Do you wish you could be a full-time blogger and get paid to travel the world? Or maybe you already have a newly established website but are not sure where to go from there? Figuring out how to get started as a blogger can be overwhelming but I am here to help!
I have been travel blogging for 6 years now and have grown my online business from 0 to making 10K in income a month. Starting out as a travel blogger wasn’t easy and there were a lot of trials and errors that I made along the way. But after years of blogging and learning best practices, now my blog posts rank on Page 1 of Google within weeks of publishing.
In this guide, I share everything I have learned as a professional blogger to help you write a travel blog that ranks!
You don’t have to get everything 100% correct in the beginning (believe me, nobody does), but there are certain things that will help boost your blog posts from the trenches of Google into the highly coveted Page 1. Let’s get started!
How To Write a Travel Blog That Ranks:
- Come Up With a Topic
- Do Keyword Research For Your Topic
- Be Helpful To Your Readers
- Write a Catchy Title & Intro
- Use Beautiful Images
- Add Internal and External Links
- Fill Out SEO & Meta Description
- Run The Final Draft Through The Rank IQ Toolset
- Share The Blog Post On Social Media
Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission when you book through these links for which I am very thankful!
Before we dive into all of the details, you may be wondering why these best practices are so important.
Just to give you an example, in 2018 I published a blog post on the topic ‘Oregon Coast’. This blog post had a short intro, some images, and text of just 328 words (now my posts are a minimum of 1500+ words long). Needless to say, that article never saw the day of light.
In 2021 I wrote a new travel guide on things to do along the Oregon Coast. Same topic, but this new article is over 5500 words long, optimized, with good SEO, and has a clear topic that covers everything from A to Z about traveling to the Oregon Coast.
This newer article was done correctly so now it ranks on Page 1 of Google, has thousands of views a month, and makes me a steady, passive income. You can see how making a few adjustments can make such a huge difference!
If you want to know how to write a blog post that ranks, keep reading for details on all of the blogging tips that I have learned over the past few years!
How To Write a Travel Blog That Ranks:
Come Up With a Topic
If you plan to be a travel blogger, it goes without saying that you will need to do a bit of traveling. You don’t have to travel to some faraway expensive locations like Fiji or the Maldives to be a travel blogger – some of the most successful bloggers write about their own cities, States, or Countries.
My main travel blog Fun Life Crisis focuses on international travel and van life, but I also started a niche site California Wanderland where I share posts on local hikes and things to do around California.
What you write about will depend on where you plan to travel to and what type of audience you want to appeal to (budget vs luxury, single travelers vs families, etc). Niche sites tend to grow faster, so try to narrow down the subjects and places that you plan to write about.
Some ideas for travel blog topics include:
- Things to do
- Best places to visit
- Trip itineraries
- Hotel guides
- City guides
- Hiking guides
- Packing lists
- Travel Tips
- Gear reviews
- How to get around
The options are really endless! Think of subjects that you would want to know about before traveling to a location yourself. Have a basic plan in mind and start from there.
BLOGGING TIP: If you’re new to blogging and not sure what to write about, I highly recommend using tools like Rank IQ for topic research. Rank iQ costs $49/month but in the long haul, it will pay off and is so worth every penny!
Rank IQ has an extensive keyword library for every blogging category. You can simply go to Keyword Library, select your niche (ex. Travel Oregon) and it will show all the most popular keywords, their volume, and how easy it is to rank for that keyword.
When you’re just starting out in blogging, write content around keywords that have high search volume and are easy to rank for with a competition score of 20 or less. This will ensure your blog posts will show up on Google quickly and start bringing in traffic.
Do Keyword Research For Your Topic
Once I come up with a topic, ex. ‘Things To Do On The Oregon Coast’, I will look up the topic on Google and dive deeper into keyword research.
Go to the ‘Related Searches’ section at the bottom of Google’s Page 1 to see if any of the keywords stand out:
You can even take it a step further by using tools like Keyword Planner to see if the keyword is worth writing about.
As you can see, the keyword ‘Things To Do Oregon Coast’ is very popular with high monthly search volume and low competition. It’s no wonder that I ranked on Page 1 of Google within weeks of writing about this subject!
I also recommend installing Ubersuggest Chrome Extension. This tool shows the details of what’s already ranking on Page 1 of Google.
