Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Have you been thinking about starting a lifestyle blog but just aren’t sure how to get started?
I’ve been a lifestyle blogger since my rebrand in 2014 and I’ve run another successful work at home blog from 2011 – 2014.
A question I’m always asked when I tell someone new about some of the things I do from home is how to start blogging.
Blogging, especially lifestyle blogging, has been glamorized in recent years as being a way to make $1000s a month and travel the world while being compensated for doing just that.
However, before you go any further in this guide I just want to say starting a lifestyle blog isn’t a get rich quick scheme and from the moment you put your site online, you are going to have to put in some hard work.
When I first started Giveaways 4 Mom it took me close to a year to generate a few hundred bucks per month consistently. Blogging was something that I loved and was passionate about, so I was able to keep trucking on until my income increased.
Blogging has helped me make a lot of new online friends and connect with folks that I otherwise wouldn’t have. BUT it is a lot of hard work and it can be especially time-consuming when you first start. Plus, during this day in age, everyone wants to be a blogger so there’s a lot of competition.
If this didn’t scare you away continue reading my guide about how to start a lifestyle blog AND how to make it stand out from others. Plus, I’ve added in a few bonuses at the end to help you jump start your blogging journey.
Step One – Pick Your Domain Name
The first step is to choose your domain name. Your domain name must be memorable and must fit in with what you’re going to write about.
A domain name is not just a web address it’s an essential part of your brand. Remember, your site is not just a blog it’s a brand. That’s how you make money.
Keep it simple and original.
Remember, if you’re serious about blogging you’re not just starting a blog you’re starting a type of online business.
Now, think of all the household brand names you know. Nearly all of them have extremely simple names. Amazon, Google, Pepsi, and Walmart are just some examples.
This applies to domain names. Your domain shouldn’t have any complicated symbols or odd spellings.
Also, beware of any double meanings. You don’t want to inadvertently have your domain mean something else in another country, or it could get embarrassing.
You should also remember that there are differences in spelling when it comes to UK English and US English. You’ll have a global audience at some point, and you don’t want to have someone from another country type in a different domain by accident.
Try to avoid names that include differences in spelling across the English-speaking world.
Lastly, make sure that you use the ‘.com’ suffix.
Step Two – Find a Web Host
The next step is finding a reliable web host that supports you and your website. Uptime is your main consideration.
Most web hosts will promise 99.9% uptime. But research into web hosting found that the average website is down for three hours every month.
That’s just one reason why the right web host is essential.
Something else you should be looking for is customer support. Every so often, you’ll need to access customer support. All web owners experience problems at some point and you want to know that you’re going to be properly supported.
Finally, make sure you can scale your package without either being penalized by a disproportionately high fee or there’s just no scaling.
Watch out for free web hosting packages. These are where you have thousands of websites sharing the bandwidth. If your blog takes off, you can quickly crash. In the beginning, it’s not so bad, but once you outgrow (which could be quick) you’ll have to go through the headache of relocating your lifestyle blog to another web host.
It’s always better to opt for paid web hosting.
Suggested Web Hosts for Lifestyle Blogs
When first starting out, as I mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about spending $1000s a year on web hosting fees because you must grow your audience. Therefore, in the beginning, the suggested web hosts should keep your site online and not break the bank with their basic packages.
Arvixe is a host known for its fast speeds. But what I like is that Arvixe has a variety of hosting packages. Yes, they offer shared hosting, but they also offer everything from shared hosting to private servers.
The cheapest packages begin from $7 per month.
They offer a high storage allowance, with the option to easily upgrade. Plus, you’ll get a 45-day money back guarantee when you make a purchase.
I like Arvixe because they also offer a 24-hour customer service option. They’re more than capable of helping you when you’re struggling to transfer your website and get started.
There are also no hidden fees included.
I may be a little bit biased as this is the web host that I’ve been using since I started this site. However, over all the years I’ve been able to get quick help via live chat to their customer service AND my site has only been down 3 times over the years and they resolved the issue within 24 hours. Full disclosure, the reason the site went down was that I needed to upgrade my hosting package and once I did that it’s been smooth sailing since then.
