In this post, I share why you should start a travel blog (and how to start your own travel blog in 8 steps).
Before 2013 I rarely thought about blogging. I didn’t understand the value of it or why people talked about it so much.
All of this changed when we hit the road in 2014 and started documenting our travels.
Since then, blogging has become the center point of everything we do in our business and while RVing.
It’s not only a way for our family to keep up with what we’re doing, it’s a place where we’ve built a community. We share our travel experiences, provide tips for people in the RV lifestyle, and our blog has even become a passive revenue generator for us (not a ton, but some).
Our blog has led to more opportunities than anything else we’ve done in the past 4 years. It has led to more opportunities than our diploma (which nobody cares about), our work experience, and even a series of national media we received while filming Hourly America. They all take a backseat to our blog.
I wrote this post for two reasons:
To share with you why I believe everyone should start a travel blog (if you’re traveling, of course)
And to walk you through a brief step-by-step tutorial on how to set up your blog
When Alyssa and I started RVing in 2014, the first thing we did was start our own blogs to document our upcoming adventure of Hourly America. We were two 23-year-old newlyweds who quit their jobs, bought an RV, and came up with this crazy idea of visiting all 50 states on our honeymoon. In each state, I was going to work an hourly job and Alyssa would film the entire thing for a documentary.
It was a crazy quest to go on during our first year of marriage, but we did it (and you can watch the entire film here).
Throughout year one on the road we blogged, took photos, and documented our story. We shared the breakdowns, the milestones, and key learnings from living in a 20-year-old RV (i.e how to get along in a small space, how to drive an RV through New York City, and how much it cost to visit all 50 states).
Other than having a great documentation of our first year of marriage, sharing our story led to countless real-life benefits.
One day CNN randomly stumbled across my Twitter account, which led to them on our website, which led to them doing an exclusive interview with us while we were in New York City (and then more media followed).
An author who helped inspire Hourly America noticed that we had taken his advice for working jobs across the country. Because we showed initiative and knew a thing about travel, he hired me to help him coordinate a 25 city book tour and help him promote his upcoming book launch. This was my first consulting gig ever.
Post Hourly America, Alyssa and I continue to share an honest account of our story on the blog. This has led to countless new relationships and a community of like-minded travelers who we now call friends (next month in Fredericksburg we’re hanging out with over 100 of them at our first RV Entrepreneur Summit!).
All of these things happened because we’d been sharing our story on a blog. There’s no guarantee that just because you start a blog that CNN will feature you or you’ll land your dream job or you’ll meet your life’s heroes or anything…BUT it gives you an opportunity to share your goals, dreams, and travels with the world. A blog provides you the chance to share your story and let others become a part of it.
2. Blogging can be profitable.
It’s not incredibly easy to turn a blog into a passive income generator, but it is possible. After a few hundred articles posted on our site over the past few years, our blog finally bringing in $500-$1,000/month for us in passive income. This took years, lots of mistakes, and a lot of hustle, but it’s an amazing feeling.
3. A blog gives others a chance to live vicariously through you.
By documenting our adventures on the road I feel we’ve given others, especially family, a chance to live through our experiences and share in the journey with us. It’s not always the right time for travel. Sometimes family members are sick, sometimes the money isn’t there, and sometimes we’re just in a dreaming phase. Having a blog to share our travels with others provides entertainment and value for people who haven’t yet or can’t hit the road.
I know this is true because at one point I was sitting on my butt in a cubicle, looking at Instagram accounts of people who traveled in truck campers. They gave me the travel bug and inspiration to go and do this. Now, we (and you) have a chance to do the same.
Simply by sharing an honest account of your travels, you have the chance to inspire someone to go see the world.
4. Knowing how to write good copy is a sought-after skill in 2017. The passenger seat, AKA my office.
Every company has a blog and needs people who can write great copy. Starting a blog of my own is what enabled Alyssa and me to start creating more location independent income over the past few years. A blog is a portfolio piece and something you can leverage to get additional paid gigs while on the road. It’s a great way for our potential clients and sponsors to get to know us and decide if they want to do business with us.
5. It becomes a virtual journal that helps you keep track of lessons and destinations. Alyssa filming while on the Pacific Coast Highway
While our blog hasn’t focused as much on the destinations, we’ve been able to document some our biggest life lessons here on the blog. We’ve been able to document our journey of paying off student debt, creating a documentary, writing books, starting a podcast, and building our business together while RVing.
This is something that can live on and one day we’ll be able to share with our kids. Plus, maybe our lessons can be helpful to others who want to venture down a similar path. Without a blog and platform for sharing our lessons, we wouldn’t have a medium to provide that value to others.
