend. You can instead write about many topics about one destination. Explore the food, create a travel guide, and your personal stories can become three separate blog posts in one topic. Another alternative is budget traveling. It means using the cheapest way to travel so that you have more money for your next trips!

 

Things to prepare before travel blogging

Creating your own travel blog from scratch feels like a daunting experience. But we can approach it step-by-step, starting with what you need to prepare before travel blogging. Here are your basic needs:

#1 Photos. Travel blogs are all about inspiring wanderlust. In the age of digital media, photos are the best way to describe how “amazing” or “breathtaking” the natural wonders of the Philippines are.

You may have good quality photos over the years that you traveled. Start doing an inventory of your photos before travel blogging, enhancing them, and organizing them per destination. This will give you an idea of your existing portfolio and how you can play with them.

Don’t worry if your photos are not taken by a DSLR, GoPro, or a drone. Sometimes you only need an eye for beauty and a smartphone with a good camera. You can decide later on if you want to invest in other gadgets.

For photo enhancing, you can try Photoshop, Snapseed, and VSCO. Personally, I use my own filters via Photoscape and do batch edits. I don’t watermark photos for aesthetic purposes, but that’s up to you. It also pays to have a uniform “look” for your photos. For me, that means using landscape format consistently, and using my own filters!

#2 Itineraries. One of the best ways to provide value to your readers is by sharing your itineraries. This actually is optional and depends on your goals. But creating travel guides are useful and will drive readers to your blog.

After doing a photo inventory of the places you’ve been, organize them by destination. Then, set a time to create drafts of each blog post’s content. Travel itineraries are simply a record of your day trips, taking note of the time, pit stops, and activities.

#3 Stories. Maybe you’d rather write about unique anecdotes and stories about your travel. Reminisce about your travel experiences in your drafts.

Who are the people you’ve met? What interesting detours did you take? What are the new life lessons you learned? There’s no right or wrong about your experiences, so just keep your ideas flowing. Stories add color to an otherwise Wikipedia-sounding blog.

#4 Blog Pegs. Now might be the best time to look for your #blogpegs. Simply go to a travel blogger you like (ehem!) and start studying their websites. What tabs do they have that you also want? What are their sidebar options? How did they introduce themselves on the “About page”? How do they begin and end each article?

Save these “must-haves” for future reference. They can help you decide on your blog elements, themes, and plug-ins before travel blogging!

#5 Payment method. Not everything about setting up a travel blog is free. If you’re serious enough to buy a domain, get a host, and purchase a theme, you’re going to need money and a platform to transfer it. Common payment methods are credit cards or a Paypal account. I highly recommend you start setting up accounts or find friends who can help you out.

 

That’s it! Photos, itineraries, stories, blog pegs, and a payment method are your basic foundations before travel blogging. Once you organized them into your arsenal, you now have a better idea of how to start.

 

What travel blog topics to write about

Travel is a wide niche for blogging. So, what message do you want to send out to the world? Aside from becoming memorable to your readers, this will guide you in creating content in the future. Look back at your portfolio of photos, itineraries, and stories. Here are some ideas:

#1 Narratives. If you always find an interesting perspective on your travel, writing narratives may amuse your readers. Highlight interesting anecdotes from locals, seek out unique experiences, and apply some personal wisdom and experience to your travel article. [e.g. Catanduanes in Christmastime]

#2 Guides and Hacks. If you’re the ultimate travel organizer, create travel guides for your readers. Share your itineraries, recall fare prices, and record commute instructions. You can even share tips on how to save money on your travel, which is a primary concern of most DIY travelers. [e.g. How to Spend 5 days in Panay Island]

#3 Reviews. If you like specific activities such as camping or cross-country biking, you might want to recommend the gears you’ve tried and tested. If you’ve stayed in many hostels while backpacking, share info about their amenities or how your stay was. And if you tried a local restaurant, let your readers know how the food tastes and what you recommend! [e.g. Ahon Trail Socks Review]

#4 Feature articles. If you like to recommend your top 10 of everything, then consolidate all your experiences into listicles (list-form articles). But don’t just list items randomly, do research, inject your personality into them, and make sure you validate why they’re on your list. [e.g. Baguio City]

#5 Galleries. Maybe you’d rather do storytelling with photos and videos. With the popularity of vlogging (video blogging), that’s fine! Share your panoramic shots of landscape, post your underwater videos, and capture your adrenaline-filled adventures. Make sure to “wow”, but also add insightful captions or notes. [e.g. Lioness Rock]

before travel blogging

How to choose your travel blog name

This is a legitimate concern for those hoping to start a travel blog. The first thing to know is that you should not be afraid of making mistakes. Personally, I tried various names before followyouroad. It took me years of blogging to find the perfect name, starting with the most embarrassing ones (hello, awesamness!). Here are some suggestions:

#1 Use your name. If you want to establish your name in the industry, then there’s no harm using your name, nickname, a term of endearment, or with a witty variation of it. This is the most common way bloggers name theirs!