- Fast speeds.
- Multiple hosting packages.
- Lots of storage.
- High scalability.
- Strong customer service offering.
- No hidden fees.
- May require some learning for newer users.
Ava Host is one of the oldest hosts around. They have been in business since 2001, so they come with one of the best track records in the business.
The cPanel you use is optimized for beginner use, so you’ll easily be able to start setting up your new lifestyle blog.
You’ll get to enjoy unlimited bandwidth and space, which supports growth and development without needing to switch web hosts. The initial packages are available for as low as $2.5 per month for dedicated WordPress hosting.
This is about as easy as you can make web hosting, which makes it the perfect hosting choice for beginners.
You can choose from conventional web hosting all the way up to VPS hosting, so there’s a package there to suit you.
- Long track record of success.
- Simple cPanel to manage your website with.
- Unlimited space and bandwidth.
- Low prices on basic hosting packages.
- They offer custom design services, but these are expensive.
WP Engine is a WordPress host. This may scare off people who don’t use WordPress but remember that WordPress powers 30% of the top 10 million websites on the web, which is pretty impressive.
With this host, you get enterprise-level web hosting. You also get built-in caching and staging, unlimited data transfer, and daily backups of your site are made. Just one click and you can restore your site to its previous state.
For a growing lifestyle blog, WP Engine is an excellent choice. Its hardware quotas ensure that it can deal with large spikes of traffic, so if one of your posts go viral you don’t need to worry about your site crashing.
You can access the support team at any time of the day through phone, online chat, and a ticketing system for non-urgent issues.
It does start at $28 per month for a package, but remember you’re paying for enterprise-level hosting. The quality is much higher than average.
- Enterprise-level hosting for your WordPress site.
- Daily backups.
- Easily accessible customer support team.
- Can handle traffic spikes without any problems.
- It’s dedicated primarily to WordPress, so if you prefer not to use WordPress this isn’t for you.
- It’s expensive when compared to other web hosts.
What stands out for NameCheap is the level of support they offer. Yes, they provide 24/7 support to their customers. But how they’ve stood out from the crowd is by producing a series of powerful YouTube videos that can help you solve problems and get started.
They’ve gone the extra mile when it comes to people who have no prior experience with running their own website.
Expect to get extremely fast servers with NameCheap. Many reviews state that they’re at least 50% faster than what most of the competition can offer.
Even the cheapest package allows you to host three websites with nearly unlimited bandwidth. They’re extremely generous with first-time customers.
If you do want to upgrade, their packages are fair and allow scaling without being scalped for a lot of money.
They do offer shared servers, but we wouldn’t recommend them because the bandwidth is capped, and web slowdowns are common for sites on these hosting packages.
- Some of the best customer service in the business.
- Extremely fast servers.
- Little to no upselling.
- The cheapest package is great value for money.
- Bandwidth is heavily metered on shared hosting packages.
Known Host uses cPanel as the primary way to control your hosting needs. However, what separates it from the competition is that it also supports DirectAdmin and WHM. This gives regular web owners more flexibility to use their dashboard of choice.
This host offers one of the best uptime performances in the industry. They guarantee 99.996% uptime, and the reviews from users say that they honor this.
Another area where Known Host stands out is in its security measures. Complementary DDoS protection comes as standard. DDoS attacks are the most common attacks on the web, so free protection against this will better secure your blog against malicious attacks.
They also provide innovative fully managed hosting plans. Yes, they do cost more than the average for the industry, but they’re comprehensive and provide everything a blogger could need.
The one real disappointment is that Known Host doesn’t support Windows servers.
- Multiple dashboard options.
- Some of the best uptime rates in the industry.
- Enhanced security provisions come as standard.
- Fully managed hosting plans.
- Is more expensive than average.
- They don’t support Windows servers.
Step Three – Set Up Your Web Host Account
Setting up your hosting account is just a matter of clicking the ‘Create Account’ button on your chosen web host and following the steps.
But there are two main points you need to remember.
The first is WHOIS privacy.