Also, while we don’t blog often about our travel destinations, we do plan on chronicling this more on our vlog this year
Starting a blog has been one of the best decisions Alyssa and I have ever made. It’s helped us grow our business, make countless friends, build a community, and continue this nomadic lifestyle. If you want to start your own travel blog to document your adventures, I outlined a basic tutorial below to help you get started.
How to Start Your Own Blog in 8 Steps
This tutorial contains an affiliate link for Bluehost, who Alyssa and I have used to host all of our websites.
Now that you’ve decided you want to start a blog, I’ve outlined 8 steps to getting your own blog up and running. Lego!
1. Pick a topic for your blog.
What do you want your blog to be about? There is a blog on almost every single topic on the internet. The more niche of a subject, the higher likelihood that you can develop a following for your blog (if that’s your goal).
For example, my blog specifically caters towards people who want to live, work, and travel the country in an RV. While there are a lot of people who aspire to travel the country in an RV, there are fewer people who want to work while on the road. I write blog content and record podcasts specifically for people who want to create an income while they travel.
A few pieces of advice I’d give on finding and honing your niche:
Pick a subject that you love and could write about for years (if you get sick of writing about the subject after 50 blog posts, it’s not a good subject)
Try to come up with a niche within a niche (i.e RVing is a niche, but I focused down even further to making money while RVing… aka a niche within a niche)
Pick ONE thing. You may love yoga and antique cars and deep sea fishing, but your blog shouldn’t be about all of these things. Focus on one key topic and don’t let yourself get distracted.
2. Decide what you want your URL to be.
I’ve gone through countless bad domain names — The Important Blog, Words with Heath, happiness4sale, and many, many others.
Now, our blog is staying put with HeathandAlyssa.com. Straight to the point, descriptive.
Since you know what subject you’re going to be blogging about, you now have to decide on a name for your blog.
The name of your blog is a BIG deal! For the longest time, Alyssa and I went back and forth about what we should name our blog. Most RV bloggers use some kind of cutesy travel name, but we knew that we wanted to keep blogging after our stint in the RV life. This was the reason we chose our name as our URL. This way, if we decide to give up the RV life at some point, we can continue blogging on our site.
Bonus: Now we will for sure stay married forever because switching domain names is a HUGE hassle (plus I also love my wife).
If possible, pick a domain name that is relevant to your subject. Here are a couple blogs I follow and whose names I really like. It’s witty and descriptive of who they are and what their blog is about.
Don’t use any dashes or weird symbols that are difficult to type
Avoid difficult to spell words
Make it relevant to your topic
Use an appropriate name extension (.com is still by far the most popular, but you can also use a .me if you’re just going to be a personal blog)
While it’s important to pick a name that’s memorable, I wouldn’t overthink this step. It’s easy to sit around and procrastinate picking the name for your blog. It’s best to simply start and get things moving. A worst case scenario is that you can change it later.
Where to buy domains:
Bluehost— A good place to buy your domain, especially if you choose them for hosting!
GoDaddy— I prefer searching for available domain names on GoDaddy.com, just because they give you good alternative options if your desired name isn’t available. However, I recommend buying through Bluehost for better price and ease of use.
3. Buy hosting for your blog.
After buying your domain, you have to buy hosting through a provider, such as Bluehost. I’ve used Bluehost for every website I’ve ever set up and they’ve been great. You can also register your domain directly through Bluehost, which makes life a lot easier.
What is hosting?
For every website you go to, there is a hosting provider that allows that website to be online. Somewhere there is a large warehouse of physical servers that power various websites. In order to launch any website, you need to host it on a server. Bluehost is a company myself and many others have used for years who can host your site.
Basic should be good enough to get you started. You can always upgrade later if you need to! However, the “plus” plan will give you quite a bit more storage on your site if you’re planning on uploading a lot of photos and videos.
Next (if you haven’t already done so), you’ll want to register the domain. (Note: When you sign up for Bluehost hosting you’ll receive a free domain with your hosting plan).
While on the check out page you can select any extras you’d like to include with your hosting. I typically only include the domain privacy protection so as to keep my information private, which is only $.99/month.
4. Connect your domain and hosting.
You can skip this step if you set up your domain through Bluehost.
If you bought your domain through a site like Godaddy, you’ll need to switch your DNS servers to point over at Bluehost. Here’s how to do that.
Log into your Godaddy account and go to your domain manager section.
Click the domain you want to point to Bluehost.
