Welcome back to my journey of becoming a travel blogger. If you missed part 1 and part 2, you can find them here. Review. We’ve discussed why I decided to become a travel blogger and then how you select your website, theme, and domain name. Next its design time!
So designing can be hard, especially if you are someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with graphic design or computers (cough, cough…me). So virgin website designer here. I had no idea what coding or SEO or plugins were. But I definitely learned quickly! It took me a few weeks to figure out what everything meant and then took me even longer to figure out how I wanted my blog to look.
I went for a simpler theme than others because I was a newbie. I used the Sydney theme and thankfully there are YouTube (the one I listened to had a lovely British accent too!) videos out there to help you through the process step-by-step, thank god. The hardest thing for me was deciding what pictures I wanted to use or how I wanted my layout to look. And oh the pages! Those took forever.
***TIP – Before you start designing your website, create a list of what you want on your homepage, what pages you want, and what you want on your sidebars. If you need ideas, check our your favorite bloggers and see what feels right to you. Some of my inspirations were Camels & Chocolate, Hippie In Heels, and Alex in Wonderland.
Trial and Error
Don’t be afraid of trial and error. It took me multiple times to figure out exactly how I wanted things to work out. I had to go back and forth so many times I felt like I wanted to through my computer through a wall. But you will get through it, trust me! If you need help, YouTube videos are an amazing resource if you get stuck or need additional help.
So below are the plugins that I use. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of when I initially started adding plugins into my site that I added WAAAAY too many and it completely froze my site. I spent 6 hours and four phone calls with my hosting site to figure out exactly what was wrong and how to fix it.
I had to deactivate every single plugin and then add them one-by-one until I figured out which ones I absolutely wanted. My hosting site recommended doing around 8 so you don’t crash it. And its worked so far.
- Interactive World Map: I love this plugin! You can highlight the countries you’ve been to and control the color. (BTW: I’m a huge lover of color, monochromatic is not my thing). It’s also a great way to easily show everyone where you have been (especially those picture learners).
- Yeost SEO: Now SEO was something I learned within the first few months of having a blog, and let me tell you it is extremely important! This plugin helps you evaluate how your SEO is doing and what you need to improve it. For those who don’t know what SEO is, you can find out more at the link, but simply put it is how recognizable your website is to search engines and such.
- CommentLuv: A great way for those who comment on your site to recognize their own websites and recent posts.
- MailChimp: Everyone should have a mail list. Mail lists are extremely important to building your site and my personal favorite site to help you create your subscription lists is MailChimp.
- Pin It Button for Pinterest: I love Pinterest and I know many of you do too. This is a great plugin that lets your readers pin your pictures and posts to Pinterest to easily share.