Keep in mind, however, that it’s literally your name on the line. New acquaintances and possible employers might find your blog with a quick search, so perhaps you should think twice about publishing your drunken beach escapades. Unless of course, that’s how you brand your blog.

#2 Use travel keywords. In determining your blog name, it might be helpful to use keywords relevant to your blog. You can even add these to your personal name, or use an adjective that might fit:

  • Persona words: traveler, backpacker, wanderer, explorer, adventurer, nomad
  • Activity-specific words: biker, camper, surfer, mountaineer, foodie, photographer
  • Other words: Pinoy/Pinay, Cebuano, Pinas/Pilipinas, travel, wanderlust

Make your name reflects who you are or what you write about. Like, if you name your blog Pinoy Surfer and you’ve actually only surfed once, it may be a source of your blog’s identity crisis in the future!

#3 Use call-to-actions. You name your blog by inviting readers to do something. An example is my own blog inspired by a 70s song by Pauline Wilson. You can take any of the words you live by, a phrase from a famous quote and modify it.

Last step: Check availability. Now that you have legit domain name ideas, it’s time to check if they are up for grabs or taken already! This is especially useful if you’re planning to buy your own domain (AKA your own .com) in the future. Simply do a free domain name search to confirm if it’s available.

Note that generally, it’s advisable that you use .com since it’s easier to remember. Plus, .ph is far more expensive!

 

Open social media accounts

Even before travel blogging, you may already have personal social media accounts. One of the best tips I can give is to stick to your blog name and use it as a username in other social media accounts.

For example, I’ve always used followyouroad as a username for my Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and more. However, I didn’t use it with my non-travel related accounts such as Skype, LinkedIn, or email address. This is to preserve privacy over things that I don’t want to readily be accessed publicly.

Your readers can find you easier by using a uniform username. But note that it pays to choose an original blog name and social media usernames. Generic usernames might already be taken on other social media accounts.

Check their availability of username ideas by typing the following:

  • twitter.com/yourwebsitename
  • instagram.com/yourwebsitename
  • fb.com/yourwebsitename

before travel blogging

Optional: Create a Logo or Header

If you’re aiming to treat your blog seriously, you might want to consider appearances before travel blogging. That includes branding – a magical word that simply means consistency with how your blog looks and feels. One of the best ways to brand your blog is creating a logo (in WordPress, it’s called favicon) or a header.

It’s best to create two versions. First is the logo/favicon with square-shaped dimensions. You can use these for profile photos for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook page. The second is a rectanglular version which you can use as a header.

You can use this logo on your social media accounts and your blog’s icons and header. You can even stick them to your photo watermarks. Other people pay for logo creations, but you don’t have to! As you can see, I simply chose a rugged font for followyouroad. Don’t overthink, as you can still modify these later on.

before travel blogging logo favicon header

There you go!

Finally, you’re armed with the basics of how to prepare before travel blogging. You now know what you need to do such as making an inventory of existing photos and stories, brainstorming blog names, and opening social media accounts. At least when you finally decide to take the plunge, you are better armed with the tools you need!

In the next post, I will discuss with the nitty-gritty of travel blogging: Should you buy your domain or stick to free platforms? How much do you expect to spend when you buy your own domain and host? These and more will be answered in Make Your Own Travel Blog. Subscribe to get notified!

Travel blogging takes a lot of work, but with a little preparation, you can make starting up easier.

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45 Comments

  • Reply
    Mia Foo
    December 3, 2016 at 9:05 AM

    I do love travelling and I enjoy documenting my travels in my blog as well, but I have no intentions of turning my blog into a full blown travel blog to earn from it. It takes a lot of discipline and effort to manage a travel blog and tying in an income just adds unnecessary stress to my writing. And also, it’s tough job trying to be a travel blogger in Singapore, as domestic trips are out of the picture.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      December 5, 2016 at 11:59 PM

      Hi Mia! Thanks for letting me know. You’re right. Not all blogs should have a niche. Not all blogs should be marketed. It really depends on your personal goals. I think if you’re in SG all you can do is mostly about life in SG and tourism just within the city which can be limiting. Philippines is also a difficult one to travel blog about because we’re an archipelago. We really need to book flights just to go from one place to another!

