Ultimate guide – How to start a travel blog

This is a guest post by Postach.io, the easiest way to blog.

Have you always wondered what it would be like to roam the earth, documenting your adventures, your moments, and sharing them with the world? I certainly did.

I heard stories about how people had funded their travels and journaled them on their blog. I read about all the amazing activities they participated in, the scenery and the culture they experienced.

When I planned my gap year as a humble student, I spent hours reading about the coolest places to hang out, the best ways to get around, and the things I needed to take with me on my journey of self-discovery.

I may not have found myself that year (I came down sick and was back home after a week feeling sorry for myself in a hospital bed), but what I did find is that documenting your travels is one of the most powerful things you can do.

Journaling my experiences on subsequent trips not only motivated me to go out and experience as many wonderful locations, cultures, and people as possible, but I now have a record of every place that I have been and thousands of stories to tell.

Whether you want to become a travel blogger to keep your family up-to-date on your movements, to keep a record of a once-in-a-lifetime trip, or with the aim of monetizing your blog in the future, this ultimate guide will tell you everything you need to know about documenting your travels online.

We tell you how to start a blog with no experience in web design or copywriting. Discover exactly what you need to know, right here, including:

  • How to Set up a Blog Site With Postach.io
  • How to Personalize Your Site’s Design
  • How to Brand Your Site Using Logos and Images
  • How and What to Write in Your Posts

Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. You just need to know how to do it the right way. With the appropriate tools and foundations in place, you can get to researching and writing your first post after this 15 minute read.

If you are thinking about living the travel blogger lifestyle, read on. Learn how easy it is to live the life you always wanted.

Where to Start?

Until recently, blogging platforms were all pretty similar. You logged into your browser-based app and pasted your content into the online editor.

Do you remember when you would lose your internet connection for a second, along with the email you were in the middle of writing? Content management systems (CMSs) worked in a similarly frustrating way. You couldn’t write your content within the editor because if the webpage was reloaded for some reason, you would lose it. Online CMS’ with lots of design functionality can be slow and unstable due to the digital brain-power they require.

But this meant bloggers had to write, edit, and format their posts in a desktop word processor, then copying and pasting it into the web editor. When you copied your text into the CMS you would often lose your formatting too, having to redo what you have already done in your word processor and losing valuable traveling time.

Luckily, there’s a new breed of blogging platform on the block. Easy-to-use CMSs for bloggers such as Postach.io have been teaming up with the people behind word processors to offer better integrations and compatibility. At Postach.io we’ve joined forces with the most trusted blogging scribbler there is — Evernote.

With Postach.io blogs you’ll only ever need to work in the Evernote desktop or mobile app while you are writing, editing, and formatting your posts. The photos you include, the links you create, and all of your formatting will be posted straight from Evernote to your blog. This means you get the powerful blogging benefits that Evernote is already known for, and a professional website that you can post your multimedia content to with even touching… though you do need to set it up first.

Here, we go through the process of setting up a blog with the Postach.io platform. As we can’t cover all blogging platforms and we genuinely believe that our own is the best platform to use, we limit ourselves to what we know. Though a lot shorter (around 3 minutes) than other blog sign up processes, the general trajectory is similar to other comparable platforms.

In the first section of this post, we show you how to sign up with Postach.io and Evernote and get them connected.

In our second section, we guide you through how to create a post and publish it with Evernote to check that it syncs up with your newly created blog.

In our third section, learn how to design and brand your site to suit your personality and taste, using themes, logos, images.

And in our fourth and final section, discover how to create travel blog posts that will generate trafficto your blog by selecting the right topic, title, and doing your research.

You can also learn how to write for the web with our 5 best practices for blog writing.

How to Sign up for a Free Postach.io Blog

Postach.io is the Evernote-powered blogging platform that makes starting a blog and maintaining it simple. What’s more — we optimize all our blog themes using industry-standard search engine optimization (SEO) practices. This means your blog can be found by search engines and their users, setting you up to generate significant traffic as you start to grow your content offering.