The WHOIS directory allows you to look up any domain and find out who owns it. If you don’t have WHOIS privacy, anyone can search for your domain name and find your contact information.
WHOIS privacy protection strictly isn’t necessary, but by getting it you can avoid solicitation and spam.
Most hosts offer this for an extra fee. It’s recommended that you purchase it. This is not an expensive addon.
The second factor you need to look into is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protection.
These days most modern websites have SSL protection. This is the minimum level of security you should have. Overall, it’s an encrypted link between the website and your browser. It ensures that nobody can intercept your data.
Many anti-virus protection software options will bring up warning screens when people try to access sites without SSL protection.
Consider this a ‘must’ when setting up your hosting account. You don’t want to scare people away from your lifestyle blog.
Step Four – Install WordPress
As already mentioned, WordPress powers the highest proportion of websites on the web. These are the main reasons why to start with, you should consider setting up a WordPress site:
- Easy to use.
- Reliable and comes with regular automatic updates.
- Fully customizable without any prior tech knowledge.
- No need to retain the services of an expensive web designer/developer.
Practically any host understands that WordPress is the most popular platform used to power websites. So, they’ll include WordPress as standard.
You should be able to find a section for WordPress on your cPanel dashboard when you log in to your hosting account.
Just click it and they’ll install it for you.
You’ll have a separate login and password for WordPress. Don’t make the mistake of keeping the username ‘Admin’ or your own email address. This is a big hole in your security and could result in your site being compromised.
You should also create a strong password. Did you know that 23 million accounts were breached worldwide with the password 123456?
Yes, people are that dumb.
Recommended passwords, together with password managers, are highly useful. They aren’t real words and contain symbols, letters in both cases, and numbers. It should be essentially gibberish.
Keeping a password hidden on a piece of paper at home is a great way to protect it because this way no hacker can gain access to it.
Step Five – Find a Theme for Your Lifestyle Blog
There are literally thousands of different blog themes you can take advantage of. There’s no ‘best’ theme. It all depends on the feel you want to communicate to the readers of your lifestyle blog.
But there are some features that you should demand from any blog theme.
First, it needs to be mobile friendly. Mobile traffic is expected to increase seven-fold worldwide in the next couple of years. So, if your theme isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on so much.
Furthermore, it must be SEO optimized. That means you should be able to implement SEO with ease. You need to make sure your theme is optimized for competing on Google. Using a theme that hasn’t been updated in five years is off the table.
Finally, your theme should be regularly updated. Everything about your website needs to be current. The reality is that the best themes are updated almost regularly as WordPress itself. You need to keep up with the trends in web design and SEO.
Lastly, I strongly recommend against using a WordPress free theme. If you want to monetize your lifestyle blog down the line, a premium theme will make your site look more professional and help you stand out from other lifestyle bloggers.
So where should you get a theme?
Here are the main marketplaces you should consider.
Etsy – Etsy is mainly known for its marketplace, where people can sell their handmade crafts. But you can also find blog themes with Etsy. If you’re looking for a cheap starter theme that you don’t want to invest hundreds of dollars in, this is the place to go.
Studio Press – Studio Press is known for its lightweight themes. That means your pages are going to load quickly, which impacts SEO.
All themes were also reviewed by a WordPress coding expert, so the number of bugs is kept to a minimum. These themes are completely hassled free.
ThemeIsle – Sometimes you only get a short demo to work with when choosing a theme. Not so with ThemeIsle. All themes come with a free version with limited features. You can take them for a real live test drive to determine whether it’s the right theme.
Almost no other shop offers themes that can be tested in this way.
Pretty Darn Cute Designs – The key to a great blog theme is to ensure that it’s flexible. This is exactly what the team at Pretty Darn Cute Designs offer. Their themes are flexible and can be converted to your needs with minimum hassles.
Many of their themes convert easily from blogs to shops and more. So, if you want to expand your brand’s capabilities as you grow, you’ll be able to do it with these themes.
Step Six – Download Any Plugins You Need
Plugins are what make your WordPress site stand out from the rest. They’re useful and they offer some much-needed functionality on the backend and the frontend.