  • Reply
    KT Nielsen
    December 2, 2016 at 6:40 PM

    I agree with you – it takes a shitload of discipline to keep a travel blog up and running. I love this tongue and cheek post about the bare essentials before someone jumpstarts his/her travel blogging dreams. I try to write about my travels but I know I have so much to improve on. I should start collating my travel blogs pegs to keep the inspiration alive!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      December 5, 2016 at 11:48 PM

      Hi Kessa! Thanks for your insights! I’m really torn between “harsh realities” and “inspiring/encouraging” in this blog post. You caught on!

  • Reply
    Teresa Dumadag
    December 2, 2016 at 4:54 PM

    I’d like to add this in my current blog. I plan to focus on sharing tips and hacks to parents who want to travel with their kids. We’ve travelled with our kids in the past years but haven’t blogged about all of them yet. I also want to write reviews of places we’ve visited.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      December 5, 2016 at 11:46 PM

      That’s great! I honestly like your parenting blog Ms. Teresa. You think of topics about parenting that I never realized someone could also think of enough to write about 🙂

  • Reply
    Kat
    November 20, 2016 at 4:51 PM

    Starting our travel blog late last year is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done. However, if I would to give advice I will also level the expectation of other inspiring bloggers — that blogging is hard work, and for people who are concerned about quality content and response, it might be discouraging especially here in the Philippines. Readership here is low, and in our email and social media channels we often get questions that had already been posted or requests for customized itineraries. So I’ll possibly include that in things to know: you need great patience and an attitude of focusing on the positive. 🙂

  • Reply
    Indrani
    November 20, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    Great helpful tips for new bloggers.
    One thing I fumbled on was the name for my blog. I just couldn’t come up with a proper name and still am not satisfied. But now it is lot of hassles to settle for a new name.
    What to write about can be a tricky thing… understanding your audience is a must for this.

  • Reply
    KT Nielsen
    November 19, 2016 at 10:10 PM

    I love this post! Thank you for extensively writing about travel blogging. I have been putting off writing about our vacation in Denmark and Sweden and this post basically gave me a solid push to start writing. I once was advised by a blogger mentor to just write whatever that comes to mind without editing anything because she said the most important thing is to start.

  • Reply
    Nicole Paler
    November 18, 2016 at 10:50 AM

    I have been blogging for 2 years, and this month I’ll be opening up my own travel blog with my partner. I do have a question though, because we are already talking about travel blog names and the like. You see, we wanted to name the travel blog pichijelly, but I wanted to get your opinion on weather should I add in a travel keyword or just leave it as is? Thanks sam! 😀

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      December 3, 2016 at 4:12 AM

      Hi Nicole! I hope I’m not too late when I replied!!! It’s really up to you. In my opinion, there’s no need to put the word “travel” if you brand it really well. That is, if most of your content is about travel. It might help though if you name it indirectly related to travel, such as maps, compass, or in my case, road haha. That way it’s more or less clear that it’s about travel without actually putting the word. I think the downside to personal names is that initially it can be mistaken for a lifestyle blog. But again, if you stick to the niche, it’ll be okay 🙂

  • Reply
    Alyssa Tuangco
    November 17, 2016 at 4:55 PM

    These are great tips! I actually want a travel blog but since mahirap i-maintain naging puro pagkain laman hahaha! I like the topic tips, narratives, itineraries and top 5 or top 10 places. You really need to think through if you want to start a travel blog and make a schedule of posts.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      December 3, 2016 at 4:07 AM

      Thanks Alyssa. You’re right. You really need to be creative in order to keep a travel blog. And if puro food ang laman, that’s okay! That’s something I’m unable to do because I don’t know how to write about food haha

  • Reply
    Airina April Desuyo
    November 6, 2016 at 12:24 AM

    These are great tips, Sam! I’ve been writing for a long time but I still need to learn a lot of things. Good thing there are bloggers who share their knowledge *wink Thanks for this!

    airinaapril.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Ana
    November 5, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    When I started with my blog, all I knew was that I just wanted to write. And in order to keep myself committed in blogging, I chose to buy my own domain name. Later on, I got stuck with free hosting that I asked my friend what hosting provider could he suggest. I have now my blog in which half of the contents are about my travel. I am still in the process of developing my blog. I still do trial and error.