Postach.io is not for everyone. We get that. It has a minimalist interface that’s perfect is you want to focus primarily on content, but which may not be appropriate for bloggers wanting bundles of e-commerce features too. Feel free to skip this step if you’re included in the latter. Here’s how to get set up with Postach.io and Evernote in 11 simple steps:

1. Visit the Website

Visit the Postach.io website and click on the Create a Blog button to sign up for an account.

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2. Enter Your Details

Fill the form with your details. Here at Postach.io, we follow a strict confidentiality policy, so you know your information will always be safe with us.

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3. Get Connected

You will be asked to connect your Evernote notebook to Postach.io. Right-click on Connect Notebook to open it in a new browser tab and get started.

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4. Sign-up for Evernote

If you don’t have an account already, visit the Evernote site and sign up for one. If you are already signed up, see step 10.

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5. Choose Your Goal

In the What’s Your Goal? window, select your reason for choosing Evernote. We selected “Be More Productive” since this will be appropriate to many travel bloggers’ motives.

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6. Download Evernote

You will be asked if you want to download Evernote and the Web Clipper app. Click to download Evernote. Download Web Clipper if you use Google Chrome, so you can take screenshots and save snippets of web pages and articles to your Evernote notebooks.

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7. Install Evernote

Wait for your download to complete, open the installation file, and follow the on-screen instructions to add it to your desktop applications.

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8. Open the Evernote App

Find the Evernote app in your applications folder and click on the icon to open it. You should see the below window. Enter your account details to log in and view your digital workspace.

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9. Familiarize Yourself With the Workspace

Your Evernote workspace is where you will collate your research, draft your blog content, and publish posts to your site. Documents take the form of Notes, organized within folders called Notebooks. Your Postach.io notebook is where you will draft, post, publish, and store your blog content.

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10. Connect Evernote to Postach.io

Return to the Postach.io site tab in your browser and click Connect Notebook again. This time, log in with your Evernote account details and continue to the next step.

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11. Authorize Access

Authorize Postach.io to create a new notebook named Postach.io and give it permission to access and link with your Evernote account. Click Authorize and you should be directed to a confirmation page on the Postach.io site.

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Test a Post(ach.io)

To check Postach.io and Evernote are linked correctly, you will be asked to create a test post in your Evernote notebook and publish it. Follow the instructions below to create a post in Evernote and publish it to your blog.

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1. Open the Evernote Desktop App

Return to the Evernote desktop application and click on the Notebooks tab to the left of the main window. Click on the Postach.io Notebook to open it up.

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2. Create a New Note

The button to the top-left corner of the Evernote window should now read “+ New Note in Postach.io.” Click it to add a new note to your Postach.io notebook.

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3. Title Your Post

Enter a title for your new note. The title you write in Evernote will also be the title of the blog post on your site, so make sure you use something catchy that people would actually search for on the web. Try to think of a title that is specific and relates to something everyone visiting your location would be happy to know.

For example, if I am writing a post about Saigon, Vietnam, the title 11 Coolest Places in Saigon will get more traffic from searches than Alex’s Saigon Experience. The first title addresses something actionable that will relate to most people planning a visit to Saigon, the second seems irrelevant to anyone but me.

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4. Draft Content

Populate your new note with some digestible content. It doesn’t have to be a long one – just enough to learn the basics of Evernote and test the connection between your Evernote notebook and Postach.io website. The content you craft should provide useful information with actionable takeaways. Sure, you can write whatever you like. But it is a good idea to go through your posts after you have drafted your main content to add some bullet points giving your readers a summary of exactly how to find or implement what you promote.

For example, if you write about your experience of doing a “visa run” in Vietnam, create an accompanying set of bullet points taking your readers through a summary of the steps they must take to complete a visa run “the right way.” Your self-reflective blog post becomes something that is not only enjoyable to read but provides useful information addressing particular issues, concerns, or interests people have when they travel to the locations you cover.

