Websites for Travel Writers

by Travel Writing World
websites for travel writers

There is no good excuse for travel writers to not to have professional websites. Whether you’re a book author or a freelance journalist, every travel writer should have one. It will be your digital home base and the center of your “platform.” 

Why should travel writers have websites?

Remember sites like Google Plus, MySpace, Angelfire, and Geocities? They’ve all disappeared. Chances are, the reigning social media kings like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will disappear too someday. It is a question of when, not if, social media churn strikes the current kings of the hill. 

It is imperative that you have a centralized online space over which you have total control, a space that will not disappear when a board of trustees in some office decide it is no longer profitable, a site whose existence doesn’t depend on fad-like user trends or algorithms. 

Your website will be a space upon which nobody can trespass. It will be your professional calling card, a space where you can let the world know what you’re up to, market your services, and engage with your readers. 

Don’t worry; setting up a travel writer website is easy. This article will help you set yours up. And if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see a link to my free “websites for travel writers” checklist.

Getting started

  1. Select a domain name. If your name is available, buy www.YourName.com. If your name is unavailable, consider www.YourName-Writer.com, www.YourName-Author.com, www.YourNameAuthor.com, or www.YourNameWriter.com. You could also use other domain suffixes/extensions like www.YourName.net, .org, .page, .blog, .biz, .site, .info, .online, or .travel. However, a .com extension is the most professional and common one. I don’t recommend that you use the title of your book or something else ephemeral. A good place to search for and purchase domains is https://domains.google.com.
  2. Pick a service/system. WordPress is the service most people use. It is the most powerful and customizable service available, but users without much tech skills may find it a bit complicated at first. WordPress has two different products. WordPress.com will enable you to create a free site, with some limitations, using your own domain name. WordPress.org offers free software that you need to install on the servers of your own web host like SiteGround, Bluehost, or HostGator, which costs money. Other website alternatives are Wix and Squarespace, but they also come at a cost and have certain limitations. If you’re just starting out as a writer, pick your own domain plus WordPress.com. But if you are an established author, want to have total control, or want to start collecting email addresses (which we recommend), you must use WordPress.org.
  3. Design your site. In my opinion, building and designing sites is fun. Normal people find it maddening. In WordPress, it is easy to download and customize a pre-built theme to your liking. Some themes are free, some are premium. While you can customize your author website an infinite number of ways, it is best to keep it simple and have at least the following features: a personalized domain name, an author bio/about page, a contact page, a portfolio of your work, a media page, your social media links, and a mailing list with reader magnet. More on these below.

Must-haves for travel writers’ websites

  1. A personalized domain
  2. An author bio/about page
  3. A contact page
  4. A portfolio/publications/books section
  5. A media page
  6. Social media links
  7. A mailing list with a reader magnet
  8. A blog (optional)
  9. A podcast (optional)

About page

Every writer should have an “about” page. This is where you sell yourself. Write a short and professional bio. List your professional interests and expertises. Mention a few professional achievements and highlights. Embed a low-resolution headshot next to your bio, invite your readers to follow you on social media, and link to your “contact” page.

Contact page

Your “contact” or “work with me” page is the easiest one to set up. On this page, you can either build a form or simply list your email address. Invite potential readers to reach out to you or clients to work with you. State what types of opportunities you are open to. If you’re a big-time writer, include your agent’s or representative’s contact information here and encourage readers to engage with you on social media. 

Portfolio page

Showcasing your work is one of the most important reasons of having an author website. It is your professional archive.

There are two ways to set up a portfolio on a freelance travel writer or author website. One way is to create a page called something like “portfolio,” “resume,” “c.v.,” “bylines,” “articles,” “publications,” or “clips.” Then, on that page, keep an ongoing list of all of your work in reverse chronological order. Don’t forget to hyperlink your work to their online sources, if applicable.

Another common way to display an author portfolio is to set up a category (call it “articles,” “portfolio,” “clips,” “writing,” “books,” or something similar) and each new byline, article, or publication gets its own post. You can then link to the category in your menu. When visitors click on the category link, they will see a list of your work as posts in reverse chronological order. This method gives you more flexibility—you can tag each post with relevant keywords, you can give each post a featured image, and you can paste the entire publication in the post (if you have the permissions) or include a screenshot, scan, or a link. 