With Ubersuggest, you can see the Domain Authority of the top ranking posts, how many visits these blog posts are getting, the social share count, and how many backlinks those pages have. This will help you determine if you can outrank your competition or maybe choose an easier keyword to center your blog post around.
After I’ve picked my topic and keyword, it’s time to write the blog post.
Be Helpful To Your Readers
When traveling to new locations, I try to learn everything there is to know about that place. I typically spend a few days taking photos, gathering notes, talking to locals, going on guided tours, and collecting information.
Before writing a blog post I will brainstorm what the blog post should cover and come up with an outline.
For example, this guide on the Marble Caves In Chile covers:
- What Are The Marble Caves
- Where Are The Marble Caves Located
- How To Visit The Marble Caves
- What To Expect
- Best Time To Go
- Where To Stay
Once I have come up with the headings and the outline, filling out the information is the easy part!
When writing travel blog posts, I try to stick to shorter paragraphs that are 2-4 sentences long. Most people tend to browse for information, not read everything word-per-word (if you do – we bloggers appreciate you!). To slow down the ‘scanners’ I bold some of the most important parts of the text.
A lot of people start out their travel blogs like personal diaries and eventually switch to list-type guides because that’s what most people are searching for. Even going back to some of my original posts I can see how drastically my work has changed over time.
In your blog posts, it’s good to add personalization and a bit of ‘YOU’ in your writing style. Adding personal experiences and interesting travel stories will keep the readers entertained. At the end of the day, nobody wants to read a post that sounds like it was written by an AI bot.
If I’m writing from my personal experience, I will focus the text on writing in the first person. But if I’m writing a listicle, I will switch to using ‘YOU’ so the readers feel like the article focuses on them.
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Write a Catchy Title & Intro
After you write the blog post, you will need to add an intro, title and upload it to WordPress. It is recommended to keep the title under 60 characters otherwise part of the title will be cut off in Google Search results.
The title should be descriptive of what the blog post is about and catchy enough that people will want to click on it. For example, ‘10 Unique Places To Visit In Mexico You Didn’t Know Existed’ is one of my most viral articles because it has a click-worthy title.
Below the title, you’ll want a quick intro describing what the blog post is about. I usually stick to 2-4 paragraphs with 1-2 sentences. I personally don’t write super long intros so people don’t click out before getting to the good stuff.
If the blog post is pretty long, I like to add a menu below the intro so readers can go to the sections that interest them the most. A menu also helps with organizing your blog post and tells Google what it is about.
At the beginning or end of the post, I’ll add a section where I’ll answer some of the most frequently searched questions about the topic. You can find the FAQs by looking up the topic on Google.
Here are a few FAQs for the keyword ‘Oregon Coast’:
This will help establish your authority as an expert in that field and help with Google’s search results as well.
Pssst! I recommend using Grammarly to find & correct spelling errors. I have Grammarly installed in both Word and WordPress so I can catch any mistakes that slip through.
Use Beautiful Images
If you want to be a successful travel blogger, you will need to master photography skills as well. Beautiful photos inspire people and help them visualize what they can expect to see at their planned destinations. Photography and travel blogging just go hand in hand!
Images can be used to enhance your blog posts, keep the reader on your page longer and also boost your social media presence.
Every image that you post on your blog can be easily re-shared on Pinterest for cross-promotion.
A few photo tips:
- Vertical images are better for longer read times and social media sharing.
- Make sure your images are properly sized. If the images are too big, they will slow down your site speed significantly.
- Name your images with descriptive keywords before uploading them into WordPress. This can drive more clicks to your blog from Google Images search results.
- Fill out ‘alt tags’ for images after uploading them into WordPress.
I use the Sony a7c camera for my travel photos. This is the smallest and lightest full-frame camera available on the market – perfect for traveling, hiking, and outdoor trips – while still maintaining the same incredible image quality as Sony’s full-frame cameras!
Add Internal and External Links
Once the blog post is uploaded into WordPress, there are a few things that you can do to help it rank faster:
- Link to other related blog posts on your website. Make sure internal links open in the same tab.
- Link to a few related external websites. Make sure these links open in a new window.
- I also suggest adding a few affiliate links so you can start making money. Make sure these links open in a new window and are marked as ‘no-follow’.
- Once the blog post is published, go to any existing related posts on your site and backlink to this new blog post.
For internal linking, I try to:
- Add a few ‘anchor text’ links within the blog post.