  • Reply
    mariaisquixotic
    November 4, 2016 at 10:52 PM

    I think in general, having a blog isn’t that easy. There are just so many out there and you got to be versatile than them even if you have the same niche. Plus the way you share your posts must also have your own taste and flavor. These are really great tips any aspirant should read before they venture into something. Who knows, I may become one someday

  • Reply
    ROBERT LEE
    November 4, 2016 at 7:30 PM

    I have a suggestion for travel bloggers. As a reader, I simply do not like it when I have to read extremely long posts that details places visited in a day. A blogger who write a brief description of each places visited, on the other hand, feels lacking in details. I think the best way to go about it is to break down the individual places.

    For example. I took a 4 days/3 nights vacation. On day 1, I visited 3 places. Same as day 2 and 3. Instead of writing a long post detailing day 1, and then 2, and then 3…

    I would write a good post about all the places I visited. I visted a church? That is one post. I visited a museum? That is another post. Once all those are done, only then do I write a post on day 1, then 2, then 3. That way, I could write what the day was like and the itinerary, and provide a brief description of the places visited with internal links. 🙂

  • Reply
    Zwitsy
    November 4, 2016 at 5:27 AM

    Finally, someone said it. It isn’t easy to run a travel blog indeed most especially the fact that we have other duties in life like work or studies, perhaps. On a side note, I love how you put in everything here including the things needed and so as what to maintain. As for the starting the blog including the branding, I couldn’t agree more of what you have shared here. For those who are starting, it is really essential to have these prepared before starting so that people will surely take your blog seriously.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      November 4, 2016 at 7:07 PM

      Thanks for thinking so! I really wanted to adjust expectations of people who are seriously looking to create travel blogs. These are what I’ve learned along the way. If your objective is merely recording thoughts, you can skip branding. But if you wanted to help other people and increase traffic, branding is a great way to reach that.

  • Reply
    SofarsoSabine
    November 2, 2016 at 3:31 AM

    Anyone can start blogging after reading this, especially travel blogging. I love your blog, we have the same theme and I love to see how you have set it up. I’m no travel blogger, but my God, how lovely would that be. I blog a lot about fashion, but the content needs to be great, just like when you’re a travel blogger.
    xo xo Sabine http://www.sofarsosabine.com
    If you ever travel to Sweden, Stockholm, please write me!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      November 2, 2016 at 8:11 PM

      I’d love to travel to Sweden! It takes a lot more if you’re coming from a Third World country, but I’ll get there someday. Thanks Sabine. Same goes when you find yourself in the Philippines 🙂

  • Reply
    Carola
    November 2, 2016 at 3:24 AM

    Good list of tips for beginners! How nice is it to know what to do even before you start? Even though I’m not a travel blogger, I can relate to your list. I mostly use photos I made myself, so I definitely paid attention to that as well. Stories is also always important. And you can tell 1 story in so many ways.. It’s up to the writer to create an own style.

  • Reply
    Nadine Smith
    November 2, 2016 at 1:17 AM

    These tips are spot on! I agree with you that you don’t need to travel every weekend and you can just write about many topics about one destination. In fact, that’s what I do, and I prefer to do that anyway because I prefer writing about all the details of a particular place, whether it’s a restaurant, an attraction, or a hotel. I am more impressed with travel bloggers who are able to sustain a travel blog even though they don’t travel that often 🙂 They are practical but still creative enough to maintain a travel blog

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      November 2, 2016 at 8:09 PM

      Hi Nadine! So happy that you actually admire creative travellers. I’m also one. I’m a working student, but travel writing is my passion so I always make time for it. Even though I can’t travel as often as I wanted, I try to write guides thoroughly, like this one!

  • Reply
    Me-An Clemente
    November 1, 2016 at 10:55 PM

    If this post was available before I started a blog post, our blogging life would have been much smoother and we could have avoided costly mistakes. These are awesome information. You never cease to amaze me. And truly there is no need for an expensive camera. All we need is a great composition and filter 🙂 Hope to see you again sometime soon.