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5. Add Images

Images break up large chunks of text and help guide your readers’ eyes down the page. It’s easy to add pictures to your blog posts with Evernote and Postach.io. Just click on the paperclip icon on the toolbar to select any images you would like to insert.

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If you want to annotate an image once you have imported it to Evernote, right-click on it and select “Annotate this image…” Use arrows, text, and other tools to add the desired annotations.

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6. Tag to Publish

Once you have completed drafting a test post in Evernote, you are ready to publish it to your Postach.iosite. Any notes tagged “Published” in your Postach.io notebook will automatically sync to your blog. Click to enter the text in the tags field at the top of your note and hit enter to save.

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7. Sync With Your Blog

Although your Evernote notebook syncs with your Postach.io blog automatically, new posts are sometimes not published straight away. To upload a blog post immediately, press the manual sync button at the top of the note (the icon with the two arrows that meet to form a circle).

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Return to the Postach.io tab in your browser. You should see a confirmation page just like the one below. Click Log Me In and enter your account details to access your site and start personalizing it to your purpose and taste.

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Personalize Your Site

When you log in to your Postach.io account, you will see the dashboard. Click on the magnifying glass icon next to your blog to view it in your browser.

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It should look much like this…
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Confirm your test post is being displayed correctly and check out the default Postach.io design. Looks great right? Sure. But if you want your blog make you stand out from the competition you need to adapt it to your purpose (travel blogging) and personalize it to express your unique personality and style. Read on to discover how to make your blog beautiful.

1. Open the Postach.io Site Editor

Click on the pencil icon on the Postach.io dashboard to start editing your blog.

(Source: Author screenshot)

2. Name Your Blog

A great travel blog needs a great name. When naming your site, try to keep your options open. For example, if I am writing about traveling Vietnam, I might be tempted to call my blog AsianTravels. If a year later, I decide I want to travel South America, I will have a hard time shoehorning posts about Peru into my Asia-specific blog feed. Here are some examples of blog names from the biggest travel bloggers to get you inspired:

Nomadicmatt.com

Expertvagabond.com

Ytravel.com

Adventurouskate.com

Youngadventuress.com

Neverendingfootsteps.com

We went for Flipflopsforever because it is catchy but vague enough for us to be able to write about any sunny holiday location, giving us greater flexibility with where we go. An ambiguous name also means that if you create a custom domain and want to sell it in the future, you will not be limited to a specific market (i.e., companies looking for a domain for an Asian travel website). The travel and tourism industry generates annual revenue of around $7.6 trillion, contributing to approximately 10.2% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Don’t cut yourself off from potential opportunities to tap into this market in the future.

  • Enter your new blog name in the Subdomain box.
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3. Create a Custom Domain?

Although you can create a blog for free, you will want to create a custom domain if you want to build an online presence and optimize your site for future traffic. Essentially, if you are trying to get anyone to read your blog other than your friends and family, you will want a custom domain.

Your blog will also appear more professional with a .com or .io domain suffix rather than a .postach.ioone. Custom domains come with all paid packages. Click on Change Plan in the Billing tab to see the paid packages we offer, either by monthly or annual subscription. You will also then have full access to premium site designs and priority support from the Postach.io team.

If you want to upgrade your account to a paid one and choose your custom domain name now, check the box in the Details tab that reads “I’d like to use a custom domain,” and follow the instructions. If you don’t want to do this now, you can always upgrade at a later stage.

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4. Introduce Yourself

If you want Google and the people who visit your blog to know what it is about, you need to include a site description. The more keywords you can use which people may search to find travel blogs such as yours, the easier it will be for them to find you. With Postach.io you can easily edit your site description using the Details tab:

 

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Here are a couple of examples of site descriptions from well-known travel blogs:
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Write a short synopsis of who you are, what topics you cover, and your specific approach to travel blogging. What will people find when they click through to your blog from search engines? They won’t know unless you tell them.

