Launching a lifestyle blog is a lot like starting a new business.
Actually, it is a business. It’s a huge commitment, and it can be a little overwhelming at first as you start wearing every hat imaginable—web designer, tech support, writer, editor, researcher, photographer, social media expert, etc. One of the things I love most as a blogger is learning all these new skills. I’m not sure I fully knew what I was signing up for; nevertheless, it’s been such a rewarding process.
Here are my top 10 tips to starting a lifestyle blog with all the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Buy your domain
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the domain (web address) you want to create is available. You can do this on GoDaddy. If it’s available, and you’re absolutely sure of your domain name, buy it immediately. It’s not that expensive to purchase a domain, and it’s way more professional and memorable than free alternatives, like username.wordpress.com.
Set up your social media accounts
Claim the social media handles you want to use on the platforms of your choosing, and get posting!
It’s great to build buzz leading up to your launch, and it’s also a bit more inviting once you’ve launched for readers to see that your social media platforms are active and populated. Nobody wants to follow an Instagram account with one photo.
You’ll want to concentrate on Pinterest as that’s one of the biggest platforms for driving traffic to blogs. I suggest having a template of what your pins will look like already set up so that you can just pop in your photo and title for quick and easy pins.
Create a business plan
If you’re going into blogging with the intention of monetizing it in any capacity, you need a solid business plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy – create a Word document with your title, a basic logo (more on this later), and a short, concise description of your blog. Include how many posts per week you will be publishing.
“Lifestyle blog” can mean anything, so you’ll also want to specify what kinds of posts you will be writing, for instance, parenting, travel, product reviews, etc. It’s also important to decide on an annual budget. I personally worked off the idea that I would not earn anything for the first year, so my budget was what I could afford to spend without profit.
Finally, write out your plans as to how to monetize your blog, like affiliate links, advertisements, or product reviews.
Choose a platform
There are tons to choose from: WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, etc. I personally love WordPress. It’s customizable, and even if you’re not a designer, it’s very easy to buy a gorgeous design and adapt it to your needs. They have plugins for pretty much anything you can imagine.
Choose a host
I recommend Bluehost. Did a lot of research, and Bluehost was always one of the top suggestions. I like their customer support, and their prices are reasonable as well. I’ve never had any issues with them, not even a single glitch.
Design your blog
Free design templates are often not the best unless you have the technical savvy to customize as you please. For those starting out, I suggest purchasing a theme and then customizing it to suit your needs and brand. I used Pretty Darn Cute Design (the Fun theme), and I’ve been so happy with it. The setup was quick and easy, and their support forum was incredible with any issues I encountered. I’ve gotten tons of compliments on the professional design of my website.
In terms of a logo, if you have room in your budget, you may opt to invest in hiring a logo designer. However, you’ll probably want to have a really solid understanding of your brand and vision before choosing a logo, so I recommend just starting off with something simple, but professional, for the first few months. You can design a logo using Canva or Picmonkey, or you can simply choose an elegant font and make your logo your blog’s name.
Build an editorial calendar
The first step is to brainstorm as many post ideas as possible. I love Trello, a free organization app that lets you create boards of ideas and color code, sort of like a Pinterest for ideas and project management. I previously relied on Evernote for brainstorming, but much prefer Trello.
You can set up a board with all your post ideas and color code them based on category, which will help make sure you’re not constantly posting on one topic. In each individual idea’s “card,” you can add notes, comments, and most importantly set tasks and deadlines for yourself. Using their Power Up Calendar function, you can view your boards and cards on calendar sorted by deadline. It is such a helpful tool, and again it’s free, which is perfect for those just starting out.
If you have the budget, I would also highly recommend CoSchedule, which lets you create an editorial calendar directly in WordPress, brainstorm ideas, write drafts, sync with Evernote, and schedule social media content directly from your posts.
In creating your editorial calendar, the easiest way to start is looking at a calendar of all the national holidays. What ideas do you already have that are relevant to a holiday? For instance, that chocolate cake recipe for two on your idea list would make a perfect Valentine’s Day post. What other ideas can you come up with just thinking in terms of holidays? This not only makes your job easy, but also makes sure your content is relevant and that you get the best possible exposure on social media.
Save up posts
Everyone has a different idea of how many posts you should save before going live, and I think it really depends on how much time you have to dedicate to your blog. As a mom, I knew I’d likely be unable to meet every weekly deadline, so my goal was to have two months worth of posts. Try to estimate what works best for you.
Save up photography
If you’re using original photography, your future blogging self will be so grateful if you can have lots of great photography already stored up. If you’re writing about food, for example, spend a few hours taking creative stock shots of your kitchen, ingredients, utensils, plates, etc.
Join a blogging network
Join some Facebook groups or online forums for bloggers. It’s so great to have a place to ask a quick question to more experienced bloggers, to commiserate with fellow newbies, and share your victories. One of my favorite networks is Melissa Griffyn’s Blog + Biz BFFs group on Facebook. It’s a large group, so sometimes questions can get lost, but if you bump them up to the top and are persistent, the people in this group are so helpful. They’ve solved many a problem for me, and I like the weekly promotion thread where you can share your latest post with fellow bloggers.
Hopefully this takes some of the guesswork out of starting a lifestyle blog and helps you get up and running in no time. We’d love to hear about your progress in the comments below!
Laura Quéré is a freelance writer and the blogger behind Hudson & Seine, a French-inspired lifestyle blog. Laura is a New Yorker married to a Parisian, and having lived in the City of Light for many years, she loves bringing simple French pleasures to their new life in New York City.
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