When it comes to starting your travel blog, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some big decisions.
You may be asking yourself:
- What's the first step in establishing my business?
- How much will it cost to start my travel blog?
- How do I price my travel blog?
- How do I market my travel blog?
- ... so much more!
We walk you through all of the steps; from idea → starting → launching → growing → running your travel blog.
The purpose of this guide is to act as an outline for the steps you'll need to take to get your business running successfully!
💡 Introduction To Starting A Travel Blog
Is Starting A Travel Blog Right For You?
There are many factors to consider when starting a travel blog.
We put together the main pros and cons for you here:
Pros of starting a travel blog
You can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.
• Ability to start your business from home
It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!
• Little startup costs required
The cost to start a travel blog costs significantly less money than most businesses, ranging anywhere from 1,167 to 41,019.
• Traffic to your website
A travel blog gives people a reason to visit your website and to keep coming back to you!
• Meaningful business connections
You never know who you will meet or get to work with for your travel blog. This could be the start of an incredible business opportunity!
• Quick build time
The average time it takes to build your product is quick - typically around 5 months. This will allow you to bring your product to market faster.
• Rewarding work
Starting a travel blog can be really rewarding work. After all, you are solving an immediate issue for your customer and you're working on something you truly care about.
• No overhead costs
To get your travel blog started, there are no costs associated with overhead, storage, packaging, etc. This will save you a lot of time and money!
• You are your own boss!
With starting a travel blog, you are the one to make decisions for almost all of the operations. Calling the shots can be empowering and liberating!
• You get to do something you truly love
With starting a travel blog, you get to put your energy into something you are truly passionate about! You'll find yourself devoting as much time and energy as possible into the business to make it successful.
• Travel Opportunitites
There are many travel opportunities that come with starting a travel blog You will need to travel a lot to see and experience some of the destinations you are selling.
• You can work from anywhere!
Not only can you start your travel blog from home, you can also run your business from anywhere in the world. This is the entrepreneur dream.
• Easy to Learn The Business
When starting your travel blog, there is a ton of information readily available to you online (Facebook groups, Youtube videos, Starter Story etc). This will help you get the business started and answer any questions, doubts or concerns you may have.
• You get to inspire others
Your travel blog is an outlet that encourages and inspires others, which can help you get through the challenging parts of starting a business.
• You establish yourself as an expert
Starting a travel blog helps to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. In return, people are more likely to trust you, refer you to friends/family, and support your business.
• Various different ways to make money
With starting a travel blog, there is not just one business model to choose from. This field is amazing in that there are various different ways to make money. Although this may complicate things, it's great to have different options and sources of revenue.
Cons of starting a travel blog
• Crowded Space
Competition is high when it comes to your travel blog, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.
• Constant maintenance of publication
You may find yourself constantly needing to update your travel blog in order to stay relevant for your audience and for those searching on google.
• Niche Market
A niche business is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it can be the key to your success. However, it can be more challenging and time consuming to find the perfect niche market and target audience.
• Customer churn
With a travel blog, people can cancel their subscription - which can make income unpredictable. It's important to focus on your churn rates and trends so that you can prevent this as much as possible.
• Time commitment
With starting a travel blog, all responsibilities and duties will be in your hands. Although this is not necessarily a negative thing, it's important to understand that your work-life balance may be a bit unbalanced at times. This can place a strain on friends and family and add to the pressure of launching a new business.
• Difficult to build trust with your customer
With a travel blog and any online business, there is little physical interaction, which means it can be a lot more difficult to establish trust and clout with your customers. You'll need to go the extra mile with your customer to grab their attention as soon as they reach your site + assure them that your brand is legit and trustworthy.
• You might struggle financially (at first)!
If you bootstrap your business or choose not to pay yourself (or pay yourself less than you were making at your corporate job), this can be financially taxing. It's important to adjust your lifestyle and set a plan for yourself so you don't find yourself in a stressful situation.
• Easy target for criticism
Since your travel blog has the ability to reach a large audience, you'll need to be able to handle criticism. The internet can be a cruel place, and regardless of your intentions, many people will disagree with you and even take their criticism too far. To survive in this industry, you'll need to have tough skin (or at least learn this along the way).
• You may need to relocate
There can be a lot of opportunities that come your way when starting a travel blog. Although moving around can be fun and exciting, it can also be physically and emotionally taxing for you and loved ones.
• Recession-Impacted Industry
When the economy is down, travel blog's are one of the first things to be cut.
• If writing does not come naturally, growth may be slower
The ability to write good content can certainly be learned and practiced, but if writing does not come naturally, growth may be a bit slower for your travel blog in the beginning.
• Technical issues can be frustrating
A big part of starting your travel blog is the ability to work through technical issues. If you struggle with the technical side of things, you may want to consider outsourcing this responsibility to save yourself the time and frustration.
• Takes time to see results & make money
Results and revenue do not come overnight with a travel blog. Often times, it takes weeks, months or even years for your work to monetize.
- China Travel Agency, Small Group & Private Tour Service (35.7K Alexa Ranking)
- Tacoma World (36.1K Alexa Ranking)
- Uncover Colorado (96.2K Alexa Ranking)
- Attention Required! (118K Alexa Ranking)
- Greekacom (128K Alexa Ranking)
Let's take a look at the search trends for travel blog over the last year:
How To Name Your Travel Blog
It's important to find a catchy name for your travel blog so that you can stand out in your space.
Here are some general tips to consider when naming your travel blog
- Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
- Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
- Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
- As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!
Why is naming your travel blog so important?
The name of your business will forever play a role in:
- Your customers first impression
- Your businesses identity
- The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
- If you're memorable or not
It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your travel blog.
You can search domain availability here:
Find a domain starting at $0.88
powered by Namecheap
Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.
It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.
As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.
