How To Start A Travel Blog: Introducing The Niche Site Challenge [Part 1]

You can see all updates from the Niche Site Challenge here.

If you’re a member of the Nichehacks Mastermind you may have seen the huge confession I made to everyone.

If not here it is for you again in full:

 

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And this commitment still stands. In fact, I’m going one step further. Let me explain…

Every month you’re going to see my progress on my new Niche Site.

I'm going to start a travel blog.

And, you’re going to have access to everything that I do.

All the tips, tricks, tools, keywords, and traffic strategies that I use to get this site from zero to profitable. You’ll even have access to the income I make, too.

My main focus is to use strategies from Nichehacks and implement them. But, if I use a strategy that isn’t here, you’ll get a complete guide to what I’ve done.

Because I want you to succeed alongside me.

Okay, so, let’s get on with what you’re going to learn today

 

 

What You’ll Learn

  • How To Launch A Travel Niche Blog (Or Any Kind Of Blog)
  • Why You Don't Need To Pay For A Mailing List
  • The Reason You Need To Stop Worrying About Design
  • The Essential Pages For Your Niche Site

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)

 

About The Niche Site

I don’t want to dwell here too long, because there’s not much to explain, so let me give you the information in a short, sweet and sexy box:

Name: One Day Guides

Niche: Travel

Type of Site: Authority Blog

Income Streams: Guidebooks (Self Made) & Affiliate Products

Brand Image: Time saving and improved experiences

If I’m honest I’ve always wanted to create guidebooks for travel so this site focuses on that aspect more than anything.

Selling your own products creates the biggest return on investment, so I want to devote my time there while I build an audience.

This isn’t about making money quickly it’s about making money over the long term.

 

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There is a lot of competition in this niche, especially for guidebooks, so my USP is short guides that give you the least amount of options to choose from.

How am I testing this product is worth it?

I’m using myself as a measuring stick.

These products - and blog posts - are the content I want to see. Because, if I want it, I can almost guarantee there are other travelers out there that want them.

Hell, my site hadn’t even launched yet and I got this message from a friend on Facebook:

 

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I’m taking the Guy Kawasaki approach of staying on brand for at least a year. So, I’m going to work on refining this as I go.

 

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"I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There’s more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster."

- Adventurous Kate

Click Here To Tweet This!

 

 

The Truth About Launching Your Site

One Day Guides officially launched on 18th April 2016 (in case you’re reading this in the future).

But, what does launching actually mean?

Getting ready for a launch can be a big stumbling block for you as a niche marketer.

Because, it’s scary to get your site online and ready for the world to see. There’s always something else that could be ready before you get it out there.

Instead, I’m going to tell you the real truth about when you should launch your site:

As soon as damn possible.

Take the fear out of the situation and get your site online when it’s 70% or 80% ready.

You don’t have to wait until it’s perfect; it just has to be acceptable for you to see.

Okay, let me give you an example of what I mean…

Two weeks before I launched, I was stressing over the theme for the blog.

Because it didn’t quite look as nice as I wanted it to:

 

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But changing the theme for that would have involved changing the whole damn site.

So, instead, I went out in search of successful blogs with less-than-stellar design.

I found Ryan Biddulph’s blog that I love the content of and the design is pretty basic.

Which put my mind at ease and let me move on to the next stage of my plan:

 

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So when something feels like it’s standing in your way, look for examples of where people have succeeded without it.

And, if you think you really need it, you can always add it later.

There are some things I’d recommend you have in place before you launch as a bare minimum, though.

Let’s explore those so you can tick them off yourself.

 

Step #1: Get The Basics Under Your Belt

All this really means is:

  • Choose a domain
  • Choose a hosting package
  • Upload a theme

You can learn how to do all of that cheaply in this article about starting a niche site for under $32.

Check that out when you get chance, because we’re gonna move onto the nitty gritty instead.

There’s also choosing the keywords based on your niche, too.

You can use my article on how to generate 100 keywords in under 26 minutes for this.

 

Step #2: Stock Up On Content To Stay In The Game

Content is the big stumbling block for people in Niche Marketing.

Heck, I just need to search the mastermind group to find that out:

 

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So the more of this you can get done before you launch your site, the better.

I feel that depending on your posting schedule, you should be 1:5 ahead of yourself.