5. Personalize Visual Content

In the Details tab, you will also see options to upload your own logo and cover image. Start personalizing the visual aesthetic of your site.

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If you want to personalize your blog to your identity as opposed to that of your brand, use a photo avatar as your logo for a personal touch. If you want to be a little more anonymous, you can create a free logo here. Follow the on-screen instructions and select an appropriate design. We made a logo for our hypothetical blog in less than a couple of minutes:

 

For your cover photo, use a picture you have taken, or download one from a site where you can access public domain images for free.

Your images will be displayed as thumbnails when they have been uploaded. Be sure to check your site to ensure they are displayed correctly.

 

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5. Pick a Theme

Here at Postach.io we offer a wide selection of free and premium site designs (“themes”) which you can apply to your blog. To choose a theme other than the default, go to Edit Theme and browse through the thumbnails to see what catches your eye.

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If you like the look of a theme, hover your mouse over it and click to apply it to your blog. To see how the theme looks on your site, simply visit it to see what’s new.

If you are not keen on a theme, don’t worry. Changing it will not result in the loss any of your data or images. Simply return to the Themes tab and pick something different. We stuck with the default theme for our blog because we love the wide format and high definition cover photo display.

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How and What to Write

So you are now the proud owner of a unique, personalized travel blog. What next?

You need to start packing your expertly designed site with equally-expert content. Most successful travel bloggers publish a blog post around once or twice a week. But what do they write about? And how? Here are the most essential factors to consider when writing your travel blog posts:

1. Choose a Content Format

You may want to just start writing. But writing is always more comfortable when you prepare a plan of what to write. Travel blog posts come in a variety of formats. You need to write the type of content that people would actually search for if you want to generate significant traffic to your site. Often, they exhibit highly-structured “how to,” “step-by-step,” “listicle,” or “what to take” formats. These are the kind of formats people search for because they know the search engines will return something useful and easy-to-read. If you are unsure of the kinds of content formats you should be writing to, now is the time to do a little research on your competitors and their most popular posts.

Mixing up the different content formats you offer week-by-week is a great way to keep your audience engaged. You could even create a content calendar to ensure you never write to the same format twice in a row. For our second post, we decided to go for the “how to” format. A “how to” title format implies that your post conveys instructional advice using clear explanations that anybody could understand.

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2. Establish Unique Value

Once you decide on the content format to write to for a particular post, you need to establish what to write about. Sure — if you are a travel writer, your location largely dictates what you write about. But you cannot merely document your activities wherever you are and expect people to want to read it. You need to offer value that there are untapped audiences for. This value does not need to be monetary. The value you offer in your blog posts will primarily consist of — 1. originality of information, and 2. support for fellow and future travelers.

Googling the city or country you are in, along with different keywords matching the proposed format of your post can be a great place to start. For example, if I were in Saigon and this week and wanted to write a “how to” post, I would simply search the phrase “how to” in combination with my location keyword (“Saigon”) to get a feel for the type of questions people are already looking for answers to. This gives me more than enough clues about the different “pain points” or interests I could address. Google even displays related frequently asked questions for you in some searches (shown below).

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You can also use points of issue or interest from your own experience to spur you on to creativity. What valuable information could you not find before you visited a place that you wish you had? If a trip or excursion goes poorly, ask yourself “why?” How you can give other travelers information that will better prepare them for a place or activity in a way that eases or improves that their experience of it.

Tell them about pricing, so they know how much currency to withdraw; Tell them where the ATM is so they can find it; If you didn’t get answers to the questions you asked your tour guide, do some research and tell your fellow adventurers the insights you discover.

Craft your blog posts around the value you can add to other travellers’ lives and your travel blog will be servicing a demand that is already there – for great, quality, location-specific content.

