So you want to start your own travel blog or website?
Travel blogging can be fun, but it can also be daunting getting yourself setup or improving on an already existing setup. I may not be very creative but I’m quite technical and have been writing code and making websites since the mid 90s. I get a lot of technical questions in regards to setting up blogs. Feel free to also contact me regarding any information in terms of getting yourself setup.
Please also note some of the following links are affiliate links, so I do make some money if you make a purchase. Buying from the links does not cost you any more and it helps me offset my hosting costs.
The first thing you need to think about is where do you host
There are lots of free hosting sites out there including Blogger and WordPress.com. The benefits are that they are free and someone else deals with the hosting. The drawback is that you also don’t own the platform. If they go away and with Google products we know sometimes they shutdown their products for instance, then what? You need to move yourself to somewhere else.
Benefits:WordPress is one of the most used blogging software on the internet, It’s free, There is a lot of support, tools etc
Drawbacks: Difficult to add monetization if you want to add ads or other affiliate links, If you want your own domain name it costs extra, Less plugins available for .com than there is for a self hosted site
Benefits: Easier to monetize than WordPress.com, Easy to setup and get started
Drawbacks: Requires a bit more technical knowledge than WordPress.com to customize, Proprietary software, so if it shuts down you could lose it.
Wix, Weebly, Jimdo, etc:
There are a lot of other sites including wix, weebly, and so on. I don’t have as much experience with these as the ones above. The benefit is that they all have free options with is great for starting out and then plans as you grow. They also handle a lot of the nitty gritty. However they are also proprietary systems so you need to be somewhat careful if you decide to move your content off their networks (if they go out of business, or you want to change hosting for other reasons).
There are tons of options for self hosting. I will focus on WordPress here mostly since that is what I use, it is very popular and well supported, and it is what I have the most info about. I’m looking into setting up another website soon with another platform perhaps Joomla or Drupal and if I do I can perhaps add in some info about those as well.
For self hosting the sky is the limit in terms of what you can pay. If you are just starting out, definitely look for a cheaper shared hosting. Make sure it has all the right features for you, and I’ll only mention those that do have those as well! I currently run this site on Bluehost and I can highly recommend them.
Low Cost: Bluehost. The reason I went with bluehost was cost, features, and ease of setup. Having SSH access was important to me (although it might not be important to you) as were other advanced features. If you are looking for a simple setup for a CMS system like WordPress they have 1-click installs for wordpress, drupal, joomla, which will make the installs really easy!
Alternatively you can also look into is UK based Dreamhost which several of my friends use and has basically the same set of features as well.
Medium: If when you grow a bit bigger you will probably want to upgrade your site as well. I have friends who I’ve supported who use the following sites. My sites don’t run on them but I can recommend them to you as well. I would only go with these sites if your audience starts to grow and you find the demands too great for these lower cost shared hosts.
WPEngine. If you are going to go with wordpress and if you have huge demands they have some great options for hosting your site. The price is definitely higher too so make sure you are at least making money from your blog, website.
They also have a built in CDN (content delivery Network) which is a huge benefit for pages with a lot of content (particularly photos). T his will help speed up your page delivery which will keep users engaged (if things are too slow they will go away)
High: In the high end realm there are a lot of options. One of the best and one I can recommend is Rackspace. With these huge cloud type hosting services you will easily be able to host the largest of sites, some of the world’s largest websites run with them. However be prepared to pay costs. You do in the end get what you pay for however.
You know there are a lot of ways to register domain names these days. In the past you could only go through a few companies (even longer ago it was one!). If you are looking to just register one domain you can usually get a free domain with a lot of the services. However as you grow you might want more domains for various reason. One of the best registrars for this is Hover.com which allows you to register the domain and also includes free domain privacy (it puts company info for the whois record instead of your home address). Definitely something to think about if you register more domains.
Content Delivery Network: CDNs started coming on the scene a few years ago and are groups of servers that are setup to delivery content (particularly images, videos, etc) with high availability and high performance. Some of the more expensive web hosting options have these built in or offer it as part of their plans so you should check with your provider first if it is an option. For everyone else, there are lots of companies that deliver this service. I’ll talk about two that I have familiarity with.
Cloudflare: What I currently use at the moment. They have a free tier which is great for small sites and have options as you grow. If you are small it is definitely worth starting with them as free is hard to argue with. They are also a breeze to setup if are not technologically inclined.
Cloudfront: This is Amazon’s on demand content delivery network. Lots of websites serve their content through cloudfront (you’ll notice their images are being delivered by (someaccount).cloudfront.net if you look closely). They don’t have a free option but it scales as your content needs do. They have a lot of advanced features and some advanced caching features you don’t find with Cloudflare. However you need to know a bit more what you are doing to get the most out of them.