In some ways, I don’t feel qualified to write an article telling others how to start a lifestyle blog. After all, there are people that have been in the game for much longer than I have. However, I know that the amount of information out there can seem overwhelming and I’ve had a number of friends and Instagram followers contact me, asking for advice from a newbie’s perspective, so I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve picked up so far so that others that are embarking on their own journey can stay focussed.
You could knock up a free page on Blogger. If you just want a place to store your musings, then this could be an option for you. However, if you do this, you won’t own the site and you won’t be able to monetize it down the line. You also won’t have your own URL.
If you decide to purchase a URL, then you’ll need to set up hosting. There are free hosting services available, but I believe that functionality is limited (not that I’ve tried it for myself). I decided to go for the self-hosting option and I use SiteGround for all three of my websites and I’d highly recommend the service. I’ve found things to be pretty smooth sailing, but on the occasions where I’ve needed help, I’ve received it quickly.
Most people in the blogging community work on WordPress and this is the system that you’ll use if your blog is hosted with SiteGround. Over half of the websites on the web use WordPress, so it’s a widely used platform. It’s also very intuitive, but I’ve found that the main advantage of using WordPress is that there’s always somebody around to ask for help if I run into an issue (I usually approach a blogging pal or a friendly acquaintance in one of the many Facebook blogging groups I’m in).
Choosing a theme
Your ‘theme ‘ is the style of your website and there are lots of free themes available. But you can pay extra for pro versions. I use two free themes and I’ve also purchased a pro version for my main website (this one).
The reason I decided to ‘go pro’ was because it meant that I could control the full functionality of my website. Designers often hold back certain functionalities in the free versions and I’ve spent hours trying to work out how to change certain things, before discovering that I needed the pro version of the theme to do it. The other advantage of paying for the upgrade is that you’ll be able to ask the theme owners for advice should you run into an issue.
The price of updating your theme will vary. I paid £42.19 to upgrade to Blog Way Plus and I feel it was money well spent. But if you’re just starting out, you could see how you get on with a free theme and evaluate it after a couple of months.
Choosing a colourway
If you’re starting a blog, then you may, at some point, want to create a brand. With this in mind, when you’re working out how to start a lifestyle blog, you must spend some time choosing a colourway.
Every colour has a universal code. If you choose colours and note the codes, then you can insure that everything you create matches.
Learning about SEO
Many bloggers are intimidated by the term SEO, but it’s an important thing to get your head around to bring organic search traffic to your website. There are lots of free (and paid-for) SEO resources about, but I’d recommend LinkedIn Learning.
Keyword research is crucial when it comes to driving traffic to your website. I use a combination of tools to do this. I use the free keyword planner on Google Ads to see how popular a term is and I then use KeySearch to work out how easy the keyword is to rank for. Longer keywords are easier to rank for (but you’ll learn about that during your SEO training).
KeySearch is a really powerful, yet affordable tool. It enables you to search for a term to find out how easy it is to rank for. If you get a red result, then competition is fierce. Yellow means that competition is moderate. Green means that the term is relatively easy to rank for and blue means that it’s very easy to rank for that result.
I match the Google Ads keyword planner stats alongside the KeySearch stats. My aim is to find terms that are easy to rank for that have a high number of monthly searches.
There are all sorts of plugins that you can use to ensure that your blog functions as it should. You should ensure that you use Jetpack by WordPress.com, GDPR Cookie Consent and Yoast SEO. I only use the free versions of these plugins and each one is useful in its own way.
Jetpack enables you to view your site stats and monitor site traffic. The GDPR plugin is a simple way to show your website complies with the EU Cookie Law and GDPR. Whilst Yoast provides a digital SEO checklist, so you can ensure your pages are optimized.
Make sure that you’re clued up on the legalities of your blog. If you’re using affiliate links, for example, then it’s important to ensure you’re disclosing that in the correct way. So make sure you read the latest information before diving into affiliate marketing.