By that I mean:

  • If you post once per week you should have five posts in the bank
  • If you post twice per week you should have 10 posts in the bank
  • If you post three times per week you should have 15 posts in the bank

That way you’re always really far ahead of yourself.

This isn’t too hard to do, either.

You can just jot down articles in Evernote as you go:

 

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You can write them in WordPress and save them as a draft so they’re just ready to go online:

 

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Or, if you’re so inclined, you can write them on Medium, publish them and put them on your blog at a later date:

 

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It also pays to have a list of content ideas, and keywords, that you can use in your articles too.

Because while SEO isn’t important for your launch - yeah, I said it, what you gonna do?

It pays to have some long-tail keywords in place.

I use SERPed to do my Keyword research because they have a ‘drill down’ tool that allows you to look at a longtail keyword

And go deeper, and deeper, and deeper until you find the best competition for your article:

 

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Which becomes:

 

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Creating content based on these keywords can be super effective to begin with.

And, it always gives you a content idea to work on.

For example, my first post How To Travel Europe By Train came from a search like this

And it will, in the future, start to bring me organic traffic when my site authority builds.

 

Step #3: Have Informative On Site Content

Your site doesn’t need to be perfect, not even close, when you launch it.

But there are a few pages you’ll need to have under your belt.

Let’s look at them a little more in-depth…

 

About Page

People don’t come here as often as you’d think.

So, don’t worry too much about this page being great.

But it should give people an idea of:

  • What the site is
  • Why it exists
  • Who you want to help

And, if you can tell a compelling story with it, even better.

You can find my About page here, or check out a short part of it here:

 

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My big advice here is don’t get hung up on this page.

You can change it as often as you need to.

I currently have a friend who has been trying to write her about me page for a month.

It’s not that important, trust me.

 

Resource Page

This page is possible in pretty much every niche and you can get some decent affiliate links on your site straight from the off

Even if you’re not planning on being an affiliate marketer on the whole.

 

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As an authority blogger people are always interested in what you use to fuel your life, business and everything specific to your niche.

Resource pages can let you do that pretty easily.

You can find some of these affiliate links on the products themselves, like I found for Skyscanner in their site footer:

 

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Or you can use sites like CJ or JVZOO to find the products that fit your niche.

I’ve not used either of those with my site so far, though. Just a heads up.

 

Contact Page

In my opinion, this is one of the most important pages on your site when you’re building up a brand.

Being accessible and easy to contact makes your brand more human and interactive.

I’ve tried to make this super accessible by adding multiple points of contact for it.

The usual link on the bar, and by creating this on the home page:

 

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You can create contact forms easily (and for free) using WP Forms.

They’re basic, but you can get them online in seconds:

 

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Step #4: Get Your Mailing List Ready

There are two things I want to address here:

  1. You do need a mailing list
  2. You don’t need to pay for it (yet)

 

Why You Need A Mailing List When You Launch

The sooner you can start capturing people, the better it is.

There’s no point in wasting traffic coming to your site without holding on to their vital information.

Even if only your Mom, Auntie and that weird person who kinda fancies you subscribe, that’s still something to start with.

So get it set up as soon as you can.

 

"Starting your very first travel blog is actually pretty easy."Dwk8wMjk

- Matt Karsten

Click Here To Tweet This! 

 

 

Why You Don’t Need To Pay For It

MailChimp will allow you up to 2,000 subscribers for free. So, just sign up for that.

There’s no need to start paying for expensive mailing lists when you first start out. You just need a method of contacting.

Then, once you have enough subscribers to deal with, you can swap it over to a different account.

Now, it’s in MailChimp’s Terms and Conditions that you can’t sell affiliate products through their platform.

But you’re not focused on making a quick buck here, this is about capturing people while you’re figuring out what the best way to make money from your site is.

When you are ready to switch though, I wrote a comprehensive guide for Matthew Woodward on which email platform is the best, and why.

 

Step #5: Set Up Google Analytics & Sumo Me

These are the last things I’ll recommend you need to get launched.

 

Google Analytics

So you can see your traffic progress and get deeper insights into your customers. It’s easy to sign up, you can do it here.

 

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SumoMe

This has been an absolute godsend in getting my site launched.

It’s a suite of tools you can get for completely free (there are PRO versions) that help you launch.

Like, this email list capture pop-up:

 

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And it integrates with Google Analytics above too:

 

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There are loads of free tools you can come across and use.

