For those of you wishing to create a travelogue of your holidays in a website blog format, here are the basic concepts to help you sort it out. This article covers what a beginner needs to know to decide if this is the method they prefer to post and share their travels with family, friends and the world. (It also can be applied to other blog and website projects)
This method of recording your vacation adventures is not the easiest way to share those stories. Certainly it can offer the most control and perhaps expand to a professional travel blog that could make you some money one day.
I have been doing all types of websites for the last 17 years and here is a general overview to help you make a choice.
I know when I started I had many questions;
I think I can answer a few here.
Basic steps to creating a Travel Blog website:
- Site Name
- Web Hosting
- Build Site
- Post Content
So the first decision you need to make is, do you keep it simple or leave it open for expansion? Do you go with the free package route with its limitations, or pay ongoing fees to run your own independent travel blog?
Some sites offer a complete service of name,space, website template tools and away you go. That might be your best choice. Another path is setting it up independently for more flexibility. It is impossible to get specific in this short article and I will leave you with a few leads to research further and mention more in future posts.
So will this travel blog be a quick fun thing, maybe for your European vacation, or the start of something grand?
Well here is how it works, the BIG picture –
1 – Site name – You can go two ways with a domain name. Get a free one that is long and not very pro looking or buy one typically for $15/yr. The first year of your domain and web hosting is usually very cheap, but note the annual fee beyond that usually doubles.
Most free hosting services give you web space with a long ugly domain name and may place ads on it too. If you buy a name you need to setup the DNS name servers to point visitors to where you host space.
2 – Web hosting – There are many free web hosting and paid services out there. I would have to say it is one of the hardest items to shop around for. Who do you believe as there is plenty of BS out there making claims of greatness that you cannot confirm? Do your homework and ask a friends. Be careful when you sign up as to their trial period and refund policies are. Yesterday I was surprised when I left Site 5 that they would not give me a refund.
In general as you move up the list from free to paid, you get more server space and site speed. What is not apparent is that the cheaper hosts share server resources with hundreds of other sites. I have run into website themes, plugins and tools that ran slow or not at all because they would not allocate enough RAM or CPU power with my plan. I had to upgrade to another company and that is no fun.
A travel blog would certainly feature many of your photos and a few videos so you need space and speed.
3 – Build site – Unless you want to dive into the deep end and build a site from scratch with Dreamweaver, go with the short cuts and start posting your holiday. Either way, these days sites have an administrative back end to the site where you make the changes and publish your text and photos.
The entry level has package site templates that install with no coding. You pick a look make a few changes and run with it. Other services have more templates and design tools and may offer social networking tools to help share your trips. At some point you start paying for these cool features.
WordPress is the most popular blogging program out there. I have been using it for 10 years. It is free to use and there are free themes and plugin features on their site that may be just fine for you. The better stuff you pay for and get dependable updates (as software just keeps changing and improving).
For those of us (like me) who want total control, it has many plug-ins and options but will be frustrating for beginners as there are many quirky things you need to know to make it run well.
4 – Post content – Usually while traveling you want web based access to your travel blog from anywhere, though you may opt to post the whole trip when you get home. Check into the process of posting updates of your trip as you go. Most sites can be updated remotely by going to the backend of the website in an Admin area. This could be done at the end of the day with a hotel computer or perhaps bring a tablet along. Some have phone apps so you can post that way.
Be aware of data costs in foreign lands to upload and work on these travelogue posts as it can get pricey if your data roaming is on or say you are on a cruise that uses a satellite link. Text takes little to upload but keep those photo and video files small.
Perhaps wait till you get home to put it all together and stick with having fun on the trip and not get bogged down trying to keep up with submissions.
Maybe it’s better to focus on recording the events.
A hybrid of having your ongoing travel story online is to use a social media platform, like Facebook , Instagram or Google +. They are easy to use but your travel story can get scatter around as you post your trip daily. This makes it hard to contain the trip in one place and the layout has limits. I will cover more on that in another post as they have benefits and drawbacks to this kind of travelogue.
The internet is actually very complicated but you don’t need to know code these days, as tools and sites are evolving to make it easier for us mere mortals. And if you run into trouble there is plenty of help from tech support or online communities. Typically, if you have a problem someone else likely did too.
Here are a few of the top sites that have plans:
And for site reviews and ratings try Site Geeks but note that everyone has a bias and many try to make money with glowing reviews tied to affiliate links to make a buck. Who can you trust?
Do you know any other good sites I should add to this list? There are hundreds…