Tips for imagery
If you’ve got a blog, you’ll want to share images on there. I do have some original imagery on my blog, but many of my images are free stock pictures. You can download them from a number of different sites, but Pixabay and Pexels are two of my favourites.
I also use Canva to create Pinterest PINS and branded boarders for my feature images. Canva is such a handy tool; I completed a LinkedIn Learning course on this, which really helped me to get to grips with it. Canva is now something that I use daily in my professional life.
Domain Authority (DA)
Bloggers talk a lot about Domain Authority (or DA). This is a search engine ranking score, developed by Moz.
Every website has a DA and it will vary between 0 and 100. The higher your DA, the better. I don’t know exactly how this metric is devised, but I know that having links from other websites, age, quality and consistently publishing can help.
Many brands consider your DA before agreeing to work with you. But you shouldn’t get too disheartened if you feel your DA is low, or that it isn’t growing fast enough. If you’re consistently publishing quality content, then your DA will increase over time.
If you’re trying to work out how to start a lifestyle blog, then you’re probably relatively serious about the idea. But please be realistic when it comes to your expectation. If you’re not, then you’ll quickly lose interest.
Sadly if there’s a ‘how to start a lifestyle blog and make you millions’ formula, then I’m yet to see it. Within your first year of blogging, it is possible to make some money, but not enough to earn a living. So if you’re looking to make cash quickly, then this probably isn’t the hobby for you and you should check out some of my other money-making hacks.
I record my stats at the start of each month and if just one stat has gone up, I view that month as a success.
Let’s talk money
You might thinking, ‘but how much have you made, Claire? Give us figures.’
Well, during the first three months I made £0, despite pouring a lot of time and energy into my site. Things then started to pick up and I made a solid couple of hundred pounds each month. January (month ten) was the first time I smashed the £500 mark, bringing in a respectable £601.83. This was mostly made from sponsored posts (paying out between £25 and £110 per article) and my first ever ad campaign (which took place after a PR emailed me). I know those aren’t big figures to some, but I created this platform from scratch, so to me, it’s an amazing achievement.
It’s important to keep in mind that I’ve spent a lot of hours blogging and my overall hourly rate is probably pennies. But I’d made back my initial outlay by month four, so anything I’ve made from that point onwards is pure profit, that has been achieved form the comfort of my home office. My blogging income could drop significantly at any moment, because none of this work is guaranteed, but I am thrilled that something that didn’t exist ten months ago is now an income stream.
I started this blog as a way of coping with redundancy and it lead to lots of opportunities. The skills I’ve developed helped me to get a new (part-time) job, as new freelance relationships. So the cash it has brought into my household certainly goes way beyond the figures mentioned above.
If you don’t enjoy blogging, then I doubt you’ll last the course. Developing a blog takes time, dedication and effort. There are lots of aspects to it and enjoying it as a hobby is key to growing your website.
Why isn’t this a comprehensive guide?
If I was going to write a comprehensive guide to blogging, then it would be novel sized. Plus, I’ve learnt so much from others within the community and I wouldn’t want to rehash their work.
If you’re looking for an in-depth course then I’d highly recommend Emma Drew’s Turn Your Dreams Into Money, which is a comprehensive guide to starting a blog. I used that at the start of my journey. If you’re after a guide that will help you to make cash from your website, then Emma’s 90 Days To A Profitable Blog Ebook is also very good (and a total bargain).
Is blogging worth it?
I decided to set my blog up to facilitate my learning, as I wanted to brush up on my digital marketing skills. I knew that having a website to practice the skills I was learning would be useful and I’m really glad that I decided to do this. Setting up this website has lead to some great opportunities, it has proved to be an amazing creative outlet and it’s also morphed into a revenue stream.
If you want to set up a website then you should give it a go. I’m really glad that I took the plunge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained (as they say).
If you’re trying to work out how to start a lifestyle blog, then I hope these tips are useful. Please reach out on Instagram, Facebook, or over email if you have any questions. You should also check out my article about how to get paid to write.