For our post, we have decided to cover “taxi prices.” In Saigon, as in many Asian cities, taxis can be difficult to manage for first-time travellers. It also shows up as a frequently asked question on Google, which means there is a large audience looking for answers related to the topic.

 

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3. Craft Your Title

Now you know the specific topic you are going to cover and the format the post is going to take, it is time to do some research. The title of your blog post is one of the most critical elements. If you don’t have a clickable title, your potential readers don’t know that the value you have crafted for them is there waiting. We need to take our “how to” format and our “Saigon + taxi” topic and combine them to create the most appealing title we can. Here’s how:

  • Google your content format keywords, for example, “how to” or “ways to” along with your location and topic keywords (e.g., Saigon + taxi”).
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  • Visit the first three results and note down any information that could be useful to include in your blog post (e.g., prices, taxi companies to use, what to say to taxi drivers).
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  • Come up with five versions of your title that will enable you to address multiple points on your list and include all your keywords.
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  • Google each version of your title and go with the one that produces the least relevant results. This is where the low hanging fruit is. If no relevant web pages are ranking for a particular string of keywords, nobody is competing with you to get their content on the first page when people type it in to Google.

Since there are no “how to” posts at all on Saigon taxis, ranking for the keywords we searched, we went for the simple but searchable “How to Get a Taxi in Saigon.” As there are no relevant web pages with all of our keywords in, we can be sure that when somebody searches this string of terms, our post is likely to rank among the top results. Follow the same process for every article and blog post you write for the web.

4. Research Your Post

Now you have a title and format for your post, you are ready to go out and experience the activity, location, or landmark you are going to write about. Evernote comes with plenty of tools to aid you with your research on the go. If you haven’t downloaded the mobile app yet, you can do this here.

 Whatever your topic, it can be a good idea to think of all the information you need to collate prior to venturing out. For example, from our online research we know that people often ask about the price differences between each taxi company, where to get taxis around Saigon, how to hail a taxi, and how not to get ripped off. For each taxi ride we take for our research, we must pay particular attention to pricing structures, taxi company names and places, noting these down to refer to when writing up.

 

Evernote’s image-to-text document scanner is particularly useful for potentially dangerous locations where you may feel uneasy taking your smartphone out. It allows you to convert your paper notes to digital documents in an instant.

Write down anything you may need to know when you come to writing your post up. It may all seem clear when you are out “on the road,” but when you return to your notebook at the start of a new day, starting off with too much information is always better than too little.

5. Capture Images

Images are as important as your text for ensuring your blog post is memorable and clear. After three days, we remember on average around 10% of the information we read. If key information is paired with relevant images though, this bumps up to 65% who remember their experience with your brand and the information you share. If you want to be successful, if you want the information you spend your time collecting to sink in, you need to use images in your posts. But what type of images should you use?

There are two primary ways you will use images in your posts, explained below. Both types of image will help to guide readers’ eyes down the page and can reinforce or illustrate your content. Nonetheless, some images are more specific in function than others.

Image as Visual Branding

 

Images used as visual branding are there for the specific purpose of making your post look professional, giving it a particular aesthetic, and reinforcing particular elements of your unique content.

Image as Illustration

 

(Source: nomadicmatt.com)

Images used for illustrative purposes say what cannot be said more easily using words. They illustrate a point, display directions, demonstrate a description, or just generally provide bonus visual information on a particular activity or process. Screenshots are good examples of illustrative images, as are the photos we might take of taxi meters to show the prices for each taxi company in our post.

Collect as many images of relevant objects, locations, people, and situations as you can. Having a library of photos to choose from will give you a better chance of finding that perfect photo to compliment what you want to say when you write it up.

7. Structure Your Headings

When you search for information about a location online, you don’t want to be presented with a Shakespearean play. You need the most thorough information you can get, in the most concise, easily readable format you can get it in. Writing a travel blog, you always need to think about your readers — how can you give them the best information in the most digestible way?