- Link to 5 related posts at the end of the article.
- Add a couple of ‘related post’ boxes throughout the article.
Internal linking will help retain the readers longer on your website, reduce your bounce rate and help search engines with organizing your content.
Fill Out SEO & Meta Description
In order for your blog to rank on Google, you will need to optimize the blog post for search engines, a practice that is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
SEO sends information to search engines like Google telling them what the blog post is about and what keywords it should be ranking for. Without proper SEO your blog post (that you just spent hours or days writing) might never rank on Google and receive any traffic.
When you’re new to blogging, SEO seems like a complicated subject. To help you get started, I recommend installing the AIOSEO plug-in in WordPress that breaks down SEO into short, user-friendly sections:
- Post Title – the title of your post which should be around 60 characters.
- Meta Description – the descriptive body of the text that will show up below the title in Google describing what the blog post is about.
- Focus Keyphrase – the targeted keyword of your blog post (ex: Things to do on the Oregon Coast). The keyword should match the URL Slug which is the permalink of your blog post.
You want to keep the Focus Keyphrase and permalink short & sweet. The permalink for one of my first ever blog posts was: ‘Sometimes-you-need-to-leave-it-all-behind-how-i-quit-my-job-packed-up-and-started-driving-without-a-final-destination‘.
Ummm, yea, I don’t know what I was thinking back then. I just didn’t know any better!
If you can, try to use the keyphrase within the first paragraph of your intro.
You also want to use the keyphrase a couple of times throughout the article, but not too much. If you overuse the keyphrase, it is seen as ‘keyword stuffing’ and can hurt your rankings instead of helping them.
Run The Final Draft Through The Rank IQ Toolset
Once your final draft is finished, I recommend going back to the Rank IQ toolset and checking your final draft for missing keywords and word count.
To do so use the ‘Content Optimizer’ option within Rank IQ. The content grader will give you a score for keyword research and word count. This will show if you have covered enough topics associated with that keyword and if the blog post is long enough to rank on Google’s Page 1.
The Rank IQ content grader tool is like having a personal teacher that will grade your ‘assignment’. I always strive for an A++ grade and a longer word count than my competition.
This does not mean that you should write ‘fluff’ just to get to the needed word count. It means you should write quality content covering everything there is to know about that subject so your readers can be well-prepared for their trips.
Share The Blog Post On Social Media
Once your final draft is published, the work does not stop there! I also recommend sharing your post on all social media platforms to start driving traffic to it.
While you don’t need to become a ‘Social Media Influencer’, having a presence on social media is important for growing a travel blog. You don’t have to master ALL the social networks (it feels like there is a new one popping up every other month!) but it’s good to be active on a few of the main ones such as:
I do recommend posting on a few social media accounts instead of putting all of your eggs into one basket. I’ve made the mistake of focusing solely on only Instagram in the past and lost years of work (and 140K followers) after my Instagram account was hacked and deleted.
So why is social media important? Because when you share a blog post on social media, it can drive free traffic to it. This month I had 37,811 outbound clicks from my Pinterest account @funlifecrisis alone!
Blogs with more links and shares get rated higher by Google. Social Media validation tells Google ‘Hey, all these people enjoyed reading this blog post so maybe you should rank it too!’.
Having more links also increases your website’s Domain Authority (this magical number that gets assigned to your website, kind of like a ‘Credit Score’). If your DA is high, you are seen as an established, high-ranking website. If it’s low – it means your site is still new and has some improving to do.
You can check your website Domain Authority on sites like Moz:
A few tips for social media:
- Add your website URL in your social media bios and encourage people to click on the link.
- AIOSEO plugin has a social tab where you can format social media sharing settings for Facebook & Twitter.
- If you’re trying to share a new post on Facebook, you may need to run it through Facebook Sharing Debugger Tool first so your post is not seen as ‘spam’.
- Add a Pinnable image at the end of the blog post that readers can pin to their accounts.
Some Frequently Asked Questions:
What Should a Travel Blog Include
To summarize everything that we covered, at the minimum a travel blog post should include the following:
- A catchy title
- Short intro
- Descriptive headings
- Helpful, informative text that is 1500+ words long
- Answers to a few frequently asked questions
- Beautiful images optimized for speed
- Internal and external links to related topics
- SEO & meta description
- Pinterest image at the end of the post
Is It Too Later To Start a Travel Blog?