Launch the domain manager and under the Nameservers tab, click on “manage”.
Select the Name Servers as custom and then change them to point at the default nameservers of Bluehost, which are:
Next, you’ll need to add the domain you bought through Godaddy as an add-on domain within your Bluehost Account. To do this you’ll log into your Bluehost Account, click on “Domains” and then click “Assign”.
5. Connect your Bluehost to your WordPress.
Now that you’ve bought your domain and hosting, you can get to the fun stuff… launching a WordPress site! WordPress is by far the most popular blogging and content management system in the world. I’ve used it on every site I’ve ever built and it makes it super easy to launch your site.
Now hold onto your hats, because there are a lot of steps here! But don’t worry, Bluehost makes this very, very easy for you!
Log into your Bluehost account (You should see a dashboard that looks similar to this)
Click on Install WordPress
Select Get Started
Select the domain name you want to be hosted on WordPress
Last year, our friend Michelle hosted an AMA on her website. If you haven’t heard of it, AMA stands for Ask Me Anything and the trend started long ago on Reddit. I’ve always wanted to do one, but I don’t use Reddit. So it wasn’t until I saw Michelle’s that I realized it must be okay for bloggers to host AMAs too!
Ask Me Anything means you can Heath and I anything. If you don’t know what to ask, here are a few things we love talking about here on HeathandAlyssa.com:
Ditching the 9 to 5
Starting a business
Binge watching Netflix shows
DIY chocolate and wine pairings (just kidding ALL wines go with chocolate)
Ask us anything in the comments and we’ll answer each question. Let’s go!
On today’s episode, I’m interviewing a very good friend of mine, Chris Crimmins. Chris and his now fiancé Rachel hit the road earlier this summer in a travel trailer, although he’s also personally restored a couple airstreams and outfitted vehicles for overlanding. For a decade, he ran a construction company in Nashville, he’s dabbled in real estate, but one interesting thing he’s done to finance his RV travels the past year has been renting out his Nashville house on Airbnb. In just the first 8 months of renting out on Airbnb, Chris has earned over $40,000.
In today’s episode, we talk about:
Permits, taxes, and other considerations for your local area
Tips for prepping your home for Airbnb and making a killer profile
You’re awesome. It’s because of people like you that I get to sit around in my RV and record podcast episodes with really interesting people. If you’ve been enjoying the show and want to help others find it, I’d love a review from you in iTunes. Each and every review helps more people find the show (seriously, each one counts).
To leave a review, click here and then go to “ratings and reviews”. It takes one minute and I read every one Thanks!
Two years ago, we bought our Winnebago Brave. After traveling across the lower 48 in a 21-year-old RV, we sighed in relief that we no longer had to worry that we might break down at any given moment. We had a reliable, new RV to take us on adventures.
And it took us on so many adventures.
Merica the Brave, as we call her, took us all over the country, up to Banff in Canada and along the east coast in Maine. Mountains, deserts, beaches—we’ve seen them all. She’s been the perfect rig (mostly because of that king sized bed though).
So why are we selling her?
Because we want to be a bit more…uncomfortable.
We have a huge dinette that serves as our dining room and my office. Heath has a desk in the passenger seat for his office. Since we have opposing slide-outs, there’s enough floor space to both do yoga in the morning. We have an oven and a shower and coffee table and every comfort of a home, all of which has been great for entertaining friends and family while on the road.
However, we jumped into RV life four years ago to break out of our comfort zone. To force us to grow and experience something new. Making that jump helped us start our first business (and then our second, and our third). And now that we’ve traveled America for a few years and made our Winnebago our home, we’re a little too comfortable.
So, we’re selling our Winnebago Brave and looking for a family, couple, solo traveler or adventurer to continue Merica’s journey. This RV has been an incredible home + adventure vehicle for us the past two years, but we’re excited to switch things up, go smaller, and do some international RV adventures.
It’s here! It’s here! It’s the week of our RV Entrepreneur Summit!
This week is one of our favorite’s of the year and while the conference doesn’t officially kick off until Thursday, it’s already been a blast!
We’ve got a co-working space and pre-Summit events sponsored by Xscapers. Plus spontaneous hot tub hangs and lots of work collaborations.
When we first started RVing, we had no community on the road. We didn’t know any other RVers and we never met any full-timers who actually worked while the traveled (nor did we meet any without grey hair). That first year on the road was so lonely, we moved our RV back to Texas for a while so we could be around friends and family.