Here's some inspiration for naming your travel blog:
- Long check availability
- Travelers International check availability
- Total Locomote Collective check availability
- NecessaryTradingCo check availability
- ConstantPlace check availability
- Personal Journey Designs check availability
- The Sound check availability
- The Eastern Trips Pro check availability
- Trip Chronicles check availability
- The Comfortable check availability
- The Slow check availability
- SlowJaunt check availability
- Change Of Location Co check availability
- Continuous&Company check availability
- Daily Trip & Company check availability
- Comfortable Change Of Location check availability
- International check availability
- Locomote Collective check availability
- Global Jaunt check availability
- Interplanetary Move check availability
- RecreationalCo check availability
- The Easier check availability
- Locomote & Company check availability
- Longer Trips Chronicles check availability
- The Independent Go Spot check availability
- Unnecessary Travelers Pro check availability
- HardCo check availability
- Horizontal Journeys check availability
- Arduous Trip check availability
- The Interstate check availability
- InterstateDesigns check availability
- Personal Trips check availability
- Continuous Go check availability
- East Change Of Location Pro check availability
- Go Trading Co check availability
- Transatlantic Travelers Designs check availability
- Journey & Company check availability
- The Recent Go Works check availability
- Related Jaunt check availability
- ComfortableCollective check availability
- Free Trips check availability
- The Easier Locomote Works check availability
- ClassJourney check availability
- ContinentalSpot check availability
- The Ordinary Locomote Pro check availability
- LightDesigns check availability
- The Slow Trip Works check availability
- The Extensive Locomote Spot check availability
- Astral Jaunt Works check availability
- The Easy Go Works check availability
- Optional Locomotion check availability
- Safe Journeys check availability
- LessTrips check availability
- The Commercial Trips Place check availability
- InterplanetaryJourney check availability
- Actual Trip Works check availability
- The Rough Journey Collective check availability
- Trip Collective check availability
- Fast Change Of Location check availability
- Recreational Journeys Collective check availability
- Trips Place check availability
- Ocean Travelers check availability
- RecreationalLocomotion check availability
- Related Trip & Company check availability
- RelatedJourney check availability
- DailyInternational check availability
- Personal&Company check availability
- The Speed Locomotion Designs check availability
- NecessaryChronicles check availability
- RecentLocomote check availability
- Unlimited Change Of Location check availability
- Regular Journeys Chronicles check availability
- Go Group check availability
- Light Journey Co check availability
- SlowGo check availability
- The Rough check availability
- DailyWorks check availability
- FreeMove check availability
- Trips Designs check availability
- Extended Jaunt & Company check availability
- ConstantTrip check availability
- Distance Journeys check availability
- Rough Trips Chronicles check availability
- ExtendedGo check availability
- InterplanetaryGroup check availability
- Go Collective check availability
- Trip Trading Co check availability
- Jaunt Group check availability
- DistanceLocomotion check availability
- The Commercial Journey Works check availability
- DomesticTrips check availability
- Wide Locomote Group check availability
- The Commercial check availability
- The Long Travelers Place check availability
- Regular Jaunt Trading Co check availability
- The Distance check availability
- Interstate Move Group check availability
- Interstate Jaunt check availability
- Overseas Journey Trading Co check availability
- Constant Jaunt Place check availability
- IndependentWorks check availability
- Change Of Location Group check availability
- UrbanCo check availability
- Difficult Move Trading Co check availability
- Official Change Of Location Works check availability
- The Class check availability
- The Extended Locomotion Trading Co check availability
- The Eastern Locomote Group check availability
- DistantTravelers check availability
- ForwardJaunt check availability
- Domestic Trips Co check availability
- Constant Journeys & Company check availability
- Trip Designs check availability
- HardWorks check availability
- OverseasPro check availability
- OverseasMove check availability
- Time Travelers Designs check availability
- The Cheap Jaunt International check availability
- Distant Go International check availability
- Actual Go check availability
- Domestic Move Chronicles check availability
- Locomote Co check availability
- Distance Locomotion Collective check availability
- NecessaryWorks check availability
- Related Journeys & Company check availability
- DifficultInternational check availability
- The Recreational Journey Chronicles check availability
- Ordinary Locomotion Trading Co check availability
- VehicularJaunt check availability
- Vehicular Journeys Pro check availability
- International Journeys Place check availability
- InterstateTrip check availability
- LongerChronicles check availability
- DomesticTrip check availability
- The Recreational Trip & Company check availability
- ModernWorks check availability
- Difficult Move Designs check availability
- TotalGo check availability
- The Continental Locomote International check availability
- SafeCo check availability
- The Light Trips International check availability
- Locomote Trading Co check availability
- Optional Trips Place check availability
- Maximum Move Co check availability
- Trips Spot check availability
- Vehicular Move International check availability
- The Regular Journeys Place check availability
- The Sound Locomote Place check availability
- Cheap Journeys check availability
- The Recreational Journey Co check availability
- TransatlanticTrip check availability
- Ordinary Journey Designs check availability
- The Recreational Go Designs check availability
- The Domestic check availability
- Easier Journey check availability
- GlobalInternational check availability
- OfficialGo check availability
- The Class Travelers Place check availability
- ForeignTradingCo check availability
- Foreign Trip Group check availability
- The Vehicular Journey Place check availability
- Actual Locomotion check availability
- The Modern Travelers International check availability
- Sound Locomote Co check availability
- The Global check availability
- FurtherCo check availability
- The Arduous Locomotion Group check availability
- Unnecessary Jaunt check availability
- Locomote Pro check availability
- Slow Trip Pro check availability
- The Educational Journeys Group check availability
- Travelers Collective check availability
- UnlimitedMove check availability
- Distant Journey Group check availability
- Extensive Locomote Spot check availability
- Hard Travelers Works check availability
- Less Journey check availability
- The Rapid Jaunt Spot check availability
- The Educational Journeys Trading Co check availability
- InterplanetaryTrips check availability
- NecessaryPlace check availability
- Commercial Trips Place check availability
- OverseasGo check availability
- Related Move check availability
- Daily Locomotion Group check availability
- The Speed Change Of Location Trading Co check availability
- East Trips Chronicles check availability
- The Easier Locomote Group check availability
- Further Locomotion Designs check availability
- Speed Travelers International check availability
- Interstellar Change Of Location Collective check availability
- Move Collective check availability
- ForeignPro check availability
- Unnecessary Locomote Co check availability
- Total Trip & Company check availability
- ForwardGroup check availability
- DomesticLocomotion check availability
- International Journey check availability
- The Total Go Collective check availability
- DifficultJaunt check availability
- Jaunt Chronicles check availability
- The Hard Locomotion Group check availability
- The Optional Journey Spot check availability
- OptionalCo check availability
- Vehicular Trips Co check availability
- Move Trading Co check availability
- The Foreign Journey Place check availability
- Independent Trip check availability
- Ocean Trips Group check availability
- The Domestic Jaunt Spot check availability
- Distance Change Of Location check availability
- OceanPlace check availability
- Vehicular Locomote Chronicles check availability
- DomesticMove check availability
- TimeJaunt check availability
- The Arduous Travelers & Company check availability
- AstralCo check availability
- The Astral Trips Works check availability
- Comfortable Trip Chronicles check availability
- LongerJaunt check availability
- The Total Jaunt International check availability
- GlobalChangeOfLocation check availability
- Hard Go & Company check availability
- Educational Move Trading Co check availability
- Extended Locomote check availability
- Cheap Go Spot check availability
- InterstateCo check availability
- Jaunt Place check availability
- Necessary Locomotion & Company check availability
- Forward Locomote Co check availability
- Difficult Locomotion International check availability
- Recent Journeys check availability
- VerticalTrip check availability
- Modern Change Of Location check availability
- LongerJourney check availability
- Vehicular Journey check availability
- Easier Jaunt Works check availability
- Time Locomotion Place check availability
- Maximum Change Of Location check availability
- ArduousMove check availability
- Independent Trips Place check availability
- Vertical Locomote Group check availability
- Longer Move check availability
- InterstellarLocomotion check availability
- EasternChronicles check availability
- ActualJourneys check availability
- Forward Go & Company check availability
- Easy Journey Spot check availability
- The Arduous Journeys Pro check availability
- Further Move Spot check availability
- The Recent check availability
- RecentJourneys check availability
- The Astral check availability
- Actual Trip check availability
- OptionalJourneys check availability
- DistanceInternational check availability
- Recent Trip check availability
- Urban Trips check availability
- Distance Trip Pro check availability
- Long Go Group check availability
- VerticalTravelers check availability
- The Hard Trips Co check availability
- Journey Trading Co check availability
- Regular Locomotion check availability
- DifficultGo check availability
- FreeSpot check availability
- Further Journey Pro check availability
- The Frequent Go Designs check availability
- Actual Trip Co check availability
- Vehicular Locomote Trading Co check availability
- The Global Trips Chronicles check availability
- Global Locomote check availability
- Interstellar Journeys Trading Co check availability
- UrbanLocomote check availability
- Country Journeys check availability
- The Distant Travelers Group check availability
- Cheap Travelers check availability
How To Create A Slogan For Your Travel Blog:
Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.