Start with your headings. “Step-by-step” and “how to” formats work because they are clearly structured, requiring you to write in distinct sections with accompanying subheadings. They allow readers to easily scan your chunks of content to find exactly what they want to know. Ensure you use a consistent font for each heading to separate your paragraphs clearly so it is easy to see where one ends and the other begins.

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Once you have planned your sections, organize your research to match. You should have a mix of field notes, research, and images. Insert them into your Evernote document under the relevant sections, so you have plenty of info to get started with when you begin to write up.

6. Write!

Don’t be scared. Some consider this the hardest part. But if you have followed this guide correctly, you now have a treasure trove of research and images, a topic, a title, and a format. This is amazing news – you don’t have to start with a blank page.

What you need to do now is write up the information you have collected and organized by heading. Your style and tone should be tailored to your topic and the audience at which you are pitching your blog. Regardless, whatever you write, you want it to be readable. Simple linguistic forms and sentences work better with online content because people are looking for the information they need in the most digestible format. We can’t tell you what to write, but we can give you some pointers on how to ensure your text is clear, concise, and easy to read.

5 Best Practices for Blog Writing

  • Use the Active Voice: “the taxi driver took my wallet” not “my wallet was taken by the taxi driver.”
  • Break up Complex Sentences: “I established a good rapport with the driver, who loved my Chinese shoes, and he then took me all the way to my door even though he had to squeeze his car down a tiny alley to get there.” This sentence would be much clearer if split into multiples ones – e.g., “I established a good rapport with the driver. He absolutely loved my Chinese shoes. He took me all the way to my door even though he had to squeeze his car down a tiny alley to get there.”
  • Vary Your Sentence-Starters: Repeating “there,” “the,” “however,” and other overused sentence-starters do not only make your writing less readable (variation helps to guide readers’ eyes down the page) but it can also make your post boring. Begin your sentences with more exciting types of word like adjectives and nouns.
  • Edit Like a Ninja: A draft is only the first stage of your blog post. Go back to the beginning of your post and re-read it, removing unnecessary words from sentences and unnecessary sentences from your sections.
  • Proofread With Software: Though it is important to edit your post for style, unless you are a seasoned editor-in-chief there will always be grammatical mistakes you miss. Using a sophisticated proofreader such as Grammarly or AutoCrit can catch all your grammatical mistakes and even give you “eloquence” suggestions to simplify your writing.

7. Publish and Repeat

When you have completed your post and published it (just as you did with your test post, by tagging it “published” in Evernote) your work is not finished. As mentioned above, you need to fill your blog with loads of posts so it begins to show up on Google when people search for a number of different concerns, issues, and interests. This may take a while, but continue to post regularly to your blog, and you will start to see the traffic trickle in. Once you have a decent amount of traffic coming through your site organically (from searches), you will be able to optimize it using various monetization strategies.

Going Forward

That’s it! You are now set up with a travel blog to rival the rest. Soon every adventure you take will also be a mission to find the most intriguing and exciting locations and cultures. As you discover the world, keep on populating your site with original, quality, useful, searchable, clickable content, and sharing it for your friends, family, and the world to see.

The future of your blog is bright. The more unique, travel-based content you fill it with, the more unique traffic you will bring in. Once you have a steady pool of visitors passing through your site every day, you can start to explore opportunities for monetizing it through ads, mentions, and other affiliations.

For now, get blogging! There is a whole world out there to see. If you start blogging regularly now, you will become an even better writer for when your posts are getting read by the masses a few months down the line.

Postach.io Tip

Download the Evernote mobile app (iOS or Android) for seamless integration with your Postach.io blog on-the-go!

If you’re looking for a simple way to set up your own blog and are familiar with Evernote, Postach.iois free and extremely simple to use – you can get started right away. Publish your first post today!

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