One of the most common names I see in Facebook travel blogging groups is new bloggers asking what they should name their travel blogs. There are a lot of articles out there on how to start a travel blog, but most are old and the advice doesn’t make sense anymore. Travel blogging has undergone a huge revolution in the last two years, and so take with a grain of salt any advice written pre-2018 about what to call your blog. Coming up with a travel blog name is both way easier than you think and yet harder than it should be. Mostly because people tend to fall in love with travel blog names that only make sense to themselves. So what should you do?
How to Name Your Travel Blog in 10 Steps
Here are ten steps to choosing a travel blog name. Since I currently run two sites and one of them went through a rebrand, I’ve thought about this topic A LOT. Mostly I think a lot of the advice out there is garbage, and so here are the things you need to keep in mind as you choose.
Step 1. Figure Out Who You Are
This may sound dumb, but it’s true. Who will be writing the blog. You? Are you part of a couple who want to run the blog as their business together? Are you a couple of friends who will have a blog together? Further, do you want people to know who you are? Not every travel blog needs a person behind it.
Before you do anything else, figure out exactly who the people behind your blog are.
Step 2. Decide How You Want to Make Your Money
It used to be that most travel bloggers were solo travelers or couples who traveled long-term. They ran blogs, got into social media, and built following based on their personalities. But that’s not a good strategy for making money or getting traffic in 2019.
Instead you need to decide how you will make money. Do you want to make your income as passive income from your website? Do you want to get as much traffic as possible and make ad revenue? Do you want to sell experiences on GetYourGuide and Viator?
Or do you want to make money from the influencer side, going on paid press trips and posting sponsored social media content?
Or do you want your website to act as a writing portfolio with the majority of your income coming from freelance writings?
Or do you want to make money primariy off of selling your photography, and your blog will heavily photo-centric?
Or do you want to spend your time making products for other bloggers to purchase, teaching them the skills that you know? Or are you planning on offering copywriting services or SEO consulting as your main income?
While almost no one only does one of these methods, most successful bloggers have a primary method and that’s where they put the majority of their efforts.
Step 3. Decide What Kind of Travel Blog You Want to Write
Once you know what your business strategy is going to be, the last thing you need to decide is what kind of travel blog you want to write. If you want to be the center of your blog, pick something that emphasizes you. This is great for freelance writers, photographers, and personality-based bloggers. For this website, I cover the places I travel, which tends to be historic sits. This is a personality-based blog, and I am the “History Fangirl” if you will.
Do you want to write a regional site or one that covers a specific type of travel? Then choose words that put that at the forefront. For Sofia Adventures, the goal is to promote travel in the Balkans. Thus we chose a geographic name. There are serious SEO benefits to having a place name or an activity name in your domain if your goal is to cover that region or activity.
Do you want to help a specific type of person or community travel better?
Do you want a barebones portfolio that promotes other services? Then name the blog either after yourself or the name of your services business. This is great for SEO companies and copywriters who maintain a travel blog in order to get customers.
Once you know what kind of blog you want you can narrow downs which kinds of names make sense and which don’t.
Step 4. Brainstorm Travel Blog Names that are Actually Available
Start drawing up a list of names that you like. Then check that they are available on Namecheckr. Make sure it’s available as the domain with a .com ending, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. A bonus is if it’s also available on YouTube.
If your name sounds too close to another blog, skip it and keep brainstorming.
Step 5. Check that Those Names are Sane
This is where most bloggers get tripped up.
Avoid Being Racist
Skip anything with the words gypsy or tribe. I don’t care if you don’t think it’s racist. Other people will think it’s racist, and it will only get worse over time. You might also want to skip the word nomad. Yes, we call ourselved digital nomads, but there are actual nomadic peoples in the world they aren’t typically bloggers.
Say them Outloud
Can you easily pronounce them based on what you’re written down? No? Thank you, next.
Imagine Introducing Yourself to Your Travel Idol with Them
Imagine introducing yourself to your travel writer as being from your blog name. Does it seem embarrasing? Skip it.
See what comes up when you google it. It may not be taken, but it might be phrase associated with another brand. You want something that’s unique to you.
Have Someone Else Look at Them
Some blog names look funny when they’re written down. There one that (to me) looks like the n-word is mushed up in the middle. I’m sure they have no idea that someone made this connection, it’s just kind of what it looks like if you squint.
Things about what the Companies that you Want to Pay You will Think
There are some seriously fabulous blogs that have a hard time getting partnerships or onto ad networks because their name sounds offensive or includes a mild curse word. It’s all cool if that’s your brand, just be aware that including offensive language in your domain name might cause you headaches.
Step 6. Sleep on It
DO NOT BUY IT YET. Hosting companies are rich off of people who buy domains before they actually have settled all the details they need to for starting the site. Sleep on it and make sure you still love it in the morning.
Step 7. Do Another Round of Brainstorming
Whether you love or hate the options you came up with the first time, take some time to think about it some more and do a little more research. Make sure there’s nothing obvious that you missed on your initial go.