The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.
Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.
Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your travel blog:
1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words
A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.
2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different
There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:
- Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
- What problem do you solve?
- How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
- Do you make people more successful? How?
3. Be consistent
Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.
It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.
4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan
Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.
When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.
5. Consider your audience
When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.
It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.
6. Get feedback!
This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.
Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.
Here's some inspiration for coming up with a slogan for your travel blog:
The Most Confident Travel
Quality Travel, Our Care
Experience Elegant Travel
World's Beyond Travel
Elegant Travel, We Are Here
Fight for Creative Travel
A More Bold Travel
Get Your Confident Travel
Amazing Travel, Our Responsibility
Experience Lush Travel
Amazing Travel, Satisfaction Guaranteed
More Luxurious Travel
World's Amazing Travel
Luxurious Journey, Confident Flights
Luxurious Trip, Amazing Flights
Quality Travelers, Elegant Jaunt
Elegant Travel, Redefined
Luxurious Traveler, Quality Fly
Fresh Travel, Let's Get To Work
Be Luxurious Travel
The Subscription Business Model
When deciding whether or not to start a travel blog, it's important to first decide what type of business model you want to choose.
For this industry, digital subscriptions are one of the best ways to make money (and fast)!
We see subscriptions working very well for big businesses (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc) but I think it can work even better for small businesses and small teams.
Why? Because the economics work even better. You don’t need to find thousands of paying subscribers. If you charge enough ($10-100/month), all you need is a few hundred and you would have a sustainable business.
Here are some of the different approaches to the subscription model for blogs, publications, and content creators.
- The hard paywall - readers need to subscribe and/or pay to read anything
- The metered paywall - when your publication limits the number of articles readers can read each month (such as the New York Times)
- Premium newsletters - keeping your content free, but consistently upselling a premium newsletter to all readers
- Courses - although not technically a subscription model, this is still a great revenue model for content creators.
Here's a great example of a subscription model that offers different pricing and features for readers:
Offering different price tiers is an effective approach in “upselling” the product and providing new and exciting value for the end-user.
Here's a few tips when taking the subscription model approach:
- Write content that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
- Have at least one thing that readers couldn’t live without - as long as it has one thing you can’t live without, customers will keep paying for it.
- Focus on strong word of mouth and high retention of subscribers.
- Figure out a way to get people to “find” your thing since you can’t rely on social or Google traffic - may need to do sales or in-person events
To learn more about digital subscriptions and the different approaches you can take, we put together a full guide for you here.
🎬 How To Start A Travel Blog
Startup Costs For Your Travel Blog
If you are planning to start a travel blog, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.
We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of a travel blog and outline the costs you should expect for each:
- The estimated minimum starting cost = $1,167
- The estimated maximum starting cost = $41,019
|Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a travel blog.||Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs.||Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.|
|Office Space Expenses|
|Rent: This refers to the office space you rent out for your business. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space.||$0||$2,000|
|Utility Costs (office space): This refers to the first month's utility bill for your office space. If you are not responsible for this bill, this would not apply to starting your travel blog.||$0||$150|
|Office Supplies: Although these may seem like minor costs, things like your desks, chairs, pens, paper, filing cabinets do add up. To avoid these adding up too much, try to be as lean as possible and go paperless!||$25||$1,000|
|WiFi: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is an expense that's tough to avoid. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month!||$10||$100|
|Total Office Space Expenses||$35 (min)||$3,250 (max)|
|Employee & Freelancer Expenses|
|Payroll: This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K.||$0||$4,000|
|IT Support: You may find yourself needing IT support when starting your business. It may not be possible (or necessary) for you to hire someone full-time, but hiring on a freelancer platform such as Upwork is a great way to save money and resources.||$0||$500|
|Other Employee Expenses: Aside from payroll and benefits, there are other costs associated with hiring employees. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any potential turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate.||$0||$1,000|
|Employee Reward Ideas: It's important to recognize and reward employees - whether they hit their goals or are doing an exceptional job. This doesn't have to cost you a lot - simply taking them out to lunch, giving them a gift card or offering a pay-check bonus are all ways to recognize your employee! Here are 65 ways to reward your employees.||$0||$500|
|Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses||$0 (min)||$6,000 (max)|
|Equipment & Supply Expenses|
|Technology Office Equipment: This includes (but is not limited to) physical items such as: laptops, cameras, monitors, microphones, speakers, headsets. Technology needs grow as your company evolves, so to minimize costs, try and only purchase what is needed for you to run your business at the time.||$500||$5,000|
|Total Equipment & Supply Expenses||$500 (min)||$5,000 (max)|
|Website builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article.||$15||$100|
|Web Designer: If you have the necessary skills to design your website, then it may not be necessary for you to hire someone. However, if you do decide to go that route, make sure you establish an understanding of upfront cost, design and what the ongoing costs will be to manage the site. Here is what to expect when hiring a web designer.||$0||$6,000|
|Register Your Domain: Once you decide the name of your business, you will need to make sure the URL is available and purchase the domain. You can check availability and register your domain here.||$12||$75|
|Email hosting: Email is a critical piece for running your business. Once you have your domain name, you will want to set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are GSuite (typically starting at $6+ per user, per month) or Microsoft Office (typically starting at $5+ per user, per month). The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown.||$5||$75|
|Server Hosting: To start a travel blog, you will need to set up and manage a server. The cost for this is typically billed monthly and depends on the platform you choose (typically ranging anywhere from $0-$50/mo).||$0||$50|
|Website chat function: If customer service is a big piece of your business, you will want to consider implementing a chat bot on your website. Typically, there are different tiers of pricing and some businesses even offer freemium services. To find what chat software is best for your business, check out this guide.||$0||$75|
|Total Website Costs||$32 (min)||$6,375 (max)|
|Business Formation Fees|
|Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here.||$500||$2,000|
|Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your travel blog.||$50||$700|
|Trademarking: Filing trademark registration will protect your brand and prevent other businesses from copying your name or product. USPTO has several different types of trademarks, so the cost to apply can vary (typically anywhere from $400-$700).||$0||$700|
|Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses.||$0||$1,500|
|Obtain a patent: Securing a patent can be a very valuable tool, but it's important that you are 100% sure this will be a smart business move for you, or if you may not be ready quite yet. A basic utility patent typically costs anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 to file. Here is a great resource to walk you through the entire process.||$0||$10,000|
|Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business + which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business.||$50||$500|
|Total Business Formation Fees||$600 (min)||$15,400 (max)|
|Travel: Often times, travel blog entrepreneurs travel. In addition to visiting suppliers and product manufacturers, you may need to travel to attend tradeshows and visit potential customers.||$0||$1,500|
|Time!: Time is money! When starting a business, think about how much time you are spending on certain tasks that could be delegated to another team member or automated. Additionally, spending too much time on tasks that aren't associated with revenue is a hidden cost of running a business.||$0||$500|
|Total Other Expenses||$0 (min)||$2,000 (max)|
|Design Programs & Software: These programs might include the Adobe family of design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and others. This is typically a monthly subscription ranging from $10-$50/mo.||$0||$50|
|Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here||$0||$100|
|Accounting & Invoicing Software: When starting your travel blog, it's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses.||$0||$50|
|CRM Software: CRM (customer relationship management) software is used to track your company’s interactions with clients and prospects. Although this is not a necessary tool to have for your travel blog, implementing this in the beginning may set your business up for success and save you a lot of time later on. For a full list of best CRMs to use for your business, check out the full list here.||$0||$250|
|Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here.||$0||$25|
|Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms.||$0||$20|
|Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your travel blog, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business.||$0||$50|
|Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses!||$0||$200|
|Online data storage: It's important to make sure the information for your travel blog is stored and protected should something happen to your computer or hard drive. The cost for this is affordable and depends on how much data you need to store. To learn more about the different options and pricing on the market, check out this article.||$0||$299|
|Total Software Expenses||$0 (min)||$1,044 (max)|
|Advertising & Marketing Costs|
|Business Cards: A travel blog involves quite a bit of customer interaction, whether that is attending tradeshows, sales calls or simply having face to face interaction with prospective clients. Business cards are a great way to stay front of mind with your clients.||$0||$50|
|Networking Membership Fees: Joining local networking groups or your chamber of commerce is a traditional yet effective way to promote your travel blog - but these fees add up! It's important to choose the right group(s) that align with your business and help with growth.||$0||$250|
|Affiliate Marketing Commission & Fees: If you want to increase revenue for your travel blog, affiliate marketing is a great way to promote your product to a new audience. When determining affiliate commission rates you will offer, you will want to take into account the price and margin for your product to ensure affiliate marketing is worth it for your business. According to Monitor Backlinks, the average affiliate commission rate should be somewhere between 5% to 30%. To learn more about how to set commission rates, check out this article..||$0||$250|
|Influencer Marketing: Partnering with like-minded influencers is one of the most effective ways to grow your social media presence. Many small businesses simply gift a free item in exchange for an influencer post, or pay the influencer directly.||$0||$750|
|Google Ads: With Google Ads you have the ability to control how much you spend by simply setting a monthly budget cap. Additionally, with these ads you only pay for results, such as clicks to your website or phone calls! It's okay to start with a small budget at first and make changes accordingly if you see valuable returns.||$0||$300|
|Facebook & Instagram Ads: With Facebook and Instagram ads, you set your budget and pay for the actions you want (whether that be impressions, conversions, etc).You can learn more about pricing based on your impressions here.||$0||$350|
|Total Advertising & Marketing Costs||$0 (min)||$1,950 (max)|
|Total Starting Costs||$1,167 (min)||$41,019 (max)|
Brett Lindenberg, founder of Food Truck Empire discusses his startup costs setting up his blog + his decision to outsource:
Like most bloggers, the launch of my business was low cost. I bought a domain name from GoDaddy, website hosting from HostGator, and had my initial website template customized by someone located in the Philippines. I was introduced to the designer from a friend who had worked with the individual for a Wordpress design as well. The total initial investment for the business was around $500. The majority of the costs went toward paying the designer to create the logo and set up the site.
At the time, $500 was a substantial investment for me. I fell into the trap of having around $40,000 in student loan debt another $10,000 in credit cards after college. Adding a monthly car payment shortly after graduation and the other bills (rent, cell phone, internet access) meant things were tight for me financially for the first 5 years after graduation.
In spite of financial woes, I forced myself to invest money in the design and setup of my blog. In retrospect, I’m glad that I did this because it saved me a lot of time starting the website.
When you start a blog, my belief is that you should outsource all the one-time technical work, design, and setup. There are so many people that spend months wasting time trying to figure out plugins and Wordpress themes when they could have solved the problem on Fiverr.com for a couple hundred bucks and be off to the races.
Raising Money For Your Travel Blog
Here are the most common ways to raise money for your travel blog:
You may not need funding for your travel blog.
In fact, many entrepreneurs take this approach when starting their own business, whether they have a little amount of cash or a substantial amount to get started.
So what exactly does the term "bootstrapping" mean?
This method essentially refers to self-funding your businesswithout external help or capital and reinvesting your earnings back into the business**
Bootstrapping means building your company from the ground up with your own, or your loved ones, personal savings and reinvesting all earnings back into the business
Here are some tips to consider when bootstrapping your business:
- Use your savings as your capital - one of the best ways to bootstrap your business is to collect your savings and use them as startup capital. This will also help you avoid using your personal or business credit cards when getting started.
- Determine exactly how much capital you need and how much capital you have to get your business off the ground. Generally, when bootstrapping your business, you may want to consider starting a business that involves less startup capital.
- Consider starting a business that will generate immediate returns so you can put money back into the business
- Be as lean as possible - this refers to cutting down expenses as much as possible, such as payroll, fancy software tools, unnecessary travel, renting an office, etc
- Consider outsourcing instead of hiring - in the beginning, you may not need to hire someone permanently to help run your business. It tends to be much less expensive to outsource work to a freelancer and hire someone permanently down the road!