We’re going to discuss some of the more essential plugins that all WordPress sites should have installed.
The Akismet plugin is your primary weapon against spam. WordPress websites are especially vulnerable to spam in the comments and through your contact form.
It’s an intelligent plugin that stops practically 99% of spam messages. If you have authorization selected for comments, no spam will ever make it onto your lifestyle blog.
Contact Form 7 is the latest version of the popular plugin. Install a contact form on your website in a matter of seconds with this plugin.
It’s the way to install a contact form without any knowledge of coding. You can add the fields you need and ensure it looks right on your contact page.
Disclosure Picker allows you to comply with FTC blogger guidelines. By law, you need to disclose things like sponsored posts and affiliate links in a clear and visible manner to avoid being fined.
This plugin makes it easy. Just select where you want the disclosure to be on your next post and the type of disclosure you need, the addon will do the rest.
Engage your audience through rich media embeds. It’s one of the few plugins that can deliver the latest images, videos, and other content from popular sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
It’s the best way to engage your audience with additional external content.
This is especially recommended for lifestyle bloggers who also do a lot of YouTube videos.
To put it simply, you can take advantage of Google Analytics in a way that’s optimized for WordPress. Monster Insights offers a way in which you can track the all-important stats generated by your blog without having to log into Google Analytics each time.
One of the main reasons why sites are slow is because of media content like images. Imagify will help you in this regard by compressing and streamlining images without compromising on quality.
Push notifications are a great way to tell your readers when you’ve published new content. Think of it as making sure that your lifestyle blog is always at the top of their mind.
This plugin will enable you to send your readers (who opted in) push notifications, so they’re always engaged with what you’re doing.
The concept of Social Warfare is simple. It makes it easy for your readers to share your content across different social media channels.
You never know when a malicious attack might strike. Take things one step further with this plugin, which offers a malware scanner and endpoint firewall.
It was built from the ground up specifically for WordPress. It’s one of the most comprehensive security plugins you can download.
While there is a paid version of this plugin, I’ve been using the free version for years and it works just fine.
See Also: Tools All Bloggers Should Know About
Step Seven – Start Creating Content
Now that you have everything you need to launch your website, it’s time to start creating the content that will populate it.
Millennials spend an average of 11 hours every day engaging with some form of digital content.
But before we get to crafting your classic content, you need to build the foundations of your website.
That means you need to add an ‘About’ page, ‘Contact’ page and a ‘Hire Me’ page at the very least. These are the three core pages aside from the blog posts themselves.
Keep them simple. Look up successful bloggers in the lifestyle field to see what they’re doing and use them as inspiration for what to write.
How to Make Your Lifestyle Blog Stand Out from Others
The lifestyle niche is, understandably, filled with competition. You can’t just write about general lifestyle topics that have been covered thousands of times already and expect to get ahead of the competition.
So, what do you need to do if you’re going to stand out?
Strategy #1 – Video Marketing
The first step is to create different types of content. Don’t solely focus on text-based content. Remember, a lot of people are accessing content on a mobile device. They don’t have time to read a long blog.
The solution to this is video content. Producing video content is one of the best things you can do as a blogger. 51% of marketers say video content offers the best ROI of any content.
It’s the most shareable type of content around.
Make sure you do it professionally. Use professional video capture software. Don’t just record a video from your phone and call it a day.
Additionally, for tutorial type posts consider making a video that showcases the steps such as this one.
Strategy #2 – Focus on a Specific Niche
General blogging is no longer good enough. Covering every topic under the sun offers zero value for you because then you’re competing with everyone in the entire lifestyle blog niche.
You’re not known for anything specific.
The key to succeeding in any form of blogging in 2019 is to focus on a niche. That forces readers to come to your blog because they can’t find that specific knowledge elsewhere.
Think about what you’re a specialist in.
Do you like to spend time with your family? Then consider a lifestyle niche like family hobbies.
Bonus – How to Get Your First Pageviews to Your Lifestyle Blog
Getting those first views is the hardest part of the process. Ask any successful blogger and they’ll tell you it took them months to start generating an income from their blog.