While it may seem like there are SO MANY travel bloggers and influencers out there, it is not too late to start a travel blog. I started my second travel blog just a couple of years ago and it is already making a steady passive income from ads and affiliate marketing.
While travel blogging is a competitive field, people more than ever want to read original blog posts written BY people FOR people (and not by AI programs or ghostwriters that have never stepped foot into that country). It is not too late to start a travel blog and there is no better time than now!
Is It Hard To Become a Travel Blogger?
Yes and no. It’s not hard to become a travel blogger but it is a lot of hard work. You’re constantly creating content and just when your new blog posts start to rank, your old ones start to tank.
In long-term blogging, it’s a good idea to go back and constantly update old posts too. It can feel overwhelming at times trying to keep up with it all, but if you’re passionate about travel writing, it won’t feel like ‘work’ but something exciting that you get to wake up and do every day!
How Do Travel Bloggers Get Free Trips?
One of the first things that new travel bloggers want to know is ‘When will I start getting free trips and hotels?’ To be fully transparent, there is no such thing as ‘free’ in the travel industry. You. Will. Need. To. Work. Your Butt. Off. For. Everything.
I started getting free & sponsored trips when I had around 50K Instagram followers. In my experience, it is much easier to leverage social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok when pitching to collaborate with companies, hotels, and tourism boards because companies LOVE social media.
To get free trips, hotels, and tours you will need to do a lot of outreach emails. You will also need to create a Media Kit which is like a resume for bloggers. I use Canva which comes with beautiful free Media Kit templates.
But keep in mind that ‘free trips’ can also be stressful and overwhelming, depending on what you have promised to deliver. On sponsored, press, and tourism board trips you’re on someone else’s dime and schedule.
You will need to wake up at sunrise to take photos for clients, post non-stop on social media, tour all day, take photos and edit at night. These types of trips are fun, but also exhausting. Now I pay for the majority of our trips myself so I can focus on creating great content that my readers will love.
Do Travel Bloggers Get Paid?
While being a travel blogger is A LOT of work, the payoff over the years is so worth it! Once you publish a blog post, it can make you passive income for years to come.
While it took me a long time to make money from my first travel blog, now I’m at a point where I earn a steady income from both of my websites.
There are many different ways that travel bloggers can money including:
- Website ads
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsored posts
- Selling products
- Travel guides
- Image prints
- Editing presets
- Selling an online course
- Travel tours
- Image licensing, just to name a few.
When I first started out in travel blogging, income options were pretty limited but now there are so many different avenues on how to make money from travel blogging. And unlike a 9-5 job, there really is no ceiling on how much you can make from having an online business!
The majority of my income currently comes from Mediavine Ads that you see on this blog. Mediavine is a full-service ad management company that works with thousands of top bloggers in many different niches. The first month that I joined Mediavine I made $540 and I was so excited about it. Now I make over 5K per month from Mediavine – quite the jump in income!
The sooner you can build traffic and apply to Mediavine or another ad network, the sooner you can start making money. But Mediavine requires websites to have 50K monthly sessions which can take some time to get there for new travel blogs.
On my second travel blog, I started with Google AdSense and then switched to the Monumetric ad management company. Monumetric is great to work with, has excellent customer service, and accepts sites with 10K Pageviews.
Monumetric does have a couple of month wait time and they charge a $99 setup fee, but with this fee, you get a 1-on-1 coaching call on how to optimize the ads on your website – something that other ad networks don’t offer. Their earnings dashboard is also very user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Can Travel Bloggers Do Affiliate Marketing?
Yes, absolutely! If your website is still pretty new and you’re not there yet to apply to an Ad network, you can start making money right away with affiliate marketing. How much money you make from affiliate marketing will depend on how much time you invest into it.
The products that sell the best have detailed reviews and good sales pitches that center around user experience and intent. Affiliate marketing isn’t just about you making a sale but providing the most relevant and useful information to your reader that they need to know for their trip planning.
I neglected this aspect of revenue stream for years and now I’m having to go back to my older posts and redo them all to add relevant affiliate links. A year ago I was making just $200 from affiliate marketing, but now that I’m taking it more seriously, I’ve gotten up to $1500/month and growing.
My best advice – start with affiliate marking from the beginning and work with multiple programs to diversify your income in case one of them stops working (aka RIP Airbnb which abruptly canceled its affiliate program in 2021).