Want to learn more about bootstrapping your business? Check out this article
What Skills Do I Need To Succeed For My Travel Blog?
With a travel blog, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.
Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:
Resarch and Writing Skills
Research and writing skills are critical when starting a travel blog. Here's what this looks like:
- Basic computer & technology skills (Microsoft office or Google sheets/docs knowledge, data input, and proficiency in typing)
- Creativity & originality in your work and approach
- Great communication skills and ability to meet deadlines
- Understanding of SEO
Other skills that businesses find valuable include digital marketing skills, basic web design, and accounting abilities. Some employers may also look for a travel blog that has a bachelor's degree or formal education.
Additionally, you may want to consider putting together a portfolio of past work and experience. This includes samples of writing/research pieces, from school projects to internship work to career experience.
Whether you are the one designing the product or the decision-maker for the product, an eye for design is critical when starting a travel blog. Here's what this looks like:
- Creative Thinking - the ability to develop or design different products or ideas
- Visualization - being able to imagine or visualize how the product will look
- Articulation - the ability to communicate what the design will look like and how it will be executed
- Detail-oriented - paying close attention to all of the small pieces when designing or working on a project
- Some technical skills - knowledge of the design software you are using to create the product or build prototypes.
Other skills that may be valuable to have when starting a travel blog include digital marketing skills, branding experience, and basic business knowledge.
Business Savvy Skills
When starting a travel blog, there are a few fundamental business skills you will want to learn in order to be successful:
- Leadership and training skills: A great team starts with YOU. Make sure you have all company policies and training procedures in place prior to hiring your team
- Decisive and self-confident: Over the course of your career, you will need decisions that could impact your business significantly. It's important you are able to think clearly and rationally about these decisions.
- Ability to understand the financials: You don't need to be an accountant, but it is important that you are able to clearly understand and define metrics such as expenses, revenue, profit, margins, COGS, etc.
- Strategic Thinking: Setting clear goals and benchmarks, identifying opportunities, risks. Ability to effectively communicate these insights to your team.
These are a few of many business savvy skills you should have (or work on) when starting a travel blog.
For a full list, check out this article here.
Advice For Starting A Travel Blog
We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.
Here's the best advice we discovered for starting a travel blog:
Andrew Norton, founder of SkyAlliance ($2.8K/month):
It all started at Heathrow Airport. I was and currently still work at the airport as a security officer in Terminal 5.
Read the full interview ➜
Jessica Serna, founder of My Curly Adventures ($4K/month):
Be solid on why you want to do something. I hear so many people say “I want to be a blogger but I don’t know what I want to write about”. I don’t want to be a blogger. I want to help people see all of the unique things in Texas and to realize that you don’t have to travel far to live a travel lifestyle.
Read the full interview ➜
Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your travel blog.
Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.
For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.
You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:
- Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
- Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
- Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
- Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
- Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
- Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
- Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
- Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
- Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.
Learn more about how to write a business plan here
Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need
There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.
Here are some factors you may want to consider:
- Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
- Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
- Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
- Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
- Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.
Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.
Setting Up Your Travel Blog (Formation and Legal)
When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.
The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.
These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.
- LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
- S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
- C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.
Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.
Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.
How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?
Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).
But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.
There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:
1. Owner's Draw
Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.
At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.
As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.
This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.
If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.
The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:
- Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
- Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
- Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
- Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
- Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.
To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.
How To Price Your Travel Blog
One of the most challenging and critical pieces to starting your travel blog is determining how much to charge for your travel blog.
When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.
Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.
On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.
When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.
Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:
Understand your customer
It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:
- Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
- Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
- Level of price sensitivity with your customer
All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.
Understand your costs
When pricing your travel blog, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your travel blog so you can factor in a profit.
The actual cost of your travel blog may include things like:
- The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
- Shipping + overhead fees
- Operating costs to run your business
You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.
Create revenue goals
When determining the price of your travel blog, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your travel blog to make.
This process is simpler than you may think:
- Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
- Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
- Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
- Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell
This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.
Evaluate your competition
The last piece in determining how to price your travel blog is by simply looking at your competition.
The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your travel blog fits best in the marketplace.
All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your travel blog, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.
Gross Margin Calculator: How to Calculate The Gross Margin For Your Travel Blog
Our calculator is designed to be simple and easy to use.
The goal is to help you set realistic expectations and understand what is considered a healthy gross margin for your travel blog.
Please input your figures below:
What Type Of Customers Will Buy Your Travel Blog
It's important to first establish who you will be selling to, whether it's to businesses or consumers.
Typically, in this industry, products are sold to B2C markets (business-to-consumer).
Let's take a look at what this means for your travel blog:
B2C (or business to consumer) is a transaction where businesses sell their products or services to the consumer directly.
In this market, consumer behavior is the primary driver for your business decisions - so it's important that you truly identify who your customer is, and what their buyer habits are when building your product/service.
B2C is that you are able to cast a very wide net when targeting your customers. Your product may interest a large number of consumers or a specific niche.
B2C is that consumers hold all the power - so if your website is not the most user friendly, or does not rank in the top search results on Google, chances are, your customer is going to shop elsewhere.
When building your travel blog, it's critical that you hone in on who your target audience is, and why they need your product over your competition.
Here are some items to consider when identifying your buyer persona:
Building an MVP (Minimal Viable Product)
When building a travel blog, it's critical that you first validate your product/service rather than rushing to build it right away.
This could save you months, if not years of building the wrong product/service.
If you're hoping to decrease any sort of risk that comes with launching your travel blog, designing a prototype can be a great way to de-risk your situation.
The point of your travel blog prototype is that it doesn't have to be perfect.
In the beginning stages, it doesn't matter how rough V1 of your prototype is, it's more important to just get started and you can always refine from there based on feedback from your network and most importantly your customers.
How To Build A MVP
Here are several different ways of building a prototype/MVP:
- Start by building a landing page to see if customers actually need your product and if they are willing to pay for it
- Build a very basic version of your idea and ask for immediate feedback from potential customers
- Present a problem and solution via Facebook/Instagram Ads and see what the response is like
Andrew Norton, founder of SkyAlliance dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:
Designing the product was difficult at the start. There are so many aspects you have to take into account, but the most important factor for me to consider was how my business was going to make a first impression to my visitors. My first ever thought before I started building scared me a little bit:
“How on earth am I going to put the data of 336 airline web results and up to 1.1 million hotels into one display and respond to input requests?”
I knew then, once I had to start, it was going to be a long journey for me. I set up many API’s from websites to get the ball rolling. I had to request access to these API’s which took the most time to complete. But once I had gained access, my next task was to build the framework to display these search results.
