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The Complete Guide to Starting a Lifestyle Blog

I hear from a lot of people who are interested in starting a lifestyle blog. In fact, one of my most popular posts is the one where I define a lifestyle blog. It help those interested in launching one get an idea of what it means before they start writing. I think one of the reasons the lifestyle blog niche is so popular is because of the flexibility it offers. You can literally share anything you’d like on your lifestyle blog. Urban lifestyle. Rural lifestyle. Blended family. Single living. It doesn’t matter so long as you’re sharing what’s true to you.

Before starting a lifestyle blog, you’ll want to identify your lifestyle, narrow down your niche, create your tagline, define your categories, and much more which is why it’s important to go through all of the steps outlined below. While understanding the niche and figuring out how you fit into it are important it’s equally important to understand the technical parts of starting a lifestyle blog and understanding the WordPress dashboard. That’s where this post comes in. So, get ready, we’re about to break it down.

Complete Guide to Starting a Lifestyle Blog

Disclosure: This post includes affiliates links which help support Honey & Pine

Thinking of starting a blog this year? I'm sharing the complete guide to starting a blog in 2019 and it includes all the information you need to know about finding a web host, installing WordPress, setting up a theme, and being ready to blog! Via @honeyandpineco #blogging #startablog #blogtips #bloggingadvice #bloggingtips

Figure out who you are and define your lifestyle niche – I go over this in detail in my course but before starting a lifestyle blog you need to sit down and define who you are and what your lifestyle is about. Grab a notebook and start writing. How would you describe yourself and your lifestyle to a stranger? Are you single, in a relationship, playing the field, married, divorced? Do you have children? What about pets? Do you live in an urban or rural area? What are your hobbies? Are you an introvert or extrovert? Write down everything you can think of, no censoring!

Choose which aspects of your life you’ll share on the blog – There are people that are chronic over-sharers and others that prefer to keep things close to the chest. Just because you choose to blog doesn’t mean you have to put it all out there. Review the notes you took and evaluate whether or not each topic is something you want to share on the blog. Maybe you’re happy to share recipes but you don’t want to share information relating to restaurant, cafe, and coffee shop reviews. Perhaps you find that you’ll want to talk about housekeeping but not home decor. You may find that you want to share information relating to marriage but not parenting so you can keep your kids off the blog. It’s up to you to choose what to share and what to keep private.

Define your mission and goals – Now that you know what you want to share you need to figure out why you want to share it. Is your goal to highlight your region of the United States like I do with appalachia? Do you want to inspire people with big city life and share tips for navigating the hustle and noise? Maybe you want to encourage mom’s in blended families and share your own experiences, tips, and insights into making it all work. How can you use your experience and lifestyle choices to encourage, inspire, motivate, or educate others? Write it down.

Name your blog – After you’ve defined your categories and your goals, start making a list of associated words. They don’t have to make sense right now, just start listing words. They can be virtues, tangible objects, adjectives, etc. Once you have a long list of words start playing with naming convention formats. You could consider a name like The _____ Diaries or The _____ Press. There is also the option of using a format like ______ & ______. Some people choose to use their own personal name or go with a single word to define it all. I knew I wanted a _____ & _____ name and I wanted something that connected to Appalachia. There are a lot of honey farms in the area I live and pine trees are abundant so I immediately connected with Honey & Pine.

The Technical Side to Starting a Lifestyle Blog

Now that you’ve done the legwork, it’s time to get down to technical business. This is when you know you’re getting close and it’s almost real!

Secure your domain name and social media channelsNow that you’ve hopefully decided on a blog name you need to make sure the domain name and related social media channels are available for use. When I started Honey & Pine I checked for the domain name and found that the dot com domain was taken but the dot co version was available. I was committed to the name but before I bought it I checked the social media channels. I found that most channels had a honeyandpine user but honeyandpineco was available. I bought and secured the social media handles. Since I could brand the social media handles with the co at the end I didn’t mind the domain ending in .co instead of .com although I am monitoring the domain and hoping to buy it eventually. Try to secure your domain name and the related social media handles. If you can’t get them, go back to reviewing possible names until you’re able to get them all. It’ll help you in the long run. You can check domain name availability with Jolly Leaf.

Find a web host and purchase a plan – I’ve hosted my blog(s) with a lot of different web hosts. I’ve been with GoDaddy, HostGator, A Small Orange, and 1and1 to name a few. The best I’ve ever found is Jolly Leaf and they are who I currently use for all of my sites. Their hosting plans start at only $0.99 a month and they offer 1-click install to get the WordPress dashboard set up on your domain which lets you quickly and easily build your blog. Even better, they have an uptime (time online) of 99.9% and they provide daily backups so you can feel secure in knowing you won’t lose all of your hard work in something goes wrong. To me though, the absolute best thing about them is that they treat you like you matter to them. You’re not just another account, they truly make you feel valuable and they go above and beyond to assist you in anything you need. In fact, when I migrated to their hosting plan they did the entire transfer for free so I could just sit back and relax while they did all the complicated tech-y stuff.