But slowly we started discovering more and more young RVers through our blog. With the launch of Heath’s podcast in 2016, we discovered our people: RV entrepreneurs. Those crazy kids—ages 13 to 73—who want to run a business and travel full-time. This week 250 of them are coming together for our second annual RV Entrepreneur Summit!
Tickets are sold out, but you can still tune in online!
How to Watch the Livestream
We will broadcast the weekend’s main sessions on Facebook. To tune in:
Click on the videos tab to see all the live videos for the weekend. When we are live, there will be a flashing red light to let you know we are streaming.
The livestream schedule is below!
We will be giving away a WeBoost cell boosters, a Berkey water filtration system, a Harvest Hosts membership, Escapees membership, and Dometic cooler refrigerators throughout the weekend. To enter the giveaway, share any of the live stream videos throughout the weekend. To share, simply click the share button and post to your Facebook wall.
Friday, February 239:00 AM – 12:00 PM CST – Main Stage Sessions
This is a guest post by Melanie Scroggins. Earlier this year when we released our free course on downsizing, we heard feedback from so many people about the struggle to get rid of stuff. Melanie is the owner and creator of her brainchild Mine Space. Mine Space is dedicated to educating, empowering, and encouraging you to live more intentionally by taking a physical and emotional inventory of your spaces. Melanie is also the host of Mine Space Over Coffee, a podcast where she and her guests discuss all the things that make us human. She currently lives in Melvin the RV full-time with her husband Jeremy.
Two years ago, I was sitting on the floor of my mom’s guest bedroom with papers, pictures, and boxes of stuff from three generations stacked all around us.
“One day you may want to look back on these,” my mom said to me.
“Mom, I don’t think I’d even remember they existed.”
I honestly think my mom believed my sister and I would want to look back at some point in the future and see something in the abstract art of our four-year-old minds or the baby doll dress her grandmother made her. In that moment, she was projecting a sentiment onto me when what she really meant was that she wanted the ability to look back and think I remember. No matter her reasoning for keeping the stuff in those boxes, she needed to know I didn’t want the same things.
The article “No One Wants Your Stuff, Mom” was the first piece I read that laid out the basics of downsizing in a way that resonated with me. It provides simple guidelines to get rid of stuff as well as a subtle plea to all parents and grandparents of the world that the up and coming generation doesn’t want their stuff. Not because we don’t see value in what those things meant at one time, but because it doesn’t make sense for us to keep them for ourselves.
It’s normal to feel uneasy when it comes to downsizing. Most of us have had all we could ever need and more given to us our entire lives and we don’t want to seem wasteful or ungrateful.
But there comes a time when we have to face our stuff. Here are some reasons to get rid of stuff now.
1. There isn’t a need.
Need – Require something because it is essential or very important.
Want – Have a desire to possess or do.
We are fortunate to live in a time of plenty. Plenty of food, plenty of clean water, and God knows plenty of stuff. Toys, books, cars, houses, shoes, and clothes… the list is endless, but that doesn’t always stop us from swiping our cards.
No matter the reason for purchasing or accumulating more, it’s important to understand whether or not there is a need for that item before it is allowed into our homes.
Exercise: Before you buy a new item, ask yourself: Do I need it or do I simply want it? Why?
Take away: Giving ourselves a little more time to think about a buying decision allows us to feel confident in our purchase or not. If we’re uneasy or the purchase doesn’t make sense, a few extra minutes to think about it helps us make a more informed decision.
2. Storing stuff is a pricey pastime.
Buying new and buying more adds up over time. Eventually, a lot of Americans need more space to store their stuff. According to the Self-Storage Association, 1 out of every 10 American households has a storage unit. That’s enough real estate for every American to literally fit inside if standing up.
Sure, the storage unit only costs about $100 a month, but before the unit was necessary most of the items in there had a price tag as well. It’s not uncommon for individuals to forget about their units altogether, so it begs the question: Why the heck do we even have them?
Exercise: If you have a storage unit, plan a trip to go visit. Take a good look at what’s inside. If you have the time and the proper vehicle, get rid of at least three items while you’re there (more if you can).
Take away: Visiting our storage units gives us insight into what we have that we aren’t using. It also allows us the chance to see what we have and don’t need, providing us the opportunity to get rid of certain things for good and possibly saving upwards of $100/month.
3. We have a tendency to misplace value when it comes to our stuff.
When how we perceive value in an object outshines our necessity for that object, oftentimes we’ll keep the item just because. This is the precursor for why we hold onto things “just in case.”
However, there are items we don’t use every day that serve a higher purpose in our lives. We don’t use tools every day but they come in handy when anything needs to be fixed.