  • Reply
    Kerr Quevedo
    November 1, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    Love it. I like that this doesn’t just apply to travel blogging. I like how you included planning before anything since it is sometimes what is lacked by other bloggers. Also, I can relate tp the photos thing since I only use an iPhone to capture my photos yet they don’t fail me.

    xx Kerr

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      November 2, 2016 at 8:00 PM

      Happy for you Kerr! I’m just about to test out smartphone photography since I recently won a phone. I don’t use expensive smartphones, but then it has wisdom to use it esp when traveling. Much more compact and upload-ready. 🙂

  • Reply
    Marge Gavan
    November 1, 2016 at 7:12 AM

    You’ve summed up blogging 101 pretty nicely. I’m sure this will be very helpful to those who are still on the fence about doing it. But really the greatest advice is to just do it. Everything will fall into place eventually.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      November 1, 2016 at 1:43 PM

      I agree! I think overthinking blogging is one of the things that keeps people from actually starting a blog. Thanks Marge 🙂 Also! Haven’t received the email. The common mistake about my email and blog name is the single “r” haha. Thank you! 🙂

  • Reply
    Michi (@michisolee)
    October 31, 2016 at 11:43 AM

    Blogging about travels is not easy because you have to choose photos, edit if needed and put watermark. You need passion in order to stay long because like you’ve said, you need to spend money to sustain your blog. For photos, sometimes I just used my phone. 🙂

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      November 1, 2016 at 1:40 PM

      Thanks for the insights Michi. Commitment is a big part in blogging. I’m also trying to use smartphone for my photos just recently. 🙂

  • Reply
    Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    October 31, 2016 at 10:54 AM

    I embarked on a travel blogging without a guide, but literally just wanted to be busy and have something to spend my time. If only I would have read this before I start, it must be really a great help for me. I’ll surely share this to those who want to embark on their own travel blog. I’m really learning from this post.

    LaiAriel

  • Reply
    Ram Kuizon
    October 31, 2016 at 9:53 AM

    Hello Sam!
    As a budding travel and lifestyle blogger, I am looking up with to you as an inspiration.
    This true Blue Cebuano is a my brainchild to showcase Cebu to the world.
    Reading your blog got me thinking of my blog practices done in my blog.
    I hope to hear your advise with my blog if you can spare a little of your precious schedule.

    http://www.truebluecebuano.wordpress.com

  • Reply
    Sheri @ A Busy Bees Life
    October 30, 2016 at 5:57 PM

    This is great, a lot of relevant information and great tips and suggestions for anyone beginning a travel blog. I have a lifestyle, motivational and travel blog and did none of these things when I started, No research, just jumped right in! I didn’t even know there were Facebook groups for bloggers or what Pinterest was. I am almost a year along and doing quite well. Will share this information on social media, you never know who I could be helping.

  • Reply
    Adventuring The Great Wide Somewhere
    October 27, 2016 at 12:12 AM

    I’ve been blogging for nearly two years now, and even I found plenty of helpful information in your post! The hardest part for me is just scraping the travel funds together, so I often write several posts about one location, and come back to it with new stories when I’m all up to date and searching for new things to write about. I’m checking out PhotoScape now, since I would love for the photos to have a uniform look. This would be especially good for Instagram, where the aesthetic of the overall feed can be so important. Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      October 27, 2016 at 1:42 AM

      Thank you!! Photoscape isn’t very popular tbh, but I’ve gotten used to it. Maybe I should try other photo editing platforms. You gave me an idea 🙂 Also, you’re right. Sometimes I also travel to far-flung areas when it’s sponsored. Otherwise, I just go where I actually wanted to go and write about it. Side hustling has also been a helpful 🙂

  • Reply
    melaalmario
    October 26, 2016 at 10:15 AM

    Hi Ms. Sam. This article helped me a lot, I’ve been following your blogs and I am inspired by your post. May mga gusto po sana akong itanong sa inyo if okay lang 🙂

  • Reply
    A Taste for Travel (@atastefortravel)
    October 25, 2016 at 2:37 AM

    Handy tip about sharing itineraries as content. I’m often asked for itineraries yet rarely do posts on them. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Tami
    October 25, 2016 at 2:17 AM

    You’ve got a pretty good list here of what it takes to start a travel blog. You’re right that it takes a lot of work. I might add that it really helps to link up with other travel writers that you an ask questions of. Attending a Travel Massive event in my area, shortly after I started my blog, really helped me learn a lot more about blogging.

    • Reply
      Sam Coronado
      October 25, 2016 at 9:39 PM

      Hi Tami! Thanks for the tips. We also have a local TM! Might be a good idea for me to try it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jamie Christine Bertillo
    October 22, 2016 at 8:59 AM

    Hi Ms Sam. I’ve been following your posts and they’ve helped me a lot. And this article is definitely a big hand for my passion in writing and blogging. Easy to understand for beginners like me. Thank you so much.

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