Step 8. Look at them on Your Cell Phone
We live (and write for Google) in a mobile-first world. Make sure your names look good when squeezed together on a tiny cell phone screen.
Step 9. Pick One and Stick with It (Until You Don’t)
Whatever you choose, you’re going to be investing time and energy into getting it up and running, so pick one and make sure you love it. But later, if you realize you don’t, you can change it. Seriously, getting a new domain and redirecting your url is no big deal. The only thing that was annoying when I rebranded was changing my Facebook page (more on that later).
So bottom line? If picking out your travel blog name is giving you hives, pick one with the peace of mind that you can change it later.
Step 10. Set Up Your Domain and Socials, because It’s Not Your Until You Own It
You’ve picked out your name. Awesome. Get your fingers stretched and your credit card out because it’s time to buy it. before someone else comes along and takes it.
Create an Email Account for Your Blog
Once you have a domain name, you’ll want to set up an email that’s something like firstname.lastname@example.org, but you can’t do that yet. Right now set up an email with your domain name as a Gmail account. You want this to be separate from your personal email so that everything related to your blog is going to one place. Also, if you already have personal accounts on some of the platforms, you will need an independent email address to sign up a new account.
Pick Your Host and Register Your Domain
First, if someone is suggesting you sign up with Bluehost, they are not your friend. While we all love affiliate marketing, I’ve seen far too many bloggers sign up for Bluehost because it’s who most of the big travel blog how-to articles recommend. They recommend them because Bluehost has a fat affiliate program.
Here’s the thing though, Bluehost SUCKS. As in, they are NOTORIOUSLY AWFUL. I’ve heard a million stories about travel bloggers whose sites have crashed repeatedly on BlueHost, and mine was crashing so bad I had to switch to SiteGround. After switching, I haven’t had another problem with my hosting, and they’ve been super responsive when a plugin has crashed my site (ahem…Social Warfare) and when people have tried to hack it.
I love SiteGround and recommend them to anyone, but I feel good saying that because I actually use them for both of my websites:
If someone is recommending Bluehost, check to see if they say that they actually use them. If not, they just want your money. Don’t give it to them.
Create Your Facebook Page
Right now you’re just setting up your Facebook page to save the name. You don’t need to go live with it until you’re ready to tell the world about it. As you set it up, don’t worry about the choices it’s asking you to make. Nearly every choice can be changed later.
That is, with one exception. Your actual Facebook page name is VERY difficult to change once you pass 2k likes. I learned this the hard way when I rebranded. This is literally the only part of my rebranding that I found difficult.
What you choose for your @handle is less important than the name of your page. Your @handle should match your domain name, but you can tweak it for your page name if you want it to be more descriptive. People will still be able to find your blog searching just the @handle. For the Facebook page for History Fangirl, the two are different (because I can’t get Facebook to fix it).
Whether you choose a photo of you or a brand logo depends on your niche and how you want to make money. For my personal brand, I use a picture of me on Facebook. For Sofia Adventures, we use our logo. We may experiment with switching to a photo of us to see if that gets better engagement. The key to a good Facebook page is to have fun and play with it, but if you’re serious about making money as a travel blogger then don’t spend too much time on it.
You may also decide to create a Facebook group for your blog. These can be really great communities, but they can also be time-consuming. Register it now if you want to make sure you have it, but don’t start it until you’re ready to moderate it.
Register Your Instagram Account
Just do it. Unless you know your business model is heavy IG-centric, don’t get sucked in. I have spent way too much of my life on my Instagram account. It’s a devil’s playground.
Register Your Twitter handle
Set up your account, but don’t get sucked in. You need to own your Twitter account, but until your blog has content I wouldn’t spend time here.
I personally use my twitter account as a way to retweet American political reports and rag on the Frankfurt Airport. I don’t do much for my business on it. I don’t believe that it’s a good platform for my particular business for driving traffic. However, it’s a great place for B2B conversations, and you may have more luck than I. I know some bloggers who love it, but I don’t know what kind of blog traffic they’re getting from it.
Set Up Your Pinterest Account
Set up your Pinterest account and claim your domain on it. I’m not a Pinterest expert, but one of my major goals for 2019 is to increase my Pinterest traffic (I’m already up 3x from last quarter). I know some bloggers who get major traffic from Pinterest. So don’t skip it just because it seems like the most confusing platform to learn.
Claim Your YouTube Channel (Optional)
I have made a view videos that did well on Facebook, but aren’t the kind that do well on YouTube. It’s an ENTIRELY different animal. The only subscribers I have on my YouTube channel are people who listen to my podcasts on YouTube, which isn’t super popular.
However, if YouTube is part of your business model, then you obviously want to claim your YouTube channel asap. Even if it isn’t part of the plan, go ahead and register it. Later you might find you want to experiment with videos, even if just from an SEO perspective.
So You’ve Registered Your Travel Blog Domain, What Next?
Congratulations! You own your website and your social handles. You’re on an emotional high, but your eyes might be bleeding from staring at the computer. Well, get used to that, because you’re now a blogger!
