In How to Create Your Own Travel Blog in 3 Easy Steps, we counted down the steps to creating your own travel blog. Now let’s count up the ways you can make it the next big thing in travel (or at least a really nice blog).
A theme is basically what your blog looks like. You can read all about Themes here.
Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains uses the Reddle theme. I chose it because it allows me to customize the header all the way across the page; I can also customize the drop-down menu. And I love that there’s a lot of white space.
Before I settled on Reddle, there were a lot of other themes that I considered. Twenty Twelve has a clean format and a special front page template. Writr is minimalist, with an on-trend flat design and a disciplined use of color. Chunk, like Reddle, contains a lot of white space — ideal for focusing on content — and the bold type of the header is eye-catching. You can browse through all available WordPress themes here, which you can sort by popularity, free/premium, etc.
If you’re creating a travel blog, keep in mind what sort of content you’re planning to publish — travelogues? photos? magazine-type articles? — and try to choose a theme that will allow your stuff to shine. For example, some themes’ front page consists of tiles of photos — perfect if you’re a decent photographer and you want to put the focus on your photos, but probably not playing up to your strengths if your forte is writing.
If your theme allows it, customizing your header will go a long way towards putting your personal stamp on your blog. You can learn how to upload an image and make it your header here.
There is of course no standard color palette for travel blogs, but if you’re creating your own header image (like I did), colors are something you might want to keep in mind. Think of the travel sites you like looking at — do you gravitate towards certain colors? If your travels are nature-oriented, perhaps you’ll want to have a palette that calls the earth, sea, and sky to mind. If you’re a scuba diver, say, perhaps blues and greens — or perhaps a monochromatic palette, which will allow your photos to pop that much more. No need to overthink it, though — if you want, you can just go over to Design Seeds and pick a color palette you like. I chose “happy” colors for my header image because, well, traveling makes me happy and I wanted my blog to be a happy, lighthearted blog. (Although I have been posting a lot of “heartbroken” articles recently, so I’m not sure how that worked out, haha.)
Before you publish your first post, it’s a good idea to make at least minimal acquaintance with the features of your chosen blogging platform — for the purposes of this article, WordPress. Here are the ones I’ve personally bookmarked:
- Post vs. Page
- Categories vs. Tags
- Custom Menus
- Add Social Media Buttons to Your Sidebar or Footer
You don’t have to become a WordPress expert — I’ve published over 200 posts and there are still so many things I don’t know — but it’s nice to know the differences between a post and a page (pages don’t have tags, for example) before you actually do publish a post or a page.
And speaking of which…
Don’t get stage fright. Just do it.
If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few ideas for a first post:
- Who are you? What do you do? Why have you decided to start your own blog?
- Why do you travel? When and where did the travel bug bite you? What does travel mean to you and how has it transformed your life?
- If an upcoming trip is the inspiration for your new blog, write about it. Why did you choose that destination? How are you preparing for the trip?
- List 20 random things about you. Make sure to include travel-related tidbits.
Last 4 tips:
- Turn to the experts. The folks at The Daily Post have put together several ebooks about blogging (all free!) that I’ve personally found very valuable.
- Participate in prompts. Whether it’s the Daily Prompt or the weekly Writing Challenge/Photo Challenge, prompts are a great source of blogging inspiration and may even get your blog noticed. Bonus tip: Whenever I get an idea for a travel article, I would write it down and keep it in mind, even though I don’t have the time to flesh it out yet. When a prompt comes up that’s a perfect match for one of those ideas, that’s when I force myself to find the time to write. This is how my one Freshly Pressed post The SMALL-TOWN GIRLS, MIDNIGHT TRAINS Travel Manifesto came to life.
- Interact with the blogging community. Read and leave thoughtful comments on other bloggers’ posts. Follow those blogs you consistently enjoy reading, even those that are not travel-related. Learn from the best. I don’t know of a good writer who isn’t, first of all, a reader.
- Lastly: enjoy! You’ll soon learn that blogging takes time and energy, especially if you try to do it well, and if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it will only be too easy to give up. Figure out a writing style and schedule that works for you. Post about the things you are most passionate about. Don’t try to imitate or impress others. The best blogs are those that are extensions of the bloggers themselves, and the only person you really have to satisfy — first, foremost, and fully — is yourself.
“How to Create Your Own Travel Blog: Making It Your Own” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.
You might want to read my other musings on writing (travel or otherwise):