So it’s worth adding to your site for all the extra power it can give you.

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)

 

That’s All For This Month

The site is officially live. And, I hope this will help you get your site off the ground too.

Next month, we’ll look at what I’ve been able to achieve.

The goals I’m setting for the business and how you can steal my traffic strategies.

See you then!

P.S.

Part 2 of the niche site challenge is here.

And part 3 is here.

 

CLICK HERE TO GET ACCESS TO 150+ NICHE REPORTS

James Johnson
James is the founder of the Freelance Writers School where he teaches normal people how to make money through freelance writing even if they failed English at school and have no idea about business.

Comments (25)

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  1. Sherman says:

    Now that was awesome!
    Thanks for the steps.
    I am not sure of the disease I have, but without a step by step plan like your's I never seem to get traction.

  2. Matt Davison says:

    This is awesome. I've always been a fan of your writing James. Now i kinda have to compete with you.

    Nothing like a little healthy competition 😛

  3. terinah doba says:

    Nice! It's good you can make a guide about something you haven't even tried. I did that , too and people started hating on me. Probably because my research was sloppy! So I started a blog that only features the things that I have already done, or wanting to implement in the future.

    Anyway, I'm using SumoMe as well and Mailpoet to send my newsletters out. But Mailpoet has some delays and the emails would go to the Spam folder. I hope Mailchimp doesn't have this problem because I'm ready to swtich.

    • Hey Terinah,

      Don't get me wrong, I LIVE for travel. It's my bread and butter. So, I'm well immersed in the niche. And the guide is to show you how to go from Zero to Hero; and how I do it.

      Let me know your results!

      James

  4. Great article. You've done a lot in a short space of time. Very inspirational.

    I am curious to know what you do about sourcing images, when you have not got one of your own to suit the post you are writing. Images are a big block for me.

    I don't want to fall foul of copywrite law, but also too tight (skint) to cough up 2 or 3 bucks for photos for each post I write. At the moment I have got free images on my current site, but the accreditation links look awful, and I wonder if they are actually harming my rankings. Therefore, I am looking for a better way to do things, so any tips you have would be great.

    • Hey Julia,

      Great question! I actually use an app called Stencil, it's a subscription but it's got thousands of free, creative commons images that you can edit and update to fit your brand. You can find it here (none affiliate) - http://getstencil.com

      I also use Canva, too. You can get images for $1 a piece.

      If you're not willing to invest in images an though, you either need to go out and take them yourself, or quit blogging.

      I understand being Skint - hell we've all been there - but if you're not up for investing back into your content, you're not going to get far.

      Hope that helps,

      James

      • Julia Marshall says:

        Cool thanks James. That is helpful. I see getstencil.com uses Pixabay to check their images. I forgot about them, until I checked out the get stencil page. For now Pixabay gives me enough to allow me to keep publishing content, until I get some more funds together, and can afford to pay for images again. Thanks for your help.

  5. Pranav Khanna says:

    Hey James,

    Loved the writing style and the info is super on the dot.
    Eagerly waiting for the next steps

  6. Catia says:

    Thanks for this! Lot’s of great tips for us lil guys starting out.

  7. Jim Hughes says:

    Thanks James. I am so glad you are doing this as I am struggling to get my writing website up. I am also a outdoor photographer and love to travel so I have a desire to to do a website combining my love of travel and photography.

    I look forward to following you.

    Jim

  8. Earl says:

    Great work James, thank you for putting your step by step plan online for us to see. Can't wait for the next!

  9. Lisa says:

    Love this! I can't wait to read about your progress.

    I'm curious to if you thought about adding Pinterest into the mix? It's fairly easy to automate and get traffic once you learn how to properly use it.

    I know for many new "bloggers" it has been a game changer.

  10. John says:

    Your about page just says "TBC"

  11. kel says:

    Hey James, Great info! thanks.
    Wonder if you can help, I'm interested about blogging with a specific tour company in mind that has great reviews but that I have not used myself. I'm prepared to research like crazy but do you think this is a silly move considering I've never used them or anything similar before?
    What do you consider the best angle to start with? where would I start in terms of blogging ? eg tour company reviews or location write ups etc

  12. Jan St says:

    well done James. The travel niche is really a tough one, but the profits are high if you get yourself noticed.

  13. Loretta says:

    Thank you for your bold confessional and for sharing your new niche adventure with us.