I had a lot of setbacks, A LOT. Sometimes one issue would set me back weeks, I could have given up but I kept saying there is always an answer, always!
For obvious reasons I can’t go into much detail but it took a lot of learning from my mistakes to complete the initial setup. I had to hire a few friends who also specialise in web design to give me a few pointers. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Within 6 months, the engine was complete and I was ready to go. I had a lot of setbacks, A LOT. Sometimes one issue would set me back weeks, I could have given up but I kept saying there is always an answer, always! That gave me the motivation to continue and I’m so happy I did. It just shows you that giving up when the going gets tough, is a test to see how you respond to situations, and if you give up, you fail.
Always tell yourself you can do it, no matter how tough the obstacle is because sometimes the answer is right in front of you. You just need to be looking in the right place. Remember what I did with the Facebook Pixel? I couldn’t spend money, so I used tools I already had access to.
My good friend Zach Jenkins was my first ever booking. He booked a hotel in Las Vegas through my website, and my initial thought was to just pray everything went well for him, because it wasn’t like he was taking a weekend trip to Scotland.
A month passed and I had asked Zach to keep me updated on how his booking experience goes, for my records. I received a message from Zach a few weeks later saying he would like to promote my company on LinkedIn as he had booked a lovely hotel in Las Vegas for a very below average price whilst his friends had paid more for the same hotel.
I was relieved, and for me, that was confirmation that the platform was ready to become operational to the general public.
The only issue was money. I had a very small budget to work with as I had to pay for my car, insurance, phone etc. I had to take all of that into account when advertising. But I had no choice, for the business to grow, I had to spend. So I did it the smart way, a way I wouldn’t get a bad turnout on my ads. I took full advantage of the things around me. I used what’s known as a Facebook Pixel. What a Facebook Pixel does, is it tracks people when they visit your website and sends the data to you. It also tracks other aspects of what people do on your site. Just be careful using this Pixel. With recent GDPR laws, you must make your visitors aware they are being tracked through third-party advertisers. Otherwise, you could receive a penalty for violating GDPR laws.
My next step was to wait for some traffic to visit my website. After a few days I created a Facebook advertising audience based off of my pixel. That way, I know that everyone my ad is shown to, has had an interest in my business and more likely to interact with my ad. It worked. I spend £1 a day on all of my ads, and receiving hundreds and hundreds of unique visitors every month. So, if you are struggling with advertising for your business, consider using a Facebook Pixel, that way you’re not hoping someone takes an interest in your business, you know for certain that they already have at some point in the last 30 days!
How To Find The Right Developer For Your Travel Blog
If you (or others on your team) don't have the necessary coding/design skills to build the product on your own, finding the right developer for your travel blog is a critical piece to bringing your idea to life.
Prior to hiring someone, you'll want to:
- Have a very clear understanding of what your product (or MVP) will look like
- Understand what the details of the user experience will look like (pages, how users sign up, backend administrative details, billing, reports etc). It may help to draw out the prototype and UX experience on a design platform such as Sketch
- Understand what features you want to implement now and even those in the future
- Understand the costs and time associated with hiring a developer and set a budget (more on that below)
Here are some ways you can find a developer:
Arielle Frank, founder of Clout Collective talks about her experiences and lessons learned when hiring a developer as a non-technical founder:
My first attempt to find a developer was a massive failure. I was basically screaming to be taken advantage of with my lack of technical knowledge and a heart full of hope. I signed an extremely unfavorable contract with a developer based in Morocco who claimed to offer “discounted” development services in exchange for equity in the company. By “discounted” I mean that it would cost only $40K to build the MVP. At the time I had no frame of reference for whether or not this was normal and justified it to myself.
Luckily, after a lot more internet sleuthing, I found my current developer, Adeva. Working with Adeva was the opposite experience of my initial encounter in every way. At $8K, Adeva’s quote for my MVP was literally 1/5th the cost of the original developer! I decided to save money on a front-end designer for V1 by using a template and designing things where I could in Figma.
I was forced to figure out many of the details and features of the platform upfront since Adeva couldn’t give me a quote without detailed user stories.
When building out the prospective features, I tried to focus on the end result and work backward from there.
For example, the end goal was for a content creator to be able to read a review and know whether or not they want to collaborate with a specific brand. I used this goal to inform the questions I collected for the reviews and the best way to display this info. During this phase, I also relied heavily on my beta testers for feedback about which info would be the most useful for them.
It’s tempting to add a bunch of cool, slick features when you’re building your product, but my brilliant mentor encouraged me to focus on doing one thing extremely well.
🚀 How To Launch Your Travel Blog
Build A Website
Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).
- Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
- Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
- Make sure you choose the right theme and design
- Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)
To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.
Best Website Platforms To Use For Your Travel Blog:
There are a variety of websites platforms out there, and it's important to choose the right one that will set you up for success.
Here's everything you need to know about the two most common platforms for your travel blog:
Free and open-source content management system based on PHP and MySQL.
Free to use/open source but you will need to pay for the hosting.
Businesses using WordPress:
The all-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a beautiful website.
- Personal Plan: $12/month
- Business Plan: $18/month
- Basic: $26/month
Businesses using Squarespace:
Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.
Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.
One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.
If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.
Launch Strategies For Your Travel Blog
There are various different ways you can launch your travel blog successfully.
Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your travel blog.
- Build hype with a landing page: you can effectively do this through waiting lists, discounts, countdown timer etc
- Create a teaser video: even just a 30 second video is a great way to exposure for your travel blog, and possibly even go viral
- Reach out to influencers: The right influencer for your product has the ability to reach your audience with just one post, and because of their loyal following, this could lead to a big return for you.
- Get Press: Whether you plan a PR stunt or get exposure through a popular news outlet, this is a great way to attract initial customers
- Launch on popular sites: A great way to get buzz about your travel blog is to submit your launch to popular startup sites.
Here are a few popular sites to launch on:
Learn more about how to launch your business successfully ➜ here
Andrew Norton, founder of SkyAlliance dives deep into the process of launching the business:
Launching an online travel business in 2019 was difficult but in order to do so, you had to stand out from the crowd.
So, my first task was to look into other companies to see what I can do that they aren’t. Shockingly, the primary feature all of them were lacking was customer service. I found many customers with questions/issues on their forums waiting months for a response. To me, this was the reason I got into this business, to help people.
I took this into account when designing the SkyAlliance website, you’ll find that there is always an option close by to contact us if you need it. Whether it’s through the use of a feedback form, or through our ‘Contact us’ page, support is only a click away. You’ll find our feedback form disguised as a blue light bulb hovering on the right-hand side of your browser when you visit www.skyalliance.co.uk.