Here, I’m talking more about the items we have that are lying around with no defined purpose: knick-knacks, an overflow of blankets, throw pillows, craft supplies, extra coffee cups, and other kitchen items… things that often go unnoticed in our homes because they’re stuffed away in cabinets and drawers.
Exercise: Grab a pen and paper and go into a room in your house you always avoid. Stand in the doorway and look around (If there aren’t enough items in the room, open a drawer or cabinet). Choose at least one item to focus on. Write down why you are holding onto that item. Do you need it or does it hold some sentimental value for you?
Take away: It helps you discern what is truly valuable to you and what is excess. Standing in the doorway provides physical and emotional distance from the object giving you a more practical approach to the item in question.
4. Stuff stresses us out.
When we are surrounded by stuff, our brains have a hard time focusing. Over time, this lack of focus and diverted attention wears on us.
When our brains can’t locate Point A it takes much longer to find Point B delaying our productivity and tiring our minds.
Think of loose files on a desktop. Where is the direction? The same can be said of stuff that eventually becomes clutter in our homes. When we don’t have a system of what comes in and what goes out, we leave ourselves open to anything. If we don’t understand how this affects us on a daily basis, the problem gets worse over time until we literally feel as if we are drowning.
Exercise: The one-in-one-out rule. If you find it hard to get rid of a lot of stuff at one time, simply start by controlling what comes in. When you bring home a new item, make a deal with yourself to find another item in your home you can get rid of. Bring one thing in, take one thing out.
Take away: 1. This exercise shows that you have the power, not the stuff you own and 2. It’s an easy way to manage your stuff so clutter can’t find its way to more places in your home.
When we get rid of stuff, it can be difficult. Not only because it takes time and energy but because we feel connected to what we own.
However, the better we understand why we hold onto what we have, the easier it will be to define our relationships to the things we own and understand the benefits of getting rid of the excess.
Heath and I flew up to New York City this week to speak at Vox Con, a conference for storytellers, where we shared how we started full-time RVing and how we built our business while traveling America.
We took the stage right after Donald Miller, a NYT best-selling author and, randomly enough, one of my biggest inspirations for our jump into RV life.
I had nearly forgotten about it completely until I listened to him talking on stage and suddenly it hit me: he once left Texas to travel America in an old Volkswagen van (before #vanlife was cool). Now, a decade or two later, he’s the CEO of a successful company and has written half a dozen best-selling books.
One thing Heath and I worried about after we first started RVing was how it might affect our future. I remember our moms asking us: “How are you going to get a job if you live in an RV?” This was usually accompanied by the classic “When are you going to settle down?” and “When are you going to come home?”
It was from reading books and meeting other travelers that we became determined this lifestyle could work. We could still build a business and write books and be “successful” even if we lived in a Winnebago. I mean, if they could do it, so could we, right?
If you’re considering full-time travel or need a little inspiration on the road, I wanted to share with you the three travek books I read before breaking the news to Heath that we needed to travel to all fifty states for our honeymoon.
I read this book while Heath and I were dating long-distance. I remember sitting on my front porch in New Orleans reading it and thinking how I was in one of those in-between times where nothing was really happening in my life. I knew soon there would be a diamond ring and a wedding and adventure, but at the moment I was clicking away at my desk job waiting for the next big phase of life.
This was the book that helped me stay sane and appreciate the present when I was dying to hurry up and get to the future. I think this quote from the book summarizes it nicely:
“Watching a tree grow will likely drive you crazy. It’s a boring process if you stand there, impatiently tapping your foot, waiting for it to do something. But if you step away and come back later, you’ll be surprised to see something beautiful emerge. The fact is the plant is doing something: it’s growing. Just not as quickly as you might like.”
This book is solely responsible for inspiring me to not just travel, but to specifically visit all 50 states. Unhappy with life in her twenties, Ally decides to visit all fifty states as a way to leave her baggage behind. She just up and did it. No one told her that she should go travel nor did she win the lottery. She didn’t like how her life was turning out so she took control and changed it. She’s kind of a badass.
I love this quote:
“You don’t have to go. You can stay home. It’s up to you. But if you let fear stop you from doing what you really want to do, you’ll regret that forever.”
If you want permission to go, to buy an RV, to travel, to start your business, to do anything, but you’re scared, worried, stressed, all of the above, I want you to read this quote from the Author’s Note of this book:
“We get one story, you and I, and one story alone…It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it? It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
These books sparked the travel bug in our lives and helped us start dreaming of what our lives could look like one day on the road. I just wanted to share them with you guys today in hopes they can do the same for you!