If you use the category method, you can automate WordPress to share your new publications and articles on social media with no extra work.

Books page

If you’ve written travel books or guidebooks, you should put them front and center. 

Consider setting up a category called “books,” and creating a new post per book you have. Link to the “book” category in your menu. Each book should have its own page with corresponding media, descriptions, notable reviews, and links to online retailers to buy the books.

Make sure that these links are “affiliate” links, so you can get a small cut if someone buys your book using your links.

Media page

A “media” page has two purposes. First, it will list and link to all your media appearances, online coverage, interviews, etc. Secondly, it will also provide headshots and official marking information like press-releases, etc. And link back to your “contact” page to remind people how they can get in touch with you.

Social media links

Social media is another way for readers to connect with you. Always include social media links somewhere on your site.

Many websites themes have built-in features to display social media links in your menubar, in a sidebar, or in the footer. Take advantage of these features — make it easy for people to engage with you. 

Many themes also can display your social media accounts on your websites, where your Twitter posts show up in a sidebar or your Instagram feed appear in your footer. Consider these options.

Mailing list and reader magnet

This is perhaps the most important element.

Set up a form on your website so interested visitors can give you their email addresses. 

You want to collect email addresses to engage with your audience, alert them of your new publications and events, and let them know when you have a new book for sale.

And when the social media landscape changes, you’ll have your own list of readers you can reach out to. In other words, you’re not dependent upon another social media platform to reach your readers.

The best way to collect email addresses is to offer a “reader magnet.” A reader magnet essentially is something digital you offer your readers for their email addresses. 

What can I offer visitors?

If you’re an author of travel books, you could offer the prologue, introduction, or first chapters of your books, a discount code to purchase your book through your website if you’re set up for such a thing, deleted scenes or chapters from your book, or anything else related to your work.

If you’re a freelance travel journalist, you could offer a PDF or epub collection of your old stories (if you have the permissions). Alternatively, you could offer resources related to your writing speciality. For example, if you specialize in food and travel writing, you could offer a list or guide of your favorite restaurants in a city. If you write about wine, create and offer a “how to taste wine like a pro” PDF. If you specialize in budget travel, you could offer a checklist with your top budget travel tips. If you specialize in a region, you could offer a list with the top travel resources there or a guide to the region.

Think creatively. The point is to offer something enticing enough that your readers will give you their email addresses. 

Mailchimp is a free and popular mailing list service that integrates with WordPress. It is free to use up to 2,000 email subscribers, after which you must pay. But if you have 2,000 email subscribers, you may be in a position to have it pay for itself.

Blog / Travelogue (optional)

If you just want a home to write down your thoughts, publish your work that you weren’t able to find publishers for, or let off some literary steam, create and maintain a “blog” section.

As a travel writer, you could have a “travelogue” section, giving readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your world and creating a personal record of your travels. Using the WordPress mobile app, it is as easy to create a post on your smartphone from the road as it is to post on social media.

If you have a “blog” or a “travelogue” section, remember to share your posts on social media and link to related posts on your site. 

Podcast (optional)

Podcasts are becoming very popular. And they are easy to integrate into your website. 

What topics could you podcast on? If you predominately write about, say, China, then you could have a podcast that deals with Chinese travel, tourism, and history. If you are a travel and food writer, then you could podcast about food and culture. Think creatively.

Podcasting may not bring you direct income or sales, but it may help you build visibility and authority.

Podcasting, of course, requires a distinct set of skills and tools. If this interests you, read my guide for more information on how to set one up and integrate it in your WordPress site. 

Have realistic expectations

The platitude “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to author websites. It is important to temper expectations. 

You won’t have a flood of clients contacting you for work or readers signing up to your list. But you may get one or two visitors a month at first. And the more you develop your career and website, the more visitors you will have.

Your website is first and foremost your professional calling card, a centralized “you-space” where you can present yourself in the best light, market your work or services, and engage with your readers.

Must-haves on websites for travel writers (recap)

  1. A personalized domain
  2. An author bio/about page
  3. A contact page
  4. A portfolio, publications, books section
  5. A media page
  6. Social media links
  7. A mailing list with a reader magnet
  8. A blog (optional)
  9. A podcast (optional)

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Disclosure

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, this website will earn a very small commission if a purchase is made using these links. Also, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases using the links.

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