Here’s what to do next:
Set Your Website Up
Set up your domain in WordPress, pick a theme, and set up the plugins that you need. A lot of people outsource this (me included). I used the team Wild Isle Creative to custom-build Sofia Adventures. Basically, I registered the domain, handed it to them, and they gave me back a pretty website that designed from scratch.
If you are technical and want to build it on your own, there are tons of great YouTube tutorials and websites that teach you this. Just be careful not to get sucked into buying a course on how to build it that costs more than it would to just have a better one built for you.
You don’t need to launch your website with its final design though. If you want to have one built, but you don’t want to spend money until you’re ready, set yours up and upgrade later.
Why WordPress? Can you start a travel blog on Square Space or Wiix? Technically, yet. And they do great for the people I know who are freelance writers first since it’s a very clean, portfolio-friendly layout. But if you want to be able to do cool things with plugins, you need to use WordPress, which is the industry standard for blogs.
Implement Your Business Strategy and Don’t Waste Time on Anything Else
You have all these pretty, shiny accounts. You’re going to want to start playing with them. DO NOT. Before all of this started, you came up with a business plan. You need to implement that plan. That means everything you do from here should get you closer to your goals.
Start Writing Content
Start writing content that will get you towards your goals. Do you want to be THE AUTHORITY on a region? Create a small pillar of content that shows you know the area better than the competition. You want to tell hilarious anecdotes and give your reader absolutely no helpful information, well honey, there’s not a lot of money to be made in that kind of content. Content that does well on travel blogs is NOT what does well in Nat Geo or a travel memoir. There are a few writers who got big from their travel blogs (like the Everywhereist and Neverending Footsteps) but it’s a hard slog to break into.
Where you spend your time will make or break your website. You have to know what you want out of it before you put anything into it. If the goal of your blog is to get freelance gigs, start writing a few high-quality pieces for your website and get to pitching other outlets. Pitch everyone. Your own blog content is basically a portfolio, but you still need to start getting published in other places. Because your business model is to make money from freelancing, you need to get freelance gigs.
For me, freelancing is a cool opportunity that comes up occasionally, but it’s not my primary source of income, My goals for my websites are to make a 100% full-time passive income, and I can take one-off projects and articles when the opportunity arises. You have to know what makes sense for you before you write your posts since someone focused on passive income writes different articles than someone looking for freelance gigs.
There are a million kinds of articles you could sit down and write on any particular day. Before you waste your precious writing time on a piece, know EXACTLY how it fits into your larger goals.
This is big. No matter what you write, you want people to read it. Otherwise, why waste your time, right? A lot of new bloggers start out and get afraid of SEO. This was me, too. I wish I could go back to 2015 and make myself learn it, but it’s never too late to start.
The biggest keys to success for me from an SEO Perspective are these two things:
- A Keysearch Account
- The Books from Make Traffic Happen
If you asked me what two things you should spend money on to get started learning SEO, it would just be these two things. Learn as much as you can from them, and then see what your gaps are.
Learn Skills that Align with Your Goals
If your goal is to make it big on Instagram and sell Lightroom presets, learn IG. If you want 500k monthly pageviews and to live off ad revenue, learn Pinterest to supplement your Google traffic. Figure out what you need to do and then learn it. But only spend the time to learn things that will help get you where you want to go (unless you just have a huge curiosity).
Only Mess around with Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube to the extent that you’re getting good returns for your time
So many of us get sucked into these platforms when what we actually want is success as a blogger or writer. Unless you’re business plan heavily involves getting big on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, then spend minimal time on them until you’ve got your blog under control.
Use Twitter to Network
Twitter is a great platform for B2B conversations, so don’t neglect it. However, don’t expect it to be the secret to your success. And don’t get sucked into it.
Technology and Accessories
If you haven’t even started your travel blog yet, you don’t need to run out and update everything all at once. Some of this stuff you might not ever need. This is just a list of what I personally use to run my blogs from the road.
- Laptop (I use a MacBook Air)
- Laptop Charger
- Laptop Cover (I have a navy blue one similar to this)
- Smart Phone (I use a Samsung8, which I love. If you’re going to be working from the road in international destinations, you want an unlocked phone so you can pick up local sim cards. The reason I tend to keep my smartphones up to date is that I take a lot of cell phone photography for my blogs when I am somewhere without my DSLR).
- Phone Cover (An OtterBox is basically like carrying your phone around in a pillow)
- Phone Charger (I used this phone charging cable)
- Backup Charging Bank
- DSLR (I use my Nikon D810)
- Spare Camera Battery (I use this spare Nikon Battery that goes with my camera)
- Camera Battery Charger (This is the one that goes with my Nikon)
- SD Cards (I recommend having a primary and a backup at a minimum for when you’re on a trip).
- Dropbox Account for Backing Up Photos
- Two Universal Outlet Adapters with USB Ports. This way no matter what country I’m in, I can get electricity.
- DJI Osmo Cell Phone Gimbal for shooting video. (Not for everyone, obviously, but if you want to make videos on your trip, this gimbal changed my life).
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