This form has 3 options for you to leave your feedback:
- I like something
- I don’t like something
- I have an idea
Now, these have been carefully worded and if you are to fill out our feedback form, you’ll notice we would love for you to provide as much detail as you can for each selection. If you have an idea of something we could add/remove from the website, do tell us! All submitted feedback forms are sent to me directly and I review each and every one of them. And if you leave an email for me to contact you, I will do so. If you have an idea, I will discuss it with you. If we see a demand for whatever it may be, we will apply it and also credit those responsible for bringing it to my attention.
Financing the business
Financing SkyAlliance has all come from my own pocket. This was a pain sometimes as one month I could purchase one product, then have to wait another month until I was paid again to purchase another. But for me that was the best decision as I didn’t want to take out a loan just in case I could not pay it back.
I’d rather spend my paycheck and owe myself, then owe a bank and watch the interest rise until I paid it back. My biggest lesson from the long year and a half it took to start up my company was to power through until the job was done. Just go for it. If you are in the position I was 1 and half years ago, with an idea but do not know how to execute it, at least try. Yes, you will get negative people saying “You can’t pull that off”, “You won’t get that big as a company”, or the classic, “Someone’s already done that”.
But the truth is, they don’t know what your capable of, and the scary part is, neither are you. Those people are irrelevant. Use them as a means to prove them wrong. You have absolutely nothing to lose, but so much to gain if you pull it off.
Pursue. Your. Dreams.
No matter how bizarre your vision is, there’s always a way to make a success out of it. Like I said, the answer is right in front of you, as long as you are looking in the right place.
🌱 How To Grow Your Travel Blog
Social Media Advertising
Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to travel blog.
There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.
Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:
- Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
- Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
- Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
- Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
- LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses
It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:
Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:
- Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
- Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
- Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?
From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!
Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.
Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:
The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.
We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.
Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:
- Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
- Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
- Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
- Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
Host A Social Media Giveaway
People love free stuff and love competition. Giveaways and contests are a great way to create awareness for your brand, grow your email list, and eventually convert leads into customers.
If your goal is to gather email addresses, make sure the entry criteria is to "enter your email." You can do this by leading customers to your landing page where they can then enter their email to be in the giveaway.
One of the most important aspects of promoting a successful giveaway is having an amazing prize. The better the prize, the more engagement you'll get.
This doesn't necessarily mean choosing an iPad or an expensive/trendy watch, but instead a prize that is actually relevant to your brand/target audience.
Giveaway Example and Tips
Example from TJ Mapes, founder of RIPT Apparel
Our most recent successful giveaway was when we gave away a PS4 + the new Spiderman game. I hosted the giveaway on our site and then let our audience know about it via email/social channels.
Entrants earned different amounts of entries for entering in different ways (tongue twister!), for instance; enter via email, get 10 entries. Follow us on Facebook, get 5 entries. Subscribe on Messenger and get 25 entries.
I also built out a drip sequence in Klaviyo that contained four emails to encourage entrants to take more action, like referring friends and liking us on social.
Email #1: Thanks for entering!
Email #2: Explained how to earn bonus entries:
Email #3: About us
Email #4: Coupon for entering
This last email in the sequence just thanked them again for entering and also included a coupon to a specific (related) collection of designs with an expiration date on it to incentivize purchases.
(this screenshot is actually a flow from when we gave away an xbox, but you get the idea - huge open and click rates 💯💯💯)
PS4 Giveaway Results:
We ran it for 2 weeks and recorded results in a meticulous spreadsheet to analyze the data. Here are some of the highlights:
- Giveaway page pageviews - 67,355
- Total entrants - 26,137
- Conversion rate - 38.80%
- Total entrants in Klaviyo (not suppressed) - 24,515
- New emails acquired - 16,363
- Emails we already had - 7,521
- % of new emails - 66.75%
- Cost of item - $350
- Instagram visits - 10,618
- Instagram followers gained - 3,496 ( total followers lifted by 6.9% )
- Twitter followers gained - 4,194
Grow Your Email List
The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.
One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.
This could also be anything from:
- Fascinating case study
- Video series
- Free week of the product
- Discount on the product
Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.
Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate states their email collection tactic that is proven to work:
We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.
Even if a customer doesn’t convert right away, if we have their email we have a 19% chance of converting them into a future customer whether that is through future promotions, new releases, or simply just sending an email at the right time for a purchase to finally make sense for them.
We also have a return customer rate of over 14%, so one out of every 6 people we convert will end up buying from us again with an average order value of over $60.00.
Add an exit-intent popup to your online store
A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.
Here's an example of what that might look like:
One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.
That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.
Improve Your Email Marketing
Different types of emails
Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:
- Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
- Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
- Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
- Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
- Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!
Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!
Abandonded Cart Flow
The abandoned cart workflow is one of the most effective strategies for turning your lead into a customer, and a powerful tool to have if you're an e-commerce business.
Think about all the times that you went on a shopping frenzy only to add items to your cart and then either forget or realize nows not the right time to pull the trigger.
Then, minutes later you receive an email saying "Hurry up! Your cart is waiting - and we want to provide you with 20% off your order."
Maybe that's the special touch (and discount) you needed to pull that trigger.
Implementing this workflow can automatically trigger this for your business every time a customer abandons their cart.
Here's a great example of an abandoned cart email from Brooklinen:
Things they do well:
- Showcase 5-star reviews from other customers
- Offer a small discount + free shipping
- Great design + clear call to actions!
Improve your SEO
SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.
One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."
Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your travel blog.
- Google Ads Keyword Planner invaluable for discovering search trends.
- Google Search Console is very helpful once your website is up as it shows you what words/phrases are generating traffic.
- Ahrefs and SEMRush are paid tools that allow you to look at results of your competitor's website.
Publish Great Content
Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.
There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.
So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"
- Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
- Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
- Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
- Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
- Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).
Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.
If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.
Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.
Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:
Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.
Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.
Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.
For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.
Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:
- Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
- Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
- Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
- Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
- Leverage existing business relationships
Build A Blog
One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.
We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:
Consistency and Quantity
Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.
What’s more important is consistency and quantity.
Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.
This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.
The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.
This is nonsense.
There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.
For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.
You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.
Patience & Persistence
Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.
The only thing you have control over is your content.
You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.
So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.
Where to share your blog content
I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.
Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.
Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.
An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.
Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.
It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.
Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn
Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.
Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.
When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.
Build A Facebook Community
Building a community is a great way to grow your network and your business.
There are several different ways of building a community, one of the most effective (and simplest) ways is to build a Facebook group
Setting up the group page takes less than 10 minutes, and we've outlined ways the top 5 ways to create an engaging and successful group:
- Make the group exclusive. This may sound counter-intuitive, however, this ensures privacy and that the group will feel comfortable posting and engaging with members.