The key is pageviews because this is how you get your first subscribers.
So, as a bonus, here’s what you need to do to get your first page views.
- Spend at least thirty minutes every day on your blog doing something other than writing. It can include anything like scheduling social media or just engaging with bloggers.
- Create multiple images for Pinterest. It’s one of the most powerful platforms for targeting people interested in lifestyle topics.
- Engage in conversation on social media. Add something meaningful to the conversations. When people check out your profile, they’ll see the link to your blog.
- Create a Facebook group, where you can create a community focusing on your lifestyle niche. This is not a place to spam your posts it’s a place to post interesting things. It’s about developing relationships.
- An ‘About Me’ page is one of the most viewed pages on any blog. Make sure that you smarten it up. Include images and make sure it gives an insight into your life. It’s not a promotional page. You can check my about page for an example.
Bonus – Affiliate Marketing Options for Your Lifestyle Blog
Look, blog ads are dead. 47% of people use ad blockers. No, begging them to turn them off isn’t going to work. The average person HATES ads. Get over it.
Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, works. You’re marketing products that people are interested in. AND they have a choice as to whether they click on them. The reader is in control.
Here are some great affiliate marketing programs for lifestyle bloggers:
Amazon – The affiliate share is low, but you have access to the biggest online marketplace in the country.
ShareASale – A great option for higher affiliate shares. If you can find ideal products, ShareASale is a superior choice to Amazon.
Panthera – The Panthera affiliate network is another fantastic option. They have a relatively low pay-out of $50 and it’s expanding all the time, so this is an excellent backup option.
Influencer Networks Sponsored Post Options for Your Lifestyle Blog
Cold pitching brands to get sponsored posts can be uncomfortable for new bloggers. You may not be feeling confident about the value you can provide to brands and you may even think you’re just going to get a bunch of nos. Plus, if you don’t have quality sponsored content to show them, that performed well in the past, you probably will just be wasting your time as a new lifestyle blogger – there’s just so much competition.
The alternative is to look into an influencer network. This is much easier to start with because you have more options. It’s also ideal for blogs that don’t yet have that strong brand appeal.
So, you can get started generating an income early on.
Here are some influencer networks you should check out if you’re just getting started.
Social Fabric – The advantage of Social Fabric is for newer bloggers who want to get experience in working with brands. They have some great opportunities available and pay out on a Net 30 basics. The key to securing opportunities on their platform is to really sell your post idea when applying. Each time I’ve gotten a campaign through them I’ve basically provided them with an outline of what I planned to write and went into depth regarding exactly how their client would be displayed in the post.
Blog Meets Brand – For a niche lifestyle blog like yours, Blog Meets Brand is perfect. Signing up is easy and, from that moment, brands can seek you out. They tend to focus on hyper-niche blogs, so that’s why you have the advantage here.
Influence Central – Influence Central rebranded from Mom Central, which now allows a variety of lifestyle bloggers to be able to work with their clients. Their pay can be a little on the lower end when compared to other influencer networks, but they do have some pretty cool campaigns.
IZEA – IZEA is a little different because they only allow you to apply for 3 campaigns per month unless you have a paid package with them. I suggest testing it out first and see how it works for you before upgrading to a paid plan. I’ve personally had luck here and was even able to secure a 12-month sponsored post contract, which obviously makes a paid plan worth it. The good news is they also offer the option to cash out immediately if you don’t want to wait for Net 30 for a fee.
AspireIQ – This is a newer network, but how they differ is they allow you to either (a) be invited to apply to a campaign from a brand or (b) go through the brands looking to work with bloggers and submit a custom proposal. You set your price and once the post is live, you’re typically paid within 24 hours.
Of course, there are a ton of other influencer networks available. However, these are the ones I recommend as I successfully work with them each year and receive prompt payment.
Have Fun Creating Your Lifestyle Blog
This guide shows you everything you need to know to take your idea and turn it into reality.
It also shows you important steps you can take to get your first readers and to build your lifestyle blog up sustainably.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below!