A few of my best-selling travel affiliate programs are:
- Booking.com for hotels
- VRBO for vacation rentals
- Viator & Get Your Guide for tours
- REI for hiking gear
- Amazon for all other gear & van life products.
Instead of applying to affiliate programs directly, I recommend using affiliate marketing networks like Skimlinks, CJ, and Avantlink. These networks work with hundreds of companies and make affiliate link creation so easy. For other affiliate programs like Amazon, you will need to apply directly.
Can You Write a Travel Blog Without Traveling?
During Covid, I didn’t travel much but I still published a lot of content. If you don’t have the time or means to travel to new places at the moment, you can still write about local destinations in your area or about places that you’ve visited in the past. Sometimes a little bit of research or watching a YouTube video can refresh your memory like you were just there yesterday!
If you don’t have your own images, use stock images. Sometimes I use stock images to fill in the gaps if I forgot to capture a certain location. A few free stock image sites that I use include Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay. Just be sure to give proper credit & link to the photographer in the image caption.
Recommended Travel Blogging Tools
- SiteGround. We use SiteGround to store all of our website data and have been since the beginning of our blogging days. SiteGround has cheap prices, a great user interface, and the best customer service in the industry with 24-hour day service and quick response time.
- NameCheap. At Namecheap, you can register new domain names. I recommend getting a domain that has a “.com” at the end and avoiding “.net”, “.org” or any other variations.
- Rank IQ. If there is one blogging tool that you should invest in, it’s Rank IQ. This tool makes keyword research so easy by giving you all the top-ranking keywords for every niche on a silver platter. I also love the Rank IQ content grader feature that shows how to improve your blog posts to rank on Google’s Page 1.
- Tailwind. Tailwind is a social media management tool where I schedule all of my Pinterest pins for the week and re-share content from other travel bloggers.
- MailerLite. MailerLite is a budget-friendly email marketing service that is free for up to 1000 subscribers and comes with beautiful preset email templates. As your email list grows, MailerLite offers tier pricing which is much cheaper than its competitors.
- AIOSEO Plugin. All in One SEO plugin has a handy section in WordPress where you can fill in the Post Title, Meta Description, Focus Keyphrase, and see what “SEO score” the plugin assigns you.
- Canva. Canva is great for creating eye-catching visuals for social media. Canva has a free version that is easy to use and comes with excellent templates.
- Grammarly. This software checks for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors – a must-have for bloggers!
Recommended Travel Camera Gear
Interested in stepping up your photography game? Here is the camera gear that I carry everywhere I go to create amazing travel photos:
- Main camera: Sony a7c Camera. The Sony a7c is tiny, light, full-frame, durable – in other words, amazing!
- Polarizer Filter: Hoya 40.5 mm Filter. Polarizing filters reduce glare in water, protect the lens from getting scratched and bring out the best colors when it’s bright outside. Having a polarizing filter is a must-have if you plan to photograph lakes, oceans, rivers, and waterfalls.
- Wide Lens: Sony 16-35 mm F4. Great for capturing wide panoramas, nature landscapes, and cramped city streets. Mounts to any Sony mirrorless camera and features autofocus, image stabilization, and incredibly sharp images.
- Lightweight Travel Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod. A good tripod is essential for capturing images in low light conditions, such as during sunset and sunrise, or creating smooth water effects when shooting waterfalls. The Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is very sturdy, light, and folds small so you can take it on all of your adventures!
- Memory Cards: SanDisk Extreme 256 GB. It’s always good to bring a few extra memory cards on trips. SanDisk Extreme is ultra fast for capturing high-quality images, bursts, long exposure night shots, and 4k videos. This memory card is also durable and reliable yet very affordable.
- Camera Batteries: Wasabi Power Battery Set. I’ve made the mistake of getting to a location to realize my camera is out of battery. Always keep your batteries charged with this camera charger set!
- Camera Bag: Lowepro adventure shoulder bag. A camera bag is something you should definitely invest in! Without having a proper place to store it I would get my camera scratched, sandy, or even occasionally drop it.
Looking for more tips & inspiration? Here are a few of our other popular blog posts that you may like:
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- Travel Blog Salary: How I Made $10,000 This Month
- 15 Essential Travel Blogging Tips To Know For Beginners
- How To Make Money While Living In A Van
- 10 Things You Should Know Before Living In A Van
- The Ultimate Solo Female Van Life Guide
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