Recommended web hosting for starting a lifestyle blog

Install the WordPress dashboard – When you host with Jolly Leaf installing WordPress is a simple 1-click installation. They seriously couldn’t make it any easier for you. After you purchase your hosting plan just navigate to apps, locate the WordPress icon, and click to install it. It takes less than 2 minutes.

Install your WordPress theme After WordPress is installed, you can upload your WordPress theme so you can begin designing your blog. My favorite theme designers are Hello You Designs, Restored 316, and Pretty Darn Cute Designs. They all run on the Genesis Framework which I talk about in this post along with instructions for installing the framework and your blog theme. In this post I also share my favorite plugins for the Genesis Framework. You don’t have to install them but I highly recommend them. 

Set up your pages – From your WordPress dashboard, hover over + New in the top navigation bar. From there you can add new content to your blog including pages and posts. What’s the difference?

  • Pages are used for static content such as your About, Contact, Privacy Policy, Sponsor, and other pages.
  • Posts are used for individual blog posts, articles, photo galleries, etc that are published as content

I recommend launching your blog with at least your About, Contact, and Privacy Policy pages. If you are going to be using cookies on your blog (through the use of Google Analytics or affiliate links), you are required to have a privacy policy. You can find mine in my blog footer.

Get an account with Canva for Work – I highly (HIGHLY) recommend getting an account with Canva for Work to help you with your blog. Canva allows you to upload your custom fonts, create a branding kit of your fonts, blog colors, and templates for Pinterest and other social media graphics. They also have an enormous library of stock images you can use. All stock images are either free or available for $1.00.

Write your blog posts – From your WordPress dashboard, hover over + New in the top navigation bar and this time, select Post. This is where you write the blog posts that publish as content on your blog. I recommend having at least 10 posts in your archives before taking your blog live and promoting it. You want to have enough content for visitors to click through and get a vibe about who you are and what you have to offer. Don’t be afraid to back-date posts if needed so you can fill out your archives. For quick content, consider book reviews, product reviews, local weekend recaps, tours of local sites or favorite restaurants, and beauty tutorials. 

The Profitable Side of a Lifestyle blog

After starting a lifestyle blog and getting it online you need to focus on building your traffic and turning a profit. Neither of these things happen right away so it’s best to be patient while you build your name and reputation and while Google indexes your site for search queries. To move this process along there are a few things you can do…

PROMOTE. PROMOTE. PROMOTE. – Now, you just have to get the word out. Join Tailwind Tribes and learn how to use Tailwind to boost your blog traffic. Build a Facebook page and connect with other bloggers on Twitter chats. Also, explore these ways to promote your blog offline.

Join affiliate networks – Get signed up with affiliate networks like Amazon Affiliates, Shareasale, Linkshare, Commission Junction, ShopStyle Collective, and RewardStyle. Some of those networks have minimum requirements for monthly visitors or page views. If you don’t qualify now, bookmark them and apply once you’ve built a following.

Profile your ideal reader – What kind of reader are you trying to attract? Profile their age, gender, interests, income, family dynamic, and needs. Why would they read your blog? What do you have to share to them? How can you best serve them?

Time for spreadsheets! – Now that you’re starting a lifestyle blog, spreadsheets are your new best friend. Create three spreadsheets:

  • Products or services that would benefit my ideal reader
  • Potential sponsors for blog content and social media shares
  • 90 day editorial calendar for content

Now, for each product or service you could recommend to benefit your ideal reader try to brainstorm 2 – 3 potential blog posts. This allows you to create content that is likely to generate affiliate income for your blog. Do the same for each potential sponsor and each post on your editorial calendar. You don’t have to monetize every single post. In fact, it’s best if you don’t so start on the ones that are obvious (DIY tutorials, etc) and work down from there. If something doesn’t lend itself to monetization, don’t force it.

Here you can see how I create content for my blog:

Repeat – Write. Publish. Promote. Repeat.

To Recap Starting a Lifestyle Blog

  1. Define your niche
  2. Choose your categories
  3. Define your mission and goals
  4. Name your blog
  5. Reserve your domain name and social media handles
  6. Find a web host and purchase a hosting plan (starting at $0.99 / month on Jolly Leaf)
  7. Install the WordPress dashboard (1-click on Jolly Leaf and if you have an existing blog they’ll complete the transfer for FREE)
  8. Install your WordPress theme (I recommend themes built on the Genesis Framework)
  9. Set up your Pages
  10. Create a Canva for Work account
  11. Write and publish your blog posts, including archives
  12. Promote your blog posts
  13. Join affiliate networks
  14. Profile your ideal reader
  15. Brainstorm your editorial calendar including affiliate posts and sponsored posts. 

That’s it! If you’ve been thinking about starting a lifestyle blog you’v got the foundation to get going. If you have any questions, tweet me @ashleyfromhp.