- Try to be warm and welcoming. A great way to do this is by having a "Member Monday" where you welcome new members and ask them to introduce themselves in the group
- Use polls/surveys. This is a great way to know your audience and see what people want more of in the group (more business tips, networking opportunities, etc).
- Include influential people & conduct AMA's (ask me anything). This is a great way to get members engaged
- Host an in-person (or virtual) event with members in the group. This will create stronger relationships and build a strong community.
Mike Doehla, founder of Stronger U, an online nutrition company noticed that his customers needed a little motivation and sense of community:
Most diets are lonely so we wanted to give support and a community.
I think many people fail diets because there is no one to talk to and no accountability.
You can by a book, or google a meal plan but who’s going to keep you on track? We will. The entire SU community.
We give our members access for life to our Facebook community filled with people around the world who are looking out for everyone’s success.
Most diets make up arbitrary rules and we thought they just didn’t make sense. Meal timing, Cutting carbs, butter in coffee, sugar being the devil? Ehh no need to overthink that stuff.
We’ll give you the science behind of what we do and show you what actually matters based on real research.
Luckily we have a PhD at our disposal to educate our staff and members so everyone is getting the most up to date information out there.
The Freemium Model
Offering free trials to your platform is a great way to gain exposure for your business and potentially get new customers!
Finding the right travel blog is a big deal for most people, so it can be important for customers to try a free version with limited features prior to making a big investment.
Once your customer reaches the limits of their free account, they're much more likely to invest in the premium version so they can gain access to all of the features your product offers.
There are a few different ways you can limit certain aspects of your product:
- Usage quotas: Storage limits or limiting the number of times they can utilize a feature
- Limited features: Only allowing your free user to utilize certain features vs all features - this is also a great way to upsell during the user's experience
- Limited support: Customer support can be time-consuming, by limiting the level of support to free users this is a great incentive for them to upgrade (and will save you a lot of time and money)!
🏃🏼♀️ How To Run Your Travel Blog
How To Retain Customers For Your Travel Blog
Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your travel blog.
Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.
Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.
That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.
Here are some ways you can retain customers for your travel blog:
- Responding to comments on social media
- Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
- Provide valuable content, for free
- Write a hand written thank you note
- Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers
To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here
Andrew Norton, founder of SkyAlliance dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:
Loyalty. Without a doubt the most important feature in retaining customers is the loyalty SkyAlliance shows to them.
I have and always will maintain a policy here that the customer is not to be disrespected, and if they need help, we don’t go home until the job is done. We aim to respond to queries as soon as we can and we put the best of our relevant teams on each case.
This works both ways, you show loyalty to your customers through customer service, and as long as your product is good, they’ll come back and choose you no matter how big of a company your competitor is. Loyalty and customer service lack in today’s world. Use it to your advantage.
To market SkyAlliance we use a few methods, but not a lot:
- Google Ads
- Facebook Ads
- Instagram Ads
- Apple App Store
Now you may be thinking hang on, why aren’t you taking advantage of every advertising platform to maximise reach? And I would say to you, good question. But there is a very simple explanation as to why SkyAlliance only advertises on a few platforms. No one likes ads when browsing the internet or using an app do they?
For an average internet browser, ads just get in the way and disrupt whatever it is they are doing. And people remember the ad and who put that ad up. And to be honest with you, it annoys me too when I’m shopping online and an ad for tennis pops up. I don’t want SkyAlliance being subject to that. Even though it’s not up to us where our ad shows online, the customer will not be happy that we have interrupted them. That’s a very easy way to lose a potential customer, by annoying them, it does happen. So we don’t.
We advertise on Google Search and our ads pop up when a customer is looking for something travel based. Because then, you pop up when they need you. They explore your service and are more likely to purchase a product from you because you showed up when they needed you, not when you need them.
It’s the same with Facebook & Instagram, we only have audiences based off of our Pixel. That way, we know that we are advertising to people who have shown an interest in our business within the last 30 days, rather than giving someone else with no interest in travelling at all, another ad to scroll past. It makes sense to the company and the audience you are targeting. Placing an ad and hoping an audience will respond is the same as playing the lottery. Placing an ad to an audience who have shown an interest in your company themselves, is more likely to show results. Simply put, it’s a win-win.
Email marketing is another promotional method we use. Again, we use this method to benefit the customer. We ask them to sign up to receive weekly travel deals, which we send. This way, we earn a subscriber and another channel for promotion, and the customer takes advantage of travel deals they do not have to search for themselves. Easy right? For promotion, as long as you keep the customers interests at heart, you can’t lose. The way you do that is ask yourself, if I saw my ad online, would I want to click on it and investigate further? Does the text pull me in? Does the image I’ve used stand out from any other ad? If I saw this ad whilst browsing for a topic completely different, would I click on that? Put yourselves in the shoes of your target audience and once you do that, you feel how they feel.
How do we retain customers? Simple answer is, we don’t. If we receive word through email that a customer isn’t happy with our service and will not be visiting again, we respect that decision. We kindly ask what had happened and if we cannot rectify the situation as best we can, we let them go. If you poke an angry snake in a corner, is it going to learn to love you, or is it going to make it its top priority to attack you defending itself? Truth is, you shouldn’t press angry customers, you show them more respect. Even if they attack your business. Once they calm down, some people will realise how they reacted and will apologise. They will also take into account how you treated them when they were complaining, and that’s the key. As of right now, we haven’t received any sort of complaints from our customers, but we have contingency plans in place to deal with those situations with respect.
Diversify Your Product Line
Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.
It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.
Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product
- Meeting the needs of your customers
- Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
- Resistance to downturns/trends fading
- Create new revenue streams
Word of Mouth
The most tried and true way to grow a travel blog is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.
Why you should focus on word of mouth:
- Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
- 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
- 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing
Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜
As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent.
Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.
If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.
There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.
Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.
We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your travel blog.
- Platform tools such as Amazon
- Email tools such as MailChimp, Gmail or G Suite
- Social media tools such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or LinkedIn
- Advertising tools such as Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google AdSense, Google ads or Apple Search Ads
- Design tools such as Canva or Adobe Suite
- Analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager
- Productivity tools such as Google Suite or IFTTT
- Payments tools such as Paypal, Stripe, Amazon Payments, Bill.com or Venmo
- Customer service tools such as Zendesk
- Blog tools such as WordPress
- Accounting tools such as Quickbooks
- Affiliate tools such as rewardStyle
- Reviews tools such as Trustpilot
- Amazon.com: How to Start a Travel Blog and Make Money ...
- How To Start A Travel Blog  Travel Blogging Full-Time
- How To Start A Travel Blog: My Top 10 Tips
- How This Airport Security Officer Is Building A Profitable Travel Search Engine
- How I Started A Niche Blog And Quit My 9 to 5 Job